One Saturday morning, after he’d surfed a couple of perfect sets, Dude sat on the beach looking off into infinity collecting his thoughts before he headed to LA for work. As he sat there, minding his own business, fantasizing informally about mermaids and whether he should turn his house into an Air BNB, or sell it and move to LA and be closer to work, he felt a gentle poke on his lower back. He turned to see an albatross chick. “What?” was his first thought, then he remembered the bright red birthmark on his back. “Ah. I’m not mom, little guy. I don’t have anything. Where are your parents?”
The albatross cocked his head and lifted its tiny wings. It knew it should maybe fly away but it couldn’t. Dude sat beside it for a while and realized there was no mom and no dad for the little guy, not like Albatross parents were very interested in their chicks. They weren’t, but they did feed them. Dude stood up and took a few steps toward a pile of seaweed. The chick followed. “Looks like I have a family,” he sighed, wondering how to make a home for an albatross. “You guys are pretty independent,” he said to the bird. “Maybe you don’t really need me.” This albatross seemed unusually needy.
“Listen, little guy, I don’t think I can chew up some rotten fish and puke it into your mouth to keep you going. You need your parents.” But he went into the house and smashed up some sardines and fed them to the bird as well as he could given the bird’s instincts and Dude’s abilities.
After that, every morning, when he went out to surf, the albatross would be waiting. On his next trip to Costco, Dude stocked up on sardines. After all, his chick was growing.
Lamont (RIP) and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have (had) the unusual ability to remember many of their earlier incarnations which gives (gave) them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.
The sun had barely broken the horizon, but Dude was already out there, waiting, ready. Since Lamont’s death he’d done a LOT more surfing. The museum at the Tar Pits had also opened since Covid had shut things down. Dude was getting out at dawn for a few rides before he had to drive to LA to sort bones and don his Smilodon costume for the kids.
Why Lamont had wanted to go down to Puerto Peñasco when they could have gone anywhere — and, for that matter, they lived on the beach! — was still a mystery to Dude. In a MOTORHOME for the love of God? A rented motorhome, “See America.”
“We’ve SEEN America, wouldn’t you say, Dude?” laughed Lamont as they took the keys from the rental agent. “In four dimensions.”
The next morning, as he was walking on Playa Bonita, pondering life, the universe and everything, Lamont was flattened by a dune buggy. The driver never stopped. Lamont’s last words? “Watch out, Dude. The Reaper’s driving a dune buggy. Well, see you later.” That was it. His life left his body, the vapor of the soul sped toward its next life.
Dude missed Lamont. After all, they’d been through a lot of lifetimes together, a fact that was a consolation but also, in its way, a curse. Who knew if Lamont would be back or when or, worse, as WHAT? Dude thought about that almost every day as he sorted bones. As he was all too aware, it was kill-or-be-killed out there in reality and one day’s dinner was the next day’s diner.
He looked to the west and saw a perfect swell heading his way.
Lamont (RIP) and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have (had) the uncanny ability to remember many of their previous incarnations which gives them an unusual perspective on life, the universe and everything.
“OH! Does that mean your second iteration as a Smilodon — albeit this time only a costume — is about the recommence?”
“Could be. I don’t know. I just hate that they have meetings on Saturdays. I don’t see why. The museum is busy as hell on Saturdays.”
“You keep expecting rationality from this particular group of humans.”
“You’re thinking that’s irrational?”
“Yeah, but you know, we’re part of this groups so…”
“Good point. And strangely tolerant from you.”
“I’ve had the last year or so to think about this species of which we find ourselves.”
“Do you think humans have ever been more rational?”
“No. I was reading about the Black Death. They did everything they could to make it go away, but they didn’t know HOW to make it go away. But, to their credit, they did what they knew. And they didn’t know shit, Dude. There were painters back then who painted against the Black Death. What’s a painting going to do?”
“Ah. You’re humbled, Lamont. I never imagined.”
“Take it from me, Dude. 99% of what people do they do just to get from day to day. That’s it. Like this Black Friday business. What’s that about?”
“Oh stores think they might finally make some money.”
“Consumerism is a way of getting through the day. That’s all it is and then there’s that brief moment when they have gotten something and they have a kind of buyer’s high — you know what that is, Dude? Think back to the good old days.”
“Sure I know what that is. It’s how I felt when my family and I drove you into the tar pits.”
“I’m sure you did but then? Then? Tell me what happened Dude.”
“I don’t really feel like it. I gotta’ go.”
“OK. I landed in the tar pits.”
“Heh heh heh. What goes around comes around.”
“Lamont, that wasn’t just whimsical killing. You were going to feed us for MONTHS. Smilodons starve too.”
Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.
“Amazing how everyone and everything goes right back to where it was in that tide pool of prehistory.”
“That’s pretty poetic for a Smilodon.”
“No Smilodon, Lamont. Some programs are still suspended. It’s just me, a bunch of bones, a lot of dried tar, some solvent, some brushes and a container.”
“You sound a little down, Dude, for a guy who’s again gainfully employed.”
“Basically, Lamont, it’s like spending a day in a hot trailer washing dishes. Seems like last year…”
“You want to go catch some waves? Will that cheer you up?”
“Maybe. What I was about to say was that last year kind of showed things for what they really are. I mean we all work all the time for that SOMEDAY, like the someday we assemble another mastodon, or we find a baby Smilodon, or this or that, but then we do and then we’re back in the container washing more bones.”
“Human life is like the ocean, Dude. How many times have you told ME that? But the tide comes in, the tide goes out, we wait for a good set, we surf it or we wipe out, we come in, we go out, we wait. If things go sideways we have to be rescued and pay for THAT or we die. That’s it. You’ve said that a million times. Life is anticipation. We humans LOVE anticipation.
“I don’t know, Lamont. I like the swimming out and waiting, too.”
“Would you just SWIM out and hang out beyond the swells and never catch a wave and be totally happy?”
“Yeah, but you think — I think, we all think, — ‘Maybe the next one!’ What I think is that during the Viral Times we had to suspend anticipation except for the one BIG anticipation which was the return to so-called ‘normal’ which was never anything more than a life of constant anticipation.”
“You think people who are finally able to see their family again feel this way about THAT?”
“No, of course not, but even there the honeymoon is going to end at some point. Daily life is where we live, Dude. Anticipation keeps it from being a burden on the spirit. It’s why humans love shopping so much. Even just that little, ‘I wonder what’s on sale at Walmart today’ and the turning the corner at the end of an aisle gives humans a little lift.”
“C’mon, Lamont, do YOU like washing dishes?”
“It’s OK. Has to be done.”
“Lamont, maybe you think too much.”
“Well, Dude, you may be right, but I think a lot of people are going to feel just like you as they return to whatever it was they missed. I wonder if people will look at their striving and wonder ‘Why?’ I hope people write about it.”
Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to recall many of their previous incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.
“The seeds of destiny are sown in mysterious realms.“
“What does that MEAN???”
“It means that destiny is, well, OK, it’s like this. The seeds of destiny are sown in strange places.”
“Yeah but what are ‘seeds of destiny’?”
“So the whole vagina uterus thing is a ‘mysterious realm’?”
“Tom and Trevor, have you got an interpretation of that line of poetry to share with the class or are you giggling over something else?”
“Sorry Mr. Schmidt.”
“So, have you interpreted that line?”
“Trevor did, but I think he’s wrong.”
“Tom, there are no ‘wrong’ interpretations of poetry. The poet just wants you to think about what he’s said. Trevor can’t be ‘wrong’. There is no ‘wrong’. We don’t use that word in my class. Go ahead and tell us what you think. Stand up so we can hear you.”
Trevor stood, sure in his interpretation.
“Well, like ‘destiny’ is our future, right? And the seed comes from our dad and goes into our mom. And all that stuff inside women is pretty weird and mysterious. Realms are places. That’s what it means, ‘the seeds of destiny are sown in mysterious realms’.”
Mr. Schmidt’s face went pale and he held his lips tightly together.
“Dude,” Tom whispered, shaking his head, “I told you.”
Sharon, Shannon and Sherry turned bright red. Janine, Jerome, Janelle, Jessica, and Jim laughed so hard tears streamed down their cheeks. Ramona, Robbie, and Rex sat stunned, afraid to laugh because maybe Trevor was right and they hated this poetry shit. Others sat wide-eyed, staring at Mr. Schmidt, waiting for a cue.
“Did you see this? I think the National Geographic has it in for us.”
“I don’t remember skipping through a meadow with a flower between my teeth chasing butterflies.”
“I’ve thought about that dumb illustration and I think they’re just trying to hit home the point that we were not, you know, thunder lizards.”
“We could have told them.”
“Dude, who would believe we were there?”
“True. We’re just a couple of dudes.”
“That’s certainly true of you.”
“Ha ha, real funny. But I was thinking. What if we wrote a book that satirizes humans’ bizarre qualities?”
“Besides the fact that the book would be infinitely long, what would you satirize?”
“The way they don’t believe in germs even when they get sick. The way they make vows to stay married forever but it only last through the photo shoot. The way they elect political leaders BECAUSE those leaders have NO experience in governing. Oh, oh oh, and my favorite. Their elected official has a soft-porn model for his wife and people call her ‘classy’.”
“Says more about them than her, don’t you think?”
“True, but think about it. Lots of really funny stuff has happened in the past few years. Stuff like that. It would be easy to satirize.”
“I get where you’re going, Dude, but I think if we write about that, humans won’t see the satire. They’ll just think it’s news reporting. They won’t get it any more than they get that we were once velociraptors.”
Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their previous incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.
“OH yeah. Those scientists. You gotta’ love them.”
“They say we were misunderstood.”
“I think they said we ARE misunderstood. You know. Hollywood. OK by me. I’m human now which just proves reincarnation is a lottery, and you can’t win ’em all.”
“You read it then?”
“Yeah. I was curious, ,you know, progress and so on. We hatched from blue eggs and weren’t even as big and fierce as cassowaries, more like walking eagles — feature that, Dude — that we were NOT like those giant lizard robots in Jurassic Park? Not news to me. What’s the word from the museum, anyway?”
“Still closed down. It’s going to be a while before they’re up and running again. I think costumed Smilodons are pretty far down on the list to get the vaccine.”
“Yeah. Television personalities, too.”
“Seriously, Lamont? You see yourself as a TV personality?”
“Just what are you taking issue with there, Dude, TV or ‘person’?”
“I just mean it’s been a while since you’ve been on TV and Oprah’s thrown you off her show at least twice.”
“Just being thrown off Oprah doesn’t mean I’m not a TV personality. I’d say it’s more indicative of it.”
“You have a point there.”
“How’s the surf?”
“Oh, Lamont. The waves are billowing in like happy sails.”
“Sure. One thing we’re getting from this whole thing is a lot more time on the water.”
Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them an uncanny perspective on life, the universe and everything.
“Well, they’ve ‘found out’ that dinosaurs evolved into birds, that Velociraptors were ‘short’ — that’s relative, isn’t it? — and we laid blue eggs.”
“Amusing isn’t it?”
“Yep. Listen to this, ‘…look at Velociraptors, which are among the most misunderstood “terror lizards” yet. A far cry from the large, scaly pack hunters depicted in Jurassic Park, real Velociraptors were solitary stalkers closer to the size of wolves that were covered in feathers. (sic) ‘”Given the chance, this predator likely wouldn’t have hunted humans, either,” Nat Geo’s Amy McKeever writes…’ Good grief. This guy doesn’t even know what he’s saying.”
“What are you reading from, Lamont?”
“Email from National Geographic. The guy’s pondering whether to eat turkey for Thanksgiving. He says he’s already given up eating ungulates now he’s having second thoughts about birds because — here’s the kicker — they’re descended from dinosaurs.”
“Humans. They’re so clueless and, well, clueless. You’d think from all the animal documentaries they have available, they would have figured out the Big Five.”
“Right. Do you remember when I got thrown of Oprah for explaining the Big Five?”
“Yeah. That was crazy. Everyone knows that’s how things work.”
“I was hurt, Dude. I’d even modernized it for the post-Dinosaur world, just for her show.
1) PROCREATE!!!! Fight for that female! If she acts like she doesn’t want to, ignore it. NO means YES.
2) EAT whenever you can. Vegetarians are food. So are dead carnivores.
3) Stuff dies. Sometimes you have to kill it first. If it’s already dead, you caught a break. Eat it.
4) WATCH OUT for eagles, bears, large cats and gulls.
See Dude? That’s the modern part. Good isn’t it?”
“I thought it was very PC. And, finally,
5) Keep yourself alive so you can procreate, kill things and eat them.”
“Almost poetry, Lamont. Hey, Lamont, we never fought over a mate, did we? I don’t recall that we ever did.”
“No. We didn’t have the chance. The meteor hit us probably just a few days before we would have seen some pretty piece of tail — I mean that literally because, you know, feathers — looked each other in the Velociraptor eye and gone for the jugular.”
Happy Thanksgiving readers of my blog, wherever you are. Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about the year and what we have to be thankful for. She said she was having a hard time with gratitude, but found it — a real triumph in trying times. I thought about my situation and realized that part of me has “enjoyed” the pandemic. No, I don’t like it. I think the government’s handling of it has been inhuman and reprehensible and I’m sad for everyone who’s lost a loved one or a physical ability as a result of Covid-19. It’s horrific, particularly as so much death probably could have been prevented. But, in my tiny life, I’ve enjoyed this year.
There’s something to be said about the clarity of knowing that there is an enemy at the gates and that my job is to survive and to help those around me survive. That imperative is the most basic imperative there is. That right there eliminated a lot of things from my life, some of which I didn’t like in the first place (grocery shopping). Those things I had to “give up” that I do like I realized immediately could be adjusted (social distanced Covid tea parties with my friends, talks in the alley, walks in the golf course with the kids). Otherwise? The pandemic has limited our lives and made us more reliant on those in physical proximity, a life like that before cars, maybe. Anyway, for me it’s been mostly sweet and filled with love.
I’m also very grateful I have a certain income and no need (now) to go to a job. The pandemic threw that beautiful reality in relief early on. I thought of how it would be if I were still in California and teaching. I’d have lost my house by now. I think I’d be living on the street.
I don’t remember ever being more grateful for my life and my world than I am right now, and my life and my world includes all the people who read and comment on my blog. We have also deepened the threads of community over these months. Thank you. ❤
Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a while ago. They have the unique ability to remember many of their past incarnations, which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.
“Well, I vanquished you that time you were a salmon. You were delicious. For that matter, I guess when you were a young Smilodon and I was an aged mammoth, you vanquished me but…”
“Doesn’t seem quite right, does it?”
“Why not? It’s kill or be killed out there and food is for eating.”
“I mean vanquishing is about destroying your enemy. I didn’t see you as my enemy back in the day, Lamont. I saw you as dinner.”
“Good point, Dude. Kind of the opposite of an enemy.”
“Right? What about the meteor? Weren’t we vanquished by the meteor?”
“No. By your logic there has to be enmity. That meteor didn’t even know we were there. That was just our bad luck.”
“For the meteor too. I don’t think it wanted to crash into a planet. I think it wanted to keep going.”
“Accepting your absurd theory that a meteor has desires and goals, I agree with you, Dude. But in real life? It was just a rock hurtling through space. Why are we having this conversation?”
“Well, first, the surf is pretty flat. Second, I was reading this morning that doctors all over the world are trying to ‘vanquish’ this virus.”
“Typical human anthropomorphization.”
“That’s a hell of a word. So the virus isn’t an enemy?”
“No. It’s a virus. Just a weird little not-quite-alive-not-exactly-not-alive microscopic thing floating around. Humans won’t ‘vanquish’ it. It will always be there. It has always been there; it just never affected them before.”
“Yeah. What memories do you have of your mom, Lamont?”
“Well first of all, I’d never seen either of my parents before so they were both a complete surprise. You?”
“Never saw them before in my lives.”
“Funny, isn’t it? You’d think it would work out so we’d at least stay with the same family. How many human families can you remember?”
“It’s hard to say. Of course I remember the current one.”
“Well, yeah, they live in Encino. But previous ones?”
“Nothing. In fact, I don’t have a clear memory of any of my previous human incarnations. Just flickers here and there. I think that’s interesting. If we could clearly remember our human iterations we’d get better at the business of being human.”
“I’ve thought about that too, Dude. My theory is that human lives are filled with the repetition of so much trivial shit that when we exit we want to forget it all.”
“Ha ha ha, Lamont. I see you’ve returned to your usual cynical stuff, but I’ve had a similar thought. When you’re a velociraptor you’re involved in all kinds of kill-or-be-killed drama and running. It’s a lot different from that weekly trip to Costco.”
“I was thinking more that when I was an oak tree, I wasn’t driven to do anything but the usual seasonal stuff, bud, leaf out, bloom, wait for a lucky breeze to pollinate me, drop acorns. I could do all that without really thinking about it. I had time to contemplate reality.”
“That’s what you want to do with your life, Lamont? ‘Contemplate reality’?”
“It’s more interesting and a lot less disagreeable than driving on the 405.”
“HUMAN reality. There’s more to reality than human reality. You know it, I know it. The problem is that NOW when we could tell people about it, we only have human language to do it with. That’s just wrong. Human language is for human experience. It’s so limiting.”
“I don’t know, Lamont. I don’t recall saying anything that time I was a salmon and you were a bear.”
“You said A LOT. I’m sure your salmon buddies got the message loud and clear.”
“What did I say? I imagine all I said was, ‘So long, it’s been good to know ya’. What else would I have said?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never been a salmon that I know of. What would a salmon say in that situation?”
“Holy fucking shit! I’m being eaten by a bear?”
“We think that’s what the salmon would think. But we’re thinking that with our human brains NOW, but maybe not. Maybe for salmon it is a different thing completely.”
“You have no idea how human you’re being right now, do you, Lamont. What your doing now — conjectures like that — are SOO human.”
“You’re right, Dude. It’s really hard not to be human when you are one.”
“I hear that, Lamont. At least you try.”
Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.