My father’s assisted living home smells like poop. My father has been fading for five years. He now says very little. He will have a chocolate, a piece of fruit, a stiff Vodka Tonic. After his first sip he will say “this tastes good.” I have to keep the conversation going, and I talk about my girlfriend or my health issues. He does laugh and make expressions. He thinks I am a little nutty, like my mother and her Mother. He enjoys my visits.
Vance G was a crazy character. On the way back from away football games he would lead the team in singing, “spent the last year Rocky Mountain way,” then the team sang “ba na na na,” and then Vance, “couldn’t get much higher.” The team sang, “ba na na na.” This bonded us. He even sang it after a loss, which infuriated our head coach.
Later in life we shared a house. He was a womanizer which was fine with me. We had women coming and going. The sounds emanating from his room became a bit much, so I wore earplugs. When three of his rent checks bounced, we got into a fist fight. After that our friendship was never the same. He died several years back at the age of fifty from a brain infection. He will not be forgotten by me and not by many women.
Two years back I went through the trap door to our ancient basement. I wanted to check on the oil, being aware of snakes and mice that live down there. Lining the wall near the furnace was a group of large creepy bugs possibly from the dinosaur era. I turned to run when one of them jumped onto my shoulder. I had not felt fear like this since I shit my pants on Thanksgiving. I stumbled up the creaky steps, smacking at the creature and screaming. Slamming the trap door, I sprayed some Raid bug spray through the crack in the door. I hoped this would be the end of these carnivorous, hairy eight-legged spider crickets.
Last night to my horror, two of these freaky jumpers casually walked across my kitchen floor during dinner. My girlfriend made short work of them with a frying pan while I watched standing on a chair. Later that night I felt a tickle near my groin inside my sweatpants which I had picked up off the floor and put on. I dropped my pants with amazing speed. The largest spider cricket yet fell onto the floor. Once again I screamed. The thought that these man-eating creatures every bit as big as a nickel were now upstairs and in the underwear region of my pants was too much for me. Even after taking two strong sleep medications I lay eyes wide open with my flashlight, a baseball bat and garlic bulbs by my side.
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
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.