Saturday, July 25, 2015

You don't see this coming

Goat and new friends

So you're ambling around downtown Bedford, Ohio, and you are intrigued by a shop called Kulis Freeze Dry and so you step in.

Who expects to be greeted by a rhinoceros? No one, that's who. Yet there you are beside a full size stuffed rhino that was killed by a bow and arrow in the mid 70's during the last legal hunt of the animal.


The charming proprietor entertains your curious questions (when was the shop established? 1967. Is it still owned by the Kulis family? No, Mr. Kulis did not have any children. Do you get a lot of pets? I won't do pets anymore. That dog gave you all he's got to give).

The giant alligator frozen in an open-mouthed snarl in the back of the shop, incidentally, came up from Florida.

"That's as close as I need to get to the likes of him," you say.

Later, you will wish you had asked about the process, the training, the regulation and the emotions that go along with this business and how the hell did they get that rhino over here from Africa all those years ago? but alas, there are too many other things on your mind, so you say your thankyous and step back out into the world.

Passing by the rhino on your way out, however, you feel the  unmistakeable tug of the animal's lingering energy and the fleeting concept of a graveyard washes over you.

yeah, yeah

You pass a tattoo shop. Your stomach growls with hunger. You squint your eyes against the late afternoon sun.

You walk towards infinity.

*  *  *

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Walking through the American dream

So the Goat and I are lying in our conjugal bed listening to the rain outside as it washes out our plans to walk.

"Honey," I say.

"Yes?" he says.

"There is another option."


"We could ...  we could ... ," I stammer, afraid of my own forthcoming words. "We could mall walk."

And there it was. And it had to be gotten through like all the rest of it.


The inscrutable half-head mannequin

The first mall walking discovery was agreeable enough: We were not alone, although we walked a good deal faster than the other mall walkers. After one or two laps, however, things began to deteriorate, starting with sensory overload. Everything is designed to entice you visually (of course), but smell plays a large part as well. One aroma billows out at you after another. Perfume, candy, soap, popcorn, Sbarro, that money-smell they pump out at casinos.

One of several candy banks and a guy

Ubiquitous headless mannequins confront you with escalating creepiness. Some have heads, but no faces. Macy's had some with faces that were wearing lipstick, which moved that entire establishment up three notches on the Humanity Scale.

Apple Store and headless chicks in evening gowns

At about the 35-minute mark, we found ourselves completely disoriented. The more we repeated our laps, the more we wondered where we had seen the giant woman clad in a bra with the smoky gaze. Did we park by this entrance or that last one? How could we not have noticed that plus-size mannequin before?

We walked through a cloud of something that smelled (ahem) organic. "We just walked through someone's fart," I said to the Goat, and at once, my fellow mall walkers were not quite so endearing.

Yes, really

Athletic shoes are now candy colored and the stores that house them are hellish collages of ... stuff. The Goodyear tire store with a mall entrance filled me with unprecedented joy. Home Spa was by far the most depressing business. A couple of bored looking people in smocks sat on dubious looking couches near the storefont until someone poured themselves into one of the massage chairs. It felt like witnessing sexless prostitution. Not sure which was worse, when they had customers or when they didn't.

Flesh-eating vampire display

Music in a mall is oddly downgraded into sound. Not noise, sound. I may have been listening to songs I knew my whole life. If so, I did not recognize them. It all sounded muted and drunk.

Even though we were walking in circles, it felt like a soul-crushing downward spiral. There is not one store designed to appeal to you intellectually. NOT ONE. No book stores. No music store. There was a convenience store and we stepped in to see if they had any print at all. None. Not even a newspaper. Yeah, I know: maybe everyone has a newstand on their phone. Maybe not.

The only two stores that might have had intellectual appeal were Spencer Gifts and Brookstone. SPENCER GIFTS, people.

No newspaper for you!

After about an hour and 10 minutes, I said, "Let's go." Famished, exhausted and vanquished, we repaired to the cafe at the Mustard Seed Market for de-progamming and a bite of lunch. Relief washed over us, as if we'd been released from prison.

Now then, whether or not a person purchased a bottle of Virgin Mojito Shower Gel for $9 at the Body Shop is entirely beside the point.

You're welcome


*  *  *

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mr. and Mrs. Goat

The Goats as photographed by Bob Perkoski

This may be the best photo anyone has ever taken of the Goat and me, and while I love it, I'm also deeply disturbed by it.

We look entirely too much like a couple in a commercial for a cruise. If we were inanely throwing our hands in the air, we could be in an ad for diabetes medication.

Do the walk of life!

We are an affable middle age couple, attractive enough, but no so much so as to be intimidating. These are people you can trust. These are people who know something. By gosh, they are doing something right!

And while I think you probably can trust us (strangers frequently approach me and ask: Do I know where this-or-that road is? Do I know what's going on with that gathering of people? Where can tickets be purchased?), we don't know anything and the ratio of the things we do wrong vs. things we do right is pretty average.

Yeah, yeah. Someone pass the cheap whiskey.

*  *  *

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Colt

The Colt

I am unsure how the Colt Frontier Scout became part of our family, but I suspect either my Great Gramp Doubler purchased it or his brother Dan did. They ran the family farm in Independence, Ohio from the early 1900s through the 1970s, although the farm itself dated back to before 1850.

The Colt is notable to me for several reasons. When Aunt Elaine, Great Uncle Dan's wife, got up in years, she kept the Colt on her lap as she rolled around her old farmhouse in her wheelchair, often shooting at imaginary woodchucks, and possibly a couple of real ones. Whether or not she ever took one out is anybody's guess, but the walls of the kitchen were full of bullet holes. By some miracle she never shot any of us.

When the Doubler farm came to its final demise, my Gram O'Brien flew in from St. Louis and stayed with us in Lakewood for a few weeks getting affairs in order. During that time, my dad and his mom fought bitterly over the Colt and who would retain ownership.

When she left for the trip home, however, she left the gun behind and Dad stowed it away. He may have taken it to events now and then. Guns were not a focal point in our house, but the Colt meant something to him. I do not believe he ever owned another handgun, just old school hunting long guns.

My Great Great Gram Vaughn in front of the farmhouse her daughter in law
would later shoot up on account of imaginary woodchucks

Fast forward a half dozen years or so. I was 15 or 16. It was a Friday night and I went to a party. Later in the evening, a guy offered to walk me home. He was good looking, popular and a couple years older. I was starry-eyed and accepted his offer. When we got to my house, we hung out in the upstairs den. The predictable teenage makeout session ensued, but went south very quickly.

He wanted me to do things I didn't want to do, physically pushing me. I refused, adamantly, and pulled away. I told him he had to leave and headed down the stairs. Surely he would comply with my parents in the next room. He did and left in a huff. I went to bed.

I woke about two or three in the morning only to find the persistent Romeo had returned and was sitting on my bed. He commenced trying to touch me as I blinked awake, which didn't take long. I scrambled from my bed and told him to leave or I'd wake my parents, then I hurried by Mom and Dad's closed bedroom door and down the stairs. Romeo followed.

I wasn't afraid. I was angry. After all, I knew this kid, but had never realized what a creep he was. I honestly felt no need to scream or wake my parents.

He called me some names and then took a beer can he had obviously brought with him and threw it at me before storming out.

The staircase was right by the front door. On one of the risers sat some stuff completely out of place: a bottle of Crown Royal, some cassette tapes and (inexplicably) a couple of small cheap art prints. Had he cased the house before coming to my room? Something was really off. I went to wake Mom and Dad.

"Dad! Dad! Wake up! Someone broke into the house!"

Mom stirred. Dad told me everything was fine and to go back to bed.

"No, Dad, you have to get up!"

At this point of the tale, it is important to note that the beer of choice at Bill O'Brien's house was Stroh's, always.

Hence, when my half-asleep father grumbled down the stairs and spied an upended can of Genny Cream Ale on the floor of the foyer, it got his attention.

"The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up," he would later recall.

The house was checked. Frazzled nerves persisted, particularly when my mother spied Romeo peeking through a front window, watching our movements. He bolted when he realized Mom saw him.

Dad called the cops, who called back about ten minutes later.

"We got him. What do you want us to do with him?"

"Scare the livin' shit out of him and take him home," said Dad.

And so it was.

After that night, Dad permanently located the Colt, now loaded--a complete departure from his previous habits--on his nightstand.

So there's a gun story. You want another gun story? Here.

*  *  *

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Urban hike

Field of dreams
Castle and head of Goat
Cleveland Venus
Secret urban path
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
Chair reserved for Erin O'Brien
Samsel Supply, the manliest manstore of all time
Scary lift bridge detail
Journey's beginning or end? Dunno

* * *