Moses thinks I am cartoon. Truthfully, I'm not so sure he's wrong. Maybe Moses is real and maybe I am the figment. Alive in text only. A thing birthed out of his head.
I used to read a lot of Peanuts when I was a kid. I liked the Charlie Brown. I liked the Snoopy. I liked the ritual of the daily strip. I liked the conversations among the Peanuts kids and the whole Peanuts world and the Peanuts life they lived. I liked when certain things would recur: the repetition of it. Snoopy fighting the Red Baron. Charlie Brown on the mound. Lucy at the psychiatrist stand. THE DOCTOR IS... IN.
I liked looking at the original dates always written in one of the panes of each strip, dates which were some ten or twenty or even thirty years before the date I was reading them. I liked the signature: Schultz
I still read Peanuts. I go back to it again and again like comfort food.
I think maybe Honey is my Snoopy. I think maybe Moses is my Linus.
But maybe it is the other way around.
Maybe I am Honey's Bald Man.
Maybe I am Rothko's Little Red Haired Girl.
Maybe I am Moses' Snoopy.
For a guy who lives in a shed, Moses does a tremendous amount of reading and philosophizing. Maybe this makes sense. Maybe men who live in sheds are best at being philosophers. Maybe it is the way of things.
He typically only comes out when it is cold. (Or, as he likes to say, "Cool-ish.") And I kind of understand that. Nobody could tolerate that asshole in the hot of summer.
He keeps several varieties of brie in his white beard, which is part of the reason he smells the way he does.
He is never without a knife. Or a stopwatch.
He likes to do the counting of time.
It would seem Moses is the cartoon, wouldn't it? It would appear as though I were the one who was real.
Neither of us are overly convinced.
I am wearing wool socks and a touk indoors. I am next to my dogs on the couch and I have a laptop in front of me. A space-heater hums on the floor. I don't hear Moses come in and I'm surprised to find him standing in front of me, wearing hiking boots caked with dog-park dust, a hoodie, and baggy jeans with oil stains near the pockets. He is smoking a Camel. His hands are dry and cracked. He's standing cockeyed. Bent. He puts a hand on the door frame. He winces a little.
Are you writing? he asks.
I say: No. I am shopping for a Sport Utility Vehicle, motherfucker. An SUV, if you must know.
Right, he says. I see.
Specifically: a Jeep, I say.
A Jeep? he says. Why?
I tell him how I need something to hold more in the way of humans AND dogs. I say: It turns out, my truck? Well, it's "impractical." I mean, look: I'm only hauling dirt and mulch and shit in the bed of that thing once a year. The rest of the time, eleven months out of the year, it's empty. Or filled with snow.
He says: Yeah, but dammit if that one period of dirt-hauling ain't some glorious-ass shit.
Well...I know, I say. And then again, quietly: I know...
We say nothing for a while. Honey does a high-pitched barking in her sleep. I think this causes Moses to smile, but it's impossible to tell with that beard.
He says: Listen, do you think you can be yourself in another vehicle.
I say: That's a ridiculous question.
Is it? he says.
Well it should be. People who don't drive cars? They'd find it downright stupid to suggest such a thing.
And what is that?
That a car is... what? An extension of your identity? That's such a consumerist thing to say. Come on. That's not like you, I say.
People who don't drive cars don't understand the predicament of vehicular identification, he says. And people who do drive cars and don't understand the predicament of vehicular identification are... well, fucking obtuse.
That's harsh, I say.
I think a Jeep might be a good compromise for me, I say. It's still got truck spirit, but it's covered up so it can cover more in the way of human and dog cargo. Things that need covering. More practical interior space, init. Also, it has surprisingly good gas mileage, and it maintains that angular, boxy, off-road demeanor. So many of the standard "luxury SUVs" look... well, soft.
Soft, says Moses. Yes. Men should only drive trucks.
I'm glad you said that and not me.
Well, it's fucking true.
Look: I think I like this one. I show him my laptop.
You know I can't see anything when I look at those screens. He waves his hand. He coughs a little bit.
I like the black wheels. It's hot, I say. Sexy. Also, it can tow some shit. It would look great in a campground in New Mexico. Or in the snow in Montreal.
Well, you seem to have found it, then.
And look at this: heated steering wheel! Did you realize heated steering wheels were things? My hands do get very cold...
Moses shakes his head. He drags on his cigarette and looks out the window. Jesus, man. Look at you: You are shopping for an SUV and talking about heated steering wheels instead of writing. Just buy it. Or don't. It doesn't matter.
Why are you here? I say.
You let yourself get dragged out of a bar by your neck a few weeks ago. And every time you get drunk you cry about your mom.
Whatever, I say. You're the pot calling the kettle. Look at you, you crazy fuck. You're all emotion
. Are you kidding me? You are always hungry. You smell like Jameson and you keep brie in your beard. And a squirrel's tail in your underwear.
It's good luck, he says.
It would be good luck in your pocket
That's good, he says.
What you just said: It's good.
We are silent. The fan on the space heater hums. The light outside is nearly gone even though it's only 4:30. Rothko woke up when I said the word "hungry." His large triangle ears are now open to me.
I say: I no longer have any heroes. That's a problem. I need some of those things, heroes. Heroes are there to give us inspiration.
Fuck that, says Moses. You need to kill
your heroes. You need to make your fucking own.