Editor's Note: I am going to skip ahead a little now and not publish a couple of chapters from the original story. Regardless of how many times I preface the reading of this memoir with the fact that "a lot of what is written is how I experienced it, not necessarily how things actually happened," some people still get a little panty-twisted, so it's not really worth it.
That said, when those people die, it’s game on.
The funeral. Now that was a day!
The Sun asked the executioner to do the ceremony. I guess that’s what you’d call it, “a ceremony.” It was more like a sermon, really. My grandfather talked about “everlasting life,” and how “you can’t get There from here.” He wore a button on the lapel of his tan, cotton suit that read, “Pray, or the Devil will get you.“ He said that my father was looking down on us, smiling at the sight of friends and family coming together to honor the way he’d lived his life. I remember smirking, even then, at the ridiculous notion that my father was “up There” looking “down here.” I mean, really… He could be staring into the Face of Jesus, or Flannery O’Conner, or John Lennon… or Lou freaking Gehrig, but no… he’s up There, looking down here.
Oh, the irony of it all.
I sat next to my mother. Her hand trembled in mine as her father took advantage of this captive audience. I saw the tears run down her face, and I decided at that moment to try and be a better son.
A picture of our family sat upon the casket in the front of the sanctuary: Father, Mother, the butterfly, the musician, the baseball player... and me. I thought back to the day it was taken... An impromptu pose on a friend’s farm two Thanksgivings ago.
We were all very happy…
Well, guess what? I got married to the first girl I ever had sex with. We had sex. And then we got married. And then I started drinking.
A broken heart is an open door
To receive less and to give back more
The question stands—still—within my heart
When did it end? Did it ever start?
Of course it did...
We met on a Thursday night. I was mixing drinks. She was drinking them—never even hinting that she'd pay. She liked Cosmopolitans, and her brow lowered as she whispered, "Do you know how to make Sex on the Beach?"
A Sex on the Beach consists of 1 or more ounces of Vodka, 1/2 ounce of Melon Liqueur, 1 Tablespoon of Grenadine and a splash of orange juice. A Cosmopolitan, for the record, is a Vodka Martini with a splash cranberry juice and a lime twist.
She grew up in a very small town in Alabama—"the County Seat." She always made sure to point that out. Her parents grew up there, as did her parents' parents and so on, and so forth. One might think that such a girl would be homely and sheltered and a bit overwhelmed by city life. On the contrary...
She wore a short, black skirt and a gray knit sweater the night we met. Her oaken hair was exactly how it should have been – just above her shoulders, tucked neatly behind her ears. I didn't actually notice her clothes until the next morning as I watched her walk through my apartment colonnade. But I did notice her eyes. I couldn't help it. My God, she could still melt glass with those things. Blue as the day is long… whatever that means.
She made her way through the bar like Moses (kaput!)... People just seemed to get out of her way.
Her confidence made me feel like a schoolboy—excited, but terrified at what being called to the blackboard might expose. A mutual friend lagged a few steps behind, but finally introduced her... "Hey there... this is your future wife," she said.
Oh, the irony of it all.
Today's fight had to do with towels. I put them on the wrong side of the cabinet. She used to give me sex because I put them up at all. Now we fight because they aren't folded correctly, or— heaven forbid—they're placed where the washcloths are predestined to go. I wonder sometimes if my father, Kurt Vonnegut or Lou Gehrig ever did such grotesquely idiotic things. Something tells me it didn't matter...
Still doesn't. Bygones.
I wish she could have met my father. He would have liked her "spunk." But I'm not sure if she could have gotten passed the fact that I loved him so much.
I've tried telling her about the morning I found him. She just sits there... staring at me, or at nothing at all. I'm not sure if she simply doesn't care, or if she's just incapable of showing the kind of emotion it takes to be a good listener.
"I woke up at 7:11 that morning" I said. "I know what time it was because our grandfather clock stood against the wall near dad's blue, La-Z-Boy hydraulic chair... Have you ever seen one of those?" I asked. "They're pretty neat. You see, there's this button on the side of the..."
"I need to go check the laundry," she said.
And that was it.
In her defense, she's heard me tell the story before. So, it's not as if she's completely obtuse. Just bored, I guess.
I love my wife more than I could ever describe on paper or act out in a thousand lifetimes. There are no words to describe her. It seems she's beyond vocabulary. She cannot be captured in a sentence, or even a paragraph—not mine anyway. I see her much the same as I see God: She has no boundaries. And I blame her for everything.
Faith, hope and love. She's all of these. Happiness. Sadness. Pain. Ecstasy. It's all her fault.
My gong is resounding, and my cymbals clang on and on and on.