Friday, March 30, 2007

Bar Talk

“I think Scarlett Johansson wants me.”

“Dude! Aren’t you like 40 years older than her?”

“Aren’t you 40 years too old to be calling me ‘Dude’ and using ‘like’ to preface your nonpoint?”

“Fuck you. You’re old.”

“Fuck you. You’re stupid.”

“I’m just sayin’…”

“What? You’re just saying what? That you’re jealous that Scarlett Johansson wants me? That Chelsea Handler thinks I’m funny and interesting? That Ashley Judd thinks I’m smart? That Keira Knightley wants to swashbuckle me? That Reese Witherspoon wants me to trace the outline of her jaw with my tongue? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yeah, Dog. That’s what I’m sayin’. You got me.”

“I’m sorry, you insipid sack of shit. But did you just call me ‘Dog?’”

"That’s right.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“You are.”

“You’re Mom is.”

“My Mom thinks you’re a dick.”

“Shut up.”

“You shut up.”

“I’m serious. Scarlett Johansson wants me.”

“And Chelsea Handler thinks you’re funny?”

“That’s right.”

“Does Chelsea know you make less than a school teacher and that you couldn’t even afford tickets to her show this weekend? Does she know that?”

“Maybe she does.”

“Maybe she does?”

“That’s right.”

“You’re pathetic.”

“You’re mom’s pathetic.”

“Would you just shut up?”

“Would you?”


“You wanna another beer?”

“Say ‘Scarlett Johansson wants me.’”

“Scarlett Johansson wants you.”


“Yeah. I could drink another beer.”



Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Three Vignettes of No Particular Order (fifth in a series of 10)

I. Bark

Sometimes in the deep subtlety of night, Ray sat on his porch, whiskey by his side, cigar in hand and barked. It was a good, throaty bark and it resonated through the limbs and leaves, rose over the hum of street lamps. It was good enough to fool all the neighborhood dogs whether or not they themselves were barkers. It was not uncommon for Ray’s barks to set off a multitude of responses. The sounds seemed conversant and not at all combative. This gave Ray pleasure.

And in between sips of whiskey and draws of his cigar, he smiled at the simple absurdity of his barking aloneness.

II. If Night Were a Letter

If this night were a letter it would be a Z. Zagging itself to a self-fulfillment of morning. A horizontal patch of blue-black slanting southeast to a horizontal thing void of any color at all. Its fleeting lifespan static beyond all other things—providing only cover to 300 million interpretations and possibilities. One of them being a solitary man awash in cigar smoke, adrift in whiskey hunched over a notebook comparing his night to one bookend of a finite alphabet.

III. But a Name

Ray thought if he ever had another child he would name it Finn. Be it boy or girl, Finn would be its name. Though it was a dead heat between his two favorite literary characters, he did not think Atticus a fitting name for a child—but he’d toyed with Finch for a baby’s breath moment of time. Decided no and that Finn worked just fine. And though Atticus—or better, Scout’s rendering of Atticus—made him weep each visit, he thought the man’s perfection too heavy a burden to place upon any one person. But in Finn resided the admirable soup of mischief, wonder, sadness, humor, and nobility. While this too presented a burden of sorts, Ray felt it was at least conquerable. Imperfect perfection, if you will.

Ultimately, Ray laughed off such thoughts. For one who knew so little, he knew he would have no more children.

Of this he was certain. And he was not sad because of it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An Emerson Moment

Me: Emerson!

Em: What? [Smiles]

Me: I have a surprise for you.

Em: [Smiling big] What is it?

Me: [Producing four boxes] These.

Em: [Grinning now] What are they?

Me: [Loud] Girl Scout Cookies!

Em: Oh, Daddy! Thank you! I love Squirrel Cap cookies!

Me: [Grinning as well] You're welcome, Boy.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

First Practice

He bats left-handed. His back is to me. I am far off to the side with the other parents. I am aware not of them but of the Boy only. His stance is perfect. Legs even and evenly spaced. Shoulders squared. Elbows up and bat held just so. The afternoon sun plays off the shine of his navy blue helmet as it might play off of the sea. When the coach pitches, the Boy swings through the ball. Misses. It is a lovely miss, the product of concentration and execution. Undeterred, he brings the bat back where it belongs above his shoulders, steadies his feet, and awaits the next pitch. His swing is strong and pure. Misses the ball twice more. He knows it has been a good effort. He glances over his right shoulder and finds my eyes. He smiles. I smile too and nod. I couldn’t be more proud if he’d hit the ball such that it travels still.

I sense he will be a fine ballplayer.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The World and All Its Pearls

There is a living parade—and then a circus—in my son’s head. There is an actor, a comedian, a humanitarian lurking behind an Emerson suit of what makes the boy the heartbeat of his father.

In Emerson’s parade, the floats are alive and alternate between making silly faces and sarcastic remarks. The bands march, run, wiggle, and glide to beats unique to each member. Their all-out epileptic gestures seem to indicate that synchronicity is for the unimaginative, the dull. The Emerson Street Tavern Princess, the pageant winner, wears blue jeans and a white tee shirt—is crowned in a worn baseball cap. She flashes the townsfolk and giggles like a little girl. She is loved and special and deserving and silly. And she has been handpicked by the parade’s namesake and daily Grand Marshal. Instead of sparklers, the children are handed roman candles that shoot candy—mostly Lemonheads and Smarties and Pez.

The music is a dizzying mix of Gap Band, North Mississippi All Stars, and Mother’s Finest. The Boy loves nostalgia and newness. Loves how what is old becomes new again. Loves that a cliché does not apply to someone who has not heard it before.

In short, the Boy loves. And is loved.

It is from this procession of love that he enters the mindset of the Big Top. From his front row seat he grins at the trick dogs doing their trick dog flips. There is a monkey on a bicycle listening to an iPod. There is a bear in a tuxedo taking drink orders from the silent clowns who’ve just arrived in a Honda Element. There is an elephant dealing cards to a pair of lion tamers, the strong man, and the bearded lady. This is Emerson’s circus and the elephant needs no thumbs—just a keen eye as the bearded lady likes to cheat the strong man. It is entertaining and alive and different. It is unlike your circus or mine.

Emerson does not have to tell you about his parade or circus. They are evident in his smile and in the gulf of his eyes. They are as real as anything you saw as a child or have seen as an adult.

But if he does tell you about them you should listen. And watch. His tales are fraught with the honesty and vision of a child, the clarity and detail of an old soul, the enthusiasm and excitement of one who understands that the world and all its pearls are his for a fortnight only.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

An Emerson Moment

Setting: Living Room. Having pizza and watching Cartoon Network. Father has prodded five-year-old Emerson several times to finish his slice or have the television turned off as it is nearing bath time.

Emerson: [Pensive] What’s “instinct?”

Father: [Not entirely confident] Well, it’s something inside you that kinda guides you. It tells you what you should or shouldn’t do. And then you follow it and decide what to do.

Emerson: Oh.

Thirty seconds later.

Father: [Slightly agitated] Boy! You gonna eat your pizza?

Emerson: [Entirely confident] My instinct says not to. [Smiles]