Monthly Archives: December 2010

I Hate My Toothbrush

I never knew how or when it made its first irritating appearance into my bathroom cabinet, but I hope the imp who delivered it to my doorstep is now suffering in the deepest bowels of the lowest ring of hell.  For those of you who have decent, well-to do toothbrushes will never know the torment one goes through each morning while enduring a daily face to face meeting with a tool of anguish.  Each human soul has its breaking point and the passionate disgust I felt for my toothbrush had finally reached its final point of exasperation. 

It may seem hard to the casual observer to imagine something as small as a toothbrush tearing at the fabric of what an individual’s soul is sewed out of, but it happened to me.  This wasn’t just an ordinary toothbrush, mind you.  This toothbrush was designed to anger and inject daily resentment into the person unlucky enough to inherit it.  It was handcrafted in some dark place of my psyche and placed by some demon to tear apart my inner being.  Any trait a bad toothbrush could have, this toothbrush embodied to the tenth degree.  First of all, the bristles were entirely too soft.  There should be a certain amount of resistance in the actual brush of the tool in order to inspire the mind into thinking that there is a cleaning process underway.  Nobody wants to feel as though they are brushing their gums with a small sponge or a pinchful of human hair, but apparently the manufacturers of this brush had no intention of paying attention to this crucial aspect of the design process.  Secondly, it was entirely too small.  This is the kind of brush the “Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe” made her children use.  It was the size of a gorilla’s toothpick.  Starting my day with this smurfish device left me devoid the masculinity that one requires to even urinate standing up.  Finally, this toothbrush had no way of actually being handled.  There were no grooves or ridges for a steady grip and I firmly believe that this toothbrush was made in a factory long before rubber handles were even considered a remote possibility.  Every three days or so I would be forced to make the shameful crawl across my bathroom floor in order to retrieve this brush after fumbling away my initial attempt.  How does someone even function in day to day life after such a dreadful start to the day?  Crawling on your bathroom floor in the A.M sets up a disappointing day.

I Hate You


On this fateful morning my life was at an unexpected crossroads.  I stared blankly into the bathroom cabinet, eyeing my future and my past all taking form inside of my small plastic nemesis.  Not another day was going to go by like this…I was breaking out of this prison.  My first order of business was to call my job and relay to them the sobering news that I would not be there to surf the internet and send out snarky emails to the very small circle of friends I possessed.  My boss was not happy as he explained to me that I still wasn’t off the hook for stealing Katie Rivers’ lunch from the company refrigerator.  Trying to explain to him my current situation proved most difficult and the severity of my mental situation didn’t seem to register with him.   Apparently in between my sick days and vacation days there were no days to just simply change your life.  If I were to follow through with this toothbrush breakup I was going to have to give up my employment.  Easy decision.

With no work to report to and a passion for slugging down pints of whiskey whenever controversy popped up in my life, a liquor store run was clearly on the agenda.  Plus, a little bit of a buzz could give me the courage to finally throw out, burn or smash to pieces the toothbrush that was now playing the lead role in the theatre of dark comedy my life had become.  The next dozen hours were a hazy combination of Jameson slugs, slips in and out of consciousness and John Mayer playlists all centered around walks to the bathroom to verbally berate this toothbrush.  Around midnight I opened up my front door and said goodbye to my dog.  I was ecstatic as I watched him sprint into the park across the street.  He had finally been released from the grips of the toothbrush dictatorship our household had somehow been thrown into.   As for the next day, I’m not really sure what happened but when I woke up the front of my car was wrapped around a fire hydrant and smoke was pouring out of my radiator.  I thought it wise to find refuge from the upcoming police presence that was undoubtedly on the way thanks to the horde of horrified grade-schoolers that must have seen me plow onto the sidewalk.  I’m sure the bleeding head wound did nothing to calm their fears.  I snarled at them and fled the scene.

I decided to hide out in the back of a neighborhood shopping mall.  I had seen an old homeless man shoot a cat with a pellet gun there one time and figured that it probably lacked a proper police patrol.  My wallet was still in my by now impounded car, so I had no money and for some reason I was wearing my old high school basketball jersey and a pair of suit pants.  Things could have hit rock bottom here, but low and behold, in the pants I found my Staples company card.  As fate would have it there was a Staples in the shopping center.  It seemed as though my luck was finally turning around.  I had also managed to find an abandoned sock in a trash can that I used to stop the bleeding from the front of my head. 

The woman at the checkout counter eyed me up and was obviously weary as I approached her with a dozen cans of keyboard cleaner.  She rang each of them up individually for some odd reason and had the nerve to ask me if I really wanted the Staples “That was Easy” button.  Explaining to her how I got where I was and why I needed it would have been like explaining the imagery in “Paradise Lost” to half deaf squirrel.  Instead I mumbled something about an evil toothbrush, she rang me up and had security watch me leave the store.  It only took me a little over twenty hours to inhale the entire contents of the Duster cans and to hit the Staples “That was Easy” button over 36,123 times according to my count.  I could have sworn the entire time I had an in depth conversation about locomotives with a man who once worked with Denzel Washington on the set of “Training Day”, but it turns out it was all in my head…which was slightly disappointing.   In a moment of clarity I spotted the blue Victorian house across the street and knew how to rectify the entire situation. 

                                                                                                                                                            That Was Easy

Living in the suburbs certainly has its advantages.  For one, people rarely lock their second story windows, and if you are high on Nitrogen Dioxide scaling up gutters is not only easy but also fun.  Once in the house, I bee-lined to the bathroom and found what I was looking for.  It was marvelous.  A sturdy, rubber handled, beautifully bristled Colgate masterpiece of a toothbrush.  I picked it up and marveled at it for what I thought was only a few seconds but with half of my brain cells frozen it was more than likely closer to an hour.  In any event, it was long enough for the family of four that was home to flee the house and call the police.  If it weren’t for the sounds of blaring police sirens and police screaming through the front door, I could have stayed in that heavenly mental state of toothbrush bliss for eternity.

Whenever you are caught in a police standoff, it is very important to either have a weapon or a hostage…preferably both.  Holding a toothbrush and a can of Lysol in a locked bathroom is no match for pepper spray and a flurry of police batons.  The broken clavicle, shattered elbow and concussion came nowhere near hurting me as much as the pain of losing that toothbrush did.  I sobbed all the way to jail and begged for the police to at least let me pick up my Staples button from the shopping mall parking lot.  They declinded and I am convinced that the old man who shoots cats back there currrently has it.  By the time I was out of central booking, shoved into my new humble jail based abode and introduced to my cell mate, I was starting to think that perhaps I took the entire toothbrush situation a bit too far. 

Larry didn’t like me from the day he met me.  I’m pretty sure he had either burned down a children’s hospital or punted a litter of puppies off of a tall office building, because looking into his eyes it was apparent that he had no soul.  The real breaking point in our relationship occurred on Day 2, when I attempted to have a conversation about whether time travel was actually attainable.  It was somewhere between my explanation of zero gravity and time dilation that I felt the surging pain in my abdomen.  The prison guards arrived and were just in time to catch Larry’s fourteenth kick to my head.  My mouth turned warm and according to my last count at least five of my teeth were lying in the puddle of blood beneath me.  I couldn’t help but think about how this whole thing could have been avoided if Larry had knocked my teeth out a week ago…I wouldn’t have needed a toothbrush.  When I finally came to the prison paramedics were working on removing the object from the side of my stomach.  My eyes began to flutter and my brain was starting to lose a little bit of function.  If there is a “light” at the end of the tunnel of life, I was headed in the wrong direction because all I could see or hear was New Jersey Nets highlights and Usher songs, which is probably hell.  Just when I thought that I could be taking my last painful breath, I turned down to see the head paramedic removing the home-made prison shank that more than likely pierced my liver and almost took my life.

 It was a toothbrush…with a  rubber handle.  I was hoping they would ldet me keep it.


I’m A Biter

From Chapter: I’m a Biter

 My first suicide attempt took place when I was eight years old.  I’m pretty sure I was eight, but very well could have been anywhere from the ages of seven to ten.  There are certain sections of your life that you just so happen to group together because you basically were the same person and did the same things during that age.  During the ages of two to six you concentrate on controlling your bladder while your pants are on and you start to develop a sense of when its not OK to cry and hit people.  For me, the same thing could be said of my eighteen to twenty-one age phase and I must admit I had much less success during that period.  When I was in that seven to ten year old age span my summers days were spent at the town swimming pool.  My mom, a teacher who also had her days off, would either drop me off or stay with me at the pool from around 10 am to 3pm, normally buying me an ice pop here or there and watching me perfect my belly flops off of the diving board.  At an early age there was absolutely no promise that I would participate in any portion of the Summer Olympics.  I swam like a three legged dog and jumped off of the diving board like I had the aerial control of a penny.

     I knew I sucked at anything in the pool other than relieving myself, so I normally stuck myself over near the basketball courts and the stickball area.  Surprisingly, as a young kid I was a good athlete.  While all of the other kids were busy growing and getting used to their longer limbs and gangly running styles, I had become accustomed to my tiny frame and would utilize to its fullest potential.  In Little League I was the leadoff hitter and starting second baseman for back to back undefeated championship teams and I attended basketball camps for three weeks out of the summer and managed to hold my own against the “inner city” youths.  Things were going well for me, but if I knew that I would end up to be the size of a baby hibiscus tree I would have spent more time in the classroom and less trying to be an athlete.

            My major problem with sports, video games, and general human interactions at that time was my temper.  I’m not sure whether it was an early Napoleon Complex or simply a short circuited brain wiring issue, but whatever it was, it caused a good amount of strife in my life.  Getting through gym class without taking a swing at someone or playing video games without throwing a juice glass were everyday struggles for me.  This was a time before alcohol was introduced to me and its probably a good thing.  Had I grown up in Ireland and been allowed to consume bourbon at that age, I probably would have a lengthy criminal record. 

            My parents must have known about this sort of behavior very early on.  I was moved into two different pre-school classes because of oral attack incidents.  Pretty much, if I had a problem with you, I saw no way out of it other than to bite any part of you I could get my teeth on.  I drew blood both times and the word ‘tetanus shot’ was thrown around in my household quite a bit.  The worst part is, I showed very little remorse after any of these assaults.  In all honesty, as a preschool teacher I would have made a hard push to introduce tiny tazer guns into the classroom if there were twenty more kids like me in the room.  One of my biggest fears is having an army of little, teethy humans munching at feet and legs as I scream for help and try to beat them off with coloring books and letter shaped balloons. 

            My first incident happened on Day 2 of preschool.  I guess during Day One we were going through orientation and there wasn’t much time for me to find a dispute and tear a chunk out of someone.  On Day 2, however, they released us into the indoor play area and apparently I headed over to the blocks.  Now, most of what follows is an eyewitness account from my preschool teacher at the time.  These are “alleged” incidents and if a judge were to ask me I would have to plead the fifth because I could not argue for or against them.  For all I know, this was a giant conspiracy to have me removed from her classroom and start the giant, rolling, downhill snowball that became my life. 

            According to the “source” about ten minutes into the play session, a group of 5 or 6 of us were playing with the foam/plastic building blocks and building a fort.  These are toys that no longer exist today, and probably for good reason.  They had very sharp corners and were shaped like actual bricks.  When one was thrown at a child you could hear an audible “clunk” and said child would drop and cry for ten to fifteen minutes.  So this cohesive, block building team eventually evaporates and it becomes a close range dodgeball game.  By the time the teacher gets her head around to see what is happening myself and another boy, who we will call “Thief” from here on out, are arguing over a brick.  I suppose that she was taught to walk over to the situation calmly to settle the dispute, but if she had any idea that she was dealing with a tenacious, cannibalistic four year old I’m sure she would have quickened her pace.  By the time she had gotten over to us I was latched on this child’s upper shoulder and I wasn’t letting go.  In my defense, he stole that brick from me and this was my problem solving technique.

            Apparently biting gets you removed from a classroom.  As a matter of fact, I think biting might be one of the few things that can get you kicked out of someplace no matter how old you are or where you are.  I don’t quite remember how they broke the news to me, but I’m pretty sure I still had the brick in my hand and flesh in my teeth.  So it was on to classroom number two which was basically a Romper Room.  The thinking must have been that if I couldn’t control myself in a normal classroom perhaps I would be better suited in a less civilized environment with the rest of the little lunatics.  The plan backfired.

            Back in the 80s I feel like things were a little less stringent as far as child safety was concerned.  Even at four years old I remember thinking to myself, “Jesus Christ this place is out of control.”  Post-biting, I was placed in what must have been an environment for children who weren’t quite ready for pre-school but were much too rambunctious to have at home for a full day.  We got picked up at 11am so the day was basically three hours long and in my opinion that was about two hours and thirty minutes overboard.  It was a giant gymnasium with what appeared to be no rules.  There were little peddle vehicles and tricycles flying around at high speeds.  Basketballs, waffle balls, tennis balls, soccer balls, giant bouncing balls and tiny rubber balls bouncing everywhere.  The girls were occupying themselves with patty cakes and hula hoops, occasionally being tripped or smashed in the face with an errant object.  For a tiny, biting anarchist I felt right at home and looked to settle in immediately.

            At age four, you don’t really go up to someone and introduce yourself.  You pretty much both look at an object, find it as a common denominator and entertain yourselves for however long you both can pay attention.  Normally this kind of an interaction ends in a fight, or just one party losing interest and walking away without an explanation.  Things come full circle in about eighteen years when you begin having relationships with the opposite sex.  The scary thing about creating a ten minute friendship over an object is that eventually there will be some dissension over how that object should be shared.  It took me approximately eleven seconds for me to decide that I wanted a peddling machine.

            The peddling machine I settled on was one of those yellow topped, orange bodied vehicles that had two sets of peddles but only one steering wheel.  There was another child already driving the one I decided to hop into.  I don’t think we really talked much as we took a lap around the gymnasium, we more or less were just watching the mayhem around us unfold as the “teachers” sat on the stage to make sure nobody lit the place on fire or brandished a small sword.  It was somewhere around lap two that I must have decided peddling really sucked and I needed to drive.  My way of telling the driver that I wanted to switch positions was to quit my peddling job and make a grab at the steering wheel.  Again, when you are older and someone decides to vehemently reach for something you have with a crazed look, unless it is your child you will more or less give it up.  This brave, oblivious child though fought back control of the wheel and demanded that I step out of his vehicle.  Like an angry cab driver telling me to get out and walk, he grabbed the wheel with both hands and put a cease to our ten minute friendship.  The only way to get his hands off of that wheel was to chomp at his little fingers….and so I did, tearing at his tiny digits like terikyaki wings.

            For a short while, life was fantastic.  I was driving my own little cart and could not believe my good fortune.  I started to believe that with biting, I could take control of anything I wanted.   Perhaps when Santa visited this year I would bite him and take his sack of toys,  This didn’t last very long once the stage monitors got wind of what happened and without even knowing my name they ousted me out of the cart and called my mother to pick me up.

I’m An Adult

I Shop at Pier One

You know how I know I’m adult.  Look over there.  That’s my microwave.   Do you notice anything about it?  It has the right time on it…isn’t that such an adult thing to do?  When I was at your place I couldn’t help but notice that you still had those infantile, green, blinking lights that just read all zeros.  That’s dangerous dude.  See, I live by myself and if I were to fall down in my kitchen and suffered a spine injury, I wouldn’t be able to crawl to my cell phone, my TV or even read the clock that I have in the living room.  And what if I wasn’t wearing my watch?  That’s right, I would be able to look at the microwave and know how long I’ve been lying there in a puddle of my own blood and broken bones.  If no help came I would know exactly when I would have to start eating my own hands.  You, on the other hand, would be stuck just guessing about how long you’ve been lying there, looking at those stupid zeros and you would probably would start eating your hands too soon.  Then not only would you be would be paralyzed, you would have no hands too.  I would have a much better wheelchair than you because I could still use my hands…I’d look like much more of an adult after getting out of the hospital.

Hey, come over here and look at my closet.  I have all of my clothes separated by shirts, pants and jackets.  Oh, and look down towards the ground.  That’s called a shoe rack and it helps organize all of my very professional looking shoes.  When I was still a kid I would sometimes have to look all over my room looking for a missing shoe.  At my last job I once showed up with two different shoes on…isn’t that just ridiculous.  I give PowerPoint presentations now in board rooms, there’s no way I can do that now.  Do you give presentations at your non-executive job?  Probably not.  You’re lucky though, it must be nice to not worry about where your shoes are all the time.  Really, it’s not all bad being an adult.  Just the other day a guy on the subway in New York City, or as its otherwise known, “The Big Apple”, said to me “Hey, nice shoes.”  I looked down and there was gum all over them.  But the great thing was that I came home and knew exactly where another pair was for work the next day.  I had to give a really big presentation so I really needed nice, matching shoes on.

Oh, you notice some of my wall pieces, huh?  Yea, I think they add a lot of character to the place.  I got most of them at Pier One.  There was a time in my life when I went to Ikea, but now I don’t go to places like that.  What kind of a place sells furniture and food…how tacky is that?  Do you still have that dresser from Ikea, with the broken drawer?  In a few years I might be able to give you my dresser because I read in a magazine the other day that you should really change your furniture up every 2 or 3 years because it helps your positive psyche.  Don’t worry, it’s  really complicated, man. Speaking of, I’ve been reading a lot of New Wave literature about soy based foods, positive thinking and contraction isometric exercising.  Do you still work out with dumbbells?  Dude, you can really hurt yourself like that, it’s all in that magazine on that accent table.  Oh, I’m sorry, the end table over there.  I didn’t want you to think that I was talking about a table that talked with an accent, because that’s what I thought at first a few years back before I really knew about furniture like I do now.

You should join my co-ed kickball team sometime, it’s a blast!  It’s a really good way to just get together and blow off some steam after work.  With all the pressures of life these days it’s nice to reach back to my childhood and get some clean R&R afterhours.  Sometimes we even head out to the local bar afterwards and indulge in some half price appetizers and imported beers.  Those domestics are so low brow and they give me the worst chest pains the next day…that’s when you know you’re getting old right?  Haha, hilarious.

 Remember when we were kids and you wanted to be a big time movie writer?  Are you still following that old pipe dream? That was probably the biggest part of growing up for me, well, other than cutting out caffeine.  My girlfriend and I had a really long talk at the local bistro about life, it was great.  I know she’s not the best looking girl, but she’s a really good cook and her credit score is flawless.  It was tiring having a different girl every night and even though my girlfriend now doesn’t really like me touching her, at least we always have things to talk about.  Anyways, so we were talking about how silly I was to think that at 28 I could still try and chase down these childhood dreams.  At some point it’s important to realize that working a 9-5 and renting a one bedroom apartment isn’t really so bad.   

 Right?   Oh, I almost forgot to show you my “Wipe Your Paws” doormat…






 A small part of a short story I wrote back in college…..

I have no recollection on how I got here or where I was.  The old creaking, naked twin bed mattress I was lying on would certainly affect my mobility for the rest of the day.  I knew this before even sitting upright.  Then came the pain.  It began in the front of my head and soon struck like a lightning bolt into the back and sides of my neck.  Groaning, I picked myself up slowly, using the wall to guide my ailing body into a seated position. One window with plain white blinds, a bookcase, a rotary telephone and a bright blinking light….Jesus, that bright blinking light.  It was coming through the blinds, but permeated throughout the room.  It filled the room, came from the walls and infiltrated every angle the room I had in my vision.  Swinging my feet, off of the bed and onto the floor sent a blistering pain into the balls and heels of my feet.

And there was the glass.  A pile of shattered glass lying almost strategically, at the side of this mysterious bed.  I began plucking it out of my feet, and wiping the blood with my now relegated-to-painting college t-shirt.  Through the pain in my head, neck and now feet, my thought process began to try and unravel the mystery of where I was and how I got here.  It seemed quite familiar, but was very bare, almost like my buddy Tully’s frat house, although I didn’t ever remember him showing me this room.  Perhaps somewhere in between the copious amounts and whiskey we had been consuming combined with my ever growing yearning for cheap narcotics, I had somehow forgotten this hollow area of the house.  I swiped the glass aside carefully, making sure not to add yet another set of puncture wounds to my arms and legs and headed towards the window for a clue.

Nothing but that blinking red light was blaring into the window.  It was impossible to see six inches out of the window without that blinding red light, blazing through my corneas and into what felt like the deepest vicinities of my skull.  Quickly, I shut the blinds, looked away and closed my eyes.  Seeing spots, I stumbled a bit and put my right foot directly back into the glass lying next to the bed.  Now writhing in pain, I sat back down and recollected myself.  This had happened before, many a time.  Shit, just last week I woke up in the girl’s dormitory with my pants, wallet and phone nowhere to be found thanks to a overzealous night at McFadden’s pub.  Apparently, I stumbled down some stairs after ignoring the icy conditions and fractured my wrist.  A little glass in the foot was not of perennial concern, but nonetheless a bit offsetting.   When I found out who put it there, revenge would be swift and sweet.

Ok, time to go downstairs and find out where the hell I actually am.  But upon leaving I couldn’t help noticing the selection of books placed very neatly in the bookcase, the only other piece of furniture in the room.  They were children’s books, some of which were my absolute favorite growing up as a kid.  Thumbing through them, I couldn’t help but feel bad for Tully.  We had always clowned on him for being dumb, not being able to read, pronouncing words wrong and so forth.  However, flipping through some of these books, I couldn’t help but wonder what he was still doing at school.  I grabbed “Whorton Says a Who” and carried it towards the door for two reasons: 1) It was my favorite book as a child and 2) this issue would be a cornicopio of humorous materials as we all had our afternoon beers.

I couldn’t help chuckling as I opened the door and thought about Tully sneaking up to his secret infantile library to read through some Dr. Seuss.  My good mood was short lived.  I stared down the hallway before me, lit by nothing but a side lamp.  The red light,  was even brighter in this hallway and without any windows visible, this was seemingly impossible.  Down the hallway, standing at the top of some wooden stairs, was a silhouette of a Labrador mix.  It looked like Mac.

Mac was my childhood dog.  When he was nine years old he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor behind his right eye.  Within a month he was blind one eye and obviously in excruciating pain.  The tumor was spreading towards the back of his brain and was beginning to cause slight hemorraghing, giving him headaches beyond what is humanly comprehensible.  My parents rescued Mac the side of a highway intersection when I was one.  At first, they had decided to take him home, contact the ASPCA and then have him professionally placed into what would hopefully be a loving home.  I napped with Mac that first night on our couch as my parents worked the phone and my dog and I spent every moment of my childhood together after that day.  When the veterinarian told me he was having headaches, I refused to let him go.  When he went blind in both eyes, I led him around and handfed him every day.  When he cried incessantly because of the pain in his head, I tried to pet him, placed cold rags on his eyes and sang lullabies to try and make his hurt go away.  Then one day, when I came home from school and my parents had told me that keeping him alive was cruel and they had euthanized him….killed him by sticking a syringe into the main artery in his right leg and sent death shooting through his extremities into his heart.  I never got to say goodbye.

I had dreams about Mac a lot, so now this was starting to make a little bit of sense…I was asleep.  So being asleep I decided to smash my right arm into the mirror to the right of me.  No feeling.


Digging the Dead

“The world’s most respected biological scientists and neuro-specialists have finally come to the conclusion that the human’s brain functionality does not end in unison with the human body’s last breath.  One eight of the human brain is designated to continually process and respond to smell, touch, sight and feel even after breath, heartbeat and pulse cease to exist.  The word ‘death’ as we know it no longer exists.” 

–          CNN  News – August 23 – 2024


My father and I wiped the mud off of our feet as we entered our home, well after two in the morning.  My mother, cooking mitts and apron still on, rushed us at the door and grasped my grandfather with as loving of a touch I had ever seen her give anyone or anything.

“Tom, can you please grab the pot roast out of the oven and set up the table,” she said through a steady flow of heaving breaths and a steady flow tears. 

The amount of emotion pouring out of my mother scared me to the point that I would presently acquiesce myself to any request of hers.  After all, I had just spent three hours at the Hargrave Cemetery digging through six and a half feet of dirt, mud and bones to retrieve my grandfather’s apparently still somewhat alive corpse in order to bring it home.  The word corpse, according to the news, was no longer acceptable, however, and the thought of being taboo made me feel bad.  I took off my shoes, limped towards the kitchen and began to set up my newly extended family a set of plates and silverware. 

I heard my mother, through intermittent sobs, telling my grandfather how much she missed him, as she stroked his lifeless head.  Meanwhile, my father grabbed a set of his smaller clothes and began to clothe the man we had just dug up.  In doing so, he had to remove many of the maggots, beetles and other creatures that had found their way into my grandfather’s many unprotected orifices over the past two years.  At this point the smell of dying flesh and organs had started to make its way to the kitchen and I was fighting off bouts of dry heaves as I prepared our places for dinner.  I had always hated pot roast and this amplified my disgust to the umpteenth degree.

That dinner, as I remember, was as uncomfortable of a meal as I could have possibly mentally rendered.   My mother couldn’t take her eyes off of my grandfather, who had a glass of Jameson placed in front him.  On the other hand, I was finding it hard to place my eyes on this lifeless, decrepit, rotting body sitting across from me.  At 11, I still wasn’t sure what had occurred in the world of science but I had long understood the meaning of life and death.  The way things happened was so fast that nobody had properly taken the time to explain to me exactly what happened over the last 48 hours.  One minute I was preparing for basketball tryouts, and the next I was part of cemetery looting with the rest of the desperate, gravedigging families looking for their loved ones.  God, I wish all I had to worry about now was making the basketball team. 

The announcement came over the P.A. at school two days ago.  We were all sent home and never told why, nor did we care.  I remember on my way home Billy Cedeno fought Jimmy Breiden and Billy’s nose was bleeding pretty bad.  All of the kids left with Jimmy as he triumphantly walked back home, high fiving his friends and showing our classmates his knuckles.  I walked home with Billy because we had always been in the same classes and he was crying pretty bad so I carried his backpack for him and told him that none of the girls had been there to see the fight.  When we approached his home, I thought he might be in trouble for ruining his new Polo shirt.  Instead, his mother was sitting at the front door, shaking with excitement.  She brushed me aside, hugged Billy and said, “We are going to get to see your father again.”   They hugged and Billy’s nose blood smeared all over her cardigan without consequence.

They went inside and I stood there holding his bookbag in my hands, perplexed.  It was only a few months ago that my father sat me down and explained to me that Billy was going to be very sad for a few months.  Dad explained that his father had passed away and perhaps I should try and be very nice to him in the meantime while he was coming to grips with this tragedy.   How could he and his mother possibly visit his father?  I thought about this all the way to the top of my block and suddenly the reality of day became imminently clear through the blitz of cop sirens, beeping and people hugging and sobbing.

I was handed a shovel when I arrived at my door.  This was nothing new, because I had always been given some kind of a chore whenever I came home from school.  In all honesty, I was happy to  grab a shovel as opposed to a dust pan, lawnmower, cleaning product, hedge trimmer or a list for the grocery store.  My exuberance, however,  was cut short when my mother told me that my grandfather was coming home and I needed the shovel as part of this confusing mission.   It isn’t as if I had ever hated him, but as a child the smell of whiskey and cheap cologne had always driven me away from him and to our basement, where I would pretend to be asleep or playing with toys a few years too immature for me. He used to tell me about his war stories, always focusing on the most graphic and sexual parts, in between bouts of laughter and cigarette puffs.  As a child this was off-putting.  Now, for the next 5 hours my father and I would be retrieving him from what I understood to be his “eternal” resting place.  

So here I am, watching Jeopardy with my physically resurrected grandfather, who sits with a dead smirk on his face and a hand on the side of his favorite chair.  All I can think about is how I wish we had spent tonight digging up my childhood dog instead….maybe tomorrow.