Staving Off the Collapse

It’s nearing eleven o’clock on Tuesday night and I’m drinking a full bottle of cheap pink champagne, by myself. I don’t know why, really. It’s the last semblance of alcohol in the house. Sometimes I get home from band practice all amped up, and I feel like I need something to calm me down. Beer would probably be preferable, but there isn’t any here—so champagne it shall be. I’ll pretend to be celebrating something… any ideas?

Celebrations—the Labor Day weekend will have passed by press time. That’s my favorite holiday. It never used to mean much to me, until an old band of mine cruised up to Chico for the long weekend and I met the woman who would take me for a husband. Hard to believe that was fourteen years ago. It could have been last weekend.

Trish is sleeping right now—as are Billy the Labrador, Snarf the cat, and the newest member of the clan, Archibald Ferguson Lachlan. We suspect Archie is a Labrador-Terrier mix. At first glance he looks like a Lab, but he’s got a hint of a beard, and his ears don’t quite flop the same way.

Kiki, the Chocolate Lab, is awake. She is grunting and groaning, and once and again she will come around and push her butt toward me. She enjoys having her backside scratched. I’d like to think that’s a normal dog trait, but she’s not the first dog I’ve ever had, and it’s not a behavior with which I am completely comfortable, or familiar. It doesn’t matter. It’s up to us to accept these creatures around us at face value—we shouldn’t hold them to our own expectations, or judge them based on a contrived, “human” standard. How laughable is that? Humans span an over-arching range of twisted, weird, and unnerving behavior. Dogs are just dogs. Compare any dog to nearly any human, and the dog is far more normal and predictable. People are generally fucking nuts.

Anyway, the adrenaline is starting to wear off, and the crap champagne isn’t kicking in fast enough to offset the collapse. Let me try some more. It’s every bit as stale as I remember.

The place is a little nuts. There are pants on the floor, empty liquor bottles everywhere, and an odd irrigation implement manifested out in the yard. It’s in an area Trish calls the “Gnome Garden.” I don’t know what to make of it.

Current events are killing me. Pop culture and geo-political turmoil are a treadmill. Nothing ever stops, but none of it is real. A large ant was crawling up my shirt, until I grabbed it and tossed it. I was aiming for the table, working not to squish it into guts. I threw the ant aimlessly; even so, it angled toward my drink. I was sure I saw a splash. I picked up the glass and held it to the overhead light. No bug inside—instead a beautiful, half-full glass; the pink champagne releasing a symmetric series of fine bubbles. Every sip I take tastes better than the last. God bless champagne.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.