May 07, 2010
Originally published October 22, 2002
The earliest memory I have is catching a butterfly with my bare fingers in the front-yard flowerbed by the fence in my Old Kentucky home. I may have been four year-old at the time. I remember a lot about living in the coal mining camp and I remember being very happy there, except for the trips to Dr. Begley's office for typhoid shots and polio shots and smallpox vaccinations, things my son will never know (unless terorists have their way).
I remember listing to my grandmother tell stories about her childhood (she was about 45 at the time, but she was OLD to me) and I recall vividly thinking about a path through the wildflowers on the other side of the railroad trestle where we lived, and how she had travelled a long way down that path where I was not allowed to go. I envied the memories she had.
I am five years older than she was then. I have travelled FAR down that path in my lifetime, not only through the wildflowers, but into the weeds, the briars, the poison ivy and the quicksand, too. I look back now and I really don't understand how I went from being Beaver Cleaver (although a lot of those traits still survive), to a high-school jockstrap, to a dope-smoking bohemian English Major in college, to an advertising copywriter, to a six-year professional musician, to a 23-year employee in a chemical plant. I had about one hundred "girlfriends" along the way and never contracted a single STD during my swashbuckling days. I never cheated on a wife. I am loyal, if nothing else.
I have two ex-wives and two ex-children to show for it. I really don't know whether I have been blessed or extremely unlucky. (BAH! As my late Daddy would say, "You make your OWN luck, son!") I have more stories to tell than the average man, whatever THAT is, but all the stories aren't pleasant ones. I don't like what the prostate surgery has done to me. I once swore that I could never become a heroin addict because I HATE NEEDLES! Now, I have a prescription for them, and I get all I want. And I use them, too.
Who would'a ever thunk THAT? Not ME!
I like living by myself now. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. The Crackerbox is a nice home (Joan? What would it cost to buy this place on 1/2 acre of wooded land where YOU live?). I own all the toys a man my age should own (except a trophy younger woman). I'm not rich, but I have more money than I know what to do with. I spend it freely; that's what it's for.
But I keep looking back and wondering how I fucked up everything in the rear-view mirror. It's too late to go back now.
I hate that.
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