MY FRIEND COLIN AND DEATH AND SHAKE AND BAKE

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I’ll never forget Colin being there for me on one of the worst days of my life, and the day after that, and the day after that. My beloved cat I found in the jaws of 2 coyotes and she couldn’t be saved. I was inconsolable and blamed myself.

Colin offered to have a funeral at his house and bury her in his back yard. I accepted but decided I needed a new kitten immediately.  We went to at least 10 different shelters because of a clause in my Santa Monica rent control apartment, I wasn’t allowed to have ANY additional cats. My landlord spelled it out, if one died let there be NO REPLACEMENTS, it was in my lease. Three cats and no more.

Since I had been golden about monthly cash under the table unlike my predecessor who stopped the payola two months after moving in, I figured I could fudge a little. I would have to find an all black kitten to replace my dead black cat – KITTER GIRL.

Who else but Colin would have co-signed this lunacy? For two days we drove from shelter to shelter interviewing kittens but there were no blacks. We hit the Sepulveda shelter pronounced by Colin with his UK accent, supple vita. If I had asked Colin to drive me downtown to The Union Rescue or The Los Angeles Mission? If I had decided to adopt a man or a full grown woman he would have carried them to the car for me.

The funeral had everything, flowers, mix tapes by Colin, funerary organ music and a crowd of dear friends. He catered vegetarian as well, with dubious surprise balls. I kept asking what’s in these balls? Colin was a new convert to vegetarianism and rabid in his implementation. So when I detected what I thought was a Progresso bread crumb; I pressed for the recipe. I wasn’t sure how processed food was vegetarian. So when he wasn’t looking I went through his trash and found an empty box of SHAKE AND BAKE. Which suddenly seemed very funny and I began howling until I couldn’t breathe.

My new kitten CHEESER was there. She ended up living with me for the next 23 years and she wasn’t black after all the driving I made Colin do. Cheeser was the craziest dressed moo cow Calico you ever saw. When she poked her mitten at me thru a cage, I couldn’t deny that I was choosen. Colin was always in the background cleaning; he fussed after digging KITTER GIRL’S grave under a tree in his back yard. Another friend who had a crush on Colin made KITTER GIRL a velvet lined coffin and she was off like that with all my tears.

Colin last week was given a funeral in Thailand. A pyre.

 

 

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1-Botany 101

Up at the T., where the most ardent students plant themselves. Ravi. With her anti-vivisection tee screaming on her back. I take note and fold up a sloppy crane. Nudge the shoulder in front of me to pass it up.

She turned. I grinned. Gave her a thumbs up. Waving.

At lunch I told her everything. Hating people. Except one homeless looking actor. But that I wanted to kick him too. We began meeting between classes daily in the upstairs lounge trading smokes. Studying.

I love plants. I tell her, animals too. That I’m depressed, a mope. Incapacitated. This bird just died that the cats nicked… Too terrible. The mighty spotted nape dove. Heroic measures failed. Droppers of flax seed didn’t work. Sugar water. I even tried cat pain meds to make it comfortable.

For days I watched it cripple and die. In rigor, I was the stiff, curling up with it into a maze of dust.

“Hmmmmmmmmm. Leslie you need to swallow. Find the spider the snake. Eat your fear without pause. Speed’s the trick to killing.”

“Hun??”

Mother yelled that I was a wild Indian. But Ravi was the nickel, the real mccoy. Not only could she poison a samosa, she had an army of zombie male slaves. They surrounded her bed. Slept on the floor. With her long black slick of hair, she whipped up a house. And we stepped in.

She did tricks. Stuff with her tongue. When guys wanted two women. The air between them. How easy it was to feign.

She thought I needed to buck up. And she was going to teach me.

“Les listen. Your not listening. We will begin at the bottom of the food chain, slowly with ants and Arrowhead water and sticks.”

I barf. Guzzle water. Nibble on ginger. I starve myself. Ravi has 15 cats. Mining food is as easy as attraction.

Simple recipe: Very hot pan. Off the cooker. Toss ants 1 cup of showered and strained ants. Toast quickly just a nano-second. Add salt and out.

“Just like vinegar and chips, only crunchy no?”

I wait for Ravi’s voice to waiver from the coo of seduction.

“All ants are one. So that if you nibble off a few, it’s like a fingernail.”

I feel better manicuring one disembodied monster.

“Look here Auntie. I am potentially assisting your soul in the reincarnation hierarchy. If you are a good ant and very delicious. With an especially peanutty flavor and just the right tang who knows what cast of Hollyworld?”

“You might get him again as a crab.”

“Thanks for saying him.”

My final ant I take slowly. Mindfully with a magnifying glass. I pick out Mr. Perfect. He had a soul. Or was part of one according to Ravi.

“Aren’t you a dear thing? A hard worker no doubt. A family ant?”

Ravi is impatient. “Jesus Lesss…”

No condiments, tongue. Slowly I allow him the baptism of my saliva.

Middling

I asked Katie if I could sleep over.
She was my best friend.
When she got worms, I stopped going to the lavatory.
Snakes, macaroni and cheese, even Spaghetti
I quit.
We would watch TV but mostly pretend.
Walking each other thru various scenarios like a talking meditation.
Or a practice.
Pretend we bought an entire furniture store instead of a tiny mansion.
Her brother Mark started dropping in after lights out
wanting a back rub.
Katie did it until she got tired.
Then I Play-Dohed his shoulders.
In the middle of the night with the ocean waving.
He inched his fingers, touching me while I slept.
When he tried to put something inside of me –
from the center of him. I acted like I was waking up.
He wanted our middles to touch.

Dancing Devil Girl

I studied dance at the Olga Fricker academy but not to be a ballerina.

Desperate to be a princess.

But here in this picture, a year earlier, before the masquerade ball, I was inconsolable, because my lot was to wear what fit me, the only costume left, the little devil. Cinderella had been rented out.

I wanted to be a princess.

At the academy I studied modern dance, with Tanya, once a student to Martha Graham. But asked mother to stop making me.

I was unappreciative. A prisoner condemned to interminable waiting rooms. The Mogul Ski Club. The after school Tee Pee Club. And I was always the last one to get picked up.

The academy produced pink satin troops of princesses. Pointy toed butterflies in simultaneous orchestrated compliance. I would pretend to be one of them. Holding the bar, plié, straighten, relevé, and down.

Olga Fricker while small in stature was a formidable architect. Once a dancer herself she used her instrument entirely.

Ringmaster to a circus filled to capacity. Barely standing room mothers, awed by the military grace, their daughters, minding. Olga the keeper of time and human metronome, shouted and cajoled, levitating the floor, had the piano doing jumping jacks. And everywhere girls leaping past each other without collision.

At 3:00 Tanya would start our class. Guiding those without skirts and ballet slippers. We modern ragamuffins into a circle of pretend. We took our starting positions. The scratches giving way, and tucked our heads and legs in to our bodies. Not standing in our first position, but on the floor, making ourselves into little uni-pods. Seeds.

Tchaikovsky 33 rpm on the suitcase phonograph gave us a choice to grow and move or not. Some days I would not feeling like rooting even. And I might just listen, feel the floor and my heart.

In the wind and storm of the electric fan. I would raise my limbs, my branches, finding the pull to move within without anyone telling me when or what to do