Somehow, I felt like I needed to pay my last respects, so I went to Bob’s funeral last Wednesday in Price Hill. I can’t exactly remember how we met, probably through a friend of a friend, but it was in the early 1990s. Throughout the years, we always stayed in touch, but I would often ask myself why.
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting with Tom Wolfe outside his Tom’s Pot Pies restaurant near the corner of Court and Vine streets downtown, and he suddenly pointed his long arm like a basketball center about to dunk. “That’s the dwarf,” he said dramatically, his eyebrows pointed for emphasis.
It was mid-afternoon, and before going through a backlog of e-mails I decided to go to my real mail box and check my real mail. This is usually a somber experience. What fun is it to look through bills, advertisements and junk? This time, though, something got my attention. A blue envelope was in the stack of mail, and my address was handwritten on it.
I was half asleep on the couch the other night when something struck me: I’m the human equivalent of a soft-serve “twist” cone. I jumped slightly at this realization — nothing makes me sit bolt upright, mind you. I’m a twist cone: a safe mix of vanilla and chocolate.
Julie: Breakups during this age of cell phones and text messages seem to be so challenging, trying to get away from "it." I'm usually one second away from getting this urge to send a text, avoiding painful conversations, just to make sure that the stupid one will at least think about me for a minute. And reconsider? Larry: Julie's young. I'm not.
Not long ago, I finished reading The Story of Joe Gould as told by Joseph Mitchell, a columnist at The New Yorker magazine from the 1930s until the mid-’60s. Living solely off his friends’ contributions to “The Joe Gould Fund,” he spent his days as an eccentric, drinking and interacting with the city’s pop society of the time.
A few weeks ago, my friend Julie and I were walking the sidewalks of downtown and decided to take a No. 1 bus to Mount Adams. It was a nice spring afternoon, and we wanted to take in the sights up on the hill. While walking in Mount Adams, I couldn’t help but notice all the cars parked on the hilly streets.
On Easter I attended a family dinner at which my ex-wife served roast leg of lamb. Thoughts of my friend Greg's words from Friday were in my head — that there's proof Jesus had lived. What would Jesus think of me eating a lamb? I started to feel guilty. But I hope that Jesus did live. If it's true, I'm sure he was a good person and someone I would have wanted to hang out with.
I almost died at Red River Gorge when I was 17. My friend, Michutzel Roberto Giglio, and I crashed through a guard rail on a rainy night. Our car plunged 65 feet to the bottom of a ravine, splitting the boulder on which it landed. On the way down, I yelled, “Lord Jesus, have mercy!”
Simple but wonderful morning discoveries make me happy, make me glad I didn't give up on myself. Only a year ago, in fact last spring, I was fighting something in my mind that was getting the better of me, taking me over. There were no birds singing and there was nothing in the sky I wanted to watch or witness.
Call it a bad omen. As I traveled along I-71, I saw it, creeping out of the horizon in a butterscotch mass of grizzled fur: a cocker spaniel in its final resting place along the side of the highway. The family dog probably. Surrounded by medians, he must have fallen out of a car. That doesn’t happen in normal times, I thought, eyes wide. In normal times, you watch him just a little bit closer.
I think of my friends John, Amber and Anna. I also think of that man who wanted bus fare at the bus stop, the guy who tried to bully me for cigarette money and the woman who wanted to buy milk for her babies. Trying to put myself in all of their shoes, trying to understand why some people can find jobs even in bad times while others have to ask or beg for money and live off the streets, I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around it all.
I was watching some TV news channel or the other last week, and they were talking about what desperate straits were in as far as unemployment. Theres no question the shit has hit the fan and many people are in a dire position that no one could have contemplated only a few months ago.
I haven’t been using my ATM card lately to withdraw money from my checking account. With this financial crisis, I’m afraid that one of these days the receipt coming out of the machine is going to read, “Sorry, you’re a day late. We had to spend your money yesterday to pay our utility bill.”
It was damp and cold and my coat was thin, so I hurriedly scurried through Fountain Square. But when I saw the horse and carriage, I halted. My ears perked up. I'd never been on a carriage ride. Whenever I saw those horses, I thought about how they braved the Cincinnati streets, the concrete fields, no matter the season. I thought about leather harnesses rubbing against their coats. And the hard pavement, the steel bits. I thought about hooves cracking.