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23: April 28, 2009


I Like Squid. And You?



Fluffy


Have you ever put your squid in a microwave?

Not your whole squid mind you--that would be despicable even by the standards of this blog. I cringe to think of anyone violating Fluffy in such a manner. I mean just, you know, squid. The delicatessen at my local supermarket sometimes offers squid rings. They’re breaded like onion rings and, heated up, make a delectable snack with beer.

Problem is, squid doesn’t fare well in a microwave. The outcome is comparable to that of casting Sylvester Stallone in a comedy, but much more explosive. You end up with something along the lines of microwavable squid-corn…more properly named pop-squid, I suppose. Serve with ketchup. Lots of ketchup.

* * *

Mr. Muggins Goes to School

Here’s all you need to know on what it’s like being me these days.

My current university sits atop a steep hill. My apartment is fifteen minutes’ walk below it. My daily custom, weather permitting, is to walk my bicycle up the hill so that I can later coast home.

After one minute’s trudge up a narrow side-street, I turn onto the main boulevard that takes me straight to school. I had just made this turn last Thursday when I found myself behind a young woman walking her bike in the same direction. Here are my successive thoughts, for which no one has offered the proverbial penny:

This young lady has pleasingly contoured buttocks. I’m going to fall into step about six meters behind her and stare at them all the way up the hill.



Hmm… I don’t recognize these particular buttocks, but they are almost certainly the buttocks of a student at my college. Once we get up there, there’s apt to be an awkward moment in the parking area between me and the buttocks’ owner. Then she’ll go have lunch with her friends and tell them about the creepy bald teacher who lurked behind her for fourteen minutes…



I could pick up the pace and pass her. I’ve pretty much milked these buttocks for all the delight that can be wrung from them anyway…



Can one say “milk these buttocks”? Even metaphorically?



Anyway, she’s walking too fast. I’ll never overtake her.



Okay, I’m cutting my losses. I’ll coast back down to the crossing and walk up the opposite side of the street.



(Five minutes later)



Hey, what happened to the chick with the buttocks? Oh, I see: she started pedaling. So I doubled back for nothing…



I can’t pedal up this hill. How dare she be able to pedal up this hill.



Damn… I forgot to pack a fresh shirt that I can change into before class.



It’s okay. I’ve got that shirt stowed in my office closet just for contingencies like this.



Yes, but that one’s blue. And it’s already pretty warm, and I’ll be working in an un-air conditioned room. What if I start sweating? The armpit stains will be obvious and freshman girls will ruthlessly mock me. One knows how this works from bitter experience: When one’s in a situation where one absolutely must not sweat, one gets nervous thinking about it, which virtually guarantees copious sweating.



Rats—trapped in a classic Armpit Catch-22. I’d better double back and get a white shirt…

[Never to be continued]

* * *

A True Story About My Friend Clark

The sweetest person I’ve ever known was a boy named Clark with whom I attended grades K through 12. He was blonde, short, freckled, pumpkin-headed, soft-spoken—but ripped enough that bullies left him alone. Absolutely ferocious on the wrestling mat, but off it? Meek enough to inherit the whole earth on his own. He never drank; his strongest exclamation was “Geez!”

He went to church on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. He never dated and, last I heard, has never married. He wasn’t—isn’t—gay. We know because he told us he wasn’t, and he was incapable of lying. Had he harbored so much as trace elements of lust toward other men, his response would have been, "Well... Geez! Yeah, a little, I s'pose... Kinda... I guess. Geez!" I suppose he has never proposed to a woman simply because he thinks it rude to impose on anyone.

We were quite surprised when, a few years out of high school, we noticed that Clark had acquired a smoking habit. He was working in a factory at the time, he explained, where all his colleagues were smokers. But it wasn’t a need to blend in that got him started. Rather, he noticed one day that of all the brands available in the plant’s cigarette machine, only one—Old Golds—remained forsaken by all customers.

Yes: Clark took up smoking Old Golds because he “felt sorry for” the brand.

* * *

Here are a few random lines that were cut from Summer of Marv during the Great Purge of 2007. (Future Muggins biographers, don't panic yet. Rest assured that I’m keeping most of the scraps locked up just for you.)

On the Art of Duplicity
When most people hear the proverb “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” I gather they take it as an admonition against telling lies. I take it to mean that quality deception requires lots of practice.

On Hangovers
“Feels like the floor is made out of tits,” Nielsen observed. He was slipping. He had used that one before.

On Perspective
Perspective is everything. Even the Sphinx looks puny when viewed against the backdrop of the pyramids. But up close and personal, it’s all you could want in a…a lion-like thing with a human face, or whatever the damned thing is supposed to be.

On the Timeless Appeal of College Women
I felt, even in those days, and still now feel even more strongly, that there is something deeply, fundamentally suspicious about a heterosexual man of any age, of any cultural background, who claims to have no interest in college women. Like Feste in Twelfth Night, I would have men of such constancy put to sea—or better still: keep them at home, unplug their life-support, and start harvesting their organs for those of us who are still, theoretically at least, in the game.

On the Mellowness of Pop Music in 1975
But if AM radio that year failed to offer much variety in moods, there was plenty of it in vocal registers. You might hear Barry White intimate in his chocolately rumble that you were his first, his last, his everything—back to back with Minnie Ripperton warbling way up in dog-calling octaves, or the feline caterwauling of Styx.

And yet the off-loading of rotting crates of mellowness onto the AM wharfs would only accelerate in summer when Michael Murphy, Elton John, Judy Collins, John Denver, the “I’m Not Lisa” lady, Art Garfunkel, and Morris “Feelings” Albert would pile on.*

On Press-Operating Safety
With that, the tension vanished from the room like Lars Largo slipping down a storm sewer, and Marv resumed his paean to press-operating safety. “You want to keep all your fingers,” he concluded, nodding vigorously and grimly, signaling that he would brook no dissent this time from that noxious anti-finger-keeping faction.


* I cut this bit on grounds of gratuitous meanness. What has Morris Albert ever done to me?