7.10.2007

Every day the bucket goes to the well. One day the bottom must drop out

Slowly things are easing back towards normal, if anything in my life can be called that. Family in town for a couple of weeks, the last remaining relative, my aunt, flying back out in about three hours.

There is no time.

While large gatherings aren't exactly uncommon for me, this one wasn't planned. A few weeks ago my uncle Bob died. He was forty-two. We don't yet know for sure what caused it.

A good portion of the time I've been AWOL around here has been spent, to be frank, drinking beer with family. My aunt Martha said that she'd been to only two wakes, in the sense with which I'm familiar, in LA, and that in her experience it was normally just gathering and drinking and then a funeral. She later quipped that she could tell why. We all were ready to lighten the cooler once we left the funeral home. And we did.

The last time I'd seen him, he just showed up while we were building a staircase for the downstairs apartment. He just jumped right into it. Dude was a force to be reckoned with, whether it be construction or destruction. He'd removed huge chunks of his own backyard around the foundation (which he'd also altered) as a part of a project to build, I shit you not, subterranean parking for his one master work, the Bobmobile. The body of a 1968 Firebird, gutted and filled with the newest, shiniest, and most powerful Detroit steel he could get ahold of. As I recall, a 440 horsepower GM V8. Custom exhaust and hardware, all wrought of grade 8 stainless steel; the same stuff used by fucking NASA. Reportedly, the insurance agent got a boner when he drafted the policy. All left incomplete in his brother's garage. But a monster nonetheless. In as good a eulogy as one could hope for, unmarred by any attempts at "eloquence" (and thus achieving it) my uncle Bill quipped that he'd modeled his life after Batman. The Bobmobile and the Bobcave that never was were mentioned. He had a friend named Joe Kerr. And the Bobphone was as sure a hotline as Batman's blinking red device that somehow was never traced by the Gotham Police. And he didn't mention it then because his most recent girlfriend was there, but we all know who his Catwoman was. She was the one who made it real for me at the wake. I walked into the room and she grabbed me and squeezed the life out of me and I got it.

I spent most of my weekends with him and his sons when I was a kid. Never a dull moment, and all the related cliches. I remember him handing me my ass in Mortal Kombat and trash talking the whole while. Much of last week was spent in that same house, fixing up the apartments so that his son, my cousin could keep it. It always amazes me, given the fact that I've put in a fair amount of hours on a number of different construction projects, just how little I've retained from it all. I instead found myself humping sheet after sheet of drywall up three flights of winding stair, being qualified enough to figure out just how to get it up there; one of my two contributions to the planning. The other one I suggested numerous times and it went unheard (I had thought dismissed) until when sitting back and cracking open a Budweiser (a beer which I now understand, because it's tolerable when it's ice cold after working with your hands all day) I said, "I still think we should wall off that area and call this a four bedroom." It wasn't any worse an idea when I'd said it before, but apparently when I open my mouth to offer an idea about a construction job, to think that it could possibly be a good one requires there to be beer in one's system. It's not a premise I'm of much a mind to argue with, but I try to learn.

It really has been amazing. Had contractors been hired for the job we did, it would have been thousands of dollars and several weeks to do what we accomplished in four days. Even the unskilled gofer-grunt can take pride in that, though not as much as the others.

As I'd said, the last time I'd seen him was a home improvement project. And prior to that the last time had been New Years. An unusual gap.

One of the things that I'll always be grateful, beyond all of the more obvious bullet points that fall under "my uncle" was that he never gave me a laugh for free. If I was trying to be funny, he only laughed if I succeeded, and I learned at least as much from that as I did in classes. You can't learn not to fear silence out of a book.

No one was ready for this shit. And it's all we can do to tip the glass and utter his name. Well, that and all the other stuff we've been doing =P

-----------

Whenever my uncle Paul comes into town we square off one-on one. We each have our strengths. I have my height and my youth, and he has his quickness, ball-handling and defensive abilities, and skill developed by playing basketball exhaustively every day for a large chunk of his life. Also he's a Marine. Admittedly, a 49 year old Marine, who's three inches shorter than me...

he took two out of three from me. Which marks the first time I've beaten him.

Stop laughing

What can I say? for the past year I've had some sort of freaky phantom stress fracture that has ducked X-Rays, MRIs and any other way of qualifying it, but the fuck if you're going to tell me it wasn't there. And there has always been some competing interest robbing basketball of my time ever since I picked it up, whether it be music, theater... even chess for a while... Oh and yeah... The Nintendo Entertainment System came out a year before I was born. Yeah, I know. It's a cliche and while I don't reside in that box, I do overlap in it, and I have to own that. Or whatever.

Can't help but enjoy playing with him even if he's running you ragged though.

-----------

The eve of the fourth had altogether too much rain. So naturally my aunt and I decided to go into town and watch the Pops and the fireworks We met my cousin and her LA boyfriend there. When I say that... well, she lives in LA too, but this guy is more thoroughly an LA person than just about any other dude whose company I have enjoyed. He'd said that if it was always like this in Boston on the Fourth. It isn't, by the by, but we weren't in any rush to tell him otherwise. In fact it's almost never like this, but in this case it meant that we'd be able to get to the Esplanade even if we left on the late side.

Rather, it would have meant that were the festivities not being televised nationally, with Craig Ferguson hosting etc etc The point is security was pretty heavy. We were able to slip the guards and hop the fence and meet them just as John Mellencamp was starting up his set. When I say "the guards," I should say that I'm referring to the National Guard.

And who among you can say that you've hoisted your aunt up to your shoulders so that she could get a better view of the fireworks?

Sadly the evening prematurely ended because every fucking bar in Boston seemed to be doing a private party.

-----------

It wasn't any Robert Johnson, or even any John Mayer who was walking down the road at three AM playing walking blues on an acoustic guitar while done up on the contents of a bottle bearing the legend hecho en mexico. This happened two different nights, from two different sorts of bottles, and two different levels of intoxication, but the route remained constant. One night I passed a car.

Actually I passed several cars both nights but there was only one on either night that I didn't simply pass by without occurrence. There was a woman sitting in the front seat.

Do you have any H?

Nah

Oh.... Do you want to hang out with me for a while?

Nah

She laughed. Now I've been asked for all kinds of drugs by all sorts of people. But this was a first. Actually I think now that if I'm asked for crack, DMT, ketamine, and amyl nitrite I'll pretty much have a full card. To bad there's no place you can redeem those things for anything.

I guess I just have that kind of a look.

But yeah, she picked the wrong question to lead with. And I'm thankful.

The acoustic, incidentally, was picked up in the little town of Gray, Maine. I was driving by an antiques store when I saw a sign that said "Big Sale" and the guitar sitting on a stand outside the door. I went inside, was told sixty five for it, and paid fifty five. It's worth at least two hundred dollars, I think. Probably more.

It just so happens that the bug in my ear that I'd be able to get sweet guitars in rural areas for the sort of money I was carrying with me came from none other than our own resident Information Professional, so thanks Jason. I might not have stopped otherwise.

I was on my way to my uncle Bill's place on a lake in Maine near

-----------

So yeah. Shit's been going on. Which isn't to say that I haven't had the time to post, though there was some stretch when that was true. But since then nothing I've come up with has been enough. Which, yeah, is a bullshit notion but I guess I wanted to put up a big one. I'ma try to line up some more posts and get some momentum going. I hate being out of it

8 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry about your Uncle Bob

    Your family stories, sadly even this one, always make me yearn for the days I had a large one

    We all went our separate ways and though we try to recapature the past, it doesn't work

    Loved the part about going to the Esplanade on the Fourth, and the part about your uncle's car and a few other things also

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah. more sorries from me. you seem to have an appropriate cultural response though, which is sure to be good.

    sadly i'm currently refreshed on Bud myself (it's cold, i'm hot, there has been much in the way of working for money going on) so my response isn't as compassionate or wise as i'd like.

    hugs though? would hugs be good? you can have some of them!

    ReplyDelete
  3. you still have my wordpress address in your links! i'm at blogger again....my very first blog love: http://vespersescape.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. pia: well it's times like this that I'm really reminded how good it is to have them

    The fourth was good fun. The car is a legend already.

    Mimey: Hugs would, of course be good, and I'll readily accept all that you would offer ^_^

    Vesper: Fixed! Glad to see you're at it again!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Things are getting more settled I hope. You family stories are always interesting.

    See, you can get all types of advice and information from people out there in never never land.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh how I can relate to being out of it and hating it FO SHO!

    I am so very sorry for your uncle's passing... but then again you know that and what my thoughts and wishes for you are seeing that it has been said and let it be known that what has been said still stands... ;-P... death, no matter when and with whom and whatnot, is always a blow and a shock on some level or other and your uncle sounded like an amazing force of radiant life and with such people their passing is all the harder an event to come to terms with and I hope the process is going as smoothly as possible for you and that you are ok... although I am sure he will always be missed. I am not a believer in time healing all wounds as those related to my brother's passing are more raw now at 32 than they were when I was 12. But we do learn to move on and distance ourselves from the pain I suppose... survival... and if anyone will be fine I know it is you amigo mio!

    I loved the line about not being able to learn about silence from a book. Beautiful.

    And I am glad you are getting out and about and back to your life though and you must forgive non-construction-savvy me as I sit and chuckle at the sight of your "humping sheet after sheet of drywall"... I know you weren't humping it but it just sounded funny...

    Ha, ha, haaaa and all that jazz!

    Besos amigo mio and I hope you are enjoying a fabulous week!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. cooper: True, of course. Yeah, it seems to more or less be on even keel now.

    Miz B: Heh. You're not the first to say it. It is of course not well known that to get a piece of drywall up a winding stair you need to fuck it.

    The same to you, my dear friend.

    ReplyDelete
  8. i didn't know about your uncle until now. i feel so insensitive. hope things are sorting themselves out, dear. much love. xx.

    ReplyDelete