Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Perils of 'Pop', Prayer and hey--let's not forget Decaf!!!!

Once again Lil' David's endeavor to brew Bodhi Blend (Decaf mixed with regular-grains; a puportedly titled 'half-caf') seemingly faltered and, after a courtesy swig that stained a sour expression on my lips, I found myself, once again, inevitably, in line at JESTERS, Rosealita having my order ready for me as I walked in, wondering why I'm an hour late. Calling me boy.

"Boy where you been? Sheeeeeeeet. Been wondering about your ass. 'Bout ready to start combing the Illinois river lookin' for you thinkin' you might've jumped in."

Growing up I wasn't allowed to guzzle soda (So-dee, as my Dad's midwestern latent-Lutheran family called it. 'Pop' as my mother's working-collar Chicago family nasally noted) because, as Mom would always warn, "Soda has caffeine and too much caffeine isn't good for you."

Here's a simply radiant poem by Rodney Jones.....

First Coca-Cola

Maybe a sin, indecent for sure--dope
The storekeeper called it. Everyone agreed
That Manuel Lawrence who drank
Through the side of his mouth, squinting
And chortling with pleasure, was hooked;
Furthermore, Aunt Brenda,
Who was so religious that she made
Her daughters bathe with their panties on,
Had dubbed it "toy likker, fool thing,"
And so might I be, holding the bottle
Out to the light, watching it bristle
Watching the slow spume of bubbles
Die, I asked myself, could it be alive?

When the electrocuted Edwin Dockerey,
He sat there like a steaming, breathing
Bolt, the green muscles in his arms
Strained at the chair's black straps,
The little finger on his right hand leapt up,
But the charge rose, the four minutes
And twenty-five hundred volts of his death,
Which in another month will be
Thirty-five years old. So the drink fizzed
With the promise of mixtures to come.

There it was. If the hard-shell
Baptists of Alabama are good and content
That the moster has died, so am I.
I swallowed. Sweet darkness, one thing
Led to another, the usual life, waking
Sometimes lost, dried blood in the ear,
Police gabbling in a strange language.
How else would I ever gauge
How pleasure might end, walking
Past midnight in the vague direction
Of music. I am never satisfied.

-1996. from THINGS THAT HAPPEN ONCE


Though my own father faithfully abandoned what little he knew of barstools, lottery tickets and the occasional cigarette when he got down on one knee like a clumsy shoe-salesman and proposed to my mother, Dad still swigged rather copious amounts of so-dee. I remember him holding the glass bottle like a scepter in front of the television screen taking intermittent swigs. The concealed carbonated fizz squirting up to the top of the bottled orifice like a brown mushroom. When I was sick, grandma gave me 7-up or "white so-dee," to settle my stomach as I languished on her "davenport." If I squint back long enough inside my head I can remember trotting next to my father in the vinyl attire that coated the early-80's, crossing Western Avenue, my father toating an empty crate of Orange CRUSH bottles, exchanging them at Thompsons Grocery.

A solid portion of what spirituality I have folded inside my flesh arrives like a Stork on full-moon from my mom. Growing up mom prayed. Mom comes from a big Polish/Czech family in the south side of Chicago and her dad was a bit of a drinker. To this day Mom will never drink beer because when she was young her father poured a little copper stream of beer into her glass of milk at the dinner table and laughed when she threw up an hour later.

My grandmother (mom's mom) started attending church and bible study because the Lutheran church in Argo-Summit offered free day care. Her youngest inncocous-eyed daughter Linda (my mother) becoming by far the most pious progeny in the household liter.

I remember waking up in the morning and I would see Mom, in her green house coat with the optional monastic hood, sitting down with her feet bare and fetus-posture limbs hunched into her bosom, her thoroughly inky-annotated NIV bible nestled open in her lap like a shot dove.

She read the bible and she prayed. She had prayer partners. She had bible studies. When Dad first accumulated the fledgling romantic-courage to take my mother out on their first date, he took her out into the country to watch the sun tuck it's seasonal head into the pre-dusk dip and pastel atmospherical swerves of the planet. Outside of Chicago, Illinois is a vast sheet of vernal corn husks and soy patches and out past ol' Smithville Road, the gravel streams bends and exhales offering post-glacial tithes in the golden formation of sylvan dells and cradled knolls. My father lived out on Smithville road, taught for thrity years in a small classroom out on stunning Tuscoroara road and my father lovingly 'kidnapped' my mother on their first date, to watch the sunset, near the bluffs surounding his old house (attaboy Dad) where most of the surronding conifers and evergreens were planted by my Granpa Lloyd only, in a fashion all-too stereotypical of my father's foibles, the car got stuck in a heap of mud, leaving my two very overtly concious Christian parents alone to cower.

While their future cavalier son (who never would have gotton the car stuck in the first place) would have instantly placated the soul of his new found damsel by setting up a campfire and plucking out unveiled constellations (and finding some way to get brew hot of coco), my father and my mother (who were approximately five years younger than I am now, and who had just met) did the only thing they new how to do. Mom turned into the direction of my gaunt father and told him, "Arthur, I think we need to pray."

And pray they did. The two of them. Together as one squashed palm. Out in the rustic Illinois country side, down the roads I used to drive down while chain smoking after I broke up with Vanessa, thinking that I wanted to write books whose sentences streched out infintely in both horizons like the Illinois country side; like I was driving down the center of my book that would leak out of my finger tips if only I wasn't so caught up fixing leaks for the collegiate plumber.

My parents prayed. In the country. Before their mouths tasted the other's scent, they got down on their knees like Mary and Joseph in a Nativity scene and they prayed. Helped arrived shortly after and my mom taught my dad how to jut his thumb out and hitch. The car dropped both my parents off at my grandma's house where my mom first met her future inlaws in their nightgowns and curlers. It was the first time my mom stepped into the house that would one day be hers.

Growing up the one prayer for me that my mother possesed and verbalized (in addition to praying for my future spouse and for good teeth-mom wore braces until she was thirty) was that her son be like David in the bible. Though rifts have greatly severed the Mother-to-son bound we once had, I feel that, in all possibility, mother's prayer has been heard by the concourse. Like King David in the bible, I've noted my Goliath and shoved my sling full of words and images. Like the biblical king, I've had more-than-my fair share of Bathesheba's (funny-her name ends in 'a'), like the biblical King I've longed to find God, to really find God, and I even abandoned the search only to have my longing discover me.

Like King David, I can't, for the life of me, stop writing Psalms.

2 comments:

Shannon said...

That was really lovely, Dave. Really, really lovely. If you were publishing this stuff, I would anxiously await your next collection of stories. And you do remind me of King David. And I'm drinking root beer now, an affinity which grew from spending far too much brilliant, loving time in the VB household. I don't think there's ever not been root beer there.

David Von Behren said...

Yeah, mom's sort've into the weird flat, non-carbonated liquid. Thanks for reading girl! we've got plenty of good writing stuff ahead of us this semester!