The tawny owl was beginning to seriously gallivant at about a thousand feet over the ocean, flying slightly below and behind the lovely Thee Mrs. as they rounded the tip of the Monterey Peninsula, which was how she liked it best, to begin a warm week-end jaunt at Big Sur with a few epic swoops. Spring was bouncing on the quivering land like a pogo stick with the heebie-jeebies. Irises were popping like posies, juices were squirting free, bees were humming like good old-timey drones. The evening fog was moaning softly around them, as slick and foamy as a loaded sex machine. The tawny owl could hear a shrunken James Brown pleading from a juke joint near Point Lobos but the hard working man wasn’t getting none no more. There were Dungeness crabs slinking sideways on the bottom shelf, sardines slipping through tight spots in narrow slits, cute otters splitting abalone shells with teeth like hammers and sickles. He saw one exuberantly crackpot otter, still just a surly young pup, trying to turn his tail and stick it to a winsome chick by biting her nose nearly off. Somebody ought to tell the uncool young dude that’s not how it’s done anymore. Blood means no.
He said, “Baby, you feel that dust swirling out there two galaxies over in the vicinity of twenty two million light years away?”
Thee Mrs. said, “Keep your mind on your business.”
He said, “Don’t worry about me.”
The tawny owl was looking forward to a good soak in the hot springs above Tassajara, catch some cool astronomical events in the southern sky, make sure to do whatever it takes to get the lovely Thee Mrs. in one of her special moods. There was something about Big Sur that brought out the horned side of the lovely Thee Mrs. in a big way. She was fully half horned owl on her mama side, and not much less on her daddy. The tawny owl was only one sixteenth, if that. The tawny had a whole lot of pygmy in him but he wasn’t ashamed. Better than some indentured barn owl.
But, the tawny owl had never made complete peace in the opinion of the lovely Thee Mrs. with all that her horned side entailed. He spent too much time with his tail in the damn clouds.
As they leaned east and climbed above the Santa Lucia Mountains and into the Los Padres Forest, he was expanding his wingspread like the universe on the far side of the pinwheel galaxy that shelters Ursa Major. Man, it felt good to stretch. But then he began to feel before he could precisely hear a crescendo parting the waves of heavy air, rocking the cliffs, blasting. Could it be? Of course it could. There was no mistake about it. Purple Haze, baby. Jimi Hendrix was wailing, “Excuse me, while I kiss the sky.”
The tawny owl obliged, man. He kissed with big juicy puckered lips. Who didn’t dig Jimi? No one in they right mind, that who. The tawny owl went cuckoo over the part after Jimi declared, “Let Jimi take over.”
Then he happened to look down and he started to laugh his fucking ass off. There was the source of the jelly and the jam.
He said, “Would you get a load of that?” How could he know how big of an innocent mistake that would turn out to be?
Four graduating seniors from Santa Cruz High School, all of whom had been accepted to the college of either their first or second choice and didn’t give a fuck anymore, had cut all of their classes that morning, driven down the coast, and dropped acid by noon. By dusk, they were arrayed on a cliff overlooking a deep gorge that led to the sea. One was groveling in the sand, one was playing a flute. One was trying to tie his shoes over and over again. Another was pissing into the wind. They believed deep down they were untouchable. They almost looked as if they belonged there.
The tawny owl said, “I do believe that fool boy thinks he can fly.”
“The one with the white hair.”
“That’s yellow, not white. You blind?”
He said, “Whatever.”
She said, “C’mon, get the lead out.”
He groaned, “Oh baby, why you do me like that?”
She said, “Hrrumph.”
He started to think, what the fuck? This ain’t right. Now what do I do?
As it turned out, the correct answer was nothing. He blew it. There was nothing to do or be gained from doing nothing, or something, or anything. And nothing is exactly what he got.
He should have known. Probably, even I could have told him that. The lovely Thee Mrs. was always accusing the tawny owl of wasting too much time fooling around with lowly humans. Secretly, he knew she was right but there were times when they were just so funny looking that he couldn’t help himself. It was a lot like watching an explosive train wreck, but in a good old fashioned herky-jerky, jokey kind of way.
I knew that fool human by definition meant me because there was no one else in the vicinity to blame but when he told me his side of the story I didn’t want to cause any more trouble to anyone, especially myself. I felt his pain, I really did, but what can a man do? I commiserated in the best way I knew how, the only way. I deflected.
When he started to sing, “Nobody knows the trouble I see,” I said, “Oh man, you too?”
Then, I tried my best under the circumstances to solidify my opinion on the matter, and to empathize with his plight, and relay my profound understanding. As one cool brotherly cat to another, I said, “What the fuck?”