Archive for May 29th, 2011


sweet death

While we’re on the subject of death, there’s one more thing I’d like to say before moving on.

We are brought up being taught not to speak ill of the dead, but in some cases it’s damned near impossible to not to say, “Saved by the knell.” I see it time and again in my work.

Another case in point: Osama bin Laden… on the same day he was killed, a man who figured prominently in one of the more significant setbacks in my life also died. He was a mean, jealous, ego-addled man who had not a single noble bone in his scrawny little body. While I did not wish him ill when he was alive, I did smile as I read his obituary. I can’t tell you what I enjoyed more: all the sanctimonious horseshit people were saying about him, or the thought from the serendipitous timing of his death that God must have a fondness for batch processing.

Last week one of my best friends told me that his daughter likes me more than any of his other friends. For the life of me, I could not understand it because his daughter and I have had so little contact over the years… and then, ah-ha! I figured it out.

You see, my friend’s second wife was a difficult woman who drove away every one of my friend’s friends and family members except me. It wasn’t that I had any fondness for the woman; in fact, I viewed the oppressive social isolation she brought down on my popular friend as sad. Yet he loved her, and I respected his feelings. I did not judge, and was obstinately determined to remain loyal.

There was a time when he had finally had it, and disappeared for a few days after a fight with his wife. She was frantic and, because I was his last remaining friend she could turn to, she began calling me… two, three, four calls per hour, sometimes in the middle of the night.

I figured her husband was AWOL for a well-deserved respite, but she was convinced he was in a morgue or hospital emergency room somewhere. So I humored her and called every hospital in Minneapolis and St. Paul to see if he’d been admitted. I reported back to her repeatedly as I learned more non-news.

She never forgot that kindness, and misinterpreted my loyalty to him (in supporting her) as loyalty to her. I never disabused her of this misapprehension and, until the day she died, I was the only one in her husband’s legion of friends of whom she approved.

After I moved to Texas, my friend’s wife finally died after a long illness. I have always thought it was ironic that I missed the funeral for which all my friend’s friends returned. I called his house that day and spoke to his daughter (the one who likes me best) and she told me the place was packed with people she hadn’t seen in years.

And then I did something which today I think is the reason why she likes me so much: I began singing this song into the phone.

Click here to satisfy your curiosity. 

She laughed. She said it was good being back again in her childhood home with so many old faces, and that now she’d have her dad back again.

Death is not always sad, but sometimes a sweet thing.


Groove of the Day

Listen to The Kinks performing “Till the End of the Day”