by Andreas Economakis

You wake up to the Doppler–effect roar of a Japanese motorcycle and the neighbor’s muffled TV, the host rattling on like a jackass on steroids.  You try, you try hard to put your first bare foot down on the right side of the bed, not the wrong side.  Call it your little karmic effort every morning, you truly believe that what goes around comes around and if we all tried to be a little more positive the world would be a better place, the sun shining, people always smiling, kids giggling, wars and strife and broken hearts relegated to the dustbin of history.  A new era is dawning and you played your part!

That said and done, you end up kicking your cat in the ribs, it was a mistake, the damn fool always gets tangled up in your feet at the door, he never once calls out that he’s there before you accidentally kick him.  No, he never warns you.  The crying and pestering and hurt attitude begins only once you’ve already committed the violent act of feline football.  And every morning you’re forced to watch his pinkish-brown sphincter hurry down the crumble-strewn hallway toward the kitchen, him throwing you little guilt-inducing looks, trailing a trembling tail behind a trail of trembling pleas, hoping and just knowing you will follow him and get on with this business of canned cat food and fresh water that repeats itself every day, ad nauseam, like groundhog day only worse.

You step over the semi-dried puke by the fridge, congealed kibbles and bits adorned with a lemony blade of grass, smothered in some sort of gluey horse-hoof sauce that obviously isn’t as tasty as the canned expensive stuff you have to purchase from the expensive neighborhood vet.  You glance toward the sink, hoping there’s a roll of kitchen paper for the cat vomit, it sure is easier than toilet paper for kitchen work, maybe that’s why they named it as such, though both papers come from the same dead trees.

As the cat grunts and slobbers over his dish you load your mug with black coffee, pouring the oily black liquid into your vessel over the sink because the damn pot always leaks, stupid made-in-Germany overpriced piece of shit.  What is the point of German engineering if you have to use it over yesterday’s air-dried pasta and basil-spattered tomato-sauce dishes?

Your pour a shot of cold milk into your coffee (after all, you’re not a Turk) and make your way back into your dark bedroom, careful not to wake the baby up because then you won’t be able to lie in the dark sipping your dark coffee, ruminating on the day’s tasks at hand, wondering what clothes you should wear for today’s big meeting.  You sure as hell want to impress them and get the job.  If you get the job you get the cash.  If you get the cash you get the life.  If you get the life, well then…  Hmmm…. Where does it go from there?

Best jump in the shower now, the stupid TV from below is disrupting your thoughts anyway.  How can people watch TV in the morning?  Are they insane?  Who cares what traffic is like and how many degrees it is and whether Paris Hilton is screwing a dim-witted Greek playboy or a short Palm Springs disc jockey or some three-legged porn star with A.D.D., none of this information will change the outcome of your day, it just clogs up your brain and makes you want to scream at people in traffic and give them the obscene finger because you’d rather be on some sunny beach, yes, even if it means next to Paris Hilton.  Yeah, you’d rather be on a beach with Paris Hilton than in your crappy dusty vehicle on your way to your crappy demeaning job, red raindrops from Sahara making a mockery of your recent overpriced trip to car wash.  Why do people wash their cars?  They always end up looking like shit in a couple of days anyway!  (Happiest man you ever saw was this longhaired dude on Sunset Boulevard in a caked car, a cake car, a car so dirty it was like a little mountain of dirt on wheels.  This little rolling mountain had a cave in it with a happy California Neanderthal inside smiling his ass off at all the neurotically shiny cars buzzing down the road.  Not a care in the world, this dirt man. Huh….  What were you saying?)

Oh yeah, best get dressed now because you’ve got to wake up the tot and take her to pre-school before you rush off to your big meeting.  You’re going to get that job, you’re going to impress the shit out of them, they’ll be dazzled by the mere clothes you’ll be wearing, by your snappy duds which will compliment your snappy resume which will compliment your snappy canned confidence.  You will unleash a can of professional woop-ass on them, an American can of woop-ass, and they’ll hire you.  They’ll hire you on the spot.  You probably don’t even need to show up for that stupid interview, you’re so damn right for the job!  It’s all about confidence.  That’s all you need.  Confidence.  Just look at anyone on TV.

“Shoo, shoo, shoo!” you gasp at the cat as you enter your bedroom all naked and dripping, chasing him and his one wet paw off the bed.  Why does he put his right paw in the water bowl when he drinks, what’s that all about?  Is it some sort of primordial getting in touch with his inner fish or something?  We’re all descended from fish, right?  Or is it lizards?  Or is it Adam and Eve?  Didn’t those two have sex after getting kicked out of paradise for partying under an apple tree and pissing God off?  If they did, then that would make us all a bunch of inbred descendents of theirs, still inbreeding and pissing God off.  This inbreeding thing explains a lot of things.  It explains folks like President Kim Jong-il and Imelda Marcos and Idi Amin Dada and the W and everyone at or on the TMZ channel (Paris Hilton included), a good percentage of motorists out there, that rattling idiot on the boob tube down below, one overrated bald-headed British film director from LA with three fax machines in his car (his inbred dysfunctionality cleverly disguised as art), all those clean-cut religious missionaries who wear starched white shirts and ties and nametags (these guys are particularly inbred) and, well, your wet-footed cat who likes to leave a moist monopod path all over your unpronounceable Ikea goose comforter cover.  Linderfootenpath, you think it’s called, with all kinds of umlauts.  You bought it one burpy morning after washing down several homogenized 60-cent hot dogs with a can of tangy red Swedish beer.

You stall at your closet, shocked at the lack of clothes in there that actually fit you right or that you fit in right.  Everything is one size off, the wrong color or made of a fabric that makes your skin crawl like a caterpillar in retreat.  Why don’t clothes hang on you the way they hang on James Dean or Tom Ford or Brad Pitt or even your local grocery-store dude?  Dude’s got a basketball belly, Sponge-Bob legs and horn-rimmed Coke-bottle glasses that make his eyes look like British flying saucers and yet he looks cool.  He looks cool in his duds.  He doesn’t even need to try.  Why is that?

You yank several clothing items off of cheap clinking dry-cleaner hangers, hoping for the best.  It’s no use though.  You always end up looking like some sort of plain tree (brown down below, green up above) or an upside-down blueberry muffin or a skinny effeminate terrorist with a bubble-butt.  Why were you born with no color coordination?  And as for your shoes….  Suffice it to say that only sneakers fit right.  Everything else is simply savage, tearing your poor feet to shreds and making you limp like a gimp, just like at your brother’s wedding in Italy when you had to dress up like a monkey in a suit, a gimpy monkey in a shiny blue Italian suit with too-tight Italian shoes.  Somebody needs to have a serious word with Italian shoe designers.  What they’re doing is criminal.

After several attempts you end up looking like you always do.  You fall back on the one and only outfit that sort of fits: your old 501’s, white t-shirt, Doc Martin shoes (without the stupid yellow thread—what in God’s name were they thinking?).  Hip yet casual.  The necessary touch of seriousness is obvious from the fact that you’ve opted for shoes instead of sneakers.  You twist and turn in front of the full-length mirror, squinting for effect, the way you would squint if George Clooney showed up suddenly at your door with a case of gin.  Come on in pal ‘cause I’m not worried.  It’s an even toss between you and me for the ladies and besides… we could always use the extra booze.  Just leave it on the kitchen counter and make yourself at home, George!

“Babaaaaa!” you hear through the walls and you thank your lucky stars that you actually managed to get dressed before the little one woke up.  Well, sort of.  You rush into your kid’s room holding one Doc Martin in your hands and find your daughter ruffle-headed and standing in her crib, tugging at her explosively large diaper.  “Buongiorno Principessa!” you burst out all bubbly and chirpy and right away she replies “Kaka!”  Didn’t need to say it though, because the scent of poop hits your nostrils like a blasting dive into a steaming river of sewage.  Oh heavens!  You swoop your little girl up and rush into the bathroom, already worried that you’re running late for your big meeting.  “Me!” she says as soon as you pull the offending diaper off her butt, and you watch her struggle to sit on the toilet seat to go pee-pee and wipe herself all by herself, knowing full well that if you try to expedite matters by placing her in the bathtub shower you’ll have a little hysterical she-bomb on your hands.  She’s got to go through the process, you think, it’s just that she’s takes her sweet time about it.  One little smile and you temporarily forget all your angst.  “Done!” she announces and you snatch her up to plop her in the shower, accidentally stepping on some liquid by the toilet with your socked foot.  “What’s this?” you ask, dropping to all fours to sniff and examine the mysterious puddle, quickly realizing that you’ve just stepped in your daughter’s pee-pee.  She missed.  Shit!

“Off we go!” you say with a smile once the baby-butt shower is done, trying to inject a little positive urgency or is it a little urgent positiveness (?) into the situation, into the fact that now you’ve really got to rush.  You hate being late.  Call it the American in you.  It certainly isn’t a Greek trait.  You quickly dress your daughter and send her scurrying to the living room and the TV to amuse herself (drastic times call for drastic measures…), as you must hurry back to your room to change socks and finalize this tiresome business of getting dressed.  You take a step in that direction and instantly realize that you are leaving a monopod trail on the carpet just like your cat, only this time it’s a baby urine trail, not a cat water trail.  Double shit!

New socks on, you’re almost ready to go, if only you could find your other Doc Martin.  Where did it go?  You follow the monopod urine trail (follow the yellow brick road…) hoping it will lead to the errand shoe.  Nothing!  Would it matter if you went to the big meeting with a Doc Martin on one foot and a New Balance sneaker on the other?  Would that be a deal breaker?  I bet that English director could pull it off, the limey fucker!  He’d probably get the job even if he showed up wearing just a sock on his penis, like a Red Hot Chili Pepper.  It all goes back to that thing called confidence.  No, you’d be a hell of a lot more confident if you were wearing two Doc Martin shoes instead of just one.  And that’s definitely better than showing up with just a sock on your penis.   As for the sock, what kind of sock would you choose anyway?  Adidas?  Is that too athletic?

The bedrooms and smelly bathroom exhausted, you hurry into the living room, convinced that the curly-haired culprit on the couch must have your shoe.  Who else would?  You find her staring all zombie-eyed at four bubbly bottle blondes going round and round a stupid-looking spike-haired muscular fellow in a cut-off t-shirt on some kind of morning talk show.  It’s circle jerk time on the morning tele and they are all chattering and laughing non-stop, all the while trying to tear the male model’s shirt off.  “Dear God!” you breathe and quickly turn off the TV, instantly igniting a hysterical wail from the couch, something that scares your dozy wet-footed cat right out the room and onto the balcony.  The good news is that you spot your missing shoe, which your distraught daughter is clutching against her salty wet cheek like a prized Gund bear.  “Give daddy the shoe!” you say all exasperated, sparking a new batch of wailing, one that makes the windows and assorted crystal in the room tinkle ominously.  This time the cat bolts past you with panic written all over his body language, hightailing his way clear out of the house through the back door.

Out of patience and time, you pry the shoe out of your daughter’s surprisingly strong grip.  Oh no… fatal error!  You’ve just committed the fatal error!  Lesson No. 1:  never ever take anything from a child if you don’t have something to replace it with.  Instantly.  Eardrums ready to burst, you hobble-skip your way quickly into her bedroom, somehow managing to get your shoe on your foot.  A Cirque de Soleil performer couldn’t do that as well, you think, as you pluck a small stuffed donkey out of the crib and race back into the screeching living room.  You hand your child the donkey only to receive it back in your face like a Hideo Nomo fastball.  Ouch!  Before you can react, your daughter yells “Pipila!” sending you scurrying into the kitchen looking for her Greek pacifier.  Man, you’re really wasting time now.  You’ve got to get going soon or it’s curtains for you.  No Doc Martins or athletic penis sock or snappy can of American woop-ass is going to help you if you actually miss your big meeting.

You practically jam the pacifier in your tot’s mouth, one hand whisking her up like a pendulum, the other grabbing her school bag (filled with extra clothes, snacks,  diapers, a water bottle and an abused Chinese plastic frog with a perturbed ribbity expression on his face).  You hustle out the door.   All the commotion quiets the baby down, who settles in for the ride down to the street like a little cherubic poker-faced Buddha, knowing full well that she’ll have you back in the palm of her hand the moment you plop her 15 kilos down onto the asphalt and turn in the direction of her school.  Indeed, the moment her little sneakers hit the road she runs to the nearest plant, pointing at it all Google-eyed, jumping impatiently up and down.  “Gimme, gimme, gimme!” she says, meaning the neighbor’s luscious white rose, the one dangling all dewy and heavy and fragrant over the fence like the ultimate forbidden fruit.  You know full well that convincing her otherwise will take at least a couple of minutes (you’ve been dealing with this all week long) and so, with cardinal guilt written all over your hunched and deceptive frame, you quickly snap the forbidden flower off its stalk and hand it to your elated child.   An almost instantaneous booming and angry knocking sound on a window pane alerts you to the fact that your neighbor has caught you red-handed assaulting her priceless flowers and so you bow your head in quick sinful apology and hustle your daughter off before the verbal assault comes.  You know it’s about to come because you can hear the old lady trying to open her window to let you have it.  This must be how Adam and Eve felt when they beat their hasty retreat from the apple tree that fateful day years ago.

Well, not 20 meters down the road your jubilant daughter has completely shredded the immaculate rose (women!), tearing all the pedals off with brisk movements and scattering them in the wind, stepping on the bud for effect like she’s extinguishing a cigarette.  She slap-cleans her hands in a fait-accompli motion, pleased with herself.  “Why did you do that?” you ask, quickly regretting the way you phrased your question.  You should never have used the word “why” in a question.  It’s like opening a kid’s Pandora’s Box and it’s bound to slow you down in this, your hurried journey to depose your little pocket-sized flower-terminator at her pink-colored pre-school, the one with the large and awkwardly drawn Mickey Mouse by the front door.

As expected, you begin a long and arduous “why” conversation as you plod toward school.  And as per usual, your crafty little daughter turns the tables on you almost instantly, forcing you to reply to the whys.  You can never win these arguments.  “Why did I do what?”  “Kill the flower.”  “You gave it to me!”  “You asked me for it.”  “Why?”  “I don’t know, you tell me.”  “Why should I tell you?”  “Because you’re my daughter.”   “Why?”  “Because your mom and I made you.”  “Why?”  “Huh!  Because we wanted a child.”  “Why?”  “Because we did.”  “Why?”  “I don’t know why, it seemed like the thing to do.”  “Why?”  “Because that’s what people do.” “Why?”  “Because if we didn’t do it, none of us would exist.”   “Why?”  “Because you need to exist in order to exist.”  “Why?”  You stall, knitting your brow.  Check mate!  Luckily, you’re saved from the utter humiliation of admitting philosophical defeat to a 2.5 year old by Mickey’s curiously sad smile and scary elephantine legs.  Hallelujah!

A hurried kiss and guilty smile and you turn to avoid the tears welling up in your kid’s eyes as she’s pried out of your hands and led into her obscenely pink school by her cute young teacher, the one with the long jet black hair, braces and sinfully large boobs.  One last pink glance and you hustle your Levis-shacked frame down the cement road, past the olive trees with the dripping black fruit, past the old abandoned cream-colored Zastava with all the bird droppings, past the crazy old lady’s house, where everything she owns is stacked in insane little piles in her 1 by 7 meter yard.  A quick look to the right to check for kamikaze bikers, a skillful dodge to the left around the huffing and panting local bus and you breeze past the pastry shop with the ornate multi-colored cakes in the display, your Doc Martins really sticking to the pavement now as you wheeze your way up the San Francisco-angled street toward your house, sweat beads beading up on your forehead.  Better watch out, you don’t have time for another shower.

Two, four, six, seven, eight, nine, ten bounds up the cracked mosaic marble stairs to grab your computer bag and keys and breath.  Better take the motorcycle today, you huff and pant to yourself.  You’re already horrifically behind schedule.  The door slams, shit do I have my keys (?)… yes (!), and you snatch your helmet off the baby stroller by the vestibule door as your tear your way back down the stairs toward your 1952 BMW motorcycle, the one that looks cool but is as slow as a turtle on Quaaludes (you never were a fan of speed…).  No choice though, the Fiesta will take three times longer in traffic.  It’s always rush hour in Athens.  It doesn’t matter what time it is.  Why don’t they just call it traffic?  I mean, why add the rush?  Why do they need to stress us out like this?

“Shoo, shoo, shoo!” you gasp yet again at the large and annoyed-looking mangy cat that’s decided to turn your motorcycle seat into his very own personal Red Vic armchair.  He doesn’t budge.  “Get your own seat, you wanker,” you yell, swiping your black fabric computer bag in his direction, hoping he’ll have the common sense to heed your advice and bolt.  You sure as hell are not ready to go mano-a-mano with a large male stray cat from the ‘hood.   Last time you decided to tango with a street cat was in NYC, in your back yard on 116th and First in East Harlem, when you had the brilliant idea of tearing a large grunting male cat off of the back of your horny yet sweet little kitty cat Kaya.  This hasty little bit of coitus interruptus cost you four large fang holes in the right index finger, an exhausting trip to St. Luke’s and a dehydrating tendonitis-causing antibiotic therapy for a month.   No, better not lay a hand on Red Vic.  He’ll tear you to shreds before you can say Rapunzel.

Luckily, the lazy beast gets the message and slowly descends off the bike.  He sure takes his sweet time about it, all the while staring at you with a spine-tingling mixture of mockery and murder.  You make a mental note to avoid this particular male cat in the future.  He’s not well.  He’s not stable at all.  He must be seriously inbred.

You spend the next three and a half minutes cranking away at your motorcycle’s ignition pedal like a deranged River Dancer, working up a serious sweat and bad attitude, cursing the fact that you didn’t take the damn geriatric motorcycle in for service when you had all that free time last week.  Shit.  You end up pushing the bike down the street toward the downhill, almost dropping it on your legs because once again you’re trying to multi-task (who was it that said that men cannot multi-task?), simultaneously swinging your computer bag back on your back while trying to open your jacket to let some air in.  If you don’t let some air in quick you will drown in your own sweat or have a massive heart attack right on the spot, dropping to the pavement in a quivering sweaty pile very near your daughter’s shredded rose pedals.  It would be a strangely poetic finale to a stressful morning.  Damn these big meetings!

The bike chuga-chuga-chugs to life with a bang and burp, leaving behind a small grey puff of petrol smoke like an Indian sending up a smoke signal.  Make way!  We’re on the road now!  Can of Woop-Ass is on his way to the big meeting!  You’re going to knock them off their blocks, stupid amateur Athenian advertisers.  You’ll show them how it’s done, how real directors are supposed to direct.  You’re going to provide all the necessary brilliance needed to lift Greek television out of the hopeless middle ages, where everything is on display as if the public is as dumb as doornail.  You will show them what subtlety means, how you don’t really need to show the product in order to sell it.  Huh, isn’t that what the W did to sell his invasion policy?  He never once showed the weapons of mass destruction.  No one ever found them!  They probably don’t even exist.  And yet, the W managed to convince practically the whole world that they were there.  Yeah, you don’t need product to sell something.  All you need is confidence.  Just look at the W.  If he could sell a war so easily to the world, you sure as hell can sell your splendid can of American woop-ass to these dimwitted advertising folks.  Yeah, nothing can stop you now!

“Hey, watch it you old nut!” you yell at the crazy old-timer with the plastic bags in his hands who jumps out in front of you on the street, causing you to swerve dangerously and almost drop your bike.  The old timer points to the green walking man signal and gives you the Greek finger (well, actually it’s a hand), sending you straight to Hades’ hell, don’t pass go, don’t collect 200 drachmas.  The nerve of the old coot, running across the street like he owns the place!  Can’t he tell you’re in a serious rush?  Can’t he see that you are Greece’s last great hope for television, the guy who will save him and millions of others from sheer pixilated idiocy and ennui?  You seriously think about getting off your bike and setting grandpa straight, but your light turns green, forcing you take off.

You screech into the parking lot (a sidewalk that the advertising company has blatantly and illegally taken possession of, forcing all pedestrians onto the road) and you hustle in through the glass doors, a whirl of determination and attitude.  You check your cell phone watch.   Right on time!  You are seriously bad ass!

The cute receptionist points you to the meeting room and asks if you want a coffee or something because you are the first one here.  “Everyone is running a little late,” she says, smiling.  Of course they are, the Cro-Magnons!  How do these people actually manage to get anything done?  This is why Greece is forever stuck in the mud, you think to yourself.  Nothing works right, or if it does, it’s a day late and a euro short (or several billion euros short).  No organization, no one in charge.  Probably better for you, you realize.  They’ll take one good look at you and be dazzled by your structured methodology and methodical structure and hierarchical thought process.  You’ll have them doing back flips in your hand, you smile all cherubically, like a little poker-faced Buddha in cool 501’s and pair of slick Doc Martin shoes.  Yeah!   You’re hot stuff today!  Sizzling!

“Phew!  What’s that smell?” you think to yourself, scanning the glistening, almost kitschy black vinyl and chrome meeting room.  “Don’t they mop in here?  Place smells like a god damn cat orgy or something,” you cringe, trying to regain your winning mind frame.  Your double cappuccino shows up on a tray held by a Slavic-looking woman who could be anywhere between 18 and 55 years old.  Hard to tell how old she is.  Trying to figure it out it is like trying to figure out if Mona Lisa is smiling or smirking at you.  You’re losing your train of thought.  All this money and chrome and kitsch and they can’t afford someone to mop the place up with some bleach?  How can they stand the smell?   You get up to investigate.  You don’t want anything disrupting your winning flow, your kick ass attitude.  No, you don’t want some hideous odor from below scattering people’s brains as you pitch your stellar ideas and personality, as you unleash your can of woop-ass on them.  Can of woop-ass needs a clean environment to prosper.  Can of woop-ass needs order and structure.

“They’ll be here in a couple of minutes,” the receptionist announces from the door, a strange expression plastered all over her face.  You look at her with your mouth agape.  Yeah, your mouth is dangling open like a village idiot because you’ve just made a horrific discovery, a catastrophic revelation.  You’ve just realized that the smell of cat urine that is permeating the room, that is singing your nostrils, that is making you nauseous, is coming from your very own butt.  It’s coming straight from your not so snappy anymore 501’s.   You must have sat in Red Vic’s urine.  That stray cat pissed on your motorcycle seat and you sat right in it like a hasty fool.  You now smell like tangy, nose-curdling, run-for-the-hills cat piss.  Horny, street-fighting, territory-marking, in-your-face cat piss!  Oh, this is going to be one long and painful meeting…

You wither into your stinky 501’s, a mere shadow of your former self.  And to make matters worse, there’s a new sound at the door.  No, it isn’t the sound of your personal can of woop-ass rolling out the door (well, maybe it is…).  It’s the sound of people arriving for your big meeting.  A moment of heavy panting on your part and you realize that you had it coming.  You had it coming all right.  If all it takes to fall from grace is snapping one little apple off of a tree, then what should your fate be if in the course of just one morning you kick your cat in the ribs, stress your daughter out for no good reason, steal a flower, have several obscene thoughts, assault a stray cat, nearly kill an old man as you try and run a red light and develop an attitude about yourself that would make Nietzsche blush?  What should your fate be then?  Good for the cats!  At least they realized that what goes around comes around.  Serves you right to be covered in karmic cat piss.

–Andreas Economakis

This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.

Copyright © 2010, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.

For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.

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