I’ve never understood all these folk in their woe-beg on ramblins about how tough life is. I was born on this earth, jus’ like everybody else, went to school jus’ like everybody else, went to Church jus’ like everybody else. I ain’t that old and I ain’t that young either; these are my middle years. Maybe that gives me a perspective on things that those inner-city youth dressed like ghouls just don’t have. Maybe they’ll be more like me when they’re my age.
I think part of the problem is the schools. I am proud to say that I finished my grade 12, got my diploma: it’s on the wall in our bedroom if ya wanna take a look-see. But I’m even prouder to tell y’all that that is where I stopped. I’d jump into the mouth of Hell before I set foot into a University, or a Community College, for that matter. Jus’ messes people up in the head, if ya ask me.
My oldest sister went to school—got a degree in Anthrology or somethin’ like that. Something in her changed once she got that degree, even before that. She got all frustrated when we watched TV at the dinner table, even though it was the news and you would think she’d have the sense to wanna keep up-to-date about the goings on in our town. Then, she brought this fella (though I’m hesitant to call the bugger that) over to meet the family.
This guy must’ve weighed about 95 pounds soakin’ wet. He had these big spectacles on, looked a lot like a bug if ya asked me. It was disgusting the way she fawned of this guy; she kept touchin’ him at the dinner table. My father had the fore-site to ask him all the right preliminaries like, for example, what it was exactly he planned to do for a livin’. The boy laughed, in that smug way he had about him, and said he wasn’t sure exactly. He told m’ pa that he was studyin’ Philosophy and my dad made the astute point, that not to many employers, ‘round these parts, at least, were lookin’ for philosophizers. The boy laughed again, and adjusted his glasses.
This was the first of a whole line of men that she introduced to the family. In hindsight, I think he was quite possibly the best. For a while, she was datin’ this guy, I can’t even remember his name, who had hair down to his ankles. To put it quite simply, the boy stunk like a pig. He was a real cocky cock-sucker; asked lots of questions. I kept lookin’ over at pa to give me the signal to punch the tar out of the guy, but he looked preoccupied; prayin’, assuredly. And it worked! That boy didn’t last too long at all.
By the time she finally settled down, I’d already been married for three or four years. We’d already had our first, Rory Junior and Kelly was well on her way. I’d been promoted to foreman of a big project in town; right across the street from where she and her husband set up camp, matter o’ fact. They had a small little ceremony in my folks’ back yard. Damned near put my mother in her grave.
The ceremony was pure, unadulterated witch-craft’s what it was. They had some weird lookin’ Indian Chief up there where a Preacher shoulda been. He threw some smoke over the whole operation, darn near coughed up a lung. Then he went into this mumbo-jumbo about the Earth, or somethin’ like that, that is about the time I lost interest, to tell ya the truth. I sincerely doubt as to whether the whole ridiculous ceremony was legally binding. Weird.
And you shoulda seen the type of folk that showed up to the affair. I felt like I’d wandered onto the set of some Hollywood movie; bet most of ‘em were high as kites. At the party after, several of ‘em came up to me, telling me they’d heard lots about me: “well, certainly haven’t heard anything about you” I said, hiding my boy from their weirdness—probably scarred him for life.
I went over to their apartment a few times. All they had in there was books and records and soy products. I’ve always considered myself to be a music fan, but I didn’t recognize any of the records they had over there. He tried to play them for me, but I couldn’t make hide nor hair of it. He really liked jazz records… sounded like a bunch of nonsense to me, nothin’ you could hum along to, that’s for sure. Like a bunch of monkeys playing with saxophones and drums. They got a divorce before they managed to procreate, thank the Lord.
She hasn’t got hitched again since that, though she’s shacked up a bunch of times. I just don’t get it. We invite her over every weekend to play Rummy with us and the kids and she never comes. She has the same sick look on her face every time I see her. She gave up teaching a long time ago, even though that’s what she went to school to do. Last time we talked, she was waitressing at some pub downtown, saving up for a trip over to Europe.
In the meantime, I have risen to the top of my profession; I will retire by fifty-five, for sure, free to go see all the NASCAR I can handle. We even bought a retirement property in Florida a few years back. And what does she have to show for all her “education”? A divorce? A few sophisticated albums and no children?” Rory’s startin’ college this year—full scholarship; he’s a hell of a lineman. I worry about Kelly though, I think she has a bit too much of her aunt in her for her own good.
I’ve built security for me and the wife over the past few years. If we get sick, it’s taken care of. Hell, if one of us were to die (knock on wood), it would be taken care of. I just can’t imagine how Kelly must feel. Workin’ some shitty, entrance level job with all that education my parents paid for. She must feel a mite guilty, or should, anyway. We still invite her to games night every week, still invite her to Church too; she never shows up. Too much education, not enough common sense, if you ask me.