Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Friend Portrait: The Marine

The first of the Summer Friend Visits has happened, and I had to post another Friend Portrait in honor.

I visited The Marine in his native environs last night and had a fabulous time. I use the word "fabulous" specifically here, because he uses the word fabulous. This is one of the very many things I enjoy about The Marine -- he loves to use archaic or out-dated vernacular, especially if it's confusing for folks. He's not in the slightest bit gay, but loves to use the word "fabulous" enough that people really give him a double take and wonder what the hell is going on there. He likes the fact that not only does it have the fey connotation, but it was a word grandmas used in the early 60's -- both images jar people enough to make him quite happy.

The Marine got his pseudonym not only from the fact that he is a former Marine, but that he is hard-headed and staunch enough to this day to warrant it. You wouldn't assume right off the bat that he had served in the military, with the metal sculptures he created scattered about the front porch and yard (one of which includes a HEART SHAPE of all non-military things), the tango parlor in his house, or the love he displays toward his pets (currently a fuzzy Siamese-mix cat, but formerly a geriatric little chipmunk named Gonzo he rescued while still in the military). Much of the picture of the current Marine doesn't strike one as particularly militant.

Of course if you ask his opinion of just about anything, you would get a distinctly military whiff of gunpowder and cold steel coming right back at you -- despite the cozy details of his house. The Marine has a few opinions, and isn't afraid to share them.

The Marine also likes power. We had a fabulous conversation about this fact early on in our relationship his part of which I will paraphrase:
"You know what, in a standard Portland drinking party you can get away with a good bit of chauvinism, some racism, and tons of ageism -- you can be plenty non-P.C and hardly be a blip on the social radar. But when I'm at a party and I say in conversation that I enjoy power, you should SEE the reaction I get. People flip out immediately, and mount the attack. It's amazing."

This love is why he flew fighter jets, why he enjoys using a cutting torch and shooting guns (he's a "registered marksman" or somesuch, with the government). Nothing deranged, just a healthy attraction for that-which-moves-things, or destroys those things in the trying.

Thinking back to this conversation was what solidified his nickname. It's not entirely accurate, in that it doesn't present the side of him that is a strong social justice advocate, peace advocate, environmentalist, and father. But hoo hah to that, he's totally a Marine, and should you meet him you'd feel the same.

There were a few purposes for my visit outside of just socializing with an old friend. I picked up some color slides and some black and white negatives he took when he came up to visit me at the fire lookout. There is precious little documentation in film of my life in general, and since I was writing the journals up on my other blog I figured some visuals would be nice to have. I also needed to drop a check off for the M.S. 150 bikathon fund raiser he does every year. Lastly, I needed desperately to see his carnivorous plant collection. In the order of importance, this last point actually should have been first.

That reminds me, I was supposed to get a few starts from him and failed to pick them up. Got to get back over there -- The Wife can have her orchids and I'll have my carnivorous plants... perfect.

The Marine and I first met over bones. My girlfriend at the time came running breathlessly into our room in NW Portland one day and said "there's this guy at the art house across the street, his room is full of BONES you HAVE to SEE THEM, they're AMAZING. He even has a DOLPHIN SKULL!!" I got myself over there right away.

He lived at the time on the ground floor of a cooperative art-house, with french-doors to his room. The first thing I noticed was that he had a 2x4 across the threshold of the french doors. "That is to keep Gonzo in -- she's old so can't jump over it, works fine." I walked into the room, and sure enough, was surrounded by bones. Little skulls on the bookshelves, what looked to be a human femur made into a flute, and enormous vertebrate that could easily be used to make furniture. These were whale vertebrae. They are still on his front porch today... looking bitchin as ever.

"Oh, you are barefoot. You might want to jump up on something, Gonzo doesn't like competing smells, she'll bite your feet if she gets a chance." Nothing like the thought of an attacking rodent to keep you keen in a conversation. I scrunched up on his bed like a scared little girl.

The conversation that ensued rambled from his trips to Baja kayaking every year, to his time traveling in Africa, to Buddhism and non-violence, to anarchism and the lunacy of gun control. It was a great start to what is now a long friendship. I realized on this last visit that we've been friends now for over 16 years. That's just nutty.

I guess I've burned enough text on The Marine tonight. There is so much more to tell, but I'll leave the telling in context as we hang out more.

OH, I will present the details of the refreshments I was served after we had our carnivorous plant tour. First was 90% single-plantation dark chocolate (he had 100% available but we decided upon the lesser), and next was Pulque. This is a milky, fizzy alcoholic beverage that is made from Agave, like Tequila. It's like Agave beer or wine. Not very easy to get, but it agrees with his sensitive guts and is strange enough to fit in with the rest of his life, so he hoards it.


Trappin' Pat said...

Quite strange reading such a nice account of myself. Feels like I’m reading my own eulogy (which BTW you have my permission to write if you have the unfortunate opportunity to write it).

I’ll select a sarracenia (North American Pitcher) for you when you return.

Bpaul said...

Why thank you sir! Which one was that... one of the tall green ones?

I was half expecting some fact-checking, as poetic license does tend to sneak into these posts... just a bit you know.

I hope to never write your eulogy, but if called will serve. You're not THAT much older than me.

Trappin' Pat said...

One of the not so tall green ones ;) The Sarracenia are prolific breeders (as well as voracious bug consumers).

As far as eulogy, I have no plans to check out soon but I'm no longer too shocked to watch contemporaries leave the planet. It appears that there's some strange (apparently) random element at work.

Bpaul said...

Rocking, I can't wait

for the plant that is

not the eulogy.