The man asks “Could you live with a cougar” and I laugh and say of course adding “the question is could the cougar handle me. Heck, I could live with someone who made more money than me. I’d tell them to read the damn letters I wrote and…”
“That isn’t what I am talking about. I am asking if people could live with a cougar the same way some people live with wolves.”
That makes me roll my eyes, and mutter something about runners who are flexible like Gumby being more interesting which leads to him asking why I can’t answer the question.
“It is not a particularly interesting nor difficult question. The answer is yes, raise that cougar from the time they are little and they’ll be less inclined to hurt you later on. Doesn’t mean they won’t, that wild instinct doesn’t go away, no telling when it might come out.
Are You 25?
The kid asks if I am 25 or rather if I think I am.
“Dad, you have had a drink every night for the last few nights. You must really think you’re on vacation.”
I don’t tell him I have had more than one drink on a couple of those nights nor engage in any serious discussion about it other than to ask if he thought I was drunk on any of those occasions.
“No, you weren’t any goofier than you normally are.”
I smile and toast him as I take another sip of my Macallan 12 and think about when I’ll go out and replace the bottle. It is about three years since the last time I needed more Single malt and longer than that since I went out for any other spirits which dear reader tells you I don’t keep the stores in business.
It is not unusual for me to have a drink or to go for extended periods without. I put my time in during my fraternity days and feel no need to repeat them.
But if you ask if I wish I was 25 I would say I wouldn’t say no to the physical attributes of that time of life provided I still have the common sense and experience of the present.
The stairs to the second floor make me look like an old man.
Because they aren’t large enough for my entire foot to fit upon them comfortably and my foot has slipped off when I have moved quickly.
Twice I have managed to catch myself before I fell down them but I have no desire to find out what lucky number three might or might not do.
I am still convinced that I am more likely to break my neck than to die from a serious fall and figure the best way to find out what could happen is not to find out at all.
We’re hours away from the magic and mystical moments that come with midnight so I am hanging out with Otis and singing along with Hard to Handle.
“I know you got another man but I can love you better than him.”
The song always makes me smile because of the combination of the lyrics and music and memories of parties and people from the past/present.
Somewhere one of them is talking about having watched The Commitments and Wilson Pickett covering Hey Jude.
Out there in the ether is the conversation in which I was challenged to write a song as compelling as one of the last two and my belief that I am capable of it.
Some decades later I still believe it to be true but the scars of experience have proven that potential doesn’t mean you will do what you are capable of.
You may still fall short so the question is what will you do if you don’t hit the mark you wished to achieve. There are some big goals on my end and possibilities I want to convert into opportunities.
Takes me back to something I posted on Facebook today that I want to save because I am proud of the work I did with it.
This picture has come to demarcate the beginning of the end of one chapter of life.
It was in the high 30s the man in the red jacket told me it felt bitter to which I said, “your Chicago blood has gotten thin.”
He rolled his eyes at me and I said I was glad he and mom had come to Texas and reminded him he was always going to be a native of LA.
“You’re like me, born in the City of Angels, even if you did sojourn in Chicago and Pittsburgh.”
His red jacket is in the closet to my right, about 20 feet from me and sometimes when I stick my hand in the pocket I can almost feel his hand there too.
The pockets have been emptied of the few scraps of paper and or mints he stashed there and forgot about. Trash to some, but a sort of treasure to me, scraps that remind me of little details about him.
I made the usual comment in the store about how Targets were mostly the same, “got t-shirts promoting local sports teams and some weather related items you might not find elsewhere.”
Dad didn’t turn his head or acknowledge the comment but I knew he heard and we kept going because after 48 years speech wasn’t always necessary for communication.
About a week after that I’d tell him to come to work with me and we’d set out in the car and he played passenger as I took us around town.
Towards the latter end of the day, post lunch at Deli News he fell asleep and I wondered how many times he had driven me around while I snored through the miles.
Thought about when he had taken me along with him from the house in Encino to downtown LA, mom having prepared lunch for both of us.
Sometimes he would say to leave it at his office and we’d go to Chinatown, Olvera Street or some taco shop in East LA and grab lunch.
That was several dogs and decades earlier, now I drove through the far less crowded Dallas freeways and wondered if this was the last time I’d see him in Texas.
Wasn’t any particular reason, we wouldn’t learn about the cancer for at least six weeks. It just struck me that way and I intentionally never said anything.
I could have, it wouldn’t have bothered him. He wasn’t superstitious and would have said what his father would say, “we’re all going to die some day.”
It wasn’t a melancholy statement, it was said with hope. It meant you ought to live now and enjoy life. Don’t worry about what you can’t control.
It is only three years since we took the picture, that is 1,095 days or 1,576,800 minutes.
Match it against one of those fancy Internet calculators and it doesn’t seem like much. I’ll post the numbers so that I can remind myself about what ‘reality’ shows.
- 51 years
- 619 months
- 2,694 weeks
- 18,859 days
- 452,616 hours
- 27,156,960 minutes
- 1,629,417,600 seconds
- Age in Dog Years: 217.0
- Age in Galapagos Turtle Years: 24.3
But the thing about reality is it is always up against perception and in some ways it feels far longer and yet far shorter than it is.
1,095 days since Dad told me it felt colder here than it did visiting my sister in New Jersey.
1,095 days since I made a point to stand close enough to catch him if he slipped but not close enough for him to realize it; because he would have told me to socially distance myself with far more colorful words than I just used.
We think it takes huge amounts of time for our world to change because we forget life doesn’t operate on our time frame, perception or framework.
Blink once and a week has passed, blink twice and it might be a decade, best not to blink a third or fourth time as you might miss it all.
I’d rather try and fail than fail to try. It is that hard and that simple.