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for you when you go home for the first time since you left for college and you go in your bedroom and it’s not different you are
bernard signed up to take a class on international relations at a local college because he was bored and retired. “honey,” he said, “i just signed up to take a class on international relations.” after he said this she walked out the door to their only car and drove away and never came back. he read the newspaper for three hours assuming she would come back. four days later he called her on her cell phone but she didn‟t really know how to use it so she didn‟t answer and also she was never going to come back. he sent an email to the professor of the class, stating that he would not be able to make it because his wife left him and took the car with her and so he would like a refund. the professor said that he was sorry but had no way to give him a refund. bernard took the professor to small claims court but lost because he didn‟t really know what he was doing and it wasn‟t the professor‟s fault at all. bernard took the bus home from small claims court because he didn‟t have a car anymore and took a shower when he got home and considered buying a dog and also the meaning of life. then he went on the wikipedia page „existential crisis‟. thirteen hours later bernard woke up at his desk and the phrase “professional organ donor” was written on a notepad nine hundred times. then he went out to his birdfeeder and filled it with sand. bernard‟s neighbor saw this and said “shit” and then went inside. two months later it was halloween. bernard dressed up as his estranged wife to hand out candy to the little trick-or-treaters. one of the parents of one of the kids said “shit” and then took his group of children away to go to some other house. on thanksgiving bernard went to a deli near his house and had a turkey sandwich. a few days before christmas he read the newspaper to find that world peace had been achieved. bernard sent an email to the professor of class, stating that he had invented world peace, and that he would no longer need a refund.
norm bought a boat on the internet during the fifth year of his retirement in june. the boat was mostly blue and white and had a sticker that said “this side up” on it which was funny. he told his friends about it while eating at a deli that they eat at weekly on tuesdays. john, rather impassionately, said, “norm, what were you thinking, you don‟t know how to sail” because john is kind of an asshole and norm did not know how to sail. when he got home norm bought a book on amazon.com on sailing. then he called u-haul and rented a trailer to tow his boat to lake huron. after he brought the boat to the haul in and the boat was all ready he got in and was ready to go. norm hit the boat on the side of the dock a couple of times while he was trying to get his sails configured and then realized he didn‟t have a keel so water was coming in and the boat was swamping and then the boat sank. norm went home and cried for fourteen hours. then he went to sleep but never got to sleep so he got up and watched informercials for twenty five minutes and then decided to go outside. norm then raked all the leaves for the fall that he would have to do so he wouldn‟t have to do it later. for the next two days he was seen taping all of the leaves back on to the trees by his neighbor who thought that was weird. norm dug a hole about a foot in depth and six inches in diameter and put his watch in the hole and buried it. then he found a flat rock and made a sundial and put it on his roof. later he was seen placing his computer at the haul in on lake huron. later he was seen at the deli crying alone. john was worried about his friend norm and so bought a book for him on birds called “birds of america”. norm read the book two hundred and fifty six times. norm then declared that boats should have wings and went to the patent office for a patent for a boat with wings. apparently it had already been granted to fiat s.p.a. then norm dreamt of a sundial with wings and a keel. then norm went to the notary to have his will done up and in it he requested “this side up” be written on his casket. the notary thought this was funny.
(it doesn‟t matter which side is up if you‟re dead)
neil, in his retirement, went to this one cafe every day. he bought a small coffee and occasionally a piece of banana bread or something. neil was always writing stories based on the people around him. one day, a small boy, maybe ten or twelve years old, noticed his writing. the boy asked, “what are you writing?” to which neil responded “stories.” the boy asked, “will you read me one?” and so neil read a page out of his notebook. every day this same boy came to the cafe and asked for another story. neil told his wife about it, and she said, “that‟s nice and also a little bit weird. don‟t go too far,” and she was right because eventually it wasn‟t just one little boy but four boys and girls and then ten and so on until there were troves of small children all listening to neil‟s stories at the cafe. one day, neil didn‟t go to the cafe because he was on vacation in florida. the first boy became the storyteller, improvising a story on the spot. eventually, there were no listeners, for everyone wanted to share a story and everyone thought they were important. when neil came back the next month he found that all the children had left and were going about the streets trying to tell stories to anyone who would listen but no one would listen and so they were getting discouraged because they thought that people should listen and that that‟s how that works. neil continued writing his stories but didn‟t tell them to anyone anymore because no one wanted to listen because everyone wanted everyone else to listen because if everyone is important then no one is. neil found the whole thing very interesting.
the ways of the slug
george picked up golf at age 65. he did his research on the internet and spent over three thousand dollars on golf clubs, a bag, gloves, and so on, and went to the driving range every day for three years, taking lessons intermittently. eventually, he became good enough that he decided to join a country club. upon arrival george had to sign in and hand over an exorbitant membership fee. then he was taken to a back room where he was stripped of his clothing and then he realized that this wasn‟t really a country club but actually kind of a cult. after adorning a large black robe and humming the chant of the god tartarus, he was returned to the main room, where there was coffee and an assortment of cookies for all the members. the members then educated george in “the ways of the slug”, a guide to happy living. he was also taught the secret ways of dress of the believers of tartarus, such as leaving every third eyelet on one‟s shoe empty, and folding the upper left corner of one‟s collar slightly upward. he was forced to comply with these stringent regulations. eventually george played a round of golf, where he utterly demolished his competitors. the members of the club were so impressed that they decided to sacrifice him to tartarus because that‟s what you‟re supposed to do to people that are really good at golf apparently. george ran out the front doors to his twenty-year old pontiac and drove away and called the police but all the police members were tartarus-worshippers themselves so he tried to run away but it didn‟t work it was never going to work. he left the county and then the state but he could only get so far on credit and how deep does this conspiracy go and the police kept calling him on the phone and they were coming he couldn‟t get away it was never going to work. poor george.
"miss you too," i say, knowing we both know that the good times can‟t last forever; it‟s over,
resistance is useless; that though we miss each other, we will not make the sacrifices necessary to
overcome it, that i will never overcome it; your ghosts will follow me everywhere; that we, as our memories, will be lost to time, and subject to decay and disintegration; it‟s over, and i miss you, and though this happens less and less often, it will never stop entirely; i will never stop and stand up
straight and forget like a strong adult should, and have faith in how things will be; the good times can‟t last forever
ship in a bottle
morris was taught the piano at a young age. it was a skill he maintained somewhat throughout his life, but he had peaked in high school, often playing with his friends in jazz groups. that was really how he remembered high school, the music - and it was something he never got back; he never met anyone who he loved to play with as much as calvin, david, john, art, etc. at the age of 87, morris saw in the paper that his best friend from high school calvin jacobs had passed away. morris stared directly across the room for two and a half days. then he went to his piano and took off all the keys. then he built a ship in a bottle and shook it. then he bathed until the hot water ran out and dressed and went to the funeral. at the funeral he realized he was the last of his high school friends alive and he didn‟t recognize anyone there and that‟s not okay where did everybody go why was he the only one left. morris sent emails to all his deceased friends. morris sent text messages to all his deceased friends. morris wrote letters to all his friends. it was like on facebook when it says “calvin is typing…” except the message never comes and you keep waiting and waiting but it‟s useless because the message is never going to come. morris then took an axe to his piano and broke it and set it on fire in his yard. he bought a new piano but from then on he only listened to other people playing it, like his 6 year old granddaughter elsie. he loved the unsophisticated confident naive immature bold childish inspired creativity of her music that she would someday lose because she was going to lose everything about herself just like he did. he loved elsie more than anything and mostly he felt sorry for her.
al had had undiagnosed depression ever since his mid-life crisis. really the crisis didn‟t end, his selfidentity had been destroyed forever. al had been a carpenter, mostly building coffee tables and other furniture. he was never fabulously wealthy, and so when his wife contracted a strange disease in her fifties, he could not afford the experimental treatment. because of this, al always felt responsible for her death. this is when his depression became full-fledged. his identity was inevitably tied to her. “it isn‟t your fault,” al was often told at church, “you couldn‟t have done anything to stop it it was out of your control,” but of course he could have done something couldn‟t he have done anything to keep her there. he felt as if he could never do anything right why did things like that have to happen it was all his fault if he could only have borrowed just a little bit more money. when he retired he branched out into more and more abstract pieces, including a 3/4 scale model of a tree made out of wood right that he placed right next to a tree, a human-sized birdhouse, and an oven made out of wood that was designed to catch fire if anyone attempted to use it. as al grew older, his pieces became more and more simplistic, elemental, basic, out of necessity. he built a life size crucifix and attempted to hang himself on it in his back yard. however, he did not account for his own weight on the crucifix, and so it fell forwards, crushing him to death in the process. ironically his last piece served exactly the purpose he had in mind for it, and yet he still had failed. it isn‟t your fault you couldn‟t have done anything to stop it it was out of your control.
a digression on the wood oven
an oven in which all non-electrical components are made from wood. being an oven, it will inevitably light itself on fire, thereby producing heat, accomplishing the task it was designed for in its self-destruction. isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful? isn‟t it beautiful?
isn‟t it beautiful?
joe made a pact with his best friend in high school, julia, that if they were both unmarried at age forty they would marry each other. even though he knew he had a slim chance of that happening, joe seemed to be waiting for her. well, by the time age forty had arrived, julia had been married. joe told her he was happy for her but really he had been waiting and how could she do that to him and she knew it. joe never married. during retirement he found some of his old short stories that he had written, most of which were okay. the most interesting one was a story about how a man in retirement wrote a story to his high school sweetheart after she had married someone else after making a pact to marry each other if they were unmarried at age forty. “wow,” joe thought. joe began compiling his best stories and contacting publishing agencies to see if anyone would publish his compilation, which he entitled „short stories about retirement‟. they all said no. realizing that he only really cared if julia saw the collection, he made one copy of each of his best stories and sent them to her. then he wasn‟t sure if he should have done that and became very anxious and had trouble sleeping and he was always moving because he shouldn‟t have done that he just needed to walk around why did he do that stupid stupid what was he thinking. two weeks later he got a letter in the mail.
my mother always told me about you. it appears most of what she said was right, based on your beautiful stories. my father left us when i was three years old, and she always thought about trying to reach you, to reach out to you; she always talked about it but she never did. i truly wish she had. she would have been so much happier, i think. i regret to inform you that my mother, julia, died three years ago. i‟m sorry you had to find out this way. if you would like to meet with me for any reason, please get in touch.
best wishes, katie”
for what cannot become comfortable with time?