over the river and through the woods
244-248
249-252
253-256
who could ask for anything more
257-259
260-262
the tail end of the tiger
263-267
268-270
271-275
276-279
280-283

tales from the year of the rabbit

venus and jupiter in aries
284-287
288-290
291-293
294-297
gods and monsters
298-299
300-302
303-306
307-309
the kindness of strangers
310-313
314-318
319-322
323-325

-----

244

I fell in love again on Thanksgiving Day, this time in the old-fashioned All American way, with an image on the Silver Screen. Brad Pitt in "Meet Joe Black" is the Cat's Meow, the Top, the smile on the Mona Lisa, etc. etc. Scratch everything I've said about good-looking men. He wipes the slate clean, eliminates all competition.

This despite the fact that the holiday began with a special surprise treat. As every night this week, I'd stayed at the Cloisters, took an early bus to the mall for senior coffee. On my round of the ashtrays I spotted Mondo sitting on the bench outside Nieman Marcus, the colorful cars of Santa's Train parked in front of him. "Waiting for the train?" I asked. He smiled, said no, just hanging out. He was planning to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for the free holiday meal later, agreed it was likely to be a much better option than IHS. He asked if I planned to go and I said no, a friend had invited me to the annual Thanksgiving Buffet at Sizzler's. Somewhat ironic to be invited to a meal on one of the few days when there are abundant choices of free feasts available, but any foray outside the nomadic community is a welcome interlude.

The weather had been uncertain but cleared so, after chatting with him for awhile, I left Mondo and went across to the park to shower, wishing a little he had joined me but on the other hand not all that keen on a first naked encounter with him in a slightly shivering cold shower. Once again I felt that slight tinge of regret over abandoning the sushi job which had pestered me now and then all week. With Wednesday's wages, I could have taken Mondo to breakfast. But one reason I had quit the job was just that. The only reason to endure it would have been having pocket change to spend on young nomad lads, but I would have spent even more of it keeping myself in a drunken stupor in order to get through it, so I told myself yet again I'd made the right choice, again demanded that the part of me who wants to play Sugar Daddy should shut up.

The week had been a dreary one, partly because of that nagging voice, but also by again being flat broke, no money for food or beer, no energy or inclination to hunt carts, not even the sense to go for Krishna food on Wednesday and thus ending up so hungry that night at the bench I ate half a dozen sugar packets while the Gypsy Boy's cat sat and looked at me, probably wondering what on earth I was doing. You aren't the only one, I thought.

I'd tried to just lose myself in the game, succeeded in doing so for much of the time, climbing to Level 53. Level 69 is the highest, a peak which no longer seems so unattainable. The Sleeptalker had been absent on Monday, but spent all day Tuesday playing on campus. We had a few brief exchanges in the game, times when his characters got into trouble and I was nearby and offered the needed assistance. Once I even got a thank you for it. But we didn't speak at all out of the game even though he sat for awhile at a terminal right next to me. He prefers to play on one of the web terminals (where access is supposed to be for thirty minute segments only), but someone had finally bumped him by using the available sign-in sheet, so for that brief time I had him sitting very close to me and I had to admit my affection and desire for him has not lessened at all, no matter how much I keep the damper on it or how much I dislike his twisted attitude in the game. Despite the enjoyable interlude of physical proximity, I wasn't unhappy when he returned to the web terminals. He arrived on campus again on Wednesday and again we had no contact outside the game. He was still there playing when I headed off to the Cloisters that evening.

There have been some wonderful long cinematic dreams based on the game, the text and the computer-generated characters brought to life. I've even been taught some things about the game from dreams but, oddly, the Sleeptalker has not once made a dream appearance in those sequences or otherwise. Neither has Brad Pitt, alas.

And after that shower on Thanksgiving morning, it was off to Kahala Mall to meet Helen R and to fall in love with Death. I have to look far back in memory to recall a screen image which had that great an impact on me. Dean in "Rebel", Delon in "Christina", Belmondo in "Jules et Jim", Gibson in that sweet early film of his about the retarded young man. Of course, it was Pitt as Death I fell in love with, unlike the young lady in the film who fell for his mortal persona. Death, with those deep-gazing eyes -- lucky actors to get paid for standing and gazing into them. Even luckier, the young lady who got to undress him, button by button. What a delightful film.

Then it was off to Sizzler's. It is not often I am guilty of one of the Seven Deadly Sins, that of Gluttony, but I confess, I was indeed guilty on Thanskgiving 1998. Utterly stuffed, I bid farewell to Helen, bought the bottle of beer she had so kindly provided for as a dessert, and went to watch the sunset at DeRussy Beach.

Thanksgiving. Thanks for friends like Helen R, for the Sleeptalker and Mondo, for places kind enough to provide sheltered benches, for this beautiful island, for the beer and the sunset, for that wonderfully charming image of Death.

245

The latest public attack on me and the Tales comes off as one long jealous whine, pathetically transparent and banal. It did give me cause to contemplate again my use of the term Urban Nomad, as opposed to Homeless. The author of that wannabe-blast confuses Nomad with Wanderer. Nomads shifted between known valuable hunting/gathering areas, only striking out into unknown territory when the need arose. Wanderers do just that, whether on a more or less specific pilgrimage or just simply moving from place to place, perhaps never returning to the same spot. In the urban context, it's rather difficult to be a true Wanderer on such a small island, but there are a few of them here. I've spoken with them and they all seem to share a deep desire to resist putting down roots of any kind, no matter how temporary. And they seek aloneness, unlike the Nomads who are quick to form buddy relationships and everchanging groups. And there are, of course, the Homeless, those who are so not by choice. There may be exchanges between the Wanderers and the Nomads, as the former spend a night or two in a Nomad camp, but there is less interreaction between the Nomads and the Homeless.

I am criticized for not being a Wanderer but that was never my intent. Had it been, I would have left the islands. Perhaps when Social Security provides that regular monthly income I shall embark upon a phase of wandering through Asia and Europe. "I love to go a-wandering, my knapsack on my back ..." Yes, I can imagine strolling across Germany humming that song. In the summer.

Another point of attack which perhaps merits comment is that I am violating people's "privacy" by writing the Tales. The author is evidently totally unaware of the literary form called a diary or journal. That form necessarily "violates privacy", one's own and that of anyone who comes into the writer's life. The major players on this canvas called the Tales are aware I am writing about my life and consequently about them. The Nomad players know they have been given nicknames and in most cases know what those are, just as the ones who spend time online know how to read the Tales if they cared to. The only objections to being mentioned in the Tales have come from Householders. In one rare case, there was legitimate reason for it. In the majority of them, though, the only reason they object is because they do not want to leave themselves open to the kind of trashy attacks on Usenet which have become so dominant a part of that public medium.

The Nomads are not concerned with "privacy". Indeed, most of them go to great lengths to avoid it. I'm in a minority by occasionally seeking moments and places where I can be entirely alone. There are Hermits, of course, like those men who live alone in the hills around UH-Manoa. To climb up there and disturb their solitude, to make them a part of the Tales, now that would be violating privacy.

Thoughts from the secluded grove on Friday evening where I fled after an afternoon at the mall, an afternoon immersed in that Great American Orgy, the day-after sales. The most puzzling aspect, of what was essentially a horror show, was why everyone was in such a hurry. Hordes of people, laden with stuffed shopping bags, rushing madly from store to store as if the dollar was going to be devalued at any minute or the shops suddenly become totally sold-out, nothing left to buy. It was amusing, in a way, and perhaps if I'd been in a happier mood myself I would have enjoyed the spectacle. As it was, appalled is the more apt term.

I stayed for the arrival of the Krishna truck, ate half of the heaping plate of food and put the rest in my casserole for later, then with a sigh of relief got back on a campus-bound bus. UH-Manoa, an oasis of sanity in a world gone mad.

Oh yes, it's holiday season again, all right. Over the river and through the woods.

246

Jonathan Cainer had predicted a "dramatic" weekend with a "fairy tale ending". Quoting his prediction on the title page of the Tales, I added a remark expressing doubt. Unless a smile and a wave from that handsome Prince Mondo qualifies, Cainer was indeed wrong about the ending. Now "Panther and Mondo lived happily ever after" is more like it. Oh well.

There was, however, a truly beautiful episode of this strange life on Saturday. Sitting in Hamilton Library in the morning, I noticed a young Japanese fellow I'd not seen before. He noticed me noticing, so I told myself to behave and concentrated on the game, failed to see when the young man left. After a lunch break in the secluded grove with a Hurricane, I returned to the library and the game. Then I went out to sit on a bench for a smoke break. That same young man came out and sat on the bench beside me. All the other benches were vacant so he clearly wanted company. After some idle chitchat, I asked him where he'd gone to school, a usual local question. But he wasn't local Japanese! I told him his English was so good I'd just assumed he had been born here. He said many people made that mistake here, explained that his father had worked with Americans in Yokohama so he had learned English very early and had spent his childhood with American playmates.

I don't recall just what led up to it but he said he had been feeling lonely. Beer being such a great eliminator of inhibition, I told him I couldn't believe such a cute guy didn't have lots of friends. His friend (singular), he said, had gone to Maui for the long weekend but he was too broke to go along. The conversation was accompanied with much direct eye contact and exchanged smiles. Having made a very interesting discovery on campus earlier in the week, I decided to be bold and asked him if he'd like to have a shower together. He laughed and said, "sure". Fervently hoping the place was open on a weekend when the campus had been so deserted, we walked to it and found it open.

That was certainly one special hour. I would most happily have fallen over dead after bidding him goodbye, was so exhausted from his wonderfully energetic affection it didn't seem far to go.

That more than made up for all the crap that has floated through my life recently.

The pension check arrived. I went to get it, cashed it, bought a new bracelet to replace the one which had broken during the shared shower exercises, and got quite drunk on Saturday night, alone in the secluded grove. If three-quarters of the check hadn't already been hocked, I'd probably have made it an even bigger party. But it had been, some of it postponed repayment from October, so it was all gone by Monday evening, before the new month arrived. Que sera, sera. Being broke in December is a lifelong habit.

As "drama" went, I suppose the most dramatic event of the weekend was hearing that my place of sushi hell had closed up shop, the dread conveyor belt already removed, nothing but an empty room, bare concrete floor. Wow.

The game entered a new phase on Saturday when I was inducted into the Guild of Rangers. This brought a shower of gifts from fellow guild members and some highly enjoyable in-game conversations. In fact, I did little actual playing, so busy with all that. Poor Sleeptalker. It has long been his ambition to be invited to join a Guild, so it must have been an unpleasant moment for him, logging in to see Guild of Rangers next to Reting the Avatar's name. When I got to the library on Sunday, he and HighLevel were there playing. HighLevel is now only three levels above me and we exchanged greetings in the game as peers. I took my smoke breaks at a neighboring hall, partly to avoid their company, but HighLevel followed me on one of them and we had an interesting chat about the game as a highlife. I had no exchange with the Sleeptalker in or out of the game.

When I got to the Cloisters just after nine all the benches were taken, even most of the better-sheltered floor spaces were occupied. It had been a day of unceasing strong gusts of wind, something which gets to be quite annoying after awhile. Sitting in the park earlier, waiting for shower-washed shirt and socks to dry, a branch was blown from a nearby tree, missing me by inches. It wasn't heavy enough to have done any serious harm but certainly would have scratched me up had it fallen a foot or so further and on top of me. The internal jukebox aptly cued up "Someone to Watch Over Me". Evening's arrival added frequent downpours to the continuing wind, making the idea of a night on the floor even less inviting, so I went to the hacienda for the first time in over a week.

The Big Local Dude and his lady, the Airport Refugee, and Rossini were there, along with a few men I'd not seen before. Rossini walked over and asked for a smoke. Tobacco had been a problem all weekend. With the campus almost a ghost town little was available there and despite the mobs at the mall, the competition and the constantly busy cleaning army had kept the ashtrays mostly empty. I grumbled to Rossini that I'd only found a few snipes, he begged for one nonetheless so I gave it to him, thinking the lazy slut could have taken time to do his own snipe hunting. Maybe he decided to do just that because he soon strolled off. Mondo arrived, looking fine in yet another new expensive shirt, quickly settled down after that greeting smile and wave and, alas, as is his winter habit, completely covered himself in a white sheet. Oh for the days of summer, of shorts and bare brown chests. The Sleeptalker arrived after I had fallen asleep, then I was awakened again when Rossini returned, the Sleeptalker woke up and they started yakking. I dug out the earplugs, blocked their chatter and went back to sleep.

I was very surprised the Sleeptalker didn't show up on campus Monday, the last day for the monthly bus pass. He had been worried about how he'd get one for December and I had considered buying him one, even wickedly fantasized getting at least a look at his naked body in exchange. Just as well dumping the sushi job put an end to that line of thought.

With my fancy new armor and weapons, I got far too ambitious in the game and was quickly reminded by some of the computer-generated characters that I'm far from invincible. The Sleeptalker, playing from the State Library, finally made it to Level 40. I congratulated him publicly, the only person playing who did so. If there were a Most Unpopular Player award, he'd surely win it. My overly ambitious playing meant no progress at all for the day but it was a lot of fun and that's the real reason to be playing, along with the welcome hours of escape from "reality".

I made a trip downtown in mid-afternoon before heading to the Krishna feast. The Gypsy Boy was standing in front of me in the waiting line and we talked about his handsome cat, whose name is Cat. Shades of Holly Golightly. He apologized for Cat's recent meowing one night at the Cloisters and I assured him I got so much pleasure from watching Cat's nocturnal romps that I hadn't at all minded his vocalizing, had just wondered what it was he'd wanted. The Gypsy Boy said sometimes Cat just wants attention and if he can't get his master awake any other way, will yell in his ear.

The plate was, as usual, heaped with food and I ate so much of it I decided I might as well finish it off. This body must wonder what the hell is going on, empty for hours and hours and then stuffed. As it turned out, there was no need to save any for later since a large plate lunch box of chili and rice was abandoned on a campus bench, most of which was still in my casserole on Tuesday morning. I'd been so full from the Krishna feast I'd returned to the secluded grove but could only finish half the Hurricane I'd bought on the way, enjoyed the other half before heading down to the Cloisters where, happily, there was a vacant bench.

That, I thought, would be the last Hurricane for awhile but checking the beergarden on Tuesday morning, I found not only a flask-full of Heineken but two one-dollar bills neatly folded. That used to be the final beergarden on the morning route from the hacienda to the mall, but the cloisters routine makes it the only one. Fortunately, it has always been one of the best.

Meanwhile, whatever happened to ... Tomita-san? Well, he only has two classes this semester, both on Thursday morning with his fishmarket job in the afternoon, so I guess he has decided the traditional Thursday lunch at the Garden is not such a good idea. Reese and his buddy, Brown? I don't know, they've both been absent for weeks. Rocky? Still "staying with friends" and I've only once seen him strolling through the mall. Gregory? Also unseen for weeks. The Cherub? I've spotted him a few times on campus but he no longer stops by the library. My speculation is, he decided to clean up his act, cut down on the drinking ... or maybe he just decided an old Beatnik is best appreciated via books, not reality. And who could blame him? I miss him. I miss them all. In this life the young men come and go, speaking of Michelangelo.

Hmmmm, no, I don't think I've ever heard them mention him.

247

I slept at the Cloisters on Tuesday night. It was cold and windy.

I woke up just before five o'clock, walked over and caught the bus to the Foodland stop where the Number Five bus used to arrive to carry me on to the mall. They changed the route, so it doesn't stop there anymore. Just like the Milk Train.

So I walked down Keeaumoku Street.

There was what appeared to be a dollar bill on the sidewalk. I picked it up.

It said ONE HUNDRED on it.

I can't tell you how many times I examined that piece of paper in the next hour, and I still didn't believe it until I went into Foodland, bought a spool of white thread (need to sew up the seams on my deteriorating UH polo shirt), some Twining's English Breakfast teabags, a Sheba dish for the Cat, a pack of Pall Malls and a 24oz can of Foster's lager.

The cashier gave me four 20's and some coins.

Please, don't wake me up. Not yet.

It was a VERY good day at Manoa Garden, for me, and for Bryant the Bartender.

248

I had gotten utterly twisted over money on Tuesday, was down to one twenty dollar bill and a few coins. But the twenty was earmarked to repay a loan which had provided my working/winter shoes. I didn't so much want beer, I wanted to sit at the bar in the Garden and talk to people. I wanted it so badly I was starting to get genuinely furious with myself, said sheez, you're getting to be like the young nomads who can't stand their own company. Finally I gave up the battle and asked for an extension of the loan which was kindly granted. Off to the Garden. Along with the regulars was a fellow who was on an around-the-world trip, had gone to UH and so was spending a couple of days here reliving old memories. It was a most enjoyable couple of hours, fully satisfying that itch for conversation.

The discovery of that piece of paper on the sidewalk Wednesday morning set off a huge internal debate. I sat with hotcakes and my senior coffee in a state of shock. You just don't find one hundred dollar bills laying in the middle of a sidewalk, not in the real world. Ah, but you do. Once I completed that mostly-sensible shopping expedition and was assured the piece of paper had been genuine, then the debate really got going.

Options ranged from the ultra-sensible, like finally getting a State ID card, to the not-very-sensible-at-all like buying a bus pass for the Sleeptalker. I soon got fed up with all the voices urging one thing or another, said shut up, it's a gift from the gods. Party on, dude.

Had the weather been more pleasant, I'm sure a totally different scenario would have resulted. As it was, I stayed on campus (instead of heading to Duke's), alternating between the library and the Garden. Bryant was thoroughly shocked when he arrived to see me sitting at the bar eating a big roast beef sandwich. After lunch and a couple of beers, I went to the Campus Bookstore which was having its two-day Christmas Sale, thinking I'd buy a new UH-logo shirt. The only one they had I liked would have been almost forty dollars, even on sale, so I scratched that idea knowing exactly what would happen later. And sure enough, when I got to the bench at night, some little nag said man, you should've bought that shirt since you spent that much at the Garden anyway. I knew it. Nothing to do but grin.

I tried to get Kory K to share in the good fortune, offered to buy him beer after work, but he begged off due to the weather. The round-the-world fellow was at the Garden again, so we sat outside and talked for awhile, barely sheltered by the big umbrellas. Then I returned to the library for another session, resisted the temptation to ask the Sleeptalker to dinner or for drinks even though he'd been quite pleasant in the game all day.

By evening the weather had gotten even worse. Only that day when Hurricane Iniki brushed by have I seen such vile weather here. So it was back to the Garden again for an evening session, including dinner, followed by one more visit to the library and a wait for the downpour to decrease a little before making a dash to the Cloisters. The Gypsy Boy said, "that's very sweet of you" when I gave him the Sheba treat for Cat. No, not really, if I'd really been sweet I would have bought Cat a case of the stuff.

249

The party's over, but it surely was fun while it lasted and the Grand Finale was perfect. I was sitting at an outside table at the Garden when Flash walked in with a Hawaiian lady I'd never seen there before. It was his mama. Ah, so that's what it is that makes Flash more than just a handsome young black man.

Well, I owed him for a lot of good times and jugs of beer, and it was a pleasure to repay him. His mama is as delightful as he is, we were joined by young ladies, fellow fans of Flash, from time to time and he loved being the center of attention. I loved watching him love it.

The party's over, but thanks again to the Angel who made it possible.

250

Well, the party wasn't quite over but it certainly had to shift gears. It has always been my habit when I have money, the folding paper kind, to use very few coins, pay for everything with paper and stash the coins for the inevitable time when the paper runs out or becomes scarce. It was a habit my nephew dearly loved since the resulting coinbox provided a great source for arcade quarters. When you pay for a large beer at the Garden with a five, the change includes three quarters. I must have bought even more of them than I realized because when I reached into the backpack I pulled out a handfull of quarters without emptying the pocket.

Money, money, money. Surely one of the most misquoted "famous sayings" is that "money is the root of all evil", when, of course, it's really "love of money". I've never loved the stuff, but I surely do love spending it. What I don't love is that Fifth Voice, the Nag. He had a heyday on Friday, wouldn't shut up all day. Most of his lectures start out with "you really should have ...". Well, I didn't, so shut up already.

Of course, he was right about some of the things. I should have kept that twenty (again) tucked away instead of spending it on Flash and his mama, I should have bought one of those electronic lighters like the one Kory gave me last year. They are such sensible lighters for the "outdoorsman". That I actually intended to do, but completely forgot about it until it was too late. I should have bought a couple of books, because I finished The Black Book on Friday evening, sitting in the secluded grove with a Hurricane while the almost-hurricane winds brought branches crashing down all around me. I should have bought some international-rate stamps to send off holiday notes to folks in England. Etc. etc. etc.

Well, I didn't. And I didn't do laundry either, another "should have". Not likely to use the quarters for it now, though. They'll all go on beer.

From the grove I could hear the band starting at Manoa Garden, so walked up to listen for awhile. It was an excellent, hard rocking band whose weird name I've already forgotten, but the lead singer (in the style of Joe Cocker) just tried too hard. He should have smoked a decent joint and settled down a bit.

Waiting to catch a bus downhill, I decided I'd go to the hacienda for a change, stopped by 7-Eleven for another Hurricane. Mondo was asleep under his white blanket (not a sheet, as I had originally thought) and I took the bench beside him. The moon was beyond beautiful, appearing now and then through very fast-moving clouds, and I enjoyed the beer, the moon and clouds, and Mondo's shoe-clad feet, the only thing showing from under the blanket. Then he started pulling the blanket up around his shoulders until his legs were uncovered. I was thinking of getting up and rearranging it for him when he woke up and did it himself, said hello and congratulated me on reaching the title of "Ancient Avatar" in Seventh Circle earlier. He had his usual early-month Marboros, didn't offer me one, so I didn't offer him any beer, and after smoking he snuggled up under the blanket and went back to sleep, leaving his head mostly uncovered. Something else as fine as the moon to watch. And it was fine too, as always, to sleep beside him.

Earlier I had gone to the beach for the Krishna feast and chatted with a young man who has the ambition to skateboard in every state of the union, has been at it for two and a half years and only has seven more states to go (in the Dakotas region). He had hitchhiked, and skateboarded, all the way down from Alaska to San Diego before coming here, plans to return to the mainland in March and set out from Seattle to complete his odyssey.

Encounters like that are even more fun than spending money.

251

Oh, the party wasn't over at all. A handsome prince took care of that. Maybe he wouldn't share his Marboros, which were all gone so he had to ask me for snipes, but he was happy to share a far, far better couple of smokes.

The library closing at five on Friday and Saturday evenings always leaves me at something of a loss, unless I've been invited to spend the time with some specific entertainment, so on Saturday I considered going downtown to see the annual switch-on of the seasonal lights and hear the music which had been promised. But the weather was not pleasant, so I stayed at the mall. Shortly after my arrival there, I discovered a plate lunch box which had been abandoned on a ledge, kindly left with a fresh napkin on top of the container, held together with a rubber band. It contained something which was neither beef stew nor beef curry, but something in between, along with a scoop of rice and one of macaroni salad. It wasn't very good, really, but it was filling, and it certainly was thoughtful of someone to leave it like that rather than tossing it into the trash.

Peace on earth, good will toward men ...

I've been hit twice with at least echoes of that mysterious thing we call "Christmas Spirit". The first time was passing a lot of newly arrived Christmas trees. Ah, that evergreen smell, so alien in these islands. And then on Saturday, after enjoying that meal no matter how bland, I found a candy cane. It was wrapped in some almost indestructible shrink-wrap material, but when I finally got it open and tasted it ... childhood revisited for a moment. Sweet.

Earlier I had reached into the coin collection, as yet uncounted, and realized I could definitely have an afternoon Hurricane with the promise of another that evening, and I walked to 7-Eleven, bought it, and continued on to the hacienda. Mondo was asleep under his blanket already, a stranger had, alas, taken the bench next to him. All the benches on the inner row were occupied, so I settled on an outside row bench with its broader view of the moon and stars, the still fast-moving clouds.

Mondo woke up, waved, and came over to ask for the snipes and to offer the shared smokes. Gott sei dank, that was the finest I've had in over a decade. Still alive and gone to heaven. Mondo is a delightful smoking companion, as well as bar buddy, shared a few smiling exchanges of conversation and then got up with an absolutely perfect grin on his face and went back to his bench. Yes, I agreed completely.

I can't say a Tchaikovsky string quartet would have been my favorite music for the moment, but I'd had the great pleasure of the weekly hour of American theatre music already, so let it play on, watching the sky and beating the Nag to the draw. "Dude, what you really should've done ... was give that damned piece of paper to Mondo and tell him to buy as much of that greenery as it could." Absolutely right on.

The radio then moved on to some ethereally tedious medieval seasonal music, so I went station hopping and stumbled on some tracks from Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" album. That was more like it.

Nope, the party not over at all. But maybe on Sunday, when there was that strange sensation of knowing the tipped bottle was empty and no way to get another one.

Maybe ...

252

For awhile it looked like Dame Fortune was going to send me off to the bench on Sunday night without dinner, and the Nag said you should've followed your original inclination and gone to IHS for dinner, never mind the grim surroundings, could always empty it into your casserole and eat it elsewhere. But then at the last tourist trolley stop there was an abandoned large plate lunch box with barbecued ribs, chicken long rice, and the inevitable rice and macaroni salad. Someone to watch over me, even if probably a Japanese vistor who had decided the food was inedible and had barely touched it. If so, the visitor had not been far wrong, but a hungry man makes a very kind restaurant critic. The meat was tough and over-cooked, the rice so solidly sticky it was difficult to break off bits from the scooped lump, and I'd forgotten how much I dislike chicken long rice. But it did the job, I got to the bench feeling not at all hungry.

For the third night, I went to the hacienda. Rossini was on Mondo's usual bench and since the one next to him was the only remaining one of the inner row, I took it. Mondo arrived shortly afterwards and took the one in the outer row at my feet. He had a 7-Eleven bag and took out a large packet of beef jerky, started to open it. Rossini jumped up and rushed over to get some, without being asked. Mondo and I exchanged smiles behind his back, and I settled down to sleep, insulated with three shirts, shorts over my head, and a towel across my chest. Winter wonderland.

The beergarden hunt had yielded more than a pint of Budweiser on Sunday morning, along with a pair of Nike slippers (the kind with a broad strap rather than thonged) and a copy of Ron Hubbard's massive sci-fi novel, Battlefield Earth. I studied his Bible of Scientology, Dianetics, thoroughly in the late 60s, reading it several times, but had never encountered his fiction. It's a surprisingly good yarn, well told and thoroughly engrossing. Several times during the day I had difficulty deciding whether to continue with it or return to Seventh Circle, and especially enjoyed reading it with that last bottle of Hurricane in the secluded grove in the early afternoon.

That bottle almost didn't happen. The continuing unpleasant weather is making laundry a great problem, and I seriously debated using the quarters for the laundromat instead of the beer. I had wisely been advised to buy a couple of pair of socks when I got the shoes, as I had only been carrying one pair to use at night, and since I still had one clean pair, the beer won. Dirty clothes aside, that of course also raised the old problem of senior coffee money, but 21 cents turned up on campus and then on Monday morning, the best of all shopping carts ... one that a person mysteriously returned to the "corral" but hadn't bothered to collect the quarter. Weird, but most welcome, senior coffee ensured for Tuesday as well, and the beergardens had yielded another pint of Budweiser, plus a can of Bud Lite.

In between library sessions and reading, I stopped by to see the annual art sale staged by faculty, alumni and students, all or most of the proceeds going to the materials fund for the art programs at the University. It was an amusing collection of work, some of it so boldly derivative it could have been an exercise in forgery. There was one delicious little abstract canvas I especially liked. If we'd have had that painting hanging in our New York studio, everyone would have thought it a Hans Hofmann, and a very good one. I was not much surprised to find more interesting work from students than from faculty, but the main feeling the collection gave me was an echo of my continuing appreciation for the work being done by the art department here.

Cainer had said I'd get a valuable message on the weekend. The only message I note is that marijuana is a far superior drug compared to alcohol, but I've known that for over thirty years. I just wish the Powers That Be would wake up and smell the grass. Otherwise, perhaps the main message is the reminder again what creatures of habit we are. From the time I first got a modem, thirteen years ago, multiplayer online games and public discussion groups have been a habitual part of my life, first Bartle's MUD2 and the local BBS forums, now Seventh Circle and the Usenet newsgroups. Seventh Circle is a delightful stand-in for the superior, but too costly, MUD2, but I have my doubts about Usenet and whether it really plays any valuable role in my life at all.

It was the first weekend in a long time with no contact with the Sleeptalker. HighLevel had said he'd started sleeping at IHS, and I suspect the Sleeptalker is doing likewise, along with Rossini-2. With the cold, wet, windy weather, it is a sensible choice and, no doubt about it, the Sleeptalker's absence makes the cloisters a far more peaceful place to sleep.

I went up another level in the game, now with the title Eternal Avatar. Considering how many points it is to reach the next level, "eternal" may not be an exaggeration. That advance makes me the second highest player in the Hawaii contingent. What a useful thing to add to my resume.

253

It was a surprise to pick up a newspaper, even a student-produced one on campus, and see a photograph of one of my bar buddies, quite beyond "surprise" to see the headline beside it announcing he is dead. The thought instantly came to mind of a day, over a year ago, when I joked with him, "if I ever come to Manoa Garden and you aren't here, I'm sending out the Marines." Such a young man, a professor at the University of Hawaii, originally from England, involved in some fascinating research about which Ka Leo O Hawai`i discreetly only hinted. I shall do likewise.

I had to smile on Wednesday morning, shivering in the cold water of the showers at Ala Moana Beach Park, a naked Japanese man standing a few feet from me, when I thought of the lurid portrait of me some folks have been trying to paint recently on Usenet. Yeh, sure, life's just one great erotic thrill after another, I can't imagine why it has taken me so long to realize it.

254

Thursday morning, just another gray and dreary morning in paradise. Oh for a day of sunshine from dawn till sunset ...

I stayed at the cloisters, got there early enough to grab a long bench before they were all taken. Like the hacienda recently, it's always a full house but the cloisters is a little more spacious, feels less like being in a submarine, bodies packed closely together. Despite a peaceful night's rest, I felt absolutely awful when I woke up and, after a much longer absence than usual, that dumb chest pain returned. I walked very, very slowly on my way for senior coffee, was never happier to reach the entrance to McDonald's.

The coffee helped a lot, physically and mentally. I get a lot less caffeine now than I have at any time in my life, but I don't notice any craving for it, doesn't seem to be particularly important ... except those two cups of coffee in the morning.

I was having dinner with Helen R at the mall on Tuesday evening and while talking about my slight concern about the Sleeptalker, realized I didn't know what day of the week it was. I'd gotten concerned because he hadn't appeared at the hacienda or in the game since Saturday, an unprecedented absence from the game. But he finally appeared on Wednesday and even though we had no exchanges in the game, it was a relief to know he's all right.

All my children. Young Bobby has switched shifts at McD's, works in the evening now, and another sweetie has taken his place in the morning. One of my favorite morning people has disappeared this week, too. He's a taller-than-usual, slim local Japanese fellow, the Painter, always dressed in narrow-cut white workmen's trousers and a white tee shirt with his employer's logo on the back. I've been enjoying waiting for the bus with him nearby for weeks and was sorry when he didn't show up on Monday.

Lot of little, probably should be irrelevant, things combine to make this a very much less than satisfactory week. The weatherman says there are some pleasant, sunny days ahead. I hope he's right, outer weather and inner weather.

255

Seemed like old times. The campus went on Finals Week schedule on Thursday, library open until midnight every night, but after a day of alternating between Seventh Circle and Battlefield Earth I called it quits around six and went to the mall. Shopping cart heaven, as I suspected it would be when I noticed how empty the "home corral" of the things was outside the supermarket. Within an hour I had enough quarters for a bottle of Hurricane and Friday morning's senior coffee, so topped up the tobacco supply and headed off to 7-Eleven for the beer. A fellow from Fairbanks, Alaska was waiting for a bus and we had a pleasant chat about his (first) visit here and the differences between life here and that in the Far North.

When I got off the bus at the hacienda, I heard someone say, "hey Albert!", turned around and it was Rocky. "I hope you've got some beer," he said, "but then you always have beer." Hmmmm, I wish. Still, even if it was my only one of the day and I had considered just staying in the park to drink it all by myself, this was Rocky, a true Hero of the Tales, no way I couldn't share it with him. A quiet thanks to Mondo for declining to join in.

So we settled down, Mondo on the bench behind me and Rocky on the one at my feet. Rossini and the also-long-absent Plato arrived and surprisingly immediately settled down as well. Yes, it really is the Sleeptalker who is the catalyst for the loud gab sessions there, and he was missing, although he had been in the game all day.

Once again the place completely filled up, even the few spaces on the floor, and some young man took the shelf on the wall at the head of my bench, again evoking an image of bunk beds in submarine quarters.

I was up very early, so walked slowly toward the mall, felt an urge when passing it to check the breadbasket. Since it had been such a nostalgic evening, might as well add that long-neglected ritual, I thought. Lucky impulse, since there were two whole loaves of that yummy wheat bread and three large baked potatoes. The birds of the secluded grove and I had an assured lunch. If only there had been more than half a flask of beer to go with it ...

256

Publication of the Tales is temporarily suspended. I said publication, not writing.

257

Dame Fortune continues to smile on me and those dear to me. I must have done something in my last life to acquire so much merit because I certainly haven't in this one.

The Sleeptalker made the First Day of Winter an absolute delight. He had found a bus pass (tip of the hat to the Dame) the week before and we had spent Friday together on campus, in and out of the game, repeated again on Saturday when it was my turn to visit his usual habitat, the State Library. Early on Monday I was sitting in Hamilton Library, felt a pat on my shoulder and looked up to see the Sleeptalker grinning at me. Another delicious day together, again in and out of the game. We had planned to leave in time for the Krishna feast but both got so engrossed in the game we didn't notice the time passing and it was too late to get there, so we played on until the library closed at five. For some strange reason, IHS had scheduled its "Christmas dinner" that evening, so we decided to go there.

The usual system there is to stand in line and be handed plates of food, then sitting wherever there is vacant space. But for the special event, we were told where to sit and the food was brought to us. They had halted the line just after the Sleeptalker got in, so he was sitting at a table across the room from me. But in the chair next to me was the Painter! I hadn't seen him in a long time and was delighted, whatever his reason for being there despite having a full-time job. The delight was soon increased when Mondo entered and was directed to sit at our table. The food was decent (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatos and those always weirdly tasteless frozen "mixed vegetables") but the amount was rather on the sparse side and I certainly could have eaten a second plate with no effort.

The Sleeptalker said afterwards he planned to stay at IHS, as he has been since the weather turned cool, Mondo was just going to "hang out" (as usual). I said I had to go to the mall because I didn't have a quarter for the next morning's coffee, had to find a shopping cart. Mondo offered to give me a quarter but I said, no, no problem, am sure to find at least one cart. So I left them, walked through Chinatown and caught a bus. Helen R. was on the bus! She kindly supplemented the meagre portions at IHS with some McD's McNuggets and fries, adding the perfect dessert for both "dinners", money for a Hurricane. Ah, the joy of that liquid ...

As I write, sitting in the setting sun at Ala Moana Beach Park, two zebra doves do their territorial dance, raising their little tails like peacocks, bowing to each other and making agressive cooing sounds, the same dance used for courting. These two were serious rivals for the space, though, and proceeded to chase and peck each other, downy feathers flying. I played Peacemaker and broke it up.

It occurred to me, while thinking of what a strange and significant influence the Gordon Biersch brewpub has had on my life, that this period of often-rampant alcoholism began when that establishment opened at the Aloha Tower. Now it has uncannily and indirectly re-entered my life. First the Snorer got a job in the kitchen there, then the Sleeptalker, and finally, Rocky!

I was pondering that, sitting on a bench waiting for the bus and sipping the Hurricane from my flask when three police cars pulled up, blue lights flashing. Whoooaa, a bit of overkill for one old dude drinking beer at a bus stop! They were not, however, interested in me but in some motorist they had for whatever reason been pursuing and had brought to a halt right beside me. I discreetly tucked the rest of the beer away until reaching the hacienda. Shortly after my arrival, Mondo and the Sleeptalker came walking up the path, Rocky arriving after he got off work at Gordon Biersch.

The Sleeptalker and I took the two benches facing each other, Mondo on the bench at my head and Rocky in front of him. Who could ask for anything more ...

Now and then I would wake up during the night and deeply cherish the pleasure of watching the Sleeptalker sleeping, delighting in his living up to his nickname by clearly saying things every time he shifted position, getting my heaviest polo shirt out of my backpack and covering him with it, rewarded by watching him cuddle up under its added protection from the night chill. He stirred when I retrieved it before leaving and thanked me for the loan. I rubbed my hand through that wonderful bear-fur hair of his (for the umpteenth time since it has grown back) and said "don't be late for work". He grinned, promised not to be. How I do love that man.

And the pattern continued. Rocky, Mondo, the Sleeptalker and me on those four benches, positions varying according to time of arrival, even including a night sharing the facing benches with Rocky. The Sleeptalker is evidently also happy with the renewed Rocky Social Horror Club since he gave up staying at IHS and arrived each night after work. Seems like old times, good times.

But what a treacherously difficult young man the Sleeptalker is. He seems to have about a six-hour limit on being sweet and charming, then is compelled to erase the memory, restore his tough guy image by being an utterly unreasonable brat. Even though I know the pattern so well, it almost always catches me offguard and after the resulting blow-up, I remind myself, sometimes with the help of these Tales, of the hours of my life his friendship has made special. If only I could better anticipate the moment of switch and remind myself then, I might be more successful at finding the appropriate response to his tantrums. In the most recent case, after a delightful day together, later sitting on my bench at the hacienda, him deliciously shirtless and in shorts, sharing my beer and my cigarettes (I am not unaware of that absurd use of my), he refused to either turn off the squawky little radio he had borrowed from Mondo, switch it to a non-rap station or move to another bench. It was a repeat of an evening on campus when I walked off and left him and the Cherub in order to escape similar sound pollution. I took the radio and turned it off, again asked him to leave my bench if he wanted to listen to it, he got very angry, threw his cigarette into our flask of beer and stomped off. I fished out the filter, threw it at him and amazingly hit him square in the middle of his beautiful bare back. The Big Local Dude chuckled quietly behind me and the Sleeptalker left the hacienda, didn't return. Sigh.

Did I enjoy his company so much I should have put up with his brattish insistence on the "music"? Was it wrong to think he could have considered those "my's" ... my bench, my beer, my cigarettes? Questions of a thousand dreams ... answers in this case probably yes and yes. In any event, I decided not to let this one drag on as they usually do, went to the back door at Gordon Biersch the next evening and asked if he was working. He came out, I said I was sorry to have been such a grouch, and he hugged me. All's well that end's well, and that was a fine ending.

Readers who kindly protested against the temporary suspension of the Tales gave me cause to further think about the decision, but it was the Tales themselves which brought me back to the land of prose via HTML. Since I'll have more time off-line than usual during the three weeks of UH Winter Break, I decided to print out the Tales for re-reading and any final editing or revision. Reading those early ones is both fun and informative, the events and my state of mind sufficiently distant from current being and thinking that it is almost like reading about someone else. Almost.

In some ways I look at that person from a year ago and think he was actually in better shape than I am now. Part of that, I think, is because the early days of this new lifestyle were an "adventure". Much of what has become routine was then novel and fascinating. But certainly part of it also has to do with what seems a looser, more free and more intimate relationship with the environment. In recent weeks, even months, life has perhaps become too much involved with other people. People are no doubt more important than grass and trees and ocean, but I may have let the scales tip too far, just as they have been tipped too far in the direction of on-line life since the trip began (and long before that).

On-line life is often fun, interesting and challenging, whether in the fantasy worlds of multiplayer games or the less friendly zoo of Usenet or the often delightful email friendships. But it can also become demoralizing and depressing, and continuing to participate when it reaches that stage is absurd. When the game gets stupid because of little brats throwing tantrums, time to quit for the day. Same thing applies to Usenet, but the antidotal quit-time needs to be longer, even permanent perhaps. With email, it's easy ... just slam the brats in the filter file that dumps their mail into oblivion without being seen.

As for time spent on-line writing the Tales? Hmmmmm ....

Yes, for me it has been time well spent and documenting this drastic change in lifestyle has for the most part been fun to do and has accumulated into an (again, for me) entertaining and valuable personal history. There is, of course, no compelling reason to carry on the activity publicly, even some reason not to do so, but the feedback from readers has also been valuable and often most pleasurable. So they continue ...

Two friends and readers kindly offered shelter for the night before Christmas, one suggesting it wasn't "right" for me to spend that night on a bench. Say what? 364 rest of the nights a year a bench is just fine, indeed a luxury in these winter nights of crowded sanctuaries when late arrivals make do with a cold, concrete floor. Why should the night before Christmas be any different? So I went to the hacienda, stuffed with good food, after an evening of equally good company including a delightful Jewish husband and wife I'd not met before, happily bought beer and cigarettes on my way and shared them with Mondo. The first Christmas Eve since Manhattan I'd spent in mixed company (speaking in Judeo-Christian terms), my first Christmas Eve sleeping next to Mondo. Who could ask for anything more?

I could have asked for a more pleasant early Christmas morning. Gray drizzle, all sources of morning coffee closed. A Jack-in-the-Box which advertises itself in neon as "open 24 hours" refuses now to serve walk-ins at their drive-in window, the only thing open before six in the morning, so they are open 24 hours to people with wheels only. "Merry Christmas to you, too," I grumbled at the snotty manager who is the reason I stopped going there months ago, and walked on through the drizzle to Ala Moana mall, caught a bus to Waikiki and got my senior coffee from the more hospitable Jack there. McD's everywhere were closed. They must have had a very good year if they could so blithely ignore hordes of Asian visitors with no cultural or religious reason to care about Christmas.

The weather changed, the sun was shining on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day, so I stayed in the park until sunset, shifting to a shaded spot when sunburn threatened, and then went to Gordon Biersch. Mikey V and Kevin Murphy. Who could ask for anything more?

And, of course, there's a little brat still thriving in this old man's body. "I like old men," said the Sleeptalker. Sweetheart. Neither of us like the little brats, though, his or mine. So scratch that "project", which mercifully no reader asked about, and instead work on killing the little brat. My little brat. The Sleeptalker has plenty of years to deal with his. My time is running out.

258

Give me a glimpse to build a dream on, and my imagination will make that moment live ... give me what you alone can give, a glimpse to build a dream on ...

Okay, the original words are "kiss", not "glimpse", but no need to be greedy. He did promise some time ago that I could look but not touch. Finally got to look. I almost wished to be disappointed. I wasn't.

The final week of 1998 got off to a fine start at the airport on Sunday morning, quaffing "super-sized" Bloody Mary's and enjoying a fine "Ali`i" breakfast with Deb and Tom and Helen R. during the now-mainlanders' change of planes from an incoming Maui one to an outgoing San Francisco one. They surely do make decent Bloody Mary's out there, helping maintain a long tradition of bidding farewell to folks with a vodka-soaked stalk of celery.

Then Helen R. and I went to see "Prince of Egypt". Except for one fascinating sequence where the wall paintings came to life, I was very much disappointed in the film which I'd looked forward to since seeing the handsome poster a long time ago. The poster was the best thing about the film, the music was the worst and was used to extreme excess. The only other thing I can think of to say in the film's favor is that it at least didn't resort to Disney-like cutesy stuff. The camels didn't sing.

I took a bottle of Hurricane and headed to the hacienda. Mondo was there already and I grabbed the bench next to him. But, alas, out came that dreadful little transistor radio which had already caused the static between me and the Sleeptalker. Mondo went under his blanket, but the squawky sound continued and, worse, he kept switching stations. He didn't have it all that loud, but I could still hear it despite my radio with earphones. I moved to the most distant bench, then checked the time and realized I could still get a bus to the cloisters, so left and did just that, happily finding two carts to return as I walked through the mall. As the Big Local Dude's lady said, a pity Mondo couldn't have gotten a radio with earphones.

It certainly seemed like the coldest night of the winter thus far. This beautiful island has very little in common with the island of Manhattan but does seem to share the winter weather fact that utterly clear night skies promise a chillier than usual time. Those beautiful clear skies were supposedly going to depart on Monday but the clouds didn't roll in until early afternoon and brought little rain, letting the Sleeptalker and me move back and forth between the game and life outside it. The outside part was much more important to me, the in-game part to him, I'm sure. But the balance was fine all through the day and with the library closing at five, I got the lion's share when we ended up spending all evening together drinking beer and talking about all and everything.

Each time a dangerous junction loomed ahead, I managed to veer our direction off, avoiding that usual switch to bratdom (on either side) and we strolled off together at the end of the evening like happy bar buddies should. He got on a bus to IHS and I lingered awhile on the beach to think about the day and especially the evening, thanking my lucky stars for the pleasure of his friendship and his enticingly sweet, exceptionally kind flirtatious escapades.

No, I really didn't fall in love with the wrong one at all.

259

I fell in love with the right one. Is there ever any other for the person doing the falling? I don't think so, the heart has its reasons and they don't always appear sensible to the brain, or whatever it is which is the Seat of Reason. Hmmm, interesting figure of speech.

But in this case, even Reason agrees it is the right one because I can't imagine there are that many young men who can be so kind to old adorers, or have the uncommon good sense to know how far out to step to give pleasure and how to then pull back, with kindness.

The penultimate year of the 19xx's ended not with a bang (although there were more than enough of those) or a whimper (despite my tendency to do that on Wednesday). It ended with a deep sigh. Perhaps on a less personal level, it's not difficult to understand how the 20th century inspires just such an ending, so I was only practising for December 31, 1999. Opposite to what had been expected, the New Year's weekend turned out to be far more difficult than the Christmas one and my attempt at coping was based, as usual, almost entirely on consumption of alcohol. In huge quantity.

The difficulty had its origin in that delightful drunken evening alone with the Sleeptalker. We both stepped out too far that evening. He quickly pulled back and I tried to do likewise. I think he had an easier time of it, but I could be wrong about that. He has the far more complex problem of latent homosexuality (or at least bisexuality) to deal with. But I think we both have a possibly absurd but nonetheless very real burden of guilt.

A reader said "he's just taking advantage of you". I don't believe there is really any such thing in a willing relationship between two people, far less possibility when there is love between them, even if one-sided. From a less abstract, more concrete view, no, still I cannot agree. If anything, he seems to firmly resist doing any such thing, makes it something of a point to be scarce whenever he knows I have money. And when I do, I happily spend it on him. (I haven't forgotten that, as I noted, absurd use of "my" recently; that was after all the basis for my apology.) No, if he really were out to "take advantage" of me, he could do it big time. For him I would sell those English stocks, sort out the problems that impede a return to bourgeois life, take a job in an office and live unhappily together with him ever after, or at least for a few years. I'm lucky he's an honorable young man. But I surely do wish the Christians hadn't so twisted his mind.

Jonathan Cainer's astrological observations about this time have been right on the mark. Among my holiday reading has been a continuing re-exploration of Robert Heinlein's works and in his brave and invaluable retrospective collection, Expanded Space, he takes sharp aim at astrology and the I Ching. In the case of the I Ching, I think he is utterly wrong but only because he doesn't understand its true operation, regards it as just another mumbo-jumbo system of soothsaying. With astrology, I don't know, as I've admitted before. There is no denying, however, that a few astrologers, Cainer foremost among them, somehow consistently analyze trends and moods of the time and offer sound advice on dealing with them, often too specifically relevant to be just random general philosophizing. After I ask God why in hell's name he created the mosquito, I'll ask if astrology is valid. In the meantime, I'll go on being grateful for perceptive practitioners of the method, Heinlein notwithstanding.

One of the greatest problems with being in love, especially when it is combined with sheer lust and desire, is that no one else will do. Good fiction helps the mind escape for awhile, masturbation (very) temporarily relieves physical craving, but what ironically turned out to be a time of abundant opportunities for sexual encounters helped not at all. Indeed, couldn't even get it up, as they say. Oh well, if you can't get pleasure yourself, the least you can do is your best to satisfy the other. I did my best even if my heart belongs to one Portagee-Hawaiian-Filipino (as he recently described himself in the game). Even while busy washing socks and tee shirts in the shower, I paused in my chores for a young Korean lad who wanted to play. I saw him later in the afternoon, smiled and gave him a little wave. "You're bomb," he said. I believe in current jargon that indicates he was pleased and I was happy for him.

It was beyond my powers of imagination to pretend he was the Sleeptalker. I try to comfort myself, and the Sleeptalker, with the experienced knowledge that it will eventually become less obsessive. Maybe by the end of the century ...

There is one man with the power to at least temporarily exorcise the Sleeptalker. There are no doubt quite a few, but I don't expect Brad Pitt to walk into the showers at Ala Moana. So rephrase that, there is one man in my life with the power. I saw him for the second time on Saturday. The first time I saw him he was naked. As yes, Hermoine, I remember it well. Maybe the third time I'll get lucky and I won't even have to pretend it's the Sleeptalker.

The thing is, though, I'm falling apart. An old ship, battered by more than half a century at sea, cast adrift without an anchor, with no mission. Even in the relatively quiet ocean of life on Oahu, an old ship adrift and purposeless eventually starts to come apart at the seams. Or so it would appear.

I sat very late on Saturday night at the cloisters, drunk as a skunk, a towel over my head, country music in my ears, and had a good long cry. There's nothing like country music when it comes to crying, except maybe the last act of Boheme. No particular reason to cry. It was a very good year. If I live long enough, which is doubtful, I might look back at 1998 and think of it as I do now of 1972, 1988. Very, very good years. Any reason why 1999 shouldn't join the list? Aside from the statistical unlikehood, no. But there is the slight problem of falling apart. If the ship wrecks, can the broken boards be tied together, make a raft to keep afloat? Or does it do a Titanic and sink quickly to the bottom?

No, the Sleeptalker isn't taking advantage of me. I'm taking advantage of him ... or at least I'm being utterly unfair to him. I love the young man. He hasn't had much of that in his brief life and what he has had seems to have been as selfish and unfair as mine. It's enough to make a grown man weep.

259a

After a Sunday alternating between the park and the mall, I went to the hacienda for the first time in a week. The Sleeptalker arrived with a bunch of people, including Mondo and Plato, sat with me and talked about the game. I told him I had really missed him and was happy to see him, and I meant both. Several of them decided to walk to the 7-Eleven but I declined the invitation to join them, switched to one of the benches facing each other since the Sleeptalker left a tee shirt on the other to claim it. While he was gone I left a Ralph Lauren polo shirt in exchange for the tee shirt and put it on, fell asleep happily and didn't wake up when they returned although I did a little later and lay there watching the Sleeptalker sleep, cuddled under the polo shirt. As I was getting ready to leave in the morning, he woke up and said, "where are you going?" "To get coffee." I rubbed my hand through his hair and said, "see you in the game."

He quit the job at Gordon Biersch. If it had been some other restaurant, I'd apply for it. I'm not looking forward to this long winter month of being broke.

260

A reader congratulated me on my "bomb" rating, but worried that I was throwing gasoline on a fire. I wasn't aware my sex life was still being discussed on Usenet. Gee, a legend in my own time.

The reader was though, I think, sincere in echoing a couple of worries, one of which has been a constant insincere concern on Usenet for a year now. The first concern is that I'll get busted. Ha! I think it would be deliciously funny to get sent to jail for having sex. I could write my very own De Profundis, see if I could do a better job of it than old Oscar.

The second concern is more serious, worrying that young children might be exposed to something that would harm them for life, or at least give them a premature education in bizarre things adult human persons enjoy doing.

Neither is at all likely. The old shower houses at Ala Moana Beach were large and spacious, had a dozen-or-so showers in an open space with benches for drying and (forbidden) nude sunbathing. The new ones are tiny and seem almost to have been designed with intimate tete-a-tetes in mind. The shower is a two-person room at the end of a corridor, with a drying/changing room between it and the entry. The design makes it possible to see from the change in the light entering the building when someone is approaching, even before they get to the actual entry, much less all the way back to the shower room.

Who could ask for anything more ...

I spent much of the first Monday of the New Year playing Seventh Circle, with several delightful exchanges with the Sleeptalker. There's very little food to be found abandoned on campus during Winter Break but I did come across a big juicy apple to supplement a Cup of Noodles I'd been carrying around for an "emergency". Two readers had made gifts of McD's gift certificates which had kept me supplied with hotcakes every morning but the last of those had gone for senior coffee on Monday. I didn't want to leave the game early enough to make it to the Krishna truck, so decided to play on and go to IHS instead.

I got there after the first mob had filled the place and so joined the line of folks waiting for space to open up. The Sleeptalker had evidently eaten already and was standing outside talking to two other players of Seventh Circle, looking very handsome in the Lauren shirt. I got impatient waiting for the line to move, so decided to try my luck at Ala Moana instead, chatted briefly with the Sleeptalker and went on my way. I told him I needed to get a couple of quarters for one last Hurricane. Hey, can just bum them off people, he said, and started asking the guys standing around if they had a spare quarter! What a place to do it. I laughed and told him to stop it, assured him I hadn't gotten too lazy to push back a few shopping carts.

As it happened, no food readily turned up at Ala Moana, but I did find three carts almost immediately. I was feeling very tired, weary of the mall (too many hours there during this Winter Break), and even though I would have welcomed the Sleeptalker's company, I really didn't feel up to the whole Social Horror Club routine, so got the bus back to campus, buying that last Hurricane on the way.

A friend had given me Anna Quindlen's One True Thing, a touching novel (if it is fiction) about a young woman giving up her own life temporarily to be with her dying mother, and I finished that with the beer and a whirlpool of thoughts about families. I'm most grateful I escaped watching my parents die (assuming my mother has by now, which is by no means certain). I'd found an unexpected plate-lunch box with some tough but edible beef and ample rice, so didn't have to go off hungry to the cloisters bench after all, a blessing since my head was already messed up enough without adding actual hunger to the mix.

As for Usenet, no, I'm not going to take the reader's suggestion that I should "keep up" with what is being said about me. There's no point in reading something like alt.culture.hawaii unless one is going to participate (and from the way that newsgroup was going in the past few months, no point in reading it at all). And there is certainly no point in worrying about what people say, have more than enough voices in my own head to deal with.

261

"How do I love thee, let me count the ways ..." Nice stuff for its time but the Language of Love now goes like this:

me: Taking off now, might see you later.
him: Come to [the hacienda]. I miss you.
me: Sweetheart! :)
him: :) !!

Ah, those Brownings had nothing on us.

So of course I went to the hacienda. Ye gods, what a night. When I got there, Mondo, Plato, Rossini and a young blonde newcomer were sitting on outside benches surrounded by beer bottles, empty and full. Plato handed me a Bud, Mondo added a Sol to the collection. The Big Local Dude was sitting on a distant outside bench glowering. Rocky arrived, sat for one beer and then went inside, sprawled on a bench and put his headphones on.

By the time the Sleeptalker came strolling up the path, everyone was fairly drunk and mellow, things were quieting down. As always, he stirred it all up again. I kept urging him to keep the volume lower, with no success. Then I'm not quite sure what happened because I was talking to Plato, didn't see what the Sleeptalker did when he went inside to Rocky's bench. Whatever it was, the BLD thought the Sleeptalker was trying to put the make on Rocky! They had a heated discussion which got everyone sitting up and watching, then the BLD hauled off and slapped the Sleeptalker. I risked getting the same treatment by moving in between them, urging the BLD to chill out. He backed off, I sat down again, but the Sleeptalker just wouldn't shut up so their argument continued. Mondo walked off down the path and I soon did the same, then changed my mind after walking about a block and went back. The BLD had returned to his distant bench, the Sleeptalker and Plato were back to drinking beer.

I went over to the BLD and told him I understood how he felt, agreed with much of what he'd said about the place being a welcome sanctuary for sleeping and not a place to party. He was feeling very unhappy with himself for having slapped the Sleeptalker and we agreed that wasn't a solution to any problem. I went back and sat on the bench with the Sleeptalker who asked me to sleep out there on the bench beside him. I didn't notice the time but it must have been almost midnight when we finally settled down to sleep.

All too soon, I was awakened by the Sleeptalker and Rossini yakking away, looked at my watch and saw it wasn't quite five in the morning. Sheez. I wouldn't have blamed the BLD if he'd gotten up and slapped both of them. I picked up my backpack and walked off without saying anything.

I sat outside McD's with my coffee and thought, if I had a room with a bed in it, I'd crawl under a blanket and sleep for days ...

262

Oh, that kid. After the unprecedented fuss he caused at the hacienda on Wednesday night, he created a major uproar in the game on Thursday. In fairness to the lad, I don't think he was entirely at fault in the squabble at the hacienda. The Big Local Dude knows the Sleeptalker and Rocky are long-time buddies, really had no business butting into whatever goes on between them and was just using it as an excuse to vent his annoyance with the beer party (which certainly wasn't only the Sleeptalker's doing). I don't know what he did in the game, though, because I was taking a midday break and he hadn't appeared earlier in the day. When I got back, he was playing, his main character had been silenced and there was a big debate underway between his (few) friends in the game and those who were calling for him to be permanently banned.

One of the two guys who actually run the game got fed up when the Sleeptalker kept entering the game with his other players and mouthing off, and banned the terminal address from game entry. I got involved at that point, explaining it was a public library terminal, used by many other players of Seventh Circle and it was hardly fair to block their entry just because the Sleeptalker was misbehaving. The Boss lifted the ban but warned players who know the Sleeptalker that if pressure weren't put on him to chill out, the address ban would become permanent.

He doesn't know the Sleeptalker, I fear. Trying to "put pressure" on him is always totally counter-productive. I explained to the Sleeptalker that the Boss certainly could technically make the ban permanent and wondered how he'd like all the other players grumbling at him if it happened. That was as far as I'd go with the campaign, left it to the other State Library players to pursue.

This first week of the New Year has been boringly ordinary despite the Sleeptalker-inspired fireworks but I had a feeling on Thursday evening that some kind of a corner had been turned, perhaps a delayed "inner Solstice" where Wednesday had been the longest night of the year and the Light was slowly returning. That would be most welcome; the candle to help me get through the Dark is running low and flickering.

263

The Sleeptalker decided on Friday morning that he was "too dirty" and had to go "home" to Momma for a shower and to wash his clothes, thus ending an extraordinary week when we were together, night and day, from Monday through Thursday. During the day we stayed on campus, playing Seventh Circle. I took breaks to search for tobacco and food, the Mama Bird image foremost in my mind. He played and played and played, and when I returned with provisions would take a break to smoke and eat and drink and talk, about the game and about his life.

And about our friendship. "You're the coolest dude I've ever known," he said.

When the library closed at eleven, we walked to the Cloisters and he took the little bench, I put some cardboard on the floor beside it and slept there, our heads about six inches from each other. And I was happy, very happy, despite the certain knowledge that it was a time out of reality, that it had to end, and that I'd feel very lonely when it did.

Meanwhile, before this four-day fantasy began, I wrote:

"How fortunate!" said the Dalai Lama in "Kundun". He was referring to the gift of an elephant from Nepal but given his fascination with an antique hand-cranked film projector in his youth, I suspect he'd share my similar reaction to DVD. How fortunate, indeed, like a science fiction tale come to life. In the late 40s I was captivated by news in magazines like Popular Mechanics about the invention of magnetic recording tape. I desperately wanted such a machine and was convinced as a child that it was possible to will something into existence, spent much time trying to make one of those miraculous recording devices materialize. What they say about will power must be true; the machine never materialized from thin air but those early yearnings resulted in a life with very few gaps in ownership of a tape recorder. From a reel-to-reel single-track tape recorder to a little silvery disc which contains an entire film ... the stuff fantasy is made of.

And how fortunate, too, that my first encounter with this new technology was my ninth (tenth?) viewing of "Kundun". I don't think I could ever tire of seeing that beautiful film.

That very special Friday evening started the last weekend of UH Winter Break at a peak and it was downhill all the way after that. The weather was beautiful, though, on both Saturday and Sunday and I spent a lot of time at the beach park in between hunting forays at the mall. Mid-afternoon on Saturday I made the mistake of going to the State Library. The day had been fairly pleasant up till then, few shopping carts but a generous food supply including an unprecedented abandoned set of hotcakes from McD's. Judging by the bag, someone had ordered two breakfast sandwiches and hotcakes, and after eating the sandwiches had decided the hotcakes weren't needed. How fortunate.

The Sleeptalker was at the State Library, of course. All terminals were occupied by people (like him) who didn't look likely to abandon them before the five o'clock closing, but he did take a break to join me outside for a smoke. He was wearing new suede sandals and a new tee shirt in a very nice shade of bright blue, told me his "friend" had bought them for him. I suspect the "friend" was the Raccoon, a young Filipino cutie who is steadily employed and has been around again after a period of absence. He and the Sleeptalker seem to have an on-and-off best-buddy relationship. The Raccoon arrived shortly after we'd gone outside, chatted for awhile and went into the library.

The Sleeptalker was eager to get back to the game, I declined his offer to let me have the first terminal to be vacated, said I could survive without logging on and was going back to the mall, might see him later. I was thoroughly, utterly irked with myself because I was feeling so jealous over the Raccoon, especially after hearing they'd spent Thursday evening drinking at Gordon Biersch. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, I hate more about myself than my tendency to fall victim to jealousy, with or without any real reason for it. [And later, hearing the entire story, I saw there was even less reason for it, since the Raccoon actually loaned the Sleeptalker money to buy the things.]

I grumbled at myself, told the mind to just shut up about it, spent a couple of hours utterly at war with myself. It easily qualifies as the most stupid evening I have spent in more than two years but I did manage eventually to shift location, won the battle so to speak. But what a stupid waste of energy.

Then, even though I knew it wasn't a good idea, I went to the hacienda. Mondo and Blondie and Plato were there, the BLD and his lady absent. Everyone not part of the Rocky Social Horror Club appears to have found somewhere else to shelter. Not even the long-time Airport Refugee appears at the hacienda anymore. Little wonder. If it's not a lengthy gabfest or beer party, it's that wretched little radio of Mondo's, and that thing came out again, Blondie borrowed it and was playing it very loud. I left, headed off to the Cloisters determined to resign my membership in the Club once and for all.

Strange prelude to a beautiful week ...

264

You'll never miss your water till your well runs dry
No, you'll never miss your water till your well runs dry
I never missed my baby till he said goodbye

A friend and reader, with her usual sardonic style, said she understood why I hang out with the Sleeptalker but wondered why he hangs out with me. I put the email into her folder to ponder awhile and, after several vodka-and-cokes, asked the Sleeptalker himself. He just smiled, said nothing.

Why should he have said anything more after "you're the coolest dude I've ever known"? That's the supreme compliment of my long life, three decades later superceding "the most important American artist since Jackson Pollock." I was going to say that was sheer hyperbole, but I'm not entirely certain of the meaning of that word, and the Random House Dictionary of the English Language doesn't have it (!). In any case, it was exaggeration, based upon a future which didn't happen, and partly because I understood clearly I could never hope to be in the same league as that American Master. Only partly, though. When I made paintings and sculpture, I did it because I was having fun doing it, I never took it as seriously as my fans. I was enjoying myself, having fun. When it stopped being fun, I stopped doing it.

I "had fun" this week like I haven't done since 1972, 1973. Those weeks, magic magic weeks with the Dutchman, that so special time with Deepak in a cheap Old Delhi hotel. But even those treasured times didn't come close to the intimacy of the four days with the Sleeptalker. We ate from the same plate lunch box, we drank from the same glass, I even let him use my toothbrush. I've never experienced that kind of intimacy with anyone before ... and I realize (oh, do I) that having sex with him was absent.

It taught me that "having sex" isn't, after all, the most intimate thing between two men. Maybe sharing a toothbrush is.

But I did dream of having sex with him. A first. I rarely dream about him, but one night at the cloisters, in my dreams he was naked, said "I know how much you want it, go ahead." Oh Lawdy, I wish he'd say that in "real life". I think. The weird (and no doubt perceptively significant) thing about the dream was that I realized I didn't really want it.

I realized it again on the Black Friday when the Sleeptalker went off to shower and wash his clothes.

Kory K asked, "you in mourning?" Yes, dressed all in black and dark gray. "If I could get some white iron-on letters," I said, "would put LOVE STINKS across the front of the tee shirt."

Then I drank some beer and went to the Playroom for the first time this year, had quite an amusing time with a Japanese fellow, did my best to give him what I'd give the Sleeptalker if he'd let me.

And realized I didn't really want it.

What a piece of work is man.

265

In the game on Saturday, the Sleeptalker totally ignored me. I said a few things to him (including congratulations about his main character having been unsilenced) but he said nothing in reply. Okay, say no more. Then suddenly he started talking to me.

I got very drunk. Again. And I went to the hacienda because I wanted to see him. The bench next to sleeping Mondo was vacant so I took it. He woke up, I offered him some guava juice and vodka, he smiled, declined, and went back to sleep.

The hour of American theatre music was an absolute treasure. Ethel Waters and Lena Horne. Tell me he's lazy, tell me he's slow, tell me I'm crazy, maybe I know ... can't help lovin' that man of mine.

And he arrived. He woke me up, sat beside me and took his shirt off. I hugged him, rubbed that beautiful body of his until he gently made me stop. Wonderful. But naughty of me. I mustn't get too drunk with him.

He was, as usual, being too loud so I suggested we move to an outside bench. We talked for awhile about the game and then, no idea why, he left. I went back inside and slept by Mondo.

Sunday morning was magnificent, a clear blue sky, earth at its best. What an incredibly beautiful place this island is.

265a

I didn't eat at all on Saturday or Sunday, was so weak on Monday morning I couldn't walk from the hacienda to the mall, had to catch a bus. Weak and sick. The Sleeptalker had gotten sick on Wednesday, complained of a sore throat and fever, and my turn finally arrived, very sore throat and the shakes. Probably it's flu, not just a cold. I got my senior coffee, took some aspirin and went out to Magic Island and sprawled on a bench in the sun, very grateful for the continuing beautiful weather.

I'd stayed in the park Sunday morning, too, was meeting friends for the matinee performance of the play, "Island Skin Songs". I thought the play so boring I couldn't stay awake, finally gave up on it and left.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at the outside bar at Gordon Biersch watching the harbor and enjoying, as always, Kevin Murphy's company. By the time I left I was so drunk I went into the men's room, threw up, and sat there for some time wondering if I could make it to the hacienda. If you're going to kill yourself, I told me, at least find some quicker, easier way to do it.

Finally I did manage to drag myself to the hacienda, took one of the facing benches with Mondo at my head. Rocky arrived, took the bench beside me. All peaceful and quiet until about 1:30 when a Social Horror I'd not seen before arrived and woke Rocky up. Yak, yak, yak. I moved to an outside bench and went back to sleep, not entirely sure if I was sad or relieved the Sleeptalker hadn't appeared.

As the holiday morning continued I began to feel steadily more awful, alternating rivers of sweat with shivering, a decidedly queasy stomache, and a strange irksome tendency to get cramps in the feet and lower legs. So I spread my towel on the grass and lay there wishing I'd at least just fall asleep. It's the sickest I've felt in years.

Later, walking through the mall, I ran into Helen R who kindly bought me some food from the Orleans Express. Although I only had Bourbon chicken and mashed potatoes, I felt utterly stuffed. And utterly sick. I took the bus to campus and sat in the secluded grove and waited until the four hours passed and I could take two more aspirin.

This kind of miserable illness certainly makes one appreciate the blessing of generally good health. It also takes the mind off other things, including booze and love. I have to do something about both those things, after this damned virus goes away.

266

"It doesn't much matter what happens today," said Jonathan Cainer, about Wednesday. That is surely THE message from him I love the most, after a long, long time of reading him.

It never does, Jonathan. It doesn't really matter. The hideous trap we all fall into is thinking, now and then (all too often) that it does really matter.

I want a friend. I think, all things considered, a young male person would be the best candidate. Problem with that is, I'll then convince myself I want his body.

As in the present opportunity ...

Getting so physically ill you cannot read, listen to music, barely even move, is a wonderful opportunity to think. And to dream. When awake, I thought. When asleep, I had the most bizarre dreams they continually woke me up, so there were some nights of very disturbed sleep.

I'm not sure why it was my favorite, but there was one in a house (of my mother or maybe Frances) with a little Christmas tree in the window. Over it hung a beautifully elegant squared lantern, kerosene evidently. I kept trying to light it, turned up the controller, then finally gave up. Suddenly it flared into life, the entire lantern was ablaze and it melted, fell like a comet.

When I got well enough to read again, I resumed Hermann Hesse's wonderful Demian, which I haven't read in decades, finished it, and returned to yet another re-reading of his Magister Ludi, and came to that supreme line ...

What I am seeking and what I need is a simple, natural task, a person who needs me.

In the game, the Sleeptalker is that person. He will ignore me totally for hours, then need something, and ask me for it. I know the game better than he does now, know everything he is likely to need, and make certain I have it.

Things aren't as simple and easy in "real life".

267

Moments when I have felt a twinge of regret over this drastic change in lifestyle have been few, far fewer than I had expected, but they appeared twice in this strange week near the end of the Tiger. And for very different reasons.

This bizarre virus, which by Friday morning had completely disappeared with no trace of having been, had me feeling so utterly miserable it was impossible not to long for a bed, the privacy of an enclosed space, the luxury of a soak in a tub of steaming hot water. I survived the week with "sponge baths" in that welcome place with hot water on campus, couldn't have faced the prospect of a cold shower at the beach, or even the journey to the beach once I'd gotten to campus the first time. But indeed there were moments of wishing I'd never given up the role of householder.

The second "fit" occurred after two days with excellent lunchtime music at Campus Center, provided on Wednesday by John Cruz and his brother, Guy, and on Thursday by Willie K. Both musicians were a major part of my life in the year before leaving householder status, both kindly greeted me with seemingly real pleasure to see me again, echoing my own feelings about them. In the evening after the special gift of that New Year's hug from Willie, I thought how silly I've been to let local music slip so much from my life, wondered if, after all, the ability to participate, to support the musicians I admire so much, hadn't made the drudgery of an office slave worth it. It's a question I leave open because I know my thinking on the subject right now is as much, or more, influenced by thoughts of the Sleeptalker than those of supporting local music.

I don't think I'm ready now, or am ever likely to be ready, to return to an office as a full-time employee, resume the burdens of paying rent, phone bills, etc. etc. But I understood those moments of regret well and enjoyed the nostalgic reveries over the "good old days", even while reminding myself that in many ways, these are the good old days. No doubt in the future, if I live that long, when increasing age brings more and more physical problems, increasing fragility and decreasing energy, I'll certainly consider these the "good old days", I feel sure of it.

When that small dividend check from my English shares finally cleared, I collected the money and went immediately to the supermarket to fulfill the pledge I had made to myself, buying packets of instant coffee. That freed me from the need to travel from the cloisters to the mall each morning for senior coffee, so I slept later than usual (welcome during the sickest days especially) and went directly to campus, brewing my own coffee and enjoying the dawn hour before the library opened. I drank less alcohol this week than I have in any week since this trip began, again partly because of the illness. It was a bizarre feeling to walk around with half a litre of vodka for three days without the slightest desire to drink any of it.

The last of the money was tucked away for a Hurricane during Willie's gig. After he finished, and the beer was finished, I really wanted another one, a sure sign I was shedding the influence of that virus. I asked Kory K if he could spare two dollars. He refused, quite rightly, and then in a recurrence of what seems an especially uncanny synchronicity, I found two dollar bills, neatly folded, laying in the road. During the week the Sleeptalker was on campus I had asked Kory for the quarter needed for a Hurricane, that time he gave it me, and returning from buying the beer, I found a quarter in a vending machine. Weird.

Finding the two dollars, I started to walk downhill for the beer, stopped myself and said, you'll enjoy that more as a nightcap. And was right.

Waking Friday morning, after a windy and chilly night full of dreams about flying (both in machines and with no mechanical assistance), it was a joy to feel the absence of the virus, a special gratitude it hadn't evolved into the expected runny nose cycle, a return to "normality". If that word can in any way be connected with my life ...

268

Notes from Saturday night: It could happen to you ... A trip to the library ... You took me by surprise ... You came to me from out of nowhere ... Wait until it happens to you (Peggy Lee). Ah yes, "I'm Michael Lasser" socked it to me big time with the hour of American Theatre music, an hour of songs about suddenly and unexpectedly falling in love. I do wish he wouldn't say "I'm Michael Lasser" so often, but otherwise that radio program is a national treasure, as is The Prairie Home Companion which precedes it. This week's News from Lake Woebegone was so deliciously wry it made me laugh aloud several times.

I had spent much of the day in the game, having fun teasing the Sleeptalker after finally mastering the method of sending descriptive messages into a location. "Reting kisses Lolo's toes and quickly runs away" really got him going. Flirting in virtual reality is much safer.

How I'd love to add the Sleeptalker to the list of Life Size portraits ...

When a guide is needed, a guide appears. I don't remember who wrote that but it certainly seems an accurate, perceptive statement. A new entry on the dramatis personae list: Eric. He becomes one of the few players whose real name I use. I can't think of a nickname for him. He came along, from out of nowhere.

After a brief, hesitant preamble which I originally mistook as a prelude to asking for money, he asked "do you know the Hippocratic Oath?" and when I admitted to having heard of such a thing, asked if I thought it was "good".

That easily qualifies as one of the most extraordinary first encounters I've ever known. I suspect this young man has a role in this pantomime I am creating, perhaps even a major one.

He has such cute ears. (Slap Panther, stop it, pay attention to what the young man is saying!)

And what a range of topics. Rudyard Kipling, land surveying, a child chasing his shadow, forgiving oneself for "sins", How to Win Friends and Influence People, geology, touch typing, fathers, Prince of Egypt, H.G. Wells, black widow spiders, medication to tame anger, the Hawaiian god of wind, birds of prey, archery, learning another language, the similarities between all the "holy" books, etc. etc. Absolutely dizzying. Once in awhile those cute ears were more an anchor for me than an object of desire.

He said, finally, he was going to a church service, we shook hands for a second time, and he started to walk away, stopped, asked "do you think mythology and science fiction have something in common?"

I like Eric very much. Very much indeed.

269

Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999 14:37:02 -1000
Newsgroups: soc.culture.nepal, soc.culture.indian, alt.religion.hindu, soc.culture.indian.delhi
Subject: Re: NEPAL SHIV SENA.....three burnt to death

SB asked:

: But howcome we Buddhist in Bhutan do not like the we Hindus

Perhaps because the "Buddhists" in Bhutan have failed to listen to the message of Lord Buddha, just as some "Hindus" have failed to listen to the message of Lord Krishna?

Just as multitudes of "Christians" in the West have failed to listen to the message of Lord Jesus.

It's really very simple, as They all told us. All a man has to do is listen.

270

"FUCK you, Reting!" said the Sleeptalker in the game as he was forced to log-off since the State Library was closing. Monday, bloody Monday.

When I read Cainer's forecast for this week, I told Kory K I wished there were a pill which would let me sleep for a week, and a place to take it. He felt the same way about the forecast for his week.

On Sunday evening I had my second encounter with that technological miracle, DVD, watching "2001". I don't know how many times I have seen that film, several times while under the influence of LSD. It was good to see it again after a decade or so.

Then I went to the hacienda for the first time in a week. Mondo was the only member of the Club there, already asleep under his blanket. A young black man I'd not seen before had, alas, taken the bench next to Mondo, so I settled on an outside one next to the Big Local Dude and his lady. It was windy and cold.

Wind is the biggest natural enemy in this beautiful place. Rain, even heavy continuous rain, can be a nuisance but shelter can be found. When the wind is both continuous and erratic, it cancels out the advantages of almost all outdoor sheltered places. The cloisters has almost no protection from wind, the hacienda, too, opens directly to the gusting trade winds.

But it was quiet, so I put on an extra tee shirt and snuggled up under my towel. The black fellow was listening to a radio with headphones, drinking from some hard liquor bottle (I couldn't tell what it was), but everyone else was asleep. Occasionally he would say something, probably more loudly than he realized, and it kept me from falling asleep even after I put in the earplugs. It became more and more frequent, and then he started "singing" along with his music. The BLD got up, went over and asked him to keep it down. He did for a short while, then started in again even louder. The BLD again spoke to him, more sharply. Silly fellow was too drunk to get the message, and when the BLD spotted him pissing in the corner (inside!), he grabbed the guy by the back of the shirt and escorted him to the exit path. Everyone was sitting up watching, Mondo looked over and saw me, waved. Everyone settled back down except, apparently, the BLD, because the drunken fellow tried to sneak back in and was promptly re-evicted. Poor guy could hardly walk, staggered off down the road. If he hadn't made such an obnoxious nuisance of himself, I would have gone after him to help him find a place to collapse for the night, and I felt a little guilty for not having done so.

I moved over to take his vacated bench since it was on the inside row and more sheltered. The BLD said, "hey Albert, cigarette butts!". Oops, had forgotten to pick up the two under my first bench. "Ah yes, thanks," I said to the Resident Cop, and retrieved my litter.

Windy, wet morning. Monday, bloody Monday. Senior coffee at McD's for the first time in a week, too. Then to campus.

The Sleeptalker was in Raging Brat mode in the game. I kept quiet, said nothing. Then he started making public remarks which included me in his tirade, so I quit and took a couple of hours break, sat in the secluded grove in the occasional light drizzle, drinking a welcome Hurricane. When I returned to the game, he was still in full rant, everyone telling him to shut up (and more strongly worded suggestions). I made a few sharp public responses to his continued jabs so he ended up totally isolated against a group of people who were otherwise having fun and just wished he would buzz off. Fortunately he had no choice at five o'clock, and the rest of the evening was quite amusing in the game, and useful for Reting's advance since a few highest level players had been irked by the Sleeptalker's crap aimed at me and helped me out with getting some better equipment. Nice, but I would certainly rather have had a pleasant day with the Sleeptalker in there instead of any better equipment or sympathy.

The weather was utterly vile all afternoon, gusting wind and horizontal rain much of the time, and it continued that way all night. When I got to the cloisters, all benches were taken, so I took a spot on the floor, after saying hello to Cat and the Gypsy Boy. Some fellow walked over and told me that was his usual spot. Well, that little bench is my usual spot, I said, but someone has it. First come, first served. I could have yielded and just moved to another piece of floor, but what the hell. Strange young man. He introduced himself, shook my hand, and went off to talk to the Gypsy Boy, ended up sleeping about three feet further along the wall from me.

I woke up around two in the morning and saw my little bench had been vacated. Hallelujah! Moved to it and had a few hours of more comfortable (albeit far from real comfort) sleep.

Where or where is that seven-day sleeping pill ...

271

Strange the way the mind files things, often distorting them in the process. I remembered Cainer as having said in Thursday's message that the next couple of days would be sweeter than I could imagine and told a reader I thought he underestimated my powers of imagination. However, re-reading his message, he said only that I'd be surprised by how sweet the next couple of days will be. Hmmmm. At least I assume that means the worst of this week from hell is over.

Of course, it's pension check time and its arrival will certainly add a small dose of sweetness. Even sweeter would be an increase of about ten degrees Fahrenheit in the night temperatures. The coolness, again combined with frequently gusting wind, made Wednesday night one of the least pleasant of the winter thus far even though the winds during the day had lessened considerably and there were even lengthy periods of sunshine.

I'd wanted a Hurricane all day but sixteen cents in my pocket put that desire too far out of reach, especially since I had no patience or wish to sit at the mall for hours trying to find enough abandoned shopping carts to finance the brew. The Sleeptalker was very pleasant and talkative in the game, a direct contrast to his recent behavior in there. Maybe Gemini folks are just naturally schizoid? Ample food turned up on campus throughout the day so, all in all, there was nothing to complain about, not really. Winters of our discontent are even more so when there's no real reason for the lack of contentment except slightly chilly nights and a shortage of beer.

Much of Thursday was spent in the game, the Sleeptalker again being very chatty and friendly. He said he wanted to visit campus again soon. "That would be fun," I told him. Then word came that mail had arrived (albeit not yet the fabled check) so I went downtown to collect it, stopped in the State Library to say hello to the Sleeptalker but he had left. Thanks to a little melon that fell from heaven, I bought a Hurricane and returned to campus to enjoy it. Light rain drove me from the secluded grove, so I sat in a sheltered spot and listened to a conversation at the next table. A young lady was fretting over not having heard whether she would be accepted at a law school in the fall, made it sound as if her life would be over if she failed. "What will I do if I'm not accepted!" she wailed. "Kill yourself," I muttered silently to myself, relieved when they finally moved on and left me to contemplate my own problems.

At the cloisters I greeted Cat and the Gypsy Boy, one of the regulars went off to buy Cat some food, and the Gypsy Boy shared some bread and a huge bag of large strawberries with us. An absolute sweetheart of a lad I'd not seen before joined us. I had grabbed my little bench when I arrived, so returned to it and chatted awhile with an older fellow who was sitting on the next bench waiting for a meeting to end, since he prefers sleeping on the floor in an adjoining area. We talked about the silly woman who arrives very late each night and tries to get men to share their bench with her. He thought she was on the make, I just think she's crazy.

But then, I'm both.

272

A battered old ship, cast adrift ... The image came to mind many times during the turbulent week ending the last January of the twentieth century. The turbulence came more from inner than outer storms but it is the inner storm which has the strongest effect on the drifting ship. The outer hours, the miserable, cold wet winter hours will pass.

Spring inevitably will arrive, the Easter Bunny of the Year of the Rabbit will hop into view with baskets of colored eggs and chocolate. But sometimes the inner darkess makes it seem the storms within will never cease and the soul grows weary.

Mental energy this week has been split between two points of focus: the Sleeptalker and The Project. The Project I am, as yet, only writing about semi-publicly; the Sleeptalker most readers are probably weary of hearing about.

"You will be surprised by how sweet the next couple of days will be." Yes, Jonathan, I would have been had you not led me to expect it. My wonderfully schizoid friend, the Sleeptalker, made it so. An even more treasured friend, because in my madness I still can perceive a true Gentleman, helped more than he knew this time. It was a turbulent week ending with indeed sweet moments on Friday and Saturday evenings with the Sleeptalker.

I want to be honest with my readers (and myself). Confession is good for the soul, reminded one of them. I think that's one of the more true cliches, it was certainly one reason I converted to Catholicism in my youth. "Bless me Father, for I have sinned ..." Oh my, where would I begin if I were to enter one of those little booths now?

The first time I went seriously to a psychiatrist, of Jung/Laing discipline, I was so appalled by the prospect of the long, long task of relating My Story, I wrote down what I thought the relevant points and mailed it to her. Wasn't good enough. Confession via indirect method doesn't work, in psychiatry or Catholicism. Or on the World Wide Web, no doubt.

"I think you're itching for an adventure," wrote a reader.

I think you're absolutely right, gentle reader. And I think it's absurdly adolescent of me to be doing so, as juvenile as my wonderful friendship with the Sleeptaker. "You can suck my cock for two beers," he teased on Saturday night. I bought him one.

What more of an "adventure" do I need than this crazy dance with a 23-year-old lad whose sleeping face gives me such great pleasure? On Saturday night we shared the facing benches at the hacienda after an evening of beer and delightful banter. He was snuggled under a blanket Rossini had given him, so I had only his sweet face and bear-fur hair to contemplate when I woke and saw him there a couple of feet away from me.

Earlier I had explained to him the significance of the object I wear around my neck on a chain. It's an antique Chinese opium locket, a little casket which the landowners gave the farming peasants. Each morning they would fill it with opium, helping the worker make it through a day of grueling labor. The Dutchman gave it to me. The Dutchman and the Sleeptalker, the two great loves of my life (never mind living with two others for more than half a decade each).

One reader continues thinking of the Sleeptalker as a "plate du jour" despite the blatant evidence of these Tales. One day this week I went back in this time machine and read the early accounts of his appearance on the stage of my life, so many months ago. "Faun, Satyr." A brat, a sweetheart. Gemini.

But I can't have him exclusively. Even if I went the whole nine yards (what does that mean?), got a job and an apartment and gave him a key, I'd still have to share him with the Raccoon, Rossini, Mondo (never mind the Sleeptalker thinks Mondo is a "psycho"), etc. etc. The Sleeptalker has more "best friends" than anyone I've ever known. And, of course, there's his mother. He talked more about her on Saturday evening than ever before.

What an incredibly fascinating young man he is.

But he can only be, I realize, a peripheral part of my inner life (no matter how delightful a periphery). At the core of this currently in-crisis existence is a vacuum waiting to be filled. If Nature truly abhors such a thing, Nature will fill it. With something.

Should I just wait and see what that something is, or should I attempt, however feebly, to suggest possibilities?

All a man has to do is listen.

273

The Sleeptalker arrived on campus Monday morning ... with the Raccoon. I'd be delighted to see any one of the Club members on campus, but the thought of the Club itself on campus is a major nightmare. So I wasn't really very happy to see the two young men, even if one is such a major part of my inner life right now.

The odd thing is, there was not the slightest hint of the jealousy I'd felt about the Raccoon so recently. In fact, I realized that he is actually jealous of me. I don't know if he's gay or not, but he certainly takes his "best buddy" relationship with the Sleeptalker as seriously as any gay lover would and it's impossible not to sense his jealousy over sharing him. That thoroughly amused me, and I went about my so-called life on campus without spending much time in the library.

There was a highly unusual shortage of food on campus, nothing at all turning up at lunchtime. So I took the bus to the mall, intending to visit the Krishna truck for the first time in weeks. Alas, no truck, and no line of people waiting, so they must have once again shifted locations and the regulars knew about it. How unfortunate.

When I returned to campus, the Sleeptalker and the Raccoon were gone. I didn't care, was even somewhat relieved although also slightly puzzled by my indifference. Don't tell me I'm getting so utterly bored that even the Sleeptalker will cease to matter ...

I had stopped in Rainbow Books because I wanted to get Hesse's Narciss and Goldmund and a copy of the I Ching but they didn't have the Hesse book and the only Ching they had was some new translation which didn't look worth the six dollar price tag. So I bought a Hurricane and went to the secluded grove to continue a second reading of Demian.

Finally two large slices of pizza turned up. I had been thinking I'd have to either return to the mall or commit the horror of actually spending precious money for food.

After playing the game for awhile, I went earlier than usual to the cloisters, knowing there were no meetings being held on Monday evenings, and planning to just sit and listen to music with another Hurricane. Spot (so-named because of his fondness for his "usual spot" on the floor) came over to my bench and sighed because there was no one there yet to talk to. So much for a quiet evening of listening to music. Instead I listened to his (rather dull) story, trying to be nice. I was happy to learn the Gypsy Boy's real name, enjoyed Spot's account of life in the two main Oahu jails, and was flattered when he said he liked it best when I got the bench nearest his "usual spot" because he feels safe sleeping with me as a neighbor, but the rather pathetic tale of his love life and his attempt to find a job, etc. etc., were tedious going.

I wish Eric would appear again.

Ten dollars of the fabled pension check left, a new record. I don't think I've ever had that much of it left as late as the second of the month.

274

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 17:54:55 -0500 (EST)
From: A reader

Why are you bored? Does your life have a central purpose? If not, then you drift. This implies lack of self-direction, which produces stagnation when averaged over time and space.

You are bored because you drift, and vice versa.

What next?

-----

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 15:54:58 -1000 (HST)
To: A Reader

: Why are you bored?

I have no idea.

: Does your life have a central purpose?

No.

: If not, then you drift.

As I have said in the Tales.

: This implies lack of self-direction, which produces stagnation
: when averaged over time and space.

: You are bored because you drift, and vice versa.
: What next?

I have no idea.

Maybe the Sleeptalker really is my Tadzio ...

He walked from the State Library to the UH campus on Tuesday because he "needed to talk to someone".

I was that someone.

275

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 08:12:19 -1000 (HST)
To: Kory K

::: Looking for you?
:: Uh-huh.
: but why?

Because he needed someone to talk to, like I said. [g]

It certainly was a sweet night, curled up together on a piece of cardboard ... sigh. If that boy weren't so silly about not giving up his body, I'd be at the temp agency looking for work.

: umm... isn't tomorrow a bank holiday? *G*

Lord, I hope not. He's hungry. I need beer.

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 08:37:06 -1000 (HST)
To: Kory K

: Silly old man.

True words, my friend, true words.

:: Lord, I hope not. He's hungry. I need beer.
: Me too.

You spent the night sleeping a few inches from a body you can't have, too?

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 15:46:47 -1000 (HST)
To: Kory K

: he he he... Had a meeting with the big boss. I'm back now.

Most grateful you were.

This is absolute nonsense, but every minute of it is one of the most treasured moments of my long life.

He is going to disappear eventually today. Gave him a dollar for bus fare to do it. I get a nice, quiet, LONELY (thank heaven) sleep tonight.

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 15:51:41 -1000 (HST)
To: Kory K

: you're a sucker... a big one.

Oh gawd, I wish. [g]

But in the other sense of the phrase, yes, I know that, too. The heart apparently has its reasons ...

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 16:24:00 -1000 (HST)
To: Kory K

He did WALK all the way from the State Library to UH to spend some time with me ...

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 19:12:22 -1000 (HST)
To: Kory K

Kissed his toes.

irl

"go ahead", he said.

Thanks, Kory.

Apologies for grossing you out. [g]

Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 19:15:42 -1000 (HST)
To: Kory K

: he's a sucker too

L* said something about a "symbiotic" relationship. [g]

Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 08:06:05 -1000 (HST)
To: Kory K

: you suck on him and he leaches off of you.

All the lonely people, where do they all come from ...

271

Strange the way the mind files things, often distorting them in the process. I remembered Cainer as having said in Thursday's message that the next couple of days would be sweeter than I could imagine and told a reader I thought he underestimated my powers of imagination. However, re-reading his message, he said only that I'd be surprised by how sweet the next couple of days will be. Hmmmm. At least I assume that means the worst of this week from hell is over.

Of course, it's pension check time and its arrival will certainly add a small dose of sweetness. Even sweeter would be an increase of about ten degrees Fahrenheit in the night temperatures. The coolness, again combined with frequently gusting wind, made Wednesday night one of the least pleasant of the winter thus far even though the winds during the day had lessened considerably and there were even lengthy periods of sunshine.

I'd wanted a Hurricane all day but sixteen cents in my pocket put that desire too far out of reach, especially since I had no patience or wish to sit at the mall for hours trying to find enough abandoned shopping carts to finance the brew. The Sleeptalker was very pleasant and talkative in the game, a direct contrast to his recent behavior in there. Maybe Gemini folks are just naturally schizoid? Ample food turned up on campus throughout the day so, all in all, there was nothing to complain about, not really. Winters of our discontent are even more so when there's no real reason for the lack of contentment except slightly chilly nights and a shortage of beer.

Much of Thursday was spent in the game, the Sleeptalker again being very chatty and friendly. He said he wanted to visit campus again soon. "That would be fun," I told him. Then word came that mail had arrived (albeit not yet the fabled check) so I went downtown to collect it, stopped in the State Library to say hello to the Sleeptalker but he had left. Thanks to a little melon that fell from heaven, I bought a Hurricane and returned to campus to enjoy it. Light rain drove me from the secluded grove, so I sat in a sheltered spot and listened to a conversation at the next table. A young lady was fretting over not having heard whether she would be accepted at a law school in the fall, made it sound as if her life would be over if she failed. "What will I do if I'm not accepted!" she wailed. "Kill yourself," I muttered silently to myself, relieved when they finally moved on and left me to contemplate my own problems.

At the cloisters I greeted Cat and the Gypsy Boy, one of the regulars went off to buy Cat some food, and the Gypsy Boy shared some bread and a huge bag of large strawberries with us. An absolute sweetheart of a lad I'd not seen before joined us. I had grabbed my little bench when I arrived, so returned to it and chatted awhile with an older fellow who was sitting on the next bench waiting for a meeting to end, since he prefers sleeping on the floor in an adjoining area. We talked about the silly woman who arrives very late each night and tries to get men to share their bench with her. He thought she was on the make, I just think she's crazy.

But then, I'm both.

276

A Midwinter Night's Dream. And the end, I think, of a particular phase in the dance with the Sleeptalker.

On Tuesday morning he had gotten into big trouble again in Seventh Circle. The Boss finally zapped Lolo, the Sleeptalker's main and highest character. He said he had "deleted" it, but I tried later to create a character with the name and was told it already existed, so I suspect he has just put it on ice. As I told the Sleeptalker later, it really wasn't that much of a surprise ... what else was the Boss to do after so many warnings, silencings, temporary bans, etc.?

The Sleeptalker was much distressed and left the State Library, walked to UH, strolled into Hamilton Library. "I needed to talk to someone," he explained, when we went out for a smoke break. Talk, but not listen, alas. The lad is so utterly self-engrossed he hardly listens to anything or anyone, and so obsessed with on-line life he has almost no "real life". His passion for Seventh Circle has now been joined with an addiction to www.chatting.com, one of the most depressing things I have ever seen on-line. I did go through a phase of enjoying IRC but never had the misfortune to find a channel with a collection of sex-starved unimaginatives like that on www.chatting.com. The Sleeptalker, of course, is right at home there. Starved for sex but so totally repressed, getting it on-line is the only safe option.

We stayed at the library until the eleven o'clock closing and he was the last one out of the place. I told him as we were walking downhill that it would be wise to find some cardboard since all benches would be taken. He ignored me. I found a box and broke it open, flattened it. We stopped by 7-Eleven to pick up a Hurricane and went on to the cloisters. All benches were indeed taken. It was very windy and quite chilly, so I picked an isolated, relatively sheltered spot and spread out the cardboard. We sat together drinking the beer. He had noticed one of the meeting rooms at the cloisters had an unlocked door, so decided he was going in there to sleep. I told him there was a night watchman and he would certainly get caught, but as usual, he wouldn't listen. So he got caught and was promptly evicted.

I moved over on the cardboard leaving about half of it vacant for him and gave him the large plastic bag I'd been using to cover my legs. Like so many local people here, he tries to pretend winter doesn't exist and walks around in shorts and a tee shirt. Not so bad in the daytime when the sun is shining, but damned stupid not to carry at least a sweatshirt if you know you're going to be sleeping outside.

It was, of course, absolutely wonderful to be sleeping so close to him. At one point he woke me up demanding that I stop "touching him" ... my hand was up against his hairy leg. I tucked myself into a tighter ball and went back to sleep. Then I woke and found he had moved closer, was almost cuddled up to me, with his face only a few inches from mine, so close I could feel his breath. Sweet, indeed.

The game site was down all day so he stayed non-stop in www.chatting.com, taking breaks to share beer and burgers I borrowed money to buy at lunchtime and more beer in the late afternoon. He had a Sony Walkman he had borrowed from an un-named friend and was concerned about returning it, since the friend wasn't on-line and there was no way to get word to him. It was going to be a long walk, he said, so I gave him a dollar for bus fare, relieved that he wasn't going to be staying with me another night.

Relieved, instead of sorrowful? Yes, I was tired. His delightful flirtations, always more mischievous when slightly drunk, were wonderful and I thought actually kissing his toes was the crowning moment of our weird "love affair", absolutely perfect in the context of our on-line/off-line friendship. Reting and Lolo. But I was feeling more like Albert than Reting, old and tired, weary of the dance, the tease, the desire that won't be satisfied, and no doubt wouldn't be even if he let me have his body.

Mid-evening I asked what his plans were. He was so wrapped up in the chat stuff he barely listened. I left and went to the cloisters, getting myself another beer on the way. The benches were all taken, even that early, so I returned to the spot we had shared the night before and put down some cardboard, opened the beer and turned on the radio. Boring Brahms and his First Symphony sent me station hopping and I was so grateful it had ... an hour of Bob Dylan with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from 1987, the best I've ever heard from Dylan.

Beer and tears and Dylan and a search for the way to exorcise the Sleeptalker, or at least one aspect of him, from my thoughts. The search continues.

276a

Date: Thu, 04 Feb 1999 10:34:13 -1000
Subject: Not just symbiotic

: Sick symbiotic. That was my phrase.

My error. I was under the impression "symbiotic relationship" in psychiatric terms made the "sick" redundant, but checking the definition I see it can be either detrimental or beneficial.

I think my friendship with the Sleeptalker is both, and it is up to me to eliminate the detrimental aspect of it. If I cannot do that, then I have to find a way to end the friendship without hurting the lad.

: I just read the most recent Tales. As a friend, I am saddened.
: Things are getting worse. I think you're aware of it. I wish I
: knew the remedy.

That makes two of us, although I don't share the degree of your pessimistic evaluation based on the Tales. I printed out the "tail end of the tiger" series and read them in the secluded grove earlier and smiled over how upbeat they were compared to "reality". But I also sensed a turning point having been reached, perhaps assisted by my more complete knowledge of events and thoughts.

That evening on cardboard with the Sleeptalker inches away was as close as I am ever going to get to him physically. To think otherwise is to delude myself with fantasies and desires which will not become reality. That is what I must exorcise, as a beginning.

: I don't know what even to suggest that you do, but it's clear to me
: that you need to do something. You've become both obsessed and
: self-absorbed.

Being "in love" is being "obsessed", probably one of the toughest obsessions, whether it's being in love with another person, or with God, or with some ambition, etc. There is nothing to be done about it but find the proper path to walk through it, whether it's a temporary "affliction" or a lifelong one.

: I don't think you've been really sober for days.

That is not an unusual thing for the few days after the pension check arrives, but in fact, I was only really smashed on Sunday. Three 40oz bottles of beer in one day just doesn't eliminate sobriety. I wrote not long ago that I mustn't get too drunk with the Sleeptalker, and didn't forget it.

: That little part of you that stays rational seems to have departed.

That it was ever here is an illusion, dear friend.

277

Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 15:57:48 -0500 (EST)
From: A reader

This dialogue sounds like the old ELIZA program [ggg].
Let's try another tack: Are you happy drifting?

-----

Heh. My nephew used to get so angry at "Eliza" he would sit at the computer spluttering and fuming.

One memory evoked by your mail. Another was that afternoon in the Himalayan foothills when a Swami asked, "are you happy?" and I said, without thinking very carefully, "yes". For years I thought I had lied to him but more recently I've come to think it wasn't a lie at all.

Happy? The dictionary says:

1) delighted, pleased or glad, as over a particular thing
2) characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy
3) favored by fortune, fortunate or lucky

Okay, certainly I am "happy" under terms of the third option. No question about it.

"Happiness" is not something I seek or expect to find and, as with the Himalayan example, it seems to me that I usually don't recognize I was in a state of happiness until years after the fact.

So my answer, after considering it (and sleeping on it, as they say) has to be: "I don't really know". As I said in a recent Tale, I sense a vaccuum at the core of my being, a newly arrived one at that. What has been there in this more than a year of nomadic life? Probably in the early months, that sense of adventure I've also mentioned.

The challenge (and it's a more considerable one than I realized) of "doing nothing" is a challenge I've failed. Unlike my young friend, Mondo, I cannot long sit on a bench and just watch what goes on around me, be "happy" with that. Some known avenues for ending the drift and once again steering the ship are equally unappealing to me, spiritual disciplines like meditation and perhaps, too, intellectual ones like study.

For the past few days I've been thinking I really should read Immanuel Kant. I gave up on it in my youth. That the idea occurred to me at all suggests I should follow up on it. Or is that a case of dealing with profound boredom by immersing myself in it, seeing just how far I can go in intensifying the experience? (Sorry, Herr Kant, I'm just joking ... I think).

No, I don't know if I'm "happy", and I'm inclined to think it doesn't really matter.

278

Reting the Supreme Questor. On Friday, Reting finally climbed to the highest level in Seventh Circle, the first Hawaii player to do so. Hoop-dee-doo crescendo. The glory will be short-lived because they will soon be adding new code to the game which will increase the levels from the present 69 to 100, a sensible move since they have so many devoted players who have made it to the top and have nowhere else to go with their character. Unlike Bartle's MUD2, "immortals" are only appointed there, so achieving the highest mortal level brings none of the special privileges and abilities acquired at that stage in MUD2.

I stayed on-line, mostly in the game, from just after eight in the morning until one in the afternoon, not even taking a smoke break. Unprecedented.

It would have most excellent to have had a beer to celebrate my dubious achievement but I only had a dollar and nine cents left. One silly corner of my mind muttered something about the dollar I'd given the Sleeptalker for bus fare but was quickly shouted down, and when the library closed at five it was off to the mall to hunt shopping carts. The competition has increased so much there it's almost necessary to follow right behind someone and grab the cart the moment they abandon it. By eight-thirty I was still fifty cents short, ran into Myra who laughed and gave me two quarters.

Food had been in short supply again all day. I don't know what's up with the students this semester. And, equally unusually, no one left bowls of ramen sitting around in the food court at the mall. But at last a large plate lunch box turned up with lau lau, macaroni salad and lomilomi salmon. I usually won't eat that salmon concoction ... too much onion for me ... but I was hungry enough to finish it off and promptly went to brush my teeth to help get the taste out of my mouth.

So I arrived at the cloisters with a Hurricane in my backpack and a thick, flattened cardboard box under my arm. The box wasn't needed, my little bench was vacant. Well, not vacant, but Spot was sitting on it and I knew he'd move to his big air mattress once the A.A. meeting broke up at ten. The night before he had walked over to my bench to talk, but I told him I was tired and was just going to sleep. Since I wanted my little bench, there was no choice on Friday but to talk to him until the meeting broke up. Or, more accurately, to listen to him. I know I said I wanted a friend, preferably a young man, and this one would be ideal since he's so lonely and utterly unattractive to me physically. Alas, he's also a colossal bore.

Speaking of lonely people, that silly woman was indeed on the make, and she has scored! One of the men has struck up a friendship with her and they sleep together on the floor, some heavy petting going on between them. Gross, but at least the rest of us no longer have to worry about her trying to edge onto our benches.

Life at the cloisters really does remind me a lot of the juice bar in Mohan Singh Place, New Delhi ...

279

Sometimes I felt certain it was not he as a person whom I was attracted to and yearned for with all my being, but that he existed only as a metaphor of my inner self, a metaphor whose sole purpose was to lead me more deeply into myself.

A most fortunate Saturday! I started a new player in Seventh Circle, a killer warrior, and climbed rapidly in levels, no one (including the Sleeptalker) knowing it was me. That made for an amusing afternoon with a level of incognito I sometimes I wish I had at the two main night sanctuaries, the cloisters and the hacienda.

Leaving the library about half an hour before closing, I was standing at the bus stop waiting for the mall-bound bus when Bryant the Bartender came walking up. He has an exceptionally difficult class this semester and had spent an unprecedented afternoon at Sinclair Library studying. We'd had a major disagreement earlier in the week at the Garden, so apologies were exchanged in both directions, him for having to enforce the rules, me for trying to break them in the first place, and he asked me to let him buy me a beer. So we went to Players, the sports bar that opened across from the campus last fall. Two pitchers of Budweiser for me and several double Scotches for him, with snacks, and some amusing conversation made for an excellent couple of hours. I declined the invitation to join him at the basketball game starting at seven, so he wobbled off, I finished my beer and went early to the cloisters.

The Waldorf School was having a benefit dinner there for victims of a hurricane I hadn't even heard about, so I sat on a distant bench and listened to Prairie Home Companion. "It's not that bad". The basic philosophy of Lake Woebegone, we were told, in the usual wryly witty style. Not a bad philosophy, all in all.

The American Theatre Music program was songs about trains, not quite a category as gripping as some of the more recent shows, and noticing the dinner gathering was coming to an end, I moved to a more sheltered bench. The Old Guitarist, a heavily alcoholic regular at the cloisters, told me they were giving away the leftover food, so I went in and got a plate of spaghetti, mixed salad and some delicious bread. A couple of young ladies came out and asked me if anyone else might like some, so I went over and woke two regulars to let them know about the opportunity and they jumped up quickly to take advantage of it. The Old Guitarist took plates over to the two guys who sleep behind the ex-Hot Lava Cafe building, came back muttering that they hadn't been grateful. He was very drunk, as usual, sat on my bench and told me he used to play in a nearby club, treated me to his rendition of "Space Cowboy" as I finished my spaghetti. I mentioned how much I enjoyed Harold Kama singing that, which led to a discussion of Willie K, much admired by both of us.

Spot showed up with a large bottle of Colt 45 and offered to pour some in my flask, was quite generous with the amount. Another regular arrived on a bicycle and started complaining about the Hare Krishna wagon, which is apparently still showing up at Ala Moana despite the one missed day (they had been unusually late the day I went down there and thought they'd changed locations). He had spoken up about some people crashing the line, one of the guys on the truck was annoyed by him and they came close to having a fight over it. Spot kept spouting off about how he should have just knocked the guy out, etc. etc., but the two of us agreed it wouldn't have done the least good, probably would have resulted in some time in jail. What judge would look kindly on a homeless person attacking someone handing out free food to the homeless, whatever the reason! The Old Guitarist and I, in an aside conversation, agreed that it's stupid to protest stuff like people cutting into a line like that, just hang loose and wait your turn no matter what. He staggered off to claim his place on the floor, I listened for a little longer to the on-going, repetitive conversation and then settled down to sleep while they continued it.

An unexpected delightful couple of hours with Bryant, an equally unexpected and delicious dinner (my first Anthroposophically-prepared food in over a decade) ... yes, a fortunate Saturday.

I had noticed on a campus bulletin board that the Bahai organization is offering a evening of free food and entertainment next Saturday to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit. The Anthroposophists, the Bahai's ... hmmmmm.

It was mercifully warmer than it has been recently during the night, with less wind, more than welcome since the spell of dreary weather has my bronchitis thoroughly aggravated, night coughing making for unsettled sleep and a hack-hack-hacking hour after waking up. (How does the body manufacture all that gook?) Roll on, Spring ...

Despite a few brief showers, it was a beautiful, warm morning and I sat with cups of tea outside Manoa Garden reading some print-outs of the Tales and continuing Demian. I was sorry Eric didn't stroll by, had deliberately sat in the same spot where I'd first met him in case he took that path to church.

I didn't feel in the mood to do much of anything all day on Sunday. The weather stayed mostly pleasant, so much so I was able to shed one layer of my winter wardrobe (two tee shirts and the heavy chamois cloth long-sleeved shirt as a jacket), and even for awhile sat in the sun with just one tee shirt. Roll on, Spring, indeed ...

So I played the game, getting "Thumper", my new character, to Level 35 by the end of the day. It tooks weeks to get Reting that high. When I returned from a break and a hunting tour of campus, the Sleeptalker was sitting at one of the web terminals in the front section of the library.

He still had the Sony Walkman and this time almost never took it off, even while supposedly having "conversations" with me. I told myself to count my blessings, at least I didn't have to listen to the "music", but I've always been amazed and rather repelled by people who walk around with those things on their ears expecting others to talk to them. He was full of stories about a rousing evening the Club had on Saturday in Waikiki, where he had gotten so drunk he was sufficiently obnoxious on the bus later that he was thrown off. "I'm glad I wasn't there." "I'm glad you weren't, too," he said.

Rocky's parents apparently live fairly near campus and several of them had stayed there one night recently. The Sleeptalker was, I eventually learned, planning to go there later, did, but Rocky wasn't there so the Sleeptalker showed up at the cloisters after I had settled down to sleep already on a piece of cardboard.

The similarities between the cloisters and that Delhi juice bar continue to amuse me. At the juice bar there were half a dozen booths, two of them joined by one long bench which became a common area. There was a bedraggled young German woman who made the place her daily morning hangout and she had a particular booth she considered "hers", would get very upset if she arrived to find someone else had it. At the cloisters on Sunday evening, I had settled in a space with only one other person on the floor some feet away. When the Sleeptalker arrived, he wanted to talk about the game but I refused, saying I didn't want to disturb the other fellow. But that one was disturbed nonetheless, got up and angrily threw his stuff into an adjoining area, announcing that he liked to have that space to himself. I was grateful the Sleeptalker was sober and didn't answer back. Neither of us said anything, but when the man settled noisily down into his new spot, I moved around to the other side of the building.

Crowded winter sanctuaries are certainly laboratories in human behavior. I shudder to think what it must be like at IHS with 40-50 men crammed into one enclosed space.

I settled into my new spot, the Sleeptalker sat with me for awhile and then decided to wander off and find a "darker" place. There's an unspoken agreement, I think, that our night cuddled together on cardboard was IT, as far as we're going to go, and I'm actually coming around to feel quite happy with that. The "sick" part of our symbiotic friendship certainly centers on his continually hinting that if I found the right way, I could actually have his body (and no doubt hoping, while fearing, I might really find it), and me believing it, too, and hoping, fearing likewise. If that's really fading, as it seems to be, so much the better. But there will be a time of difficult transition since our friendship has relied heavily on that flirtatious dance. I need to find a way to let him enjoy flirting (he does it with all his buddies) without evoking that may-be-serious response in me.

After he wandered off, I lay there for awhile remembering other friendships in the past which had a similar pattern. Oddly enough, this particular style of dance never occurred until twelve years ago. But this Tale is long enough, no place to write about those.

Since he hadn't slept near me, I felt no obligation to hang around and wait for him to wake up on Monday morning so got up quite early and walked to campus under mercifully dry skies and decreased wind. Another week in the life begins ...

279a

Aha, a mystery solved! I didn't know until reading the campus newspaper on Monday morning that Gordon Biersch now has a food counter in the main sports arena. I've been wondering about the sudden appearance of so many discarded large fries.

And my compliments to those who complained about the smell of those trademark GB garlic fries. For the version sold at the arena, they've tamed them down. Still plenty enough garlic for me.

279b

Uncanny, this pervasive influence on my life that brewpub has had and goes on having. Not enough they follow me to campus and open a concession, end up indirectly feeding me (I must have found more than half a pound of those garlic fries on Sunday morning, leftovers from the game the night before), now they're allowing the Sleeptalker to resume his job in the kitchen there.

That's a blessing (as are the fries, of course). At least some nights of the week I'll know he's tucked away out of my life.

He arrived at the library on Monday morning, Walkman headphones firmly in place, and wondered what had happened to me. I used his technique of just ignoring questions and said nothing. I was supposed to sit around at the cloisters and wait for him to wake up? Maybe the combination of the resumed job (although that probably won't last long) and my "unreliability" as his very-necessary constant companion will just naturally nudge the friendship into safer waters.

Aside from a couple of smoke breaks, we didn't spend much time together on Monday. He disappeared for several hours and I went off on hunting expeditions, returning from one in the late afternoon to find him gone.

And surprisingly, he didn't dominate my thoughts during the day like he usually does when on campus. Alcohol did. I've really underestimated the sheer physical addiction to that substance. It reminds me of valium withdrawal. Two days without it and nothing seems to matter as much as thoughts of getting some. Humbug. I don't like that at all.

280

"See something you like? Me."

I stopped reading the earlier Tales before I got to that, but as I was doing a retrospective in mind about this strange, and really quite wonderful, dance with the Sleeptalker, that moment months ago seems clearly the moment of stepping down the rabbit hole, laying there on the bench looking at his naked chest a few feet away from me and being shocked when he opened his eyes, since he seemed to have been soundly asleep, and was even more shocked by what he said. So matter of fact, it was, as I noted at the time, spoken objectively with no emotional undertones. How did the young man manage to play that scene so beautifully?

I couldn't summon up the chutzpah to do it now, certainly couldn't have at the age of twenty-three. Little wonder I fell so under his spell.

One of the dearest friends of my life and a superb "guide", Frances Dickenson, tried a long time ago to explain to me that there is an enormous difference between being "alone" and being "lonely". I was sixteen and stupid. Now I'm almost fifty-nine and still stupid. I just understand it intellectually, as a concept. I don't feel it.

I know there are times when I, like Madame Garbo, just want to be alone, and am relieved when given that privilege. Other times that privilege seems like the most dire punishment imaginable, i.e. "loneliness".

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

A new "routine". I know, I profess to hate routine but I keep falling into them.

That awful grouch at the cloisters did me a great favor. Until he grumbled about sharing "his" space, I hadn't discovered a much better one, darker, more isolated. The only people who stay there are mature persons who just want a place to sleep. Cool. Actually, quite cool, because it isn't as sheltered from the wind. But all in all, that's a small price to pay for escaping the almost-hacienda-like social atmosphere of the main quadrangle, the extraordinarily boring conversation of Spot.

Since I once again had the incredible good sense to invest in morning beverages (tea, instead of coffee, returning to my lifelong "routine"), I can, Sunday through Thursday at least, remain on campus until eleven each night, walk downhill, pick up a cardboard box and flatten it, go to the cloisters and find a quiet spot to sleep, get up early and walk back to campus, boil water in a microwave and enjoy a cup or two of tea in that wonderful pre-dawn time when the campus is so quiet and peaceful.

(Okay, okay, that's far too long a sentence, but I've read worse ... checked out some Kant yesterday).

I thought I'd just print a chapter from one of his books each day and read it, but there are only three of his works available on-line so far as I could discover ... and they are each available as one massive HTML file! There's no way to tell the terminals at UH to, say, "print 20 pages", and if I were to start printing one of the tomes, it could go on all night. And maybe much of the next day (the printers are really old, slow, dot matrix contraptions). So much for that plan.

On Tuesday midday I finally went to the mall, crossed over to the beach and had a shower. A sweetheart of a young Filipino was my companion and we shared sympathetic remarks about the incredibly COLD water, even at midday. Later I saw him at the mall and he smiled and gave a little wave. Roll on, Spring ...

281

The best laid (or never laid) plans (or routines) of mice and men ...

UH lost its connection to the outside world just after nine on Tuesday evening. Suddenly all the terminals were empty and there was a small crowd of people looking lost and bewildered. "What to do now?" the young man sitting next to me asked. I mentioned the presence in the building of a great many objects consisting of words printed on paper.

Going up to the second floor, I wandered through the aisles of European philosophers for the first time. My, my, how those dudes did write. So many "collected works" sets weighing down the shelves. I picked up a couple of Nietzsche's tomes, glanced here and there in them, felt dizzy, and put them back on the shelf. I spent a lot of time with him in my late teens. Looked at a thick volume by Hegel and saw him say something happened "by accident" and promptly returned him to the shelf. The first volume of Kant I selected was about the metaphysics of morality (something like that) and looked like a lot of nattering, but another "chance" opening of a second book landed on a passage about "happiness", an apt bit of synchronicity. I didn't find what he had to say about it particularly interesting.

So much for the later European philosophers. I wandered on to the "mystic" section and read a bit from a Victorian author describing "miracles" he'd seen "holy men" in India perform. Worth a smile or two.

Then I decided I might as well wander on downhill since the computer terminals were still all deserted, nowhere to go on them but local UH stuff. My little bench was vacant, so I grabbed it and settled down to sleep. The Gypsy Boy and Cat were already there, unusually early, and he was asleep although Cat was busy stalking bugs. No sign of Spot, although I'd seen him earlier at the mall getting onto a Manoa Valley bus.

Several times during the night I had really nasty coughing spells, one so extended I felt I really should go walking somewhere to spare the other sleepers at the cloisters, and that I should have a small jar of honey to at least help mellow the cough-trigger. Too lazy for the first, too broke for the second. At some point I was awakened by the Gypsy Boy and someone talking (shades of the hacienda, again), put in my earplugs more firmly, and went back to sleep thinking I should've taken my cardboard over to that newly discovered quiet area, but on the other hand, glad I hadn't inflicted my wretched cough on them.

When that midnight choo-choo gets to Alabam' ...

That show of train tunes didn't pass by overlooked by the internal jukebox.

282

"Florid schizophrenia". [ref: readers write: second series]

Just call me Flo Shizo.

I went back on Paxil. I think the body is yelling "what the hell are you doing to me?!" Hey, chill out, you remember ... a week or so of not very pleasant things like occasional waves of nausea, a feeling in the skull like the brain is swelling. Then it will be better, and you'll be glad you did it. (On the second day of resumption, the body is firmly unconvinced.)

I went to get the Paxil late on Thursday morning and as I was walking through the mall, I saw such a sweet looking young fellow coming toward me, so cute I just looked without reservation. He stopped me and asked if he could buy a cigarette. I'm sorry, I told him, I don't have any, am just getting some out of the ashtrays. "Oh, gross!" he said, with a smile.

Quite so, young man, quite so. When will I learn to keep a pack of cigarettes in my backpack just for such moments ...

The reader suggested two possibilities: travel to the other side of the mountains or different reading material. I took the safer of the two options and am reading Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, not read since my late teens. Delicious.

This Tale originally had a lot of stuff about alcohol in it, but it was junk thinking so I junked it.

283

Although the UH libraries operated on their usual schedule during the three-day holiday weekend except for closing on the Monday, I spent much less time on-line than is my habit. The Boss of Seventh Circle has, deliberately or not, made it difficult for players at the State Library to logon since the address now requires the port number and that function has been (understandably) disabled on the library system. They have apparently discovered a way around it already, but the library was closed all weekend anyway. And aside from my personal feelings for him, the fact is, the Sleeptalker makes Seventh Circle a more amusing place to play. I wasn't the only person to regret his absence there on the weekend.

I decided I'd stay at the hacienda on Saturday night. When I arrived the Big Local Dude told me it wasn't a good idea to smoke in the inside area because the night staff there were on the alert and looking for any excuse to evict people. Someone (who shall remain nameless even by nickname) had discovered an open window one night during the week, had climbed through it and slept inside. Although he wasn't caught, he did leave enough traces of having been in there that they had people dusting the windowframe for fingerprints and had put up NO TRESSPASSING signs for the first time. I thanked the BLD for the alert and the update, moved to an outside bench.

He, alas, followed me out, even though I'd said I just wanted to listen to the radio. I'd thought earlier at the mall that I should just stay at the park to enjoy those two favorite programs but it was rather chilly and I'd hoped that early at the hacienda to be left alone. The BLD didn't take my rather pointed hint, though, so instead of the Prairie Home Companion and the hour of theatre songs, I listened to him ramble on about this and that and consequently only caught the last fifteen minutes of theatre music. Since the program had been based on the theme, "It Had to Be You", that may have been just as well.

I listened to some of the stuff that followed, obscure Italian works from the 1600's mostly (although one was as early as the late 1400's), and wondered if everyone who ever wrote a page of music has by now been re-discovered and recorded.

I'd been asleep awhile when the Sleeptalker arrived after getting off work, woke me up and chatted for an hour before heading off somewhere in back of the building to sleep, even though that's asking for trouble. He seems to have a streak of irresistable urges to rock the boat. But I enjoyed seeing him for the first time since Monday and was happy to hear the resumed job was going well.

I stayed in the park on Sunday morning until it was time to meet Helen R. and join other on-liners for a picnic in Kapiolani Park. Plenty of food and good conversation, but the continuing effort to climb aboard the Paxil Express kept giving me waves of extreme seasickness so I left early, caught a bus to campus and lay on a bench in the secuded grove for a couple of hours. The body remains unconvinced of the wisdom of Paxil resumption; on Friday morning the little pill fell out of my hand before I got it to my mouth, an event I would at one time have considered an important omen. Perhaps it was, but I didn't agree with it, continue to think it's a worthwhile experiment, another interlude with that strange drug.

Fitzgerald's wonderful early novel was such a delight to re-encounter, so elegantly stylish and engrossing that it was truly a pleasure to spend those hours with it, living vicariously in another time and space. When I finished it, I went down to Rainbow Books to see if I could sell it back to them and buy something else, discovered they had acquired a copy of Hesse's "Narziss and Goldmund" since my last visit and was delighted when they let me make an even trade.

All things considered, it's absurd I've waited this long to re-read that particular Hesse work, especially since it has more parallels with my life right now than any other, with the possible exception of "Steppenwolf", and one reason I spent so little time on-line was because I preferred sitting in the secluded grove with the book.

After a quiet night back at the cloisters, I caught an early bus to the mall on the last day of the Tiger. I was sitting on a planter ledge enjoying my senior coffee and reading when I heard a voice rather plaintively say "Albert". I looked up and saw the Sleeptalker standing there, looking quite wrecked, wearing just shorts, no shirt, no slippers. He had spent Sunday evening with Rossini in Waikiki, they'd gotten very, very drunk and Rossini had disappeared. The Sleeptalker had spent all of his first paycheck during the evening and had no bus fare so had set out walking to the hacienda, getting only as far as a bench on the Ala Wai before collapsing. He was soon chased out of there by the police and was staggering on his journey when he encountered me. I got a tee shirt out of my backpack and gave it to him, he put it on, hugged me, kissed me on the cheek and said, "I love you".

"I love you, too," I said, and meant it.

284

The worst of the adjustment to Paxil is over. I could sense having passed through it on Tuesday afternoon after hours with no moments of nausea and an absence of that swollen brain feeling. But the day, the start of the Rabbit Year, was what can only be called a thoroughly blah one, and my feeling so deadened to life and the world left me more vulnerable than usual to annoyances, especially people. A young Asian woman with her friend in the library had such a horrible high-pitched whining voice I fled the place after five minutes of the torture. Later a total cliche, the fat cackling woman, carried on a lengthy dialogue with some man, punctuating everything she said with that ghastly ho-ho-ho. I fled again. At around three-thirty in the morning, I was awakened at the cloisters by an awful droning voice. Two young men who have recently begun to stay there had settled just around the corner from me and one was laying there droning on, the pitch just right to defeat my earplugs. I fled again, moved to a spot at the other end of the building.

The weather, at least, was fine but my favorite time, midday in the secluded grove, was foiled by the presence of three chattering grounds workers, raking up the leaves and debris, so I had to wait until late afternoon to enjoy some time there with Hesse and I returned again when leaving the library, read for awhile and then fell asleep on a bench, didn't wake and relocate to the cloisters until almost midnight.

A strange day, lost in time.

My thoughts returned, again and again, to the day before, that morning encounter with the Sleeptalker and the seven hours spent sitting beside him as he slept. I had asked him if he wanted coffee and went into McD's to get it. When I returned he was sprawled on the planter ledge, sound asleep. I tried to rouse him to drink the coffee, with no success. The two morning security men are used to seeing me there and although they looked at the Sleeptalker, didn't say anything until the shops were getting ready to open. Then one of the guards gave me a signal to get the Sleeptalker up. With considerable effort, I managed to get him sitting up and then, my arm around his shoulders, guided him across the street to the park, spread out a blanket. He immediately collapsed, fell asleep and didn't stir for over an hour. I lay down beside him, read a little, but mainly just watched him and thought about our friendship and my feelings for him, how Narziss should be my role model. Later he rolled over, snuggled up against me, and used my pants leg as a cover to block the light, at one point held my bare foot in his hand. He didn't speak at all in his sleep, most unusual, but did seem to have a couple of unpleasant dreams and I rubbed his back and patted him gently which appeared to shift his attention. He woke up once, looked around, said "oh, here I am at Ala Moana with no shoes." "The life of a drunk," I said. He smiled and went back to sleep.

The sun finally reached our tree-shaded spot just after one and he woke abruptly, jumped up and moved to nearby shade. I packed up my stuff and went to sit with him, explained I had to leave soon since I was due at a friend's place. He said he had left some stuff at the hacienda, had to go see if it was still there, so I walked slowly with him down there, said goodbye to him at the entrance walk and begged him to take better care of himself. We had talked about the evening before and while being cautious about saying anything against Rossini (they've known each other since school days), did say he shouldn't get that drunk unless he was with someone who would look after him. "I wouldn't want to get that drunk with you," he said, "I get so drunk I don't care about anyone or anything."

I said the recent night together on cardboard was as far as we were going to take it, but in many ways that morning in the park was even more special. Despite the uproar and confusion it so often creates in my mind, I'm grateful for the friendship with the Sleeptalker and the "in love" phase gradually shifts to love ... paternal, fraternal, however it's categorized. Narziss and Goldmund. Reting and Lolo.

285

"You need a haircut," said Kory K on Tuesday. "Your hair's getting long," said Yvette's brother on Wednesday. Hmmm, it's not that long. Besides, the lad likes rubbing his hand through it and messing it up, not likely to cut it, am I?

Just another routine day, the first Wednesday of the Rabbit. Aside from exchanging a few words with Keali`i and saying thank you to the clerks at 7-Eleven, I didn't talk with anyone all day. I certainly could have, because when I got the cloisters in the evening I saw Spot standing near his spot looking for someone to talk to. I crept around the back of the building to the dark hideaway area. Phooey, that crazy woman and her boyfriend have shifted to there, so I slept around the corner (the opposite corner from the droning young man and his buddy). Not as dark, but I did have the whole side of the building to myself.

The past few days there have been several men in the secluded grove in the late morning, all wearing white Oh-Triple-C tee shirts (OCCC, the county jail). I talked briefly with one of them and he explained they were on a work release program, had to return to the jail each night. He also told me they have abandoned the no smoking rule at Halawa, the state prison, but in both places you can only go "shopping" once a month. What a certain recipe for corruption! Naturally, there are many men running private stores with inflated prices. How to live free on the state and end up richer than you were when you went in ...

I've continued printing out earlier tales and spent some time reading them in the secluded grove, amused by the arrival of Rocky on the scene and that strange, non-speaking relationship I had with him until Mondo appeared and broke the ice. It seems so much further in the past than it is. A year of nomadic life definitely feels longer than a householder's year, maybe partly because these winter months seem so extended and possibly, too, the life of a working man having all those hours each week on the job, time that is essentially meaningless. Or at least that's how it has always been for me, since I've never had a "job" which really meant anything to me aside from a paycheck.

Ash Wednesday. No inclination to get involved.

Paxil vobiscum.

286

I was beginning to think Thursday was going to be another day without speaking to anyone, but then I ran into Gregory for the first time this semester and we talked for a few minutes. "You need to get over that guy," he said, after telling me he was still reading the Tales. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly ... etc.

He asked if I was serious, if I'd really give up this "trip" and get a job if the Sleeptalker would fully play the role of lover. I said yes, but admitted I might have picked just the one I was sure wouldn't give in so I could enjoy the luxury of that romantic idea without actually having to follow through with it. Gregory is sharp, it's hard to talk to him without really thinking. I could use more such people in my life.

The boredom of contentment, the underlying theme of these early days of the Rabbit. It's the Earth Rabbit, and he certainly isn't starting off with a bounce, is thoroughly earthbound. It isn't genuine "contentment", just an absence of the really low or the really high, those commonplace days the Steppenwolf so loathed. Can't say I blame him.

The tobacco supply has been ample, likewise the availability of food ... not terribly interesting food, but filling and probably sufficiently nourishing. The supply of teabags eliminates the need to seek coins for morning coffee, or even to travel to the mall, and without that impetus I haven't bothered to go down for a shower this week.

Gregory said I seemed "down". Yes, true, and I suppose if the first hint of the Paxil benefit weren't beginning, I'd be thoroughly depressed, the more so since there is no real reason for it aside from empty pockets which by now should be such an accustomed feeling it shouldn't bother me at all. I told Kory K I'd get drunk if I had the money, but that would just mean being bored and drunk, no real improvement. Cainer urges patience, says a door will soon open to better things. Uh-huh. Love is just around the corner ...

It's just as well the Sleeptalker has been absent all week, and that I've refrained from visiting the hacienda. Maybe I'd better wait for that door to open.

287

Hmmm, have I become a magnet which attracts people to sleeping in my vicinity or (more likely) has Spot become such a boring pest he is driving everyone away? The annex building so recently discovered as a "quiet" spot has quickly, alas, become almost as bad as the main quadrangle at the cloisters, or the hacienda. It is a free standing building, a covered walkway on all four sides. The north side is much darker than anywhere else at the cloisters. The Crazy Woman and her boyfriend have taken up residence in the northwest corner, an older woman, solo, sleeps near the middle of that wall. The south wall is divided, with the southeast half enclosed by a low fence, the area the Grouch wants to have all to himself. The east wall is the most sheltered but has a couple of regular occupants, along with the yakky two young guys who have recently begun to stay there. The west wall, where I had one night to myself, was invaded after midnight by the Gypsy Boy, Cat and a friend. I had endured a conversation between the Crazy Woman's boyfriend and some unidentified man, had drifted off to sleep when the new arrivals woke me up chatting. Sigh. I picked up my cardboard and moved back to the main quadrangle, so full I had to take a spot closer to a stranger on a bench than I would have preferred.

Oh, for an isolated, sheltered spot to sleep that I could have all to myself ...

Once settled, the Me of Dreamworld made it very clear he's not buying the "fraternal" love nonsense, came up with a delicious dream based on the fantasy of getting a hotel room for a long weekend and sharing it with the Sleeptalker. If the reality was anything like the dream, it would be time to sell those English shares and make reservations. I don't think it would be, though. He's too inexperienced and would be so riddled with guilt, it's extremely unlikely he'd be as delightful as the dream version. No, it's better to stick with the fraternal pattern and leave the other possibilities to dreams.

Paxil does have some curious physical effects. The most amusing is occasionally walking around with what feels like a quarter hard-on, but it has no erotic basis, just seems that appendage hangs a lot looser and creates an unusual awareness of its existence as a result. A rather less welcome one is a sharply increased sense of smell, so much so I am aware of the strong scent of tobacco in my clothes, something I usually never notice (although I'm very sure non-smokers must). I don't recall either from the first experience with the drug and didn't mention them in the Tales of the time. I just printed out the first of that series on Friday morning; it will be interesting to compare the two Paxil adventures. On the plus side, the exaggerated "dry mouth" of the first time isn't happening. Whether plus or minus, I'm not sure, but there is that strange feeling of being once-removed from "reality", but I was already feeling that anyway, so the transition is not all that strange.

Aside from that chat with Gregory, I had no conversation with anyone on Thursday. I don't think, at least when in my present state of mind, I'd have any trouble at all in one of those monastic orders where they never speak. Of course, that might be proven wrong if the on-line "conversation" were also eliminated.

I spoke too soon about the ample food supply. Although I had as much as I wanted to eat at lunchtime, all the places I usually wait until after dark to check were empty. It was off to bed (or cardboard) without dinner. I have been carrying around two Power Bars for such emergencies but gave to them the Sleeptalker on that Monday after he woke from his long sleep feeling hungry. Love will keep us alive?

288

Strange, the stuff you find wandering around the UH campus on a quiet Saturday morning when it's mostly deserted. An Egg McMuffin and hash browns from McD's, a yummy piece of cherry pie, a large packet of saltine crackers, an ample supply of tobacco, and a half dozen of those miniature candy bars from Hershey, assorted varieties. But miracle of miracles, two 32oz jugs of Killian's Red ale sitting on a table at Manoa Garden, mercifully shielded from the drizzle under an umbrella. A tip of the hat to Dame Fortune, indeed!

It had been densely gray and cloudy all day on Friday but surprisingly stayed dry until very late afternoon. By the time it started seriously raining, I was on a mall-bound bus and I spent the evening there. After two days with none, alcohol was once again much in my thoughts and the Dame came through with a most unusual prize, a bottle of Japanese Sake, unopened, abandoned near the hotel. How strange. That stuff is potent. I sipped on it throughout the evening, stopped to watch the youngsters from the Hawaii State Ballet performing at Center Stage and especially enjoyed one young man and his ... errr ... interestingly revealing black tights. The young ladies were really pretty awful at ensemble work, but the music kept me there for almost an hour, helped by the black tights.

Not much food turned up and the total profit for the evening was thirty-eight cents: one shopping cart, a dropped dime and three pennies. One cart for a whole evening at the mall was most unusual, but I considered getting capital for a senior coffee the next morning sufficient omen to spend the night at the hacienda. By nine I was thoroughly mellow from the Sake and enjoyed the show at the bus stop so much I dallied for some time before finally getting on a bus.

No one from the Club was there, the first time in months Mondo has been absent. The Big Local Dude and his lady were already asleep and I grabbed a bench on the outside row next to them and quickly settled down. Conrad, not seen in a very long time, had been on the bus with me, seemed stoned out of his mind as usual and didn't remember me. I assume, judging from our last conversation, he got locked up in the drug rehab place again and has just re-emerged. It doesn't seem to have been any more successful than his prior times in the place. But he had no beer and also quickly settled down, and it was a very quiet night.

Since the weather had been so foul, I had expected the beergardens to be totally empty on my morning walk to the mall, but in fact I found enough beer to fill the flask and the small fruit-juice bottle I had been using to disguise the Sake. There was even about an inch of Sake left in it, so the Bud Lite I filled it with turned out to be not quite as "lite".

After senior coffee, I decided I wanted a shower, never mind the gray, damp weather, so crossed over to the park. Damn, that water was COLD, but it was a most welcome feeling, that shampooed and scrubbed glow afterwards, and I quickly returned to the mall to warm up in that area which always seems about twenty degrees warmer than anywhere else. A sit in the sun would certainly have been a more pleasant method, but no complaints.

It was a day on campus of gloomy, gray skies but not as wet as those skies would usually suggest. In the later afternoon, though, the wind started to blow quite ferociously and, as often seems the case, swept through the campus in an almost-whirlwind fashion making it impossible to find a sheltered place to sit. I had saved a flask of the ale to enjoy with the hour of theatre songs on NPR, but decided campus wasn't the place to do it and caught a bus to the mall. As it turned out, the program was based on songs about American Presidents and I gave up after about ten minutes, enjoyed the ale sitting at the bus stop watching the tourists, the young military guys returning to base after a night on the town, and the few locals who were still around that late on a Saturday night.

What a strange reversal of roles. The hacienda, for a time such a hotbed of social activity, has become like the cloisters used to be, single men saying nothing to each other. The BLD and his lady were in residence, but once again the Club members, including Mondo, were absent. There were no doubt repeat residents from the night before but they were all settled under covers or were so nondescript none, as yet, register in the memory. I was feeling very tired and immediately settled down after waving a greeting to the BLD and was soon asleep.

The dreary weather was supposed to continue all weekend, but Sunday morning was actually quite pleasant and I walked through Kakaako, filling my flask with an abandoned can of Bud Lite and half a Heineken. At the last beergarden there was one of those huge "Double Gulp" tubs from 7-Eleven. Thinking it might have disguised beer, I picked it up and sniffed. Wheeee, considerably more potent than beer, that thing was half full of whiskey. If there was any Coke or Pepsi mixed with it, certainly wasn't much. I filled a plastic water bottle from it, there was a bit left in the cup so I drank it. Buzzed before dawn.

There had been no carts at all the evening before so I didn't have the money for senior coffee, looked for a cup to cheat with a refill but couldn't find one. Oh well, still had teabags in my backpack, so waited for a bus to campus.

On the way, I spotted the headline in the morning newspaper and after getting off the bus, crossed over to read as much of the story as could be seen in the vending machine. Mackey Feary, dead by his own hand, alone in a prison cell. That was hard news, hard news indeed. There went the pint of whiskey. To complete the mood, the sky turned gray again and there were torrential downpours much of the afternoon.

"But first there's the weekend to get through," as Jonathan Cainer said.

289

One of the more persistent (and bizarre) obsessions of the internal jukebox is "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now". Yeukh, I've never liked that song. When it started up on Tuesday morning, I said knock it off, no one is kissing him, he's having breakfast at IHS.

After three wonderfully quiet, peaceful nights at the hacienda, the boys were back on Monday, in full party mode. The Sleeptalker had been there on Sunday but I didn't know it until morning. He had arrived past midnight, after work, and was sufficiently tired to just settle down to sleep. I woke just after four, decided to sleep a little longer and didn't wake again until the man came out and told everyone it was time to get up. The wake-up call has shifted to 5:30 now. As I was standing outside waiting to cross the street, the Sleeptalker came stumbling down the path, still barefoot, moaned "I was really sleeping ..." and kept walking.

Seeing him still barefoot really worried me because that's often the first sign someone is going downhill fast, but happily on Monday night he once again had his suede sandals.

It had been a day of almost non-stop drizzle with occasional downpours, making the usual hunt for food and tobacco very difficult so I was more than happy to join Helen R. for dinner at McD's, stopped at the mall briefly to grab some tobacco and went early to the hacienda, had the place all to myself for about half an hour. Then the Sleeptalker and Rossini came strolling down the path and, not long after, Mondo bounced in carrying a bottle of champagne [!] and a couple of his, as always, excellent smokes. The Sleeptalker on the floor at my feet, Mondo sitting on the bench beside me ... who could ask for anything more. We talked about the game for awhile and I was delighted that the Sleeptalker had been playing a new character and I hadn't guessed it was him, the first time he has managed to play without immediately assuming the same personality. When the bottle was empty and the smokes gone, Mondo went to an outside bench to listen to his squawkbox, I told the Sleeptalker I was ready for sleep so he went out to join Mondo and I fell asleep within minutes, happy to have spent such an enjoyable evening with those two young men, happy that both are part of my life.

290

I saw Gregory again on Tuesday. He said the Tales were beginning to read like a "romance novel". Regrettably tame stuff, if so. What happened to all the scenes of lust, the throbbing erections? He said I'd taken a different route than in the beginning. "Yes, one with a dead end." "You never know until you get to it," he said.

True, but I did just get to the beginning, in the continuing exercise of printing out older Tales and reading them in the secluded grove. Tale 165:

"As I said before, Rocky must have been the kind of kid who took stray dogs home. His latest puppy is such a cutie, not the same class as Mondo (few men are), but he sleeps in just his shorts, no socks, no shirt."

Enter the Sleeptalker. I was thinking on that Monday evening sitting between them that Mondo is such a handsome young man and that wonderfully soft, gentle voice of his, the almost shy smile, definitely places him permanently on my list of favorite men. Not for the first time I thought how odd it is I fell under the Sleeptalker's spell instead. Part of the reason, I think, is because he so actively "courted" me, as he does all his buddies, and when he turns on the charm, he's quite irresistable.

He had said he wouldn't be working again until Thursday evening, so I figured the hacienda was likely to be a party scene each evening until then and not at all in the mood for another party Tuesday night, I took the bus from campus, joined Helen R. for dinner at Jack-in-the-Box, made a quick trip through the mall for tobacco (and found an almost full pack of Marboros!), then went much earlier than usual to the cloisters. The bench next to Spot's favorite area was vacant, so I grabbed it. After a little while I saw him approaching so quickly snuggled under my blanket and pretended to be asleep. If he'd had a bottle of beer in his hand, I probably would have endured his boring conversation to get some of it, and I scolded myself for being so insincere.

Venus and Jupiter made the evening sky very special, shining so seemingly near each other, but I can't say I've felt any of the Cainer-promised benefits of their presence in Aries as yet. It takes more than a couple of planets in my birth sign to brighten the always-irksome final days before that pension check arrives. And as with every month thus far, I grumble at myself for even thinking about it. What difference does it really make? Half the thing is in hock already, as usual, and the rest will be gone within days.

Someone had left a loaf of sliced wheat bread and a couple of packets of jam outside McD's in the morning, so I spent a lot of time in the secluded grove giving the birds a feast and enjoying them enjoying it, reading a little, wishing for a beer, and relieved the weather had at last turned pleasant once more. Not much else turned up on campus but I did find one plate-lunch box (although more likely a "plate-breakfast" box) with a most unusual offering: a hard-boiled egg, along with a sausage patty and some diced, fried potatos. I'd be happy to see such boxes more often.

I woke at about five-thirty on Wednesday morning, happy to see the weather was still pleasant, and walked up to campus, enjoyed cups of tea while continuing my second reading of "Narziss and Goldmund". A quietly, peaceful beginning to another day.

A romance novel ... cue up the jukebox with a fine romance.

291

In online jargon, FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. In my personal FAQ, first on the list has long been "I wonder if I'm going crazy?" The voice of the Dutchman is always there, after more than a quarter of a century, to reply, "I'm afraid you're not". But I asked it again when that beautiful full moon rose over the Manoa hills and I gasped, "it's UPSIDE DOWN!". The rabbit and his wheelbarrow was standing on its head, or ears. A commonplace Man in the Moon wasn't good enough for my exotic grandmother, she taught me to see the rabbit and his wheelbarrow. Well, he's all huli-huli, as they say topsy-turvy here. Or my mind is.

But then it was huli-huli for the entire last week of February. Except for the one month when that pension check was a couple of days late and drove me close to making that FAQ answer a resounding YES!, this has been by far the worst of the silly, twisted times of waiting for the postman. There are events in our lives which aren't in themselves really all that important, but they dredge up all the similar events from the past and all the emotions which went with them and the combined effect magnifies and exaggerates the importance into a Major Event. So it was with the wait for that check.

The Full Moon, another broke weekend, a music gig on the Saturday I really wanted to be at (the group Kolea in one of their rare Oahu appearances), Dame Fortune being unusually sparing with the food supply ... ah yes, I wanted that check. Of course, I also wanted it for bottles of Hurricane although the Dame had been quite kind on that score all week. A new club has recently opened near the Cloisters. They allow 18+ youngsters in the place, have a drinking section for, of course, 21+ patrons. So the younger ones drink in a parking lot before going to the club and during breaks. They seem to have a lot more money than they have ability to hold alcohol because a lot gets left behind. One morning I had my pint flask full and found enough to also fill a one quart water bottle, but also found two unopened cans. Another morning there was a large paper cup almost full of rum and Coke (cue up the Andrews Sisters). And supplementing the largesse at that welcome beergarden, there was an almost-all-night party on campus Saturday night leaving behind another abundant supply of beer for the next morning.

So the pattern of the week tended to be a happily buzzed time at midday followed by yearning for a beer (and a fresh one!) in the evenings, and it was a special delight to have a virgin bottle of Hurricane on Saturday to enjoy with Prairie Home Companion and the hour of theatre music. I had to wander the campus for awhile to find a place with decent radio reception, out of range from the loud boom-booms coming from the party, but thoroughly enjoyed the evening after finding the right spot. The theatre music was Irving Berlin songs about music, an amusing category, and my only complaint was that he played not nearly enough vintage recordings, forgivable only in the case of one song that had never before been recorded and a delightful one which had been cut from "Annie Get Your Gun".

I stayed at the cloisters all week. The single, older lady who had been sharing the darker area with the Crazy Woman and her boyfriend went away so I had her former spot every night, very quiet and peaceful. The weather was pleasant during the day but the predawn hours were especially marked by a damp chill in the air which made mugs of hot tea most welcome and the appearance of the sun over those hills even more welcome.

Quite a bit of time was spent in Seventh Circle since I'd started my third character, Caduceus the Cleric, and had a most enjoyable time getting him to a level where he could start to be effectively helpful. Clerics fill the role of physician in the game, with powerful spells for healing and providing that life-saving "aid" to stunned or dying players. And there have been a number of totally new players appearing on the scene so it was especially fun helping them get started and rescuing them from difficulties. The leader of the Clerics Guild kindly made me a member much earlier than Reting had gotten into the Rangers Guild, so it was a successful and pleasant week in that fantasy world.

The Sleeptalker played most days, never said anything directly to me, but said a number of things publicly which were clearly intended for me, an amusing little side game. We had talked in the past about the role of the Cleric, and when he saw I'd finally begun one, he started one, too, but soon lost patience and stopped playing that character (it's a pretty tedious routine getting the first ten levels). I found his indirect attention, if anything, even more endearing than more direct contact and sense, as I did on that last evening with him in person, that he's still in "pull back" mode after that intimate morning in the park. Such a sweetheart, but I haven't been sorry not to have seen him for a week.

I've been so twisted all week I should have stayed in total isolation anyway.

292

Oh, how gay.

Young people appear to be trying to reclaim the word, taking it back closer to its former usage but with an added accent on the slightly wacky or outrageous. So in that newest sense, I could definitely say "how gay" about early Tuesday morning.

I was sitting on a ledge at the mall with my coffee refill, after absolutely wallowing in the luxury of hotcakes, reading some early tales. They date from late July and early August of last year and recount the first real conversations I had with Mondo. In those days before the Sleeptalker took over, I was much smitten with Mondo, still am for that matter but with a lower temperature, so to speak. I was greatly enjoying the memories the tales evoked.

And along came Mondo!

What a rare treat to have him all to myself. Despite the early hour, he produced one of his magical smokes and we had a grand time sitting together on a bench, the smoke making him more talkative than usual. Then we walked around the mall checking ashtrays, ran into a friend of his who washes windows there, and smiled together at the old folks doing tai chi at CenterStage. "I used to do that when I was young," he said. "When you were young! You poor old man," said I, patting him on the shoulder and getting one of his best smiles in reply. Ah, sweet twenty-one ...

In those older Tales, the fantasy of getting a room for a night at the Halekulani was first mentioned and I was emphatic about answering a reader: Mondo was the one I'd want along on that fantasy. Lower temperature or not, never mind the Sleeptalker and the recent dream which made him the partner, Mondo still is the one. It would be such a wonderful time.

He was planning to go home to change clothes, so we said goodbye after about an hour and I watched him walk off before getting the bus to campus, thoroughly grateful Dame Fortune had nudged me into taking the first bus to the mall. Most of that nudge was from food having been in very short supply on Monday, the relief coming in the form of McD's gift certificates which I should have used Monday evening. Instead, I fell asleep on a bench in the secluded grove and didn't wake until it was too late, ended up spending the entire night on campus for the first time.

There are a few friends and readers who make this weird life so much different, and better, than it would be otherwise. Nothing is more helpful than the mobility of a bus pass and the aid given Dame Fortune in providing food. Without those friends, I'd probably become one of the dreary people who hang out constantly at IHS waiting for the next free meal. Just the thought makes me shudder. As some readers know, I even gave serious thought recently to the idea of going to jail, and I do think jail would be a better alternative than becoming a "regular" at IHS. McD's certificates and invitations to dinner are, of course, very much nicer than either.

Just as Mondo's company is very much nicer than being alone.

293

The Fabled Pension Check didn't arrive until the third of the month. For old time's sake I celebrated with Mickey's, a bottle just after cashing the check, then a walk down to Rainbow Books and the Korean shop for a second bottle and a new cigarette lighter.

I bought Hesse's enigmatic early work, Peter Camenzind, and after resisting for months, Siddhartha. After an afternoon reading in the secluded grove, I went to the Garden for a jug of Budweiser and a large "drip bucket" of Sam Adams was happily passed over to me. Back to the secluded grove and falling asleep for several hours on the bench, down the hill for another bottle, Hurricane that time, but getting to the cloisters and deciding I really didn't want any more to drink. Every night I had the darker area to myself, the Crazy Woman and her boyfriend having been absent.

Drunk all day, terribly hungover each morning, a silly life.

I spent very little time on-line, stayed in the secluded grove reading and drinking, feeding the birds. And on Friday a copy of Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms had been left there on a bench, a strange follow-up to Siddhartha. In the evening I went to see Takashi Miike's "The Bird People of China", a touchingly beautiful and often quite amusing Japanese film being given three free screenings on campus. The hall was so full we were invited to sit on the floor in the front and my pleasure from the film was enhanced by a very sweet Japanese lad sitting next to me.

Fine reading, a beautiful film, plenty to drink. Then the pockets were empty again and life goes on. "I can think, I can wait, I can fast."

294

When I woke up at about a quarter past five on Sunday morning, I thought, "if this were a bed in a room, I'd crawl under the covers and not get out of it all day." Alas, it wasn't either a bed or in a room. It had been so wet most of the day on Saturday and all evening that the chance of finding dry cardboard for a "mattress" was very slim, so I took along a stack of little newspapers to the cloisters and spread them out, put my towel over the upper half of the pallet and made do with that for the night. It certainly made me appreciate the added insulation (and softness!) of cardboard, and my knee bones very much missed it. But at least I again had the dark side of the building all to myself once the parking lot emptied of folks who had been attending some meeting.

And I'd had the pleasure of a Hurricane earlier. Since the library was closing early and the weather was so dismal, I left even earlier and went to the mall. It was very crowded and within a short time I'd found enough carts to finance the unexpected bottle of brew, returned to campus getting the bottle on my way, and settled on a sheltered bench by the lily pond. The raindrops falling into the pond, the delightful frogs popping their heads up at the edge, jumping onto the grass verge and performing their basso profundo serenades, one even venturing onto the walkway and exploring some distance, made a splendid setting for enjoying both the beer and Prairie Home Companion.

I had been feeling quite down (Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms is not exactly the best reading material for anyone who was in rather low spirits to begin with), but that cheered me up a little. Not enough, though, for the hour of theatre music. Although I was amused to hear Michael Lasser mention the attempt to reclaim the word "gay", which I also mentioned recently, an hour of "gay" (in the old/newest sense) songs was just too chirpy for my mood and I gave it up, went to the cloisters earlier than usual and settled down on those newspapers.

The beergarden near the cloisters had been strangely dry for days, even more peculiar after its abundant supply the week before, but since I was in that post-pension-check binge, it hadn't mattered, most especially on Saturday morning when the aftermath of the binge had me not caring in the least bit whether a drop of alcohol fell in my path. I was going to say that I know a lot of far older-than-I nomads who seem to drink quite continuously, at all hours of the day and night, without any seeming problem. But my prime example, the Old Guitarist, encountered me at the mall on Sunday and said he'd just been released from a detox unit at Tripler Hospital, had been diagnosed with some bacterial stomach infection and had half a dozen containers of antibiotics, sleeping aids and anti-depressants to combat the problem, meanwhile unable to drink a drop. Hmmmm ....

In any case, I was certainly feeling wrecked from the binge, physically and mentally, even if I recovered sufficiently by sunset to welcome that one bottle of Hurricane. On Sunday morning, the beergarden had returned to its abundance, with almost a full bottle of "Olde English" malt liquor and quite a few mostly-full Buds. My trusty flask has, alas, developed a tendency to leak, so I need to acquire a new one. I wish its leak had developed before the pension check was exhausted, but since it didn't shall have to make do with the most reliable plastic water or soda bottles I can find.

So I arrived on campus with an ample supply of brew in my backpack, along with enough fries to provide a decent mid-morning snack, and spent much of the morning in the secluded grove with a second reading of Siddhartha. If I had followed that impulse to stay in bed all day, I'd have missed an especially beautiful, sunny morning, a complete contrast to Saturday.

And surprisingly, there were enough coins forgotten in vending machines to take my bank balance back up to seventy-six cents. That was enough to send me to the mall in search of carts and once again there was a sufficient supply to have that Hurricane financing in place. As I was walking past the bookshop there, I spotted the Sleeptalker and Rossini engrossed in comic books. They didn't spot me and after a brief glance at the Sleeptalker and gratitude he'd gotten a haircut without his usual routine of having it closely cropped, I went on, not really wanting to spend any time with the two of them together. My restraint did little good, in the end result, because sitting at the terminal back on campus around seven in the evening, after another enjoyable interlude with Hesse and Hurricane in the secluded grove, the Sleeptalker walked in.

294a

The Sleeptalker said he had been in Waikiki with Rossini and "some guys", got fed up with it and had decided to walk to campus. But he was planning, he said, to walk back down to the hacienda later. He stayed in the game except for one short break during which I asked him how the job was going. Although he began by saying it was "fine", when the story continued later, it appears he either got fired or is on the verge of it. He said he just can't get enough sleep at the hacienda (wonder why?) and since he's either in the game or hanging out with his buddies all day and evening, he doesn't get any other chance to sleep. So he was showing up at work very tired, was so tired one night they'd sent him home for being too slow. Meanwhile he was sitting there filled with fantasies of some expensive watch he wants and a diamond earring.

Such a strange fellow, but certainly looking his adorable best with the new haircut and cleanshaven, wearing a faded Year of the Tiger tee shirt and light blue denims. Occasionally I'd just look at him and he'd give me his little knowing smile, but the flirtation game stayed on low simmer and aside from the talk of his job, our conversation was limited to game topics.

I was feeling very tired and since he'd said he planned to leave eventually, I told him I was ready to head off to sleep a little before nine and left him with the reminder that he could play on later at Sinclair Library once Hamilton closed.

After a slow stroll downhill, picking up a welcome piece of cardboard on the way, I settled down in my dark spot and couldn't go to sleep for quite a long time despite being so tired. Another aspect of Paxil which was present the first round and is absent this time was the tendency to fall asleep immediately. That's one benefit I miss especially, although overall I don't feel the drug is working as well as it did before.

Just after six I was awakened by the Sleeptalker who had stayed at the cloisters after all. He has such a sweet dopey look first thing in the morning. We walked up to campus and I fixed some coffee for us, we took a long stroll around checking for tobacco and then sat on a bench waiting for the library to open. Once he got on the computer, he was lost to the world. I went out on an occasional hunting trip, found a little food but tobacco stayed in short supply. He didn't take even a single smoke break all morning and through the early afternoon, then in mid-afternoon just disappeared without saying anything. What, indeed, a strange fellow.

I said I was almost beginning to wish he'd just leave me alone, and perhaps that's progress.

295

You don't have to say you love me ...

The jukebox has been stuck on that since hearing of Dusty Springfield's death. Dusty Springfield, Joe DiMaggio, Stanley Kubrick. Icons of a lifetime shifted to the gallery of the departed.

The week began with a 48-hour abstinence from alcohol, utterly unintentional. It wouldn't have bothered me as much had the Sleeptalker not made that unexpected, and not entirely welcome, appearance. But being in his company and perhaps even more, in the hours after leaving his company, beer is always welcome. I survived. The first glass of Budweiser after the drought was like nectar from the gods.

Walking to campus from the cloisters early on Tuesday morning, it was a relief to be on my own again and I was reminded of that trip down from the Himalayan foothills to the plains in the company of "Jewish Michael" and the feeling of great release once we parted ways. The Sleeptalker will be back, of course. He inevitably quarrels with all his buddies and will just as inevitably seek my company when that happens, I suspect. I do deeply care about the young man so couldn't reject him but it is certainly a frustrating experience to see so young and charming a fellow make such a mess of things over and over, yet knowing no way to influence him or advise better methods.

His company had unexpectedly changed Monday, Helen R unexpectedly changed Tuesday (albeit in a much more unreservedly delightful way). Having the day off work, she suggested seeing a film and "a" film turned into a double feature. First we saw the new DeNiro comedy, "Analyze This", which was very stylish and amusing, certainly on a par with the director's deliciously wacky "Groundhog Day". During the break before the second film, we shared a large plate of fries with cheese sauce at Magoo's and I relished that glass of Bud. The second film was "Affliction", a densely grim little film set in a small New Hampshire town in the dead of winter. All through the film I thought of my friend Felix who moved about ten years ago to just such a place after a lifetime in Manhattan and I wondered how on earth he has managed to survive there without falling victim to fatal melancholy. It was a beautifully made film and Nick Nolte certainly deserved the Oscar nomination, but I was more than happy to quaff another glass of Bud after it, could have used a twelve-pack of the stuff.

Beer was again on my mind Wednesday after a once-again-empty morning beergarden, so in mid-afternoon I took the Hemingway book to Rainbow and sold it. I'm sure Papa H wouldn't mind anyone selling his books to buy beer. Unfortunately it only covered a bit more than half the price, so I went on to the mall to hunt carts, soon found enough to bring the hunt to the point where eleven cents were needed. I took a break, crossed over to the park and had a shower, then grabbed a plate of food from the Krishna truck, my first such feast in weeks. As always there was far too much food to eat in one sitting, so I filled my casserole and had a late night snack from it before sleeping, finished off the rest for breakfast the next morning.

The nomads waiting in line for the food were such awful bores, and so loud about it, once I got my plate I headed off for a distant picnic table to escape them, grateful none of them stay at the cloisters.

Back at the mall, I saw a Japanese man talking on a pay phone and there was a dime on the floor near his foot. So I waited for him to finish, as though I planned to use the phone, and the moment he stepped away, I put my foot over the dime until he walked off. One penny to go! I walked through the mall gathering a slim supply of tobacco but the elusive penny (or another cart) wasn't found. So I checked the bus stop area and there it was, the magic penny. I jumped on the wonderful new "A" Bus which operates on an express schedule from campus to the mall and headed for the 7-Eleven and, yes, spent my VERY LAST PENNY on a bottle of Hurricane.

What a silly life, indeed. And what a yummy liquid.

296

The week had one more unexpected surprise. I stopped by to see Kory K on Thursday morning to pick up the ticket he kindly bought me for the benefit gig on Saint Patrick's evening. I warned him that I probably wouldn't use it, partly because I hate the club it is being held at. He said it didn't matter, it was for a good cause so he'd bought a ticket for himself as well even though he'd be in Hilo all week so couldn't go. Then, equally kindly, he suggested I should stop by his place later and raid his "coin box".

Kory is one of those people who empty their pockets of change into a box once they walk through their front door, and I picked out all the pennies, dimes and nickels leaving several Hurricane's-worth of quarters alone, with a silent sigh. Then he sent me out to buy beer, ordered some food from Magoo's, and we settled down to watch his new acquisition, the two-tape set of Kurosawa's classic "Seven Samurai". It was a fine print, with new subtitles (using bolder language than the original version as I remember, although it has been at least thirty years since I last saw it). It truly is one of the classics of cinema history and it was a great pleasure to see it again.

When I got to the cloisters at almost midnight I was sorry to see Spot had moved his big air mattress to the dark area and his lady friend was with him. She has, he told me, an apartment but she "roughs it" occasionally to stay with him. Why he can't stay with her, I didn't ask, but I don't have a very high opinion of the young lady's basic intelligence (however, who am I to cast stones at "love"'s madness). They were about halfway down the side of the building, so I settled into the corner I'd so happily had to myself all week, but when they were there again on Friday night, I went to the other side of the building. The Crazy Woman and her boyfriend had taken the Grouch's area. I can just imagine how pleased he was with that development. Musical chairs, played with spaces on a concrete floor. They were there again on Saturday, but on Sunday the Grouch had reclaimed the space. I stayed at the far end on that side each night, with the high wind making for restless sleep having to wake and tuck the blanket in each time I shifted position and the wind whipped it off me.

Kory will be surprised to learn that not all those coins went on beer. I bought some Power Bars (actually, a cheaper variant called Balance) along with the first bottle of Hurricane, stashed them in the backpack for those times when it's off to sleep without dinner. It was especially funny on Friday evening when I went for a second bottle of Hurricane and paid for it mostly with nickels. The big gay guy at 7-Eleven thought it very amusing, asked whose piggy bank I had robbed.

I didn't spend much time on-line Friday or Saturday, left campus in the late afternoon on Saturday and went to the mall. I soon found enough carts to finance a bottle of MGD (cheaper than Hurricane) by supplementing the cart income with 17 pennies from the coin box. I was surprised to discover that radio reception is very clear alongside the Sears store there (unlike most areas of the mall), so I sat there with a disguised cup of beer and enjoyed the Prairie Home Companion and the hour of theatre songs. It was all songs with green in the title, a funny collection, and was a special joy to hear again that "Grass is Always Greener" song with Lauren Bacall from "Woman of the Year". Then I took the rest of the beer and headed off to the cloisters, finished it off and settled down to sleep.

The weather changed repeatedly on Sunday so after cups of tea on campus, I went to the mall and spent the rest of the day there. At one point it looked like it might stay sunny for awhile, so I went over to the park, cut my hair, had a shower and washed a tee shirt. Someone had left a very handsome Bishop Estate/Kamehameha Schools tee shirt there, so I washed it as well and added it to my collection (replacing the one I'd given the Sleeptalker and he never returned). Alas, the weather shifted back to clouds and windy drizzle, so I walked around with damp tee shirts for awhile, changing into the other damp one after the first had dried.

There was Japanese entertainment on the mall's CenterStage all day in conjunction with the annual Honolulu Festival and I enjoyed that in between hunts for carts and food. Until mid-afternoon the hunt for carts went very well and I had $1.50 by one o'clock. Then three very active competitors came on the scene and I saw one after another treasure get wheeled away, several right under my nose. Finally I walked over to the most distant bus stop where people sometimes leave carts, didn't see any, but noticed a payphone had been left off the hook, walked over to hang it up, and there were two quarters in the coin slot! Straight to the supermarket for a Hurricane. With that disguised in a cup, it was even more fun watching the entertainment and I gave up any idea of returning to campus.

I also gave up the idea of going to the evening's parade in Waikiki since the weather was just too uncertain, the periods of windy drizzle becoming more and more frequent. When I walked over to get a bus to the cloisters, there was a white bag there. In it were two Japanese Sake bottles, one empty and one unopened, and an unopened pack of Marboro 100's! I assume the owner had been so befuddled by the one bottle of that potent brew, he'd walked off and forgotten the rest. On Saturday, I'd been sitting outside the supermarket, saw a man come out with a bag in a cart, take the bag out and return the cart to the corral, retrieve his quarter, and walk off without the bag. He went about halfway to the bus stop before remembering it. I was glad the owner of the Sake bag hadn't remembered.

It was unlike any Sake bottle I'd ever seen, an elegant tall, thin bottle of frosted glass. "Momokawa Gold". My curiosity aroused, I checked a store to see if they had it. Almost $14! Wow. Combined with the cigarettes, that crazy person had thrown away nearly twenty dollars. And what an exquisite liquid that stuff is, very much lighter than any Sake I've had before but certainly just as potent. It was the perfect finishing touch to a day dominated by Japanese culture, the highlight of which was for me a wonderful small "orchestra" of older Japanese ladies playing a zither-like instrument making truly beautiful music.

And as one final touch to the enjoyable day, two young men in shorts and shirtless were daring each other with fancy moves on a skateboard. They were probably 16 or 17, one had curly blonde hair and a perfect body, was a particular pleasure to watch maneuvering that board. I headed off to the cloisters with a glow, from the Sake and from the beauty of music and handsome young men's bodies.

297

Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle. It was doing it as I walked up the hill from the cloisters to campus on Monday, continued off and on all day and evening, probably through the night as well, and was still doing it on Tuesday morning. Since food is usually (strangely) scarce on Mondays, I took the bus to the mall in the late morning. The new express bus, with a schedule of departures every ten minutes, makes it very much more convenient to make quick trips to the mall and back, even though I told myself I should spend as little time there as possible. Next week is Spring Break, with the library closing every day at five, so there will be more than enough time at the mall then.

I had found a dime on campus but otherwise my bankroll was limited to a bag of pennies. The parking lot near the supermarket at the mall was very crowded and combined with the drizzle provided what is usually an ideal condition for abandoned carts. I guess people weren't there to shop for food, though, because not a single one turned up despite the lack of competition. Food was abundant, the best prize being a huge burrito-like thing stuffed with beef and chili from what I later learned is an expensive restaurant called Palomino. There was also some roast chicken, fried rice and broccoli from Patti's Chinese Kitchen, so I tucked that away in my casserole for dinner. And I found half a dozen small Tootsie Rolls which finally reminded me what it is about Power Bars (and similar objects) that seemed familiar. Their texture is very much like that of Tootsie Rolls, a favorite treat of my childhood.

There was an ample supply of tobacco at the mall, too, so I returned to campus with a full box of snipes which got refilled during the day and saved my box of virgin Marboros for "special" occasions. It was, alas, an alcohol-free day (is this becoming a Monday tradition?) and I thought I'd better plan on spending much of Wednesday at the mall hunting carts ... the idea of going through a Saint Patrick's Day without a beer is just too blasphemous.

I played Seventh Circle for awhile in the afternoon and early evening. The Sleeptalker was either absent or playing a new character without giving himself away. And I finished reading the first year of the Tales, began printing out the early ones of the second year. That "plate du jour" Sleeptalker certainly is a plate of a very long "jour".

Distribution of the big, glossy Summer Session catalogue means an abundance of cardboard boxes around campus. One of them would make a sufficient mattress but with so many of them around, I grabbed two on my way downhill through the drizzle and had a wider, more luxurious pallet than usual. As I expected, Spot returned to the more sociable main area once his lady departed so I once again had the darker area entirely to myself and had a wonderful, dream-filled sleep without once waking during the night.

Mercury and Venus depart Aries, leaving Jupiter there alone until the Sun joins in on the weekend. The threshold of the Ram, again ...

298

Like those wonderful old clocks in Europe with life-size figures wheeling out to greet each new hour, two young Japanese lads come out the door of an office at Bilger Hall each weekday morning at eight, a signal that Hamilton Library is opening. I sit on a ledge there drinking my flask of tea and reading the campus newspaper, sheltered from the drizzle which has been present every morning for days, enjoy seeing the two young men arrive for an hour of work and watching them depart.

On the eve before Saint Patrick's, I saw "Gods and Monsters". Thanks to the generosity of Helen R and her great enthusiasm for movies, I see a lot more of them than I would otherwise, more than I've usually seen at any time in my life. There have certainly been many fine ones in the past few years but none dearer to my heart than this one. I don't know any other film which has more situations, scenes, even direct dialogue from my own life and there was little in the film which didn't mirror my own experiences. The casting was absolutely perfect, as was the acting and the script. A major treasure.

Mercury went retrograde and backed out of Aries on Saint Patrick's Day, will be back again in a little while, but Venus went on its way into Taurus. For a few days, Jupiter holds forth alone in Aries. Whether truly valid or not, it has been my experience that a retrograde Mercury tends to create crossed-wire situations. I had started the morning with a longer-than-usual continuous session in Seventh Circle and when I quit to take a smoke break I was surprised to see the Sleeptalker sitting at a web terminal. Since he hadn't stopped by to say hello when arriving, I didn't speak to him, left for the smoke and decided to go to the mall for awhile. We had quite a disagreement in the game the day before and with the crossed-wires probability firmly in mind, I thought I'd just avoid his company.

I had half a flask of white wine so broke the 48+ hour abstinence from alcohol with some abandoned Chinese dumpling-like things, an odd lunch for Saint Patrick's after many years when a bottle or two of Guinness at Willie's Clubhouse downtown has been the tradition. I knew there were several bars I could go to where a free jug of beer could be counted on but decided to take a chance and return to campus, stopped in the Garden and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with a large jug of dark porter newly introduced by the local Ali`i brewery. Strong brew, indeed, and a far more appropriate way to celebrate the good old Irishman. Perhaps commemorate would be the better term, since Saint Patrick's Day actually marks the day of his death. A wake that has continued for centuries ...

I took the second half of the brew outside to enjoy with the few virgin Marboros I had saved from that lucky find, and the idea occurred to me that it would be great fun to take the Sleeptalker to see "Gods and Monsters". I went back to the library, greeted him and checked to see if he had plans for the evening. He didn't, asked which film. "Gods and Monsters," I said. "What's it about?" "Us. Who's the god and who's the monster?" "You're the god," he said. I don't think so, it's probably more Monster and Monster in our case.

Alas, Helen R had to work until too late to play hostess for the proposed party, so the Sleeptalker and I sat outside together for awhile smoking and talking about the game, discussing and settling the disagreement from the day before, and he went on his way saying he'd be stopping up again when he "had some money". I assume that means he is still working, but since he hadn't brought up the subject, I didn't mention it.

I went to the mall and yet again found a bottle of Japanese Sake. How very odd that stuff has been turning up so often recently. That made for a welcome, if certainly bizarre ending toast to the Irish day, and I thought I'd stay at the hacienda for a change. But oh no, an end of an era. There was a chain across the entrance with "U.S. Property. No Tresspassing" signs on it. Someone had ignored the chain and was sleeping on a bench inside, but I don't intend to do likewise, went back to the mall and caught a bus to the cloisters.

I'll miss the hacienda, even if I haven't been making much use of it lately, and I'll miss the Social Horror Club gatherings there. It will be interesting to see what replaces the venue once warmer weather arrives and the lads are no longer willing to sleep at IHS. And I must find out where Mondo has gone, since he won't stay at IHS even in winter.

Changes, changes. The Missionary-types put the campus "Playroom" out of commission this week, too. I don't mind that as much as the loss of the hacienda since it wasn't really an appropriate venue for me to begin with.

Changes, changes. Gods and monsters.

299

"You really are a very nice man."

Thank you, dear Sleeptalker. Have I told you lately that I love you?

300

Hello, Aries, welcome back Cosmic Ram for the fifty-ninth time. Your buddy, Old Man Winter, certainly went out kicking and screaming. I've known ones that equalled it, but have never experienced a worse day of weather than the end of winter one. It matched my mood perfectly, a new state of mind I could call "beyond suicidal", as in not giving a shit whether one is dead or alive, not even caring enough to wish one was dead. It's a level of Weltschmerz new to me.

For a supposed (maybe actual) confirmed alcoholic, it was a tough week, very very dry. Nothing at the start of the week, then a glass of wine, a glass of beer and a little bottle of Sake on Saint Patrick's Day. Nothing then until Friday evening. The supermarket at the mall happily resumed selling 20 oz. bottles of a few beers for 99 cents and I found enough carts to acquire one. That was in preparation for going down to Pier Bar for the return of the Willie K Band (despite the very uncertain weather conditions).

They had put up the fences and were charging $3 for entry, so I went around to the pier behind the stage and enjoyed the music for free. At the first break, Willie came over and grabbed my hand, pulled me onto the stage and said "get in here". A glass of beer from my favorite bartender, and a refill, then I said behave yourself and didn't ask for more. But a young man I've never seen before came over to my always-favorite spot at a Pier Bar gig, a ledge right by the stage, handed me a glass of beer and five dollars [!]. I must be looking more destitute than usual, or else someone had clued him in? And he must have spiked that beer with something because I was utterly zonked after drinking it. On three smallish glasses of beer? I don't think so.

I danced with another young man for awhile, don't remember leaving, have no idea where I sat down to sleep but a polite guard told me I couldn't sleep there. This was after an earlier incident at Pier Bar when I had my head down on my arms, intently listening to the wonderful music and a security guard told me I'd have to leave because I was sleeping! Sleeping while Willie K is cooking?! I don't think so. Fortunately, one of the security men who knows me from the old days intervened, but to play it safe I moved over to the bar and the umbrella of protection provided by the bartenders. Anyway, I then later moved on somewhere else and slept until the buses started running, although I have no idea where, then went to campus and slept for a few more hours.

I felt absolutely wrecked, totally awful all day. Whatever was in that beer, please don't give me any more of it. And the weather was, as mentioned, just plain gawdawful, a mini-hurricane. I went downtown in mid-afternoon to collect some mail, stopped in the State Library to say hello to the Sleeptalker, rubbed my hand through his wonderful hair a couple of times and briefly took Reting into the game to rescue him from an awkward jam, consequently getting Reting utterly screwed up, but who gives a damn, I saved the Sleeptalker.

And Spring has sprung ...

301

The calendar and Zodiac say it's Spring. It's Spring Break on campus. But the weather gods remain firmly in Winter mode. In like a lamb, out like a lion, a nasty vile-tempered windy old bastid of a cat. Cold, too, as cold as I've ever known it here.

After that brief visit with the Sleeptalker at the State Library on Saturday, I stopped to pick up some mail which happily included McD's certificates. So I went on to the mall and exchanged two of them for 99-cent chicken sandwiches, the first food of the day. I sat around the mall for awhile enjoying that warmer area, especially since the wind and driving rain was still in high gear, then took the campus-bound bus. I bought a bottle of Hurricane at 7-Eleven and was walking back to campus to enjoy it with the usual Saturday night radio session but noticed the laundromat was empty. So I said, here's your chance, quick, do laundry before you spend the rest of that strange young man's bequest on beer, went in and changed to shorts and my nylon windbreaker and put everything else in the washer. I'd found another tee shirt, a "Hawaiian Legends" one, so added it to the collection.

Alas, radio reception was impossible in the laundromat and it had started pouring rain again so I couldn't stand outside. But there was an issue of Atlantic Monthly from late last year with a wonderful photograph of Jack Kerouac on the cover and an even more wonderful selection inside from his unpublished writings, so that more than made up for the missed radio programmes. His Estate is, at last, going to authorize publication of his lifelong diaries. About time.

The laundry completed, I grabbed some cardboard and went on to the cloisters, luckily getting there just before another bout of rain started. I was still feeling very wrecked, decided I really didn't want that beer and settled down to sleep instead, another night of constantly waking to tuck the windblown blanket in and feeling cold despite two tee shirts and the long-sleeved jacket-shirt.

The campus was littered with debris and fallen branches from Saturday's storm, the wind was still blowing fiercely with frequent showers, so I sat in my usual sheltered place at Bilger Hall drinking tea on Sunday morning, reading the other things in the Atlantic Monthly, until the library opened.

The library will close every night at five during this week of Spring Break and will be closed all day Friday for Tomita-san's birthday (although they say they're closing for Kuhio Day). I considered taking the entire week off from online life and perhaps if the weather were more beach-like, I'd do it. Instead I'll just take a week off from Usenet and maybe if I survive a week without it, I can join my wiser friends who have totally abandoned it.

I played Seventh Circle, got Reting at least partly back in shape although he lost a lot of his best stuff in the fierce battle to save the Sleeptalker. [shrug] Then I went to the mall in the late afternoon, was sitting on a planter ledge outside McD's hoping a cup of coffee would perk me up a little since I was still feeling shattered from the Friday night aftermath. An old Asian gentleman came walking up with a McD's tray, said "can you eat this?" Sure, I said, thanks very much. A box of McNuggets, a large fries plus half another large one, a large Coke. He said they'd given it to him free and it was more than he could eat. No idea why he gets free food, but it was a welcome surprise. Maybe I really am looking more destitute than usual.

I'd had that bottle of Hurricane from the night before in the early afternoon, again having to sit at the sheltered spot since time in the secluded grove was out of the question given the vile weather. So I made a round of the mall for tobacco, found no shopping carts at all but did find a dollar bill, bought a Hurricane and took the bus to the cloisters. By then I was beginning to feel a little better physically, enjoyed the beer with some station-hopping on the radio after abandoning some tedious new music on the NY Philharmonic broadcast, then tried to cuddle snugly down to sleep despite the continuing cold wind.

The second Paxil experiment is over. I had a week's supply of 10mg tablets so ended with those, hoping the reduction from the 20mg main dose might help ease past the withdrawal problems. Despite the less than comfortable night of sleep for the second night in a row, I did wake up on Monday feeling somewhat more human. Maybe the wrecked weekend resulting from that strange Friday evening was sufficiently awful that not even Paxil withdrawal can match it ...

302

On the second day of Aries, Jonathan Cainer surpassed himself, saying: "CALM down and cheer up. You are not fighting some hopeless battle or struggling with some impossible situation. It merely seems that way. This will continue to be your experience until you decide that you are ready for a different one. At that point, you will become willing to contemplate an option that currently, you feel determined to ignore. Once you do this, you will see it is well worth pursuing. You are just one big conceptual step and one small physical step away from a far easier life."

Changes, changes. They eliminated my favorite working spot at Hamilton Library on Monday, taking the antique amber-on-black terminal away from its happily isolated desk and placing it on a long table along with seven green-on-black antiques. Elbow-to-elbow working conditions. Oh well. All (good) things must pass.

Blue skies and sunshine, how welcome! The wind was still ferocious much of the time and it remained cooler than usual, but the sunshine was enough to send me out of the library and to the secluded grove for a little while. I had found a small pizza at the mall on Sunday evening, didn't need it after that dinner of McNuggets and fries, so had stashed it away. It made for a fine lunch, sharing bits of the crust with the birds. Then I headed to the beach, had a shower, and sat in the sun while my towel dried.

I've gotten absurdly sensible lately. A little melon fell from heaven and I replenished my supply of teabags, making sure I have enough for the daily two cups of tea right through the Easter weekend, just in case the Fabled Pension Check is late again. I also bought some more Balance bars. Although cheaper than Power Bars and seemingly about the same nutritional value, they actually aren't as wise a reserve for me because they taste too damned good. Power Bars are boring, even the chocolate ones, but the "Almond Brownie" Balance bars are yummy. Oh well, lots of vitamins and supposedly good stuff, too. And I bought a spool of dark thread (I thought it was black in the store but when I got it into the sun discovered it was dark blue) and some "Home Craft Needles". It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for an old man to thread one of the damned things, so the extra-large eyes of the craft needles provide the solution.

That ridiculously sensible shopping expedition reduced the bankroll to an inadequate-to-buy-beer condition. I've been thinking about it a lot recently and have come to the conclusion that all the "alcoholic" crap is just that. I drink less these days than I have in years. But I was determined to break the jinx of the beer-less Mondays, so hunted carts for awhile. The supermarket has 40oz bottles of Red Dog on special sale and I managed, yet again, to find exactly, to the penny, enough money for one of those. Sweet memories that taste brought back. In the happy days when Harold Kama performed at the old Mai Tai Lounge twice a week, Red Dog was always the special bargain beer of the evening, the first time I'd ever tasted the stuff. It may lack the power of malt liquor, but it's a decent enough American beer, no complaints.

On the bus to the mall, I noticed a newspaper on a seat with a young lady across the aisle reading a section of it. "Your newspaper, or abandoned?" I asked and she said it had been a donation to the bus evidently. My eye had been caught by the familiar always-used photo of J.D. Salinger, so I grabbed that section to see what it was about, hoping he hadn't died since I've always wished he'd publish at least one more book. The bugger! Still alive, and he has fifteen book-length manuscripts stashed in a "bank-like vault" at his secluded hideaway. I felt like firing off a letter to him, reminding him of all the people who have died and will die without the chance to read those books, ask him what the hell is the matter with him. Sheez. Bad enough when "Estates" sit on material for decades without eccentric authors doing the same.

I lingered at the mall until it was late enough to head to the cloisters, got there a little early since the weekly gathering of Samoans was still going on. But I headed over to the most isolated spot I could find, got out the tape player and allowed myself the (rationed) luxury of listing to Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" for the first time in weeks, with the nostalgic pleasure of the Red Dog to accompany it. The title song may be the anthem for my generation, but "To Make You Feel My Love" is certainly the theme song for my five-month-long jour. Sigh deeply, wipe a tear from the eye, grin at how silly I am.

" ... just one big conceptual step and one small physical step away from a far easier life." Hmmmmmmmm ...

303

I may be drinking less these days than I have in years but I certainly am spending more time getting what I do drink. But I got bored with that game on Tuesday so, despite having found sixty cents left in vending machines on campus, quickly gave up looking for carts. It was too beautiful a day to spend either in the library at a computer or at the mall hunting quarters, and I went to the seashore.

As I told Helen R later, it's weird to have spent the night shivering in chilly wind and then, less than 12 hours later, end up sweating in the sun at the beach. I would have spent the entire day there but having had so little exposure to the sun recently, didn't want to risk a sunburn and after awhile went in to have a shower. A young man who can most aptly be described as a "beefcake hunk" joined me. As Mister Whale said, perhaps not as sincerely, in "Gods and Monsters", "you're not my type". So he wasn't, I prefer the slim, only slightly muscular lads, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the time with such a beautiful body. After he'd left and I was drying off, a young Korean lad came in, stood looking me up and down, brazenly informed me I have a "nice dick". I thanked him for the compliment, he pulled down his shorts and showed me what he had to offer, standing alertly straight up. "Want to suck on this?" he asked. "No," I replied, quite honestly. I know I said I don't like turning down people who make honest, straightforward approaches but that was just a little too abrupt. Sluts don't count.

While enjoying the sun I had been further pondering this question of "alcoholism" and realized I've yet again fallen into a lifelong trap. I suppose it started with my mother who managed throughout my childhood to keep me convinced I was "bad". Despite being a generally neat, tidy youngster who got consistently good grades in school and very rarely got into any trouble, I was "bad", and I believed it. Later versions of the scenario usually replaced "bad" with "crazy" and the crazier my accusers were, the more they were certain I was crazy and the harder (and more successfully) they worked to convince me of my own madness. Then, of course, it was "drug addict" which did, for a brief time, actually have some relevance. Now it's "alcoholic". This comes both from well-intentioned friends and malicious enemies and, with the usual success, they've actually managed to convince me.

Sorry, I woke up. Although I've taken a break from reading the earlier Tales, I did print out all the ones from this year. Reading them in a continuous stream made me realize just how little I do drink these days. Perhaps the faithful cataloging of every bottle consumed and writing about the silly search for means to get them exaggerates the picture, and the fact that I usually get as buzzed as possible to cope with excursions into "polite society" accents that. But the fact is, during the last two years of my working life, I drank a great deal more. Even the first-of-month "binges" now are equal to what I did every day then.

So I cross that off my list of concerns and if it's "denial", so be it. Indeed, I even go so far as to say "fuck it". I've had more than my fill of armchair psychiatry in my long life.

On my list of concerns, though, goes yet another of these damnable physical problems. Something's wrong with my left ankle, has been for months but has only recently become a more persistent problem. If I sit for too long a time without moving it, I get up to walk and end up limping from the pain, and the same thing occurs each morning when I wake up. Bleugh. I suppose I'll finally have to register with that damned Quest medical program. I hate doing it and have put it off for such a long time, not only because I loath, in general, dealing with bureaucracy but also because I fear that once getting started with doctors, it will never end. The curse of old age. I guess I have to face it sooner or later, but I'll no doubt go on putting it off until it becomes too unpleasant to ignore.

Tuesday's lucky finds, aside from the six dimes left in vending machines, included an almost full pack of cigarettes found forgotten at a phone booth as I was walking over from the mall to join Helen R for dinner at McD's. Menthol generics, the bottom rung on the ladder of tobacco so far as I'm concerned, but welcome nonetheless. No booze of any kind. But oddest of all, on my way to the cloisters after grabbing my cardboard mattress, I came across three cases of abandoned small cans. They contained a liquid diet supplement for "children age 1 to 10". Hmmm. I took two of the cans with me and tried them. The stuff tastes just like the adult variety and is loaded with vitamins and good things, but wow is it ever Burp City. I needed a mama to put me over her shoulder and pat me on the back. Nonetheless, I grabbed a six-pack of the stuff on my way to campus in the morning and concealed one of the cases in some bushes for possible future retrieval. As Karoli Baba said, Americans should take vitamins because they believe in them.

304

Spring happens so suddenly here. One day it's two tee shirts and a heavy long-sleeved shirt/jacket, the next day it's one tee shirt and time to break out the shorts. Only trouble is, got too much stuff in the backpack to stash the Levi's while wearing the shorts. I will be glad to see the warm weather firmly enough in place to get rid of all the winter gear, very very glad.

I decided on Prince Kuhio Day that I'd be brave, switch to wearing shorts all the time, so stashed the Levi's in my so-far-reliable hiding place on campus. Once the sun went down, I promptly changed my mind, retrieved the long pants. Next morning, Dame Fortune was feeling extra mischievous and the zipper broke in the Levi's! Lucky I have long tee shirts.

Never mind all those Collected Editions on the second floor of Hamilton Library. The Ultimate Philosopher for our times is the immortal Roseanne Roseannadanna. Is there any more accurate and succinct summation of the human condition than "it's always something"?

Echoing the Sleeptalker's "oh here I am at Ala Moana with no shoes" ... "oh here I am at UH Manoa with no zipper in my pants".

Sitting at the mall on Wednesday night, enjoying a series of brief exchanges with various passers-by, Hesse's "someone who needs me" line came to mind. It doesn't have to be a grand saga like Reting and Lolo, it can be just a momentary event, someone who needs a smile, a little attention. Or it can be a little deeper than that, too, as at the cloisters later where I sat chatting with the Gypsy Boy and a young woman stopped by to share her fear and anxiety over a court appearance she was scheduled to make early the next morning.

Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the ...

The inimitable Helen R came up with a highly unique idea. We'd go to a baseball game. As best I can remember, the last time I did such a thing was in 1961 or '62. After years of paying attention to the Yankees vs. Dodgers saga, someone offered me the chance to see the Yankees "live and in person" and I happily accepted. I'm pretty sure that was the last complete baseball game I've seen ... until 1999. It was UH-Manoa vs. UH-Hilo at Rainbow Stadium on campus. No peanuts and Cracker Jacks, I failed to do the whole All-American schtick, drank a beer instead. Naughty me, wasn't even American beer but from New Zealand. The Hilo boys had cute butts, I was on their side from the start. Then an extraordinarily unsportsmanlike catcher on the UH-Manoa side punched the first Hilo scorer in the chest as he ran past home and that settled it for me. The UH-Manoa Coach didn't have the style to kick that young dude out of the game, so I was rooting for Hilo all the way. They won! Cheer!

Totally changing the subject, a reader asked about "a melon fell from heaven". It's from the I Ching, refers to an unexpected blessing. The Western expression "windfall from heaven" is no doubt an echo of the more ancient version. I tend to use it when referring to the surprise of a piece or two of green paper appearing in the mailbox. But the reader's question reminded me again that I absolutely must stop messing around and get myself a copy of Legge's translation of that noble Chinese classic. Why Legge? He may not be as elegant with his translation as Blofeld but I refuse to use the Wilhelm-Baynes version (first to German, then to English???), and Legge tried, as with all his translations, to be as accurately literal as possible even when he didn't have a clue as to the meaning. With the I Ching, especially, that is most valuable.

It's a very strange feeling to walk into the men's room to take a piss and not have to unzip the pants first. What do I need the most, the I Ching or a new pair of pants?

305

A reader asked what I'd do if I were unexpectedly given five thousand dollars. Amusing question. My first thought was, send it to me and find out.

Then I thought I'd buy a round-trip Honolulu-Delhi ticket for the Sleeptalker, a one-way ticket for myself (assuming he'd accept the invitation to join me) and we'd spend a year in northern India and Nepal together. We could do that comfortably on $5000, supplemented by the Fabled Pension Check each month, and with a round-trip ticket in his pocket he could bail out at any time.

But then I decided, no, I wouldn't do that. I'd rent a small commercial working space, buy a bundle of 1x2's to build stretchers, some heavy cotton canvas, and a wide-ranging assortment of colors in acrylic paint ... and make some paintings. The centerpiece of the intended exhibition would be the three life-size portraits of the Sleeptalker, Mondo and the Gypsy Boy. The latter would have to get double posing-fee because I'd want Cat to step in some paint (non-toxic) and walk across the canvas. Damn, why didn't I think of that in the Sixties ...

Then, if there were any profit from the proposed exhibition, I'd ask the Sleeptalker to see India and Nepal with me.

Ah, what a difference five grand could make to a life. Hmmmm. Amusing question, though, and gave me something to contemplate on an absolutely beautiful Sunday morning sitting shirtless in the sunshine of the secluded grove.

"There are over a hundred heel disorders that can cause heel pain. The most common disorder is plantar fascuitis. Sufferers report a history of pain with initial weightbearing in the morning, that eventually loosens up with walking."

That's it. I've got plantar fascuitis. Sheez. Well, a doctor would, judging by my web research, tell me to get some proper shoes and take aspirin. Some recommendations suggest cold compresses, others hot soaking. Okay, I could go for some soaks in a tub of hot water, no doubt about it. In the worst case scenario, surgery with a "scraping of the tendon" is attempted although that sometimes makes it worse. Yeukh, no way I would opt for that. Okay, so it's just a nuisance. Got plenty of those in my life (although not nearly as many as I've had in earlier times), so I'll cope and limp when waking in the morning.

And on that beautiful Sunday morning, I didn't start limping until seven o'clock! Although the physical symptoms of Paxil withdrawal do indeed seem to have been eased by that half-dose final week, the dream mechanism has been going all out, ninety-miles-an-hour, wake up exhausted from such an active night. I'm not complaining, am actually enjoying it immensely, but I don't remember a time when I've had more dream-filled nights. I've been around the world, boys, been to London and to Gay Paree .... and just about everywhere else on the globe this week. In my dreams ...

"Are you mad at me?" asked the Sleeptalker. "Not at all! Why do you ask?" "Well, you haven't been playing all week, and I miss you." Sweetheart. I'd go black and blue, I'd crawl down the avenue ... to make you feel my love. [Yes, I listened to the Dylan masterpiece again on Saturday night since NPR was having its fund-raising orgy and messed up my usual time with Prairie Home Companion and the theatre music.] And no, I wasn't in the least bit mad with the Sleeptalker, was touched by his missing me, and still not entirely unhappy with not having seen him for a week.

It's Aries, after all. Cainer hasn't said much about our tendency to get slightly crazy (crazier) at this time of the year. I've pondered over and over his "you will become willing to contemplate an option that currently, you feel determined to ignore. Once you do this, you will see it is well worth pursuing. You are just one big conceptual step and one small physical step away from a far easier life."

I wish I knew what he is talking about.

306

My aura has changed. The first time I was consciously aware of such a thing happening was in my mid-twenties. After years of wearing black and dark gray, I switched to earth-tones. I thought I was feeling slightly uncomfortable with my wardrobe now just out of the usual weariness with "winter clothes", impatience for spring. But no, it's more than that, and I suppose Dame Fortune's added reminder of the broken zipper should have more quickly clued me in. Yes, it's time for a change. Bring on that Fabled Pension Check ...

After a pleasant day on campus Sunday, I went to the mall and used some McD's certs for two McChicken sandwiches and a senior coffee, then caught a bus to Ward Centre. BB Shawn, whom I haven't seen for too long a time, was playing an early evening gig at the Brew Moon brewpub. It was my first visit to that establishment and although I didn't sample their brew, I did certainly enjoy the music and some of the company. Fortunately, the two people I was least happy to see on the premises left me alone and didn't stay long. But my, was it chilly. I'd arrived in tee shirt and shorts, before long dug the long-sleeved shirt out of my backpack and then the Levi's-with-broken-zipper. Carrying around a backpack does have its advantages. But, please, bring on Spring in earnest.

I discover that Shawn will be there again on my last day of being 58. That is shaping-up to be a four-day weekend. Already the Saturday is booked for the Sheryl Crow concert at UH Andrews Amphitheatre, early Sunday evening at Brew Moon, Monday lunchtime at Manoa Garden. Still some slots on the dance card, line forms on the right.

Reading Hesse's Demian again, I realize it's probably his most profound book, little wonder Thomas Mann wrote an introduction for later editions of it. It can certainly be read as only something of a Boy's Own Tale (a very sensitive, perceptive boy). I suspect the great impact it reportedly had on German youth at the time of its anonymous publication was as much because of that simple identification process as it was a generation being awakened. Otherwise the Second World War might not have happened. I've no idea how many times I've read it but each time brings greater understanding and added insight into that thing I referred to recently as "the human condition". It's always something, for Sinclair and for me.

I've also realized I don't really want to "give up" anything right now. Not tobacco, not alcohol, not Usenet. It shouldn't be, I think, a process of deliberately "giving up" or self-forcibly abstaining from anything, but a naturally occurring falling-away, fading from significance, if that's the right thing to happen at any given time.

His name is Abraxas.

307

secluded grove in manoa
proust in his comfortable bed at combray
jack k drawing another crucifixion in his diary
ground doves feeding on nacho chip crumbs, no madeleine

hurry up please, it's time, please hurry up, please

pater noster, qui tollis peccata mundi
but that was his boy, the fruit of divine copulation
so strong a legacy, that tale, a world-consuming fantasy
two millennia of the divine bastid

passion week, maundy thursday sunshine
in my secluded grove in manoa
with marcel in his bed, head nervously comfortable in his bird's nest
and chinamen talking of contention
three of Our Boys captured so soon, can we still fight a war?

evening on campus drinking hurricane with the lad
has to sleep behind a fence with locked gate, chastity belt
vanish in the morning, vanish into deep hiding
turn up next day after, being a virtual brat

the sleeptalker is cuter than me, rocky said
quoting me, or so he'd heard
"he is cuter than you, what the hell"
albeit not as sexy or as well-hung, but no need add that

two sessions with my demian, magic hours
(one-eighth cherokee the sleeptalker reminded me
when told of an idea to take him to india
my tadzio may be, not my demian)
that's gregory, studying philosophy of law
his essay and his pedantic prof's critique
(how much more interesting would be the morality of)

nat cole and je vous aime beaucoup
in the secluded grove of manoa
last passion week of the nineteen hundreds
and on that oh so good friday
alone, in the secluded grove of manoa
dancing to glinka, grinning at k.311

308

I got over you just long enough to let my poor heart mend, then today I started loving you again ...

Strange song for Michael Lasser to include in the hour of theatre music. The topic was songs about the beginning moments of falling in love. Oddly enough, that was the only one of them I felt any personal identification with due to current circumstances. I think that was mainly because the majority of the songs dealt with falling in love which was instant and immediate, not a falling which was so slow and gradual that it slipped into the heart without being noticed. It was an enjoyable hour of music but I can't imagine why he failed to include the trolley song from "Meet Me in Saint Louis".

I spent most of the three-day holyday weekend entirely alone, much of it in the secluded grove on campus, listening to music occasionally, reading a little, and thinking.

I changed my mind again, twice, about that $5000 question. At first I decided I'd buy just myself that ticket to Kathmandu, but finally I thought: I wouldn't do anything. I'd buy travelers checks with it and go on living just as I am, but on a decidedly more comfortable scale.

Although I had more of it this month than has happened in a very long time (actually, all of it, since the one five-dollar advance against it happened on the day it arrived), the Fabled Pension Check still couldn't be stretched to cover the shopping expeditions its arrival inspired. But I did get new clothes, colors of the earth ... browns, dusty greens and blues ... replenished the supply of teabags, bought soap, razors and toothpaste and copies of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way and the Legge translation of the I Ching. The desired new backpack has to wait, though.

"I can think, I can wait, I can fast." Did plenty of the first and rather a lot of the third during the three days. The campus was mostly deserted so the food supply was almost nil. I finally gave up on Sunday and headed to the mall to use my last McD's cert and some vouchers for free food, but the mall was a total ghost-town and McD's was closed. Planning to go to Waikiki and watch Helen R. and her friends launch rockets, I crossed over to the beach just to have a shower but as I neared the building, a young blonde man wearing only shorts appeared from the other side. If I were to say "you're not my type" in this case, it would be one of the biggest lies I've ever told. He was exactly my type. I followed him over to the beach and settled on the sand about six feet from him and melted into the pleasure of just watching him for awhile, happy when he lay back and closed his eyes so I could gaze more steadily. Damn, what a beautiful body. My thanks to Dame Fortune for making our paths cross and my hope she'll let it happen again.

But "I can wait"? No, I don't do much of that. There's nothing to wait for but death and its arrival doesn't appear to be imminent enough to wait for. I did have the feeling when it began that this would be my last Year of the Rabbit, but I didn't feel that about the Tiger, so I won't start actively waiting for Death just yet. I don't even "wait" for the library to open, sometimes don't notice the time until it has been open for half an hour or more and I'm still sitting somewhere drinking tea and thinking or reading. I guess my most intense exercise in waiting is at the end of each month, waiting for that check, but even that was pretty low-key this time.

I listened to most of Carlisle Floyd's "Susannah" on Saturday afternoon, the broadcast of it from the Metropolitan Opera where it is being done for the first time, and about time. When I first heard the work at the City Opera I was still too young and insecure to admit I thought it was boring, probably even to myself. Not so anymore, I abandoned it about mid-way through the second act. In its way, an admirable American opera. Just boring.

On Sunday evening I was listening for about forty minutes to what I thought was a Philip Glass work I'd never heard, tuning in after it had begun. Now and then I thought he must have been feeling a little bored, too, since so many passages were almost cliche Glasswerke. Then a couple of times I said, yikes, he's been listening to too much Lloyd-Weber but those were mercifully brief moments. Otherwise, it was most enjoyable. Much to my surprise, at the end of it I learned it was "Imagined Oceans" by Carl [Karl?] Jenkins, composed last year. A more faithful disciple Glass is never likely to have.

As has become my habit lately, I also spent some time each day with KPOI, one of the few local stations playing new rock music instead of cranking out the nostalgia 24 hours a day. Sometimes I think how odd it would be if radio had been that way in the mid-60's. Instead of listening to the Beatles, Stones, Who, Hendrix, etc., we'd have heard mostly classics from the mid-30's! In any case, KPOI specializes only in the very new and, as in the Sixties, some of it is total garbage but there are some gems, too. And good or bad, it's more interesting to hear some new rock music than to listen to the records of my youth for the umpteenth-million time.

But more than anything else on the long weekend, I just sat and enjoyed the delightfully pleasant weather, the equally delightful birds (some of which are by now so comfortable with my presence in the grove, they will sit right by me on the bench, feathers fluffed up, dozing), enjoyed the gracefulness of those two very tall palm trees nearby, gently swaying in the breeze, enjoyed thinking ... about all and everything.

309

I did finally make it to the rocket launching late on Easter afternoon, having missed the more spectacular events of the session but still getting to see a funny little plastic flying saucer go soaring a couple of times and watch Helen tape two propellant gadgets together and send one rocket wayyyy up high. After leaving the beach idyll with Young Apollo, I took the bus to Waikiki, got off at Lewers because I wanted to pick up some tobacco from the shopping center. As I was passing Moose's I was surprised to see Surfer Bill standing in the doorway. He was one of my favorite bartenders in the early days at Gordon Biersch, had quit and moved to Kauai, so it has been a long time since I'd seen him. We chatted awhile, he said he was now one of the managers at Moose's and told me with a grin I should stop down and "create trouble".

I'd also gotten off the bus early because someone asked me to check out the public playing tables to see if anyone was playing dominoes and what version they played. Didn't spot any on Easter, though, just chess and cards.

It was beautiful sitting there at the bottom of Diamond Head in the sunset hour but once the sun went down became quite chilly and I dug out the long-sleeved shirt and long pants from the backpack. Helen and I went off to eat Chinese afterwards and since the place was closing up for the day, the portions were very generous and definitely ended a day of feeling slightly hungry all the time.

I've managed to get my little niche at the cloisters every night but there has been an increase in the number of people who must sleep elsewhere during the day since they can sit up so late yakking at night. Luckily, one of the items on the recent shopping list was a new box of earplugs and when they are very new, they're especially effective and block out everything except internal sounds of the body. Those are sometimes as irksome as traffic noise, but not as boring as someone's dull conversation or even worse snoring.

The dream extravaganza continues and on Monday night included such a dramatic one, a conversation with someone about my mother in which I spoke my mind about her more plainly (and perhaps uncharitably) than I've ever done in waking life. It was sufficiently shocking to wake me up and I had a cigarette before returning to sleep and the safer, if also bizarre, scenario of my youngest nephew having been arrested for bank robbery.

I'd expected Monday to be a brewless one but the students appear to have been in a rather dopey post-holiday mood and left an unusual number of coins in the vending machines. Since Monday has also been a sparse food day all year, I went to the mall at lunch time and used that cert and a voucher at McD's, found two shopping carts sitting at the bus stop when I arrived and another waiting after crossing over for a shower. So I ended up with the pleasure of a late afternoon Hurricane in the secluded grove after all. That was an occasion to be grateful for another acquisition from that oh-so-sensible shopping expedition, a new supply of "Off! Deep Woods" mosquito repellent. It looks like being an especially bad season for the little critters and since this particular version is supposedly effective for ten hours, I can make myself suitably unattractive from mid-afternoon onwards knowing I'll be under cover for the night before they'll like me again. And when wearing shorts in Manoa, a lot more of that liquid is needed than during the winter months.

But yes, I will admit that every time I take that little squirt-bottle out, I think "ah, three Hurricane's worth" ...

310

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, I gotta love one man ...

Stop the music! That's a lie. Michael Lasser scheduling so many shows recently of show tunes about love should've clued me in sooner. They're all dominated by the American School of Philosophy in which "love" is a monogamous thing and to prove to someone that you love them, you must convince them (and yourself) that they're the Only One. Well, to quote another American show tune, "it ain't necessarily so".

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, I gotta love two men ...

That's better.

Jupiter and Mercury conjunct in Aries on Wednesday. Since Cainer was on vacation for a week, didn't have the advantage of his thinking on the subject. The combination of that gigantic object and that little squirt made me think there might be considerable disruption of communication. So there was, at least for this Aries person. NahenaheNet went down late on Tuesday evening and stayed down until sometime on Thursday. Exactly when on Thursday, I don't know, because I spent the day (as I did on Wednesday) at the beach.

Wednesday was an alcohol-free day, as Tuesday had been. After almost two hours on the sand, listening to Delius and Mozart and taking occasional dips in the ocean, I went to shower and wash a tee shirt, then sat at a picnic table to wait till my towel and the shirt dried. A blanketed person was on the grass nearby and I thought the blanket looked familiar. After awhile a head partly appeared and an arm came out, flashed me the shaka. I smiled and waved back even though I wasn't sure who it was. Could have been Mondo, I thought, but never saw him sleeping at Ala Moana park and the feet sticking out had slippers on. Never saw him wearing those, either. But a little later, the sleeper awoke, sat up and walked over to me. It was indeed Mondo.

"Got a cigarette?" he asked, a question I was to hear throughout the day. Fortunately I'd found yet another in the oddly-frequent series recently of forgotten Marboro boxes and gave him one, as I did again and again for the next twelve hours, smoking snipes myself to save the virgins for him. Actually, he'd first said "can I buy a cigarette?" and I said "no", enjoyed the puzzled look on his face before adding, "but I'll give you one". I'd rather hunt carts for an hour or do without whatever they were going to finance than to charge Mondo for sharing anything I have with him.

This is a time of extraordinary clarity, both in waking and in dream life, in examining my past, my current thoughts and feelings, and my relationships with other people. That hideously provocative dream about my mother, or more accurately about my thoughts concerning the woman, seems to have set off an avalanche, and one I treasure and am enjoying immensely while trying to maintain an inner calmness and objectivity during the process.

My attempt at that was decidedly challenged when, after leaving Mondo in the late afternoon, I returned to campus and not long after, the whole gang (minus Rocky) appeared at Hamilton. The Sleeptalker, Mondo, Wacky and the Pratt, a lad I'd only previously known in the game. As a group they are unbearable. I fled down to Kory K's, sat watching television and chatting with him for awhile, then chided myself for being such a coward, raided his coinbox for the means to end the two-day drought, bought a Hurricane and returned to campus. They were walking out of Hamilton just as I returned, seeking a safe place to enjoy a special smoke. We sat together, me quaffing my brew and (incredibly) declining the offered share of the smoke. All but Mondo quickly returned to the game, so I shared the rest of the beer with Mondo and listened to him get really quite wackier than Wacky from the results of the smoke. I explained the strange tree which fascinated him was an olive tree, told him those three stars in a line were the belt of Orion the Hunter and was relieved he jumped to another question instead of asking the full story of Orion since I don't remember it.

When the beer was finished, we went back inside and Mondo stood watching the Sleeptalker playing. I watched him cheating, something he has been getting away with a lot in the game recently since the controllers are so preoccupied with the new version they've installed. It isn't so much that I mind the Sleeptalker cheating ... just a game, after all ... but I feel sorry for him. He loves the game so much, but can never feel a genuine sense of achievement in it if he keeps up his unethical way of playing it. And even more stupidly, it really isn't doing him any good since he has still failed to get anything near a high-level character. Too frustrating to watch, so I patted them both, told them it had been very good to see them and left.

When I woke at some point in the night, sat up to smoke a cigarette, there was that gentle, soft voice again. "Got a cigarette?"

311

Wednesday was a landmark day in the history of the Panther persona. panther@lava.net ceased to exist, the plug pulled on the delinquent account. A friend asked "what's the difference?" If he was speaking purely in financial terms, a matter of twelve dollars, a sizeable enough chunk of a ninety-dollar monthly income (complicated now, of course, by a sixty-dollar backlog and a twenty-five dollar "reconnection fee"). It was my only monthly bill and I am not at all unhappy to be rid of it, a symbolically major shift.

The "difference" on a broader scale, though, means giving up the rock-solid reliability of LavaNet. In the long time I have had an account there disruptions have been extremely rare, total downtimes almost non-existent. As if to dramatize that difference, the end of the account there resulted in two days of no access to incoming email or to the web site and, thus, the Tales. Email contact remained available via the reting@my-dejanews.com account but I still haven't fully organized that yet and the addressbook has only those entries I know from memory anyway.

This was not the traumatic experience it might have been at one time and I think one reason for that was having already, when deciding to give up panther@lava.net, accepted the fact that constant access would be less certain in future and that the solution was to regard the entire thing as yet another domain of Dame Fortune, accept whatever she gave gratefully and accept, too, times when she wasn't in a giving mood. Extending that attitude, which basically rules my life otherwise, into the realm of online life was not so great or difficult a task.

She has been so sweet and smiling to me during the last week of the fifty-eighth year, never more so than on Wednesday and Thursday. Aside from the unexpected and highly pleasurable company of Mondo throughout much of Wednesday, the day was filled with small "chance" events which created a constant state of amused delight. Little things, like stooping down to drink from a water fountain at the mall and suddenly having the face of a wonderfully handsome young man a few inches from mine as he drank from the fountain next to it.

On Thursday I had less than fifty cents left from the raid on Kory K's coinbox so was reconciled to another alcohol-free day. But carts were available in unusual abundance and without making any special effort to look for them (or to beat the happy competitors busily harvesting the bonanza, too), I soon had enough money for one of those 40oz Red Dog bottles, didn't bother to seek one more cart to up the prize to a Hurricane but returned to campus with the Dog to enjoy sunset from the secluded grove. On the way to the cloisters later, a half-full 40oz bottle of Mickey's, still chilled, was sitting in my path. A tip of the hat to the Dame, indeed, for that unexpected nightcap! To put the crowning touch on the delightful day, I was sitting on my cardboard enjoying the brew and the country music station when a meeting ended, much later than usual, and people walked past on the way to their cars. A woman started to get into her car, then turned around and returned to me, silently handing me two dollars. "Thank you very much," I said, resisting the temptation to be sassy and exclaim "sweetheart!!". Another tip of the hat to the Dame. And to the kindness of strangers.

A reader wrote to ask about a line from Tale 310, and I replied:

: trying to maintain an inner calmness and objectivity during the
: process.
:
: Why?

Because it would be very easy, particularly with the flambouyant dream life, to get melodramatic and hysterical, lose the clarity in celebrating the rare quality of it. It is as though blinders are being removed, layers of dirty glass in the windows of the soul (to wax poetic) are being scrubbed with Windex, long buried memories resurfacing. Refreshing and informative, but in its way somewhat exhausting, so any unnecessary added drain on energy would be sillier than being silly about it would be in the first place.

312

... the kindness of strangers.

Although windy, Friday was a very pleasant day except for one brief but torrential downpour in the early morning, and I spent much of it in the secluded grove, enjoying a Hurricane in the early afternoon thanks to that kind lady the evening before.

Food was rather scarce, unusual for a Friday, so I went to the mall in the late afternoon where just the opposite was the case. There was such an abundance of the stuff, I often found myself nibbling on just the best bits and carefully leaving the rest in places where other nomads were likely to find it before the cleaning foe. Plates of spaghetti, fried chicken, enough rice to feed half the starving kids of China ... or the nomads of Honolulu. The fried chicken was especially good and I was sorry the box had no indication of its source since I'd have liked to recommend it.

The weather took a turn to unpleasant, though, with the wind increasing, punctuated by frequent downpours, so I decided I might as well spend the evening at the mall rather than return to campus. I only had four pennies so had little hope of finding carts to finance a beer, particularly since the competitors for that source of revenue were very active. But as it happened, I found three of them just by being in the right place at the right time so I thought I might, after all, find one more and have a 20oz bottle of brew as a nightcap. I ran into Myra, she laughed to hear I was once again chasing an elusive quarter and said "you'll find it."

Keali`i Blaisdell did a very laidback, mellow set at CenterStage. I'd never seen him before. He's a very handsome man with a fine Hawaiian falsetto style and I had the feeling he should do more club dates, work a little on establishing better rapport with an audience, and then he'd be a most excellent performer indeed.

It was still too early to head to the cloisters, I hadn't found the one more cart that was needed, so I just sat on a planter ledge near the supermarket and watched the people pass by for half an hour or so. Then, just as I was getting ready to head to the bus stop for the last bus back to Manoa, a lady came out of the supermarket with a cart and wheeled it over to the taxi stand. The usual routine there is for the driver to give the patron the quarter and another driver returns the cart, but it was one of those rare times when there was only one taxi waiting there, so he left the cart. I quickly made my move, since two competitors were nearby but hadn't yet spotted it.

Just as I reached the cart and started to return it, a lady walked over. I thought, uh-oh, she wants the cart, wonder if she'll give me the quarter for it? She didn't want the cart. She handed me a TWENTY DOLLAR BILL and said, "This is for you. You're a very nice man."

Not since that morning I found that hundred on the sidewalk have I been so dumbfounded. The kindness of strangers, indeed, Mister Williams.

313

Birthdays are so depressing. It completely threw me off balance and I don't care if I never see another one.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall ... listening to Sheryl Crow. Fortunately the wall was only a couple of feet high and Humpty fell on his head which seems to be sufficiently hard to be impervious to serious injury.

I'd spent most of Saturday afternoon in the secluded grove, enjoyed hearing the soundcheck rehearsal for the evening's concert and enjoyed the bottle of Hurricane that extraordinarily kind lady made possible. As it neared time for the concert to begin, I set off downhill for a second bottle, saw Yvette and Keali`i waiting to get into Andrews Amphitheatre. I got the beer and returned to sit under the big tree in the circle between Krauss Hall and Andrews, and was soon joined by three young men with some most excellent smoking material from the Big Island which they shared throughout the concert. It got quite chilly, although mercifully stayed mostly dry, and I dug out my blanket, shared its cover with the young fellow beside me. The music was just plain wonderful and combined with the delicious smoke sent me into a trance and I fell off the wall. My companions thought that quite hilarious, of course, and the one who had been sharing the blanket kindly wiped the blood off my head, smeared some of my antibiotic cream on it for me, and produced another smoke. "Hang onto something this time," he cautioned. I would very much have liked to hang onto him, but rested content with sitting so closely beside him under the blanket.

When the concert ended I went over to the art building to check the damage in a mirror. Yikes, nice big scab that's going to be on my right upper forehead. I was so zonked my image in the mirror went through that Steppenwolf routine of melting into other faces, constantly shifting, something I haven't experienced since the high acid days. Magic.

So the celebration (?) was off to a rousing start and whatever I did during the day on Sunday, I don't remember, but I went to Brew Moon in the evening to hear BB Shawn. This time I sampled the brew. It sucked, to put it in the plainest possible terms, but the music was very, very good with the special delight of Bryan Kessler sitting in for the entire gig. Not since Clapton ... And he said later he didn't feel he'd been "on". I think just about any guitarist around would be more than happy to play as well as Bryan when he's "off", then.

And then it was Monday, April 12th.

313a

The section of Swann's Way called "Swann in Love" is the most depressing thing I have ever read, and the more by being so beautifully written. I've never gotten that far in the book before and I well understand why. Proust is not an author to be read by a young man wearing a wristwatch and knowing what day of the month it is. But for an old man, sitting in the dawn hour on the quiet campus of the University of Hawaii, enjoying his cup of Darjeeling, he is incomparable.

On Tuesday I gave the Sleeptalker one of my characters in Seventh Circle. I'm not really playing the game anymore, I don't like the new version at all, so just go in to chat with folks I've come to like and to help out newcomers with information and getting better gear. The Sleeptalker was very happy with the gift, the highest level player he has had yet, and I got many chuckles during the day remembering the moment of telling him what I had changed the password to. "Coyboy". Only a few readers will know the reference, but since the Sleeptalker told me some time ago I was welcome to use his real name in the Tales, it's okay to mention his real name is Coy. Never has a man been given a more appropriate name.

314

New Moon in Aries and this weird week is almost over.

Monday, of course, was the day. Yvette came to campus at lunchtime, partly because of the event and partly because I'd told her I thought she'd enjoy the current show at the Commons Gallery, the first truly "contemporary" Hawaiian art I've seen. Kory K joined us and we went to the Garden where he loaned me the money to buy myself a beer. I'm still not sure whether to admire his sassiness or never speak to him again, but then many people have bought me beer for my birthday but he's absolutely the first to loan me money to buy my own.

After they left to return to work, I went downhill, bought a Hurricane and sat in the secluded grove listening to Dylan, wore out a pair of batteries rewinding to hear "To Make You Feel My Love" quite a few times, and then went to spend the evening with "Mme de Crécy" [blame Proust] and Helen R.

Since falling off the wall on Saturday, I've had a constant low-level headache and had some pain-killers, evidently quite powerful prescription stuff since they come in big 500mg pills and the dosage is two a day. Although they not only got rid of the headache, they also eliminated the heel pain, but my digestive system doesn't like the stuff at all and eating made me feel quite nauseous. So I didn't eat much, but drank a Mickey's, lost at Scrabble, and got to hear all the musical selections I wanted (Jerome Kern, Harold Kama, Bob Dylan) and see my favorite moments from "Kundun" and the "Tonight" scene from "West Side Story".

I don't remember what I did on Tuesday, and Wednesday wasn't memorable in any way, either. I gave up on the painkillers, deciding I'd rather have a headache than feel on the verge of throwing up all the time. On Thursday I went downtown at lunchtime to hear Bryan Kessler do a promo gig at a bookstore and decided I like him even more than I thought I did already, which was a lot. In the evening I went to hear Matt Swalinkavich but he wasn't there, some trio was singing "have mercy, baby ... etc." so I quickly left. In between I did laundry and read the current issue of Readers' Digest which someone had (understandably) abandoned there. I think it beats "Swann in Love" as the most depressing thing I have ever read, but a photo of bluebonnets in bloom in a Texas meadow touched me more deeply than makes any sense whatever to me.

But then neither does Proust waxing so indignant over Lesbianism (or making Swann do so).

Or much else about this week.

315

Helen R and I went to the ballgame again. Once again it was UH-Manoa vs UH-Hilo, once again I thought the Hilo boys by far the most fascinating. Helen had brought binoculars this time, so I was able to confirm that opinion and was so smitten by one of the Hilo players I kept exclaiming, "that's my boy!" whenever he performed admirably way back in the outfield. People around us must have thought by the end of the evening that my son was out there on the field. As the perfect final touch, leaving the stadium I was lamenting the fact that I wouldn't see him again for a year and there he was, talking with some people. So I got a very close look but resisted Helen's tempting me to try and shake his hand. If I were in Hilo, I'd be at every home game.

It had been a most pleasant Friday, much of it in the secluded grove finishing Swann's Way. I was so happy to get through the "Swann in Love" section, then horrified to discover in the final chapter that the woman who had made his life such torture ended up as his wife, even more that she and her daughter then became such a fascination for the young hero of the book. I persevered through the final chapter, determined not to abandon it after having gotten so far, but was relieved to reach the final page and even more relieved when I made a trip down to Rainbow Books to see they still don't have the next volume in the series. I can definitely use a break from that oppressive saga.

So Tolstoy's Resurrection is the current reading material and, after the elegant but glacial pace of Proust, it seems to rush pellmell through its interesting plot and even more interesting philosophical asides and observations.

It's a time to sit in the grove, drink a little beer, and read. I can sit, I can drink, I can read.

316

I've struggled through the torture of Swann in "Swann's Way", am enduring a similar (if less excruciatingly detailed) variation in Tolstoy.

No accidents.

I understand exactly what they are writing about, in this one aspect at least.

But the fact remains, in all my long fifty-nine years on this planet, I have never been as much in love with another person as I am with The Sleeptalker.

And just in case I was going to try to forget that, Dame Fortune arranged it so I would be walking across campus on Sunday morning and hear a young man ask, "So you were going to walk right past me?"

I am most fortunate. He is a very kind young man.

317

A reader asked:

: Why do you constantly become drawn to the worst possible
: choice for someone to love?

[Ignoring that "constantly", which doesn't make sense to me at all, I replied:]

Have you read Proust or Tolstoy lately?

For the simple reason: I am a human being, cast into this world (as Dylan says "born here, will die here, against my will") and I follow the same path that so many human beings have followed before me, have even written literary masterpieces about.

Which is to say, far more briefly than Proust or Tolstoy said it, I haven't a clue.

(And none of Freud's meanderings provide one either, no matter how hard, and admirably, he tried)

Love is just not something we can make understandable, to ourselves or to anyone else. It "happens".

I walked the young man to the bus stop a little while ago and thanked him for having been such a sweetheart.

He is, I love him. My having his body is a game we play. It doesn't matter to him, really, if I have it or not and most likely if he thought it did really matter, he'd let me have it. But it doesn't really matter, it's the least important thing about loving him.

And, yes, it's absurd.

But so is life.

318

"I'm going to push you out a window," the Sleeptalker threatened with a smile when I wouldn't stop touching him. What a perfect ending for the Tales, I told him. Panther killed by the Sleeptalker.

Those lines, added for a day to the title page of the Tales, set off the discussion in Tale 317. Rather than being seen as the, for us, very funny moment it was, instead aroused concerned alarm. The discussion continued:

-----

[I asked, in jest, if the reader had read Proust or Tolstoy lately.]

: Sadly, no. I don't think my classical education included Proust,
: and I haven't read any Tolstoy in decades.

A main theme in both "Swann's Way" and "Resurrection" is a man deeply in love with an "unsuitable" person. You, of course, would say it's just a "coincidence" I happened to pick those two books to read at this time.

:: Love is just not something we can make understandable, to
:: ourselves or to anyone else. It "happens".

: Yes, it does. But when it is always with the same type of person,
: then that is not enough of an answer.

-----

I spent much of Monday evening pondering that, and the discussion as a whole, thinking of the various elements and how best to respond to them. The reader has a totally inaccurate concept of how often I really fall in love. Not having known me for even so long as the eleven years I have lived in Honolulu, she missed the majority of those years when there was no love interest at all in my life. My nephew's presence provided the pleasure I have always gotten from the company of young men, made especially sweet by the absence of lust and the sexual dance or desire for one. Even after his departure, when bartenders began to be the source for that pleasure, I became very fond of some of them, and still am, but that didn't cause me to "fall in love" with any of them even though a few certainly inspired thoughts of lust.

Then I did, indeed, fall very much in love and it went on for many months, a dance which has much in common with the current one even though the two young men are very, very different. That unrequited love affair the reader knew more about than anyone else and undoubtedly forms the foundation for her thinking. We form our concept of who someone is and seem to resist with all our power seeing and accepting changes in the person over time which make our conception an increasingly inaccurate portrait.

I think the reader's portrait is understandably based on that time and I am not, in many ways, at all the same person I was then. The differences in the way my inner life is affected by being in love with the Sleeptalker and the way I am playing my side of the game are for me the most substantial evidence of just how much I have changed. I am often surprised by it myself, so cannot expect others to adjust their portraits.

And it is the Sleeptalker himself who gets much of the credit for that. It is he who has constantly kept our friendship honest and candid between us, slowly and steadily adds to the depth and degree of sharing our inner lives. I am sure I know more about him, his history and his thoughts, his secrets, than anyone ever has in his life, and that's a much treasured gift, just as it was with my nephew.

So, as I told the reader, the Sleeptalker is not really an "unsuitable" love affair for me at all, even if, as with the heroes of Proust and Tolstoy, friends, family and "polite society" would certainly not agree.

After this most recent extended time alone with him, I'm more convinced than ever that friends, family and polite society would be utterly wrong.

319

There are two main approaches nomads I know take in dealing with money. Some, when they get money, live it up and abandon all their usual hunting/gathering routine until the money is gone. The other method is to continue with all those routines even with money in pocket. That is ordinarily my way but since it's the last Aries of the 1900's I decided, when some kind birthday bouquets arrived, to indulge myself. So it has been a luxurious time, buying cigarettes instead of checking ashtrays, buying food instead of hunting down leftovers, drinking beer whenever I felt like it. I did take the precaution of a "sensible" shopping expedition first, replenishing the teabag supply and adding some Balance bars to my stash but didn't get quite sensible enough to acquire a new backpack.

It was most enjoyable and was scheduled to end on Saturday. That moment on campus Sunday morning, hearing "you were going to walk right past me?", changed my plans and I borrowed money to continue the holiday until Monday. Extended times alone with the Sleeptalker do not occur that often, making them more fun for us both is worth a little future sacrifice.

Saturday had revolved around two gigs with the group Pure Heart, midday at Ward Warehouse and in the evening at Iolani School, both of them a complete delight. I got to Iolani an hour early, so sat in the bleachers of the football field enjoying a Hurricane and the sunset with the panorama of Diamond Head and the full stretch of Waikiki. I went up before the gig to say hello to the lads and then found a spot on the ground near the front of the stage, as it happened in the midst of young ladies who were very enthusiastic groupies of Jake Shimabukuro, something I didn't at all blame them for. After the excellent gig, I walked back up to the cloisters buying another Hurricane on the way but, as has happened often recently, decided I didn't want it and settled down to sleep.

It was threatening drizzle on Sunday morning, so I sat in a sheltered spot on campus to enjoy my tea and Tolstoy. But an annoying generator started up nearby so I headed to the secluded grove and consequently encountered the Sleeptalker, just arriving on campus after having spent the night in Waikiki. He had a small cut on his lower lip and some scrapes and abrasions on his arm and one leg which I learned were the result of a fight with Wacky, absurdly enough over something which had happened in the game. He said they'd made up after the fight but I noticed the quarrel continued in the game on Monday.

We sat briefly in the secluded grove but it did start to sprinkle rain so we moved to a covered bench by the lily pond and I broke out the Hurricane from the night before. After finishing it with some entertaining and interesting conversation about his childhood, we walked downhill and I bought two more bottles, getting a Colt 45 for him when he told me his preference (so we drank Colt 45 for the rest of the day). The library didn't open until noon and we consequently had an unusual four hours together without interruption and I wouldn't have minded if the library had for some reason stayed closed. Since it didn't, I checked email and then joined the Sleeptalker in the game, playing from side-by-side terminals.

I made one trip downhill for another beer and then a second one for additional financing to buy more beer, dinner for both of us, and a pack of cigarettes for him. He had been such a sweetheart all day I really wanted to let him know how much I had appreciated it. The only way better than beer, food and tobacco would have been some of Mondo's special smoke but that would have kept me away longer, even if I had managed to locate Mondo.

When the library closed at nine, we sat on a bench under the stars and spent another hour talking, him telling me many things I suspect he has never told anyone before. He wanted to continue playing, I said I was tired so was heading on down to the cloisters to sleep, and we walked together over to Sinclair Library. I bought another Colt 45 on my way to the cloisters but didn't want it when I got there, went to sleep immediately. The Sleeptalker played on until midnight, woke me up when he got to the cloisters and we talked quietly for a few minutes before he went to climb the fence and get to his private sleeping place.

He woke up just after I did, so we walked to campus together on Monday morning and I once again felt that strange mixture of joy to be with him, especially with that wonderfully sweet look he has first thing in the morning, plus a tiny regret at not having my own treasured solo morning routine. One reason the Sleeptalker is so perfect for me is his habit of disappearing for days since it leaves me to enjoy time on my own, and certainly one major difference between this and all previous love affairs of my life is the complete absence of jealousy or obsessed desire to be always together, every day.

It was still a couple of hours before the library opened, so we sat at a sheltered table at the cafe near the library. I'd had tea, he had two quarters so bought a cup of coffee. When the cafe opened, I asked him if he'd like another cup, then surprised him by returning with it plus breakfast. A sweet way to end the period of luxury, to spend the last of the money, probably giving me even more pleasure than it did him. But that, of course, is true of everything I give him, in or out of the game.

320

An image so burned into and dominating my thoughts on a beautiful Thursday morning, the first Thursday of The Bull, the young man on the cardboard beside me waking, sitting up. His hair, usually kept tied back, was hanging loose and he'd taken off his tee shirt to sleep. I'd thought he had a fine body and I wasn't mistaken.

In the early hours, just after midnight, I smiled as I remembered friends who have, from the start of this trip, nagged me to get a job, "do things for others" (as if that made their basic mission, keep everyone doing "a job" more noble). A social worker? Cue up "West Side Story" or "The Wall". We don't need no stinking social workers, we've got people on the front line with us to give a hand, lend an ear. And it's an ear that these "street boys" often seem to need the most.

So it was with Wacky. I was sitting on my cardboard, later than usual, near midnight, enjoying a cigarette and a beer. I'd become so engrossed in The Brothers Karamazov that I'd left the library early and spent the evening reading, finally forced myself to stop and walked downhill to buy the beer and settle at the cloisters. "Excuse me, sir," said Wacky as he walked up, "have you seen [the Sleeptalker]?"

No, I hadn't seen him. I'd gone downtown to join some friends for lunch, had told the Sleeptalker I'd be doing so and that I'd probably stop by the State Library to say hello afterwards. As has happened every time I've told him I might see him somewhere, he wasn't there. That's okay, when he wants or needs me, he'll come to me, even if he has to walk miles to do it, and those are the only times I should be with him.

No, I hadn't seen him, and Wacky sat down beside me, jumping up now and then (in much the same style as the Sleeptalker) to emphasize what he was saying, grumbled at length about the Sleeptalker and their friendship. He had treated the Sleeptalker to the bus ride to campus, they'd been at the library playing the game and then the Sleeptalker had just vanished without saying a word. I told Wacky that really wasn't unusual, that he shouldn't think of it as a personal insult (as he was doing).

I'd thought Wacky was a California lad, but he was born here. His parents divorced and his mother moved with him to the L.A. basin where he grew up and evidently led a pretty wild life as a boy, ending up in prison for three years before deciding to return to the islands. His father is dead, so he is here entirely on his own, unlike the other Horror Club lads. He's older than them, too, and certainly far more experienced but in some ways, like them, incredibly naive and innocent. I listened to his tale, only occasionally asking a gentle question or venturing an opinion, but at one point as he was discussing his problems with paranoia, I said something which seemed to deeply touch him and he thanked me profusely for showing him "the light". No, my son, I am the blind leading the blind, but if you see light, then I'm grateful I somehow took the right steps.

It was a charming but difficult couple of hours and when he finally decided it was time for sleep, I gave him some of my cardboard and wished him pleasant dreams, settled down to sleep myself thinking, well, Dame Fortune has sent me another young man whom I like very much indeed.

Oh lucky man.

321

Although I have certainly read some fine writing since beginning this particular phase of my life, none has affected me in quite the same way as The Brothers Karamazov and most particularly in having lost any inclination to write while reading it ... or to do much of anything else but continue it. In a delicious bit of synchronicity, they put up a poster for an upcoming course called "Dostoyevsky and European Literature". It has a color portrait of him on it, so I have been sitting in the early morning on the sheltered ledge reading his splendid book while he looks on at me.

But I did leave it now and then ...

I am delighted to spend time with either young man on his own, but I have to admit the combination of the Sleeptalker and Wacky is an overdose. They have such a strange dance going. In many ways, it's like being with two gay lovers but with no outlet for the erotic energy they are both so loaded with, except the "acceptable" ones of mock (or real) fights and such. They arrived on campus just before the Beck concert was to start on Saturday evening.

I'd had a very pleasant day, much of it continuing with Dostoyevsky. I put it aside when Beck and his band started the afternoon soundcheck rehearsal. I'd never heard the young man before and loved the music, one song so much it brought tears to the eyes and, happily, he did it a second time during the lengthy session. He apparently is something of a perfectionist because the rehearsal went on for much of the afternoon, with a few breaks. As it neared time for the concert, I went downhill for a beer and returned to sit in the same place I'd sat for Dylan and for Sheryl Crow. A few minutes later the lads came walking by.

Although happy to see them both, I soon had to admit I wished they hadn't come. Wacky was interested in the music, wanted to move over nearer, so we moved to a spot on the lawn and he settled a little distance away from us. The Sleeptalker kept bouncing back and forth between the two of us, paying little attention to the music but constantly yakking about the game, oblivious to people around him giving him "why don't you shut up" looks. He's so incredibly self-engrossed and so obsessed with that game. When we're alone I can usually get him to talk of other things, but when one of the other lads is with us, he won't leave the subject of the game for a moment. Finally I lost patience and said I was going back to the wall to listen to the music, feeling pretty sure he'd stay with Wacky and he did. I should have stayed on the wall to begin with, could have enjoyed that song I'd liked so much in the afternoon without the Sleeptalker yakking through it.

At the end of the concert I wandered off to a place where I didn't think they'd find me, just to sit and enjoy the afterglow of the fine music. They were already at the cloisters when I got there, the Sleeptalker asked what had happened to me and I said I'd just wanted to think about the music for awhile. He soon climbed the fence to his secret area and Wacky settled down to sleep near me without saying anything further.

The Sleeptalker awoke at about the same time I did, climbed back over the fence and tried to rouse Wacky. I left him at it and walked up to campus, spent the morning reading. I'd expected them to be at the library when it opened at noon but they weren't, and I left fairly soon to go downtown for a delightful afternoon at Mme de Crécy's, doing laundry and enjoying a KFC lunch with Mme and Helen R, followed by seeing "West Side Story" on DVD. Although I saw the musical on stage, went to the film during the first week it was shown and have seen it many times since, it has been years since I last saw it or heard the whole score. The music holds up well (and the story, of course, has held up splendidly for centuries), but the choreography hasn't. It looked fine on stage but from the start looked a bit silly in the film, contrasted with the otherwise fairly realistic depiction of the streets of Manhattan, and it looks even sillier now.

When I returned to campus, I went into Sinclair to check mail, popped into the game and saw the Sleeptalker playing. He was at Hamilton. "Where are you!!!" he asked immediately, and then joined me at Sinclair. He and Wacky had had yet another of their spats and Wacky had stormed off, so I had the Sleeptalker to myself for the rest of the evening and we stayed on campus until after eleven. He was being his most charming self, and that is indeed very, very charming, and totally topped it when we got to the cloisters. Wacky was there, asleep, and amazingly the Sleeptalker didn't disturb him, leading me to suppose it had been a fairly serious spat. But he did take off his tee shirt and sprawl on the floor a few inches from me and wanted to talk about India. Occasionally he'd stretch and tease, I told him it reminded me of the good old days at the hacienda, enjoying him sleeping like that, just in shorts. "That's okay," he said, "but you shouldn't want to go to bed with me." Quite so, my friend, quite so.

A beautiful, sunny Monday morning. The tree outside Hamilton Library heavy laden with wonderful pink blossoms, swarms of huge carpenter bees buzzing around them. The lads left sleeping at the cloisters, probably to make up their quarrel when awakening. Another week in the life ...

322

Those boys, those boys ... what a love-hate dance. In the game on Tuesday they fell into another major squabble. After a long exchange of "fuck you!", "kiss my ass!", "suck on it!", etc., I wickedly mentioned how odd it was that all the "insults" were sexual invitations. That shut them up for a little while, but it soon started up again, escalating at one point to a demand from Wacky that they "take it outside". Sigh. As it drew near time for the State Library to close, Wacky said they should go to UH and I thought, hmmm, maybe I'll hide somewhere in Sinclair Library. But they didn't show up and I can't say I was unhappy about it.

As I have since acquiring the copy of the I Ching, I asked on the weekend what the situation was going to be during this final week of April. It gave me the most favorable oracle, or certainly one of the most favorable, number fourteen, Possession in Great Measure. Ah, the wit of the I Ching, thought I. The poorest week in a long time and it pops up with that. But of course, that oracle doesn't refer to having a pocketful of money and thus far, at least, seems to be apt, as always.

Beautiful, sunny mornings and, despite the damp afternoon on Monday, generally most pleasant weather with especially welcome warm nights for sleeping and a clear sky for that nearing-full moon to shine in. An abundant supply of food, so much that it has been a case of pick-and-choose. There is one thorn, a new competitor who is hitting on some of the best ashtrays on campus. It made me wonder if the lads have been sharing information, since a couple of the ashtrays are in sufficiently obscure locations that not many wanderers would happen across them. And, of course, there is no beer. But as I was walking down to the cloisters on Tuesday night, about eleven, thinking how nice it would be of Dame Fortune to provide an unexpected nightcap, she did just that with an almost-full bottle of Moosehead. Junk beer, but much appreciated anyway, as much for the fulfillment of the wish as the liquid itself.

But I would have liked not only a little more brew in my life but also a new book, so applied for another loan against the Fabled Pension Check. The request was denied. Sigh.

I finished The Brothers Karamazov and was much impressed by his perfect style in ending it with the touching funeral of the young lad who had only been a peripheral character, rather than the grand climax of the brothers' tragedy. I certainly can't disagree with Andre Gide who said Dostoyevsky was "the greatest of novelists".

A reader asked why I am reading only Continental Europeans, no English and few Americans. The only English books I've been tempted to pick up were Wodehouse (rejected only because I'd be finished with them within hours) or Dickens' Pickwick Papers, and the latter may eventually join the reading list. There was, of course, Durrell's Black Book but I don't want to tackle the Quartet again, at least not right now, nor on this side of the great water am I tempted to re-read more Fitzgerald or Hemingway. I can't say exactly why I am reading any of the things I've been reading. I'm just following the impulse of the moment when at Rainbow Books and selecting something from the shelves, or the "accident" of Dame Fortune leaving some volume in my path.

And following the impulse of the moment is the guiding theme of this final week of April, this week of Possession in Great Measure.

323

April 29th, but 26 years ago ...

Up early after best sleep since coming to India. This is a little paradise. I would have been crazy to stay in Delhi and should have come here before Easter. Walked through market to cemetery. Jnt. Watched the mountains for several hours. Bought some yummy Cadbury's Crackle bars -- milk chocolate and butterscotch -- and soap (still major events here!). Then out again in the opposite direction. Slowly find landmarks. Very good variety of shops and friendly people. Mussoorie is wonderful. Arms quite sunburned so bought cream for them -- also copy of Swami Vivekananda's book on Ramakrishna. Back for tea and nice tabby cat who got some milk. Jnt 2 (1710). Had dinner at 2015 (chicken pullao, and they do definitely cook better here). Went to bed fairly early.

Now that was indeed a week of Possession in Great Measure. After that long, hot ride across the plains in a rickety old bus and the twisting, turning climb up the mountain ("foothill") road, what a delight it was to find myself in a small English seaside resort town. Five-to-seven thousand feet high was a little far above sea level to expect salt water swimming, but in so many ways the British had tried to duplicate the feel of the typical holiday town on the southern coast of England, and much of their effort had been preserved. Instead of Victorian sahibs and their ladies, the hotels and walkways were filled with wealthy Indian matrons and their broods, husbands making briefer weekend visits when "the season" really got into swing. But they, too, tended to maintain the somewhat Victorian mood, lamenting the shortage of suitable servants, the blurring of class lines, the failure of a butcher's son to become a butcher, the modernization of India.

I borrowed a copy of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" and read the first act on Wednesday during that peaceful pre-dawn hour on campus and it, too, evoked memories of the time in that little Himalayan village. Living in the past, clinging with desperation to a concept the clinger believes is "gentility", living an existence that an outsider can only view as extremely depressing. There are Amanda's to be found everywhere. Martha in San Antonio, Saraswati in Delhi ...

Another reminder of life in that mountaintop village: there a large black, very vocal, crow woke me every morning from his perch on a branch near my window. Here there is some bird, I don't know what kind because I never hear that particular "song" any other time, who wakes singing "Rodrigo! Rodrigo!" over and over. I sit having my first smoke of the day and wonder if I'll burst out laughing if I meet a young man who tells me his name is Rodrigo.

Too beautiful to stay inside on Wednesday afternoon, so I went to the beach, sat on the sand, splashed in the ocean, and then went to have a shower. An old Hawaiian man came in as I was scraping my heels and said, "Salt water will take care of that. Salt water and sand." I told him I'd just come out of the salt water. "That's no good," he said, "you need to stay in all afternoon. The ocean will cure anything."

324

William Harley Newman.

I've written somewhere, I think, about the time during the High Acid Years when I had some delicious episodes of "automatic writing". One of my favorite sessions with that entity who always announced his presence with "woof!" was a message scrawled which said "wait for William".

I'd gone down to the communal dining room at the YMCA Tourist Hostel in New Delhi for breakfast. A young man walked up to the table and asked if he could join me. What else could I possibly have said but "please do".

He was an American. He'd only been in India for a few days, had been dreaming of going there for a long time, but was feeling extremely discouraged. I knew the feeling well. By that time I was something of a veteran Journeyer to the East, but I hadn't forgotten how bewildered and horrified I was in my first couple of weeks there.

Harley carried a huge backpack and I learned with considerable amusement that its contents included quite a large number of toilet paper rolls. The Indians do not use toilet paper. Their toilets, except in Westernized hotels, are a hole in the floor which one squats over, and to clean up afterwards, one uses the left hand and a can of water. Thus, eating is only done with the right hand. I never managed to properly break up a chappati with one hand, but never mind.

I convinced Harley to chill out, be patient, not to follow his impulse to immediately return to America. I couldn't get him to go to Mussoorie with me, though, since he was determined to visit Naini Tal, a very very strange place I only saw many years later when taking my nephew to India.

But after we'd made our separate visits to Himalayan foothill villages, we met again, and traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal, together.

I can't tell you how surprised and delighted I was to get an email from him.

325

The May binge was short but oh so sweet. Since almost half of the Fabled Pension Check was in hock, there wasn't much choice about the length of the party. That added loan which had been denied earlier was granted on the last day of April, ending the dryest week I've known in a very long time. It hadn't bothered me particularly until Thursday when I'd been reading Crime and Punishment for much of the evening and was hit by a very strong desire for a drink, but had no inclination to go looking for quarters so made do with a cup of tea instead.

The lads created an absolute uproar in the game on Friday, were so beastly I quit and didn't play at all for the rest of the day or on Saturday. The Pratt had found a bug which let him increase the strength of his character well beyond normal limits, making him almost invincible. Stupidly, he couldn't keep his mouth shut about it but told several people, including the Sleeptalker who then told me. I asked him not to tell me the details. With all the chatter about it, the Boss found out and reduced the Pratt's strength to a much lower level than he'd had before finding the bug and the Pratt went ballistic, the Sleeptalker and Wacky joining in. When I finally stopped in again on Monday, the Pratt's character was not only silenced but "frozen" so he couldn't play it at all, one step short of being totally deleted. Wacky was silenced and all but two of the Sleeptalker's characters were, too. The Boss was again threatening to block all access from the Hawaii State Library and the Sleeptalker asked me to (again) plead against it. I refused, telling him I thought they had asked for it this time and wouldn't blame the Boss if he did block them. Then I once again fled out. Tempests in MUDdy teapots just aren't my thing right now.

Saturday was May Day and Pure Heart Day. They did an excellent set at Kahala Mall and another fine one in the evening at Borders Ward. I did my "sensible" shopping expedition while at Kahala Mall, had hoped to get Sheryl Crow's latest recording at Borders but they didn't have it on tape so I said oh well, I can live without it for another month and went to see Willie K and Amy at Don Ho's, my first visit there. Although there was supposedly a five-dollar cover charge, they let me in for free. I said "I just want to get closer to Willie" so the young man pointed out an empty chair only a few feet from the musicians and I parked myself there for the rest of the evening, managing to get quite stewed (having been fairly well along before getting there). Nice place, good atmosphere, great music.

It was too late to get to the cloisters so I slept on an outside bench at the hacienda, like old times. A few people are ignoring the chain with No Tresspassing signs and are sleeping on the inside benches but I'm not willing to follow suit. When it's dry, an outside bench there is just fine.

I felt fairly wrecked on Sunday morning so headed to the beach and stayed there until early afternoon, occasionally napping. 7-Eleven has stopped selling Hurricane, alas, so lunchtime refreshment was Colt 45, another bottle in the backpack for mid-afternoon on campus before walking down to the Ala Wai Golf Course Auditorium for the Steel Guitar Festival. Bleugh, what an awful barn of a place, with terrible sound gear. After very happily chatting with Gary Aiko before the music started and complaining to Marjorie Scott about the awful venue, I left, headed over to Brew Moon for the Guy Cruz and BB Shawn gig.

My favorite bartender from the Regent now works there and one of my favorites from Duke's. Such a small town. I sat with Shawn at the bar during the early part of the gig which was Guy on his own, have not before had a chance to talk that long with Shawn alone. He is indeed a very, very special young man. The music was again splendid and I, again, got quite stewed, so much so I fell down later. I really must stop getting that drunk before I break some bones. This time the damage was a nasty bruised side and a slight scrape on one arm. It happened just at the entrance to Ala Moana Park, and I parked myself at the first picnic table I came to and slept there for the night, moving over to the sand after dawn.

I would have spent all day Monday at the beach, but it got cloudy in the late morning and was too cool to comfortably enjoy going in the water, so I had a shower and returned to campus, another Colt 45 in the backpack. After the brief time in the game I spent the rest of the afternoon in the secluded grove, reading a copy of the weekend edition of USA Today and continuing with Dostoyevsky.

A four-day party around the Maypole.