— From EF —

If I get arrested for hunkering down on my knees in a parking lot and rolling onto my back to look up under the front of somebody else’s Prius, here’s my alibi.

Our drive down the I-5 to San Diego (to do Lear as the opener of the sumptuous San Diego Puppetry Festival) was challenging. We already knew what to do when getting close to Coalinga: switch the AC to interior recycle and hope that only 50% of the Harris Ranch feedlot stench gets through. But shortly afterward we got torrential rain combined with a road surface from hell, all pits, potholes, and furrows. Wow.

Then came surreal images of acres of almond trees blackened, dead, knocked over by bulldozers, but still in their military formations. And after that, for a full hour came the white-out dust storms. You couldn’t see the tail end of the semi you knew was just in front of you. Periodically, big tumbleweeds would come out of nowhere and whap against the windshield.

So when we pulled into a rest stop north of San Diego, in the comforting arms of the military helicopters doing their afternoon dance, it was something of a relief. The concrete bumpers at the head of each parking space growled an abrasive warning under the Prius’ chin, but that’s a common occurrence. We ate my lovely road-supper, and then went on toward our destination.

Before long we started hearing an alarming grind under our car’s front, and I was terrified, because every time we hit the brakes it got a lot louder. Just what we needed, yeah, a major auto crisis at the start of a gig.

Eventually we got to the theatre, parked, and looked under the car. The under-bumper unit had peeled back and its front was scrubbing on the street. Imagine grabbing your lower lip and pulling it down toward your chin: you get the picture.

Every self-respecting theatre has gaff tape, so we bent the thing back up as far as it would go, taped it to the upper bumper, and bought a roll of black duct tape (it’s stickier). After four or five repeat tapings, we’d nearly used up the whole roll.

So here comes the state-of-the-art efficient low-cost touring ensemble, rolling into Sebastopol with a front end adorned with multiple layers of duct tape. Faced with another long-haul trip to San Jose on Sunday, I put on my dirt clothes, grabbed a flashlight, put a tatami mat on the ground, and set up shop under the wounded front end.

Thanks to the deity who gave me the gift of reverse-engineering, I figured out how these plastic parts fit together, succeeded in prying and bending until tabs went back in place. But the screws were hopeless. Like wall anchors, their plugs had spread their wings, and once ripped out of their sockets, no way were they going back in.

I did get a tighter fit, though, and our mailman has recommended an indie auto body guy in town. I still want to sneak a peek at another Prius, though.

— From CB —

Last weekend, we were in San Diego, performing at the puppetry festival and lodged in a nice guest room in Chula Vista. I happened to skim a National Geographic and came across an article about a skeleton found in an underwater cave in Mexico. It was a girl who had been twelve years old thirteen thousand years ago. The cave would not have been underwater then. What snagged my attention was the fact that the researchers preserved her skull upside down so the teeth wouldn’t fall out. I too have coped with periodontal problems.

During this past week I’ve been trying to write something about this. I’m not a poet or essayist, but I had some odd need to respond, to comment, to delve, though I have no idea why. The obvious questions, of course: What was she doing in the cave? Were her fractures the result of a fall or of violence? Why wasn’t she found by her people? How long was her dying? What did she want to be when she grew up? What makes me care?

What makes me care? One could grab a girl-found-dead headline from any Tuesday or Saturday and ask the same questions and come up blank.

For the researchers, it had a profound relevance to the late Pleistocene migrations, allowing them to compare the girl’s DNA with that of present-day Native Americans. For me, it was something about those loose teeth and the gum loss. It may well be that the reason I’ve been unable to write about it is that it’s set my skull upside down.

 — From the Fool —

There’s a bunch of people running for President already, so maybe I should too. The way to do it is, form an exploratory committee. They’re supposed to tell you to do it. I think my friend Joe with the ugly dog would be on it, he likes to tell people what to do. And my sister the hooker already said yes if she could get an invite to when I throw big parties for fat cats. My landlady might, so she could raise the rent if I move out. The room’s a walk-up, and the radiator bangs, but it has a view out onto a parking lot and then it would have presidential status.

The next job would be to get to Iowa and New Hampshire and go around to all the greasy spoons where you find ordinary people and tell’em you understand their problems. Somebody called that the empathy thing, and I’ve got a lot of it because I need to get my car fixed or I can’t get to Iowa or New Hampshire. But I’ve still got a while to work it out.

Then you have to come up with a platform. I think I’m way ahead there. To start with, I’d be solving the unemployment problem by running for President. If they say, “Well, that’s just you, what about other people?” then I’d come back with a snappy, “This is the greatest country, where anybody can grow up to be President.” That’ll stop’em.

As to foreign policy, yes, I’m for that. Except maybe for France: they act pretty snotty sometimes. Taxes, we should do something. Also immigration and climate change, we could bring in some experts on that. So I’ve got a good start on a platform, I think. Just needs a little filling out.

The big problem is figuring out, should we have invaded Iraq? That was about the time I was having a problem with my phone bill, so I wasn’t paying much attention. But if you’re President you have a lot of advisors. We’ll work it out retroactively.

I know it’s a big job getting elected, but you get a lot of free meals.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2015

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