Monday, December 19, 2011

Connect the Dots...

I was walking the dogs this morning in Stewart Park--the one in the center of town.  It was fairly quiet, weather is warm today, around 40* with no fog, so I'm enjoying the stroll, my mind wandering along with the meander of the dogs.  There's a long stretch of paved pathway that edges the golf course.  I call it Damnation Alley because half the time the golfers miss the bloody fairway and balls come lobbing over the trees onto this path.

As we're walking, I see one of those puff ball things.  You know what I mean??  If you step on a ball, this big puff of dust wafts out and you've just helped Mother Nature spread spores.  Absentmindedly, I step on this big one off to the side of the path, and as the spores drift into the air, a memory drifts into my head.  I burst out laughing, the dogs look at me like I'm nuts, and I pause to wonder at the circuitous route our minds take, when one thought leads to another without any conscious participation.  When dots connect.


Jan and I met when we both worked for the same publishing company in Seattle.  We became instant best friends and remain so today.  At the time she had just moved with her husband Rick from LA where he made MTV videos.  He'd been sent to Seattle to cover the burgeoning music scene; video the grunge bands...(Nirvana ring any bells??)  Rick was a wonderful, funny, gorgeous Bon Jovi-looking guy with long blond hair and the bluest, twinkling eyes.  We three were best pals for a long time.  I loved Rick, though unfortunately most women did.  After too many--well, that's a heartbreaking story that isn't mine to tell.  Suffice to say, they divorced, and it was just Jan and me against the world for the next few years.  We had a ball, doing any and everything we felt like.  Then I met someone, and we became the Three Musketeers, until eventually, my guy introduced Jan to his best friend.  And now, there were four.

About a year after they began dating, Jan and Cal moved in together--into Cal's house.  Jan had lots of stuff, as did he, so they enlisted our help one Saturday to clean out the garage and the basement to make room for the merging of two households.

Jan and I are in the living room, sorting through boxes the guys have brought up from the basement.  We have piles for the thrift, piles for the dumpster, and piles to keep.  Cal drops off a big, bulging box and says, "This is Spanky's.  I don't know what's in here."

Spanky was a long-time friend to both guys.  He had stored a few boxes with Cal a couple years back and then disappeared.  Last anyone heard, he was headed to the East Coast, but why and where, no one knew.  Cal wanted his stuff sorted out and consolidated; what Jan and I thought wasn't worth keeping was to be tossed.  We weren't really comfortable going through a stranger's personal belongings, or making such a judgment call, but we figured better us than our guys who would no doubt just throw everything away without any thought.

Eventually we get to the bottom of the box and find this cool metal container.  It looks like a small strongbox of some kind.  Neither Cal nor my guy have a clue what it might be, though Cal thinks he's see it before but can't quite remember in what context.  The box has a lock-type thing on it that won't open, so I get a screwdriver, hand it to Jan, then go into the kitchen to refill our coffee.  As I come around the corner, two mugs in hand, Jan is kneeling on the carpet, the box clutched to her chest, the screwdriver jammed into this lock thing, a look of fierce determination on her face.  "Maybe we should let Cal do it," I suggest.  "No, I've got it," she says through clenched teeth.  I set the mugs on the coffee table and turn to help her with this blasted box.

Suddenly the lid bursts open, and the contents explode out of the container, dust flying into the air in a great puff ball.  As it slowly drifts down, covering Jan's head, her face, her clothes, the carpet all around her, Cal walks into the room, stares for a heartbeat, then whispers in horror, "Oh Christ, it's Spanky's Mom!"


Lots of years and many miles later.  I'm stepping on a puff ball in Roseburg, Oregon this morning and the dots connect in my brain.  I'm back in Cal's living room in Seattle, watching the puff ball that was Spanky's mother drift all over my best friend.  And, regardless of the total inappropriateness of it, but unable to stop myself, I'm laughing my head both places.

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