Friday, October 10, 2008

Some Wintry Reminiscence

It was almost ten years since we’d spoken. You left so quickly that we’d made promises about circumstances under which you’d come back to me that, perhaps, we both knew neither of us could keep, though I didn’t allow myself those thoughts. Not then, anyway. I didn’t realize how much of an impression you’d made on me. In your curlicued handwriting, you’d written down you address for me to write to you. I kept that scrap of paper in my wallet for just over two years. In that time I wrote three letters and was too much of a coward to send any of them.

I thought about you a lot, but my memory of you began to fade after I met someone else, but never completely. As Mr. Bernstein explained, you were my girl with the white parasol. Who knew if you’d ever remember me, but I would bet there hasn’t been a month that has gone by in all that time when I haven’t thought of you.


The rest of this story is available in the collection "Cupid Painted Blind" available on Amazon for the Kindle.


GUEST STORY: The Ego

by Jason Young

(Editors Note: This is a complete work of fiction. So relax. Jason was trying his had at some Woody Allen absurdism...)

When I was a kid my dad used to take me to baseball games at Angel Stadium and we would cheer for them the whole game. When they lost, which was the case most of the time, we would call them bums as they left the field.

My dad was a bastard, and now I hate baseball.

Although I never lost the urge to catch a home-run ball.

He put me in little league when I was seven years old. My team never lost a game and I was the best player on the team. I played left field.

In little league it seems to me that the outfielders have very little to do. Even a ball being hit by the mightiest seven-year-old batter rarely travels past the pitcher. I would get very bored in the outfield, and would feel like no one was watching me. Not that I didn’t put on a hell of a show. I once caught a ball by expanding the elastics on my pants to an absurd length. Good thing they make you wear a cup.

My dad would come to every game with his typical cheer “Kill, Kill, Kill.” He never accepted anything less then perfect from me and would say things to me before the game like, “I didn’t raise a loser,” and, “I know they tell you not to hit below the belt, but just between you and me, hit below the belt.” So I played the dirtiest baseball I could to impress my father. I would tackle basemen, distract the batters by making fun of their mothers, and once I stole second base and then hit a kid with it. My actions forced the little league commission to hire professional referees. I got kicked out of every game; I rarely made it past the sixth inning. After we won the city championship my dad was finally happy, but he always made sure I knew that if it were to come down between the two of us on a baseball diamond, he would kick my ass.

My dad never let me win at anything when I was a kid. I remember one time I made a few lucky guesses in a row while playing Go Fish, and it looked like I might win. He feigned narcolepsy. After he woke up he made my mom take him to the hospital.

Once I started getting good at kid games he wouldn’t play them with me anymore. So at age eleven I was forced to play Trivial Pursuit. He would never play games of chance, unless he knew a good way to cheat at them. His reign at Trivial Pursuit lasted a few years, on account of how dirty he played. He would call me a wuss every time I used a roll again. And I caught him re-wording questions that he thought were “too easy” multiple times.

He turned everything into a competition. “Walking to the car” turned into “racing to the car” but only if he called it. Which he would do only if he was closer and would clearly win. Strapping in was also turned into a race, and in cases where we would strap in first he would be so stubborn as to claim “I wasn’t even going to strap in, cause I don’t feel like it.” Then not strapping in the duration of the car ride. In one case an entire trip to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Which is an eleven-hour drive.

He tried this on an airplane once but finally conceded when the stewardess threatened to call the captain.

He would take me skiing every winter. Nothing ever mattered to him while we were on the mountain except being the first person to the bottom and then bragging about it the entire lift up. I would enlighten him on facts like, “You're wearing seven-hundred dollar, freshly waxed skis and I’m wearing your seventeen year old hand me down’s with boots that are two sizes too small.”

He would respond in all seriousness, “And I whooped your ass!”

One time on the last run of the day we raced down the bunny slope. My dad was playing a game with me where he would let me get ahead of him by approximately twenty-feet, then turn his skis directly down the mountain accelerating to speeds that my ski’s couldn’t imagine reaching. As he passed me on what might as well have been rocket-skis, he looked back at me to laugh, when all of a sudden the front of his left ski dug several inches into a mound of snow, catapulting him into the snow immediately in front of him. He turned what could have only been 60mph into 0mph. The wedged ski disconnected from his boot, only after being pulled into a bow, launching it twenty-feet in the air spinning. Using this opportunity I raced the rest of the way down the mountain, in first place.

My first real victory over my dad, he was squashed. He didn’t get down for another thirty minutes when he was airlifted off the mountain to a hospital, on account of his broken leg.

When I got to the hospital I tried to brag about being the first down the mountain but it didn’t work. He claimed he had amnesia and said, “the last thing I remember was getting on the lift after beating your ass down the mountain.”

In a strange way I completely believed that he had amnesia. The power of the mind is unfathomably powerful. I think his ego was so big that it couldn’t take the loss, and pulverized it out of existence. We are talking about a man that would literally kill himself to win at Yahtzee. Is selective amnesia really that hard to swallow? After all when an unstoppable ego collides with an unmovable reality it creates a black hole, and then nothing changes.

Somehow I learned a lot from my dad, but by doing exactly the opposite of what he showed me. Around the time my dad’s leg recovered, he began to feel the need to demonstrate how much tougher then me he was physically. So about twice a week for no reason that made sense to me, he would instigate a wrestling match. He would usually start with a headlock, and would not stop until I tapped out. He choked me unconscious multiple times. When I turned sixteen years old, I decided to fight back and pin him. He was unable to break my hold, but he refused to tap out. After twenty minutes I understood that he would never tap out even if I broke his arm, so I let him go and walked off into the next room, which happened to be the laundry room. He followed me, slammed my head into the washer, said, “I win,” and then left.

He never tried to wrestle me again.

My dad has never apologized in his entire life. As far as I know he doesn’t even know the meaning of the word "sorry". Which would explain the odd use of it the one and only time I had heard him say it, which was in the middle of a sentence declaring that JFK’s murder could not have been a conspiracy if he wasn’t in on it.

There was a joke my dad would always tell that I think sums up the size of his ego pretty well, “Hey boy, what’s the difference between your old man and God? Give up?...........God don’t look this good.” He would of course be pointing at himself as he said this.

He lived the rest of his life without getting what I always thought was coming to him.

My dad stood five foot three inches tall and suffered what I think could only be called “Little Man Syndrome” which I believe to be a degenerative disease. Case and point, when I was seventeen years old he began smoking like a chimney. So my mother called the fire department. They told her not to worry it wasn’t fatal, just a phase. A week later, he quit smoking and proclaimed he beat cancer.

Eventually I came to learn that my dad was an idiot. But was he my idiot? No, shortly after turning eighteen I left home and never talked to him again. Although I did keep in touch with my mother, who reported that he said that he had, in fact, kicked me out and was never going to talk to me again.

So be it.