Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Do you remember that one time when...

What do you do when, right as you pull onto 4th Street (between Taco Bell & Chick-Fil-A), one of the two unbelievably heavy industrial shelving racks that are tied into the back of your borrowed pickup truck breaks free from its tethers, rolls straight off the back of the truck, lands upright on its wheels and begins rolling down the street in the opposite direction in which you were going? You grip the wheel maniacally while stopping the truck, yell, “We’ve lost one and it’s rolling down the street!” and watch as Kansas Slim leaps from the passenger side of the vehicle to sprint after the careening cartzilla. Hazard lights get turned on. Slim strong arms the unscathed and unwieldy rack to the grass at the side of the road. Cop cars sit all over the parking lot of the Chick, but no one notices what has just happened in the middle of the street. We decide to let the rack sit where it is until we safely deliver the other rack to Slim’s place (the odds of anyone stealing it off the side of the road are probably nil…these things weigh a ton, and not everyone in Gadrock is into the industrial look). We worry that the remaining rack will fall out too, so we lay the rack over. I hop in back with it and ride like a thirteen-year-old headed to the river on a summer day. Except I’m not thirteen, and it’s not summer. When we go back for the escapee, it is still sitting on the side of the road where we left it. I think it may be sneering at us as we pull up. We manage to get it back up into the bed of the truck, and I distract it with stories of the nice place in the country where it’s going to live while Slim Eagle-scout secures it. I ride in the back again, this time to RBC. I want to call my sister to tell her what I’m doing at that particular moment, but she would probably alert the po-lice and then we’d have a heck of an escort just for shits and grins. Instead, I just keep my head down and my hands on the rack. No one seems to notice the red truck cruising down Rainbow Drive with a redhead hanging on to an industrial shelving rack in the back. Nope, folks ‘round here don’t think that’s unusual at all.

I can’t tell you how relieved we were to finally get that last rack safely stored away. Once we were back on the road (heading again to the mall for the more manageable remainder of the load), every time I took a turn or hit a bump, Slim and I would catch ourselves cringing and looking back at the bed of the truck to make sure nothing was falling out. We would then repeat three times, “There’s nothing back there…there’s nothing back there…there’s nothing back there.” Slim and I agree that we can’t wait until enough time has passed and we have an opportunity to ask each other, “Do you remember that one time when…”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Catching a bad case of glitter from Serge Gainsbourg.

Alex (to me): I can spell Baby Beethoven.
Me (to Alex): Really? Will you spell it out loud for me?
Alex (to me): Yes. B-A-B-Y B-E-E-T-H-O-V-E-N.
Me (to Alex): Wow, you’re brilliant!
Vicki (proudly, to me): That’s what his teacher said about him last week when he wrote it out in class.
Alex (to no one in particular): I’m going to have to pass gas now.
Vicki (to me): Can you spell I-D-I-O-T S-A-V-A-N-T?
Me (to Vicki): E-X-A-C-T-L-Y.

Quote of the day, from Demetri Martin:
The thing about glitter is, if you get it on you, be prepared to have it on you forever. Because glitter doesn’t go away. Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies.

Listening to: Serge Gainsbourg (I love his “come on” French talk-over style of singing).
Reading: Run by Ann Patchett.
Eating: Kababs with Kansas Slim tonight.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Jar Full of Note Paper, 1975

Several months ago, while doing research for a friend, I came across this in the Gadsden Times from March 27, 1975.

The Headline: Suicide note asks authorities not to seek victim’s identity.

Belle Chasse, La. (AP)-He only gave himself 16 or 17 years to “develop into a real person.” Then he bade his parents farewell in a note laced with philosophy and hanged himself from a persimmon tree.
“When you stop growing you are dead. I stopped growing long ago,” wrote the youth, whose body was found six weeks ago but who still has not been identified. His note was found beneath the tree where he hanged himself.
“I never did develop into a real person and I cannot tolerate the false and empty existence I have created,” he wrote in the note, addressed only to “Mom and Dad.”
He added this aside to authorities:
“You are bound to preserve domestic peace and order. If you pursue who I was (and spend hundreds of dollars) you will accomplish little. There are no legal consequences of my death or any kind of entanglements. All that can happen is that you will shatter the domestic peace and order of two innocent lives. Do not deprive them of the hope that their ‘missing’ son will return…Let me be, let it be as if I wasn’t ever here. Simply cremate me as John Doe.”
His body was found on Valentine’s Day by a couple driving through the woods. They noticed a white shape shimmering through the trees. They stopped to look and found the body hanging from a limb of a tree, a bedsheet tied around his neck.
He was wearing a maroon and yellow knit shirt, blue trousers and unmatched socks on his shoeless feet. A jar full of note paper lay against the tree trunk.
“It is best if I cease to live, quietly, than risk that later I will break and shatter by violence or linger years under care,” the boy told his parents in the note.
“I implore you to see a psychiatrist in order that you might understand my death and my life. Ask thoroughly about what I was and you will see that it is not tragic that I am gone but more natural than if I continued…”
The letter concludes, “I am no longer interested in the world and know that it is not interested in me. When you stop growing you are dead. I stopped growing long ago.”
Plaquesmines Parish authorities have circulated “John Doe’s” description and fingerprints to police across the country. But the body still lies in a funeral home, unidentified and unclaimed.

As Valentine’s Day draws near, I can’t help but think of this young man, so wonderfully articulate, and so full of disappointment at how his life turned out, so set on making sure that no one was inconvenienced by his life, or his death. He sounds to me as if he had developed into a real person, just painfully incapable of recognizing it, painfully incapable of allowing others into his life to help. I wonder if they were ever able to determine who he was and if his parents ever found out what happened to him…