JUNE 8, 2010

Its been a warm and muggy week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The mornings have been fraught with pogonip hanging up high blocking the sun until the late morning sees Mssr. Soleil burn through to make a sort of breezy, sunny, muggy day high in humidity.

This really upsets the pole beans and all the leafy's out there, causing much distress in the veggie kingdom.

This weekend was the occasion for Javier's undesired and unwanted birthday celebration again. The poor fellow tried hiding in the wisteria, which turned out to be far more prickly than first imagined although the thicket of branches and unruly growth must have seemed attractive at first.

It was from this momentary refuge that he observed Denby highstepping it down the way with several staff members pursuing him with cake and streamers, for the Subeditor of the Music Desk shared the jour de naissance with Javier.

Somewhere out of sight he heard screaming, indicating the sometime musician had been tackled by Sandra of the Typiing Pool.

O this would not end well; it would likely be a wretched day of disappointments for Denby, strapped to a straightback chair while "well wishers" drank up the man's scotch, sang songs out of key, and told embarrassing stories about Denby's childhood in St. Cloud.

This was a fate Javier determined to avoid, especially after the incendiary 50th and the morosely sodden 51st of last year. The bandages had only just come off after the terrible Incident of the Steam Kettles and he was loth to revisit the Highland Trauma Unit so soon. If everything went well, he would slip out unawares and share a jug with Snuffles down by the beach in the most painless fashion and just get by the god damned day without any disasters.

That's when Sue came along and spied him not so well hidden there in the foliage.

"Dude, watterya doin' in the wisteria, man?"

"Shhhhhsh!," said Javier. "I'm takin' a leak. Look away."

"Dude that is awesome! I so need some more piss for my indigo; hang in there until I get a flask . . .".

Sue was a dear sort, at least for a Virgo, but she had this thing about natural dyes for her textile artworks. All up and down the coast she was known for the intensity of her indigo-dyed felt articles which she made the "old fashioned way" -- featuring fermented and distilled urine. Hher pillows were to die for as far as looks, but a few weeks of airing really needed to take the aromatic flavor out of them. She sold her pillows for about a grand a piece and many were the well-endowed dowager who had laid her head to a night's rest on a bed colorized by the yellow streams of old bums.

Such is art.

And such was Sue that she scampered off to fetch a flask right then, which caused Javier to howl and claw his way out of the suddenly very involved treetrap that held him in.

This, of course, alerted the staff members who had been searching for him all over.

Leaving his shirt in bloody tatters, Javier fell out of the wisteria, pulling down a portion of the house trellis, which clipped Mr. Stitches on the ear, knocking the schoolteacher flat so that he looked quite dead. Javier took off running toward Crown Beach with the entire International Desk plus the California Report and the Weather Desk in hot pursuit. Ignoring the warning signs, Javier plunged into the high tide waters at the Strand, intending to swim completely around the breakwater to the Cove, but got entangled in a gooey sort of mass of tarballs.

Seems we have had our own oil spills to deal with locally, from the Cosco Busan to the bunker oil spill and any number of illicit dumpings besides.

The Coast Guard sent out a longboat to fetch up the bemired Javier, who looked a little like the Michelin Man with his coating of seaweed and tar.

The navvies speculated as to the best method for scrubbing the scum off of the scum, and elected to blast Javier with high pressure hoses, alternated with sprays of concentrated degreaser. To make this happen, they tied him spreadeagled to a rope lattice used for exercises on Coast Guard Island while Javier protested all the while that he could handle this little emergency entirely on his own.

"O we cannot have any toxic waste running about, no we cannot allow that", said the CG commandant.

"Dude! Hold your breath now! Now, dude!" Psshshshshshshshshs!

Well they shot him with seawater, but that failed to dissolve anything, so they used water from the boilers of the new cutter, which helped some even as Javier turned red as a lobster under this mat of oil, so they got the tech fellows to mix up some solvent and that did the trick all right. Some of the female cadets really got into blasting him clean below the waist.

"Ahhhhhhhhhh! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!" said Javier.

Now wouldn't this be a good time for a slice of rhubarb pie? Yes, nothing gets the pain of tarballs, hot water, and humiliation out of your mouth like a slice of Baba Rebop's Rhubarb Pie.

Mama's little baby loves rhubarb rhubarb
Mama's little baby loves rhubarb pie!

By the end of it, Javier was battered, bruised, sodden, and relatively free from tarballs. The Coast Guard summarily discharged him on the Strand and ordered him never to be seen swimming in oil spills in the Bay ever again.

So there Javier was, spent and mostly shirtless and somewhat pantless with no more shoes to speak of when along came Occasional Quentin and Snuffles Johnson. They had with them a jug.

"Dude, you look in seriously bad shape," said Quentin. "Have some wine."

The offering was freely accepted. And right there on the beach the three old friends settled in for a good old fashioned drunk, a sort of drunk that Javier had earned. For after all, it was his birthday and he was now all of 52 years of age.

"Feliz cumpleanos," said Snuffles.

"Eff you!" said Javier.

Right then, wouldn't you know it, but the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the estuary as the locomotive wended its way from the stark birthday candle gantries of the Port past the dark and shuttered storefronts of Jack London Square as the little train headed off to parts unknown.