Monday, December 05, 2005

My Evening With Bob Hope

I left my house early tonight to try and beat the oncoming snowstorm and to visit with my mother before going to work. The snowstorm hadn't hit by the time I arrived at my mother's but she had made supper. Pork chops, mashed potatoes (from real potatoes), and a fresh green salad consisting mainly of romaine hearts. It was really quite delicious and after the meal I found myself with nearly 3 hours before having to leave for work. Exhausted, as I had only gotten a few hours of broken sleep earlier in the day, I decided to sleep for a couple of hours.

In what must have been only a few moments I had drifted off quite soundly and found myself standing at the door to an apartment in a very posh hotel. After being greeted and asked in I couldn't help but notice the chandelier over the dining table, the warm glow from teardrop shaped lightbulbs, yet the almost disturbing quiet in the apartment. I was led by a younger woman into the bedroom where I was met by Bob Hope. He was old, quite fragile, dressed as you would expect in an izod sweater, polo shirt, slacks, pacing near the bed. Though quite tired and quiet he smiled welcoming me and appeared to be in good spirits, if somewhat distracted.

Lying on the bed was a very ill Milton Berle. Mr. Hope was concerned and taking care of his close friend in what was obviously Berle's last moments. Berle's magnified eyes twinkled from behind his bulky glasses as he looked at me and smiled his big toothy smile, the only way he could welcome me and show he appreciated my visit as he could no longer speak. He motioned for me to come closer and he took my hand, weakly shaking it then just holding it. I had brought my sister's English Spaniel with me and Berle indicated he wanted to pet the dog as he lay back on the bed sideways, legs dangling to the floor. He patted the mattress several times, Ollie strained against the leash while I looked to Hope to make sure it was okay if Ollie got up onto the bed. Mr. Hope nodded and without saying anything indicated it was certainly fine. Ollie jumped up and began energetically licking Berle's face and hands as he pet the dog and laughed, his big smile growing even larger and he showing just a little more life than I could have guessed he had in him. Ollie settled into Berle's embrace, the embrace of a dying a man, and there displayed a sense of calm across his face and a little sadness from his eyes.

Meanwhile Mr. Hope and I began talking, about what I cannot recall specifically. I can tell you that his words were calming, gentle, kind words of comfort and encouragement. That was the reason for me having come to see him, to talk with him about my growing concerns and fears. Concerns and fears about what, again, I cannot recall specifically. He was able to quell them quite effectively. Even though he continued to be distracted he never showed evidence that he was any less concerned about me than, say, Berle who was just about to expire happy and content with a cuddling English Springer in his arms.

From the living room there were footsteps and then the front door closing. Mr. Hope continued to speak with me, leading us to the balcony of the bedroom. We stepped outside and watched the young woman, who was his daughter, cross a very busy 4 lane street and walk up the stairs outside of a sleazy motel across the street. Even though Hope was caring for Berle and listening to me, he could not hide the fact that at this moment his concern was for his daughter who was making a deal for drugs in a room in the sleazy hotel. At this point I realized I was there just as much to console him, let him know his daughter would be okay and it wasn't his fault or anyone's doing that she was using.

Thus ended my evening with Bob Hope. It was time for me to wake up, shower, and head to work. I can't help but wonder if applesauce would have made a difference....

On an average day I get about 5 hours of interrupted sleep. My work hours are 10:45 pm- 9:00 am and come morning I am exhausted. The drive to work is nearly an hour on back country roads. I could use the freeway but because of it's location and the back roads I would have to take to get on it there is no time or mileage saved in doing so. Besides I think I may have developed a phobia toward expressways. Every winter no matter how little snow there is there is an area just south of the exit I would have to take for work where there is always some kind of accident. The highway ices over and you can't tell by looking at it, but it's very slick. People who drive it every day rarely slow down. It's almost as if careening off the pavement into the hillside, coming to a stop upside with the roof of your car caved in has become an accepted way of life to people around here. I don't understand it but I still do my civic duty, driving about 30mph and going directly to the pay phone at the gas station off this exit and dialing 911 after I've made sure everyone is okay or there are other people who have stopped to help. I've lost track of the number of times I've made this call. This year I've sworn off the highway because I figure it's only a matter of time and I'm the one upside down in the culvert. Icy roads and driving exhausted are not a good combination. I've invested in a set of snow tires made in Sweden or some such place and already I've noted a difference in how the car handles for the better. Uhm, I'm rambling aren't I? And worse, about nothing....I hate that.

Stanley and Beatrice

I'm not a cat person but I've got two strays that have shown up at the house. Years ago we used to have strays all the time. There was one point we took care of 18 dogs. The majority of them strays. The kittens appeared out of nowhere while walking the dogs. My brother has a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and he tore off into the tall grass while we walked the dogs along a dirt two-track. These roads are seasonal and therefore not travelled often. The dog would not come back and the next thing my brother say was a furry little body being thrown into the air from his dog's mouth. The kitten got away and quickly scrambled up a tree. It's probably a good thing because I've seen this dog get hold of snakes and shake them so quickly and violently that the snake's body just comes apart. The couple time's I've seen this my head went light and I got somewhat nauseous. It was a feeling I couldn't shake for much of the rest of the walk.

The next day on the same trail my brother noted the water soaked body of a kitten just off the two track. It had been cold and rained very hard that night so there's only guessing as to it being the weather or possibly injuries sustained from being mauled that took the kitten's life. Two more kittens came walking out of the woods though and with the dogs on leashes the kittens followed back to the house. I've been feeding and caring for them. They've become very affectionate and stay outside. My brother wants them taken elsewhere even though he has developed a soft spot for them (though he won't admit it). I've tried to acclimate the dogs to the kittens but no matter what the Chesapeake continues to try visciously mauling the kittens. So I'm looking for a new home. For the kittens I mean. Beatrice is a calico and is as sweet as one might expect from a young calico kitten. Stanley is also sweet but in that way you would expect from a young male gray tiger cat. Walking out the front door it's all you can hear is those two purring. They don't even mewl, just purr and eat. I'm hoping to get them to a nearby farm (with the owners permission, of course) later this week. I'm actually going to miss these stupid cats.

Christmas approaches and I'm looking forward to spending time away from work and with relatives.