Several of my male friends – alla whom have children of their own – told me to just use the rum carrier.
Bryson: Leave the rum tag! That’s hilarious and will be a great story that we will be telling your son later in life. By the way, that bag is nicer than anything I own. JJ: It’s who you are. You gotta do you, man. GS: Don’t even trip. TR: Rum container is genius RB: Just put some Star Wars stickers over the logo…bam
It always bothers me to go against dispassionate logic – it’s actually the best item I have for the job at had.
So Nate went off to school the other day with his gear stuffed into rum bag with his name over the word “rum” and I went home thinking that I need a rule that ensures he’ll always be true to who he actually is.
Elle wrote me this long and sweet email that made me cry. She moved back to LA, got married, had two kids.
Her: Sorry it took me this long to write and reach out. I’ve been meaning to but each time I thought about it, I couldn’t get the right words. Me: I want to write you more but I can’t. I’m a mess. I miss her. I miss you. I miss my old life. Everything. I am so very happy for you, though. You have everything I would have hoped for in my life.
That’s kinda how my life is these days. Sweet, sad, and nostalgic, all mixed up together.
And the occasional funny that makes me laugh if no one else.
Everyone finds having someone like me in their lives amusing – until it’s no longer amusing.
Him: My cousin is heading here for a few days. (thinking) Stay away from her, Logan! Me: She’s 25 right? Don’t worry. I have a strict “no one below 27” rule. Him: You just told me the last girl was 25. Me: (shaking head) Well, it was more of an informal guideline back then.
Scene: At gym. Me: (to Pez) You know, you’re the same age as a girl I’m hanging out with. Chuck: (overhears in distance, laughs) “Hanging out with?” Yeah, you two are going to lectures and coffee. Me: (to Chuck) We do – we discuss Nietzsche! Chuck: (walking away) Suuuure. Me: (whispering to Pez) We don’t discuss Nietzche… Pez: (laughs)
Both Daisy and Gradgirl do not, which makes them non-starters for me, among other things. Of course, I’m a non-starter for everyone.
Me: I am thinking of my son. I want him to know that if I can survive this, he can survive anything. I’m ok with being by my lonesome. And you’ve known me a long time – if I need company, I’ll find company. Larry: You’re a father now. It’s not the same anymore, Logan. Me: Yes. But these are the cards I was dealt, so I play them.
Daisy: Do you imagine if things were different? If I were different? Me: I always wish everything were different. Everything but the boy. Her: With us, I mean. Me: (gently) There is no us, Daisy. None of this is actually real. You’re just getting over something as am I, to different degrees. I don’t want you to be someone that you’re not. That never works out. People shouldn’t have to change themselves to fit into someone else’s world. Her: He wants to meet up again. (pause) Do you think I should go? Me: (nodding) That was the plan, right? I was always only supposed to be just a distraction. Her: Yes. (pause) That was the plan.
Haven’t seen her since. Maybe he’s her person and she, his. We should all be lucky enough to find our person.
Me: So it’s just you and me now. (pause) Are you ok with that? (grinning) You won’t be worried I’ll fall madly in love with you? Gradgirl: No. I know you’re not available to me. Not like that. Me: Well, strictly speaking, I’m not available to anyone. Her: (laughs) I might fall for you, Logan. Me: This is true. You’ll let me know if it happens? I’ll do the same. Her: Don’t worry. (thinking) I could never love someone that wasn’t in love with me. Me: (nodding) That’s how it’s supposed to be.
These are the cards we were dealt. So we play them.
Me: Morning, kid! Ready for the day?! Son: (yawns, stretches, smiles) Me: God, I love that face. C’mere you…
Her: Is that a wine carrier? Me: Strictly speaking, it’s a rum carrier. Her: Logan! You can’t use a rum carrier for his lunchbox! Me: Why not? There’s no rum in it. Her: It says “rum” right on the flap. What is wrong with you? Me: How much time do you have?
Alison’s BFF and several of her college friends paid for a preschool that started this morning. One of Alison’s other college friends gave me four bags fulla clothes that ABFF brought back for me. I brought her a beer.
ABFF: His birthday’s coming up. Are you doing something? Me: Not sure. Her: Are you getting him a cake at least? Me: I’ll get him a muffin. Her: A muffin? It’s his birthday! Me: A muffin is merely a naked cupcake. I’ll put peanut butter on it for frosting.
The ABFF is a lawyer. Another lawyer friend of mine was giving me parenting advice, despite her not being a parent, regarding my choice of lunchbox.
Her: You can’t send him to school with a rum carrier. Me: Logically, it’s the best choice. It holds a change of clothes better since I roll them, and can hold his drink and food container more easily. It’s fashionable and will probably be easier to find as it’s taller than it is long. I refuse to raise him with these absurd social constructs. Her: Didn’t you say, “Communication is what the other side hears?” Me: (groaning) Fiiiine. Let the record reflect my vigorous objection to this acquiesce. Her: So noted.
Went to my law firm the other day. Felt weird getting dressed and walking through the doors. They were taking pictures for the firm website and I was touched to still be considered part of the team.
Boss: There’s he is! Me: Barely.
They ordered pizza which few ate. So I ended up eating an entire large pie all by myself. I’ve been doing intermittent fasting, which is an entry for another time.
Me: If they didn’t slice this thing up, I’ll roll it up like a burrito and stuff it in my mouth. Him: I believe that.
Saw my family afterward.
It’s weird that I now have a “thing” that I do when someone dies. What a horrific realization: That one has a thing that one does when someone he loves dies.
That thing is clean up. I attribute it to Alison. Whenever something horrible happened, she cleaned up the house. So I do the same, in honor of her – as did my mom.
Her: I can’t believe he’s gone. Me: (nodding) I’m so sorry, mom.
Here, at my pad, I try to fill my time with the boy or other company.
Gradgirl: I meet a lot of married men in my classes and life. I think that some – all of them, really – would try to be with me if they thought they could get away with it. You’re one of only two married men I met in my life where I felt that you would never look twice at me or anyone else. Me: I wouldn’t. She’s all I ever wanted. You wouldn’t be here now if she was still here. Her: I know, Logan. (nodding) That’s how it’s supposed to be. Me: (thinking) I have a hole in my soul and my life in the shape of her. I’m trying to fill that hole however I can, before it expands and kills me. Her: (seriously) Don’t die, Logan. Me: Man, I trying my best not to. I’m trying…
(continued from last conversation) Daisy: (laughs) Not every woman is dying to meet a man with a kid that’s in love with his ex-wife. Me: (sighing) She’s my late wife, not my ex-wife. She never left me. I never left her. She was taken from me. There’s a difference. But you are right about that. Her: (nods) Which part? Me: Me being in love with her. I’ll love her until the end of the world. Her: (frowns, puts her hand on my shoulder)
Him: What are you doing today? Me: Same thing I do most days when the kid’s not around. Drink and randomly yell out “Motherf___er!” (pause) I’m surprised to hear from you. Him: I’m surprised to call. Despite our differences, I’m legit sorry about your dad and wife. (long pause) There’s work if you want it. Me: I like that you get to the point. (thinking) Maybe. Maybe it’s time.
As did Alison’s best friend.
Her: Hey I’m near your casa because my neighbor’s singing at a bar near you. Know you’re likely not up for a drink or maybe you’ve been drinking too much already but felt wrong to be so nearby and not offer a drink. Me: Cool. I’ll pop by.
Ended up walking her home a mile north and forgetting my camera at her pad.
Although, some women transition between the circle of friends and hard-to-say more than others.
Me: I feel guilty about things, sometimes. That I’m keeping you from finding your person. Daisy: You’re not. Actually, I find it a bit funny-slash-conceited that you think every woman in the world is in love with you. Me: Not every woman. (thinking) Just the ones that meet me.
It’s all a bit complicated. Then again, nothing in my life is ever simple.
Gradgirl: I’ve got to think of an excuse as to why I can’t show up tonight. Me: You’ve got so many shady secrets. Her: Oh, Logan, (getting up) you are my shady secret.
Cause it’s the gracious thing to do. And being gracious means doing things for the comfort of others over the comfort of self.
And the last place on the planet I wanted to be was in that room. But I had to do it because he woulda wanted me there for my mom.
My father, who was raised speaking Japanese with a Japanese name, was nothing if not gracious.
The tributes to him always mention how he went out of his way to make his guests comfortable – picking them up from the airport, cooking lavish meals for them, teaching them what he knew about so many varied subjects.
He taught me how to be polite and, by extension, how to be loved. Because in a world of selfish and rude people, I think that meeting someone that always listens to your stories after offering you a bowl of chili and a glass of rum is refreshing.
Could just be the rum, I suppose. I digress.
Everyone that came into my parents house got a cup of tea, food, and pleasant conversation.
Perhaps that’s why Alison and he got along so well. She would always be upset with me if we had guests and the house wasn’t immaculate. Because a guest has to have a clean and neat place to stay. She was nothing if not gracious.
Alison is gone now but I do what I can to keep up the lessons she taught me to give to our son. I loved her so.
My father is also gone now. I loved him so. But he still looms large over me as a man, as all good fathers do.
Hope I do the same for my boy.
You know, I don’t ever call my son by his given name. I call him by my father’s name. As do the members of my family and some of hers.
Cause I wait for the day he asks me why and I can smile, sit down, and say, “Ah, sit down. Lemme tell you about my dad. He was a great man. I loved him so. Still do.”
Suppose I’ll write more on that when I sort things out. Whenever that’ll be. For now, let me tell you a quick story:
When my father first met Alison, the two somehow got on the topic of hard-boiled eggs. You see, he was an amazing cook and a chef in his younger years.
He asked her if she knew how to keep the shells from sticking to the egg when they cooked. Alison said she didn’t know.
So he pulled her aside and whispered into her ear.
Her: (laughing) Really? Him: (smiling) Yes, it’s true. Her: I’ll try that next time. Me: (to Alison) So what’s the secret? Her: (laughing) If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret. That’s between your father and me.
She never told me because secrets are special things between people. But her hard-boiled eggs always came out perfectly while mine always came out like crap. Still do.
If there is a heaven, hope they’re hanging out, trading recipes. She always loved to see him, and he, her.
Which makes sense – to know them was to love them.
My son’s favorite song right now is Uptight by Stevie Wonder.
The thing is that this is the song always made me think of both Alison and my dad. Probably why I play it for him so often.
The lyrics are below.
My father came here with nuthin. I was definitely born a poor man’s son.
But he refused to stay poor for long – people with talent rarely do – and I’m forever grateful for all he sacrificed for us.
You know, I think that the dirt poor kid from Queens in me makes up more of my soul than I’d care to admit.
But it doesn’t matter. Not really.
Cause my dad and a beautiful girl named Alison McCarthy loved and believed in me. That means I must be somebody. Even if I was born a poor man’s son from Queens, New York.
I dunno what I am without them. Now, I’m forced to find out.
God, I miss them both terribly.
Baby, everything is all right, uptight, out of sight
Baby, everything is all right, uptight, out of sight
I’m a poor man’s son, from across the railroad tracks,
The only shirt I own is here on my back,
But I’m the envy of every single guy
Since I’m the apple of my girl’s eye
When we go out stepping on the town for a while
My money’s low and my suit’s out of style,
But it’s all right if my clothes aren’t new
Out of sight because my heart is true
She says, “Baby everything is alright, uptight, out of sight.
Baby, everything is alright, uptight, clean out of sight.”
She’s a pearl of a girl, I guess that’s what you might say,
I guess her folks brought her up that way,
The right side of the tracks, she was born and raised
In a great big old house, full of butlers and maids
She said, “No one is better than I.” I know I’m just an average guy,
No football hero or smooth Don Juan,
Got empty pockets, you see, I’m a poor man’s son
Can’t give her the things that money can buy
But I’ll never, never, never make my baby cry,
And it’s all right, what I can’t do,
Out of sight because my heart is true,
She says baby everything is alright, uptight, clean out of sight
Baby, everything is alright, uptight, clean out of sight
Baby, everything is alright, uptight, ha ha ha ha, yeah,
Baby, everything is alright, uptight, way out of sight
Baby, everything is alright, uptight, clean out of sight
Gradgirl: I’m reading your online dating profile book. You can be my dating coach! Me: (laughing) Sure. Her: Do you think you’ll ever do it yourself? Get back out into the regular dating world? Me: (shaking head) I’m not ready for anything like that. I’m gonna stop wearing black in 2018. So maybe then.
If I ever did write one, it’d probably sound a lot like this:
Works in a non-profit or just likes to help people. Highly educated with at least a masters degree and two foreign language skills. From a good family, preferably military, with close ties to them. Likes to clean and hates to cook. Wants children. Eats chili. Strong resemblance to Jennifer Aniston but with green eyes (preferred). Self sufficient. Likes to sing to me almost every night and never comments on my constantly singing off-key. Ideally, always wants to have dinner with me. Loves children – and adults – that eat predominately peanut butter. Kindness a major plus.
There’s not much to do these days but wait. So I pass the time with conversations and trying to get back into the real world.
It’s hard watching the news lately. Partly because of Trump and his racist idiocy. Partly because both Serria Leone and Burkina Faso are in the news lately.
Alison used to go both nations regularly to try and help people. She put herself into harm’s way all the time for others and I could not have possibly been prouder of her.
That Trump and his ilk are alive and she is not enrages me.
A buddy of mine and I met up for lunch the other day. He told me his mother committed suicide. I never knew.
Me: How did you survive that? I’m asking everyone because I don’t know how to. Him: (shrugging) You do, somehow. But you never stop being angry. I’m angry right now thinking about it – and that was years ago.
It concerns me that my son is around me so much. I’m told they absorb everything. So I try my best to hide it all. The anger, the sadness, the creeping madness.
Me: I worry about the kid. I mean, a few times a week, I gotta put him in his crib so I can go to the bathroom so he doesn’t see me cry. That’s not normal. Gradgirl: (gently) That totally normal. (laughing) That’s probably the most normal thing about you.
He and I sing a lot of Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder to pass the time. I do, rather, and very off-key. He just claps.
Me: Man, you better develop some rhythm when you get older; your mom was the best dancer I knew. Him: (laughs, claps off tempo)
And I find what little amusement I can here and there.
Me: College? (thinking) I graduated in 1993. Daisy: I was one then. Me: Gah! I just threw up a little in my mouth. Her: Me too!
There is no way I could possibly do any of the things I do for my sanity if not for my sister and mom watching the kid on the weekends. And my sister has a full-time job and two rambunctious boys of her own.
Doubt she’d approve of any of my weekend extra-curricular activities but she helps me anyway.
She used to have a picture of the three of us – her, my brother, and me – with a quote from an Aesop’s Fable about how twigs can be broken but three twigs in a bundle cannot.
I liked that picture. Both for the quote and because I looked good in it.
Funny – the only thing that survives my pathos is my vanity.
My dad’s back in the ER.
With Alison, my brother was a huge help as he was a doctor. He answered every crazy question I had for him at all hours of the day. He insisted on being here for Alison when he knew her time was coming.
And now, he does the same for my father. Dunno how much sleep he gets.
I’m reminded of a scene in the Godfather – both the book and the film – where Vito Corleone tells the undertaker Bonasera, I want you to use all your powers, and all your skills. I don’t want his mother to see him this way …. Look how they massacred my boy…
I used all my research skills to try to save Alison and my father.
And my brother used all his medical knowledge to do the same. All with the same result.
I also used all my legal skills for the dirty work of getting together everything I needed to take care of Alison when she was here and after she was gone.
Last week, poured myself a stiff drink, sat down at my computer, and drew up the paperwork I had for Alison, took out her name, and typed in my father’s. Then I edited them for his needs, went to his bed and went through everything with him.
It’s a fraction of what my brother does for him but took all the strength I had left. Which is not much.
Me: Sign here. And here. Initial here. I have to notarize that now, Dad. Wait…OK. Him: (tired) Is there a lot more? Me: Not a lot. (clearing throat) We’re almost done.
Then came back here and drank myself silly. Spent the rest of the night in a daze.
Daisy: Are you OK? Me: No. (thinking) Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy again. But it’s better than reality. In a way, none of this is real. You and me. All of this. The reality is, tomorrow, you go back to your job and life. And I go back to the nightmare that’s mine. Her: Yes. (taking a drink) But that’s tomorrow…