Conversations with My Mailman III
It was a warm afternoon; the rain was ending and the Sun was coming out.
My mailman was under an awning with one bare foot on the pavement and his shoe on the mailbag. He was wringing out his sock.
I slowed when I got near him. "Step in a puddle?" I asked.
"Yeah." He said without looking up.
After a moment he noticed I was still there and he looked up, then smiled. "Oh, Hey. I thought you was someone else. Yeah, these puddles'll get ya. I was talking with a buddy of mine over there across the street and I stepped in the gutter when I was talking. He's a new dad and trying to figure out what to do with himself."
"A lot of responsibility." I offered.
"You telling me. His woman keeps telling him, 'You aint no man. You just a boy!' It's cause he doesn't do anything with himself, just watches the game and plays his Nintendo. He says to me, 'What makes a man a man?' which I don't want to hear cause he's older than me, but I tell him 'my old man was a man'. I tell ya, my dad taught me how to sew and how to cook, and you know, that don't make him no sissy. When he was in his boat and the sail gets ripped or the net gets wound up, he's got to sew it up again. Or when he's off in the woods, he's got to fix his own meal. He can't wait around for room service and wait for somebody else take care of his problem."
"So he was independent."
"Damn right! He didn't need nobody. All these young guys now, maybe they don't got their mommas cooking for them, but they just eat at McDonald's or whatever, and what's the difference? They can't take care of themselves and they're just little boys."
He began to put his sock back on.
"But you know, it's more than that. Being a man means having honor. More than anything else it's honor and respecting yourself."
"And how do you get that?" I asked.
"Well, we was arguing about that when I stepped in the puddle over there. My buddy said he figured it was giving money to his woman to pay for the kid, but I said he was thinking too small. Honor aint just doing what you're supposed to do anyway. That's called being adequate. Just doing what people need you to do is being adequate. Plenty of guys pay for their kids but don't have no honor."
"I guess it's going above and beyond what's expected of you." I suggested.
"Yeah, that's good, but even boys do that. A kid is real good at sports, does better than anyone expects, he's 'exceeding expectations' but he's still a kid."
"So what is it?" I was getting impatient for the revelation.
"It's doing what you're supposed to do, regardless of people's expectations, regardless of whether they even know you're doing it. Honor is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching."
I couldn't think of an argument or improvement to his theory and I told him so. He put on his shoe and we said goodbye.
matchstick kidbooks: children's literature, emphasizing books that promote child development
This is a list I began compiling years ago, when I knew several families with children ranging in age from 2 through mid-adolescence.
It's essentially all the books that won at least one award.
The categories correspond to a range of children's ages.
For younger ages, the higher number is the average age of child who would enjoy reading the book, while the lower number is the age of the child who would enjoy listening to the book being read.
I ate shit once. I literally had a piece of a turd in my mouth and I chewed and swallowed it.
Brian and I were upstairs in my room. We could hear our parents laughing and talking downstairs; I shut the door as Brian positioned himself by the window. He had just returned from the bathroom with a big wad of toilet paper. I had a glass of water ready. He looked at me with eyes wide, waiting for me.
"Well?" I said. "Let's get this over with."
Julia had responded to the request for laboratory assistants at the university hospital and arrived at the medical offices a few minutes early.
A few others sat in the waiting room, staring straight ahead with headphones in their ears. One young man looked up when she walked in and then turned his attention back to the wall.
She gave her name to the receptionist who seemed to have difficulty finding Julia's name in the records, then made a face. "You're late. Wait here." And the receptionist walked back out of sight.
I was the only one left, in my usual booth. My friends had gone home and I was holding my one last drink, staring through the little window in the door out into the night.
Jag lumbered out of the kitchen and murmured for a while with Alyson the bartender before slumping onto the bench beside me.
Jag's real name was Jerome Andrew something-Italian-that-begins-with-G. As a kid, his mother had called him "Romy" and it took moving to the other side of the continent to shed that name.
He slouched against the upholstery, his belly pushing against the table. He took a deep breath, held it, and let it out. "That's it, man."
In a town about a half-day's ride north of here lives Sam Hugh, one of a few hundred people in the area who listed 'salvage' as their occupation on the last census.
As in any industry, specialization emerges naturally as individuals gradually earn reputations for knowing more about something than everyone else.
Sam specialized in metal pipes.
A typical salvage job would involve hitching up his horse to his trailer and riding out to one of the abandoned malls.
He would park the trailer near the front doors, which had invariably been smashed open during the panic of '53 when people looted every store for every bit of food they could find.
Sam would hitch the horse on a very long tether so she could reach all the tufts of grass growing in the cracks of the parking lot.
Usually, most of the copper wiring would have been already stripped, as that's the easiest waste material to transport and yields the highest payment.
Plumbing tends to be heavy, and since a pipe is mostly air, quite bulky to transport.
And as such, it is normally left behind in buildings by the copper-specialists.
Andrew picked up the box and held it on his shoulder as he closed the trunk. Joan had asked him to bring over two dozen antique canning jars a week or so earlier when they were taking one of their strolls.
She was another man's wife, of course, and Andrew would never... He had to stop himself from grinning as he rang the doorbell to Joan and William's just-right house.
After a long delay, William answered, to Andrew's disappointment. "Andy, come in. Joan mentioned you'd be dropping by."
--- --- ---
Doc. i. d. : 0219-37 B Class 'L' XXXXX
Concerning deaths of several dozen unknown male and female, "John and Jane Doas" at or near United States Air Force property in Chaves County, New Mexico
I used to go to the cemetery every Sunday to visit my dad. When the weather was good I would sit on the grass by his gravestone, if not I would park in the road about 30 feet away and sit in the drivers seat with the door open. Sometimes I would sit on a little hill with my back to the stone in order to watch the sunset. His stone was in a good spot, under the canopy of two trees, a little bit removed from most of the other sites. I usually went in the late afternoon, but sometimes later if I had stuff to do.
One Sunday it was later than usual and the Sun was beginning to set. I parked and heard some giggling and the sound of glass bottles coming from near my dad's stone. The cemetery only recently cleared the vines to open up this section and my dad was one of the first ones in. As such, different people liked to linger near his stone, to sit with their backs against one of the trees or lie back on the little hill.
This night there were three teenage boys drinking and laughing and staggering about trying to be funny for each other. As I got nearer I saw one of them kick one of the older gravestones over and pick it up and throw it. That made me mad and I started walking with more determination.
I finished my second lap and crouched in the shallow end so my chest remained below the surface.
Before I begin a swim I exercise my cumpulsion to keep the pool tidy, and I paddle about collecting the stray leaves that have settled on the water and tossing them out.
I aim for the shrubs by the fence, but they almost always land near or on one of the deck chairs.
I don't mind that. It's not tidy, but I know they won't stick to my face as I plow through the water.
As I crouched I saw something floating, something alive. A bee bobbed upside-down, one leg twitching.
I walked through the water, lifting and lowering my legs like an astronaut, and peered down at the bee - wanting to get a close look, but cautious.
I thought I remembered learning from a nature show that insects breathe through their skin, or exoskeleton, or whatever. Which meant the bee, covered in water, was drowning.