She said, “you so don’t fit in there, everyone’s going on eighty except those can only see it in their rear view mirrors.” “Perhaps,” he said, “but I’m fairly sure I’m on the very young side of things, and it’s nice being the kid in the crowd once again. And anyway, it’s a comforting thought that when the ambulance makes its daily appearance I’m the least likely to be in it.” “Unless,” she laughs, “the others Hear you saying things like that, crochet needles can be lethal you know.”
When I die, my friend Larry said one morning in the third inning of a double header of stoop ball, I want to be burned, not that I intend it to happen any time soon, but when it does. They burned my grandfather I think it was Dachau, but unlike him, I want to kick some ass before it happens. Just let them call me Jew boy I’d like to hear the sound of their balls imploding up into their bladder. They burned my grandmother too, years later, until all that was left was the cancer eating her stomach, but I want to be burned in an oven set up properly for the job, my ashes cast into the wind or maybe in the infield of Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium if Luke Easter is still playing first base for the Bisons. It was only two days later that Larry tripped on the curb outside the variety store on the way home from school and later that day they took his kidney and laid it, all bloody within, on the steel tray. When he came home his mother said he had to be careful when you have only one kidney you can’t fool around and you certainly want to avoid the strain that comes from kicking any ass.
First Appeared in Afterthoughts (Canada), Vol. 2, No. 4, Autumn, 1995.
I made it past 27, which says I’m either an optimist or have almost no musical talent. When I made it through 54 I knew I’d never get burned buried in Paris, never be mourned as a great talent taken or taking myself too young. Now it’s five years until 72 and I know if I make it, I’ll never have the guts, sense, or stupidity to do myself in, so lets now all lift a glass to Jim and Janice, Robert and Jimmy, and hope they play Kurt and Amy when my ferryman finally arrives.
It was tacky then, it’s epitome and six decades and unknown views later it hasn’t changed at all. You don’t expect tackiness to accrete, yet like a black hole this is irrefutable evidence it has. To say it is garish to insult the term, since it is so much more, beyond anything the term can describe. It has grown uglier, something not thought possible, yet here it is. You cannot fathom why Mexico, which truly lies just south of the border, has not filed a diplomatic protest over this quintessential insult. In Jalisco state, you imagine A thousand Pedro’s would cringe if they knew what had been wrought in their name, and the South Carolina state police, you think, they just up the road knowing the wiser travelers will step on the gas in a vain attempt to escape.
They clearly don’t get it and odds are they never will. They think perhaps prayer will work or youth will provide some sort of immunity, maybe an executive decree, good luck with that given the swinging there to that old White House, with the ridiculous spiked fence in the middle of an avenue named first state that’s actually a Commonwealth. They can’t imagine I have a list And all I do is make pickups and drop offs, no thinking, no planning just show up, tie up to the pier and then it’s off down and across the River all day and night, in and out for a payment you ‘llonly make begrudgingly, as if I care, for I have a family to feed too, remember.
We have police for almost everything these days, ports and airports, cities, towns transit authorities and those whose beat is good taste or lack of it. Most enforce laws, some merely regulations, a few making them up as they go. My phone rang this morning, an 800 number, And knowing better, I answered it. It was a bank, one where I have never had an account, telling me there was a problem with my ATM card and I needed to call immediately to reactivate the card. Unfortunately I didn’t write down the the call back number, and now some poor scammer is sitting by his phone with time on his hands, imagining the free meals he might have had doing federal time for wire fraud. If only there were the telephone police, but they have all gone to work for the NSA, recording my callback numbers.
This morning absolutely nothing happened. The newswires were silent, or repeated old stories. The sports wires had nothing of note to say, save repeating yesterday’s scores. Even the gossip news was absent, as though a Saturday night passed without embarrassment. I did not mind the quiet, the almost silence, able to listen to the Mockingbird’s song. But I did wonder how the wrecking ball in Washington so badly overslept.