All the best reindeer have Chinese eyes

Dublin pub, December 2015

I stuck my thumbnail up my nose, stepped over the pee stain on the rug, went to the bathroom, wondered how Brad could live here for a whole month and put up with us, and how we live: that pressure Dawn and I feel when someone else comes to stay or visit, to make it look like we live better than we do…that actually doesn’t take more than a few hours to fix, and makes you wonder why we don’t live that way normally.

If it weren’t for us, I don’t know that Charlotte would ever bathe; she never initiates it on her own without prompting and it’s always a struggle, and sometimes we lose track of how long it’s been, and don’t get close enough to her to really notice if she’s begun to smell.

I put on the Joanna Newsom album because Dawn’s gone and I could get away with it, and drank in the photos of her inside, thought about taking a picture even…and today, saw the bobcat again, was on a Skype call with a colleague and had to leap up and try to get it on my phone but couldn’t, it went into the bushes, and it felt rude of me to put the call on hold and run downstairs to try and track it…but it was the size of a dog, spotted, all muscle…and the cat wanted out but I thought better of it and kept the lights down mainly, with the ambience of the one strand of Christmas lights I hung outside for Brad, that blinks and reminds me of the bars I haunted in Pittsburgh when I was single and solemn, and you go to whatever light and warmth you can, that normally comes from what you put inside yourself to fill the gaps and spaces there, a kind of soothing that comes with a cost.

Charlotte fed the orchids two ice cubes each and didn’t complain, looks like our artist friend Rob West this time of year, kind of colorless and older than possible, and at the bus stop the pot holes are big enough to twist an ankle on our road, the color of chocolate milk, but the dog laps it up, thinking it’s put there for her…and Lily cut her hair short with a wave on one side that gets in her food and covers half her face, has started listening to Marilyn Manson and researching him, to add more color to her identity, to fill in the gaps she imagines need filled with that, and it’s thrust me into a role I didn’t want to fill, pushed me on stage as an old man and cranky: the worst parts of my dad I saw, at her age…her friend got suspended today and no one knows why, she’s had her electronics taken away, there’s no way to reach her…and instead of wearing her coat home Lily put it in my WordPress canvas sack and wrapped a blanket around herself, said the coat’s too “poofy,” threw the blanket in the dryer and put it on Heavy Dry, went upstairs with her friend, closed the door.

Charlotte makes fart sounds with her lips and the dog sits there looking like she has something to say but can’t, doesn’t know how to, the same as me.

Categories: Memoir, parenting

Tags: , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. We can’t have guests because our sofa has a phantom vomit smell. Also, I’ve learned that using Febreeze only makes vomit smell like Febreeze. Like scented cat litter.
    Like the title.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just for a second, when I read “saw the bobcat again, was on a Skype call with a colleague and had to leap up” I was thinking the cat had a laptop.
    I’m trying to soak up all the incandescent colored lights, and real neon, while they still exist, even if it’s just an Iron City bar sign — before all the lights are these intense, lifeless LED’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Is the title a hat tip to Townsend? I like the album and its title even more.

    A lot in this one. I’ve been fighting my cranky old man tendencies for a while now. I think it may be one of the struggles of aging. And the ending is gold.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there buddy and yes, HT to that album. I’ve been picking up that cranky old man conflict in your writing too. Glad you like this one…trying to restart me engine and it seems to be working. Werking…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We have English friends who are heavy into Marilyn Manson, and I definitely come off as the cranky old man to them. Until we got our pineapple tattoos, that is. That made us seem less cranky and old, though we still can’t handle Manson.

    Today, I’ll be reeling for hours over Ross’ “phantom vomit smell.”

    Thanks, Ross! 🤢


  5. Have you read Who I Am by Townshend? It wasn’t really all that special but I was impressed with how seriously he took his craft. Interesting chap. I imagine it’s pretty hard not to be the old crank sometimes. Someone’s gotta do it.


    • I have not read that! I just started reading David Sedaris’s journals from ’77-02. Another interesting chap. Not sure if you’ve read anything by him, but I’ve always loved his voice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love Sedaris too. He’s funny as hell. His books about growing up in a dysfunctional family have inspired me to write family stuff in a more humorous voice. Takes some of the pressure off it and it’s easier to laugh at things in retrospect than in real time.


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