Thursday, December 23, 2004

Fleas and Tivo

I'm in Alabama, I'm at Hannah's folks.

There are a fair few cats here. I don't mind cats at all, I think cats are great, well, maybe not great, but they have every right to go about their cat business.

What I do have a problem with is the cat flea.

I felt something on my arm last night, looked down, and there, oh no! oh God! no! was a flea. It leapt off. Phew... but it wasn't phew for long. A little later Hannah informed me that she'd seen the flea leap back on to my person.

I sat there feeling violated. I sat there wondering when the flea would start to make its presence felt.

Sure enough, after a few minutes I felt a flea biting under my arm.

I blew what little credibility as a macho man I had left by leaping to my feet and shouting stuff like....

"Oh! Jesus, no! A flea... oh no...." and, "Oh no! I'm being bitten... I'm being eaten alive!"

I stripped off and ran down to the basement to shower. The flea departed.

I came back up in my pajamas, flealess but also somehow diminished in the eyes of my hosts. I sat there, quietly reflecting on the human condition. Someone said my hair looked cute. I relaxed again. A flea wasn't going to ruin my Christmas holidays.

Alabama Bookstores and the Bubonic Plague

We went out once the sun had seen off the frost. Down to the Cold Water Bookstore in Sheffield. Hmmm, I don't enjoy being mean, but the dire lack of books in the bookstore posed a direct challenge to the actual use of the phrase "bookstore". On a positive note, let me say that the wonderful dark-stained shelves will indeed look very beautiful should a... book... or Heaven forbid, books, ever be placed upon them...

There was a copy of The Communist Manifesto, staring up from a little stand.

Perfect for rounding up the local dissidents, I thought. I didn't even dare to pick up the manifesto, it would probably stain your hand with a permanent dye that would be given in evidence against you at a military tribunal.

*

Next we went to a bookstore called Books-A-Million. Someone had been there, taking all the controversial books, the interesting books, out of the inventory. No Bukowski, no Fante, etc. I don't like to buy new books anyway; I stood there, holding a copy of Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, wanting to read it, but not wanting to buy it.

I put it back.

On the way out of the store, two idiot shoppers had buttonholed an idiot sales assistant. They were trying to buy a particular book by describing its cover...

"It's really really good..."
"... and popular..."
The idiot sales assistant nodded.
"You must know it, it has a picture of a man's face on the front..."
"A man's face?"
"Yup. You must know it..."

I pondered my own reaction to this idiotic means of identifying a book purchase. I would've nodded and gone and picked up the first book I saw with a man's face on the cover and sold it to them. People that stupid would never even find their way back to the store to complain.
Wasn't there supposed to be some mention of bubonic plague in this posting?

Ah, yes, bubonic plague, the terrible fate that awaits me. Steve pointed out that the flea that has been biting me may carry bubonic plague.
"You remember all that stuff, don'tcha? In England, ring a ring of roses, and all that stuff. People being burned in the streets after suffering excruciating agonies, black bumps appearing beneath the skin... And the wild thing is, the bubonic plague is still around, down in California, if you go out in the woods, you'll see signs warning you about coming into contact with rats that are carrying it..."
I pondered this. I pondered dying a medieval death in the 21st Century. I could dress up in a foul-smelling hessian smock and wander the streets ringing a bell... I could buddy up to people I didn't much like the look of...
I also figured I could indulge myself in some payback in the most litigious nation on Earth.
"Steve, I'm sorry, but if I get bubonic plague, I'm going to have to sue you for damages..."
Steve carried on driving. Then he spoke...
"Hell, well, it don't matter. Truth is, we don't have a heck of a lot to give you..."
"Hmmm, no, but you do have a supersized TV and a TiVo box, they'll be good entertainment while I lie there on my sick bed. I can pause the TiVo when I throw a fit or lapse into a coma..."
I pictured the doctors around my sick bed.
"Mr Unction, your coma lasted two weeks, but look! Dog The Bounty Hunter is paused right where you began to black out..."
I smile a toothless smile and resume my evening's viewing.

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