And then I had a terrible vision of the future
I was driving the boyz to their favorite skateboarding venue, the loading dock of the burnt-out dotcom behind the multiplex, across the street from the 'board shop, down the road from the parade of strip malls and Starbucks and going-out-of-business bookstores, and I was thinking how similar—yet dissimilar—life has become to A Clockwork Orange.
The enduring image of Kubrick's film (Anthony Burgess's novel is full of ideas, not pictures.) it seems to me is youth devouring the old; the future destroying the past before either takes the time to nod hello.
I'm thinking about how the boyz expect me to drop them anywhere their hard-candy little hearts desire, and all the while I'm trying to nurse my old hag-of-a-muse-interruptus to beat the band—and don't they know how tiring this becomes? This driving in the middle of the day when I should be working? Have they never heard of buses? They're skateboarding. Can't they skateboard wherever they need to go? Don't kids ride bicycles anymore?—when this Old Biddie blithely pulls out in front of me, with nary a nod in the direction of the possibility of on-coming traffic. It's sort of a motorcycle-accident-rehearsal kind of a deal, and I'm pissed, because my car is bigger and heavier than hers and I'd probably have snapped her arthritic chicken-neck if I'd swiped her side.
And all that entails. Police. Paramedics. Insurance companies. Lawyers.
You know, I'm thinking: there are going to be scads of these old geezers on the road very soon, aren't there? I mean this is Pasadena in the first place. We already have our share of Little Old Ladies who've lately managed to kill their husbands and don't mind taking down a few more skateboarder dads as a matter of course. Practice.
But all the hippies will soon be geezers too. They'll all think the world owes them the right of way. Oh dear oh dear. The future.
...singin' in the rain
Just singin' in the rain
What a glorious feelin'...
I'm cruising past the ghostly day-lit homes of the Pasadena well-to-do, wondering what do they do so well that makes them the kind of money it takes to afford to pay all those illegal aliens to keep their places up, and then I see her:
Dear old Rosalind, from down the street. Picking her precarious path along the tree-root convoluted sidewalk in that dangerously arthritic geriatric way she has—teetering like a toddler, perilously close to breaking a hip, cane or no cane.
Every morning, 'bout this time.
Rosalind is well and truly spaced. She wears spectacles resembling the bottoms of goldfish bowls, and they magnify the effect of her mascara and her azure eye shadow to nauseous proportions. Her lipstick, a smear of lurid LED-bright crimson, approximates the boundaries of her cracked and quivering lips. Her hair is perfectly coiffed, in the manner that much younger old ladies from Pasadena prefer. Who gets up this early to do her hair? Why? Is she seeing somebody?
Not that she would; but she could.
The lazy slut part of me admires Rosalind, for this is predictable, this breakfast hour excursion, unlike my own pathetic attempts at exercise. Every morning, 'bout this time. For an hour at least. Only a presently indefinite rendezvous with that dashing gigolo Danny Death will keep Dear Dotty Rosalind from her institutional constitutional
Death or that goddamned Lowrider that comes out of nowhere, horn a-brapping, brakes a-squealing, barely somewhat civil under the brusqueness of it all, like so many of California's driven are. The kids watch disdainfully as Rosalind tap taps her way across the street. I am convinced she never heard nor saw these teenage deathdealers. She doesn't even recognize me of a morning, keeping her cosmeticized smile dottily cocked into the future that is right in front of her face. Nothing phases Rosalind, cause Rosalind senses nothing. Save her heartbeat, perhaps, and a little early July heat in the air. Oranges hanging unnaturally on those trees over there. Perhaps.
I look at the brats behind the wheel. Good-looking Mexican kids. Three boys, beach-bound on a day guaranteed to get a lot hotter before it ends.
And here comes another car up the steep and steady boulevard that takes you from the freeway to the rugged San Gabriel mountains behind my house, where killers go to dump their deeds. Maybe you've read about the San Gabriels? Famous all over town. Second car wants to turn left, in front of Rosalind who, you guessed it, remains clueless. This woman has two speeds: dead slow and dead. Period.
The woman in the second car is 80 if she's a day. She's having trouble seeing over the steering wheel of her Cadillac and she's motioning for the Mexican kids to GO. Go ahead, she wigwags her white-gloved hand.
I don't think she even sees Rosalind, soldiering her way across the street. In front of me, and the Mexicans too, who want to turn. This takes WAY longer in real life than it does to write about it, by the way.
Time has stopped at the all-way stop at Santa Anita and Orange Grove.
I perceive dimly, being somewhat droogishly thought-challenged, like the sidekick character in A Clockwork Orange, the perfect metaphor I've been handed: the historic raceway, site of a million youthful thrills; the Elysian promise of eternal orange blossoms deferred as fruit-colored machines called Caterpiller sweep things clean. For the Future.
And here, at last, comes the third car. The tie-breaker if you will. Wants to take a straight shot towards me, across the divided road.
Another Old One. A man. Quavering of lip. Some slight spittle, or perspiration perhaps more kindly, glistening in the sun. Big cataract-conquering glasses. Shrunken-headed behind the steering wheel like a wispy little cannibal canapé.
I am aware of the passage of Some Good Amount of Precious Time.
It will be hot today.
And the old man motions to the Mexican kids: Go ahead. Steady Rosalind is finally more than half-way across. I cannot for the life of me conceive why the aged drivers are both telling the youngest one to, basically, crush Rosalind's body beneath his wheels, like fertilizer in the raw. Is it some sort of geriatric pact they all have? When presented with the opportunity for an exciting commencement across the river Styx, do they, like, go for it? Some kind of codger-code maybe? To which I am not yet privy?
Rosalind smiles. Everybody thinks she's smiling at them, but they don't know her like I do. Rosalind is always smiling. Her trick for getting through this stuff. It gets people off their guard; off balance. They lose sense of time.
Rosalind gains the relative safety of the curb. I wonder fleetingly if ever any man gazed upon those fragile calves with something like sublime delight.
I hear a horn. Polite. Chaste. From the other old lady in the Cadillac. Smiling at me. The Mexicans smile brightly too.
I must have the right-of-way.