So. President Obama is coming to Austin Today. And the loonies are already out. I don’t know if this freakish phenomenon is exclusively a Texas sort of dealio or if the President’s visiting other places creates Halloween in July.
Here, assholes are going door-to-door in our poorer neighborhoods telling people that the President is coming to Austin to pay their utility bills, getting folks all hopped up for their leader to help them cover the costs of staying cool in this era of Global Warming. My guess is that these door bangers are a few conservative shitballs taking stupid to a whole new level.
Once word spreads over to East Austin that folks are fucking with their President’s reputation, the next dumb ass knocking on a door will be in for a shock.
Which reminds me. It was 98 degrees with 81% humidity today at 3:30 pm. That, dear friends, is a fucking shock. I’d been inside working on some business and when I walked outside to check on Gram, I almost feinted. I try to keep indoor temps at 73 and the humidity in the 20% range. Stepping into the sauna outside was like entering a weather-induced sleep apnea. All my breath left me, my mind went all fuzzy and my body gaped and gasped involuntarily, greedily attempting to grab a lung full of air.
In the distance I heard Gram’s voice, tinny sounding, tell me, “Ya look like one a them grumpy fishies out tha water, Mooner. Here…” and with that, she squirted me with the garden hose.
I must have been doing that fish-out-of-water dealie with my mouth. “Whatthefuck, Gram!” I felt the same shock as that one time Dr. Sam I. Am-Johnson and I were over to Sweden and ran between dips in boiling water and a hole cut in Arctic river ice.
“Are ya OK, sonny boy? Want another squirt?”
I held my hand up to say “No”, but Gram sprayed me again anyway. Our drinking water out here to the ranch is from a well dug deep, deep down into the soft limestone that forms the crust of most Central Texas geology. That water comes from the well at a constant 66 degrees, and when added to the mix of relative differences in outside and inside weather, it was the shock I needed to regain clarity.
“Thanks, Gram. I guess I needed that. Now I want you to come inside for awhile, you’ve been out in this heat far too long.”
I rarely worry about my grandmother as I think she’ll outlive us all. But a buddy of mine just put his mother into a partial care facility that houses old folks with early Alzheimer’s and mild dementia. His mom is Gram’s age and almost as feisty, but her incarceration was involuntary. She got all mean and nasty, and badgered her family to their breaking points.
I guess when you can’t remember shit, you can forget how to act as well.
I’m starting to think that the dementias—all of those maladies that waste our memory—might be the worst of all human conditions. As humans, I hold the firm opinion that it is the vastness of our memory that sets us apart from all other life. Reactions are genetic, as even one-celled amoeba have auto responses to stimuli. The farther up the cell structured ladder you climb, the more memory is added to control and influence reactions.
I know that most of the really smart people say it is the ability to reason that sets us humans apart, but I disagree. Almost all primates are proven reasoners and I met a snake this one time who could reason as well. We were down to Mexico one summer and Streaker Jones and I were out looking for some Peyote cactus. It was hot as hell and we sat on a pile of rocks to rest and hydrate. Stupidly, I was lounging back with closed eyes while lazily lifting the flat stones with the toe of my sneaker and letting them drop with a clunk.
“Don’t move, Mooner, she’s a big un,” Streaker Jones warned.
I opened my eyes and saw the head and beady eyes of a rattlesnake with a two-inch girth swaying, daring, as she danced her warning at me. Then I head a dozen small “Bzzz’s” coming from under the rock. I had uncovered a nest buzzy snakes and, basically, screwed the pooch. Gram calls them buzzy snakies.
If you think about it, everything an organism does is a reaction to something. Our memories only serve to store data for future use in evaluating what reactions to make. Initially, Momma rattlesnake was reacting to my intrusion instinctively and I was reacting rationally, with thought. While my instincts were to run like hell, I knew from personal experience that Momma snake would have me pierced several times before I could get all the way to my feet.
“She’s a eying yur pecker, Mooner. You might ought’a wore some undie drawers this trip.” And with that, Streaker Jones started laughing maniacally. “It appears she sees a tiny one-eyed snake here to harm her family.” He laughed some more and finally, slowly, unsheathed his large hunting knife.
As careful as he was, the knife blade made a small “hiss” as it slid from the leather scabbard. The big snake swiveled, whipping her head to face the knife. And then something interesting happened. She sighed, A deep, breathy, mother’s sigh—the kind I hear often from my own mother when I disappoint her.
Her nostrils seemed to flare with the sigh and then her eyes softened and her body un tightened. Here head tennis-matched between Streaker Jones and me as she slowly recoiled and backed under her rock.
“Move yer foot, Mooner, slowly. I reckon she reasoned that she was in one of them lose/lose propositions.”
Me, that experience built a rattlesnake memory that will serve me at some point in the future. I’ll process it with the other rattlesnake memories lodged in the rock piles of my mind next time I hear a “Bzzzz” and my reasoning will, hopefully, be more precise.
OK, I have to go get my teeth cleaned so I’ll be stopping here. I’m unsure of what I just said about memory but I know I’m on to something. See you manana, y’all.