December 7, 2018

Christmas Carols


This is the time of the year when they start playing Christmas carols...for anybody who still listens to the radio anymore...some stations play them 24 hours a day and that’s ok with me...it’s the only time I listen to these stations...they play the old standards and a few new ones that I don’t think will ever be standards...man, some of these songs were old when I was young but now we’re both old and they sound better than I do...Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole...a lot of these people are dead now...and some of them have been for a long time already...remember sitting around the tree when I was little listening to songs and watching the lights twinkle and reflect on the large picture window we had in the living room...usually, nobody sat in there because there wasn’t no TV in there, but at Christmas time, sometimes we’d sit in there...I’d look at the presents for me and wonder what they were...I remember when I thought Santa brought them, but then one time I got up at night and saw my parents putting boxes under the tree...I wasn’t too disappointed...I kinda thought the whole Santa thing was fake once I got to be, oh...five years old...on Christmas Eve, my mother and sister would go to the midnight mass which was like the only time they ever went to church...and they’d join all the other people who only went once a year...I never went, but I remember the Pope came on from the Vatican or somewhere and talked...that came on after the news...by that time my mother and sister had left and my old man was asleep in his chair...we weren’t Catholic but felt like I was supposed to watch--I’d watch a little bit out of curiosity but after getting bored, I’d go back in the living room--I had a little electric tree I used to leave on all night on Christmas Eve...I don’t know why, it just seemed like the thing to do...now the presents I get usually are in bottles and that’s fine with me...my mother is gone, so is my father and my sister...they’re all dead—so it’s just me who remembers that stuff and I’ll be gone one day and there won’t be anyone around to remember what we did...how we celebrated...all the little rituals...it’ll all be gone...sorry, didn’t mean to get so melancholy, but it’s my favorite fruit it seems...think I’ll go listen to some Christmas carols and look at the little tree I put up and the presents I give to myself...I don’t bother wrapping them...they’re just sitting there in brown paper bags and yeah I know what they are, but I pretend that I don’t...with any luck I’ll wake up on Christmas morning and they’ll be some snow on the ground to make it official...I used to get up early to open my presents, but I’m not much for getting up early anymore...I used to stay up late listening to Christmas songs on Christmas Eve...I still do sometimes, and sometimes I’m in a mood when I don’t feel like it...all these commercials to get you to spend hundreds of dollars for Christmas sap all the joy out of it for me...a Lexus for Christmas?...sure why not, I’ll buy one in every color...expensive decorations like somehow that’s gonna make things more fun...I’ll let somebody else do it and I’ll just drive by their house or walk by and stop and look at it for awhile...these stupid inflatable things that dare me to take a knife to them...sure why not?...the real meaning of Christmas was lost to most people a long time ago...Jesus wasn’t even born in December they say...what difference does it make anyway?...the weather outside is frightful, the fire is dying, but let it snow, snow, snow, let it blow, blow, blow, blow snow, just let it go…

December 5, 2018

Small Towns In December


The streets are left alone to keep themselves company and to bask in the peace and quiet and there’s plenty of places to park on this late Sunday early December afternoon...the occasional unfamiliar car driving slowly...might be some people driving through town and around the lake looking for property for sale signs as they look for some lakeside cabin to buy and to spend next summer’s weekends…vacationers and summer only residents are gone, they’ve packed up and left town and won’t be back until next summer...at the lake, most cabins are locked tight for the winter...drain the pipes, put up plastic on the back screen porch to keep the snow out...turn the furnace down...the occasional visit during winter time to make sure everything is alright and that the pipes haven’t frozen...early light snow now piled up and melting on the sides of roads...the pretty red and orange leaves that adorned the trees at the start of fall have fallen and are clogging up storm drains, their colors now faded, now no longer the object of everyone’s gaze...Jets-Raiders game on television from Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Jets winning 10-7 in the second quarter...second helpings of Mom’s famous pot roast and a slice of apple pie with french vanilla ice cream...stores closed downtown except for the corner grocery store that has everything from anchovies to zucchini; but you can’t buy any liquor there on Sunday...state law...the hardware store closed with everything from anchor bolts to zip ties including a portable stereo RCA record player gathering years of dust on a shelf...the local department store closed too with summer fashions on clearance and winter jackets, hats, gloves, and winter boots featured prominently in the windows...old closed for years gas stations with foggy windows and in disrepair with signs advertising gas prices that harken back to yesteryear...an old couple laying flowers at a gravesite in an old cemetery on the edge of town...life goes on...auto parts stores with Champion Spark Plug and Havoline Oil signs in the window along with schedules of the local high school’s basketball team...Central playing Tech Friday night at the Central gym...attending will be the parents of the players and the siblings and the group of middle aged men who still wear their class rings and care a little too much about who wins, all sitting in the bleachers while the innocent looking cheerleaders’ cheers and chants echo off the walls of the gymnasium while the thump, thump, thump of the basketball goes on like a metronome not quite in rhythm...pancake breakfast at the Rotary Club next Saturday morning…all you can eat pancakes but how many can you really eat?...if you’re not up for that, there’s always the town diner where the locals all go and stir their Bunn coffee maker coffee with silver spoons and clink their plates and gossip and talk about the latest grain prices or tractors and farming or what’s going on in the big city...there’s old Leroy who just got himself a new pickup truck, well at least a new old truck...Chevy or Ford?...eggs, bacon, american fries, sausage, and pancakes too...what’s your pleasure?...typical mid-December dreary weather, snow flurries, and the clouds are a palette of grays...nip in the air...life goes on.

December 3, 2018

4 Lane


So there we stood, in the still of the night, a middle hot humid night on my friends’ third floor balcony...he rented a condo and personally I would of got one much higher up so that I’d be closer to the stars, and The Milky Way and all the other galaxies and farther away from all the traffic noise...we got together from work and we went to a no-name basketball game and sat in a luxury box that my friend had somehow won in a sweepstakes from one of those decaying brick and mortar stores that is going the way of the dodo...he invited a bunch of guys from work and we feasted on chicken tenders, and hamburgers and hot dogs and potatoes and all that good stuff...plus all we wanted to drink, and we wanted a lot...I don’t even remember who was playing or who won or who lost or who scored...I’m glad I wasn’t driving that night...it was about the experience...they treated us royally like these nobodies that we were were really somebodies...some of these somebodies somehow, someway made it to his place which wasn’t too far from the arena...where we sat around and cursed life and destiny and fate and anything else we could blame...I mean anybodies... and with each beer we drank, life seemed more unfair...one of us decided to get some air on the balcony and threw his empty beer bottle all the way across the busy road that passed in front...we could hear it crashing down below and well it wasn’t long until the rest of us joined him on the balcony and started throwing our empty bottles too...then somebody went to the kitchen and got the trash that must have had at least 36 empty bottles in it...we heaved empty bottles across the 4 lane road like drunken outfielders trying to hit a blurry cutoff man...one way pendulums flying in the night...angry young men taking out their frustration except we were neither angry or all that young...just drunk guys acting like drunk frat boys...we sure weren’t going to throw any full ones and wasting any beer...at first we made sure there was no traffic coming, but after a couple more, we didn’t care...some bottles made it, some didn’t but at least the lesser throws didn’t hit any cars or trucks going by...so the projectiles were sent out into the humid summer night illuminated with the yellow dirty glare of the street lights ...flying over cars and trucks and breaking on the sidewalk CRASH SMASH CRASH with pieces of glass scattering about...and a few people on the sidewalk did a dance to get out of the way and just looked up and over at us...they didn’t even have the guts to yell something at us or shake their heads in disgust...just some rich kids having some fun ha ha...what did they know?...it’s not like they were the kind of people to make trouble anyway, broken down old men wearing dirty baseball caps, shuffling along, carrying backpacks or walking stiffly on some old cane they got from the thrift store, middle aged women pushing their life’s possessions in a shopping cart...we laughed and laughed...eventually we ran out of empties and went back inside to the cool air conditioning to unload and reload...or we figured somebody would report us but nobody did...either nobody cared or wanted to get involved...after a while, we went back outside and threw some more...but by this time the traffic had died down and there weren’t any more people on the sidewalk...the homeless had found homes, on a park bench, behind some bushes, or maybe in a helter shelter...so we started yelling at no one person in particular...silly things, crazy things...whatever...it was getting real late and the party broke up like the bottles themselves...and most of us went back to the slice of suburbia where we lived with the nice grass and the trimmed bushes and the manicured garden...back to the wife and the kids and the mortgage and all that jazz...back to being fine outstanding respected church going members of our communities.