Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You know our Hearts beat

I remember the stink of alcohol on his breath, it was a mixture of hangover and Jack Daniels. Anytime that I was in a bar, and some guy next to me would take a shot of jack my memory would go back to what he said.

"The world doesn't make any fffucking sense," he had drawled. We were at my father's funeral. My uncle was drunk, which was his usual state for as long as I knew him, and for as long as I was conscious of what the state of drunk was. The two went hand in hand, at some point I recognized what being drunk was, and at that same point I realized my uncle was always drunk.My uncle followed me with his beady red eyes, brightened around the edges due to years of the drink. His nose was bulbous and looked like a crimson wart on his face. He was dressed in a suit circa 1974 that smelled of mothballs. I was glad to be away from him. I looked around the funeral home scanning for someone else to accost me with their emotional garbage.

"You're tha man of the family now, Jacky boy," he had continued. He poked me hard in my chest. "You haft to take care of yo mom, and your brother."

I rolled my eyes and walked away. My mother was in a nursing home, my younger brother was in his third year of college, doing his undergraduate studies in biology. He had gotten a full ride to college because of dad's career as a firefighter. Mom was taken care of due to my father's occuppation as well.

My father had passed away while he was in a nursing home across town. There were two nursing homes and my dad chose to live in the one that my mother wasn't in.
"Every man has a right to make decisions for himself," he said when I pointed out the substandard qualities of my father's choice in nursing homes.

The parlour had about a dozen people in it. My brother had decided not to come as he had midterms to study for. Our family obligations had bottomed out when mother had been diagnosed with alzheimer's and we'd put her in the home. We're not an asian family, there is no loyalty to the elders. We put them away to die without regret. At first I had some problems reconciling myself with my decision but then I thought of my childhood dog, Bear. When Bear grew old enough that we thought he would die, he walked off. I decided that my mother made the same decision when she came down with alzheimers. She was leaving this world to die, just like Bear.

The people in the parlour were old firefighters and their spouses. They came out of obligation. I looked at my watch and hoped that the room would clear out within an hour. I wanted to leave, not just the parlour but the town. I had a date later in the evening at a bar a few blocks from my house. I'd finally gotten up the nerve to ask Jeannette, a data entry clerk at my office, out. Jeannette worked a few cubicles down from me. I heard her playing ABBA one day and we talked about how "Mama Mia" was coming out in theatres. I decided then to ask her out.

I shook hands with a half dozen people and slowly ushered people out. It took 45 minutes. It would have only taken 30 minutes if my uncle hadn't fallen asleep in his chair. I called a cab for him and gave the cabby the fare along with the directions to my uncle's house.

On the drive to home I tried to think of interesting things to say to Jeanette. I didn't want to sound contrived but I didn't want there to be a lull in conversation either.

"What do you want to drink," that would be a given.
"How is your drink," another obligatory time filler.
I made a mental list of topics to talk about they included; music from the 90s, the election, rising gas prices, the Oakland Raiders, Ralph (the annoying intern at work), Dark Knight, and an article I'd read in the New Yorker. At some point in the evening I would excuse myself to go to the bathroom to assess the evening.

3 comments:

D said...

"access the evening"?

mlucas said...

assess the evening

Rick said...

Dig the blog, look forward to reading more