Tales from the Chair

This damned chair.

Last year, my wife insisted that I buy a plush easy chair to replace one that the cats destroyed.  She even picked it out for me: a high-tech Norwegian job. If you believe the company website, it’s made by frost giants in a suburb of Asgard.  Solid wood and leather and high-tech foam on a jointed steel frame:  I could probably invade Iceland in this thing.

“I see you writing in this chair,” Rhumba said, “And the thought makes me happy.”

So we got it.  It’s insanely comfortable.  So comfortable that I have trouble staying awake long enough to write anything.  If I’m short any sleep at all, I just drop off.

And I am routinely short of sleep, because wife Rhumba’s legs are still an issue, eight months after the infection that sent her to the hospital.  They are way, way better. But they still need care from me, and she still struggles to stay calm about the situation.

I must stay on top of things, and I’m not very good at it.  I worry a lot. When I sleep at night, I wake up after about five hours, piss, and go back to sleep. That’s the normal pattern. But lately, worry grab me and I don’t go back to sleep.  I just lie there until it’s time to  face the day.

And then the chair claims me in the evening.  It’s hard to write on a schedule like that.  It’s also hard to get out of crisis mode: the idea that I might be needed at any moment.  I can’t focus on assembling thoughts into an argument: especially if the topic is a serious one.

I’ve  started four or five actually pretty good posts on one weighty subject or another, and  I just can’t finish them.  My own problems trump the problems of the world. I lose interest.

So I’ll stick with humor and surreality for awhile, until I’m peaceful and calm enough to deal with the real world.  If that’s what you want to call it anymore.

Today, “humor and surreality” means police blotter haiku.  I’m back in the saddle with those, thanks in no small part to Rhumba. She turned me on to the police log column for Forest Grove, Oregon.

Now, this blog has more than its share of Oregonian readers: hail, soggy neighbors to the north.  But the rest of you will not have heard of Forest Grove.

It’s small.  It’s old.  The rain falls 156 days a year, on average.  Forest Grove is 25 miles west of Portland, an hour’s drive from the coast: nowhere, kind of.  Retirees like it, and there’s a small private university.  For some reason, 20 percent of the undergraduates are Hawaiian: the cafeteria serves spam and white rice, plus Bento boxes every Friday. The  Hawaii Club stages a full-on authentic luau every year.  Everybody comes.

By email, I’ve asked the university how it came to maintain a Hawaiian colony under Oregon’s damp, gray skies.  I have as yet received no reply.

According to the travel boards, this is about all there is to do in Forest Grove: watch the rain; wait for the luau; maybe go to the sake brewery and get tiddly on samples.

But the police log offers other options.  Perhaps, to pass the time, you might tell the patient officers about the strangers who come out of the wall in the space between your closet and the end table. Or you might call yourself Missy Demeanor and do a twirly dance down the middle of the modest main drag.  You might even hike over to a stranger’s house with a big rock and leave it on the porch.

Stuff like that.  Maybe it’s the rain.

And maybe not.  One of my co-workers used to write for small-town newspapers, and turned out his fair share of police blotter columns way back when.  He tells me that the police chiefs of 30 years ago would release all sorts of bizarre minor incidents to the press — because they made interesting reading, and because the cops saw no reason not to share them.

But over time, police culture became more risk-averse and lawsuit-fearing (as the rest of us have).  These days, most of the juicy reports stay buried in the database. Police blotter columns aren’t what they used to be.  That’s what the old reporter tells me.

So my question is this: assume that the police chief of Forest Grove is one of the expansive old cops who’s still willing to gather and release the odder stories of human frailty to the general public.  This seems likely.

And if this is so, then potentially every city in America is as quietly bizarre as Forest Grove.  They just don’t know it, because the police won’t tell them.

I think that’s sad.  Because if we don’t track how normal it is to be crazy, we’ll just get crazier and crazier in our own disconnected little lives, never knowing that there may well be other people out there who worry that the Martians want to steal their eyeballs.

For example:

Satan in the house!
But… he’s erased his voice from
all the tapes she made!

Child Welfare’ has fears
’cause she drops F-bombs near her
grandkids’ tender ears.

She has no curtains!
She calmed down when she learned that
the cops didn’t either.  

The lady requests
that her statement be taken
by Officer Stud.

The police denied
that they sought, with the Martians,
to steal his eyeballs.

Sanitation sez:
Yeah, you can toss that skunk IF
you double-bag it.

“Their band is too loud.
And I wouldn’t complain but
that lead singer sucks.”

Does his engine purr?
Or is that the kitten who’s
nested inside it?

What does it mean when
your tween tells strangers you’re dead
and asks for the green?

Stranger with a rock.
He’s gone, but the rock remains
on her veranda.

And here are a couple more, from the sparse reaches of the Flathead Valley.

Two above freezing.
And she’s doing jumping jacks
and screaming for help.

It’s dinnertime!
And out in front of his house
stands a man with a spear.

That’s Montana for you. Or, is it only Montana?

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