Ada is away for the weekend at her COLA council retreat, and she took the coffee maker with her. The retreat is a yearly chore which involves being cloistered in a lodge or some cabins and struggling with the identity and goals of an organization made up of numerous latino community centers and immigrant outreach groups. I find that Voltron is a helpful metaphor.
For readers who didn’t watch a sufficiency of cartoons in the eighties, Voltron was a japanese cartoon dubbed into english. Five dark-haired, wide-eyed teenagers in tight, colorful outfits protected the planet from an endless succession of invading machines and monsters using tanks, which looked and moved like giant cats. I think they were cats… [engaging you-tube time travel device]… actually, the tanks more closely resembled a cross between a pit-bull and a cougar. They rarely broke down and were capable of managing average levels of invasive aggression, but the plot in every episode wound its way predictably to the same precipice where the the cat-dog fighting vehicles became outmatched in battle. They then had to form Voltron, and you could count on Voltron to settle things down quick.
Forming Voltron involves a few easy-to-follow steps:
- The guy driving the cat-dog that makes V’s head has to make a statement of intent, such as, “Ready to form Voltron!” Which, looking back now seems so cool headed. If I was the head during a doomsday battle, I believe my language would be saltier.
- Some technical operation involving interlocking the dynatherms to power up the infracells, which fire the megathrusters and cause a cat-dog face shaped terminal to unfold in the cockpit of the head.
- All five operators have to cheer in unison, “GO VOLTON FORCE!” In the cartoon the screen is split five ways so the audience can verify that everyone is participating with the proper enthusiasm. Perhaps this is a final security protocol with voice recognition software in place to prevent unauthorized use of proprietary technology. Or maybe it’s just for fun.
- Head shouts off a checklist as Voltron assembles: two catdogs make feet and legs, another pair make the arms and torso, and then Mr. Napoleon complex yells triumphantly, “I’ll form the head!” A robot face clicks open out of the jaws of the chief cat-dog, resembling the 80’s primary colors version of an old nordic warlord wearing a cured wolf’s head for a helmet. One of Voltron’s cold metal eyes flashes a starburst of light, a life-spark to let the audience know that V is more than just an assemblage of cat-dogs.
Voltron forms in grand pyrotechnic fashion- imagine a cross between a space shuttle liftoff and a Pink Floyd concert, and immediately commences breaking parts off opponents. Since it has cat-dog tanks for hands and feet, it is capable of doing little else. Really, it’s a clumsy giant, and its metaphorical usefulness in describing COLA breaks down quickly. It’s just that, Voltron’s strength comes from it’s unity. Cat-dog leg/foot can’t can’t bitch about the sorry punch cat-dog arm/torso just threw. They’re a band. They’re Led flippen’ Zeppelin, and they have a job to do.
So this weekend COLA is forming the head, and the lord knows they have work to do, because the creek done rose. But did she have to take the coffee maker with her? Who does that? I wandered downstairs Saturday morning to find this imposter coffee maker in the place of my old friend. It’s white, which is jarring after 10 years of mornings with a black maker. More vexing is its lack of components necessary to the actual making of coffee.
On the bright side, the 2 block walk to Whole Fud for their delicious Costa Rican drip realized the following:
- A sun drenched cuddle session with a black cat who scamped up calling out like we were long lost companions. I had black long underwear on as pants (the thick kind that can pass for sweats) so he may have mistaken me for kin.
- A gripe session with another customer and our cashier about the crappiness of the background music piped in from WF headquarters. It was some terrible bastard child of pop and christian rock, without any reference to the deity. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy both the pop and Amy Grant, but this was just bad. I relish any opportunity to get the workers there talking trash about their employer. Most of them are very independent minded and chafe under the corporate control there that’s as inflexible as any Walmart or (fill in blank with any highly successful system for delivering goods of predictable quality at rock bottom prices.) They usually oblige me in quiet, conspiratorial voices, with timid, sideways searches for management.
- A neighbor gardening in a pink silk kimono. I couldn’t tell if it was pajamas or just her favorite gardening outfit.
- A goddarn stainless steel kitchen sink curbside. I’ve been taking trips to the scrap yard periodically to look for architectural salvage for my tree house, so I carried that prize home to trade for other scrap. Casually walking home, sink in hand, I realize I’m just another Highland Street anomaly.
Time to walk back for a refill, which I will most likely not pay far.
an addendum, and sorry to overblog, but the refill walk was strikingly similar to the original:
1. I took the alternate route, heading downhill away from WF/downtown and then turned back up Holland St, where we lived our newlywed mirror lives across the street five years ago in a four square house the exact mirror opposite of our current home. Inverted stairs, kitchen, bath- otherwise identically built within two years of each other in the 20’s. Next door to our old house I was greeted by sweet Sonny the tabby cat, who’s gotten older and sweeter. Sonny, not to be confused with Sunny, the hippie wild child predecessor who pulled up all our driveway gravel and made me feel grouchy and old, never tires of being held and will purr and press his head against my scruffy chin and nuzzle into my neck. I always tire out first. He never bites or scratches and never refuses to love. He may be the buddha.
2. My scrap barter horde has increased by not 2 but 3 metal recliners from different curbsides.
3. Another neighborhood specimen, an aging unfrozen caveman who’d shaved but neglected to address his mad hair was out piddling in the yard, clad only in cheerful boxers. I passed without greeting, because at that point i was hauling a truckload of chairs home, sweating in my long underwear.