30 August 2015

A false start & some memories about my dad

What can I do for you, whoever you are? I can’t drive a boat. I can’t repair shoes. I can’t watch your pet this weekend. All I’m good for is a certain type of conversation. And everything will be easier between us if you share my taste.

I was going to fill this entry with other examples of talents that I lack; but now I am changing my mind, because I hate that idea. But I like to imagine that I am getting paid by the word, so I’ll keep what I typed; for the above paragraph will earn me almost a quarter of a thousand dollars. ($240, to be exact—it sounds better when you can fit that word thousand in there: that’s why I phrased it like that.)

By the way, why do we tend to wrinkle up our face when weeping? We have got to stop doing this: it looks ridiculous.

My dad used to beleaguer me with a popular adage about fishing, in order to prove that conservative politicians are better than liberals. He’d say: “When a liberal and a conservative encounter a starving man, the liberal offers the man a fish, but the conservative offers the man a fishing pole.” —The point is that starvation is undesirable.

Now I don’t know about fishing pole rental rates; I don’t know about debtors’ prison; and I’ve never met a trickle-down cosmonaut. So I’ll try to avoid composing a novel about these things. Additionally, in case you’re wondering, I am clueless about businesses, banks, legal contracts, credit cards, and Christian soldiers in the U.S. Army.

Another fact that my dad once told me about his life is that he got conscripted to “serve his country.” (This thought came to me when I typed the word soldiers above.) Now I’ll try to remember everything that he told me about his time in the service. (He would sometimes call the army “the worst thing that ever happened to me”; and sometimes he’d call it “the best thing that ever happened to me.”)

My dad would often say that there were two rival subclasses within the armed forces (this, I repeat, is just my dad’s analysis—I myself only inherited his worst traits, not necessarily his opinions)—the two opposing groups, according to my dad, were, on one hand, soldiers who drank beer, and, on the other hand, soldiers who smoked weed.

My dad served proudly in the Beer-Drinking Division of the Armed Forces of the United States of America. He never touched marijuana: he wasn’t part of that group.

My dad was stationed in Alaska. He and his beer-drinking buddies lived in a tent. The tent had a flap for its entrance. One time a moose peeped into the tent (this moose was large: only its head could fit inside)—slowly the creature gazed at each of the soldiers in the tent. The moose’s eyes were like big black tennis balls. This was a scary experience for my father, because he and his beer-drinking buddies could not gauge the animal’s intentions.

The above story has no punchline or ending—the moose simply left after looking inside of the tent. Now here’s another memory from my dad’s stint in the U.S. military:

Once upon a time, my dad was drinking beer; then a stranger came along and secretly slipped some LSD into my dad’s beer can. (LSD is the drug that street preachers nickname acid.) So my dad ended up having a bad trip when he didn’t even know that he was tripping.

The true story above occurred mere hours before I was conceived; so I think of myself as the chef-d’œuvre of inadvertently acidic sperm. Although it might sound silly to you, this knowledge helps me cope with my social deficiencies. I don’t blame myself so severely for my shortcomings—my inability to race speedboats or cobble shoes. I’m just an Alaskan husky who has worn a bare path in the lawn from pacing back and forth at the end of my chain. (Will you babysit me?)

Pets are strange—I mean, I consider them a dilemma. I feel sorry for them and want to set them free; however, in the beginning, as they say, God created a roadblock for every righteous intention. So, first, pets are not really living creatures: they’re someone’s property. And, second, if you set them free, they (I assume) will have a hard time surviving; because they’ve grown accustomed to their master feeding them store-bought camel chow (for instance, if they’re a camel); therefore, they have no idea how to climb trees and hunt prey.

Typing that last word brought to mind its homophone, so I’ll copy each of the definitions right here. The word pray (spelled with an “a”) means to wish or hope strongly for something: “after days of rain, we prayed for sun.” Whereas prey (with an “e”) means to hunt or kill for food: “small birds prey on insects.”

That’s all I have for today. Thanks for reading.

…Oh, wait—I just remembered one more legend about my dad’s time in the service:

My dad was supposed to catch a bus that would take him home from Alaska; but he was late getting to the stop, so he missed his ride; and there were no other buses scheduled to stop there for eons. So my dad was stuck in the tundra, all alone, on a bench in the middle of nowhere, and it was freezing cold.

My dad told me that, at this point, he thought to himself: No matter what happens in life, it’ll never get worse than this. Then, decades later, he suffered a mental disease which left him speechless and debilitated. I am now reminded of Edgar’s words from King Lear:

…the worst is not
So long as we can say ‘This is the worst.’

2 comments:

Qualo Infinity said...

Trickle-down cosmonaut! Hey, the moose story doesn't need a punchline or an ending...It's great as it is, imo...The image of a moose's large head peeking into a tent of beer-swilling soldiers and checking them out one by one is perfect...It needn't go any further! I don't think it *should* go any further.. Btw, I think you should write a story about a trickle-down cosmonaut who ends up in debtors' prison where he then rents a fishing pole! I don't know where it should go after that..Just so King Lear is in there somewhere, waiting for a bus.

Bryan Ray said...

Hey thanks Q!! I'm glad you think that the moose event is fine as it is, left as a brief encounter: I totally agree; and, if my dad ever did give an ending to it when recounting the story, I honestly have repressed the recollection—perhaps even my defense mechanisms operate on an aesthetic agenda! …Now that I think of it, I half wish that this army tale (just this one about the soldiers in the tent) would be turned into a feature-length movie, because it would be a fun challenge to try to hold people's interest in such a simple incident for so long. If I were allowed to dictate the final cut, I would order that the film should clock in at no less than 120 minutes, and I would suggest that we name our masterpiece Moose Intruder.

…& one of the perks of having written so many free-form books is that their abstract nature allows them to be interpreted as meaning whatever each reader wants them to mean; therefore, I can claim that I've tackled any given plot line, however far-fetched, by simply pointing to one of my titles at random: now you'll have to forgive me for indulging in this underhanded practice, when I reply as follows to your suggestion that I should compose "a story about a trickle-down cosmonaut who ends up in debtors' prison where he then rents a fishing pole"—this mission was proudly and officially accomplished when I wrote The Floaty-thing's Go-to Boy, which book, despite its diminutive size, even contains (if I remember right and interpret its tea leaves correctly) an actual scene of King Lear waiting for a bus! …Ah, but maybe I'm mistakenly thinking of that time when Officer Duke was waiting for a bus, in the 2012 movie Wrong. Well, either way, any reference to Officer Duke, whether from the aforesaid film OR its spinoff Wrong Cops (2013) is permitted, in my ongoing game whose rules state that one must partake of a beverage of choice with every online mention.

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