I could tell something freaky was going down, coming from way out there, perhaps cosmic dust from Galaxy NGC3314a was crackling wise. Or it could be NGC3314b. Or something amiss in one of the explosive spirals that the tawny owl says give him the hotsy tots and the shingalings. Sadly for me, the shingaling is where he leaves me astronomically far behind.
As far as I knew for sure, though, at least to start, we were merely parrying with several universal truths, a simple slide step and a pseudo shimmy, me with my eyes metaphysically closed, the majestic Thee Tawny Owl fluffing his magnificent tail and buffing his jewels while hooting tenor and alto. And I thought we were standing together, contemporaneously that is, just like that, me down low where I belong in the rare dirt, and where I do better if not best, and with the exalted one rightfully up high, caressing the sky, as the immortal Elmore James rocked, Shake Your Money Maker.
And I felt spiritually rapt and humbled, though within accepted norms I’m pretty sure, as the dead man wailed, “She say she gonna love me but I don’t believe she will.” It’s true, as a matter of fact, not theory, and way beyond a shadow of my many doubts, that dead men don’t lie. Living men have a cut throat monopoly on lies. You can look it up, observe, study, quantify, and bookmark the consequences. Women and children too. Even as it is equally true that all this love stuff, which is much in the news cycle these days, and lies, which are eternal, seem to go together like baloney and cheese. It doesn’t even have to be cheese with holes. Or riddled with whiteness, also eternal. Or bubbles. That must be one of those profound whimsies called a tautology. Spry bigwigs in Silicon Valley, which is just over the next big hill from the redwood tree on which the tawny owl is perched, are working fiercely to popularize it between sipping fizzy liquids and glamorously munching Cheetos.
So what does a man do better than shake? I had no evidence to believe in any other way. Or reason, right? So I wriggled, I shook, I nodded, and I bounced my average volume head along with its mostly unused brain hiding safely inside. The elongated syrup bubbled up bitter and sweet, just the way it was supposed to go down.
I said, only somewhat lyrically, “Ooh wee baby.”
The tawny owl snapped, “What was that?”
“Who me? That was nothing.”
Believe me, I was not trying to hoot. Why would I hoot? There was a lack of reason, remember? And I do not improvise well anyway. That’s like asking for trouble. And look who was standing above me. And who can fly high when I can’t? I was following, plain and simple. Step one, step two, like that. Like…duh.
The tawny owl, though, saw shit deeper, wider. He had never once stepped in it. If that’s not meaningful, what is? Nada, that’s what. I remember the first unholy time he told me that. Who wouldn’t be envious? That’s precisely human nature, right? Envy is enshrouded in ancient rites.
The tawny owl said, “I can see how hard it is to scratch in the dirt. I sure would hate to be stuck like that. How much of your brain is it again that goes unused?”
“You’re asking me? Let’s not go there. I know it’s most. That’s all I know.”
“Your kind never learned how to cull the herd.”
“You know I stop listening when you reduce me to one of my kind.”
“First you’re starving. Then you’re stuffed. Don’t know how. Don’t want to learn. Pretend what’s in your face don’t exist.”
I said, “That’s one sided even coming from an altitude way up there.”
“You’ll never know how high.”
“I know that much.”
He said, “But, what are you going to do, stop eating?”
I said, “In my own mind, all I’m trying to do is improve.”
He said, “Uh huh.”
I said, “It feels like I’m getting farther out there every day.”
“Well, okay, not every day.”
He said, “Uh huh.”
Then, He began to hoot in quadruple harmony, with a reverb effect that jitterbugged through the trees like a worker bee chasing sweet magnolia tail. Man, I felt like doing some serious shimmying too. if I only knew how how.
We were in a natural amphitheater surrounded by trees. Not all were redwoods, only the best and brightest of the lot.
Did I mention I could tell something freaky was going on. Or did I lose my place? Which is not unusual. Knowing what’s what would be unusual. Getting there would be unusual. Wherever.
The sad fact for me is that some days feel like kindergarten all over again, where I am still learning how not to hit, bite, scratch, and act out. It’s hard to find a place in line when you don’t want to march. My lines tend to get all stretched out and fuzzy and refuse to show up at the right time when the bell rings and stay upright and straight.
But, I knew for a fact that I could feel the swell approaching Monterey Bay. It was carrying the scent from a tide of parasites. I shook with the Earth in my own way. The smell was robust, with misaligned buoyancy and decay. The parasites were the color of wan flesh eating their way into hearts and homes. It smelled furthermore unripe, unwashed, teeming. Waves were head high and above. The water was cool and sharp like molten glass.
The tawny owl said, “In your own vernacular, I see a lot of rookies, greenhorns, pretenders, douche bags.”
I said, “I don’t think douche bag fits in the same way with the others.”
He said, “You wouldn’t.”
I take it as my matter of faith that we all shake. Even those who can’t shingaling and shimmy, still shake. Even those who pogo up and down with no use for hips that sway. The earth shakes to its fucking core, after all. You follow or not but the trip is not going to be smooth. Even faith is mightier when shaking. That way nobody needs to know things that gets in the way.
I know that I am not trying to withstand the shaking. I am going along for the ride. I have hips that move. I want to be shaking like a motherfucker. I know deep down that’s the way to get where I’m going. That’s all. I don’t think it’s going too far. I’m just trying to get loose. And free.