On the day that I resolved to devote my meager existence to the greater good of His High Unholy Majestic Hipness, HHUMH, Thee Tawny Owl, the sky started out an admixed melange of slate and azure, with no hint of global redness whatsoever. It was objectively cold, at least to me. It seemed as if it was a day in January but because I had been thinking about consecrating the act for at least several weeks I may be slightly off by a month or two. I know that the clouds were moderately puffed up like cojones grandes, unruly scads of them. Icy rain was due to arrive from Alaska, but not yet. Glints of untarnished light flashed briefly on the cool surface of Monterey Bay before passing. All the little fishies were swimming deep in their sea, unfazed.
I was standing under cold water from the outdoor shower next to the redwood tree near my back door, rubbing Tech-Nu all over the pair of cojones I familiarly call all my own. I was shivering less from the chill, no matter how immediate, than from the distinct likelihood that my balls had been exposed to the insidious oiliness of poison oak. Because it was Winter there were no leaves on the sticks that I had been stupidly whacking with a machete, having been captivated by some faint notion of preparing for the future, which fooled me. And not only my balls, I was sure. Skin in one sector was ruthlessly touching more skin abutting. This was a battle to which I had been previously conscripted on many occasions, always against my nominal will, always on the losing end. Soon the scourge would be popping up into the loose skin around my eyes to obscure my semi-unclouded vision, I was fairly certain. There was one of those processes akin to osmosis at work that had to be at least as guilty as me.
It can happen, I told myself. Who knows how or why? Just calm down. Look where your hands are. Look what you are holding. Don’t squeeze so hard.
As I looked around, though, still with some hope for the next day, and the day after that, both of which I knew were going to be crucial to the development of good mental health practices, I was thinking, Thank You Evolution for Tech-Nu.
Once the tawny owl started to laugh, though, and kept on laughing as I shivered more vigorously, laughing so hard that he was maintaining his infallible grip on a branch of the redwood tree with only one claw, as the other claw was caught slapping his figurative knee, I was forced to reevaluate my condition, not only objectively. The tawny owl routinely scoffed at such meaningless human categories as objectivity and rationality, but I am hooked. At least I used to be. Now, I am far less certain. I know there’s a lot of masquerading mumbo jumbo that goes on out there.
I began to think, but did not say aloud, something is happening and you don’t know what it is, do you? I know that when I begin to refer to myself in the third person it often engenders confusion. Sometimes, I am motivated to wonder why.
Then a hummingbird zipped by, and did a quick double take. A double take from a hummingbird is actually more like a quintuple take several times squared and multiplied to a human. Then he began to hover at only slightly above the level of my uplifted head. Then he looked me audaciously in my still unswollen eye before he started to laugh too, a laugh that continued for what amounted to a long time for a hummingbird. If it looked like anything familiar to me it looked as if the hummingbird was laughing his little teeny weeny ass off right down to the feather line.
I thought, what the fuck? Can’t a man simply rub his balls vigorously under a tall tree without contributing to all of this hullabaloo?
Then, the hummingbird zipped off to suck on the succulent tit of a red-necked salvia, which got him higher than ever, but not before he began to spread gossip to all the tittering neighbors. I say this because shortly thereafter blue jaws, and warblers, and swallows started to appear. It did not take long before they were laughing, too. In fact, I think the laughter began before they fully arrived. Warblers are one thing, but laughter from an irascible blue jay is a rare event not to be considered lightly. And then before too long sea birds were arriving to check out the commotion. There were gulls, pelicans, plovers. I soon found myself the object of what I could only assume was massive derision by a clan of howling loons. Laughing loons are no joke, believe me. Their tail feathers were shaking and shimmying like Tina Turner. I thought, loons, man. What does it say to be laughed at in public by not just one but a whole mess of cackling loons?
I concluded that I had better do a better job of covering up.
But then, I concluded otherwise, or at least amended all previous conclusions. Wrong, wrong, wrong, came the verdict. What are you hiding from? No one is pointing any fingers. No one is baring any teeth, busting any caps, marking any turf, flashing any threatening signs. There are no weapons on display. Not even shit bombs are falling. These laughing birds mean no harm to you. They just like to have fun. Why don’t you join them? Why are you trying to cover up what needs to be free? What’s wrong with you that makes you this way?
I think I have always known something is wrong somewhere, has to be. Is it out there, in here, all over? Could this be it? Or if not it, close to it?
That’s when naked or no naked, I got up off of my knees and balanced on the tip of my toes…
and I opened my mouth and started to wail in the manner in which John Lee Hooker used to grumble. Or close enough for me. I reached for as high in that admixed sky as my toes would allow me to go, and I opened my eyes to the puffy clouds, and to the rapiers of silver light that streamed in, and I decided to devote my meager existence to the greater good of His High Unholy Majestic Hipness, HHUMH, Thee Tawny Owl. He could fly, after all, and I was stuck down here on the ground.
I knew it couldn’t hurt. Not me. Not anyone I knew. Not anyone I did not know. Not anyone.
And at that moment, as the tawny owl looked down on me, I am sure that he knew exactly what I was thinking and feeling. And all that I was unable to think and feel, too. And he kept on laughing. And I laughed, too.
I laughed at the morning toast and the evening news. I laughed at chunky pumpkins and four door sedans. I laughed at square roots and high-heeled shoes. I laughed at church bells and fog horns. I laughed at the itch that crawled. I laughed at my sorry ass. I laughed at all the gold and the silver, too.
And as far as I am aware, which is not very far I am aware, and no longer need to worry about as much, I haven’t stopped laughing yet. Once I started it became hard to stop. I don’t think I can. Why should I? You got something better?