Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Wayward Everlasting Escapades of Captain Ponytail Holder

Even though Captain Ponytail Holder was RUTHLESSLY shot down by a capitalized LAME missile compliments of the villainous duet of Mara-Arya and Lady Benzedrine associates (smiles- as they hi-five each other) his legacy still thrives and his panache and superhero antics are widely emulated over the sleek-top skyscrapers of burgeoning bloggervilles everywhere.....
"Look, up into the Heavens. It's a bird. It's a plane. No, its a.....ponytail holder?"
(A look of a mass confusion widely melts disappointment across the faces of all mankind.)
"Honestly, Who were you expecting? Christ's already returned. So has Shrek."
You think Uncle Mike is crazy, you outta hear about the shenanigans of his non-baha'i mother.   For reason's Uncle Mike hasn't quite explained yet, he was seperated from his mother at a young age and grew up with his grandparents. He was reunited with his mom in high school where she had an additional family.  Uncle Mike's mom was crazy, creatively rash and spontaneous--kind of like her son, who at sixty-two, after entertaining  a life fraught with spiritual sugar cubes and enriching inward discovery--he still Beeps the car horn when I walk in front of the Linocoln (even when my hads are full) and laughs as my body transitions into a startled exclamatory mark. Last week he scorned the wrath of his born-again Bush-booster right-wing Christian nuke-'em-til-they-glow-and-shoot-them-in-the-dark co-workers by issuing the following joke.
"How many born again Christians does it take to change a light bulb?"
"None, they're too busy trying to save it."
"Mom used to love playing jokes on the Chinese foster kids." Uncle Mike told me explaining that she would always take their least favorite food and camoflage it into a casserole and then instigate a dinner-table conversation and then laugh as she would hear her Chinese students grouse about how much they detested that particular food while they were simultaneously munching on the abhorred substance.  If Mike's mother had a question for a politician or an astronaut, she'd write them a detailed letter and expect a response and then write them again to remind them who she was and usually invite them over for dinner if they were ever in the area (she once invited the Oak Ridge Boys over and they came). If she wanted to know how some machination operated, she'd march herself down to the foundry and inquire a tour. Mike has stories about his senior mom going to St. Louis to visit an X-rated theatre ("She wanted to know what the fuss was all about.") Painting a Volkswagon Rabbit the color of the American flag for the bi-centennial.  
"We never did find out if Mother made it down to the nude beach of not." Uncle Mike claims with a smile.
Last night Uncle Mike was wearing a very tastelessly tropical Hawaii-five-o shirt that his mother had given him.
"Are you wearing that for your work evaluation tomorrow?"  I said, being a smart ass. Michael started humming Jimmy Buffett tunes.
"Mother bought this shirt for me." He said.
Shortly before his mother died, Uncle Mike remembers her tossing up pennies into the air like ionized New Year's Eve confetti and watching them clang and scramble to a halt in a parking lot in Southern Illinois.
"What on Earth are you doing?" Uncle Mike said in the same exaact manner that he says to me when I'm trying to resucitate my moribund staionwagon with clamps, forgetting if it's positive to positive or positive to neagative, leaning heavily towards the attraction of polar opposites.
 "I'm making you smile." Uncle Mike's mom said, hurtling up an open umbrella fountain of loose change.
"What on earth do you mean." Says Michael (when he's fuddled, he always swears on the planet).
 "When you were a litle kid, you found a penny in a parking lot and you smiled. It was the happiest I've ever seen you. So, I'm making you smile."
In addition to always getting a bubble-gum from the transparent globed bubble-gum machine every time we eat at either Steak-n-Shake or Dynasty Buffet, every time Mike spys a penny in a parking lot, he scoops his lanky frame over like he is attending a loose shoe string and picks up the penny.
"Mother's been here." He almost always says, with a crackpot grin.
Thus the origins of Captain Ponytail holder. Since Mara-Arya and Lady Benzedrine are currently clinking tepid shots of Wheatgrass over his coffin, I'll take it incumbently upon myself to eulogize the late-Captain Ponytail holder *sniff*
Captain Ponytail Holder was born in Paris, France around Bloomsday 1994. This was the trip that a young,unfledged grasshopper named Mister D met a cool Italian dude with long hair and strong-oily Body Odor who looked exactly like Slash from Guns-N-Roses. The Italian rocker didn't speak any english and Mister D doesn't speak much Italian outside of occassionally ordering ersatz side entrees from the Olive Garden, so the two dreamers communicated in what little French they both knew. The Italian rocker introduced a sixteen year old Mister D to Marlboro Reds and red wine and Italian women. He was there when Mister D got ignominously slapped by a french girl because he told the girl that his real name was B.J. (although he used the non-acronymic term for a southern hemispherical "aeolus employment") and the french girl went the entire evening addressing Mister D as non-acronymic B.J. --to which he replied with an almost Frat-boys giddy drool of "Oui-Oui" upon hearing his name spoonfed into his earlobe by a beautiful french girl who was twenty-four (B.J. also lied about his age. He was twenty-two and studying history at William Jewel outside of Kansas City)...and everything between B.J. and the docile-eyed french girl was moist rose pedals until one of the french girls friends voluntarily took the time out to explicate en francais what the non-acronymic Bee-jay actually stood for and right then and there, in the middle of a discotheque, Mister Dee was mercilessly slapped and the music skidded on the record player and a very cinematic ensuing silence flooded the dancefloor and when the french girl swiftly performed a 180 and muttered something about stupeeeeed american boys Slash walked up to Mister D with a cigarette lit rambling terse staccatto Pepé Le Pew  phrases in english like:" To really Love a woman and then to lose her, even then, is to REALLY LOVE a woman...."         
When I arrived back home from europe a few weeks later I canned the aerosol cylinder of Aqua Net (so much for the early nineties Parker Lewis dew) and boomeranged my comb into the trash can, only dad refused to have a hippie living in the house.
 "It would be disrespectful to both your parnets and to God if you grew your hair long and got your ears pierced." My dad told me, on our front porch, when I developed the pictures of my Italian friends and pointed to Slash, informing my father that that's how I want to have my hair.  I wanted to tell him to hush. Even though he had graduated from college in '69, dad was from the era of Leave it-to Beaver butch cuts and brylcreem. Besides, after three tries I had finally passed my Driver's License test and Dad had just gone to the hardware store and made duplicate keys to his car, which if course, entailed imminent post-adolescent freedom and Friday night emancipation with (hopefully) soon-to-be ditzy sophomore cheerleader Angie Shufflebein stationed in the passengers seat beside me.
"But Jesus had long hair. And we're suppose to be just like Jesus." I said, trying to plead my case, not realizing that this would offend him.
"Jesus also did allota walking too, son." My dad said, offering a crisp Holiday-like jingle from his pocket as he sipped his coffee, rolled up the Tribune up into a baton and went inside.
I heeded my dads advice. I got a haircut every three weeks. During 1997 I had a permy-haired girlfriend who insisted that I get a haircut weekly. Our relationship was an intense (god was it intense) ten-month long lightswitch. As far as the mythological sub-categories of "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" were concerend, we were either "on" or "off" and sometimes we flickered incendiary shadows in the same day.

 During this period my close friends could tell if I was dating or single simply by judging the length of my bangs.  Jana, my girlfriend, was my age but was also my co-worker and BOY, talk about Blackmail.
"You didn't realize that we have video camera's in the back room...and you're my supervisor?  What if  you leave me and I miss you and decide to post pictures of us on-line?" She said one day, after we broke up again, in all earnestness, smoothing down the sides of her skirt. 
I broke up with Jana the day I kidnapped the purported love-of-my-life, the proverbial "one-that-got-away" Miss Vanessa. I haven't been inside a barbershop since I first held the porcelain smooth slant of Vanessa's palm and slipped inside her mouth and her world on October 1st, 1998.  By then Father I think had adopted mother's view of her prodigal son and perceived me as a 'lost cause'--and his arguement about "Maybe God just doesn't want you to be a writer." still stings tears of loss to my eyes even today.
   Three times in my life I've endeavored to grow a turf-lumberjack thick beard and three times I have failed. The first was when I sqaundered my collge savings and scholarship on a girl named Megan and flew up to Appleton WI. I came home, the inisde of my chest and the inside of my bank account were broke and I knew my Dad still wouldn't allow his son to grow long hair, so, to espouse the vagaries of my droopy heart, I did the only practical thing and decided not to shave. Too much Before Sunrise does not in any way auger well for "practical" romantic trajectories....then of course, who want's to have a 'practical' partner complete you for eternity here on earth? Hell if I do.
 When I met Vanessa I decided not to do anything with my face at all.   "Kissing you with a beard is like making out with a cactus." Vanessa said.
Instead of thickly coned-homages to the Amish race, I grow little facial nests resembling abandon Little League fields. The first time I took that timeless drive down the thick country arteries of the Manito Black, tolling through Forrest City (two Silo's and a trailor tavern) kicking off the Black on to that dirt road that rustically sprints into the buccolic country bouquet called Topeka, where I fell in love and sadly hurt a butterfly innocent girl with long blond hair and a glossed hyphen smile.....that first time (and everytime I made the Manito Black sojourn from Peoria to Topeka)  our opposite hands clutched into an embryonic human heart, I rolled off the dirt road, helped Vanessa with her laundry bag. After the obligatory handshakes and introductions from Mama and Papa Bear (and Nosy Aunt Debbie Bear who had 'just happened' to drop by) I was offered an ICEHOUSE and walked inside. Just then, I would find out later in our rapport, Vanessa's aunt turned to her mom and, in a cusped whispered concerning my swirled-whiskers candidly commented, "What is all that shit he has on his face?"   

  From the Bohemian mecca of Paris, to a little town so-fraught with white trash you'd run outta twist ties if ever you'd try to bag it up, the late Captain Ponytail Holder slowly came into fruition.  It took a year for my hair to sprout off, for my tresses to droop. At my cousins wedding the next June my hair was a cross between Christian Bale staring as Laurie in Little Women and that of a fashionable Knickerboxer.  By the time Vanessa left me, after living in both Heaven and Hell for thirteen consecutive moths (and a partial purgatory ever after) my hair was pony-tail length, a snub handle protruding from my occiput.
"I made you." Vanessa said, her fingers lost above my forehead, offering out a little smile, shortly before she rightfully left.
    For a long time the rule was that if I wanted to be inside my parents house I had to keep my nutmeg-colored hair pulled back in a ponytail. In church it was essential (or else the little pentecoastal flame that appeared during prayers would be hidden).

 My hair weas always expected to be pulled back. For Christmas every year I would get pony tail holders from both my sisters. I love having long hair (all wandering lads should have long hair at least once in their lives) and certain psychoanalysts have suggested that long hair is an emotional vestigial of the brain...like a waterfall of unbidden thought gushing from the top of your skull.

The  Christmas before my Dad died he made me an offer: Cut your hair and I'll give you the mini-van.

I LOVED my parents mini-van. They bought it so Beth and Jenny could ferry their classical instruments all throughout the midwest. It would have been much more domestically commodious and accesible an abode to crash in a little over a year later, when I was living in my Station wagon.

But no, I refused to cut my hair. I kept my hair knotted back at family functions. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer January 18th of 2002, I vowed that if he lost his hair I would shave my skull and, on the back, get a Tatoo that said, quite bluntly FUCK CANCER. But I never got the opportunity. Dad had two rounds of chemo in one week and then capitulated his earthly vessel to the heavenly waters. He hadn't shed the least bit of hair.

The day of his funeral I had my hair long when my Sharon Osborne sexy aunt from Canada (she's my third cousin) handed me a ponytail holder.

"Here," She said. "It's what your father would have wanted."


Thus captain ponytail holder died a happy death. Being cyberly-asphyxiated by the smooth paws of Lady-Benzedrine and Mara-Arya isn't at all a bad way to go, allow me to assure you. Captain Ponytail holder died with a he-who-lives-in-the-moment-and-is-continually-flanked-by-two-beautiful-cyber-Vixens smile stitched into his lips.

But I can't help but to reminisce over Captain ponytail holder, thinking about Uncle Mike scooping up loose change claiming that his mother's presence is all around him, claiming that mother is still here, painting smiles on his face....I can't help but think of Captain Ponytail holder, who yes, did in his terse lifetime bear a flaccid name, when I leave the library with my hair in tortured tangles and looking down, I spot an errant ponytail holder and I briefly reflect about how my dad always approved when I kept my cinnamon tresses pulled back into a handle on the back of my head. Perhaps, as is the case with Uncle Mike's matriarch, he wants us all simply to smile together.



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