Old Habits Die Hard

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It was supposed to be a fun birthday party, but Uncle Ed let it get out of hand. He was always horsing around with lighter fluid, and one thing led to another.

 

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His secretary at work had made off with a plutonium cylinder that could end all life as we know it. That had him upset. That and the fact that they had been having an affair, and his wife was about to find out.

 

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We were going to go to a wild animal park after the merry go-round, but the animals all became extremely shy when they heard we were coming. Apparently, our reputation preceded us.

 

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Instead we got lost in nearby corn field, and it took thirty six hours to find the last of the children. The parents were furious with Uncle Ed, but he just laughed it off, like he did everything.

 

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Ed eventually opened a vacuum cleaner repair shop outside of Huron, South Dakota. When that failed, he tried a cafe. A lot of people told him the building lacked character.  He just laughed and took out his lighter fluid.

You and What Army?

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Yes, it’s a nightmare, but it’s my nightmare. It’s my childhood. The paucity of imagination that went into my surroundings. The braindead were in charge.

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Television was no comfort.

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No hanky panky could change the essential blandness

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Only contact with nature might provide the needed spark

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Certainly nothing man-made could provide any real inspiration

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And this man would show up in your room asking you how you felt. “I Want to Die!” would not be something he wanted to hear.

Uncle Randolph

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Uncle Randolph made his living as an Interior Decorator, but it was after work that he really let the world know what he was made of.

 

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As a boy, he was largely ignored by his parents, and if it hadn’t been for Grandma Marge taking an interest in him, he would have suffered terribly.

 

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For a while, he tried running a kiddie amusement park, but then had some sort of of trouble with the authorities that was never quite resolved.  Suffice it to say that’s been banned from being in unsupervised contact with children.

 

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We had some foreign exchange students living with us when I was still at home, and Uncle Randolph got along with them very well. His delight in their company was totally reciprocated. The girl went on to be an important diplomat, and once invited Uncle Randoph to visit him at the United Nations building in New York City!

 

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One day, Uncle Randolph simply disappeared. He didn’t show up for work, and all attempts to track him down came to naught.

 

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We got a strange Christmas card from him last year, but it came with no forwarding address. Wherever he is, we hope he’s happy.

My Family

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My older sister Natalie had absolutely no sense of humor, nor any interest in the arts. She was the hardest working scientist anyone had ever seen, and her advances in chemistry helped that discipline progress rapidly.

 

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Our mother Eunice was no dope, but she never applied herself to more than the task of running our home and instructing the servants in their tasks. She envied her daughter the scientist, but never let on to that fact, and never really approved of her daughter competing with men in what was then a man’s world.

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She enjoyed finding excuses to stay as far away from her husband as possible, and her interest in amateur archaeology gave a perfect excuse to travel widely. It was rumored that she also took lovers on these trips, and kept that fact a secret from my father. Everyone else  knew, but apparently he was the only one left in the dark.

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After my parents divorced, she moved to Paris and lived with an acrobat in Montmartre. My father cut her off financially, but she didn’t mind for she embraced the Bohemian lifestyle with the same vigor her daughter took to chemistry experiments.

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Eventually, my father remarried, this time to a younger woman. She was as beautiful as she was vain, and caused him a much misery as she could during their few years together.

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For the last six months of his life, he lived in the basement, creating and painting doll heads. It seemed to give him a great deal of pleasure to do so. The new wife took the remainder of his money and went to Hollywood, where she pursued an acting career, with considerable success.

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I squandered my inheritance in ill-advised liasons with women who were ass attractive as they were mentally unstable. Oh well. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

 

 

A Satisfied Man

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It was a job, but that’s all it was. Not a vocation. No emotional rewards, no feelings of accomplishment. I escorted people who had never questioned anything, who had never had an original thought in their lives, and showed them a bunch of sleepy alligators. Nobody complained or asked for their money back, so I guess I did OK.

 

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When I got off work I cracked a couple of cold ones and watched TV until I started to fall asleep. The next day was no different. I got to work at 1, when we opened, and already there was a line waiting at the ticket office. I knew what my goals were. I was going to save up for a flying car. Popular Mechanics promised that by 1990 they would be standard issue. I just had to keep working, keep saving money, and wait.

 

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Every Saturday night, the wife and I would go to Bob’s All You Can Eat for stewed Troglodytes. They swam in their own gravy and you have as many as you liked. I always left with a full stomach. The wife would nibble off my plate, all the while saying she wasn’t hungry, but I think she put down as many as I did.

 

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If we had people over, we’d show movies of our big vacation from three years ago, the time we went to Borneo, where the men grow tall as trees and the women prune them once a month. Our friends actually enjoyed seeing the same home movies over and over again, because it gave them a chance to rehearse their wisecracks.

 

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Watching somebody else’s vacation photos is usually an exercise in tolerance, but we try to get creative when it comes to ours.

 

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Before we send the gang home we crack out the tuna n’ waffles, which puts everybody in a good mood. It’s the most cost-effective and easy to prepare meal we know of, and that’s saying a lot.

 

 

Tingler

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I found it in the driveway. Thought maybe it was a tropical plant or a branch of a tree, or perhaps a reptile that had been run over by a car. It seemed to have once been alive. I took it into the garage and left it on a pile of tarps. I could examine it later when I had more time.

 

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But first I had to get to my daily piano practice. Half an hour a day, no more, no less. I really enjoy my time in my study. The soothing pastel colors allow me to relax and focus, something that I value even more now in these days since I was released from the mental institution.

 

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There was a time, not too long ago, when I was on top the world. Women couldn’t get enough of me. Employers sought me out. I had so many offers that it literally made my head spin. And that’s how I ended up needing professional care.

 

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Then I got a job entertaining at a motel cocktail lounge. It was a little hotel, with a little pool and a tiny lounge bar, but it was enough for me. I was starting to reconnect with the outside world. I no longer drooled when I got dressed in the morning.

 

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Truth is, I only knew three or four songs on the keyboard, but that was enough to fill most of the time and we had so few customers those that came were happy to hear my New York New York/Changes/Younger Than Springtime medley.  Looking back on that time, I can truly say those days were some of my happiest.

 

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But getting back to the thing I found in the driveway. It turns out it’s an extra-dimensional parasite that lodges in your spine and the only way you can extract it is by screaming. Isn’t life strange?

Fondue Dreams Meet True Grit

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He was a man who loved fondue too much. Not caring much for the company of others, he entertained himself by sitting in his own RV, parked in his own driveway, and listening to his eight track recordings of Wayne Newton’s greatest hits.

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At one time he had been a lifeguard, and he was terribly strict in his control of the pool. No one could enter the pool unless first approved by either he or his twin brother. The two brothers admired all forms of extreme discipline, and in an earlier era would have certainly been enthusiastic members of the Nazi party.

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He met his first wife Darlene at Sea World where they were both working as entertainers. She was every bit as physically fit as he, and the fact that she could entertain any crowd by dancing and telling jokes made her the object of everyone’s attention.

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Soon married, they opened a restaurant which catered to over-eaters who cared more about quantity of what they ate than quantity.

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They had a daughter who refused to learn to speak English, though she managed quite well in four other languages. She loved to disinfect things. Maybe working behind the counter at the restaurant had emotionally scarred her.  Eventually she went on to share her father’s fondness for recreational vehicles, especially ones that never hit the road.

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The Mrs. grew tired of family life and left both husband and daughter behind, moving to Las Vegas, to pursue a career as an exotic dancer. When demand for her services waned as she reached her sunset years, she enjoyed even more success as an event planner.

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Not the Least Bit Ethnic

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She kept pretending to be exotic, from some Pacific Island nobody had ever heard of, but I heard she actually came from outside of Omaha. Her father worked in meat packing.

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I first met her when she was just a kid. Always scraping her knees on my sidewalk and hoping I would invite her inside to perform first-aid. I was too shy to do so. By the time I grew up, she was already on her way to Hollywood.

There, she made quite a splash. She changed her name from Dorothy Klinger to Fifi La Zoom, and ran with a fast crowd that included several young men who once showed promise but amounted to nothing.

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Me, I became a magician, and had an act that toured Lutheran churches. I would submerge a volunteer from the audience and turn her into a chimpanzee. It was strictly an amateur enterprise, and often the chimpanzee wasn’t real, just a stuffed doll.

Eventually, I moved to a former Soviet republic where I got a job as a fashion designer. I was finally in my element! People liked my style and my creations flew off the shelves of many a collective farm variety store.

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Unfortunately, my success aroused envy in the local officials, who I refused to bribe out of a misguided sense of propriety. I ended losing everything, but I got to keep my life.

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I moved across the world to Asia, where I became a hit as a character actor. Strange how life works out. You never know what’s in store for you, do you?

Heartbreakers

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I should have known she had a drinking problem. Most people don’t drink wine at breakfast. She wasn’t a sloppy drunk, and that was the problem. Most of the time she could hide the true extent of her inebriation. I knew when she was plastered, which was most of the time, but I had a hard time getting other people to see it.

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We met at University. She’d come over and listen to music with me. I had built my hi-fi from a kit and was quite proud of having soldered the components in my five watt mono amp. She’d come over in her nightgown and after a few hours of listening, we’d end up on the couch. I didn’t really have a bed back then. Who needed luxury when we had youth?

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When we got a little older, we started frequenting these “swingers” resorts. Everyone seemed really “square,” as if “swinging” were their ticket to a less boring life. Eventually she and I grew apart, and she ran off with a divorced dentist from Cedar Rapids.

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I sold my house and bought an RV, which proved to be a great idea. Back in those days there were always girls hitch hiking, and I’d take them where they wanted to go, though not in a hurry, if you get my drift.

IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR ATTITUDE!

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You don’t need to trouble yourself with the details. Let it suffice to say that it’s bad. Real bad. There’s no more room in the ICU’s and they’re sending people home to die. Who would have thought it would come this? And yet it has, and there seems to be no unified response from the authorities.

The only responses have been political. Jockeying for status, maneuvers designed to deflect blame…but no real concern for the facts, because nobody knows what to do about them. The truth is too horrible to acknowledge.

So those of us who aren’t in charge of anything, we can relax and seek diversion. What’s new on Netflix?

If you don’t care, you’re lucky. You’ll be fine no matter what happens. That’s the place we’d all like to arrive, a state of contentment and total acceptance. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get there when you can’t breathe or you’re bleeding out of several orifices simultaneously.

The pleasure one can derive from blaming the authorities is small compensation for the agony of actual ill health and poverty. When tempted to go that route, draw yourself up sharply and mutter “thanks, but no thanks. Today I take total responsibility for myself and my position.” You may be still be a victim of the misguided policies of your nation, but at least you will be unaware of that fact. You will be under the delusion that you’re in charge!

Yes, a lot can be accomplished with a simple change of attitude.