Issue #105 / 11 July 2008
Happy the Hell Birthday to Me
Part One: Keeping My Wife
IN TWENTY YEARS I will be ninety. I have my seventieth birthday presenting its malformed head in one week and in attempting to lessen the terror surrounding that event I have decided that I must take this unwanted opportunity to consider my life and to make plans for the next twenty years. And I’m not speaking of retirement income or estate planning for I will have little income and no estate. No, I am speaking of attitude; I want to develop an attitude appropriate for the living of those typically fecal years. I mean an attitude toward others: my wife, people that I meet, strangers, the people of the medical profession, the Los Angeles Police Department, landlords and friends. And regarding that last category I must say that at this time it seems that I have no close friends but that could change if I develop a better attitude.
In making these plans toward a change in attitude I am not thinking about others; I’m sorry if I gave that impression. No, this is only about me and what I believe I will need to make the general fecality of the next twenty years bearable. Nor is this about personal happiness because I don’t believe in personal happiness; it’s more about personal hygiene. I would like to maintain my dignity, my aristocratic bearing and obtain comfortable transportation to medical facilities, that sort of thing.
In other words, I really need my wife. She has taken care of me and made my life marginally bearable for many years now. But because of the vomitous change in my attitude and behavior attending the anticipation of my seventieth birthday, she has recently begun to lose patience with me. And out of that loss of patience she has become less useful. So my attitude toward my wife and our domestic situation must change in a manner that will make her happy and thus be of benefit to me.
I am happy to report that progress has been made. My wife and I have had a sustainable marriage for almost thirty years now and because of the stability of that relationship, we have already, just last night, by way of a frank and open exchange, come upon what we believe is a solution to the problem of my worsening behavior. We have agreed that I should go out of town more frequently. And while this doesn’t initially seem to represent a change in attitude (the point of the exercise), it will if you understand that I don’t really want to go out of town more frequently.
What I mean is that my current attitude is that I don’t want to leave town; I’m happy where I am. I love my home, my wife, my cats, my books, my chair, my radio station, my privacy. And in going out of town I will lose all of the things I cherish. I will be in a strange bed that smells of disinfectant. Motel beds always smell like the HAZMAT team has just left the room without accomplishing its mission. The pillows are loathsome. I hate motel pillows, designed by sadists, appropriate only for masochists. Why should motels use pillows manufactured by “Dominatrices 'R' Us”? Check that little tag, the fine print, under “Don’t you dare even think about removing this tag! Slave, wimp, mama’s boy and stop that drooling. Now!” Dominatrices "R" Us.
I’ll have to get used to those pillows. For it has been established (my wife and I came to this conclusion just last night) that life is more pleasant for her when I am not bodily present, particularly during this birthday season. And if life is more pleasant for her it will ultimately be more pleasant for me, which is all I want.
So progress is being made: a change in attitude; I have changed my attitude about leaving home. More specifically, it has been decided that I will leave town at least once a month. This change in my attitude (again, the point of the exercise) will allow me to keep my wife, whom I cherish out of her past kindnesses toward me and because I know that I will need her in future for comfortable transportation to medical facilities.
And now to the matter of friends. A vision comes to me, as in a dream, think wispy smoke. Images in and out of focus. I’m in a beautiful wood, a lake is nearby. There are swans in the lake and colorful parrots in the trees, the occasional flamingo. Ornithologically incorrect perhaps, but it’s a dream. Music can be heard—a lute, a flute, violins, a bass drum. I said it was a dream. There is movement; yes, I am being carried. And under me, supporting my failing body—I mean really failing body— are my many friends. They are singing. A melodious hymn of praise, something about my goodness and how I don’t smell that bad and how they hate to see me go but haven’t we had a good time.
And then they throw me in the lake. But it’s good; it’s a dream and it’s good—I take it as a metaphor for helping me end it when it’s time. Isn’t that what friends are for? When you’re old? Put another way, you’re no longer making the club scene with your friends when you’re old. And it isn’t necessary that you hear “get down and get funky” from them, because, believe me when I tell you, when you’re old you are both down and funky.
Next week, on the occasion of my seventieth birthday, 18 July 2008, meaning that I was, let’s see, born on 18 July 1938 Jesus Effing Christ! sorry, I will discuss how my vision of being surrounded by friends when it’s time is presently only a dream and how I plan to change my attitude and regain a sufficiency of friends, at least enough for heavy lifting. So that my wife won’t be alone when it’s time to throw me in the lake.
Happy the Hell Birthday to Me Part Two: Regaining Hollywood Friends; Or, I'll Do My Best With Feng Shui, But You Can Take Your Aura and Shove It