blessed are the easily amused

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

trust the media - we're great people

There's nothing that inspires greater confidence than hearing the producer of your news show say:

"I hate Indians. Of course I do. But I'll tell you something - I never hated them before I moved here."

Pictures at eleven.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Edgerton Clubine was a hundred and four.

Every night before going to sleep he'd kind of laugh as he prayed:

"Dear God, I don't have a clue why you've kept me alive this long. Maybe tonight I'll pass away. Well, Lord, if that's Your will that's alright. Amen."

I would appear in his kitchen around noon several times a week. Each time he'd say, "Oh, hello... Are you my granddaughter?"

I'd tell him, "No, I'm Lisa. I'm here to make you some lunch and wash your hair." He always found this funny. Here he was, a hundred and four years old and still alive. As if that weren't amazing enough, some girl was appearing out of the ether to fry up grilled cheese sandwiches and wash his snowy mop. Everything seemed funny to him. I guess once you've been alive so long, it's all like one big cartoon. What's the worst that could happen? You could die? Big deal.

The next question would be, "Have you accepted the Lord as your personal saviour?" I would do my best to explain that I felt I was still searching and that, although I was raised in a Christian home, I still felt there were a lot of mysteries that needed exploring through other avenues and bla bla bla. Not surprisingly, he would peer out of his million-year-old face, bewildered at my undergrad bullshit.

How he'd lived so long, no one could tell. Perhaps vanilla pudding and kraft dinner together make an elixir of eternal youth.

After lunch, he'd tell me the true stories of his long life. Like 'the naming of his children'.

"The first time Helen had a baby, I named it Bill.

The second time, she said, 'Look, if it's a girl, I want to name her.' I said that was fine, but it was a boy, and I named him Fred. The next time, we made the same deal. But it was a boy again, and I named him Charlie. The next one was John. Finally she said, 'I'm naming this one whether it's a boy or a girl.' I said that would be alright, 'but for God's sake give him a sensible name - not something stupid like Edgerton.' It was a boy, and she named him Frank."

These sons had taken good care of him in his golden years. Charlie had once approached him with tickets for a cruise trip around the world. "Imagine! An old man like me galavanting around the globe! I flat out refused. He talked me into it, though."

"Oh? When was that?"

"Well, I was 82 then, so it was..."

...22 years earlier, when I was born. He was already preparing to shuffle off into that short blue tunnel to his Presbyterian heaven full of hymns and carbohydrates.

I don't know how much longer he lived. But I stayed with him long enough to abandon my earnest bullshit.

"Have you accepted the Lord as your personal saviour?"

"Uh... yeah. Yes. How about pork chops for lunch?"

Friday, October 01, 2004

and then there was this other time

I was looking after an old guy who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. It manifested itself in arguments with plants or plaintive discussions with empty chairs. I had to stay there for a couple of days and nights, because his wife (a lovely and well-preserved 50-yr-old) needed a little break. After she belted back a scotch and peeled out of the driveway, Gordon and I set about getting to know each other. He would frequently mistake me for his wife at varying stages in their history together - once chasing me around the house in boxers and a tie, calling out 'Sweetheart!' I made frequent trips out the squeaky patio door to smoke and shake my head. Hourly squeaking and smoking.

Needless to say, my expectations of coherence on his part were pretty low. I began to go with the nonsensical flow (stopping short of entering his ardent embrace). I figured, why jar him out of whatever reality he's visiting at this moment? It will only cause him distress. That's why I didn't say anything when he joined me out on the patio with a can of furniture polish and got down on his knees.

"I'm gonna fix it," he said.

"Sure, that's fine," I said.

He started spraying furniture polish on the patio door track. It seemed harmless enough. I finished my smoke. We were both content for the moment.

Then I went back into the house and closed the door squeaklessly behind me.