Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I go into a room with 32 recliners. The people in these chairs are missing feet and legs, and some are missing their minds. Some are old and near death. You sit, a technician sticks inch long needles in a surgery enhanced vein in your arm. A machine runs all the blood in your body seven times through a man-made kidney. After four hours you can go home, dizzy, drained, and thinking fuzzy until the next morning. You have to accept this. Some people give up and stop treatments. They will die within weeks. I thought life would be unbearable. I am actually happier now than before dialysis. I enjoy the small things in life more. Sunshine, my dogs’ wagging tails, my girlfriend’s laughter, a couple strong drinks, good music…the list goes on. Life goes on, thank God.
Eman is black, sixteen-years-old with Downs Syndrome. When they stick the dialysis needles in his arm he yells out, “God damn that hurts!”
We would all yell that if it weren’t for our pride. He yells this out once for each needle, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I know because I sit across the room from him. The nurses tease him. He yells back, “Shut up, Grandma!”
He wants to marry Beyoncé. He likes the Cowboys. He once groped the red headed nurse’s rear end and she had to pry herself loose. He does things I would like to do. God damn that hurts.
The Saturday night crowd partied together for over forty years.
It was 1969: The first guest would arrive at my parents’ home around 8 pm, Hi Bob, Hi Ann! That’s when my brother and I would go to the top step of our stairs and listen in. Gin, Bourbon, and Scotch were consumed in large amounts, along with many cigarettes, the smoke rising up the stairway.
My uncle Bill was always telling corny jokes. He’d say that he has reservations about Indians–he calls them his Indian reservations. Mrs. Curtis and Mrs. Rice looking stunning in their newest swanky outfits. My mother the perfect host, smelling wonderful with her Chanel Number Five, she was the life of the party. There could be as many as thirty people there, almost every Saturday for nearly forty years. The Cold War with the Atomic bomb, pressures from working, and raising families, these cocktail parties were a welcome relief.
My generation might say to them, “Party on, dudes.”
I do love you, I know I’m not that great at showing it sometimes.
—–> If you love me, why did you run over my lilies with the tractor? Why did you make a giant pile of leaves in the middle of the back yard? I told you not to.
I’m sorry. I have apologized ten times. Those were awful mistakes I made. One bad turn with the tractor and two lilies got smashed in an instant. There was no place else to put the leaves. Two dreadful mistakes which happened two months ago. You need to forgive and forget. I am not perfect. You are very important to me. Please don’t leave. I need you.
Our annual Fourth of July football game was under way. Little kids, senior citizens, even girls were allowed to play. I was going only half-speed as I had already eaten two hotdogs and two hamburgers. Even with this massive load in my stomach I caught a touchdown thrown by my uncle Frank. He could play with a cigarette in his mouth–that takes talent. When he gave the football to his son, little Frankie ran the wrong way and kept going until he was tackled in my neighbor’s yard. The turnout was big this year–nearly a hundred cousins and friends. All together in our front yard. I was proud. We were drinking, sweating and swatting away gnats. At dark the fireflies came out, then fireworks and sparklers.
Happy Fourth of July
For as long as I remember I have been bad. Nearly expelled from a Catholic elementary school I had punched a nun in the stomach. She hit me first. Making up sins to tell the priest in confession–my penance was so long I pissed while kneeling at the altar. For doing this I may not go straight to heaven. At school lunch I would take other kids’ food. This lead to weight gain since I mostly took cookies. I was obsessed with girls bodies, always picturing in my mind what they looked like naked. This was not a learned behavior. It came to me naturally.
As I have gotten much older, I still have bad thoughts–I just don’t act on them. Getting old is no fun.
My little brother’s cat had four toes on one paw, six on the other. We called him Toes. It was raining cats and dogs when my oldest brother jumped into his Jeep, pulled away, ran over Toes’ head, kept on going. My little brother looked out the window and saw a bloody Toes running in circles. He let out a scream. My older brother and I ran to investigate. Toes head was shaped like a triangle. There was lots of blood. An eye was popping out. Toes never ran but was now running full speed in circles. Dave commanded, “Get the gun.” This meant I had to go into my parents’ closet and grab the .22 rifle we were forbidden to touch. I also had to go back three times to grab bullets as my brother kept missing. The third shot hit right in the brain. The poor pussycat started jumping two feet in the air and wouldn’t stop. “Get the shovel,” my brother yelled. A strong whack in the head finally did the trick. My little brother was traumatized for hours. We all were.