47 in 46: Lola

The year was 1970, and what I still consider to be one of the most brilliantly written “shock rock” songs of all time – not to mention a shoo-in to the possible future soundtrack for the life of a certain youngish hero not yet realized – was released unto an unassuming public. 

My tale today is based upon this, a little ditty penned by members of the better Beatles, The Kinks.

I hope you enjoy…
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Mommy always looks pretty.

And sometimes, sometimes we have special dinners. Dress up dinners. Mommy makes something that tastes really good, but maybe is not so good-looking, cuz she turns down all the lights and makes us eat with candles on.

Daddy likes nights like this cuz he gets to get dressed up in his brown sports coat with big wide lapels, and his tie that’s even wider and looks like yucky mustard, and all his clothes look like they’re made of heavy plastic. Something-ester is what he calls it. He sez it’s the fabric of the future. It hurts me whenever I wear it. I don’t like it.

I hope he’s wrong about the future.

Mommy gets dressed up real pretty on these nights, these special dinner nights. She makes a big scene of it too. After setting the table and getting us boys all seated (daddy seats himself), mommy runs to the back of the house to get out of her kitchen clothes and to get on her pretty stuff. She even has pretty shoes and shiny things that clip on her ears. Just for the dinner, I swear!

Coming down the hall really slow, daddy whoop-oohs and ahhhs as mommy gets to the table. I’m hungry mommy, hurry up!  I think he maybe even pulls the chair out for her. Maybe, I can’t remember. I do know that daddy won’t let us eat until we all tell mommy how pretty she is. I’m hungry, but mommy is pretty anyways. Daddy gets too pushy sometimes like that.

Mommy was walking in the hall, and I could see her pretty shoes poke out from her dress, every time she put one forward. Her dress is really pretty, it’s so long it touches the floor, and it’s all white, except for the brown and black shapes that someone drew all over it, and mommy musta got it on sale, cuz there’s no sleeves on it, but it does have a tight collar around the neck. She calls it a mock turtle’s neck, but I don’t understand what that means. There is no turtle’s neck anywhere on her dress, I looked. Mommy’s dress is sorta tight, and I think it’s that something-ester thing again, but hers is soft and silky, very silky. I like it when I have mommy’s dress in my fingers. It feels good. Daddy sez the dress hugs her. I don’t know how a dress can do that without hurting after a while.

I touch mommy’s dress when she’s not looking sometimes. I go into her bedroom and just touch her things. They’re all soft. Not like daddies and mine. Not hard plastic. Mommy’s stuff is nice. And it fits her too. Us boys look like robots in boxes when we wear our ester-something stuff, but mommy always looks like, like, well, like water moving, like she floats.

Mommy always looks pretty.

I want to too. I want to look pretty. Daddy sez that boys can’t be pretty. Boys are just hanb-sum, he sez. I don’t wanna be hanb-sum, I wanna be pretty. I wanna wear the ester that doesn’t hurt. I wanna have people ooh and ahhh me too.

Daddy gets too pushy like that, so I sometimes sneak into mommy’s room when no one knows, so I can look pretty too. No one knows, so it think it’s OK, and I fold everything up real good and put it back when I’m done. But folding lady underwear is really hard, and I think I broke her stocking once, cuz my toenail made a big line in it. I even close the door so that no one can see.

I don’t think Jesus can look through doors.

At least I hope not, cuz daddy and mommy sez that that sort of thing is a sin. That boys are supposed to be boys, and girls are supposed to be girls, and we’re all supposed to make babies, but only after we get married forever and ever, and God don’t like anyone who gets that screwed up. People go to h-e-double-l for screwing things up, that’s what mommy and daddy’s church sez. That’s what school sez too. And school is run by nuns. Nuns are married to Jesus. They got rings to prove it and everything, so they must know what they’re talking about.

I don’t think Jesus marries very nice women.

Maybe that’s why He’s so upset and sending screw ups to h-e-double-l all the time. I don’t know. But I hope He can’t peek through the door, because I don’t want to be a screw up and go to h-e-double-l. I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want Him to hate me.  I didn’t do anything wrong, I swear Jesus. But I do wanna wear the good feeling something-ester. I wanna feel like water moving, and I don’t wanna look just hanb-sum, and I wanna feel special, and whoop-ooh’d and ahh’d, and look pretty…

Just like mommy always does.

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47 In 46: Spinning Wheel

It’s odd that, as a huge music snob (in stature versus size) I would not have known of this before, but when my friend recommended it to me, I just had to jump on board. I don’t know what it’s called in actuality, but the idea is to post on your social media weapon of choice a song a day for as many years as you’ve been alive, with enough such days allocated as to take you up to your actual birthday. I found out about the exercise 2 days prior to my day of birth, and jammed out all 47 tracks within that time, and through more than several cocktails.

Again, maybe I was wrong in this, but I had thought that you were supposed to, for each year represented, choose a song released within that year, only it if it said something about your life in that time. And that’s what I did. It wasn’t too long after that I realized I could write a little story for each song selection here as well. And that is exactly what I am doing now.

Starting today, 1969. With Blood, Sweat and Tears.

I hope you enjoy…

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“What goes up,

Must come down…”

Story of his life, that lyric would end up being, but at that moment Teddy was far too young to know that. In fact, at that very moment, as the song lilted above the din of his mother’s prepping dinner, Teddy didn’t even know what the song’s story was about. The spinning wheel and painted pony he imagined were not connected at all, and in no way ever coagulated in his mind as the Ferris Wheel that everyone else surely would have envisioned.

He didn’t like the song for this reason. It confused him, and he loathed feeling confused, in part because it was a feeling he had far too often. He didn’t like the song, so he ignored it, opting instead to sit quietly at the kitchen table while he slowly rolled the slice of salami that served as his pre-dinner snack. The salami rolling was ritualistic, though if he ever took the time to determine what ever started it, he would have never come to an answer. It worked something like this: he would first fold each slice in half, secretly rejoicing in the grease that oozed onto his oft times dirt-stained fingers in the process. After folding thusly, he would then roll the slice into itself clockwise until it became a fattened cone shaped morsel. And, being highly anally attentive, he would then confirm that on the open end of the cone all the rolled layers of his creation were somewhat equal, without instances of too many dips or valleys between them. If the symmetry was not evenish, he would unroll disgustedly and start again. Only when it looked “just right” would he plunge his teeth greedily into the whole unholy mess, destroying his carefully crafted creation within two swift bites.

“Ride a painted pony,

Let the spinning wheel flyyyyyyyyy…”

The damned song continued on. The deep, knowing baritone of the singer making Teddy feel even more inadequate in his adolescent confusion on the subject matter. He dismissed the sound again while methodically munching on his meat, imagining instead that he was able to make himself very small. Small enough in fact as to clamber under the same baseboard as the ants he had been observing doing so industriously at that moment. Once under there he imagined he would find a new world, one safe from harm. A world where he would matter, maybe even become king of the ants, or at least find others who also were like him, others who wouldn’t hurt him.

Teddy did this a lot, running away in his imagination to places where he mattered, places where he would fit in, and not get picked on or beat up. Places where he could be a king or a hero. Years later, Teddy would meet his Rosetta Stone of such diversionary tactics in a little remembered sci-fi movie he saw, wherein a lonely boy becomes a solitary star fighter that saves the universe. The whole entire universe; even the people that used to beat on him. And then, oh boy, are they ever sorry that they ever treated him that way!

But that would be a story for another time – a sadder, post-pubescent story, long after Teddy had become – rather against his will – Ted.

“Ted. Ted? Teddy!”

His mother jolted him from his reverie while saying, “Honey, you have to go and get cleaned up. Daddy will be home soon, and you know how he wants his dinner the minute he walks in. Now come on, off with you, scoot!” She shook her head, to herself wondering what had been going on in that little head of his this time, and why his look was always so serious and far off distant.

Leaving the table without complaint while smudging it’s laminate surface with greasy dirt, Teddy noticed that while the song had changed, it was the same band, now that other one, the one wherein the singer warbled, “you make me so, very happy…” Years later, Ted would be a Sometime DJ in an All-The-Time Clubland World, and he would firmly rail against ever playing the same band twice in a night, let alone literally in an amateurish back-to-back fashion like that. It may have even been this very experience that gave him the fodder to form this belief. But again, at that moment Teddy was far too young to know that. At that very moment in fact, Teddy didn’t even know what his song’s story was to be about.

Squandered Epiphanies

*

Sunday was one of those rare days when I found myself actually awake well before I needed to be, with more than enough time to get ready for church without rushing about.

Of course, and as these things go, I squandered every damned last extra minute, and found myself still bolting through the door yelping, “wait for me Jesus!” when I realized that I was already supposed to be where I was just now heading off to.

In fact, I was in such a rush that it wasn’t until I was seated, moistened by both a late summer sweat and just a hint of former Roman Catholic guilt – and exactly at the point in the mass wherein we pray for the recently deceased – that I realized something:

Someone wasn’t here today.

Someone who had been here – to my knowledge at any rate – just yesterday.

Not “here” as in the church itself, but “here” as in at all; as the day prior I had gotten word that Someone dear to me and dearer to others still had finally come upon their great reward. It was a Someone that I loved.

Someone that I loved.

And how odd it is that only in their death was I finally able to appreciate that feeling for what it was. Understand it for what it is. Acknowledge it to be true.

Someone I love and now miss is not here today. No, not ever more.

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And, as these epiphanies tend to cluster ‘round a recently illuminated mind, it then also occurred to me in very short order that this sort of thing happens every single day, a million times over. Every single day there are others – many, many others – who simply are no longer here today. Gone. Dust. Legacy. No longer are they a curse nor a blessing . No more are they anything, but what they gave unto us, and what we gave unto them in return.

And as such I wondered, why can’t we be better?

Why can’t we stop hating, judging and fearing?

Why can’t we forgive, and mend, and build anew?

Why can’t we be, and let be?

Why can’t we – well, as one of the greatest rock songs of all time once said – be friends?

Why can’t we let go of the trash in our heads, and use that freed space for great thoughts, and inner peace, and outer love, and for the possible and final realization of the full potential of what those wonderful grey bumpy things bouncing about inside of our heads promise to be when We grow up?

Whenever the fuck we decide to finally grow up…

On a microcosmic level example I suppose, and in an effort to shed even more ever-present R.C. guilt, why can’t I – even though the pain caused by their transgressions was deep, overwhelming, intentional and still being doled out in sporadic venomous rations – forgive my ex-hole enough as to finally stop calling them that? And why can’t I take that forgiveness and apply it to the incorrectly (and sometimes justified) assigned failings of my own good self as well?

For fucks sake, I watched both my dad die miserably years ago, and the ex-hole choosing to live in a similar fashion today. How many examples does it take for me – for any of us, really – to finally learn The Lesson?

Someone I love and will now miss is not here today. No, not ever more. And I never even got to say goodbye. I never did so because in my daily blindness, I never once thought that the time was nigh.

And yeah, I did use the word “nigh” just now so that you’d think that I was some sort of educated writer, but in honesty, I would give up the impression desired if I was granted just one more kiss on Rae’s cheek before she bolted off to her Yahweh.

Honestly, I would.

*

Stumbling back into my office from a quick run to her funeral service today, I was met by a private note amongst friends that two of the very best I have ever been blessed with were themselves blessed just hours before with the birth of their long-awaited twins; twins that I will forever more now call only Luke and Leia, by the way – regardless of their parents chagrin.

In reading the note, especially on the heels of the service I had just attended – one wherein a life was celebrated instead of a death being cursed – I had one last epiphany and saw that Tomorrow was once again here. Another chance to learn, grow, share, enjoy, and maybe – just maybe – build upon the efforts of those who lived yesterday to become just a little bit better tomorrow. For, just as someone isn’t here today, there are two more who have just arrived. “And the ripples of the good will continue to spread in wider circles than the ripples of the selfish, for they travel across much deeper waters.

Sounds good, right?

Someone I love and will now miss is not here today. I would like to be of a mind, and live in a world, where that is a celebration instead of a curse. A world where goodbyes are heard only through all the hellos also being made. A world to come, if We make it so. A world to come, if we decide to be friends.

Dedicated to Rachel Cohen.

(The) Wonderful Life

When we were first starting our journey another lifetime ago, we often compered ourselves to the Baileys, George and Mary. We were the ones who “stayed behind” to support the two aging families. We were the ones who had children to carry on in the same. We were the Baileys true and true, because though we had but 2 dollars to our name (yes, called papa dollar and momma dollar respectively), we were the ones that had each other and the dream…

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It’s a Wonderful Life ends too soon you see, that’s it’s problem.

It ends just after George has his breakdown and subsequent salvation, but well before Mary has her very own mental destruction of a sort. A breakdown that couldn’t be fixed by any mere bell-ring wing hopeful; as Mary would never listen to opinions – heavenly though they may be – differing from her’s anyway. A breakdown that would eventually cause her to run off, indulging in “adventure” – replete with a newly purchased boot knife – all while pushing George from the house, from her life and from the life of his children. A breakdown that would eventually drive her to want to even kill George, if not in the flesh, then at least and more importantly in the spirit.

And George in fact, did die.

More completely than he ever realized was possible.

Not in the flesh, but at least and more importantly in the spirit.

He died very painfully, and for a very long time.

Just long enough in fact, to take root.

You see, in his death, an odd thing occurred. George became aware of something. In his death, George began to finally understand what that cross-hugging Israelite Lover of Life (the very One who took His own in celebration and protection of it) had so long ago said about not being able to truly live, until you had first tasted – and indeed drank of – the rusty cup of death. Not through his own wisdom alone surely, George was somehow able to recognize the fact that his death wasn’t so much a defeat as it was a victory – or at the very least an opportunity to achieve the victory that a long time ago he had willingly given up in order to obtain what he thought would be, if you’ll pardon the pun, the “wonderful life.”

The angels sent this time weren’t Mark Twainian flaming rum punch enthusiasts either. They were actual breathing, living, thinking, loving and bells-be-damned speaking people. OK, and possibly flaming rum punch enthusiasts as well. People who dispelled George’s self-hatred and loathing through speaking their truth of him to him. A truth he hadn’t heard for a very long time (15 + years to be exact), and a truth that through their persuasion he was finally willing to believe to be so.

A truth strong enough as to bring him back to life.

And with this belief, plus the tears that had watered and nourished him as he taken root, George was able to begin to grow again. Not even “again,” really, but rather, to grow anew.

Yes, that’s it – George began to grow anew.

It’s a Wonderful Life ends too soon you see, that’s it’s problem. Ending where it does, we don’t get to see the full story. I suppose that’s the case in almost every tale though. There will always be endings that are really just beginnings to even deeper, more meaningful tales. There will always be a moment in the story where we feel that “happy” is at a maximum, so we cut it there, afraid to carry on much further. And in so doing, we all – as C.S. Lewis once taught me while I was still a young Zuzu’s petal pocket-cramming naive father – sacrifice True Joy for mere happiness.

In the case of the Baileys and the tale we’ll never know, I pray that this George at least is never again satisfied enough with the latter, as to forego the purposed pursuit of the former. I pray that this George at least – and that all of you – are able to truly live, and enjoy moving forward towards, Wonderful Lives.

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Dreams Past

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I fell into a dream.

A dream that decided to make unto itself a nightmare for both herself and I.

But like all nightmares, it has proven to be simply an inconsequential mental exercise which simply serves to make of me a better me. A thing to learn and grow from, and to never return to afterwards.

And as all nightmares go, this one too can not last forever.

I fell into a dream, but now the daylight beckons, the nightmare is almost complete.

And I will be able to dream again, once it is finally over

Briefly… My Last 100 Words

Is this my last post? I can’t really tell, but I do know that I couldn’t leave without visiting – at least just once more – the beautiful skies of our 100 Word Song:

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M’desk is standing-height. I wanna crawl underneath it, to hide from Him.

I wanna crawl underneath, but it’s too high, providin’ no space small enough to feel safe.

I wanna crawl underneath, despite His sayin’ that everything’s finally becoming as it shoulda always been… as it never coulda been till now.

I crave to crawl underneath, as His reassurances only cause to pain me more.

My wings’re becoming unbound. Stretchin’, flexin’, impatient to be tried. Not on m’own account, but simply cuz the time is Now.

I wanna crawl underneath. But doing so’s pointless, tain’t nothing can hamper my Flight now…

•••

The Looming Sunshine…

They sat on the porch, together.

They sat on the porch, quietly. He invested deep within his book, and she, equally so in hers. Not a word was spoken, nor a head even raised as I walked briskly by. They were each totally engrossed within their own little worlds alone, but together.

The porch they sat on was not nearly big enough for the two of them, let alone their large-format print books, nor the cat that apparently shared their life. So to make space, he at least scampered down onto the lawn just before I arrived, stalking about almost as if to imply that he too was looking for a book in order ignore the rest of the world with. 

The scene got me to thinking randomly (don’t they all?) and what I got to thinking randomly about was this:

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Have you ever been engrossed with a book?

One written expertly, with characters so alive that you could almost pinch them, and a story line so well crafted that you could swear it was divined, instead of merely written?

And then all of a sudden, smack dab deep within the goodness and glory of that book, the whole thing turns rather sour, with the Author making you read through page after page of utterly distasteful activities and scenarios.

You read on, because you know that surely the Author didn’t suddenly lose all their skill, talent and story-writing ability. You’re certain that the Author simply MUST be forcing you through this section – most usually occurring shortly after the chapter that follows the halfway mark – in order to teach you something critical about the characters in this tale.

You’re certain of it but still, with each page passed, you keep glimpsing forward anxiously, wondering when the chapter will end, hoping that the next will bring you back to the delightful yarn that you had been enjoying so much so up until this point. You’d even read a short stanza or two from the pages to follow, and you know that it’s soon enough to be true, just after you can slog through this one black sheep of a bastardly and evil, yet wholly required chapter, first.

That in a nutshell, it suddenly occurs to me friends, is where I find my life right about now. But just for exactly right about now. Having worked my way through most of the chapter I wish I could have skipped altogether, I can see the number of pages remaining continue to dwindle. And while that does cause me extreme joy, it also gnaws on me, similar to the clawing cat that knows with desperation that it’s losing its litter-encrusted grip upon you. I keep finding myself having to fight the urge to try to read faster, or skip whole pages, for I know that I can do neither anyway. I must wait patiently and read through to the very last word.

The next chapter is already looming bright, begging to greet me with open arms and sunshine. But it can not start in earnest until this one first ends.

And sadly that, word by bloody distasteful word…

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