I live with a coyote. That’s what the Native Americans called people who sneak up and scare you or make prank smoke signals or put their icy hands down your loincloth -- all crimes committed by my sweetheart, Patti. I am sleeping with the enemy.

Patti claims little responsibility for her terrorism. She figures that if she is standing behind you for 10 minutes while you cook a meal and finally turn around and scream, that’s your problem. Never mind that she poses like one of the creepy twins from The Shining.

“Play with us, Jason. Forever and ever and ever...”

Patti definitely has the patience of a coyote. She is willing to wait however long -- behind a door, under the bed, holding the Downward Dog asana. If she could hover on a chord like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, believe me, she would.

Patti likes it most when I go into karate mode like Mr. Furley. It’s so good to her that she jumps up and down like a girl at the circus. One time she turned to me for a high-five!

“Yeah, honey,” I say. “That’s great. Do you know where I put the Xanax?”

Then she reenacts the whole thing, holding her face like The Scream. “This is you. Here. Look.”

I myself do not share the prankster gene. I don’t even have the nerve to throw a surprise party. So it goes.

Patti, on the other hand, will go through the trouble of parking her car around the corner so I think she’s not home. Then I’ll settle in for a bath and eventually come up for air, and WHAM -- The Shining. She may as well write in steam on the bathroom mirror.

Patti, mind you, is an otherwise gentle woman. She takes her tea on the porch and requires a certain amount of slow-dancing. It’s just when she howls at the moon. Ouw-ouw-ouwooo!

One night I was playing guitar in the SUV, our only sound-proof room, when everything started to shake. Once. Twice. On three, I called Patti to see if she felt the earthquake, when I heard her phone outside the car. I knew it to be my call by the circus-music ringtone. I opened the back to find Patti rolling on the ground, laughing so hard that it came in dry heaves.

“I got it on camera,” she said, waving her phone. “I’m gonna post it on Facebook.”

Patti is now onto wet willies, especially at bedtime. Last night she gave me a deep willy and said, “Don’t wipe it ... Don’t ... Dooon’t ...” And I didn’t wipe because that’s the man I’ve become.

I can only assume that Patti does these things because she likes me, the way Regina Walker liked me in third grade when she ratted my hair with Hubba Bubba.

Patti’s crowning moment came last Halloween at Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest, where zombies jump out at every corner. It would be ... Coyote Paradise. Patti laughed so hard that security came over to make sure she was all right.

“Yes,” she said, doubled over. “It’s just that ... Grrrrr.” Patti was mocking a sound I had made after a psycho jumped out of the tree with a chainsaw. Good times.

I’m afraid that Patti is addicted. What’s next? Wedgies? Nipple twisters? The Dutch Oven? All I know is that I tiptoe around the house and sleep with one eye open, spittle in my ear, watching the moon for any sudden changes. Ouw-ouw-ouwooo!


Owed to a Friend

I want you to meet my friend Dylan, a full-color cartoon living in a black-and-white world. You’d think that society couldn’t handle a guy like that, but it turns out that society has no choice. There’s no law against laughing too loud or singing in lobbies or changing your clothes on the street. Wait -- there may be a law against that last one.

And while some people cannot, in fact, handle the man, the rest of us are attracted like moths to his light.

Last week I pulled up beside Dylan at a stoplight. Instead of waving as you might, Dylan opened his door and ran over to say hi.

“Hey, stranger!” he said, banging my car. “You don’t write, you don’t call…”

Dylan’s Labrador, Leopold, who considered himself Dylan’s brother, got out of the car and also ran over. The driver behind gave us the stink eye, and Dylan, sensing the the pressure, said goodbye and demanded that I call or else he’d order an air strike.

The light turned green while Dylan chased his dog around the car, a couple of Keystone Cops. Drivers honked and grumbled and otherwise played their parts. Dylan finally muscled Leopold into the car, smiling like a man who can appreciate an unplanned dog chase.

He owns six cars, but Dylan chose to drive a rusty Cadillac ragtop that belonged on Sanford and Son. Dylan said it’s a classic, but I, a layperson, called it a piece of duker. The top didn’t close, passenger door stuck, and oh yeah, there was a giant happy face on the hood. This is the car that Dylan insisted we drive to the beach.

Halfway through the canyon, the engine started to lose important-sounding parts. To address the situation, Dylan turned up the radio. Smoke began to trickle through the vents.

“No problem,” he yelled. “We’ll run the heater to cool off the engine.”

Flames now.

“Okay,” said Dylan … pausing for comedic effect … “We may have to stop.”

Dylan lifted the hood to release a column of smoke. Native Americans could read it from miles: “Oh, white man screwed.” Dylan took off his shirt and whacked at the flames, jester to the gods. Then he looked at me and shrugged.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” he said in a Mexican accent. It was Mexican today. The day before, he did British. “Today, amigo, we surf!”

Dylan turned to solicit a ride from passers-by, not by sticking his thumb out but by standing in the road. Moments later, we bounced up and down on a pickup en route to the beach, our Cadillac smoldering yonder. Dylan called a tow truck and asked them to give it a proper burial. They were happy to do it, and would that be Visa or MasterCard.

These things happen every time I see the guy. You might find Dylan playing basketball with the guys at the car wash. You’ll catch him parked the wrong way on a residential street, chatting with the meter maid. When he leaves a voicemail, it’s always in song. Last time, Jim Croce:

“Operator, would you help me place this call … you see my friend has become just a little bit flaky…”

I’m not saying the guy is superhuman; I am just suggesting that we can, by one man’s example, break free from the stares and become who we really are. Or Dylan will order an air strike.