CHRONICLE 89: 1989

The Answering Machine Plays, Verse, and Prose

(to janet)
Just in case I don't see you for a while
(Perhaps you'll think of me and smile)
Or just in case you'd like to know
(If, by chance, it doesn't show)
I think you're special, and not just slightly.
(Which is not a thing that I say lightly)
I've come to like you for your mind
(Not just your breasts or your behind)

But perhaps I shouldn't fail to mention
That your body does get my attention.
To give you pleasure rings my bell
You give it back so very well.
I've learned I shouldn't care too much
Too soon, for love can be a crutch
And then I fall; it spoils my day
When the crutch is yanked away

But it's right and good a friend to be
(Another thing I've learned, you see)
'Cause friends can last a long long while
Being happy just to see you smile
No matter with whom else we stick
Let's be friends through thin and thick
And whenever it's the thing to do
I'll gladly be your lover too
--captain rat

Unified Field Theory Paradox
A true unified field theory would determine all our actions, including our search for the theory itself, and its outcome.

April 24, 1989
Amazing Grace moved in.

June 23, 1989
Poppy? Well, girls are often named for flowers, and she is a charming little bloom--all 98 pounds of her. Conversation and a message led to a pleasurable evening. She was a delightful wench, and I told her so. Alas, it was a transitory relationship.

June 24
From a flower to a spice: Ginger. A pleasing blonde with tattoos I encountered playing pool at the Crazy Horse. If I hadn't thought Grace was coming back the next day, I would have kept her longer. As it turned out, I should have.

Anthropic Principle
If it wasn't like this, it wouldn't be like this.
(Or, it's like this because it had to be like this to result in us, so if it wasn't, we wouldn't be here to see how it was)


The telephone answering message could be up to 30 minutes in length, and this limit was approached by some of the creative messages, including sound plays featuring my roommate (Hawkeye/Oracle) and I, and the occasional guest star.

Phone Message I
We have occasionally received the impression that some of our friends experience frustration at reaching our android servant instead of one of the humans. We understand.
But remember, it is better to have eaten a handful of dried prunes and no cheese than ten pounds of cheese and no prunes.
Avail yourself of this time to meditate, clip your toenails, or scratch your private parts. No one is watching.
A camel in the ocean and a fish in the sand are both in deep trouble, but the fish is easier to fry.
The wise man knows that a fart in a thunderstorm often goes unnoticed.
At the tone, you may yell, Hey, pick up the phone! and curse a few times to emphasize your impatience, or calmly leave your message, to which we will respond when the universe wills.

Phone Message II
[sound of applause] Thank you. The response has been overwhelming....well, whelming, anyway. It is clear that almost everyone appreciates and enjoys the hard work and creative effort we put into our telephone messages. You will be pleased to know that we are currently in production on an epic adventure, a full half hour of drama and humor, starring (no pun intended) those handsome heroes of hyperspace; those devastatingly debonair denizens of discordia; those arbitrary afficianados of alliteration: Captain Rat and...Oracle (aka Hawkeye). Keep tuning in to this number, and keep leaving those witty comments at the tone...

A Cab Story
A cab driver (not 'cabbie', please) is often told things that a priest, analyst, or friend would never hear. Most of the time the information is isolated; connected to nothing else the driver might know...but not always.

A plump girl of exactly 29 (it was her birthday) got in my cab at the Motel 6. Nineteenth and Dunlap, please.
I headed that way. Do you know where Frankie's is? she asked.
Of all the bars in Phoenix, I know where Frankie's is best; it's the bar I go to. But I'd never seen her there. She asked me if I'd ever been there; I said yes She asked if I knew Lee, the owner, and I said I did. It was he who she was going there to see. She knew him years before, but he kicked her out, she said. Now he'd taken her to bed again, so they were back together. She said, He asked me to put his penis in my mouth, but I wouldn't.
So I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the sex life of the owner of my favorite bar and a fat girl celebrating her birthday.
I dropped her in front of Frankie's and drove on, ready for my next trip.

[A few years later, Frankie's closed, and the building it was in disappeared. Where it once stood became a parking lot for the Taco Bell next door.

Phone Message III
[A sound play featuring Captain Rat and Oracle]
Captain Rat: Oracle, allow me to congratulate you on your promotion from Hawkeye to Oracle.
Oracle: Thank you, Captain. I knew it was coming. I could sense it.
Captain Rat: Yes, you've always had the ability to smell rank.
Oracle: I wouldn't have put it quite that way...Captain, out here in space it's important to keep our wits about us.
Captain Rat: You're right, Oracle. Moscowitz! Horowitz! Report to the bridge!
Oracle: I'm glad you brought those lawyers. You never know when someone will hit you with a space suit.
Captain Rat: Well, time to get on with our mission.
Oracle: What is our mission, anyway? And how come we always fly by night?
Captain Rat: That's because it's a nocturnal mission.
Oracle: That could get sticky...
Captain Rat: As you know, we're privately funded...
Oracle: Well-funded privates are important.
Captain Rat: Orgasm Research. They want us to contact alien women throughout the galaxy.
Oracle: And they're paying us for this?
Captain Rat: Of course. We're performing a vaginal service by probing deeply so we can come to know them better.
Oracle: I understand. It's like a political campaign.
Captain Rat: Political campaign?
Oracle: Well, it's going to be an erection year.

Phone Message IV
Announcer: It's time once again to come fly with those nocturnal navigators of the nether nooks, those upright emessaries of eroticism: Captain Rat and Oracle!
Captain Rat: I'm glad we found this space bar. A cold beer would taste good about now.
Oracle: So would a warm woman.
[Sounds of music and clinking glasses]
Captain Rat: How about those reptile women over there?
Oracle: Hey, they're real longe lizards!
Captain Rat: They're nicely dressed-- I wonder who's their lizard tailor.
Oracle: There's pretty bird-woman playing pool...
Captain Rat: Cute chick. Think she'd like to feather your nest?
Oracle: I'd be tickled pink.
Captain Rat: Let's get a beer. Oh, bartender!
Wanda: Hi, strangers. I'm the bartender: Wanda. Beer?
Oracle: Yes, I wanda beer.
Wanda: No, I'm Wanda.
Captain Rat: OK, we'll buy you one, too.
Oracle: Yes, let's get Wanda a round.
Captain Rat: Check out the cat-woman with the sunglasses!
Oracle: She looks almost human with those shades on.
Captain Rat: Yes, but she just can't hide those lion eyes.

Phone Message V
[This one was a reaction to an onslaught of phone sales calls from carpet cleaning companies. I like to think that because of this message, they discovered the error of their ways.]
So, you want to clean my carpet. Be aware that we know the scientific secrets that invalidate this concept. So long as gravity continues to operate, removing particles from the planetward side of the domicile is absurd. An infinity of particles just like them are poised to replace them, thus restoring the equillibrium. Eliminate gravity, and you will have a real service to sell. Please call again when you have done so. If you are not a carpet cleaner, please leave a message.

To Grace
Both of us have loved before,
And lost, or tied, or got rained out.
Perhaps we've learned a thing or four;
We're experienced without a doubt.

Whether we're the worse for wear,
Or better, like fine wine or cheese,
Well, that is neither here nor there.
(But I'll pick the latter, if you please)

I like you better when you're near,
On that there's no confusion
What that portends or means my dear
I'll not leap to conclusion,

For we have time, and it is true
That we find each other tasty.
We'll explore the world of me and you;
There's no need to be hasty.

--captain rat

Phone Message VI
Why won't they answer the phone?
Is it that they're not at home?
Or that they're in a dormant state?
They have been known to sleep quite late.

Perhaps another ring would wake 'em
But if they don't want to, you can't make 'em
They might have finally gone to take the garbage out
Or wanted seafood and went to buy some trout.

Or lobster, crab, oyster, or other crustacean
Or picking up a friend at the Greyhound bus station.
So hang on just a bit while the toilet's flushing
Some things you have to finish without too much rushing.

A black hole has no hair.

A beeper message for personal cab customers
Like knights of old, the drivers of 267 charge through the valley in their shining yellow armor, rescuing weary travelers from de pain of de feet, and delighting the delicate derrierres of damsels with our soft sheepskin seats. Speak a message at the tone, including name, address, and phone. We'll respond ASAP; if we're on a call, wait till we're free. Thanks for beeping our beeper-- for you, our rates are cheaper.

Phone message VII
Welcome to Captain Rat and Oracle's used word lot. Did you ever need a good word, but you didn't know where to look? Well, look no further! We have acres and acres of fine used words, some almost new; others real classics. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs--they're all here. For that special feeling, try one of our gerunds.
We've got lots of participles, too, just dangling around idly. And, we take trade-ins. Bring us your old cliches; your worn-out trite phrases. We don't care if they run or not-- push, pull, tug, or tow them to our lot. We'll make a deal. Take a look at our inventory:

August 20, 1989
She was sitting at the end of the bar by the back door, with intense seductive eyes that seemed to be looking my way rather than at the short gray-haired man who was talking to her and buying her drinks
After Frankie's closed we met again at an after-hours party. I found out her name was Shari.
[She later moved in with me, and eventually became my third wife, which seemed to go fairly well until around 2001.]

Insisting on Freedom
I am writing while I sit in Yellow Cab 267 waiting for the dispatcher to give me my next radio call. I get quite a bit of reading and writing done this way, since it is seldom so busy that I drive nonstop.
I lease the cab for 24 hours every other day, usually sleeping about 5 hours of my shift, so am awake in my taxi an average of 66.5 hours per week. That is not as much work as it may seem, since much of the time I can sit and read a book, or write one. Every other day I have a day off, and I can arrange for more anytime I want. I like the freedom in my job.

Insisting on my freedom got me ejected from Central Missouri State College in 1967. I was living in unapproved housing: my Corvair Greenbrier van, for which I had traded my '59 Triumph TR-3, for which I had traded by '55 Chevy, for which I had traded my '59 Studebaker Lark.
The Dean of Men, an ironic title for Hollis Chalquist, an ex-Marine, was obsessed with enforcing anachronistic standards on a changing world. He was unable to prove that I was not living in a required supervised room, so he set up a situation in which he could allege that I tried to run over a professor.
It was an absurd and untrue charge, but Chalquist was both judge and jury, so I was suspended for a semester.

I was just becoming aware of the quest for peace, justice, and social change being undertaken by the idealists of my generation. My hair and beard got Chalquist's attention. I suddenly learned what it was like to encounter a negative attitude because I was different, something racial, ethnic, and religious minorities had known all along. Mine was a comparitively insignificant incident, but it made me experience first-hand the effects of prejudice and injustice.

My stepmother refused to send me even $10 for a tank of gas, so I pawned a radio and set off for Kansas City, about 60 miles away. There I learned what it was like to be on my own in a strange city, having to take the first job I could get so I could eat. I picked mushrooms in dark unheated sheds in February for $1.40 an hour. After a couple of weeks of this, I found a job that kept me warm and dry and fed, though it paid less: McDonald's.
As it turned out, that job also brought me my first wife, to whom I sold a hamburger.

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