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Originally Posted: 2004-06-08 9:43am

Transit of Venus Or How I Started the Day With Marigolds Up My Butt

Those who know me well know me as a raconteur of such wit and grace that those who don't know me well often mistake me for Cary Grant when I first enter a room. Those who know me better often mistake me for Herrman Goering but that's another story, one that I will be reading to the Union of Unidentified Elderly European Men in Buenos Aries next month. Those who know me best of all know that I am something of an amateur astronomer and by that, of course, I mean that I stayed up late thirty-five years ago to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. I clearly remember this because Mommy reminds me regularly that this is what started my poor sleeping habits, laziness, unemployment, drug addiction, death, humiliation - in that order - and collapse of American society as we know it.

This morning's transit of Venus, wherein, the lovely, full-bodied Venus - complete with lush red hair, green eyes and black lace push-em-up brassiere - traveled across the disc of the sun, was therefore a source of great interest to me and I vowed to risk all - life, liberty, pursuit of happiness but most importantly, an hour of sleep - to view it. But there was one fly in the ointment, so to speak: three pounds of fresh peas.

What's that, you ask? How on Earth could three pounds of peas impact such an event. Well, little buckaroo, hold on to your jodhpurs, I'm about to tell you. Last Saturday, laboring under the burden of the fifteen pounds I've gained since last summer, I vowed to begin eating in a more healthy manner, hied myself off to Haymarket and among the many fruits and vegetables purchased, picked up three pounds of fresh peas. In truth, it was more like four pounds. An intelligent shopper, I've found that heading to Haymarket late on a Saturday afternoon means encountering vendors desperate to off-load there wares. Ask for ten oranges and you're likely to receive fifteen. Ask for two bunches of broccoli and you'll find three in your bag. Now I would never knowingly take advantage of the plight of the American farmer especially those at Haymarket who are already selling their goods at rock bottom prices. The fact that I lingered beneath a shady awning just within sight of the marketplace all afternoon until I saw the stalls begin to shutdown should not be seen as an indication that I was waiting to receive the best price.

At any rate, by the end of business on Saturday, I was weighed down three to four pounds of peas and the realization that I had no idea what to do with them. If this was the 1920's and I was eight I could have easily loaded them into a straw and spitballed them at Miss Crabtree while Buckwheat and Weezer dipped Mary's pigtails in the inkwell. But this is not that time and I am not a little rascal. I have been called a little bastard but mostly by my parents and selected former girlfriends but again, I digress.

During the course of my Monday workday, in between the strenuous tasks that my job call for - downloading photographs of Cameron Diaz, trolling the personals on Craig's List, mooching food off of co-workers, I websearched for a decent recipe that called for fresh peas. I found something that sounded delicious - pasta carbonara with pancetta and peas. Perfect!

The problem with that, of course, is that it's hardly the meal to fit in with my newly discovered desire to shed a few pounds. Cream? Butter? Italian bacon? (Which, of course, is the suburban Long Island, post-war, tract housing name for pancetta.) No, no, this would never do. Not only was it disgustingly rich but it would prove to be disgustingly expensive. And I've already managed to shed most of my cash. So I modified the recipe with low fat milk, low fat butter, no pancetta and three times the number of peas demanded in the original. The result? The most disgusting tureen of goop you can imagine made all the worse as my propensity for overcooking was exacerbated by a particularly interesting story about octogenarian paratroopers on World News Tonight.

Well, never one to throw out food no matter how terribly prepared or deep into putrefaction, I ate it anyway, washed down with liberal amounts of Sauvignon Blanc. For those of you who wonder if my taste in wine is abysmal as my taste in food, I hope that the following sentence will assuage for fears. It was a four dollar bottle of Estonian wine. But it was alcohol, it masked the flavor of my tureen of goop and it sent me deep into unconsciousness by 9 PM, a sleep that that lasted until five o'clock this morning when I awoke well before my alarm. I lay there for several minutes contemplating what I could do with all the extra time I had gained. Would I clean the house? Would I iron shirts for the remainder of the work week? Would I download even more photos of Cameron Diaz? Suddenly, I recalled the Transit of Venus. The inner astronomer awoke. He tends to sleep later as he has no steady job, the lazy sot. Of course, I thought, I would stand on my fire escape and view this glorious peep show of the heavens!

I threw on some clothes and climber barefoot out my window. As luck would have it, the sky was clear and the sun was out. With one eye shut, I gazed at the beautiful golden orb and, sure enough, a small black dot was plainly visible. How exciting that I had recalled the event! How wonderful that I had woken up in time to see it! How unfortunate that I had neglected to use eye protection!

After about 45 seconds I had naturally grown terribly bored by the whole damned thing. Hey, I said I was an amateur astronomer. You couldn't pay me enough to look at this shit every day. As I turned away to climb back into my apartment, I caught a whiff of smoke the kind redolent of charred body parts. Could it be? Was it possible? Yes! My right eye had been burned to a cinder and even now had taken on all the characteristics of that overcooked chicken gonad one occasionally finds in the bottom of a KFC bucket. I gasped. I screamed. I clutched my face and wheeled about, intent on running to the bathroom to douse the flames spouting from my cranium. But I twisted my ankle, thrust my had through the window glass and fell flush on to my window box, crushing all of the marigolds. Hey, I don't grow the damned things - the window box was there when I moved in and these flowers just sprout up every year.

So here I sit - one hand and one eye bandaged, marigold juice all over my ass. What's a guy to do? Wait! I've got one good eye and one good hand! Hell-oooooooooooo, Cameron!

post id: 33186900

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