Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don't Pick The Poppies!

“What are you in for?”

It has been a long time since I was asked that question and I hope I never hear it again. Yes, I have done jail time. It’s difficult to imagine by looking at me, but I have a record. A real record…no, not the vinyl kind, read by a needle to amplify music on a phonograph, the criminal kind.

It’s been five years since that awful day. Spring serves to remind me. Understand though, I’m not blaming spring at all; it’s one of the most pleasant seasons. Almost too pleasant.

It was in the spring of 2003, when I visited the California Poppy reserve. I was walking past the visitor’s center when a park ranger smiled, waved and told me the Goldfields were opening up. I was surprised because they were one of the most private families in our cul-de-sac…and how did he know them anyway?

I was amazed at the high density of poppy plants. It was as if God stroked the hillside with a brush dipped in vibrant orange paint. I followed the Coyote droppings along the trail and let my eyes drink in the majesty of the blooming Filaree and Blue Dick. I really must research the history of the latter. It caught me by surprise, as I watched a Monarch butterfly swooping and hovering. I felt an intense urge to pick one of poppies… and so I did, unconsciously of course. One led to another and I must have slipped into some kind of picking compulsion that had been lying dormant. Before I knew it, I was clutching a bouquet that I don’t even remember picking. Of course, the park ranger didn’t accept this explanation and the next thing I knew; I was being finger printed, booked and looking at a possible jail sentence of two to five years.

How could this be? It wasn’t as if I had received an illegal stock market tip or anything as horrendous as that. I picked some flowers for God’s sake. Still, I was forced to register as a PPO, protected poppy offender. I’m not allowed to come within a hundred yards of a protected flower…ever.

I shared a jail cell for about twenty minutes with a young woman who was looking at three years for illegally duplicating a DVD of Sing Yourself Silly, by the Muppets. She may have had a hefty fine to pay as well. I will have to register with to look her up. I’m curious to know what happened to her and I don’t want to wait until the ten-year reunion to find out.

I’ve since joined a twelve-step program for my flower picking addiction. I have a sponsor and attend meetings regularly. She makes me stay far away from the floral section of the supermarket and return arrangements sent to me by admirers. I still get a giddy feeling when I pass the Goldfield’s garden but I found if I begin to skip, it takes my mind off my PU’s (picking urges).

And in case you haven’t guessed by now….just kidding.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Malice In Wonderland

I wonder if there are statistics on how much time people spend wondering. Admittedly, we’ve really cut down wondering time what with cell phones, e-mail, infrared night vision cameras, miniature magnetic-mount motion-activated weatherproof GPS devices, caller ID, audio monitoring kits and fish-eye peep holes. We really don’t have to make Aunt Gert wonder where we are when we can just call or send a message or an e-mail with a photo attachment of our recent visit to Woo La La Chinese Restaurant.

I heard somewhere that genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger. Well, let me tell you, with all of the negative things I was told while growing up, my mental firearm is far more dangerous than any M16 assault rifle and should never be given too much time to wonder. Still, mild wondering is something I do enjoy; at least until it becomes unstable and someone gets hurt. It starts something like this.

I wonder where he is? He isn’t answering his cell phone. I’ll bet he forgot to charge it again, or maybe it’s off. Hmmm.

Maybe he e-mailed me. I log on and scroll through the offers to whiten my teeth by 7 shades and pills that will correct my erectile dysfunction. I look briefly at an approval for government funding. But then, who isn’t being funded these days? Still another one catches my eye. This one is for pomegranate juice that promises to cleanse 15 lbs of undigested food from my intestines. I’d love to lose 15 pounds. I wonder if that works.

I check my cell phone. No voice messages or texts. I look at the clock again and wonder if it’s right. I call for the time. Maybe he thinks I’m still at work. I access my work voice mail and the only message is from my boss wondering why I left early.

What a fool I am to believe he would follow through with our plans to revitalize our marriage. I’ll bet he collected several numbers at that party we were at last week-end. After all, an attractive man like that may find it difficult to remain loyal. I anxiously picked up the phone to check the dial tone. I call my girlfriend, Cindy, “don’t ask me to explain, just call me right back.” I hung up. Seconds later, my phone rang. “Hello? Yes, I was just wondering if my phone was working.”

He spent a long time talking to that tart, Pam at the party too. I wonder. Could he be at her place right at this very moment, sitting with her on the couch and talking about the party and how I squeezed in between them on the leather sectional sofa? I swear, I thought the other end would lift up with all of us huddled together like that. I’ll bet they can scarcely contain their laughter. I scroll through my cell numbers and select Pam. She answers. “Hi Pam, I was thinking of having some people over on Saturday. Are you available? Yeah, it is short notice. That’s too bad. Okay, well how about tonight? Are you doing anything tonight…with anyone? I mean I was wondering if you are with anyone. No? Okay, thanks.”

I suddenly remembered my locker-mate at the gym. Marcia was one of those addicted to working out, and purging every last calorie of her uncooked plant food. He mentioned how good Marcia looked when he met me at the gym earlier this week. I wonder if he’s there with her right now. I call the gym and ask them to page him. He’s not there.
I went to my closet and dug out my poster of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and put it on the wall next to the front door, yes, it’s a well-placed reminder for him, if he ever comes back. There are sooooo many whacko’s out there. One glance at this picture is equivalent to at least ten sessions of couple’s therapy.

Maybe he was trying to call when I was checking to see if the phone was working or when I called Pam, or the gym. I wonder if I missed the call waiting beep.
This wondering is getting absurd! Who does he think he is anyway? Making me wonder like this! Now I’ve wondered out too far and made myself miserable.

I don’t care if he ever comes home again! I’m just going to go about my normal evening routine and pretend he doesn’t even live here. I fixed myself a sandwich and ate in front of the TV. I washed my hair and put on some densifying treatment for fine and limp hair then coiled some plastic wrap around my head. I was just getting interested in my TIVO recording of Dexter when the doorbell rang.

I looked through my fish-eye peephole to see him standing there with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. He had a bottle of wine too. I wondered what crappy thing he had done that he thought a handful of daisies and a bottle of Two-Buck-Chuck would make up for. And for God’s sake, I wondered why on earth he would he ring his own doorbell. Probably pretending we are still dating. Nice try.

I yanked the door open wide so he could see the anger on my face. He jerked back when he saw me. He glanced at his watch and frowned.

“Am I early? I thought we planned to have dinner at seven.”