star spangled lice
Several mornings ago, Adam felt under-the-weather and was staying home or so it seemed. I was prepared to butler his every need (books, quiet music, drinks, bowls of ice cream, etc.) while working downstairs but instead of hunkering in blankets for the first couple of hours in the morning like a bear underground-under-a-big tree followed by a thoughtful if not grandiose review of the enormous stack of comics on his nightstand, twenty minutes before the school bus was due to arrive he experienced a curious change of heart so I yanked the levers for a hearty breakfast and packed a toweringly-high carbon footprint lunch which I felt confident he would actually eat (and that would attract the envy of the entire third grade) and to my surprise I received a conditional permit (stop at the gate to the playground) to drop him off at school, different from the business-like perfunctory transit to early morning chess club later in the week. On our way to the gate of higher learning we strolled past a utilitarian sculpture otherwise cheesily known as the Pillars of Diversity along with a nearby streetlight upon which was tattooed a My Name Is sticker upon which was neatly printed: Black Lives Matter – Abolish Whites. As a subset of the target demographic I wasn’t feeling particularly butthurt given the depressingly predictable manner in which law enforcement around the country has been administering injustice lately (and for far longer) and after all we were standing in the Central District which is currently under siege by increasing tidal waves of clueless white yuppies in micro urban cars who are replacing the second generation sad white folkies on bikes who replaced the African Americans (who replaced the Jews way back when, I can hear the defensive first generation, crunchy 1980s white “urban pioneers” muttering) but the somewhat off-pointe message was at my kid’s elementary school and so after the bell rang and I was back at the streetlight somewhat-guiltily peeling off the bottom half of the My Name Is sticker so that only Black Lives Matter remained, I noticed a faded handbill on the opposite side of the streetlight featuring an enthusiastic white supremacist hate group (Christ Jesus you gotta be kiddin’ me, it’s Race War Wednesday?) and I just threw my hands up and peeled both of those fuckers off. At the house, before brewing a fresh pot of coffee, checking email and getting down to bedrock, out of curiosity a visit was made to the web address from the handbill because I like to know thine enemy and I was half-expecting my computer to be contaminated momentarily by any number of well-meaning anti-hate viruses but my defenses held and once I got a load of the sinister crap, surfed quickly away and poured ten cups of hot coffee over my head and sang the Star Spangled Banner off-key while grabbing my crotch, kneeling and raising a fist into the air and then that same night while tucking Adam into bed I noticed he was manically itching his scalp and come to find out his head was basically Times Square for a culturally competent and self-aware community of lice.
And then Thursday morning, Oliver Fern got kicked out of preschool for having the same dad-blasted cooties (despite a thorough shampooing in Permethrin and a couple hours of nit-picking in the basement) and so it was that in the crystal autumn sunshine he and I headed downtown for the tang of marine air, cigarette smoke and traffic exhaust en route to Pike Place Market where lice blend in seamlessly with the weird fish smells. Sauntering along First Avenue, we spotted one of the Drive-By Truckers’ roadies slipping out of the Showbox (sound-check?) headed for the parking lot to an enormous beige motorhome of the sort often spotted 0n the central Oregon coast hogging up Highway 101. We would run into a band member later in the Market, inside of a quiet secondhand shop below Post Alley, where Oliver found three vintage Hot Wheels. Before heading home in the afternoon via the 43, we picked out Red’s Planet by Eddie Pittman for Adam, a beautiful sterling silver necklace with jade for the boys’ mother and a piroshky and sweets for ourselves. The jeweler was a nice fellow, he perked up when I told him about Adam’s interest in rocks and minerals and we got to chatting and he shyly gushed about his five month old baby at home and I restrained myself from telling him it goes by awfully fast. While we were talking I looked down at Oliver Fern who was patiently caressing the dark velvet drape adorning the display table and his daydreamy gaze was listening, smelling and recording the Market and I wanted to tell the jeweler even filthy lice have a sterling silver-with-jade lining.