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Forced out of my own house. My own home. Foreclosure? No, worse. Real estate agents. "Showings." I am so tired of having my off-the-clock hours also interrupted by, these most times, obnoxious strangers. At least in this instant the salesperson had the courtesy to phone me and schedule. So I got out. Even though my soul is so tired - I just want to sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Avoid it all. Avoid life. So many things to do. So many directions I could go. And I'm stuck as surely as a 5,600 pound H2 Hummer with four flat tires. I want to scream out to someone. Someone, and ask, "How did you do it?" How did they keep going? Damn my mother. She bred this hopelessness into me. Her Finnish genes. But, as burdens go, mine could be far worse. I could be blind, or deaf, or retarded or crippled. Damn, thinking like that lifts my spirits and I happen to want to be depressed at the moment, thank you. I guess now that I'm not down in the dumps I can't blame my current passivity on depression. Maybe that's why (why?) I get depressed. To avoid work? To avoid labor? No - maybe only to avoid labor that I don't like to do. Things that I like to do, I could do until I fall asleep on top of them. Probably like anyone else doing what they enjoy doing. Covey, my counselor, exasperated, finally explained. Explained that I had been retired for so many years and that I just needed to get back into the swing of things again. Comfortable in drudgery of everyday life. It's no wonder so often people retire and die within a year or two. If you don't have the money to do things, to go places, to buy stuff, and you don't have employment to stimulate you - you simply sit and stagnate. Stagnate until your heart finally stops beating. I regard the high school aged girl facing me, flaunting her flawless, so soft, coffee with cream colored skin and full cleavage. Her cleavage, the dimly lit hourglass shape between her breasts which is on display courtesy of her purposely chosen scoop-necked blouse and, most likely, small gauge, wire-reinforced, push-up bra. God bless her! Then, I glance one table over and witness what her display will look like sixty years from this day. I never used to fear growing old. Now I do hope I die in an auto accident or something equally as quick. I'm so tired of people coming to public places, like this afternoon at Border's, and sitting and talking, in a normal voice, on their gull-darned cell phones. Wireless phones ringing all over the place. And what about the fat ass on his thirty five hundred dollar laptop? "That would have bought an awful lot of Snicker's bars buddy," I think to myself. He's wearing the microphone that hangs from his ear. He's facing me from across the room and when he talks on his phone it's as if he's addressing me. No consideration. No class. No secrets. That's one thing about Missus Malamud. She's got a ton of class. Unlike Dr.Malamud, you could take her anywhere without fear of her embarrassing anyone. Class. Like you imagine Bob Hope or Dean Martin or Bing Crosby had. Class. Like the previously mentioned gentlemen. Class is dead. They should be done looking at the house by now. Maybe I'll stay away until 5PM. Very few people come after 5PM.
I note the date the last time I wrote in my Mead Composition Journal. Over one month ago and I am stunned. Seems like it was only days ago and it was instead weeks ago. They say time flies, but time for me is approaching Star Trek’s warp speed. Chased out of my house by evil realtor's again, I'm again a prisoner at Borders. I had to engage the lock on the Malamud master bedroom door while I showered, lest the wicked wanderer’s stepped in while I was lathering my lesser known parts. Earlier today, I walked outside to face up to my gardening chores. Chores, in the hot sun, on the single day I get off each week. It doesn't seem right. The smell of the suntan lotion (in this case anti-sunburn lotion) I had plastered on the back of my neck, shoulders and ears, reminded me that I should instead be on a Caribbean beach, not mowing a green Arizona desert lawn. Inside, I check for voicemails from condescending realtor’s and finding none, I don my pith helmet, step into my garage and immediately discover I'm out of gasoline for my White-trash brand lawn mower. I tuck in the huge shirt I'm wearing that my daughter left behind in her move to the Lone Star State and drive to the ”Man who wears the star.” The Texaco station. I fill up the Peugeot as long as I'm there and discover that my mileage has evaporated from 24mpg to 16mpg. The men who changed the engine oil must have reset the odometer. At home again, while jerking and then coiling the bright green garden hose, to get it out of the way of the eager lawn mower, it pulls against the flowers, stripping them of their fragrance whose aromas then reach out and delight my nose. I can’t even complain that life has been unfair. It hasn't. Life, and its author, God, have been far nicer to me than anyone could have a right to expect. Now, my brand new string trimmer has used up the mere six inches of nylon that it came with. “Out of gas. Out of string. What next?” I ask myself. I decide to journey to the Meglo-Mart and check our freezer for anything we might need. I see we have plenty of cod loins. I ask myself how can cod have loins? They don’t even have codpieces. Later during my less than one mile drive to Borders retreating from the malicious real estate people, my cell phone trills. The glaring Arizona sun causes me to squint at the display and I recognize the call as being from MM (Mrs. Malamud). She asks me if I was at work and I reply that I was at work, but at work on the front yard. She tells me of a newly constructed house in Texas that is about 35% of the cost of the same house in Scottsdale. Why she would need a 3,000+ square foot residence doesn't cross my mind. I find it easier talking to her these days now that I've realized that she doesn't deserve to be burdened with someone like me. Oh, I could promise changes and probably have, but would they stick and would I still be me? Wasn't it me she married and loved and stuck by for over a quarter of a century?
I’m at Borders again. It is far too hot to sit outside Starbuck’s. I still can’t believe that people come here to just sit and talk on their cell phones. That reminds me, I’ve got to call my daughter in Texas. On my cell phone. From Borders. I found an adorable T-shirt here that just fits her personality. With beautifully drawn black and white art “A Series of Unfortunate Events" t-shirt is sure to delight her. And I must confirm that it will also fit her body. I pull out my un-stylish can-of-Red-Bull-sized Verizon cell phone and call the hotel where she is employed. Seconds later, I ring-off, confident my find will fit her physique. As I ponder, I raise my hands to my chin and smell bush on my fingers. I had to wait until 7PM tonight (when the temperature had plummeted to a mere 99o F) to venture out front at the house to finally trim the hedges. I should have cut them last Sunday, but after four hours in the 105 degree Arizona sun I was just too bushed. I phone my daughter again. This time to ask her to confirm the title of a wonderful, wonderful book I read as a pre-teen: “Journey to the Mushroom Planet.” She read it during her own too brief childhood, thirty years after mine. She verified the accuracy of my memory of the title. Her tone of voice indicates that she may believe that I’ve gone insane. I need the name of the title to add to my list of Malamud Books page, that’s all. I amble to the Borders' restroom in order to lather the bush smell off of my hands. As I leave the washroom, I notice that Howard Hughes must have visited the john before your Dr.Malamud. This is because the brushed steel exit door handle is mummified with five or six wraps of the never-ending roll of paper towels. I’m pleased to notice that the really cute Borders female employee has lost about 30 pounds since winter but yet, kept possession of her substantial breasts. I noticed her years ago when I spied her purposely-exposed abdomen protruding out beneath her too short blouse. In other words she wasn't anorexic and she was fine with that. The cute twentyish girl in the long Carol-King style dress sits facing my left side. "Is that my ‘good side’?" I chuckle to myself. She’s got her black hair styled in an expensive cut like Lisa Minelli. Only this girl is much prettier than the recently separated daughter of Judy Garland and Ugly-Guy Minelli. I imagine at a time in the future (the near future I pray) when I’ve been made wealthy and famous by my writing and I’m sitting at Borders or Starbuck’s, being pointed at and pointed out by those who recognize me. I hear the table of nine Jews loudly talking about the best local Chinese restaurant and am reminded of the line from the movie, My Favorite Year when the Jewish character informs his Gentile date, “Jews know two things: suffering and great Chinese food.” Thinking of my childhood, brought on by the “Mushroom Planet” book, I am reminded of the poet, Ogden Nash. One of the few poets I understood and enjoyed during mandatory grade school poem sessions, who wrote hundreds, maybe thousands of poems.
Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
And yet in moments dark and grim
I wonder how we look to him.
Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus!
We really look all right to us,
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotomi.
Ogden Nash (1902 - 1971)
of Ogden Nash."
I step out of the book store thirty dollars poorer but literally far richer. In my huge Borders' bag is a t-shirt for my daughter and a 2 ¾ thick book of poems for me.
Women's eyes, eyelashes, eyebrows are so attractive. I wonder why that is? Is it because we've been inudated by commercials telling us that women's eyes are sexy? Or is it something innate within us? Are the eyes the emblems of intelligence or emotion worn like a patch of rank? Or do we pick up subtle clues from other facial movements and attribute the whole to the only the eyes? I had a horrible time on the graveyard shift the other night. Saturday I worked from 6AM until 2PM went home, couldn't sleep and then went back to work at a brand new post, from 11PM to 6AM Sunday. I must have dozed off half a dozen times on my shift. I was too tired to do any productive work (actual paid work consisted of about eight minutes out of the eight hours.) All I could do is watch this not too bad cable TV movie about Helen of Troy. I finally resorted to standing the entire shift, for every time I sat, minutes later I found my head snapping up from a slobbering chin-down to the chest position. I'm at Borders now, observing a twentyish, statuesque young lady facing me whose eyes are just lovely, even though when she stood I noted that she had no butt. Her eyelids, eyebrows and eyelashes benefit from her skillful application of cosmetics. And then there is the teen Asian girl, who has on minimal makeup, coupled with a perfect little body, whose eyes are even more striking. She just needs to keep a close eye on her moustache. I'm chased out of Cafe Espresso by it's early Sunday evening closing time. I'm at the Wendy's that Pastor Keith so skillfully counseled me at many weeks ago. Somehow, writing my memoirs on a yellow Wendy's napkin just doesn't have the panache of doing the same on a Starbuck's napkin. Silly isn't it? Jack Kerouac wrote "On the Road" on plain old TP. I feel my right thigh vibrating and assume it is my Sunday night phone call from the 1500 kilometer distant Missus. It is. But to keep my reverie intact, I ask if I can phone her back. She agrees. Where was she this morning when I so looked forward to crawling onto the elevated Malamud mattress and curling up beside her to fall asleep like spoons in a drawer? My heart sank when I once again realized how much I missed her. But, I've become adept at controlling my thoughts. Back at work last night, I decided I'd read my latest Science Fiction novel standing up. On my feet, to prevent the vertically challenged Sandman from filling my eyes up with sleep. The phone rings. It is the first time it rang in seven hours. The boss thanks me profusely for filling in. I think of the extra $146 I'll see on my pay stub and respond with a, not-so-true, "No problem." My replacement shows up at 0630 hours. I drag myself to the Peugeot. As I drive the nine miles home I wonder at what point will I decide to transform my life from the melancholy limbo of the last many months into the prosperous future I believe the Lord has promised me? I wake up three times on my southbound asphalt paved dash to my bed. Each time I do, I involuntarily jerk the steering wheel to the left moving my car into the oncoming traffic lane that thankfully, on an early Sunday morning, is only sporadically occupied by vehicles moving north.
I pulled up in my driveway this steaming August afternoon and was immediately saddened by the "Sold" placard slung beneath the "For Sale" realty sign that had itself magically appeared in our front yard. Like a stake driven through the heart of our home, the 4 x 4 white post had stood like an unwanted monolith for the past couple of weeks. Our home of almost a quarter of a century had just officially transitioned into a house I'm on the verge of tears. Inside the house, my hand moved badly and I accidently slammed my favorite frosted tequila shot glass against the much harder surface of the 300 pound glass top of the dining room table. I watched sadly as the $25 a liter clear Mexican cactus juice pooled on the blue-green surface, and then like a scene from The Matrix slowly trickled off the beveled edge onto the floor. Drop by drop by drop. The Missus had asked an internet college advisor to contact me, which he did via e-mail. She's so sweet, she wants me to earn an appropriate education so that someday soon I might support myself. While at the same time, she happily continues without me, on her career track of 100 hour weeks and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I'm numb. My teeth are clenched as I lean my head back to rest on the pillows of the couch. I should be rejoicing in 'the freedom' many other middle-aged men desire. Soon my youngest child will be away getting his appropriate education. And I. Will be. Alone. Alone with my silently farting, slobbering, snoring, and sometimes sneezing seventy five pound English Bulldog. And even then, he can't live much longer. He's the longest-lived bulldog we've, or should I say, I've ever owned. I wipe the tears that brim my eyes. A blood vessel throbs on its own along the right side of my neck. Other than having lived in it longer than I had ever lived anywhere, I hold no special attachment to the place. Of course, that status, in itself, cannot but help generate very deep and heartfelt feelings. And then I remember our then six year old daughter matter-of-factly informing us that when she grew up she was going to own a pet shop and live in this same house. Without Missus and Doctor Malamud in it, this building is just a shell ready to be cast off like a snake skin or, better yet, the way a cicada sheds it's skin. But, even though I'm shedding I do not want to grow. I'm tired of all this growth. I want my mommy. No, maybe not, for even when she was alive she did not, she could not, provide much comfort. I just want to take the seven year sleep that cicadas enjoy before they slip off their larvae monster-looking skin, and emerge as the noisiest insects on God's green earth. At least, I am no longer suicidal. I now realize I was a danger to myself for months because the words, "Why don't you just take a pistol and blow your head off?" were ringing in my ears almost as often as spam emails offering to greatly enlarge certain unseen and (now unused) parts of my anatomy. Another challenge I toughed out. I survived. So I could live alone. Great.
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