The boy who was only three last week but is somehow turning 18 this year asked me if I have talked with grandpa about dying.
“Yeah, we have. One day you and I might have a similar conversation, many years from now if I have anything to say about it.”
“What did you talk about?”
I provide some details but not all because some pieces remain between a father and son knowing the joy of the sandwich generation is to encounter contradiction.
Some things aren’t shared now not because of a lack of maturity but because sometimes I need a moment to be a son.
Nobody Reads About Souls
A group of bloggers are talking about how to grow their audience and gain notoriety.
Two of them start throwing out what they call good topics to write about and crap no one will read.
I am feeling a little feisty so when they say don’t put your love story online unless you want a bunch of women who won’t pay to read your stuff I tell them they are wrong.
“I won’t say whether you’re a chauvinist, misogynist or a dude who can’t convince a woman to get naked with him ‘cuz I am not judgmental. But if you don’t think love stories sell you don’t know anything about publishing or history.”
“Show me your love story and all the cash you made and then I’ll say you have proven me wrong.”
I laugh and tell him he doesn’t know Jack and suggest he establish his credentials before asking for mine.
“Have you ever worked as a writer? Have you ever gotten paid to publish? Have you ever been a marketer, copywriter, editor, journalist or done anything other than bang on a keyboard like an angry monkey?”
This time the rebuttal is filled with personal insults and an offer to have an intimate conversation outside.
“I’ll go but only if we agree to a duel with Smith-Coronas.”
“You’re a stupid asshole, I don’t smoke.”
“Not yet, but if you stick around you might find out whether that E key still sticks and you’ll certainly hear bells.”
Several people shout at both of us to be calm and I point out I never raised my voice.
“You write a good story about two souls and I guarantee it will be read…at least twice because people will want to make sure they don’t miss a line.”
Two beers and a soft drink later two people ask if I’ll answer some questions.
“Sure, let’s start with this. I call this a soft drink or sometimes a coke regardless of brand. I almost never refer to it as ‘Pop.” I tease midwesterners about their weather and their lack of real beaches, because those require saltwater.
I prefer my pizza to be thick crust and my peanut butter to be creamy. There is no difference between Escargot and scoops of Vasoline.
What do you want to know?”
They surprise me by not finding my crotchety attitude to be off putting and I surprise them with a story about the similarity between abandoned trucks and old relationships.
Sometimes the only thing that prevents them from running as strongly as they ever did is simple maintenance and repairs.
“That sounds like a good story, when did you write it?”
“Really? How do you come up with story ideas?”
“I don’t know. They just show up inside my head and beg for me to pay attention to them. Sometimes I do and sometimes I let them sit for years. There is no rhyme or reason. It just happens.”
What Do You Think Will Happen?
We’re having breakfast for lunch, the teenager and I.
We’re at this joint in Plano that serves pancakes that look like they ought to be served in pizza boxes and in agreement that we have to come back again.
“Dad, that burger looks pretty tasty.”
I nod my head and he asks me what I think will happen.
“You’ll blink and wonder when I got to be so old because it doesn’t feel like that much time has passed.”
“Dad, you do know you are already old.”
“Come to the gym and we’ll see who looks old.”
We both smile and I tell him the end is coming.
“I can’t stop it and neither can you. But we can hope that we have quality time before it happens. I think we will, but I can’t guarantee it.”
He nods his head and we talk about more stuff.
“I spent my birthday and almost every major holiday by myself last year. I am very comfortable with silence and being alone.
I was before all that and probably became ‘better’ because of it. But I didn’t do it for quiet. I did it because grandpa taught me that you do what you need to do for your kids.
Very little is given for free, we have to work hard for things and that is ok.”
Sometimes we ask ridiculous questions and find logical answers.