Archive | February, 2012

See You Later, Little Buddy

22 Feb

Here’s this man: 

“This man”–as you called him [Editor’s Note: You called him that.]–is my friend Patrick. He’s a man with a name. and He used to have long hair like this until he got it cut.

Guess he got tired of having a haircut that made women feel like they should button their top button, that made men feel like they need to tap their back pocket to make sure their wallet was still there, that made dogs and feral cats feel like they found a buddy.

A photograph from Patrick’s graduation.

Well, Patrick lives in Tel Aviv where he’s studying the Middle East. He’s been gone for five months and came back for a few days recently. It should be noted that I love Patrick and he is one of my very favorite people on this Earth.

I’m laying in bed watching a movie with my girlfriend–Drive. By that I mean I’m watching the film Drive with my girlfriend. My girlfriend is not the movie Drive. If I were to date a movie it wouldn’t be one in which every second makes me want to do cocaine off of something people don’t normally do cocaine off of.

A dog’s snout.

A sirloin steak.

A male relative’s belly.

On the television screen is a still image of Ryan Gosling looking somber about something. I have paused the film.

“Okay, so this does or does not relate to The Notebook in some way?”

“It does not,” Courtney says.

“Oh what crap,” I say, pressing the power button on the remote control and tossing the remote onto the floor.

Just then, my phone rings. It rings with a sound I have not heard in some time. It’s Pat’s favorite song–a loop of an elderly man saying the phrase “Struttin’ that ass.”

I lift my phone and look at the screen. It says “Patrick Strickland,” but it cannot be. I sit up in my bed and slowly put the phone to my ear.

“Hello?” I say. The ring blares into my ear. I pull the phone back, press the “Answer” button and place it at my ear again. “Hello?”

“Kyle?”

I say nothing.

“Kyle? Hello?”

“Who is this? How did you get my number?”

“It’s in my phone.”

I turn to Courtney. I mouth “Get my gun.”

She mouths “___” because she has fallen asleep.

“What have you done with Patrick? Is this the Mujaheddin? Is this Terror? Am I being Terroristed?” I begin to fumble about in my room, looking for my passport.

“What is ‘terroristed’?”

“HA!” I blare. I don’t know what ‘terroristed’ is, either.

“Kyle, it’s me, Pat. I’m back in town.”

My heart swells. “My dearest son. My beautiful child. The hairy watermelon of my loins.” I lean forward, listening very carefully for how Pat responds.

“Daddy,” he responds. This is the keyword. The countersign is correct.

“Hey man!” I say. “I didn’t know you were back!”

“I am, I got back in today.”

“Let’s meet up!” I say.

“Sure, but wh–” I’m so excited, I throw my phone against the wall before he can finish. I raise my blinds, throw open my window and jump out.

Courtney, confused by my actions says “____” because she’s still asleep.

Pat and I meet up at Lou’s–a local tavern we frequented together when we were younger and had much longer hair and so much more hope.

We talk of the old days and the new days and the days ahead. It’s odd. So much seems to have transpired in the six months since he left. I fill him in on my brief attempt at graduate school, my reasons for leaving. He fills me in on the new woman he’s seeing and seems completely content, sure that he’s chosen the right path.

I was going to make this longer, but I don’t really want to. This is all just a 658-word goodbye to my friend, Pat. I’ll miss you, comrade.

Letter to Myself as an Old Man

13 Feb

A long time ago, I wrote a letter to my childhood self. Now, I’d like to write a letter to my old man self. Here it is.

Old man self. How are you? How is your health? How are your bi’s and tri’s and do your jeans still hug your quads when you go up stairs in a way that makes you feel like a big man who could kick a tree over if he wanted? I hope so. I hope you’re still healthy, at least.

I hope there’s nothing seriously wrong with you health-wise. Sometimes, I lay up at night, worrying that somewhere in me, dormant, lie the seeds of my end. Whatever’s going to kill me is most likely in my blood right now as I write this letter. It was in me when I was born, and it was in the various cells that were put together by robots that helped me become a screaming pink loaf nine months later. I don’t want to get too much into that, though. The rabbit hole and such.

Do you still have friends? I’m sure you do. I hope you do. How many of them are left? I’ve always assumed I would be the last of all my friends to die–it just seemed right, I guess. I take good care of myself; I exercise and eat right, but I stress a lot and I’ve been known to drink a bit of whiskey, so who knows. Maybe I’ll be the first to go. Maybe I’ll die from something completely unexpected, like a car crash or maybe someone will kill me. Maybe I’ll be jogging and a dog will get loose and rip my throat out. It happens, you know.

I hope you have lots of friends still. But I also sort of wish you don’t, because I’d hate to die before them and not get to squeeze every last drop out with them before I go. I’d hate to leave the table before the meal’s done.

Are you happy? Did you–did we–do a good job? Did we try hard and keep going when we failed and did it all pay out? Am I going to have to find out, years down the line, that the only real pleasure in life is striving for pleasure in life? I hope not. That sounds awful.

I bet you’re happy. I bet you are. I bet you’re happy because you want to be so damn badly that I don’t think you would let anything stand in your way. I hope you’re happy.

Do you have any kids? I think I’d like to have kids. I’ve never seen myself being old without kids. Were they good to you? Did they put you in a home when you got too old? Did they let you stay with them? Is the unconditional love of a parent to a child real? Did any of them test that love? Were you a good parent?

If you do have kids, do you have grandkids? And if you do, do they call you ever? Do they write? I try to do those things, but I don’t do a very good job. It’s strange to think that one day none of my grandparents will be left. By the time I’m your age, they’ll be distant memories. I may not even remember their voices. Their faces will be preserved because I’ll have pictures and all that, but what about their voices? I don’t have video of them. I wonder what my voice will sound like when I’m old.

I think about that stuff. Do you have a gravelly voice? Is it high pitched? Is it softer now?

Did you find love, and did you keep it? Did you find a way to make it last? Did you keep the lesser, more fearful parts of yourself away from it enough that you didn’t squander it? I hope you did.

How many times did you find love? I’d like to think it was just the once, but knowing myself, it might not be. I just hope you were damn sincere the whole time. I hope you thought it through. I hope you didn’t think too much, though.

I hope that when you lay in bed at night, whether alone or beside the woman you love, that I gave you the kind of memories that make you yearn for their repetition. I hope I gave you the kind of memories I would like to have as an old man.

Take care of yourself,

Kyle

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