Listening to: Daniel Barenboim/Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravel, Essential Works
In the midst of playing some guitar and attempting to mellow out enough to feel like nodding, Mister woke up with wet jammies and, well, a bad attitude, demanding his soiled clothes get stripped off and a bath be drawn; and so it was done. As I type, he sits in a warm tub, in line-of-site, his eyes wide and blinking, shaking rubber bath toys in fear of Washcloth Shark, "I don't like real sharks," he explains, "Just fake sharks." Yet the Washcloth Shark devours every rubber toy within his disposal.
I can see this is going to be a long night.
When I first moved to Manitou Springs and started hanging out in the local pubs with my scribbler, I met an "Indian" mystic/healer/seer/whatever, a woman who held onto my hand while she puffed remnants of my cigarettes mixed in with her own tobacco blend in a corncob pipe, each puff ostensibly helping her "see" into my future. Having had enough local brew to allow me to drop my inhibitions (though, not my skepticism), I allowed her to continue without as much as a sneer or snicker. Believe it or not, I can be tolerant at times.
This being Manitou Springs, such an encounter was far from unusual; in this town you can't fling the corpse of a road-killed squirrel without knocking the turquoise bracelet off some "Indian shaman" (that is, "sham Indian"). Manitou is like some giant dream-catcher where Indian wannabes are captured, a nuthouse butterfly net. Go to the local open mic on Thursday's and you're sure to endure Leo banging his drum and chanting in some made up language (his, um, "talk story"), a dude as Native as Rabbi Moshe who bums beers, macks college chicks, and is a few Peyote buttons shy of an Edwardian straight jacket.
Back to the bar back then, sans Leo. My charlatan shook her long salt-and-pepper hair over a glass of Miller Light as she chanted softly, considering whatever visions swirled in the smoke. She took several long draws off the tobacco and mumbled more nonsense. Putting down her pipe, she proceeded to tell me what she'd seen, that my children would all turn out well but, she continued in a low, compassionate voice, one would lose his way at some point and that I needed to allow my lost child to discover his own path and not push too hard.
Not a revelation, really. I'd always figured that at least one of my kids would tumble down a path similar to my own. Statistically, we're all screwed and no matter how hard we try, how much we parent, there's always the chnace that something, someone, will go askew, careen off of our best intentions and spin into oblivion. If you're a parent who thinks you have it all figured out, you're in for a long, miserable trip. Anyway, I know I'm raising three individuals, three discrete consciousnesses, so her advice was not anything I had not already told myself. In my plan, I'd allow a few skinned knees and bruised hearts and hope they'd find a better way, hope for the best and cross my fingers that the result will be positive.
If whatever she'd put in her pipe was actually telling her something I can't say; what she told me hardly a Delphic declaration. James Dobson or Dr. Spock, no one has the answer and if anyone did, it would outsell the Bible tenfold. No one has the answer and I doubt the answer is to be had, ever.
She asked if anything else was bothering me and I replied I really wanted to quit smoking. Easy, she said confidently, as she rolled a dilly from her pouch of wacky indian weed, according to her, for $200 and my consent to sit naked in an icy creek, she'd take my desire to smoke cigarettes away from me. Aside from my suspicion that my habit wasn't the only thing she wanted to take away from me, the thought of skinny dipping in an icy stream during an early March chill made me think she might she also might have the desire to emasculate me, some castration fantasy bred in the dubious dottle smouldering in her bowl.
Before you take me for some hooded cracker with a front lawn full of derelict appliances and cars up on blocks, I'm not here to ridicule Native Americans or their religion and in fact, a sweat lodge ceremony has long been on my list of things to do when I get around to them after I do the several thousand other things I've been meaning to do. Furthermore, I have a smidgen of Native American blood in me so it's not like I hold any enmity for those people who truly have the only legitimate gripe regarding undocumented aliens. Indeed, it's a bit of burr in my boxers to see blissed out hippies white as bleached rice pretend they're Noble Savages and victims of oppression (other than their own bad life-style choices) walk the streets of Manitou and claim they hold the keys to esoteric knowledge that they'll share for a price.
Seer and I parted ways but not before she gave me her phone number so I could arrange my smoking cure in the creek. Funny, I thought, despite her insight through the smoke, that I was about to crumble up the piece of paper she'd scribbled her number on and deposit it in the urinal during my next inevitable beer drain. As the wad of wasted writing tumbled around the urinal cake (us guys have funny ways of occupying our time while we make room for more beer), I appreciated the fact that Mr. Sufficient would never suffer the indignities of - oh, it's too painful to consider, even now.
Atheist-skeptic-empiricist that I am, it seems too silly that I'd take seriously some goyim bebangled in New Mexico silver and speaking in obvious generalities. Although I am with Hamlet in that, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy," I'm more inclined to apply that sage wisdom to the possibilty of a donut-shaped 10th dimension than some failed soceress puffing uphill saying, "I think I can, I think I can."
Still, her words resonate and although, at the time, I thought that if any child was the candidate for my "lost child" was Marni, I'm thinking that Mister is a better candidate now. Not that I think there's any predestination in any of this and to be fair to my own skepticism, she was 3 when I thought it might be her and he's 3 now, but he's getting life handed to him in a way that, well, no cloud and all silver lining. Everyone who meets him instantly falls in love and accomodates his intrinsic charm, "Oh, how can I refuse this little angel whatever he requests?" He's smart and articulate and early on decided he had an in (for several months tried "I want Mommy!" when he was with me, "I want Daddy" when he was with X); a very smart young man.
I pull him from the tub and dry him off as he hints he'd love to watch a Star Wars movie, maybe, Return of the Jedi but any one of episodes 4 thru 5 will do, got me daddy? No, I tell him, we're slipping on fresh pajamas and we're both going to sleep, daddy's tired and there's so much to do tomorrow. Mister cries, protests, gets shoved under blankets and whimpers, sobs.... falls asleep.
My Manitou seer might have had some access to special knowledge but I have an intuitive sense of what love really is, the capacity to say "No". Which makes me wonder: what if someone had told my pseudo-Indian as some point that she was full of shit? Mister might be my problem child (and might not be that) but at least he'll know I don't feed into his shit. Hopefully, eventually, he'll realize that no ne else buys that crap, either.