I once considered buying a house on Johnson Road. The house wasn't so impressive and the fact that my friends lived around the corner didn't move the needle either; it was the address. The number on the house was 9 and that didn’t have any special appeal but paired with the street name, that was what grabbed me. No one mails letters anymore but I would have, just to write 9 and Johnson together, and I would have made one addition: I would put a “ after the 9 to read 9” Johnson…Road, and it would have been perfect, until I met the guy who lived at #13.
My Honda died, well not dead dead, just dead enough. I bought it from a friend, a former friend and he’s dead too, dead enough. The death was unexpected; things were strained for a while, and even though I thought things could keep on going forever, they just suddenly stopped, and I was stranded.
I’ve had Hondas before, well Honda, okay, it was an Acura, and I sold it at 300,000 miles; my sales pitch was to put the buyer in the passenger seat and get it to 110 mph in fourth gear, and it was a five speed. A year or so earlier, I had parked it in another friend’s driveway next to two other Hondas, they really were Hondas, and we had 660,000 miles of Hondas side-by-side-by-side.
She said, "This one's for you," but it wasn't and we were running out of songs and it's not because we were Fanilows. Even now I know I knew it was magic and we were more than ships in the night. There were rain drops between us then and us now and she was taking a chance in case tomorrow never comes and the old song was her smile or wink or shared shoulder. If we can hang on, we'll be ready to be just one voice, somewhere down the road.
Losing family obliges to find our family and not just the family that is our blood but the family who can become our blood. And if we have the wisdom to open the door to this new family, we’ll find that the wishes we once had for the brother, who we looked up to, and for the sister who helped guide us, and for the children, who inspired us, and we’re left saying I wished I had done this or I wish I had said that and we find ourselves apart with nothing but memories scattered like knick-knacks or Newton's apple yet grateful and somewhat ahead for having known them, if only for a little while.
I have one of those names that if I spell it for people, they get offended but if I don’t, they spell it wrong. It’s not an overly complicated name or one that’s uncommon. It’s not too long at just five letters and there are famous people who don it. It's not like Aimee or Jeanie or Genia or Marc or Sean or Derick or Michel and I'm not a Michael who hates being called Mikey or Mick or even Mike. I can’t tell you the numbers of times I’ve walked around with a “My Name Is” sticker on my shirt with the wrong name in permanent Sharpie. I’ve been called Greg and I can see the confusion there. But it’s been Graig and Creg (is that really a name?) and Crag (which I don’t blame on people as I do have chiseled features and a rock-hard physique) and Frank….wtf? Frank, really? It’s not that Frank is a bad name, it’s just not mine. And it seems there really is no solution and no real way to be constantly and consistently called by my correct name, that is unless I get a job with a name on my shirt; and this is assuming that the guy who makes the shirt labels will spell it correctly.
I had a friend, she was English, well she spoke with an English accent anyway, and she had a habit of saying, ‘bloody’ constantly. Maybe it was normal for her and, although I originally thought she was from London, it turns out she grew up in South Africa but it might be worth it to note that I’ve been a New York boy all my life so the term ‘bloody’ was somewhat out of my wheelhouse, well that is unless someone was bleeding ,so when I first got to know her, hearing that word caused pause, well in the beginning and then I sort of got used to it but after a while, I began to think about how I would use it, could use it, in everyday language. She once said, ‘my bloody hand’ and I wasn’t sure if she meant just her hand, or her hand which happened to be bleeding. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: Did you just say bloody hand?
Her: Yes I did.
Me: Does that mean your hand or your hand that is bleeding?
Her: It means my hand.
Me: Well I can see your hand and I can see it’s not bleeding, but what if I couldn’t? How would I know if it was bleeding or not?
Her: Well I would tell you.
Me: Would you say your bloody, bloody hand or just bloody hand?
Her: I would say my bloody hand.
Me: Well how would that denote that the hand is bleeding? And even if one of your hands was bleeding, you could be talking about the non-bleeding hand. You do have two.
She laughed and called by a "bloody @#$% and we never really did resolve the issue and it just turned into this conversation that should have been covered on Seinfeld or even Curb.
One of the great blessings of getting older is realizing, without guilt or misgivings, how clueless you’ve been in various stages of your life. There’s nothing that has kept my ego in check more than this evolving revelation. At 18, I thought I was the smartest guy in the world, and at 21, I realized what a knuckle bag I was at 18. And now that I'm in my 40s, I see how at 21, and at most vector points since then, that my compass was 4 degrees before top dead center and with age has come a small dose of wisdom and this should give me some relief, only now I have less hair…which does save on shampoo and haircuts and it does get me better gas mileage on the highway with the top down. I guess that’s what this is all about: better MPGs and never having bedhead. What else is there?