A Tale of Adventure!
Lt. Dadd Masterson, Bush Pilot
Lt. Dadd Masterson, Bush Pilot
"I laid my spatula on the ground. I wouldn't need it for what I was going to do. I wouldn't need it again ever. I turned with a heavy gaze toward the stove, that massive fiery furnace. Flames licked the bottom of my heavy braising pan like blue tongues. I squared my shoulders. Had it all come to this? To steaming zucchini? Ah, so is the will of God. I am but a man. I raised my trusty tongs, faced the steaming zucchini and ---"
As I lay now in my comfortable hospital bed, I read these words from my diary and wonder what I was thinking at the time. What capricious imp of the perverse conduced me to square off with a pot of steaming zucchini with just my tongs? It must have been the heat. The humidity in the Kitchen can reach unprecedented levels. Stamps won't stick to envelopes. Flies fall to the ground, unable to swim through the dank, jungly atmosphere of the Kitchen. I had been there so long, so much--sweltering over chili mac Hamburger Helper for the boy and bowl after bowl of Smak Ramen for my pre-veggie teen daughter, that I may have lost touch with reality. The strain and dreary automation of working in the Kitchen. Worse, as I created and unboxed wonderous creations for my keepers, I was left to make do on a meager ration of frozen Jenny Craig meals and steamed zucchini. I remember that day, as I mopped my brow and hitched up my pants, I realized I was a slave, I was losing weight, I was wasting away.
17 pounds lighter, I veered in the Kitchen's steamy heat and for a moment came to myself. Is this what it means to be a man? Is this the rigorous, adventurous life I'd set out to have? What's wrong with me!
There was a time when I drove a tricked out fire-engine red 66 Impala. I parked it long ways at Daytona beach and kicked back with my woman in the sun as visiting tourista fathers slowed down to drink in the car, the coolness of it far outstripping their pathetic rented sedans. I remember the look in their eyes as they feasted on the deep shine of Carnuba wax and made that delicious connection between the arc of the fender well and my indifferent, curvaceous girlfriend. I remember dipping my head to peer into their over-air conditioned station wagons as they looked past their wives who were reading Anne Rice and ignoring the screaming sunburnt houligans in the back seat. I remember locking eyes and nodding nearly imperceptibly, knowing it communicated so clearly to them: that's right, buddy, take it all in, awesome car, awesome girl, kicking back on the beach with a couple of brewskies and living the life. There but for the ravages of time go thou.
So many years later, an indentured servant, laying in my recovery. I remember clearly now, the shame I felt, standing there, red spatula in hand (it's good on the non-stick pans), staring at my reflection in the glass-like obsidian finish of the oven--who was this gaunt spectre, this rickety servant? Why was I debasing myself for these miscreant natives who had me under their control, ordering me from the comfort of their comfy couches, lying like insouciant Romans before their 52 inch plasma TV, gorging themselves on my efforts and loudly insulting contestants on American Idol. As I'm thinking these thoughts, one of their reedy voices cuts through the fog like a lash: "Dad, get me a coke."
Resolve burned in my veins. The audacity, the criminal nerve, to keep a man down like this, to enslave him to their indolence. I glared at the gaunt reflection. The heat on the oven door flashed a moment of clarity as the steam evaporated--just for a moment--and the gaunt creature reflected before me resolved into a proper reflection. I spoke to it, perhaps crazed with exhaustion and anger: "Remember the Impala."
A coke. It wants a coke. Well, I'd love to get it a coke but it made me steam zucchini first and it will have to wait. But I know, I know. I've been enslaved for so long, my life of adventure cut short nearly as it began, the Impala lost to time, and I am become that minivan dad, staring out the Kitchen window as some freeman on a Harley charges past, oblivious to demanding teen Overlords. There but for the ravages of . . .
So I laid down my spatula. I faced the hellish steaming pot of Zucchini. If this is my lot, this is then, my lot. I shall embrace it with the courage God gave me. I am a man of the realm, after all. I am a man of courage. I squared my shoulders and raised my tongs. I closed them slightly.
Pain shot through my body. These tongs, cheap replacements for my favorite pair, lost to damage, had bitten into the flesh of my hand between my thumb and forefinger, a pain, perhaps not that different from having your arm bitten off by a wild Tiger--but my reaction, odd and poorly timed, I am shamed to say--was to simultaneously scream, extend my neck, and hunch my shoulders. The muscles in my neck, already weakened by the sad diet of wilted vegetables and that damnable Jenny Craig paste could not relax in pace with my hyper extended head. I actually felt them tear--the same trembling vibration you might feel when tearing towels into rags.
Mortally wounded (it seemed), I stumbled into my keepers' den of luxury and begged them to pause their televised entertainment spectacle and give me relief, massage my neck, for the love of all things holy!
"You look ok to me, Dad."
"Yeah, what are you talking about? Would somebody PLEASE unpause the tv?"
Eventually the oler one, the eldest of my captors, reluctantly, and with dramatic sighing, heaved her reptilian hulk off the couch and slouched toward me. Even in my great pain, the horror of her indifferent approach made me recoil. She laid a single claw against my neck and wiggled it as if attempting to dislodge petrified mucus from her nostril. She continued to stare fixedly at the great televisor, all but ignoring me, causing more damage than relief. I discharged her and sunk into my small chair, which I am forced to share with the dog--whose sexual proclivities cause me no dearth of discomfit--and tried to imagine a better place where self-inflicted whiplash-cum-tong chomping is unknown, where shiny red Impalas lounge insouciantly in the surf and I am, as I once was, a man, indolent and proud.
1You don't think Yoga is rigorous? Read "Real Men Do Yoga" and try their beginner set. Call me from the ER.
Please save me: my children are trying to kill me.