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Twisting all the bad things into good

Oct 14, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 8: 4th and Forever

I'm more than just a little curious
How you're planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead
                    A Perfect Circle, The Noose


            I made my way over to the pool area, to join my friends. It was not so much a memorial for my father, since none of my friends really knew him, as it was a show of support for me... and an excuse to drink to excess. On the way over, I called my friend, Trevor, to invite him over. He would later tell me that after I told him that my dad died, I just went on and on about what a great time I had in Vegas. If he had shown up, either he would have recognized that I was completely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and would have found some way to have me brought back to reality, or he would have understandably been disturbed my delusional behavior and I would have lost a good friend. Trevor mentioned to my friend, Anuj, that I told him my father had died. Anuj knew that I was very close to my father, so he asked an ex girlfriend of mine if she had heard about this. She became concerned, not concerned enough to call or text or anything, but still concerned because her and my father had always got along very well. Whatever this insanity I was experiencing was, it was now something that I would not be able to act as if never happened.

           The first people I saw who were not really there were Josh and his girlfriend. I said, "What's up, dude? Thanks for coming over. It's been awhile." Although he was wearing sunglasses, it was obvious that he was looking right at me. He said nothing.  Though he would have had to have been deaf to not hear me, I asked, "What's going on, bro?" No response. I wasn't sure what his problem was, so I turned to his girlfriend, whom I had never met. I reached out my hand and smiled, "Hello, I'm Jim, it's nice to meet you". She also looked at me and ignored me. I looked at both of them. "What's up with you two? " No response. I pretended to be humored. "Am I missing something? What's with the silent treatment?" I was getting annoyed. Morrissey once sang, "That joke isn't funny anymore", but unlike the Smiths classic, this "joke", if you can call it that, was never funny. It was actually extremely irritating. I turned my hands up and ask,"What the fuck?"  I wasn't in the mood for their little Hank and Helen Keller routine, so out loud, I said to myself, "Wow, this is gonna be a lot of fun".

           I went and sat down at the head of a long patio table for six, expecting to hold court for the next several hours, hopefully with people who would respond when I spoke to them. I brought my IPOD player with me and put on some music. It was encased in a very hard plastic to make it waterproof so you can listen to it while you sing and masturbate in the shower. I had been carrying it with me everywhere because my IPOD, like my mind,  was not working correctly, and like my legs, could not run on it's own. After a while, I wondered where everyone was. I heard some noise on the other side of the wall where the pool was. I figured it was my friends setting up the big screen so they could watch football and keep score of their Fantasy teams. It was definitely a Fantasy Sunday for me too, but I wasn't counting touchdowns and turnovers. The only individual performance I should have been concerned with was my own.  It was 4th and forever to logic and rationality, and my only hope was an out of shape wide receiver, who had not played organized football since he was a freshman in high school and was now strung out and worst of all, caucasian. But on 4th and inches away from being institutionalized or imprisoned, I had my running back, who could only be compared to the Incredible Hulk on Adderall.

           Josh and his girlfriend had left. It didn't really matter because they weren't saying much. Since they had never met my dad, I guess it was nice that they stopped by, even if they didn't have anything to say to me. Oh well, I had other things to stress about. I sat there by myself, listening to my music, thinking about my dad. While I sat there obsessing over the past, one of my most routine activities, my neighbor who gave me the pills earlier walked by with her dog. She saw me sitting there by myself, so she walked up to the table and asked how I was doing. I don't remember what I said to her, but it must have been a lie because she didn't immediately turn and run, she sat down to talk. So there I was, talking to a real person. Good thing Josh and his girl already left because things would have got weird when I tried introducing them to my neighbor. I figure they would have ignored her too, then she would have probably got so offended that she would immediately call the cops. Somehow, we talked for over an hour, and either she wasn't asking the right questions, or I somehow avoided any bizarre answers. There's no way in hell that I didn't say anything bizarre so she must have popped some of her own meds that she had selfishly kept to herself. I told her that my friends were coming over. She said that was good because I shouldn't be alone. She didn't realize that whether anyone came over or not, I wouldn't know the difference and would still carry on a conversation anyway. I told her that my dad had been hit by a car while driving, somehow not mentioning the fact that the accident was down the street. Another topic that never came up was that my dad's body was nearing decomposition in the back of the Comcast work van out front of our apartment building. I went on and on to this lady whose name I didn't even know, until after awhile, she got all selfish and must have thought that I had some interest in hearing about what she went though when her mom passed away. I guess she was trying to relate to what I was going through, but this was about me...and my dad, I guess. Actually, she was very nice and I appreciated the time that she took to sit and wait with me until my friends got there. After an hour, I think she realized that nobody was coming and if she stayed any longer, she would end up Waiting For Godot with me there  for eternity. She said she was going to go watch the 2nd half of the Dolphins game and hoped that I would feel better. Neither of us realized that the Dolphins had played Thursday night, losing in a thriller to the Cowboys 27-25,  but hey, I wouldn't have wanted to listen to my depressing nonsense either.

           After she left, I was alone again with my thoughts, something that was undoubtedly a major factor in bringing on my complete mental breakdown. If the overwhelming stress and depression that I had when I was "sane" had driven me to madness, then topping that garbage heap of  thoughts with this could only push me to the edge of a place that you don't come back from the same person. If you do find a way of not getting yourself or someone else killed, and even if you avoid doing permanent damage to your body, your mind would never be the same. The days would be spent in some hospital, medicated  on so many atypical antipsychotics that you make a zombie's movements look like those of a PussyCat Doll.  You slobber like some St. Bernard who just got waterboarded, while you zone out on game shows that may as well be in Chinese since words and letters are no longer "your thing". This doesn't stop you from playing the occasional game of checkers against yourself even though you've never won, never mind that you sometimes try eating the black checker pieces because they remind you of something called "Orweo cookies" without the creamy middle. When family comes to visit, they mostly just talk to themselves because you don't have anything to say to these "strangers" who have pulled you away from your game of dominoes. Not dominoes that you play like a card game and keep track of points, the kind you play when you set them up just to watch them fall, and you were just about to break your personal record of 4 before these "strangers" interrupted with their funny talk. These "strangers"  visit you more for their own peace of mind than your benefit since you can't even remember what the orderly force fed you for lunch, even though it's all over your bib that hasn't been changed in a week. These "strangers" would take you out in public if they didn't feel they were dehumanizing you because of the necessity to keep you on a child leash like some toddler with a knack for always finding the closest pitbull. Every once in a while, you have flashes of someone else's life, someone who spent time with these "strangers". You see them laughing while opening dozens of  meticulously wrapped gold and red boxes that surround a Christmas tree considerably nicer than the one the orderlies put up in the rec room every year that is only surrounded by empty boxes. Sometimes you get the point of view of someone sitting in the backseat of a van while a considerably younger version of these "strangers" play I Spy and try to name all 50 states while driving down the highway. You even have the occasional look through the eyes of someone staring at a young woman who can't stop smiling back at them or resist repeatedly kissing their cheek and  then whispering that she loves them and will forever, and for a few precious seconds, a feeling in your chest makes it almost seem like you were this lucky guy who said that he loved her too and then kissed this girl who is even prettier than the woman on the game show with all the letters that you watch but don't understand. Even though you don't know what "love" is, hearing it and saying it, even in another person's memory, makes you feel different for a moment. You might even get the feeling of what it must be like to be allowed to drive a car when you look through this person's eyes to see that same girl sitting in the passenger seat of some convertible with it's top down as she laughs at the the futility of even attempting to keep her long hair from blowing all over.  You can look down and see her holding the driver's hand, only letting go so that he can shift gears, and then immediately taking it again. You might even catch a look at the driver himself, smiling in his rear view mirror. He looks familiar, someone you may have met, someone you may have been, someone you destroyed along with everything they ever had. And the girl, who knows? Hopefully you didn't destroy her along the way. The saddest part is that your mind is too fried to make any sense of this "other person's" memories. When you open your mouth and try to talk, it's nothing but jibberish so you can't even tell anyone about these memories of a past life, which the few visitors you get just assume you have forgotten anyway. Once again, you've gotten what you always thought would make you happy, an endless supply of pills.
           Sitting there alone, I felt my stomach turn with the notion that my dad would never see all the great things that I would now be determined to do after the realization that I too, would die one day, and that day was most likely gonna be Thursday at this rate of deterioration. There was no way that I was going to live to be his age the way I was living. Since I didn't realize that I had the life expectancy of a sitcom starring anyone from Seinfeld besides Jerry, I was actually able to think how he wouldn't be there to see me getting married. It was hard to imagine him never seeing my children, who would never know how great their grandfather was. I couldn't believe he would never be there for another  Christmas, his favorite day of the year because it gave him another excuse to spoil his wife and children, making it our favorite day of the year too. Things could never be the same.  I knew how awful I felt on all the Christmas and Thanksgivings we already did not spend together over the last decade. It was unbearable on those days that were supposed to be the best of the year, to know my father was spending it in prison. It was already unbearable on every other day, but these days were the worst. It brought me no comfort to hear my mom say, "Just think, 3 more Christmas' and your dad will be here. 2 more Christmas' and your dad will be home with us. Just think, This will be the last Christmas without your dad." She didn't bother counting down the holidays during the first 6 years.

            I should have tried to find something positive to distract me from my morbid thoughts of things my father would never see me do. There wasn't anything I could think of to find any comfort in. I should have told myself that at least he would miss out on seeing me in a much needed rehab if I didn't end up in prison first. If neither of those things happened soon, even though it would bring no comfort to my poor mother, at least he would be spared having to bury his first child who had little chance of having a stocking with his name on the chimney this year. If this miracle did happen, there was no way there would be an Easter basket filled with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that mom knew were his favorite. Knowing my mother, she would have still made a basket, only to lie it by a headstone that would read:

James William MacDonald, Jr. 
  Beloved Son and Brother
         A Wasted Life  

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