Phil was here for one of our precious few-and-far-between visits two weeks ago. And in a very rare turn of events, my entire immediate family was here as well, for a reunion. Our visit was much too short and, of necessity, really intense. But it was so good to have everyone in the same room together for a little while, to get to introduce Phil to my family, and vice versa. The kids, in particular, really bonded with him. We got some very precious one on one time with one sister, who lives overseas, and a morning at the zoo with my other sister and her family. There was a lunch with my parents, and a couple of gigantic family dinners and game nights. In amongst all this, we caught a few nights to ourselves as well. Two visits to Killer Burger in Hollywood for peanut butter-pickle-bacon burgers, a night out to celebrate Shana’s birthday, and a sold out show of Vertigo on a restored 70mm print at the Hollywood Theatre. Much, much too short, but very important time and I’m so grateful we had it.
I was downtown with a friend a couple of days ago, and as we came out of a shop we walked up behind a woman at the corner. I overheard her say, “Are you texting me right now?” At first I thought she was on the phone, but then I noticed she wasn’t holding one. The man standing next to her didn’t seem to know her, and moved on across the street. Another man was moving towards the corner from our right, and she turned to look at him as he tapped away on his phone, and she repeated the line. “Are you texting me right now?” This time it bit, and he said, “I AM.” “Well, you don’t need to, I’m standing right here.” “I can see that,” he said. “I should have just looked up.” But then the light changed, and he crossed the street as well. So plainly he didn’t know her either. It was kind of cute. My best guess for this scenario is that it was a pixie-flavored pitch by a sex worker, but it might just as easily have been a chatty woman amusing herself on a street corner for a couple of minutes.
Portland, home of the creative spiel.
The teddy bear was stuffed into a sack strapped around his waist. The toy was a dingy golden yellow, and wearing some kind of blue shirt. The head and one arm of the bear were sticking out of the top, and the man held the bear’s paw in one hand, and gestured with it, tapping the bear’s head with his paw. “This is Frederick, lifelong friend, and we were just waiting here and wondered if you maybe had some nicotine for us.” “I’m sorry, I don’t.” “Why does everyone say that?,” this addressed to the top of the bear’s head.
“I’m sorry about that,” I said. This apparently occasioned some confusion, because the man said, quite firmly, “It’s not a ‘that,’ this is Frederick. Like in “Ted.” You seen Ted? About a man, his lifelong childhood friend comes to life.”
“No,” I said. “I haven’t seen it.” He looked at me, astonished, and said, “It was for the Academy Awards last year. Ted. Lifelong friend.” A full plot synopsis followed, with periodic reiterations wondering if I’d seen it, and increasing concern each time I said I hadn’t. His voice getting louder as the rumble of the streetcar approached. He looked down at Frederick, and Frederick patted his own head again, and gave me a sort of teddy bear salute of endorsement. “I’ll look for it,” I said. “You and Frederick have a nice day.” And I got on the streetcar.
It’s not that I feel anything approaching spirit animal kinship with the raccoon. Quite the opposite; I’m actively afraid of raccoons. It’s not the symbolism of the masked animal. It’s not any kind of political statement. It’s not even that I find them visually compelling, although I do. My love for the raccoon has no defined foundation, but the stickers and stencils and paintings of street artist JustOneRaccoon have become totemic for me since I moved into this neighborhood. Whenever I see a new one, I photograph it and post it to Instagram. I don’t really need to look for them anymore; I can almost hear them. My peripheral vision is tuned to the raccoon. I’ll even notice the outlines where there used to be a raccoon head sticker and someone peeled it. There’s a fresh batch of designs starting to crop up now, and I have the fizzy anticipation of the fanatic every time I go out somewhere new. It’s always raccoon season.
A very short Portland horror story.
Atticus shrieked at his cowering assistant, who clung desperately to the listing, creaking remains of Hawthorne Bridge, inches from the muscular and deadly tentacle crushing the metal. “You fool, you’ve doomed us all! I could have saved the city if only you’d brought a vegan sacrificial virgin. The monster is gluten free! GLUTEN FREE!”