Sometimes I see myself as the caterpillar which sits on the mushroom, smoking my cigar.
In my vision, it is tobacco, which, as thoughtfully pointed out by a commenter, helps to mitigate expansiveness.
So, I’ve heard, the very best Chinese tea leaves are picked by young buxom women who stash the leaves between their breasts. They require excellent lung capacity in order to achieve their aims because of the high altitude. Occasionally they are bitten by caterpillars which infect them with a peculiar parasite.
I was bitten by a peculiar bug about the head in The Andes. It looked a lot like the original Pac Man spaceship. I believe my personal best at Pac Man was 10 spaceships, but it might have been 12.
I used to keep a roll of quarters about my person. Someone told me that a sock full of quarters would make a handy weapon (I have been assaulted by strangers and not-so-strangers numerous times). However, instead of putting it in a sock, I would carry the roll of quarters in my pocket, opened, such that I could play each of the Pac Man machines that I could identify throughout San Francisco rather than, if I could help it, stand on corners waiting for buses. I missed a lot of buses that way, but I felt less like a sitting duck (even though the assaults never stopped for very long throughout my life).
However, I would get to know the peculiarities of each of the machines–which firmware, whether the joystick was in good working order or had a wobble that I could compensate for, the crowd, whether I had “hustled” there before, where the nearest bus stops were, which buses stopped there, and their relative frequency. My “hustle” was this. I would see one or two persons playing and ask if I could play the next game or winner, respectively. I would smile sweetly. I was about 18-20. I might have been wearing a cast on my right arm, or not. The cast wasn’t a prop. It turns out that the particular ulnar cast cited the patent of my criminal husband, who I wasn’t to meet for many years later. The Black orthopedic surgeon who put it there, after two operations, had the same surname represented by the city name in which my so-far-favorite local cigar bar is located (there are still some I have not yet tried).
To signify my challenge, I would place a quarter on the table–either on the opposite side or perpendicularly, respectively, according to the number of players.
When it was my chance, I would sit, smile, and quickly lose my first Pac Man, with a shrug, giggle, or perhaps a toss of my hair. My opponent would either be charmed or would look at me condescendingly. Eventually, it would be my turn again. While it was my turn, either for the second or third Pac Man, my opponent, typically, would give up and walk away. Annoyed that I hustled away the table. That was my “win”, unless I was in a hurry, in which case, I would run out to catch the bus, with my opponent not having the least bit of an idea as to what he or she had just experienced or perhaps merely resuming my game for me. I would like to think that I became a San Francisco legend that no one wholly believed existed.
I developed two callouses on my right hand. Eventually they went away.
I have not been able to find an image of the bug, which was a type of bot fly. It turned my face and head into something so monstrous that I can’t bear to provide here a link to images I have found on the internet representing what happens when such a bite to the head occurs.
If you don’t want such a thing to happen to you, don’t pick Mandarin Oranges in the rain, in Venezuela, without wearing a hat, especially when there’s an evil witch living next door who would collect dangerous things and creatures and have them strategically planted about the farm according to whatever tree or creature it was determined by spies in the hills that I loved.
Some time in between these events, I decided that I wanted to carve the scariest Jack O Lantern ever. I sketched out the face, then drew it onto a pumpkin I had selected, and then carved it out carefully. It was like looking at the face of pure evil, or so I thought. Once the votive candle was situated therein and the Jack O Lantern was placed in the window, I was fairly certain that no Trick Or Treaters would dare knock on the adjacent door–of a ground floor apartment I shared with the apartment manager, a man who I had fully expected to marry one day.
However, some days prior to Halloween, I happened to have been delayed at work or school–I was attending a community college for purposes of a future B.S. in Computer Science, which it turned out that I didn’t need–and the small independent environmental science engineering firm for which I designed Symphony (Like Lotus 1-2-3) macro-driven spread sheets accommodated my class schedule. When I returned, my then-future-abortive-fiancé was curled in a ball on the sofa, shivering in terror.
My Jack O Lantern had acquired some sort of long, white hairy mold, and the pumpkin itself had just ever so slightly started to distort itself, much like an apple doll.
I had clearly conjured up a demon. Since I had created it’s vessel, I had to be the one to dispose of it. I produced a paper bag and a shovel and, without touching it, shovelled the pumpkin/demon into the bag, quickly closed the bag, and ran around three sides of the outer perimeter to the garbage can in the alley which, I had already removed the lid from, and then, I slammed the lid down on the garbage can.
In those days, garbage cans of this sort were made of metal.
I was breathing hard. When I returned, I apologized profusely to my friend, who is still my friend today, even though he married a blind psychopath; produced a wonderful, handsome, pleasant son, and has returned to a love he knew when he was his son’s age, who lived about nine hours away and does not, as far as I know wear wooden shoes. I hope he forgives me. I forgive him for making me abandon my pumpkin coach, or rather a carriage lovingly rebuilt just for us by my Darling Axel, whose poor head was already swelling alarmingly, and so I had to fly:
The bump in my midfoot has also gone away, thanks to the podiatrist of the same friend, who removed a piece of green colored glass from it. The injury was sustained during the Summer at the end of the famous “Longest Walk” in Washington D.C.. Both of the human men described in this post are/were flat footed.
Thanks to the removal of that piece of glass, I can now wear clogs, in comfort, such as to stand at train stations in the rain for hours.
Unfortunately, my last good pair of clogs was bitten by my wonderful German Shepherd named Pluto, and so I had to wear rubber boots within which was hiding a spider that I loved. The bite, when I felt it, merely spurred me on my journey, which was my escape from Venezuela. I’m sorry, spider. It wasn’t this kind of spider, but it might as well have been: