Lacking the ability to gussy up the scene, let me just say that the sunrise this morning was real pretty. It was pink and there were birds over it and it was like spying on God through a View-Master.
I don't like being ambushed by beautiful nature because it does that thing, that same stupid thing that tragedy and first love and all that stuff does, where it grabs my brain and screams "OH MAN! YOU'RE TINY AND THE WORLD IS BIG!" and I suddenly hate myself for being excited the night before when I beat my wife's Tetris score while playing Gameboy on the toilet.
I realize then that I may not really know what excitement is, or what concepts like "personal best" or "fulfillment" could even look like.
And with that realization, I groan in pain, knowing that some kind of epiphany is probably on its way. Some thought, possibly a life changer, a philosophic doozy, lurches forward to be born.
But at the critical moment, just as the head crowns, there is a sound not unlike stifled flatus, and instead of delivering a baby, I only deliver a deflated, baby shaped balloon, the best of my thoughts diffused back in to synaptic patty cake.
I scramble for my notebook anyway, thinking I better at least pretend that I was going to take seriously whatever it was I almost thought, when I see the little note I have written to myself and my blood freezes and I want to die, just die already.
Now I am not some kind of snob; I enjoy most of the things that the rest of humanity enjoys: rice, Carol Burnett.
But many modern comedy motion pictures are inaccessible to me.
I look around at other people laughing and I just feel sad. I want to ask them, what is here? What do I not know that you all do? Give me the secret information so I may laugh at "Here comes the Boom" with you.
I bury my face in my popcorn and pray that eating and laughing are interchangeably acceptable in the eyes of society. See look, look, I have a soul, I'm eating this popcorn, ain't I?
The thing that worried me about "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" was that lately I have noticed a downward trend in my ability to politely tolerate the majority of situations that constitute "being alive".
Take small talk, for example.
I used to be able to fake it, even get into the act of it a little, but for some reason these days it hurts me physically to do it.
I wonder if everyone I keep chatting with might be some kind of psychic vampire secretly infiltrating the earth for the sole purpose of telling me tomorrow's forecast and then draining me dry as I stumble over a response.
If so, then the vampire Queen must be the poor, genuinely good woman who translates for the deaf student in our class.
I have written of her before; she is the real deal: kind, considerate, respectful.
I even wrote in her birthday card, "You are the nicest person I have ever worked with" and then I tried to draw something which I was not sure even what it was going to be, and it ended up looking like an anthropomorphic pickle filled with remorse.
As much as I admire this woman, I am unable to have a conversation with her. Something in me starts a little countdown timer that will surely result in my entire head exploding if I do not somehow end the exchange prematurely.
My excuses for getting out of small talk with her have literally been as lame as fakely stammering "I have to-have to" and then slowly walking backwards from her.
She stopped me in the hall to tell me how delicious the school pizza was that day.
"Because it was warm. It was really nice that it was warm, they had it in a box, you see," and she drew the dimensions of the pizza box in the air with her finger. "Normally they have it in one of those serving dishes," her hands shaped the dish,"and its barely covered, so it's cold. But today, it was really nice because it was in the pizza box", she made the box again. "It was nice and soft, you know, not hard and dry, it's nice for the kids to have soft, warm pizza."
I have no idea what my face was doing, but inside, it was taking me all the mental grit I had to stay rooted to the spot and hear her out about the warm pizza. She kept using the word "nice" and it became like profanity; harsh to the ear and kind of tacky.
"I just thought it was really nice to have it like that," box shape again,"I'm going to tell them or you could tell them how nice it was and how much the kids enjoyed the pizza today. They could actually chew it because it was soft, and very flavorful when it's warm."
Somehow I knew that it could not go on, that I was going to scream uncontrollably and run directly through the big glass windows at the end of the hallway. My eyeballs must be bulging out, I thought, they just have to be.
Let the Rapture come before this woman smiles shyly and speaks the words "soft pizza" one more time.
The primal kernel in my brain that dictates my most basic functions somehow got a word in, and urged my feet backwards.
"I just-just-" There was now a foot between us and a crack of light.
But she is much kinder then me.
"Oh I know you're busy," she said, signing what must have been "busy", but looked like killing flies with maracas. She patted my arm and walked on.
I almost sagged to the floor. What's wrong with me, I wondered. This is what humans do. They talk about things. The littlest of things, even. It's not hard. You just make your mouth say words like 'oh' and 'great'. When in doubt, just smile. You're human, aren't you?
It was the gravity of this question that I carried with me into the screening of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua."
I came back out, after ninety-two minutes, and was not sure of the answer. My armpits stank and there were bite marks on my thumb from where I'd clamped down on the skin.
Everyone around me was smiling and recalling favorite bits. I had prepared my line already: "I knew Delgado would get his smell back."
Delgado was the disgraced police dog whose failure to protect his human partner had lead to his dismissal from the Mexican police force. The trauma of the experience had left him unable to follow a scent. Only when things are absolutely dire, when Chloe the Beverly Hills Chihuahua is in danger of being lost forever, does Delgado shatter the mental barriers handicapping his nose and redeem himself by saving the day.
"Did you like the movie?"
"I knew Delgado would get his smell back." The person asking me looked confused. Forgot to smile, I thought.
The interpreter approached me hesitantly, signing already as she neared.
"Did you like the movie?" Her hands dug down in invisible dirt, searching for a lost bone.
I smiled big.
"I knew Delgado would get his smell back."
"Uh-huh," she said, and patted my back like I was a child. "I liked that part too."
On the bus ride back to school, the ambient conversations around me played tricks on my ears, sounding like thirty quiet voices whispering "Chihuahua."
Ms.Pam greeted us with her usual lunatic electricity.
She bobbed her head as she counted each student coming through the door, not convinced that we were capable of bringing back the same number of kids that we'd left with.
She grabbed the last guy through the door, and began to interrogate him about the movie.
"Now, was there just one Chihuahua, or a lot of them?"
He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"I don't willy know," he said, after a moment.
"Oh," she said. "Oh." Her eyes unfocused, and drifted towards the sky outside the window.