Thursday, July 15, 2004

Myopic Mara and Mister Migraine

Nothing like being visually stymied. Mark and I took William and Zachary out to the baseball game last night and of course, William and Zachary and I did the appropriate cultivating future ambassador of "World Peace" thing and wrestled the entire evening which was fun, until, as the adults always say, "Someone gets hurt." Right when I was dropping the twins off William mauled my back and endeavored to remove my wicker cap and inadvertently proded his thumb in my eye-socket hardcore. OUCH! I literally felt like Cyclops for a second and I lost a contact which royally sucks because I'm all out of contacts and with only one lodged in everything in the library this morning looks a tad cubist. And then Mara walks in (only it's not Mara, its a fellow "writerly" friend of mine) and I love her to death only she is actually going blind in both of her eyes and she still writes poems and plays songs everyday and I have never, not even when she is socially imbided, heard her bitch about her dwindling ocular impediment and she's such an inspiration when you see her in the library composing iceberg-shaped stanza's on Microsft Word with the FONT augmented to 36 inch, pelting out sentences like there's no tomorrow and today hasn't started yet while she's still squinting into the screen, and still (God Love her) always beating me in local poetry competitions. I got an Honorable mention certificate I forgot to pick up and then got yelled at by the judges for not taking my budding career seriously while she successfully pocketed a few hundred greenbacks.

So now I can't bitch about my sight. One eye is Yin the other is Yang and the world this morning is a subtle blur of beauty and smudged swirls.

But I still get headaches. Athena was born from the side of Zeus' temple (his head). I feel like she is thumping and working on her future soccer skills inside my skull this morning. I had to come into work early and only got time flush a few shots of "David Death Blend" down ye olde hatch--coffee so potent that I could dab a few drops over my father's grave and watch unawed as he crawls out of his casket and demands a decaf.

Speaking of my father's grave, let me tell you about my beautiful friend Valerie--a gift from the Concourse when I needed a terse companion in a time flooded with windshield vertigo and Picasso-blue-period melancholy. The story's a tad sexist but Val has heard it many times and her face still blushes into raspberry shaded wine cooler and smiles whenever I tell it publically. She's a beautiful friend who's working on her Masters in Civil Engineering and is, as we speak, on her way en route to Munich for Civil Engineering seminars. She's  just found the purported love of her life which is cool because he's kind of a "good-old-country-boy" and although Valerie's gait exudes with sexy cosmopolitan professionalism, she's from Dunlap, Illinois, which is a beautiful, rustic Illinois country town where the corn fields and sunsets resemble the cover of Neil Young's HARVEST album:

"I want to live,
I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold.
It's these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.

I've been to Hollywood
I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old."

So here's the scoop.

Dad's underground all of a sudden and I'm working something like 80 hours a week and still not making it and mom's literally showing people pictures of her failed son who wants to be a writer but who is obviously also not very good because none of his short stories are selling.

Then the bomb. I'm homeless, sleeping in my station wagon and using the bathroom at the Ammoco gas station to brush my teeth in every morning and then my Aunt calls me up at work and asks me if I saw the newspaper headlines this morning concerning my childhood friend Mike (I'll omit his last name for privacy sake, but as you can intuit, I have a fourth-dimesional rapport with lads by the name of Michael and David and with lasses whose first name usually end in the letter a).

I grew up with Mike. Used to play "A-Team" with Mike on the Playground during Kindergarten recess (He was "Murdock" I was "Face" Patrick was a feigned fruit roll-up cigar-chomping " I-Love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together," sly-eyed Hannibal. My other friend David was MR. T, partially because he wore huskies). Mike and I both harbored hardcore crushes on Alicia Passages in sixth grade. Mike was bold enough to write her a love letter and tell her how he actually felt. She was a spoiled bitch and read the letter publically to her groupies at Lunch and even asked our grammar teacher if she could place the letter on the overhead to be used as an exemplar when the class diagramed sentences seventh hour.

Later Mike and I would be in charge of our High school Youth group. We would organize church bake sales and car washes. We were in charge of taping the church services and duplicating the tapes to elderly and shut-ins. We went on nature retreats and my greatest memory of Mike was from a week-long wilderness canoe retreat on the Flambeau river in northern Wisconsin. Mike navigated the canoe with perfect jealousy-envy-spite precision. He was capable of spanking whitewater with the tip of his paddle and taming pesky rapids with smooth strokes.

We weren't best friends by any means but for a while we were close. He bought the birthday cake for my 18th "surprise" birthday party on a retreat in San Antonio. He told me the night after it had happened when lost his virginity (sadly, the only 'sin' that is overtly-emphasised to the point of group insurgence in religious circles these days)... and that, when I asked him how it felt, he told me that it was really no big deal. Really no big deal at all.

In high school we were always vying for the cone of the spotlight to blind our juvenile foresight--mostly aiming for the attention of girls. We both had SUV sized egos in an age infatuated with mini-vans. Mike got showered with attention his junior year for precociously accepting an internship at Caterpillar. His face was always in the paper and I remember (weird) that around the moment of his death, thinking about him. I hadn't seen Mike in a few years but for some reason (almost a pluralistic 'duh' now) I was thinking about Mike the night he died. I was thinking about how much I vehemently despised the kid in High school. I was thinking about how much I wish I would have received his reams of public glory and I remember thinking just how pissed off at him I was. I hadn't seen Mike or heard from Mike recently but just prior to his departure I felt him again and I hated him. Abhorred him for being the popular duo. Hated always hearing him talking about himself. Yang upset that Yin was garnering all the accolades.

No, it's weird, because these are thoughts that I hadn't harbored since I was seventeen and, at twenty-five, like layered fabric in winter, they were suddenly all around me and I remember looking at my reflection in the windshield and simply, suddenly, hating Mike, HATING HIM, for inexplicable reasons even though I personally had no reason to loathe him and had not even thought about Mike in a number of years.

I got the phone call from my aunt two days later.


It was a grisly death. When I stomped up from the Teacher's Lounge swatting tears from my chin and asked the secretary for the paper she told me personally how 'sick' she felt from reading the account and strongly advised me not to.

Mike had married the girl who had plucked his virginity those years before. They had been married for five years. They had been trying very assiduously to conceive but just couldn't.

Mike had a wonderful job. He had a new home. He had a morgage and he found out three months earlier that, finally, his wife had conceived-- only she was having problems and had to be on continual bed rest. The paper said that Mike had called his wife fifteen minutes before his ill-timed demise and said that he had a surprise for her. That was the last time their two voices would ever touch.

Michael's body, his earthly garment, was literally flattened by a drunk driver whose license had already been suspended twice. I'll spare you the grisly details about how his body was contorted or about why (?) they insisted on having an open casket funeral for him three days later; his forehead puttied up. With Mike crushed, the drunk driver, a twenty year old male, actually sat on the hood of Mike's gashed car, continued to take swigs from his beer and even rolled and fired up a blunt. When the cops arrived the intoxiated male looked at the cops, looked at Mike's carcass and then informed the police, as is documented, with a shameless drunken grin:

"Looks like I'm pretty much fucked."


Mike's funeral was packed. It was like a grade school and high school reunion only everyone was dressed in black and looking down into their shoes and bartering rolled kleenexes between themselves. I cut in line and met with Rev. Arthur--who I've always had a bond with. Rev. Arthur had interred my father's body into the earth a little over a year earlier.

The Concourse smile boughs of laughter even when the masses wail tears of loss. Before Mike's funeral I went out and bought a rose. Mike was going to be burried in the same cemetary as my father and I was (finally) trying to accumulate enough emotional gall and courage to look down at that patched heap of earth that enveloped my father's wilted bones, say the prayer for the departed and consecrate my grief.

What I didn't realize was that Mike was to be burried less than fifty meters from where Dad's grave is. The Lutheran Cemetary is huge and gothic and Dad was burried in a very old vector, close to his parents. When the serpentine stream of traffic arrived at the cemetary it was exactly like how I remembered it on my last visit. A hearse locomoting a long train of cars with orange funeral pennants sprouting up from their hoods. A green tent with chairs reserved for the family placed in nearly the same exact locoation it was a year earlier, when my father died when I refused to sit, holding down my mother's shoulders from behind her during the eulogy.

Rev. Arthur was holding up the same bible he had held up a year earlier configuring his sliced palm in the direction of the trinity. It was surreal.

(Here's the point where the story verges from sentiment and gets crazy)

I was reliving my father's funeral, holding a rose, looking at the body of my friend stuffed in a silver rectangle, mad at God that all this crazy shit was happening, upset at myself for always working all the time and never making it. Rev. Arthur's voice is very low and deep and he accentuates certain biblical words so that "GOD," sounds simply like "GO-AAAAAAAD." I was refusing to cry, standing by myself and groping the thorny stem of my rose, when, upon I averting my vision up near the mourners tent, I saw it and could not keep my eyes from staring.


Totally crass, I know. But I'm being totally candid at the same time. Rev. Arthur was conducting the chorus of mourners in the "Our Father" refrain and all I could do was leer and ogle and mentally salivate over the back side of the lady with the short black hair tightly attired in the chic navy-blue bussiness suit. I couldn't make out her face and I couldn't keep my eyes from scoping her out and I almost smiled and chuckled at the overall irony implicit in the situation when the universe of parishioners grumbled and huffed and eventually echoed out an all-too exclamatory "AMEN", which quickly escourted me back to reality, only I was somehow less despondent and even smiled when I looked down into my rose.

The mourners slowly began to scatter. There were hugs and embraces and I strapped on a pair of sunglasses to keep from being noticed. The absolutely last thing on the planet that I wanted was someone coming up me with both my Dad and Mike on the emotional tab, giving me a hug and asking me "Howya doing?" What the hell was I supposed to say?

"Well, I'm fine. I'm now homeless. My mom has all but disowned me.My sisters won't talk to me. One of my old close buddies just died a very tragic death and has a wife who's here in a wheelchair because she's having a tough pregnancy carrying the child he'll never meet and to top things off, I've somehow inhertited this totally tasteless habit where cemetaries have supplanted single bars as a social hub to pick up girls. I'm great!"

And I was. I bullshit nonchalance so well. My Beautiful blogging angel daniela gave me the ultimate compliment a couple of nights ago on the phone by telling me that my voice sounded "rougher" than my prose.

"You mean I sound 'faggy' on-line?" I inquired.

"No," She said, before...................................................................." (smiles)

Back to the cemetary. I walk over to my father's grave. Dad's been dead over two years now and although the school where he taught at erected a beautiful marble monument with a color-picture of him reading to his students, mom still hasn't gotton around to purchasing a tombstone. I locate the tufted mound of earth. I look up and see the flock of black outfits releasing themselved from their teary clusters.  I bow my head in reverence and before I can christen the earth with my tightly clutched rose, I see her. Headed towards me. Like she is the sexy girl in the COKE commerical walking in slow motion. There, five steps away, strutting towards me, is the Nicest Ass of all Time, traipsing in still-life-with-a-bowl-of-romantic-ardor-time, by herself, headed in my direction.
My first thought was fished up straight fr0m the gutter.
"Attaboy," I say, thinking to myself, thinking myself dapper in my suit. Then I think: 
"Shit, she must have noticed me checking her out during the Reverend's eulogy. She's gonna come over here and slap me for being uncouth--ontop of my father's grave no less!" 
The Lady in the Bussiness suit approached me. And before I could mentally massage the oracle of dating coolness and offer a suplication for romantic smoothness her lips beagn to speak.
"You're David, right? Do you still write books?"
Turns out she knew me. Heard I was a writer somewhere. I had no clue who she was and honestly do not remember ever meeting her before that encounter. But there she was, the Nicest Ass of all time, who it turned out also posseses a beautiful smile and huge continental heart, standing next to me as I plopped down the rose on top of the pitching mound of dirt that has become my father.
 No, I didn't cry. I was cool. I told the Nicest ass all about my relationship with Mike who it turned out she had worked with for the last two years. I told her all about my father and how suddenly he went. We didn't know each other but we ended up embracing.
"God love all this damn craziness." I told her. She smiled. When I turned around Rev. Arthur was stomping in my direction.
"David," He said, smiling so that I could make out his silver dental fillings.
"You know, I really questioned the will of God when he took your father." The Rev. said after I introduced him to Valerie, the girl whose butt I had been eyeing.
When the two of them left I reached into the side pocket of my stripped-blue jacket, the jacket that had belonged to my own father, and opened the book of Baha'i prayers.
Valerie stops in and sees me at work almost everyday. Our relationship is one of friendly-fire flirtation.  She was the first to inform me that Mike's wife gave birth without much hardships.
"It was a girl." She said. "We were all kinda hoping for a little boy. But it was a girl and she's healthy."
Mike's wife is doing well. Ironically(TCS) Mike applied for Life Insurance just a week before his death.
Sixth months after the funeral I took Valerie out on a date.
"It's not that kind of a date." I kept telling her. "I need to tell you a story." I said.
"A story," She said, a look of budding assentment spread across her cheeks. 
I took her out for dinner after classes and, while our cappuccino's grew cold,  I told her the story. Told her all about the crazy shit that was going on during Michael's death. Told her about me checking out her "ass" during the Lord's prayer. Told her that I still remembered the color of the outfit she wore. How time fizzled into slow motion when she was walking in my direction afterwards.
I told her about how I had sentimentally eschewed trudging up to my father's grave and my fingers reached across the table and bit into her hand when I told her that, even though she didn't realize it, her presence there next to me at the cemetary that day was nothing short of the kiss of angel feather's across the weak lips of a boy who was very scared and confused.
"Whenever you need a friend, you know where to find me." I told her. "Thank you. Thank you simply for being there.
There was silence. I gave Val's hand a tug and then reached up and took a swig from my cappuccino. The waitress slapped me the bill and I insisted on paying and leaving the tip. As we gathered up our school bags Val turned to me and smiled.
"So," She said. "Do you still think I have a hot ass?"
"Sugah, it's got my vote."  I said, with a little smile, staring only at her forehead.


daku said...

D, I believe you'll make it. You're so talented. But, hell, my phone comments are copyrighted from now on. LOL.

David Von Behren said...

(smiles)-I thought our phone conversations were already being tapped.

arya said...

Wouldn't you like to know.

David Von Behren said...

daniela--I feel a drop of pending watergate sprinkled on the back of my neck.

daku said...

Maybe the concourse visits Arya in her dreams and gives us in!!!!! (sorry, irreverent streak today!)