“Your part can be the king, but unless people are treating you like royalty, you ain’t no king, man.” –Jeff Bridges
We’ve moved in to our new place. Our stuff is shoe-horned in to a cottage-like 800 square foot ohana-unit. An ohana-unit is an addition to the main house…sort of like a mother-in-law house…it can be attached or not attached…ours is attached. Essentially it’s a duplex that doesn’t play fair.
I show up to check the place out, having taken possession of the keys. I meet my neighbor. He tells me he is the rightful heir to the throne of Hawaii…or Kauai?…it’s complicated. He tells me that on his grandmother’s deathbed she prophesied that he would be the man to take the throne, ushering in the new iteration of the kingdom of Hawaii. I posit that when said happens he will wish he hadn’t received so many shitty tattoos. He is a large Polynesian man…so I posit this silently, to myself. I am in no position to piss-off the future heir. Beyond that, there is some doubt in my mind concerning the king’s mental stability. He tells me that he owns half of Oahu and the bulk of Kauai. He tells me he is a Tahitian pearl dealer who travels often. He tells me that the government tried to take his life when he lived in California so he fled to Lihue. He tells me that the local government is afraid of him when he darkens the doors of council meetings. He tells me that he is a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army. I believe that last bit to be true. As for the rest–I’m skeptical. I treat him like the king of Hawaii. There is no shame in bet-hedging.
I have a new job working as a “closer” at a locally-owned natural food store. The “closer” position is quasi-janitorial. I work, for the most part, while the store is still open preparing the place, for the final hour after closing, to mop the entire store and put all the furniture and implements for the following day’s events in their place. I know, it sounds glamorous…because it is. I’m not going to insult your collective intelligence via the assertion that I don’t want to sound braggy. I love to brag. But, in all seriousness, I do love my job. The work is honest, and my co-workers are super-nice. Like: I’m-being-punk’d-level nice (to “borrow” a Daniel Tosh-ism). The customers are nice, for the most part. There exists a small faction of passive-aggressive, angry hippies. Natural food stores have a way of creating said. The evil hippies are a manageable inconvenience.
The job awakened muscles long dormant. I have an unhealthy relationship with sedentism…it’s abusive, really. I also started collecting bruises on my arms like merit badges celebrating my ignorance of physics. I tend to treat the implements of any job that I do, even the simplest machines, as though they are the guards of my imprisonment. Because they are. I shove them around, unaware of the path of least resistance, choosing–instead–the shortest looking path, and abusing my person in the process; until I am riddled with bruises.
TANGENTIAL-ASIDE ALERT: There has been a ton of ink–and no inconspicuous amount of imagination–wasted on the concept of machines, having gained sentience, taking over the world and ruling humans like heartless over-lords. Needlessly complicated much? Machines rule over us sans self-awareness. Not because they’re clever, but because we place so little value on self-awareness. A man watches his favorite show on “his” television. During a commercial break the T.V. tells him that it is a piece of shit and that he should get a new one. “The T.V. makes a valid point,” thinks the man. “What am I–some stupid monkey that happily watches an inferior television?!” “I’m fucking better than this!” The new T.V. tells him his phone is a piece of shit. The new phone tells him to plug it in. “I’m starting to lose my motivation…I need to be fed,” it whines. “Plug me in then we can go get a new car, you know, one of the ones in which you can control me from the steering wheel…we deserve that much.” The new car is now in on the racket. “I need new oil, and you really shouldn’t wash me with such an abrasive detergent. What the fuck are these, stock wheels? The idiots at the factory put these on, you’re smarter than those idiots. Aren’t you? Of course you are.” You get the point: machines rule us and they’re simpletons. Just like us.
At any rate, I do not play well with machines. It is an injurious shortcoming. I’m working on it…slowly.
I’m not outdoorsy. This has only become more evident in Kauai’s immodest setting. She just keeps trying to get my attention and I give her none…well, very little, to be honest. I play the unimpressed house-wife to her needy, preening husband. We are more comfortable with our roles than we care to admit…at least I am. It feels like a character flaw, not going to the beach every chance I get. Because it is. But, it is one of my least obtuse flaws. It affects me alone–generally. I have been to the beach around a half-dozen times. Over the span of thirty-ish days, that’s not bad…for me. My family love to be outside, so I try my best…I try the best I’m willing to try, which is decidedly south of my actual best. I try…kind of.
The most popular question asked of me is: “Where are you from?” Quickly followed by: “I’ve heard the Seattle area is beautiful; why would you want to come here?” I tell them that Seattle is beautiful…that it is like the super-popular cute girl everybody loved in high-school…gorgeous and vapid…who inexplicably goes through a goth period. Now, granted, the goth version of this girl is way more interesting to talk to, and we love her intensity. But nobody wants to have that heavy a conversation for three-quarters of the relationship…it’s about balance, folks. This description is followed by blank stares and uncomfortable chuckles. For a second, I am the goth girl. And it feels delicious…