What are you?

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What are you some kind of jerk?  When I took my math homework to my Dad I would eventually be hit with this question in his loud angry voice.  My father was a chemical engineer. He went to Johns Hopkins, Princeton and MIT.  I was kicked out of the local community college.  After a long explanation of how you find the answer to a math problem, I knew he was going to ask me what the answer to the problem was.  I was wrong 100% of the time.  That’s when he would loudly question my intelligence.  This was another blow to my already fragile ego.

Fortunately I have gotten through life without ever using a mathematical formula, geometry, or algebra.  I have seldom used my brain for anything.  I am more like my mother who could not keep a checking account straight.  Deep thinking is not my forte.

Aunt City

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I heard my dad yell up the stairs, “Boys, we’re going to Aunt City’s after church.”
I put on my best blue sweater. My Aunt City was a real chef–I had seen a picture of her with a chef’s hat on. She welcomed us into her kitchen with kisses on our cheeks and big hugs. She filled the kitchen table with foods like country ham and cheese spread with Ritz crackers. It was so good, cheesy and salty.
Her homemade kinklings were very special: square donuts designed to hold more powdered sugar. I ate one at the table and ate two later when I hid in the broom closet. I was sneaky like that, but Dad noticed that my sweater was covered with sugar.
She served a powerful eggnog. I drank a cup and threw up in her spotless bathroom.

Uncle Joe and Aunt City had been eating this good food all their lives, and they were both quite large. Uncle Joe’s back was three feet wide. He could really block your view of the TV. Aunt City had big ankles which carried her through a loving life of cooking and taking care of Joe, a railroad worker.

When mass ended, the priest said, “The mass has ended. Go in peace.”  My brother and I would smile and reply loudly, “Thanks be to God!”
We knew we were going to Aunt City’s.

Welcome to the Caribbean

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One day, my mother announced, “Stephen, I told my friend Ginny Johnson that you’ll accompany her family to the island of Tobago.”
“You what?” I asked, incredulous. “I don’t want to go anywhere with strangers, Mom. What are you talking about? I’m not going.”
“They need a playmate for their son, Jimmy, and I agreed that you would go, so you are going.”

“I don’t even like to drive to Baltimore. I’m not going,” I said.

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One week later I was on my way to Tobago, wearing a pair of bright green slacks Mom had bought me. First, we flew into Port of Spain, Trinidad. At the bottom of the airport escalator, there was a very black man beating on a steel drum. He sang, “Here comes a big boy in green. We welcome him to the Caribbean.”
I gave him a quarter.
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The Johnson’s had a little house with a coconut tree in the front yard and little lizards running about. The first night, we grilled some barracuda that we’d caught in the lagoon, served with beans and rice, and fresh baked bread. We went to bed early.

Jimmy woke me up at one o’clock in the morning–he had his father’s rental car keys. He wanted to drive to the other side of the island and go diving for lobsters with flashlights and a spear gun. He also showed me a fifth of rum. I followed him silently to the car.

I felt like I was on a drunken adventure with James Bond, Jr. Everything went as planned.
We were on the way back–a lobster was on the backseat–when Jimmy ran the car off the road and tore off the muffler. The car sounded like a machine gun, and we woke up villages of Tobagans on the way home. The Johnsons were waiting outside when we got back. They told me to go to bed and screamed at Jimmy for half an hour. We snuck out again the next night, but we were on foot.

Red Sports Car

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From the angle of her sunglasses I can tell the woman in front of me, in the red sports car, is looking at me.  I’ll suck in my cheeks, and give her my handsomest look.  Now she is twirling her hair with her finger.  She must like what she is seeing.  I’m pulling up beside her.  Shit, It’s a man.  He is smiling and waving.  You better behave, you ugly pervert.

I loved Las Vegas

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“Stevie do you want to go to Las Vegas . I will pay for everything.” Oh no, my big boned cousin from out west has made me an offer I can’t refuse. There is no telling what might happen when the two of us get plastered. Yes I will go. I was 24, and ready for adventure. My cousin seemed nice even though she worked as a prison guard. I didn’t know what the sleeping arrangements would be but I was not going to sleep in the same bed with her for sure.I am not like that. I loved Las Vegas. We gambled and lost her money, we ate too much and drank too much. What happened in our plush suite in the Stratosphere Tower that night? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Killer spider

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The killer spider was enormous. It was in my bathroom, and I nearly stepped on it with my bare foot.I jumped away from it. I made a noise that a little boy would make, sort of a gasp and a scream combined. There is no question that when it comes to spiders and snakes I am still a big sissy. I imagine the spider is somehow going to kill me. First it will crawl up my leg and then give me a venomous bite maybe in my eyeball. Since I am alone I couldn’t get someone else to come kill it. I grabbed a broom and smacked the hell out of it myself. Sometimes even I can be courageous.