Wednesday, September 6, 2000


WHAT REALLY ANNOYS ME                                                                        

Is being part of a captive audience, 
having to be back at school 
after 20 years in the field
because they say I need an effin dog license — 
life experience ain’t good enough for bureaucracy.
Stupid domestic things annoy me 
like when he opens the shower curtain 
from the wrong side,
tears the curtain from its hooks, 
and I’ve replaced it three times 
in the last six months.

OK, so wet towels and clothes 
heaped on the shower rod 
don’t help either.
I gotta remove everything 
before I can close the shower curtain 
or let the floor rot.
Then there’s the eternal hairball question 
for which he seems to have tunnel vision.
I don’t have a wolfman carpet of bodyhair 
and what little I do have isn’t gray. Yet.
I haven’t had to pick up after a man most my life 
and I’m way too old to start learning now.

What else annoys me? 
When I’m late for a job, when it matters. 
Or when I’m early and it doesn’t matter, 
or when it does matter, I don’t get paid, 
or brownie points for it.
Here I am giving away quarter hours for free. 
They add up. In four days, that’s one hour gratis.
Rest assured, they’d dock me 
if I took that unpaid hour off 
by turning up late 4 times in a row.

Or wat about when the effin mailman 
dismantles the cheesy mailbox letter carrier
a stupid wire that passes for an outbox 
that would collapse beneath a hummingbird
but it’s cemented into the damn wall 
so we’re stuck with it.
The landlord, see, he’s an architect, 
but doesn’t have to live her, so he thinks it’s quaint
like the cannibal light fixtures 
that assassinate bulbs on a regular regime.

What annoys me?  
When hoodlums and druggies 
siphon my gas and I don’t have a gas gauge
and have to think fast physics, 
rolling down the onramp backwards straddling curbs
avoiding oncoming cars 
in order to roll into the gas station
and my truck stops short of the pump 
and everyone just watches me as I push it to the pump,
no matter that I could be injured 
or wearing a neck brace.

Or when I crammed the gear shift 
to get around some cow 
and the bleedin thing comes off in my hand
and I’m in third gear 
and there’s a bleedin’ steep grade ahead
and the guy ahead’s driving so slow 
you’d think he was pedaling 
the damn thing backwards.

What really bugs me 
is when the renegade slugs 
who’ve recently relocated under the kitchen sink
slime the clean dishes, 
especially the rim of the wine glass,
and I’ve only just noticed 
after I finished the wine.
When I can’t catch them, 
even at 4 am, except the time I was up that early, 
late for a commercial shoot
and the slugs were out in an enmasse orgy 
and me, stepping on them barefoot in the dark.

You think it odd that I’d have slugs in the kitchen?
You would too if the landlord suddenly sprang it on you 
that after months of false alarms,
he was going to paint the house 
and we had to move everything from the patio 
into the kitchen, including the slugs, 
whose progeny have migrated to tbe bathroom
and have taken to sliming what’s left of the curtain.

At least my truck’s safe from invasion. So far.
But lately I’ve been finding them in the classroom, 
parading around the podium
but the teacher never seems to notice.


What else annoys me? 
What really annoys me? 
When I’m late, when it matters,
that the teacher makes an example 
of my tardiness and it’s not my fault 
that my truck decided to have an elder moment.
Or when I’m early, really early (rare) 
and it doesn’t matter
or when it does, then I don’t get paid for it 
or even get brownie points for it
and all the others glare at me 
cause they had to lift all those chairs without me.

Or when the mailman trashes the mailbox 
every time I pin bills to the outbox wire
not that I have any money  
and I have to climb into the bougainvillea thorn bush
to retrieve the wire only to find my now late payment.

I hate it when my truck won’t start 
on certain preassigned hours only it knows about
because I once left my lights on in the Caldecott Tunnel 
and hoodlums nicked my jumper cables
and when I finally did get it started, 
the gear shift just came off in my hand
and I’m holding it like a crowbar or a cattle prod, 
wondering what to do next
as there’s nothing in the manual 
to cover such contingencies
and I’m definitely in third gear 
and the hill ahead requires serious planning
and some wanker is driving in a vacuum,
 solo, or maybe not even that.

Or when the day starts out rough 
and you just know it won’t improve with time.
Like scooping hairballs out of the drain 
and they’re slimy cause he’s been hawking 
in the shower again.
Or when the renegade slugs under the kitchen sink 
slime the clean dishes and it took me a week 
to get the courage to wash them 
‘cuz it wasn’t my turn, as he defected. Again.

Or when I catch those slugs at 4 am 
except the one time I was actually up at 4 am
from the dawn side of the blanket, 
not the late-night side,
late for my first and probably last commercial call 
which I got only by default because I’m not SAG
and there’s a strike on and I’ve been bussed 
to a secret location two hours north, so I’m stuck here,
and the slugs were out en masse 
some kind of orgy on the countertop and floor
and I’m stepping on them barefoot 
and it’s not even a full moon. They like full moons.
I find it odd that someone would think 
it odd that I’ve got a lot of slugs in the kitchen.
They’re not MY slugs, so to speak, 
though they don’t pay rent.
I’ve been catching them for ages because the landlord,
after months of waffling 
sprang a paint job on us one Sunday morning
and how I had to haul all my potted plants 
into the kitchen
and now the house is lemon yellow, 
with blue-black trim and salmon barf pink walkways and curbs.
It looks like a theme park replete with pink flamingos,
only they’re made of plastic and they don’t eat slugs,
and the mailman comes up the path 
in his pith helmet and shorts like it’s a safari
carrying more bills, and he slips on a damned banana slug, 
and then, tries to blame me!

Justin Chinn, Creatiive Writing 605-01
In Class Writing Assignment

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