And now...here they are...The Bottles!
something wonderfully freeing about writing for Rooftop Sessions.
Every time I boot up the old PC, I get this uncontrollable urge to
spill my guts all across cyberspace. I
just can't stop myself. The
minute my fingers touch the keyboard, all my innermost secrets hurl
themselves up on the screen. My
blood pressure simply skyrockets until it's time to hit that SEND button and
let the whole world share in my latest weirdness.
suppose a psychiatrist could explain why I have this problem.
The doc would undoubtedly slap me with an unpronounceable syndrome
and document my obsession in PsychoWorld Magazine, or some such
publication. In which case, the
doc would get the money, the accolades, and the book tour, and I would get
bupkes, which, according to my friend Arnie, literally means
"nothing." Arnie also
cautions you not to confuse bubkes with bubkees, which are pastries like
point is, I don't want to end up with nothing.
Or coffee cakes. So, if
it's all the same to you, I'm staying far away from any shrink.
No sir, I'm just gonna continue spilling my guts to the universe, and
you can come along for the ride if you want to.
here goes my confession for March 2002:
Planet Earth. I have corrupted
myself. I have thrown my morals
down the tubes. I am no longer
responsible, reputable, or honorable. In
short, I have begun a life of crime.
I'm LOVING it!
me guess. You all want to know
what I'm doing. Bet ya think
there's a big reward out for me. Well,
not exactly, although there is a large group of people who want to cause me
some serious bodily harm. Firstly,
I should warn you, that this isn't something simple like a bank robbery or a
forged check. No, this crime is
much more complicated than that. It's
gonna take a while to explain. So
before you read any further, maybe you want to get your popcorn poppers
popping while you go searching for your comfy shoes.
Don't worry, I won't start the story until you're all ready.
are you back? Because I'm
raring to go. Here's the story.
March, and that means it's time for me to celebrate my birthday.
(Yes, this is a cheesy way for me to announce that March is my
birthday month. If you don't believe me, check out the Rooftop archives and
you'll see that last March, I wrote a story called Happy Birthday to Me.
Can't get any more in your face than that, can I?).
this is one of those significant birthday years (you know, when your age
ends in a 5 or a 0), so I was hoping to celebrate in a big way.
And in a manner of speaking, I suppose I did.
Here's what happened.
I cheesed off my boss, and got fired. Cheesed
off the IRS, got audited. Cheesed
off my landlord, got a major rent hike.
Cheesed off the cat, he ran away with my only set of car keys.
And not just any old car keys. We're
talking keys that come with that special gadget that lets you remotely start
your car, remotely open the locks, and remotely set off an alarm at 3:00 am
so you can cheese off your neighbors. We're
talking a $200 set of car keys. I
need this when I'm unemployed?
I had nothing better to do with my life, I decided to take a lesson from the
cat and run away from home, too. Unfortunately,
the cat's a lot more mobile than I am.
After all, he's got my car keys, remember? So I gave the helpful folks at Honda a call, and told them
the problem. Wouldn't you know,
this is the year that everybody's cat ran off with the priceless car keys.
Looks like I'm out of luck until April 2003.
Unless, of course, I opt to purchase a new car.
Honda assures me that they have all the new car keys in stock.
the kind, understanding, and soon-to-be-OLD person that I am, I told Honda
what they could do with their suggestion that I buy a new car.
The friendly, helpful folks at Honda suddenly remembered that the key
replacement company just won a trip to Australia.
They should have a replacement set of keys for me by the time I'm
eligible for Medicare. Oh joy.
what to do when you want to run away from home and you don't have a car?
Forget flying. I tried that one time. After
they served everybody several rounds of beverages, they announced that the
plane's one and only bathroom had gone kaput.
Then the pilot announced that there was bad weather ahead, so we're
being diverted to another airport. I
always did want to see Canada, but not when I was on my way to Arizona.
Around midnight, as we make the final approach to Toronto, the pilot announces that the electricity in the control tower has gone kaput. In fact, it looks like the electricity all over southern Canada has gone kaput. But luckily, we still have two more hours worth of gas in our tanks, so maybe they'll get the power back on before we crash. In the meantime, does anybody want anything else to drink while we circle Toronto for the 242nd time?
the next two hours, passengers grabbed whatever items they could get hold
of, including small children, and tossed them through the cabin.
The flight attendants didn't take kindly to this, so we stuffed one
of them in the overhead compartment, and the other under a seat in first
suppose it's kinda cool making aviation history. Being the first plane ever to land by candlelight.
They never bothered taking us to a terminal.
After all, none of us had brought along our passports, figuring that
you don't usually need one when you're supposed to be flying within the
continental United States. So,
the airline threw us onto buses and told us that we would caravan our way to
to say, I got the bus with the broken bathroom.
probably read all about it in the newspaper.
How forty two hysterical passengers commandeered that bus and forced
it to make a pit stop by the side of the road.
nobody on the bus was an experienced camper.
Otherwise, somebody surely would have suggested that we take a
flashlight along because it was still pitch black outside.
Very hard to identify poison ivy when it's pitch black outside.
took up a collection on the bus which the local TV station gladly pocketed.
I'm not a fan of bribing people, but we took a vote, and majority
ruled. Basically, if it weren't for blabbermouth here, none of you
would know a thing about the US Airways Bus that came screaming up to the
emergency room at four o'clock in the morning.
Forty-two cases of poison ivy in locations that you're not allowed to
mention on prime time television.
that's the story of my first and only plane trip. Buses are no longer a favorite of mine, either.
here we are, back to my original problem:
What should I do now that I have all this free time, not to mention,
an important birthday to celebrate?
sounds like a romantic notion, doesn't it?
I thought so, too. And
what's really great is that the prices for Caribbean cruises are much, much
lower in the Fall.
couple of years ago, I signed up for this cruise on the Disney ship.
It's way cool. Honest and truly, I'm not making this up.
The foghorn on the Disney ship actually plays the first seven notes
of the song "When You Wish Upon A Star."
know that for a fact because the foghorn played this little ditty
continuously for three days. You
see, there's a reason that Caribbean cruises are much, much cheaper in the
Fall. It's called hurricane
season. The ship's navigation
system blew out and there we were, cruising in circles with Mickey and
Minnie and the whole gang. Let
me tell you, a sea sick Donald Duck does not make for a pretty picture.
way it stands, I've narrowed down my great escape to places I can reach by
bicycle, mule, or train. I feel
perfectly safe on a bicycle, except I won't be able to bring more than an
overnight bag. A mule could
undoubtedly carry every piece of clothing I own, but try parking one of
those things in the city! So,
train it is.
you ever take a train all across the United States?
Here's a helpful hint. Don't!!!!!!
you thought my airplane trip was something, let me state for the record that
it does not hold a candle to the train trip.
I will spare you the details, except there is one little thing that I
MUST tell you. Ladies and
gentlemen, I am not making this up, this really, really happened. On two different trains.
Around dinnertime, they make the following announcement on the train:
"Attention ladies and gentlemen.
For your travelling pleasure, souvenir blankets are now available for
eight dollars." About an
hour later, they TURN ON THE AIR CONDITIONER.
Which would be okay if there wasn't snow on the ground.
If you complain to the porter, he tells you that they did not turn on
the air conditioner, rather, the heater is broken.
And isn't it lucky that we have souvenir blankets for sale?
If you should find another official to complain to, his eyes will get
real big, his jaw will drop, and he will say,
"It's cold in here? Maybe
you have a fever. Perhaps one
of our souvenir blankets for $8 will help you."
Two hours later, the "broken" heater somehow unbrokens
itself. Amazingly, this
unbrokening effect occurs the minute the last souvenir blanket is sold.
final destination for this famous train trip of mine is, of course, Florida.
Yes folks, I'm spending my significant birthday with Mom.
In a retirement community. Not
a beach in sight. No stores, no
movies, no clubs. Nobody who
can see over the steering wheel when they drive.
I'm bored to tears. I
want some excitement! I need
some excitement! I would do
anything for some excitement, including...
to a life of crime.
the deal. There's this huge bay
of water that runs right by Mom's condo complex.
And that bay just teems with shells.
You know how you guys and gals feel about collecting Beatle stuff?
Well, I have the same impulses when it comes to shells.
I just can't resist them. I
must OWN THEM ALL.
Mom's condo has rules. And more
important, it has a law enforcement team that would put the FBI to shame.
Yes folks, it's true. Mom's
complex has senior citizens armed with binoculars and cell phones.
These self-appointed vigilantes stand on their balconies day and
night, at the ready to alert the complex security guard to any violation of
condo rules. Once notified, the
security guard will mount his trusty golf cart and come bombing after you
with a citation and a $25 fine.
shells is not illegal. What is
illegal is removing the rescue pole from the swimming pool to collect
aforementioned shells. Heaven
forbid, no rescue pole is available to save the poor soul who is drowning in
suntan lotion. You heard that
correctly, folks. You don't
think anybody actually swims in that complex pool, do you?
Heck, no. Because when
the binocular police aren't busy scouting the bays, they're busy scouting
the people by the pool. "Hey,
everybody look what happens to her suit when it gets wet!
I wonder how the photo will look in the complex newsletter!"
Nobody wants to swim under those conditions.
I borrowed one of those rescue poles and used it to scoop up those lovely
shells. By the way.
If somebody out there in cyberland can tell me what to do with all my
shells, I would sure appreciate it. Right
now I store them in my car trunk. Makes
grocery shopping a pain.
back to my life of crime. I
have to confess, I'm very proud of me, the way I figured out how to use palm
trees to hide from the condo vigilantes.
What's more, all those days at the gym paid off big time when the
security guard tried to chase me up 18 flights of stairs.
Ha! Shows what happens
when you spend your life chugging around in a golf cart.
there I am, well hidden with rescue pole at the ready, when all of a sudden,
I saw something that made me sick to my stomach.
Floating down the middle of the bay, bold as you please is this huge,
muck-covered plastic bottle. Gross,
gross, gross! I hate seeing
stuff like that, especially when I know that the bay is filled with fish.
to say, I came zipping out of my hiding spot and chased after the thing.
I figured that those binocular-toting biddies would surely applaud my
efforts to remove that disgusting piece of trash.
I didn't figure was how heavy that stupid rescue pole gets when you
stretched it out as far as you can. I
also didn't figure on how soon to stop screaming before I hit the water.
If you think salt water tastes disgusting, try getting a mouthful of
brackish water that's populated by all kinds of sea critters.
I also didn't figure was how quickly those binocular-toters would spring
into action. And how quickly
the police, fire, and ambulance trucks would respond.
Yepper, here they come to rescue me in four feet of water.
good news is that in spite of all the excitement, I managed to grab hold of
that slimy, disgusting bottle and remove it from the bay.
bad news is that I got fined $25 for putting a bottle into the water (even
though I didnít!), $25 for stealing the rescue pole (I did NOT steal it!),
and $200 for the unnecessary call to the police, fire and ambulance crews
(even though it wasn't me who called for them!).
I'm so glad I'm unemployed and can afford all these expenses.
I didn't want to cause any more controversy by tossing that piece of garbage
into a public trash can (no doubt they have rules about throwing away dirty
trash), so I took it back inside Mom's condo.
Bet you'll never guess what Mom said, so I'll give you a hint.
My nickname for her is Momtha Stewart.
No surprise, then, that Momtha told me to "Clean up that thing,
I can put it to use."
I washed the muck off the smelly thing and fumigated it with bleach.
Turns out that the bottle actually looked kind of pretty. It had this gorgeous writing on it in a language that I
didn't recognize. And below
that, in English, it said, "Ganges-scented fabric softener.
Safe for all colorfast robes."
comes the worst part of the clean-up process.
Opening up the lid and finding out what mummified thing is making
that rattling noise when I shake the bottle.
Gritting my teeth and preparing myself for the worst, I twisted off
the cap, flipped the bottle over, and waited for something with legs to
not exactly what happened. Much
to my delight, out comes a rolled up piece of paper.
A note in a bottle! Cool!
Here's what it says:
the Desk of: Maharishi Mahesh
help me please! The spicy food is killing me.
The girls will only talk to Paul.
Lennon stole all me underwear and last night, he shaved the word
"OM" in me head. I
can't even begin to tell you what's happened to George.
I swear I saw him flying this morning.
Without benefit of an airplane or any other modern convenience that I
could fathom! He's no longer
human, not by my standards, anyway. So
I'm throwing this note into the Ganges and praying that this holy river will
take my message to someone capable of rescuing me as soon as possible.
you sir or madam rescuer!
love and peace,
Starkey, AKA Ringo Starr
Don't forget the fish and chips.
babbling incoherently to myself for thirty minutes or so, I wrapped up the
bottle and the note and told Mom that the items would be added to my Beatle
gave me speech #37, "Go see a shrink about this Beatles obsession, it's
not normal for a person your age. Neither
is being single" (and here we launch into speech #28).
what do you do when you find a treasure like that on your significant
birthday? What else - you
return to the bay the very next day with high expectations of finding
another bottle. For those of
you who have absolutely nothing to discuss at your next cocktail party, you
can astonish and amaze your friends by informing them that both my piano
teacher and ex-Monkee Micky Dolenz celebrate their birthday on the day after
mine. Can life possibly get any better than that?
course it can. Because there it
is, right on schedule, another muck-covered bottle floating down the bay.
Definitely a Beatle bottle. Has
to be, because I can see the original color sticking out through the muck,
and it's Mean Mister Mustard yellow. Who
else but a Lennon would set something like that afloat?
lucked out big time. The bottle
floated right up to my feet. Didn't
even need the rescue pole for this one.
I just pulled my smelly treasure out of the water and raced back to
This isn't good. I don't see any foreign writing on the bottle at all.
Most of the label is torn off, and the only thing I can read is
I can't seem to get the smell out of this bottle.
I should probably just toss the thing, but what the hey.
After all this effort, I may as well pop off the lid and see what
onto your seats, ladies and gentlemen.
It's another note!!!!!
Richard Starkey AKA Ringo Starr,
found your bottle floating up the Mersey River.
I don't know if you got rescued or not, and frankly, I don't give a
flying yogi. But I'm a nice guy, so I'm dropping your original bottle back
into the Mersey, and maybe someday some kind soul will find it, along with
this message from me. And if
you don't get rescued, maybe you ought to take a lesson from George and just
take a flying leap.
refuses to loan me $25 to pay the fine for screaming up and down the condo
hallways. She also refuses to
foot my long distance bills to #10 Downing Street, #1 Soho Square, and
Buckingham Palace. No, I did
not get through to the Prime Minister, Paul McCartney, or the Queen of
England. But can you blame me
for trying? Somebody has to
know about these most important, most rare, most historic discoveries!
says that the only person who should be told about these most important,
most rare, most historic discoveries is the shrink that she hired for me.
Lisha Goldberg is a freelance writer and editor. She also writes a newsletter for a Boston piano studio. Lisha has won several prizes for her writing, including the Boston Herald Star Trek Competition (write a eulogy for Captain Kirk!), CompuServe's Beatle Essay Contest, and Writers Digest Magazine Award for best Inspirational Short Story.
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