Friday, August 27, 2010

Not Sam Shepard at the Door

"I looked at the dog. Even at eight weeks, he was handsome. He had the blue eyes of a seducer. Half Samoyed, half Australian shepherd. Suddenly his name was clear to me.
"Sam Shepard," I said.
...And that was how I came to live out my original fantasy. That's how I came to live on a farm with Sam Shepard."

from Sam Taylor-Wood: Crying Men 
It would not be an exaggeration to say that my new blackberry torch almost melted yesterday from the incoming calls, texts, and direct messages informing me that Sam Shepard was in town.  He's here often enough that I actually have to go out of my way NOT to run into him. Everyone was nice and respectful to send me the messages rather than posting them, but I did find it funny that his privacy for the evening depended on my discretion --- but, if I'd wanted to stalk him, there have been plenty opportunities over the years.

Actually, I was otherwise occupied. Too busy for Sam, really. My cousin was over here installing the new door shades from IKEA.

IKEA, for their part, had neglected to provide screws. There are apparently more than five things I don't know about IKEA, and one of them must be the fact that they all live in a world where everyone's presumed to have their own toolbox, because there is always something left out of their assembly packages. In addition to socialized medicine and a civilized view toward the non-married, apparently they must subsidize every house with a cordless drill and a few basic tools -- a sort of Swedish-chicken-in-every-pot.

So we really didn't get that far into the process, but my cousin is always happy to spend a little R and R in my man-cave (which is really just a TV room). It's the one room in my house where everything is designed for comfort, from the Big Ass Chair ("I feel like angels are lifting me!" he says every time he sits in it) to the deep soft rug ("it's like I'm walking on sheep!") to the wide screen HDtv ("it's like I was blind, but now I see!") while he sipped a cold frosty Voss directly from its chilly Norwegian bottle, determined to cement a Scandinavian afternoon.

He's always volunteering to housesit, proclaiming, "I could be in a relationship just based on this room," and asking why I don't whip out blackberry pictures of it in bars, "take a look at this, fella," to lure innocent boys home to my lair.

It actually isn't the man-cave at all though. It's my domain. Boys are banished to the upstairs or the outdoors. The cave is my turf and they're only allowed in for community-movie-watching.  Sometimes I'll find one curled up in the sun on the widow's walk upstairs with one of my house slippers inexplicably tucked nearby for company. Or as my cousin puts it. "Lady smell nice. Where Lady go?"

He comes up with great scenarios for the den.... "Imagine a fire in the's 20 degrees've got a bottomless cup of hot chocolate on a Saturday morning and there's a Closer marathon on." (That Brenda! She's feisty!!)

After we'd run through a prospective housesitting schedule for him and the missus that would ensure them ample use of the clawfoot tub, he headed back to work.

Shortly after that, I heard a knock at the door. Followed by a few persistent rings of the doorbell. Thinking he had probably left a tool behind, I ducked out of the cave and into the parlor, where I almost opened the door on reflex. Until I saw a perfect stranger standing on the other side of it.

But my hand was already on the knob, while I paused to think: Well, THIS is awkward. I hate making snap stereotypical judgments as much as the next person, but I'm sorry, he was clearly an Unsavory Fellow. Still. It did seem rude not to open the door. Then my common sense kicked in, and I realized it would be stupid to open the door to a prospective serial killer, just because I didn't want to seem ungracious, or politically incorrect.

So I left the deadbolt where it was and asked politely, "May I help you?" (I'm not an ANIMAL for God's sake. I'm not a goddam fishwife.)

"Uh, yeah...I need a plastic got any plastic bags?" I assured him I did not...while thinking to myself, "why, so you can use it to dispose of my decomposing corpse after you kill me?"

After that, we were at a bit of an impasse, and I had no finesse for ending this kind of conversation. I mean, I couldn't just say "shooo! shooo!" which is what my grandmother frequently did when uninvited hobos appeared at her door. And I didn't feel like I could pull off, "Go on now. Go on. Git." which is what the men in my family would say, if similarly greeted. Instead, I think I mumbled something like, "Bye now!" and just ducked back into the cave and closed the door behind me.

He rang the bell a few more times while I promptly posted his description on Twitter and Facebook: "5'5. Bad teeth. Broken/chipped in the front . Ballcap. Striped t-shirt. Dirty. Dark complexion. Wiry build." (My cousin speculated later his teeth were like that from gnawing the bones of his prior victims, and I don't doubt it one bit.) I vacillated between envisioning the prospective headlines "Murder solved via social media!" and picturing scenes straight out of The Strangers, where the only reason he would provide for torturing me would be "because you were home."

To make myself feel better, I turned on all the security lights and fished a ten-year-old bottle of Mace out of my tool box. I'd heard that they expire, so I thought I should test it first. I took it out to the backyard in a particularly spider-prone area; released the safety; and spritzed it a few times --- all over my pink pajamas. By the time I had stripped them off and thrown them in the washer, I was aware of an increasingly urgent stinging starting at my feet, and crawling up my calves. The pain reminded me of the time I was cutting hot peppers in the sink and turned on the disposal, mace-misting everything in sight.

Hopping into the shower only made it worse, but when I got out, I slathered myself in such a slippery head-to-toe concoction of aloe vera, solarcaine, and Noxzema, that I think if the Hobo had turned back up, I would've at least slid right through his fingers like a prized, greased pig. 

By the time I'd gotten all cleaned up and slightly cooled down, a new array of comments had arrived on the phone, forcing me to go back and post, "NO. That was NOT Sam Shepard at the door. He is NOT 5'5. Stop SAYING that."

Related Links

The Right Stuff.


Surveying the Wreckage. 

In the Pank.

Sam Shepard on the TV.

Related Books:


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