Wilfred Takes a Vacation

Dear Kathy,

Hi there.  This is Wilfred.  I’ve commandeered your email address to type you an email myself.  And if you can’t remember who I am, check out Marbles’ previous email:  “Introducing Wilfred” (https://alookatlifeinspectacularparticulars.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/introducing-wilfred/)  You know, I’m the invisible tutor seen by only those who use the appropriate amount of imagination.  My reason as to hijacking your email address is simple.  Marbles is mad at me because I said she would never make it as a ninja.  Since that time, she has neglected to share my exploits with you.  I’m sure she would say she’s been too busy with her 2 other jobs and starting grad school and keeping Dexter and Marcos out of trouble, but let’s get real here.  I know pettiness when I see it.

Anyways, I’m asking around for good vacation spots.  It has become necessary that I remove myself from the public eye as far as possible.  It’s really no fault of my own.  There I was, minding my own business in the Tutoring Center, when Silvia came in.  You remember Silvia–she wears pink glasses and drives a VW Beetle.  Anyways, she came in all aflutter because of some drastic revelation on her favorite soap opera.  It seems that on his wedding day, CIA agent Joe Suave’s cover was blown and was whisked away from his fiance.  Silvia was devastated.

“There’ll never be another character like him,” she wailed.  “CIA agents are just so hard to come by.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Dexter said slowly, grinning over her head at Drew.  “We might just have one here.”

“Oh yes,” said Coco.  “We give shelter to so many poor CIA agents.”

“Really?” Silvia paused cleaning her glasses and started to look interested.

“Not really shelter.  More like sanctuary,” added Drew thoughtfully.

“Sactuary,” Silvia repeated slowly.

“Please,” Marbles interrupted without turning around.  “Don’t use the word ‘sanctuary.’  You make him sound like Quasimodo.”

“How about asylum, then?” giggled Coco.

“Well, he is crazy.” Marbles mumbled.

“You mean there’s really an ex-CIA agent hiding here now?” Silvia’s eyes grew wider than her pink rims and scanned every corner of the room.  “Where is he?”

“Who knows?” said Dexter.  “You could be looking at him right now.”

He laughed and tried to continue explaining the binomial theorem, but Silvia was not be deterred.  “So this CIA agent.  What does he look like?  Does he look like Joe Suave in my show?”

“Silvia,” Dexter said very patiently, “no one looks like Joe Suave.  Not even Joe Suave.”

“But where is he?  I want to see him.”  Silvia crossed her arms.

“Silvia,” Dexter’s voice remained even.  “Right now, we need to see how the binomial theorem is a practical part of our everyday lives.  Okay?”

Thirty minutes later, two men in dark suits strode into the room.  I knew instantly they were with the government.  No one else wears sunglasses indoors.

Silvia fluttered even more as they asked Marbles if one of the Center’s workers met this description:  tall male in late 20s with light brown hair, goatee, and glasses.

Silvia whispered very loudly to Dexter, “Are they looking for that Edward the Snowman guy?”

“Snowden, Silvia.  Edward Snowden.”

The G-men bristled when he said that.  But I exploded.  “I’m ex-CIA.  So what?  What does that mean?  I’m a fine, upstanding citizen.  I carpool and recycle and pay my taxes.  I don’t even track dirt into my house.  Goodnight, what’s an invisible guy to do?  Do I look like Edward Snowden to you?”

I ended my rant two inches from G-man #1’s nose.  “You don’t look like anything to them, Wilfred,” Marbles said under her breath.

“Everything looks in order,” the man said, looking around for the mysterious Wilfred he couldn’t see.  “Thank you for your cooperation.”

They left.  And strangely, Silvia quit asking about our CIA agent.  Marbles gave me a red lollipop which made me feel better.  And as I sat sucking on it, I noticed Silvia adjusting her glasses in a peculiar way, as if zooming in and out.  Ah ha, I realized, she tipped them off with those special camera glasses with built-in binoculars and microphones.  She’s a CIA informer!  I about choked on my lollipop.  Silvia–a CIA informer!  Now that’s not fair.  They never gave me a pair of those cool glasses when I worked for the CIA.  I can’t help it if I’m naturally clumsy.

Anyways, it is very tiresome right now to be ex-CIA.  I need to get away until this whole news story blows over.  I was thinking somewhere not Russia.  What are Canada’s policies on invisible travelers?

Oh, dear.  Marbles is coming back.  Do not divulge the contents of this email!  I may or may not have had permission to access your email address.

Save the whales,
Wilfred

High Society Spring

Proserpine’s a debutante who
comes out every year.

Waiting, Ceres cloaked
in  February wraps
frets and wrings the heads
off new-picked daffodils.  This
should be a happy evening, but
Pluto glowers in the darkest
corner, upset at having
only the first waltz.

Proserpine, a debutante,
greets the audience in silence.
A child laughs.

Ceres, pale with motherly
concern, turns her frosty face
on the puerile guest–who
is promptly escorted out.

Proserpine curtsies
and debuts in high society
a different way each year.
As the conductor’s wand sparks
the music, Proserpine with
pearl necklace glowing
dances more lithely than
nymphs in seawater.

With a sigh of relief, Ceres
slowly releases her grip
on the slender glass.  French
doors sweep open and people
of importance in greens, blues,
and gold mingle like the colors
of a summer sunset.

Proserpine shines in
the twilight stars and Ceres
smiles like roses blooming.
The evening’s warm and
Ceres, content with the stirring
elm trees, sheds her satin cape.

 

Proserpine’s a debutante who
comes out with the spring.

April Adventure of a Paranoid Germophobe

This is not a poem. This
is a joke.  Poetry does
not discuss dead rodents,
snow shovels, or squirrel
tails in a driveway.  This
is not a poem.

This is the account
of an introvert finding
a smelly mound of fur
in her driveway.  Was it
rat, rabbit–Big Foot’s toupe,
who knows.  I didn’t.

With no prince, servant,
or magic ring, I gloved
my paranoid hands in latex.
I searched the dank
culvert beneath my house for
a snow shovel, and found it.
My shield was a trash
bag–two to be precise.  Time
was of the essence.

After the foul deed was done and
the foul creature was deposited
in the blue barrel to my left, like
a check in the bank, time for
decontamination.

We decontaminate calmly,
rationally–like surgeons after
surgery.  Well, more like
turn lever no water turn
lever wash shovel wash
hands discard gloves
Lysol (TM) shoes take
shower wash
hair wash hands eat
food watch TV.

Watch an insipid
squirrel challenge his
own reflection in the glass
porch door, self-important
and strange in the spring
afternoon.  Write poor
poetry because

This is not a poem.
Trust me, it’s not.
This is a joke.  Hope you
had fun.

Wilfred’s Other Job

Dear Kathy,

Greetings from the grid.  That’s what the W looks like since our dear corner of campus started having some serious electricity issues.  A recent electrical spike sent our computer system into a frenzy, erasing all our appointments for the day and locking out both Sallie and Sabrina….not a good day in the tutoring center.  So, to fully repair all electrical weirdness, our facilities crew decided to reengineer the wiring on 3rd floor.  With all the ceiling tiles are down and the multi-colored wires exposed, the hallways look a little like the spaceship in Alien.

And yes, this does lead to a Wilfred story.  Wilfred’s latest escapade began before the electrical troubles last week.   I walked into work to find Wilfred standing on a filing cabinet removing pencils from the ceiling tiles.  Evidently, he, Marcos, and Dexter decided to try out some pencil trajectory myth they saw on Mythbusters.  Using Mythbusters as an excuse did not save them from a lecture.  While Marcos and Dexter looked sufficiently repentant, Wilfred ignored me and pushed through the upper tiles.  “Eureka!” he cried and disappeared into the ceiling.

He now routinely crawls through that ceiling corner and wanders through the building, above the electrical wiring and through the air ducts.

But now Wilfred is as happy as a lark without ceiling tiles to impede his access in and out of his private tunnels.  He uses them most often to visit the library.  Says it’s too boring to go on foot.  “After all,” he routinely informs me, “going to the library deserves to be dramatic.”

Yesterday morning he came in strangely silent.  He even walked past the donuts without taking one.  That’s when we knew something was wrong.  “What’s going on, Wilfred?” Dexter said.

Wilfred let down a loud sigh and said, “My motorcycle is out of commission.  I had to ride the bus again today.  And you know how much I despise public transportation since I contracted this wretched cold.  Now I’ll have to walk to work and all the fencing students will be without help!”

“Wilfred,” Spencer said absently, “you haven’t had a single fencing student since you started tutoring.”

Wilfred waved away the objection and slumped into his chair.  “Oh the CIA will not be happy about this.”

Since I started working with Wilfred, I’ve learned that sometimes I just shouldn’t ask questions.  Marcos hasn’t yet learned this lesson.  “What did you say about the CIA?”

“I work for the CIA,” Wilfred declared as if it was the most natural thing in the world.  “You’ve always heard about how the CIA has a file on everyone, right?  Well, they can’t have actual agents everywhere spying on everyone.  That’s what entry-level agents like me do–report on the common peasantry of the good ole’ U.S.A.”

Spencer put down his magazine.  “Wilfred, you’re a fencing tutor with a penchant for computer hacking–”

“That was not hacking!” Wilfred interjected.

“With a penchant for computer hacking,” Spencer repeated.  “How did you get hired by the CIA?”

Wilfred launched into another story and, since he’s nearly as long-winded as I am, I’ll spare you most of it.  But the synopsis is that after the CIA discovered he had the secret of cold fusion, they hired him hoping he would help out their scientists.  (He still hasn’t explained the whole cold fusion thing and I consider it better to not ask.)  Evidently the motorcycle is part of his standard CIA equipment.

As he finished his story, he sighed again.  “I’m just a tutor to help with extra expenses.  Some day I’ll be a full-fledged CIA agent.  But until my motorcycle’s repaired, I’ll be walking to and from work.  720i  Graham Place seems a long, long way away.”

“Graham Place?” Dexter frowned.  “Isn’t that where you live, Marbles?”

Every inch of me wanted to say “No”–that I lived anywhere but Graham Place.  Before I could answer, Wilfred leaped up.  “You do!  Why this is perfect.  We can carpool.”

And what could I do?  Be an ogre and say, “No!  I don’t want to save the planet by carpooling!”  Well…I decided against being an ogre.

That’s why I’m dashing off this garrulous letter to you now.  I’m about to leave my house to pick up Wilfred.  I now carpool with an invisible guy who lives at an imaginary address.

If I don’t contact you within 2 weeks, come looking for me.  Forget about the spectrum of craziness–bythattime, I’llprobably have gone officially insane.  The things I do to cut down on carbon emissions.

Your eco-friendly,
Marbles

Wilfred Has a Cold

Dear Kathy,

Happy Summertime! Now that you’re out of school, you must come say HI to us here at the W. Your law internship can spare you a half-hour visit to your lowly alma mater. Drew’s not working this summer and neither is Ty, but they both said they’d be dropping by from time to time. We seriously need to have some sort of party when Coco finishes Elementary Statistics. She’s taking it this summer. Personally, I think our brilliant friend is crazy. Anyways, she deserves a party when she gets done and Wilfred is demanding a party for when he gets over his cold.

Good grief. You have never known a hypochondriac until you’ve met Wilfred. The first day of summer school tutoring he came in with a scarf wrapped around his head and a portable vapor machine.

“What are you doing Wilfred?” Ella said confused, pausing her sketch.

“Nothing,” he replied loftily, “I am sick.”

He walked through our midst and sat on his favorite couch sniffing loudly. Since it was the first day, we didn’t have many students. And Sabrina from the computer lab has started working there in the Tutoring Center–she’s our supplementary desk worker since Sallie has such a heavy class load this summer.  And you know us.  Without students, the conversation turns quickly to other more interesting things like movies and books and art and the purpose of Silly String.  (That last topic was courtesy of Marcos.)  Today, our conversation was more refined–mostly due to Sabrina’s stack of books about painting.  Once we finished discussing watercolor triumphs of our childhood, we started a fairly intellectual debate concerning Van Gogh and Picasso.  The whirl of opinions had reached a crescendo when Wilfred let out a hacking cough.

“Bless you,” I said.

Wilfred glared at me.  “I do not deserve blessing because I coughed,” he said imperiously.

I don’t know when I picked up this habit, but I always say “Bless you” when someone coughs or sneezes.  “Sorry,” I shrugged, “I didn’t grow up here.  I get confused.”

Sabrina smiled.  “That’s been your excuse for everything today.  First for not knowing who Andy Warhol was and now for saying ‘bless you’ for a cough.  And don’t try to tell me that’s how you used to do it in Bolivia.”

To be honest…no, it wasn’t.  But I could hardly confess that in the face of everyone laughing.  So I said nothing, trying to look as imperious as Wilfred did at that moment.  It didn’t do much good.

“How’d you get so sick?” said Coco, putting down her Sudoku book.

Wilfred breathed in deeply through his vaporizer before saying, “Ah.  Therein lies a morbid tale of germs and public transporation systems and unwashed hands.  I will explain, but I warn you…it is a grizzly story.

“I ride the bus to work.  You know, ride the bus and save the planet?  Well, being invisible usually allows me to sit wherever I please.  Three days ago, however, was different.  As I mounted the bus, all the seats were taken!  And do you know who was on it?  An entire league of–of–texting teenagers.  And in the midst of that sea of iPods humming and keypads beeping, someone was coughing.  And not just any someone.  The only someone with a seat open next to them.  So I sat by that specimen of technological slavery and societal ignorance.  He coughed right into his hand and then offered to shake mine in greeting.  And what could I do?  He could see me right away.  He didn’t even have to think about it.  And that doesn’t happen very often–people have so little imagination and well…”

Wilfred paused and affected a lordly condescension.  “It was my duty to acknowledge the boy.  So I shook his hand.”

His noble demeanor shattered.  “And I’ve been coughing and sniffing ever since.  Achoo!”

“Bless you,” countered Marcos and Coco in unison.

“Thank you I suppose,” said Wilfred grudgingly.  “Though it will come to no good.  I’ve been infected with an insidious cold by nefarious villains.  I can feel my bronchial tubes swelling.  The rhythm of my diaphragm has been growing more ragged.  It’s probably to the point of diphtheria by now.”

Did I mention he was a hypochondriac?

At the mention of diphtheria, Dexter assumed his most doctor-like expression and commanded, “Turn off that ridiculous machine and take a seat on the table.”

Wilfred obeyed.  Dexter pulled out his flashlight key chain and said, “Say ‘Ah’.”

“Dexter, you have a Despicable Me keychain!” said Marcos in delight.  “Those are so cool!”

Dexter lowered the flashlight and pronounced a solemn diagnosis–“There’s nothing wrong with you.  Stop using that crazy machine.  Take your vitamins.  And may the force be with you.”

In response, Wilfred coughed loudly.

“Bless you!”

Have a germ-free day, Kathy.  See you soon.

Your Friend,
Marbles

Disclaimer:  This, and all other stories documenting Wilfred and the tutors at William Henry Harrison College, is a work of fiction.  All similarities to other personages, real or imaginary (or invisible), is a slight coincident.  😉

Wilfred and the Leprechauns

Dear Kathy,

So glad to hear that law school is going well.  On that note, is there any way to get out of jury duty?  The Tutoring Center has been served a rash of them recently…yep, Marcos, Coco, Drew, and Wilfred have all been summoned to serve our country in the court system.  And, well, they all would prefer to serve our country some other way.  So I told them I’d ask you.  (They don’t have a chance short of a broken leg, do they?)  Anyways, since you seemed so amused by Wilfred’s antics on Valentine’s Day, I knew you would enjoy this short tale from St. Patrick’s Day.

I had a crazy morning.  My alarm clock broke.  I dropped my coffee cup and stepped on a piece of glass.  I didn’t know the forecast and dressed for weather like yesterday–sunny, breezy 70s.  Well, I walked into work sopping wet from the 40-degree rain and was greeted by Dexter and Coco shouting, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”

“Bah humbug to you too,” I muttered and sat down in my favorite swivel chair.

“You’re not wearing green,” said Marcos with a mouthful of pretzel.

“Oh,” I looked down at my blue T-shirt and brown cargo pants, “I forgot….Marcos, what are you doing?”

“Recreational engineering,” he answered, scewering a red jelly bean with a coffee stir, “We found expired jelly beans from last Christmas in the file cabinet, so I’m making a polycarbonate chain with them.  The red jelly beans are carbon atoms and the coffee stirs are my hydrogen bonds.”

“Where’s the green in your polycarbonate chain?” Coco asked.  “You’re not being very festive.”

“I’m saving those for another project,” Marcos replied in a wounded voice.  “Don’t pick on me. I’m already wearing green and I’m not even Irish, Coco Fitzpatrick.”

The next few minutes were spent in analyzing our family trees for any Irish roots.  Most of us found some except for Marcos and Dexter.  (Poor Dexter could only remember his Dutch and German forefathers with lots of “van” and “von” before their last names.)  Spencer was using his gift of gab to tell us about some long-lost relatives who own an Irish castle or something when Wilfred stormed in.

“Are they here yet?” he asked breathless.

“Who, Wilfred?” I asked wearily.

He stood catching his breath for a few minutes before assuming a non-chalant expression and strolling over to me.  He put a clipboard up beside his face to hide it from everyone else and said, “The F.B.I. of course.”

“No, they haven’t,” I responded, too tired to ask why on earth the F.B.I. would show up at our tutoring center.  After working with Wilfred for a while, you just accept statements like that.

“Oh good,” he said, wiping his brow, “then the leprechauns are still safe.”

My face responded for me.  “Marbles, you look like you just swallowed a cupful of Crisco,” Spencer remarked drily.  “What did Wilfred say this time?”

“He thinks the F.B.I. is after the leprechauns,” I repeated.

“I don’t think, Marbles,” Wilfred said solemnly, “I know.  When you’ve been invisible long enough, you learn things–government conspiracy kind of things.  This is a bigger secret than Roswell.”

He then launched into his story.  I would repeat it, but it was really too complicated to remember.  Something about a stash of gold found near D.C. in the 70s and Nixon trying to cover up his belittlement of the Little People and the area around Asheville really being called Area 61.  And there was something about red-headed politicians thrown in there, but I don’t know how that connected.  As you can imagine, I responded with statements of incredulity like normal.  (How many ways are there to respond to Wilfred?  Neutrality is often the only preventative for going insane.)  Well, Dexter and Coco demanded to hear the Wilfred story, so I sat down and started re-telling the tale–with all the government agents searching for fairy rings, ATF officers outlawing mushrooms, and renegade leprechauns storming Fort Knox.  Soon Marcos put down his polycarbonate model and leaned in to listen.  Just as I was nearing the end of the story, Dexter shouted, “Holy cow, Marbles, there’s a guy right behind you.  Where did he come from?”

I looked behind me and saw Wilfred standing there with his arms crossed in amusement.

“Yikes!” Coco responded.  I see him too.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Marcos said, “how come we can see you now, but not this morning?”

“You finally used your imagination,” Wilfred said.  “I knew you all had one.”  He paused to sit on the computer table.  “You see, it takes an imagination to see your invisible co-worker, just like it takes imagination to believe I tutor fencing.  But both are true.  I am invisible and I tutor fencing.”

“But we don’t have a fencing class,” Coco frowned.

Wilfred waved the idea away.  “That’s none of my concern.  I just worry about being on time.”

“You’re never on time,” Spencer mumbled.  But I heard him…and so did Dexter.

“You could see him this whole time, Spencer?” Dexter pointed at him in astonishment.  “Suppression!”

Spencer’s eyes widened a little as he realized he had been found out.  Wilfred started laughing and Marcos choked on his pretzel.  I did not laugh, or choke, or widen my eyes.  My face just turned the shade of a Maraschino cherry as I sputtered, “Spencer Whatever-your-middle-name-is Romley, you little fiend!”

Spencer brushed away a mild blush and shrugged, “Oh come on.  When was the last time you heard any self-respecting psychology student actually admit to seeing…an invisible fencing tutor?”

He popped a few M&Ms in his mouth.  We were all silent for a few minutes.  “Hey,” Wilfred said with a burst of eureka, “why don’t we play Tesla’s Coil of Horror?”

“What is that?” Dexter frowned.

“Oh it’s this great game that’s a cross between Hungry, Hungry Hippos using Tesla’s coil set in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” Wilfred explained casually.

With a sudden surge of interest, Dexter, Coco, and Marcos joined Wilfred in his game while Spencer left on his lunch break.  Sometimes, I wonder about us.  I guess Owl City says it nicely, “Reality’s a lovely place.  But I wouldn’t want to live there.”  On behalf of the WHHC tutors, Kathy…have a normal day, please.

Marbles