I opened a bottle and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
my town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
and dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a bottle and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
and followed their road with its bumps and bends
to the happily ever after.
I finished my bottle and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
but I have a bottle inside me.
With apologies to Julia Donaldson: that last part is a little creepy.
I was sitting in the train this morning, listening to music and reading something on my tablet. This was all according to my morning routine, a quiet and comfortable place, with nothing more serious to worry about than a flat iPad battery.
About 10 minutes before we reached the final stop, where I would transfer to the train that takes me onward to my own final stop, a pretty girl collapsed.
She didn’t go down like a sack of potatoes, mind you. She was a class act and just sort of gently leaned, and kept on leaning. The lady next to her realized what was happening pretty quickly. She calmly caught her and gently laid her out in the floor, right by my feet. As far as collapses go, it was orderly, graceful even, like a slow-motion stage-faint.
Once she was safely on the floor, calls went out for anyone who might know first aid. A twenty-something guy in immodest cycling pants confidently stepped forward and started giving orders. He checked her pulse, made sure she was breathing, and went about arranging her body so she wouldn’t choke on her tongue, should dire things indeed be happening. But she was breathing fine, and lay there on her side with her hands beneath her face, sleeping peacefully. Right by my feet.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Not in a flustered or chaotic way, more like when you’re speaking in public and can’t figure out what to do with your hands. It’s been well over twenty years since I took first aid, and I don’t think you’re supposed go straight to leeches and trepanning any more to treat these types of imbalances of the humors. Not knowing what else to do, I just sat there and watched her sleep.
This felt creepy almost immediately, so I turned back to my reading. I was in the middle of a Tumblr post by Cory Doctorow, something about cyberfreiheit or Disney’s Haunted Mansion most likely, and wanted to get to the end of it. This was when my iPad died on me. For just a split-second, sitting there watching the device’s spinning wheel of hibernation, I felt like the universe was conspiring to make me miserable, that life could be cruel and unfair. Then I remembered the young lady who was laid out unconscious at my feet, felt guilty, and checked up on her progress.
She was sitting up but groggy, with people gathered around, asking her if she knew her own name and who was Prime Minister. I realized that if I fainted and people started asking me these kinds of questions, I wouldn’t be able to get more than 50% of them correct. There would probably be a lot of sad, slow head-shaking about the young man who was so out of it he doesn’t who the Mayor of London was or who chuffed the lorry. Luckily, and to her credit, she was more up to speed on UK current events and was fine, if rattled. We arrived a few minutes late but I made my transfer without any hassles.
I entered the connecting train and sat down for the final 45 minute train ride into work, wondering what I was going to do with myself without a telescreen to stare at. Right before leaving the station, someone sat down across from me: it was Sleeping Beauty, and though she was ambulant she was definitely looking like something that the cat had dragged in.
I wasn’t sure if her passing out on the morning train was something I should bring up. I thought it could be an ice-breaker, maybe, a way to get a conversation going and pass the time. But then I thought, she might ask what I did to help, seeing as she had been laying on top of my shoes. I was front row center to her collapse, and not only had no impulse to jump in and help, but would probably have done more harm than good had I tried.
So I put on my headphones and pretended to listen to music, sneaking the occasional glance to see if she was still shaking and pale. And for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hands.
WTF, climate, it’s almost the end of April. The sun finally came out today, and the sky is blue. But it’s cold. It should be 65 degrees and breezy outside. May’s coming up, you fucker, now make some effort out there.
An advertisement for the Kantine bar in Augsburg, Germany. It’s a bar located in the abandoned American military base close to the town.
According to legend, the city was threatening to shut them down for years. Once, they even had a closing date. But they were given a reprieve. This postcard is an invitation to the celebration party.
It has been raining cats and dogs. And there are snails. Snails and slugs are everywhere. They creep around the garden at night, as expected. But they’re also shameless, flaunting themselves all throughout the day.
When I go out to smoke at night, there’s all too often the crunch underfoot, another escargot falls to the Croc, crushed to paste in his little home. I usually feel pretty bad about that.
Indeed, there’s a veritable snail plague underway over here in England. I guess one should expect it, with rain every day for a quarter-year straight. I’m alright with it, to be honest, they don’t bother me much. Except when I accidentally crunch them, that is. Then it kind of gets to me, makes me feel bad and clumsy.
But the little lady, she’s a gardener, and sees things a bit differently. Gardeners tend to have that ruthless, detached streak in them that you only otherwise see in serial killers and cattle farmers. If some creature might get in the way of their ultimate goal, be that a coat made of women’s skins or a milk quota, well, God help whatever that creature might be. Measures will be taken.
A couple of days ago, she decided it was time to spruce up the edges of the garden. Plants were bought, packed in little plastic grids, destined for a lifetime of loving care. For she’s a generous gardener. New homes were made for them, all along the boundaries, between the other flowers. There was just one problem: The snails would be coming, and everybody knew it. She knew it.
She brought more than tulips home from the garden shop that day. She brought snail pellets, little bright blue nuggets of horror that she could strew about the garden. They looked scary enough on their own, but there should have been a warning on the bottle. A warning to all, that it contained scenes of Armageddon, of the End Times.
Since that day, a week ago, the garden has become a charnel pit of loathing. A multitude of nails and slugs and gastropodes of all descriptions lie writhing in their own secretions outside my house at this very moment.
Whenever I dare venture outside, their blank little eyestalks stare up at me, quivering, begging my help yet hopeless of salvation, dying in a pool of slime that used to be their bodies. And they have lain there since the butchery began. Every day, there are new piles of empty shells scattered on the flagstones, settling down into the horrifying masses of goo, the remnants of dozens or even hundreds of the slugs and snails that were drawn to the Blue Death before them.
I hope her flowers survive, I really do. But I can’t help wonder: at what cost!
Looks like the little lady and I will be making a rare appearance at one of these here “blog” meetups. Looks like I’ll need to get my tux out of the mothballs and polish my spats.
Anybody coming who might still have my blog in their RSS feeds?
Taco Bell is being sued for using the word “beef” in the advertising for their “beef” tacos.
Now, I’m not one of these people who would eat a beef taco in any restaurant without expecting there to be actual, honest-to-jeebus beef or some kind in it. I’m just not that cynical. I expect things to be what they say and do as they’re told.
Careful analysis reveals, unfortunately, that Taco Bell’s “seasoned beef” filling is duplicitous and not worth your trust:
“Taco Bell’s definition of ‘seasoned beef’ does not conform to consumers’ reasonable expectation or ordinary meaning of seasoned beef, which is beef and seasonings,” the suit says. Beef is the “flesh of cattle,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Dear me. We should have seen this coming. Nevertheless, I feel unaffected as I haven’t eaten at the Bell in years, and even then I was usually enjoying the (relatively harmless) Bean Burrito, with added sour cream to ensure receiving bespoke food items (Taco Bell ProTip).
So now we’re left wondering: If it ain’t beef. What is it then?
A second opinion may not be exactly what you’re looking for. What for you is flawless and sublime might be unremarkable to those whose opinions matter to you. They might find the object of your opinions quaint, lackluster, or, worst of all, not worth commenting upon.
These things can be borne somewhat when the knowledge is yours alone. This is why you must carefully consider with whom you’re going to share your likes and your dislikes. Or anything, really.
Take a good, long look before speaking.