It was windy when we left the museum at Daley Plaza; we walked several blocks trying to decide what we were going to do. Since that section of Dallas doesn’t have much going for it until after dark, we caught a cab back to the hotel. When we arrived, we found my youngest daughter had been traumatized into semi-catatonia by the noises coming from the suite next door. She was in shock, her face was white, and her hands were cold. We revived her by putting her hands under warm water and promising to take her shopping. Soon after, she explained what had happened. After a terrible, overpriced breakfast at the hotel, she returned to bed with a stomach ache, hoping to get some rest. The young couple with three little children next door had other plans. The little monsters had been wailing like banshees since seven o’clock that morning and they hadn’t even come up for air. They were slamming doors, jumping off the bed, and screaming at each other all morning.

By ten o’clock the grandparents showed up to take the three little bastards out for the day, and try to run some of their energy off. So, for a few brief minutes, things were quiet. Nonetheless, as soon as the kids were out the door, the parents decided it was time for butt-spanking, headboard-banging, and livestock-sounding sex. The cattle sounds echoed down the hall.

My youngest daughter exclaimed, “It was horrible! What do people do that for?”

“For five or ten minutes, usually,” I replied.

My wife gave me a shot in the ribs with her elbow and tried to comfort my daughter. Apparently, she was so horrified that she had pounded on the wall with her fist, trying to get them to hold it down. In total desperation, she flipped on the television and turned up the volume as high as it could go. However, by then the first images of the earthquake and tsunami were appearing on CNN. As the skyscrapers in Tokyo were shaking like leaves on trees, and the massive tidal was rolling across the Japanese coast, leaving a swath of destruction, the couple next door was deep in passion screaming, “Oh, God! Oh, God, Oh, my God!!!'”

My daughter would no doubt link the two events as cause and effect: the moaning next door caused the devastation in Japan. It will take years of psychotherapy to reveal either an inherent fear of sex or, on the contrary, a perverse desire to make the earth shake and buildings collapse. The mind does funny things.

I let her mother deal with the situation. My wife reassured her that the tsunami had nothing to do with the people next door, and that Mommy and Daddy didn’t do “horrible things like that,” (at least not when she is home). As soon as we agreed to take her shopping, the color returned to her face. We took her to the Disney store, bought her a plush doll, and got her some macaroni and cheese. All was right with the world.

The scenes on the television out of Japan were horrifying. I had a hard time putting it into words. The word “disaster,” which means the “un-lining up of the stars” really didn’t come close in describing what was unfolding on television. The adjective “Apocalyptic” didn’t work either because this word connotes a “revelation” or “discovery.” The word “Catastrophe” didn’t work either because it implies a reversal of fortune, the opposite of what is supposed to happen. The Hebrew word “holocaust” came a bit closer because it means “the burned whole,” and it evoked the buildings in flames we were seeing. After some thought, I finally arrived at the expression “cataclysmic holocaust” because it suggested a nuclear-cloud darkened skies, black rain, atomic fallout, women, children and the elderly naked and half-burned to death, screaming in Edvard Munch-like horror, while house-destroying wave came crashing down, leaving debris and beached ships. It was nightmarish, end of the world stuff.

Maybe my daughter was right: sex isn’t much different from a nuclear meltdown.

Cross-posted at My Ongoing Struggle with Misanthropy: http://jimmygabacho.com/?p=641

Gabacho– according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy– is derived from an old Provençal word “gavach,” meaning a person from the foothills of the Pyrenees who spoke incorrectly. These days, it means “outsider,” somebody who just doesn’t fit in.

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