Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times

So this weekend was a pretty sad one.  I had to say goodbye to a man who was like a father to me, but I got to see my mom and my best friend so it was good as well.  I wrote a story about it.  Read it and tell me what you think. 
Peace and Love,
Julia

Darkwing Duck and a Tale of Unlikely Friends

By Julia Rose

Once upon a time there was a precocious little girl with brown hair that hung down in tight little ringlets.  She lived in a two-bedroom condo, three blocks from the beach, with her parents, who were, unlike most people’s parents, still together after 15 years of marriage.   This was not your average modern family.  The little girl’s parents were ex(?)-hippies who fled San Francisco in the late seventies to settle down and start a family.  The little girl’s dad was an oyster farmer and the little girl’s mom was the Manager of Human Resources for the Humanities Division at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

One day the little girl’s mother came home with a newspaper.  In this little hamlet of theirs, the University is the number one employer so all goings on end up in the newspaper.  The local newspaper rarely reports on anything genuinely newsworthy.  On the day a Tiger mauled three people at the San Francisco Zoo, the front page of the paper was about a dog who had almost, but not quite, broken the world record litter of puppies. 

The little girl’s mother, newspaper in hand, was quite upset.  “He’s a Hunter,” she exclaimed.  The little girl’s mother had been a vegetarian since the Jurassic Period, or the Seventies, whichever came first.  Because her dad was an Oyster Farmer, seafood had been lumped under the category of vegetable as well.  The little girl was raised a vegetarian, her favorite vegetable was salmon.  “How can he shoot those defenseless animals?” the little girl thought as her mother continued to rant and rave about the blasphemous nature of her ultra-liberal University hiring, as her new boss, a Hunter, of all people.  The little girl’s mother paced around the living room viciously, her curly hair flying everywhere.  She was seriously angry that her bastion of liberal ideology would hire someone that would surely be so conservative (little did she know that he had been fired from Loyola Marymount for heresy, a fact that the University took a certain amount of pride in) because lord knew that all Hunters were conservative, and being conservative, to the little girl’s mother, was a fate worse than death.  Soon, however, her opinion changed.  The little girl’s mother actually became friends with her boss, really good friends. 

The little girl went to a private elementary school where she didn’t really fit in.  She caused trouble.  She was constantly in the principal’s office.  And to make matters worse, the little girl’s parents had to work overtime so they could pay the tuition. 

The little girl’s father was, at this time, an oyster farmer.  Seeing as oysters cannot be farmed in the Monterey or San Francisco Bay, he had to farm in Tomales Bay, a small bay that is located about two hours north of San Francisco.  The little girl and her family lived an hour south of San Francisco.  So, every Sunday, the little girl’s dad would leave and every Thursday he would return, just in time to pick the little girl up from school.  So really, for most of the little girl’s childhood the little girl and her mother were together without her father.  Of course, the little girl, missed her father, but as she grew older she would rebel against him in the little time he was around.  In true adolescent fashion, the little girl would dismiss any air of authority he possessed.  In the little girl’s mind, her mother ran more of a democracy while her father ran some sort of benevolent dictatorship, and she didn’t react well to that sort of blatant assertion of power.  After all, she was a modern young lady.

Because the little girl’s father wasn’t home most of the week, the little girl had to go to work with her mother when she had time off of school.  Be it winter break, spring break or one of the many President’s birthdays (back then school children got a day off for Lincoln, Washington, and Martin Luther King, Jr.), the little girl would have to go to work with her mother.  She would help with shredding confidential material.  She would set up micro machine or My Little Pony worlds under the desk.  During the summer she would attend swimming lessons at the pool.  She read Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary and R.L. Stine.  She was your basic kid trapped on a University Campus.

It is unclear whether it was a random day off, or an extended break, when the little girl first met her mother’s new boss, but the little girl knew it was a moment she would never forget.  She was on the floor beneath her mother’s desk, probably playing with Micro-Machines or some such toy that could cause permanent spinal damage when adults slip on them, when she heard it.  A weird sort of cooing noise was coming from the hallway.  No one in the office seemed to really take notice, as if this was some sort of every day occurrence.  Little did the girl know, it was.  This was the way her mom’s new boss broke up the monotony of everyday business. 

As the little girl shyly poked her head out the door she saw him, a vision in an orange crossing guard vest with some sort of bird call hanging out of his mouth, like James Dean with that red jacket and ubiquitous cigarette.  He was a big guy, but compared to the little girl’s father, everyone looked small.  A normal girl may have been intimidated by this big guy in a crossing guard vest, but the little girl had no normal frame of reference.  To her, he would forever be the curly haired guy with the duck call.

In the latter part of the 1980s and the early part of the 1990s, the little girl was constantly in and out of her mother’s office.  And, as any normal kid would be, the little girl had a tendency to get extremely bored.  Summertime was the worst.  Three months of being in an office three days a week, no TV, no music, just an office floor and swimming lessons once a week.  That was the girl’s life.  One day, the girl was particularly bored and was inhibiting her mother’s ability to get work done.  Usually the little girl was good about being quiet and playing by herself, but on this day, she was beyond disruptive.  Luckily, her mom’s boss was off in Africa or Germany or Wyoming hunting some sort of wild beast that could seriously maim any mere mortal who missed.  He probably came back with a cape buffalo cape or a Saber Tooth necklace or some such symbol of his extreme masculinity.  But the little girl didn’t care about those things.  He was gone.  And because he was gone, and she was being such a nuisance, her mother let her in the boss’s office to watch TV.  Darkwing Duck and Duck Tales got the little girl through those extended periods in a dull, sterile office.

One afternoon, after weeks of being away, the little girl went racing to her mom’s boss’s (the Dean of Humanities) office, but something terrible had happened.  He was back.  Back from Africa or Germany or Wyoming or wherever he had been.  The little girl couldn’t bear a day without her Darkwing Duck fix so, being the brave girl she was, she mustered up the courage to meekly ask if she could watch her one hour block of animated mallards fighting crime and performing other such shenanigans.  The Dean then did something so shocking, so earth-shattering, that the girl was stunned speechless (quite a feat for the chatty little thing).  Not only did he say yes, he plopped down next to the little girl on the couch to watch Darkwing Duck.  The Dean of Humanities at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who had just returned from hunting wildebeests or Lemurs or other various mammalian creatures, was watching Darkwing Duck with an elementary school kid.

  Ever since that day, the little girl has loved cartoons.  Even now, as a full-fledged adult, she still enjoys cartoons.  He taught her that it was okay.  The little girl never had to go through that period where she thought she was too old to watch cartoons.  She never had to endure that disappointment because the Dean taught her a lesson that Cartoon Network would one day learn, cartoons are not just for kids.  Most children hit a point where, in their quest to be older, anthropomorphized animals fighting the criminal underworld in purple fedoras and black Batman rip-off capes, becomes unacceptable, but not this little girl.  During the summer, this became a tradition; a tradition that the girl would cherish forever.  Everyday, for the rest of the summer, the little girl would race to the Dean’s office and they would sit together, two curly heads of dark brown hair, transfixed for an hour.  After the hour, he would get back to his Deanly duties and the little girl would return to ‘Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?’ or whatever she happened to be doing for alternative entertainment.  Years later, into adulthood, the girl would still read comic books and watch cartoons because the Dean taught her that, even in what seemed to be the lowest form of entertainment, there was much knowledge and pleasure to be had.

As the years passed and the little girl grew up, she started working during the summers.  Darkwing Duck got cancelled.  The Dean left his position as the Dean and returned to being a regular professor.  The little girl and the Dean still saw each other at University work parties and Shakespeare festivals, but the little girl missed that hour a day the she had him to herself.  Then, in the Summer of 2001, two months before the planes hit the twin towers, the little girl decided that instead of moving to New York or Boston or Seattle for college she was going to stay in Santa Cruz and go to UCSC.  It wasn’t an easy decision for the girl.  In fact, the girl fought viciously against it, but slowly, very slowly, the realization dawned on her that this was actually going to be a great place to get an education.  So the little girl went off to college, twenty minutes from her parent’s house and across the campus from her mother’s office.  Seeing as the little girl’s mother knew the entire Humanities faculty, and the little girl studied Literature and History, the little girl had multiple professors implore her to take classes from them.  On occasion, the little girl was commanded to take classes from certain professors (she was, of course, commanded by said professors).  Unfortunately, none of the classes had anything to do with either of her majors and seeing as it was already going to take the little girl longer than normal to graduate (she studied in London and took two years of Italian) even though she took classes every summer, she was not able to take the classes her mother’s friends were so adamant about her taking.  One such class happened to be taught by the former Dean, it was called, ‘Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?’  It wasn’t as though the little girl didn’t want to take the class – who wouldn’t be attracted to a class with that name – it was just that she didn’t have enough time to take it (without costing her parents even more money).  The little girl still wishes she could have taken that class, but alas, such is life.

During the summer between the little girl’s (now she was more like a young woman) freshman and sophomore year in college, she moved back into her parent’s house (just for the summer).  Around this time, the Humanities division started having a somewhat impromptu happy hour date.  Every Wednesday night a small group of faculty and staff would meet at the Crow’s Nest Restaurant to watch the weekly sailboat races, drink copious amounts of liquor and eat overpriced, but scrumptious, appetizers.  The little girl had known most of these people for as long as she could remember.  Most of them would do that adult thing where they tell you how much you’ve grown, which always sort of seems like a nice way of calling you a big fat cow.  The little girl’s parent’s loved that they could brag about how well I was doing in school (never mind that she didn’t really have a life), but the Dean and the little girl always just chatted.  He would lecture about new books she should be reading; books about the Medici’s or Weimar Germany.  He would have one of the most intellectual conversations the little girl had ever been involved in, while sucking down as many rum and cokes as he could before the happy hour came to a sudden and sullen end.  He would scold waitresses who tried to take away his drink before every last drop had been consumed, scold waitresses who didn’t have another drink lined up as soon as his previous glass had been ceremoniously drained.

The little girl, being a waitress herself, would usually have been put off by the scolding of a fellow service employee, but the Dean was so charming it was impossible to be irritated by his good-hearted prodding.  Ten Bacardi and Cokes in, he was a jolly History of Consciousness professor whose booming laugh would light up the already somewhat raucous table.  One day, the little girl brought her roommate to this weekly ritual; the girl’s roommate was in complete awe of the sheer volume of alcohol consumed by a single individual, without the misfortune of gastric pyrotechnics that the two girls had fallen upon time and time again in their own rather consistent experimentation with alcohol.  It was quite a sight to behold.  The impressive part was that even twelve Cuba Libre’s deep, the Dean would still coherently and cohesively argue the finer points of Nietzsche, Metternich and Bismarck.  Soon after that summer he became the Dean of Humanities again.  The girl’s mother was always happiest when he was the Dean.  He worked her hard, but he was a great boss, yet another in the line of benevolent dictators that danced through the little girl’s life. 

Every summer Santa Cruz has a Shakespeare festival.  The festival is, in true Santa Cruz fashion, pretty insanely off beat.  They have been known to set Measure for Measure in underground sex clubs, the Merry Wives of Windsor in a seventies trailer park, and fat men in pink tutus were once hefted over a stage in one particularly memorable production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  During his reign as Dean, he would treat any of his staff who wanted to go to one of the productions put on by Shakespeare Santa Cruz.  There was always a reception afterwards.  There was always wine, beer, rum and whiskey flowing heavily.  The little girl, as she had recently started shucking oysters for her dad, was often relegated to that task.  Of course, this also meant she was often at the center of the party.

On one particularly memorable night the little girl was not only gifted with a bracelet made of elephant tail hair (made by an African tribesman out of the tail hair of an elephant recently killed by the Dean on one of his trips to Africa.  Don’t worry dear reader, he had a permit), but she was also introduced to the genius of Lenny Bruce.  As the Dean stumbled around the living room, lecturing on how wonderful Lenny Bruce was, and how he was the only true comedian, the little girl realized something.  In a truly cheesy ’80s movie moment, the realization hit her like a ton of bricks: this man was the father figure of her early life. 

The little girl’s father stopped going to the oyster farm when she was in the sixth grade, had a mid-life crisis and went to school to become a teacher.  Around the same time Kurt Cobain died, the little girl got her father back.  It was almost her twentieth birthday before she realized that even when her father wasn’t around she always had a sort of father around.  She had the Dean.  She had someone who taught her the importance of watching cartoons in the middle of the workday (and way past the age of twelve), someone who knew the importance of discussing great works of literature, while drinking one’s weight in fine Cuban rum.

The little girl ended up moving to Los Angeles after college.  She stayed in touch with the Dean through email.  They shared great discussions about John Wayne (he used to frequent the Dean’s house when the Dean was a child), about the importance of grammar, about the nature of life.  And then, one day, the little girl got a phone call from her mother.  The Dean was sick.  Really sick.  The girl went through the grieving process.  She was devastated, angry, in denial, but finally she realized what was perhaps the most important lesson the Dean ever taught her.  He taught her to keep going, no matter what.  Fuck Thoreau, the little girl thought, the Dean taught her something more important than sucking marrow out of life, he taught her to suck the last drop of rum from it before moving on to your next drink.  And for that, she will be ever thankful.

The End

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Friends, Santa Cruz, Stories | Leave a comment

Unprecedented

Ok guys,
So I know I’ve alluded to atually writing something other than
mediocre rants about crap you all could probably care less about, but
none of you, with the exception of my parents, have actually read said
material.

So here it is.  Feel free to be as mean and nasty or nice and fluffy
about it as you would like.  But first I’d like to give a little
disclaimer.

1) I haven’t done more than proofread for grammatical errors since I
wrote this.  But feel free to rip it apart.  I was a lit major…I can
guarantee someone’s said something worse about something I’ve written
(and I’m probably related to her).

2)  Since my father didn’t quite get this, I feel the need to explain.
 For those of you who are science people and haven’t really had to
write more than a lab report (or in the case of my father, a lesson
plan) you may not be aware of the fact that when people write fiction
they make up characters.  That’s right kids, this story is not about
me.  I mean, sure, I only have the experiences I’ve had so I can only
really write from them, but the girl in this story is a fictional
character.

3) I know it’s dark, but you know what?  This is how I deal with my
demons.  Some people work out, some people smoke crack, I write.  And
contrary to popular belief, I don’t think the world is all sunshine
lollypops and rainbows everywhere.

Ok, Love you all.  Enjoy.  And let the games begin.

Julia

I’m attaching the document, but I use mac so just in case I’m going to
paste the text below.

                                                           She
          Smoke surrounds her face as she brings the cigarette to her
lips.  Shiny with lipgloss, they close around the filtered tip.  She
inhales slowly, savoring the flavor.  Her eyes connect with his from
across the room.  She is obscured by the fingers of smoke coming off
the cherry of her cigarette and his interest is piqued.  She takes
another sip of the clear liquid in her hand as he slowly makes his way
across the room.  They never take their eyes off of each other.  Even
when he is stopped by a group of his friends, his eyes are on her
face.  The dim lights of the party and the incessant haze of smoke
around her excites and scares him.  She watches as his ex drunkenly
stumbles towards him, running a finger seductively from his lip to the
buckle of his pants.  Still, his eyes never leave her.  A warm heat
spreads through her chest.  Partially from the vodka, partially from
his ceaseless gaze.  She is hypnotized, she wants to look away, but
she can’t.  She knows he’s bad news.  She knows he’s trouble, but his
messy hair and the chain around his neck and the glow of his eyes make
her feel alive because she knows he’s alive.  She thinks about dying
all the time.  She thinks about killing herself.  She thinks of pain.
When she’s in the bathroom, alone, in her parent’s modest middle class
house in the suburbs of a town she can’t stand, she drags the razor
across her skin painfully slowly.  But as he walks towards her that is
all forgotten.  It is as if he has cured her with his deep brown eyes.
 She’s lost, but he has found her.  And maybe it’s a cliché, but she
doesn’t care.  She doesn’t want to think about anything else.

He stops in front of her and carefully brushes a strand of her curly
brown hair behind her ear.  She smirks at him, the corners of her
mouth turning up ever so slightly at the corners.  It’s the most
sincere smile she’s smiled in over a year.  He smiles back with the
same smile.  And they just look at each other, transfixed.  His gaze
moves slowly down her arm as he sees the bottle of clear liquid.  She
doesn’t need a chaser, she’s been doing this for a long time and she
likes the pain that it causes as it slides down her throat.  She
doesn’t want to dull that pain with orange juice or diet Pepsi, she
relishes the pain, the burning.  He knows.  He respects that.
Respects her.  No one else does.  That’s why she loves him.

His fingers graze her shoulder.  Her whole body erupts in goosebumps
even though she is wearing a leather jacket.  The warmth of his hand
permeates her beloved jacket, the one she never leaves home without.
She lives in California, but she never takes off her jacket.  It hides
her from the world, shelters her from the hurt she’s afraid to feel.
She loves the physical pain, it’s the emotional kind that kills her.
Even though she’s felt a relatively small amount of it, she fears it.
She doesn’t fear death, doesn’t fear her parents catching her with
this bottle of vodka in her hand, she doesn’t fear the future.  She
fears the pain.  She fears emotion.  And her jacket keeps it out.  It
keeps people away.  It scares them away.  Until him.

They haven’t even said anything to each other yet and she knows that
she’s just shed her jacket in front of him.  She’s giving it to him.
She starts to loose the ability to think coherent thoughts as his
fingertips lightly move down her arm.  They stop at her hand, at the
bottle and, for the first time, they have actual physical contact.
He takes the bottle from her hand and slowly lifts it to his lips.
His full red lips.  As he brings the bottle down his tongue comes out
to taste the last remnants of vodka on his lower lip.

He brings the bottle up to his lips one more time.  This time, she
can’t stop herself.  She reaches for him and slowly licks the remnants
of Vodka off his lips.  Her eyes slip closed as she feels every
emotion, every muscle, every breath.  For the first time since they
locked eyes across the room, their eye contact is broken and it’s
wonderful.  His chin is coarse with stubble and this is the first time
she’s ever found that sensation pleasurable.  When her dad forgets to
shave she doesn’t let him kiss her, but this stubbled cheek makes her
kiss him harder.  She wants some of him to seep inside of her.  He’s
so much better than she is and maybe if she kisses him hard enough, a
little bit of him will rub off on her.  As her lips are pressed
against his she knows she’s come home.  She knows she’s found her soul
mate.  She doesn’t even believe in soul mates, but she’s found hers.
And in that moment she knows that he has the power to crush her.  He
can hurt her in a way she’s never been hurt before.  She’s scared, but
she’s excited at the same time.

As they pull apart a small smirk plays on his lips.  He lifts the
bottle one more time and takes a gulp.  He lowers the bottle.  His
fingertips, along with the brown paper bag, graze her hand lightly.
She slowly opens her hand to accept the bottle.  She smiles at him and
he smiles back.

“Thanks” he says quietly.  He turns around and heads for the door.
She knew he would break her heart.

June 14, 2007 Posted by | High School, Santa Cruz, Sex, Stories | Leave a comment