Cinco de Drinko

So this past Saturday night as I was snaking a drain, I began a deep process of reflection over the state of my life. I reflected that I have two very bad cats, one of which sheds an entire cat in fur every day. I reflected that this same cat takes every opportunity he can to eat grass outside and then sprint inside to barf on my carpet. I reflected that I was at home, alone on a Saturday night, using a screwdriver to lever the drain stopper out of the sink. I then reflected fondly on the last few months of Saturday nights when I spent quality time with new and old friends, boozing it up and making merry and not staying home on a Saturday night to use a screwdriver to lever the drain stopper out of the sink. Then the stopper came out and I reflected that I sure do get awfully mad at a cat that does unspeakable things to my house for someone whose own shedding process has stopped up a drain beyond all hope (almost).

Speaking of quality time with new and old friends, boozing it up and making merry, I realize I never finished my Trip to Tampa story. Remember that trip I took to meet strangers back in January? I flew down to Florida on someone else’s dime (because people are nice) and met up with Woney and two strangers, Nurse Bananahammock and Squash, all three of which are coming to visit me this weekend. I never told you about it because I’m a big fat liar. However, with the looming holiday visit and the potential for alcohol consumption, all involving my new and old friends, I decided to stop being a liar and start being a writer. (For the record, Nurse Bananahammock coined the title above and while I do understand that the Cinco de Mayo holiday has passed, I was enamored of it and had to use it.)

The trip to Tampa was truly one of the best trips of my life. I had no idea how much I would genuinely like these new girls. Squash and I snuggled on a bed and fantasized about what our last meal would be if we got the chance to choose it. Nurse Bananahammock told the story of how she met and married her husband which will most likely be my love story next February. We played putt-putt and all discovered that I’m just as adept at putt-putt as I am at bowling. We also drank. A lot.

Now I’m not a big drinker. I’m a rare drinker. I’m also a total lightweight and a complete flirt when I drink. It does not matter to me one whit if you are a normal-looking person in a bar or a stranger in an alley missing some crucial bits of enamel from your mouth, I’m going to meet you. I’m going to introduce myself and tell you that I’m your favorite and if you ask me for a kiss, I’m going to give you one. Nurse Bananahammock has a husband that I shall call Rick, and Rick makes these margaritas that make you want to hurt yourself, and I had about three of those Rickaritas and all my new acquaintances became my new best friends and I loved them all. The fact that Nurse Bananahammock has a husband, Rick, and Squash has a husband, Bob, did stop me from kissing their wives (I do respect boundaries after all), but boy did I have a nice time. A lot of fond memories there . . . .

Rickarita

Rickarita

Now let’s move on to the Mississippi trip. I didn’t tell you about that either, did I? I’m such a big, fat liar. Remember how Woney moved to Mississippi? Remember how she used to live in California? Remember how California is one of those sophisticated places with fancy bars and trendy eateries and general niceness? Well, turns out Mississippi has some nice things to offer as well, and Woney took me to one.

Daiquiri World!

Daiquiri World!

Y’all, this is a drive thru daiquiri place. Did you get that? DRIVE THRU. DAIQUIRI PLACE. You drive around the side of the building, up to the window, peruse the menu and holler, “I’ll have the Pink Panties, please,” and the woman at the window serves it right up. And then you can just DRIVE OFF with that daiquiri in your paw. Mind you, the driver of the car is technically not supposed to put the straw in the cup (this is how they get around the drinking and driving law, I guess), but I didn’t see a single person leave without that straw firmly ensconced in that cup.

I took a few swigs of my DRIVE THRU DAIQUIRI before leaving the place and during that time, Woney and I were called “Baby” by no fewer than fifteen people. The bouncer at the door, the guy playing pool (who also told us that we were the best looking things to ever grace the place – and I agreed with him), the server of the daiquiris, a guy in the parking lot, a girl in the parking lot. The list continues. By number fifteen I was feeling the effects of the DRIVE THRU DAIQUIRI and started to become enamored of those affectionate folks. I’d hear “Baby” and turn expectantly, Iips puckered, and flutter my eyelashes. Woney, who knows me well, sensed this turn of events and hightailed me out of there. It was a fantastic experience. I very much want to go back.

I’m guessing that Memorial Day weekend will bring loads of similar good stories about me and my nice friends. I’m also guessing that it will bring lots of alcohol consumption. We’ve got this spreadsheet going on which we list all the things we want to do while they are here. There will be snuggling on beds discussing our chosen last meals. There will be girlie movies out the wazoo. There will be a visit to the Opry. And finally, there will be many, many tasty beverages. I’m alright with that. Bring it on, nice new and old friends. I am so ready for you! (And I even have clean drains!)

(Just because I know my audience and know how much you luff me, please know that mostly I’ll be the DD so please, no worries and no lectures. I didn’t get to 40 by being a dumbass.)

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Silence Broken

“You seem quiet.  Are you alright?”

I get that question a lot lately.  In many ways I am quiet now.  I don’t write.  I talk, but maybe not with the same exuberance anymore.  I want to write.  I want to talk.  I want to be my happy self, but I’ve not been exactly in that place for the last month.  I feel like there’s a giant elephant in the room yet despite doing my best to avoid him, he is not going away.  So let’s discuss the elephant.

Losing Poppa has me thinking a lot about life.  I picture it in my head as a river, strong and steady, moving rapidly and forcefully to the final destination which is what?  Here on Earth I don’t know.  But along the way life runs into strainers.  A tree stump in the stream.  A pile of logs  that beavers arranged into a dam.  The loss of a parent.  In my head I’ve been stuck on that strainer for the last month, pressed against that tree stump by the force of the current and it makes me lose my breath.  I see the life swirling around me and people floating by but I’m held by the swift movement of the water against the wood.  Truthfully, I haven’t wanted to leave the safety of the stump and swim out into life again.  Not yet.  I can see that the water will knock me loose eventually and swallow me up but I haven’t been quite ready for the swim.

I miss Poppa.  For 35 years I got to call him mine.  I was one of those spoiled children who had two fathers, both exceptional men, who loved me.  I was already lucky with Daddy.  He didn’t get to choose me.  I was born to him.  I know, though, that if he could have chosen me he would have.  Poppa, on the other hand, did choose me.  He met my mother and then met me and Martie and then he asked us to marry him.  We did, when I was eight and Martie was six.  We don’t have a lot of life without him as part of the framework.  

There are so many memories of him to sort through.  I’m crying as I type this.  I cry every time I’ve typed this, because I’ve been working on it for weeks now.  These memories are too big for me sometimes.  My mother says a lot, “I’m not sad but I just miss him.”  I get that.  I just miss him.  How do you encapsulate a man and everything he was to you in a memory?  In a book of memories?  It’s just too big. 

I think of Poppa in two parts.  At least I did.  First is the Poppa that I knew from the beginning.  He was the man who accepted Martie and me as his own from day one, even though we were kids who probably resisted sharing our mom after having her all to ourselves for a few years.  He fixed our hair when my mom was out of town, those brushes and ponytail holders he was so unfamiliar with looping through his hands.  He brought us two brothers that Martie and I adored, even if it meant sharing our mom with two more people we were not expecting.  I remember Poppa teaching me how to shoot a variety of guns over the course of a weekend because he wanted to make sure I knew how to take care of myself if the need ever arose.  I remember him teaching me my spelling words and because simple memorization was not enough, he made sure I knew what they meant.  We all remember him making us walk the right path and follow the house rules even if we thought he didn’t know them.  He made my chicken pen.  He built my mother a barn.  He gave us his car and his time and his heart.  This Poppa makes me cry now because I want him back.  I don’t want to lose any of that, any part of him. 

The other Poppa is the one who left us.  That Poppa was the one who got so sick so fast and dealt with a tremendous amount of pain and confusion in a short amount of time.  He desperately wanted to go home and when he asked if we’d let him, we had to say no.  It was a hard time for all of us and we all felt terrible, telling him that the only thing he wanted, right or wrong, could not happen.  Even through his anger, though, and the confusion and the delirium, he never stopped loving us.  He never stopped saying, “I love you too, babe” when we said “Poppa, I love you. I’m so sorry.”  He never stopped squeezing our hands when we just needed that connection to let him know we were there.  He never stopped until he did.  It was okay to allow that Poppa to leave.  It was okay to release him because we all knew that the release was coming and that it was right.  This Poppa also makes me cry but it’s okay.

For a while I traveled around with those two Poppas in my head.  Both made me sad in different ways.  I was talking with my brother about it one day, and he simply said, “But he’s in a new body . . . ”  And just like that, I got a third Poppa.  This one is whole.  He has no pain.  His hands and his joints and his body are not broken.  His spirit is not broken.  His heart is not broken.  Instead, he is ALIVE and joyful and rejoicing!  That Poppa makes me the happiest of all.  God, in this plan, makes me the happiest of all.

So a note to Poppa, to the man who shaped all of us and loved us and who is still in us, I say this:

I love you, Poppa.  I loved you from the start and I loved you all the way through it and I loved you more at the end.  Thank you for being a father to me. Thank you for being a protector for me.  Thank you for accepting me and choosing me and loving me back.  Rest and Rejoice, Poppa.  Soon I will kick off from that tree stump and swim out into life, joyful and embracing and living the way you’d want me to because I know this is not the end.  This is just the beginning.  I will see you soon.