Caveat: this chapter is not going to as funny as others. What's that, you say? The others weren't funny? Well then, this one is going to be a downright dirge. That's because I have to discuss facts. As we all know, fact cannot be funny. Although I take issue with that. (I'm always taking issue with myself, which is a form of painful, necessary introspection. It behooves us to “know thyself,” though why, I'm not sure. I also don't know why we must suffer with the egregious word “behoove,” though I believe it is the Latin root of the well-known vacuum cleaner, and who would deny a vacuum its roots? Nature abhors a vacuum – must we too be so cruel?).
But back to unfunny-land: the issue of facts, and the issue of taking issue with facts. Take, for instance, the facts of life. Is there anything funnier than the act of propagation? I mean, really. Who could design a more comical situation? Then let's take life itself. To me, it is an absurd circumstance. Funny as heck. But I see I could get in trouble here, metaphysically. I was accused yesterday of not being a serious person. Huh? I'm more serious than that heart attack somebody somewhere had. It's why I need so many escape mechanisms. My father called me Hoolio not because he couldn't pronounce Julie, but rather, Houdini. Escape artist supreme: that's what I am. But that's a different, if the same, story.
Don't most autobiographies (I've been told I can't label this a memoir, as I'm not dead yet), go a bit back in time, I mean, further than I have? I've mentioned my parents, and my father's people, but that's it. Don't I need a slew (sloo? slue?) of ancestors, as in a Russian novel, or a host of begats like the Bible boasts – (not to be sexist or anything; there could be hostesses too, in fact, would have to be). I mean, if I am part-Russian ( 1/8th, or /1/4th, I'm not certain on the math; it's either one leg or one foot), shouldn't this read a bit like a Russian novel? (yes, I realize that a novel is fiction). Doesn't it need a million characters, with a huge family tree in the preface, replete with large branches, smaller branches, maybe some leaves, bird nests, and etc., such that it is a virtual if un-virtuous Pinocchio nose? Or does it just need a million pages? No, definitely it needs tons of people, and it must all be so confusing and confounding that one constantly must return to the tree, like a dog who has swallowed an ocean, and it would be really good to have a better title too: something along the lines of, say (just to pick out three words at random) Crime and Punishment. Being only part Russian, however, it would best read “Punishment,” which seems most apt for reader and writer alike.
It does take two for a successful begetting, which has been discussed, though just in terms of recent history, I.e., my parents. Having pointed out the obvious, it must now be noted that these days, a little jaunt over to the “bank” can help out a female who has not met Mr. Right (You can see where I'm going with this, which is a good thing, since I can't). She can make the most important withdrawal and then deposit of her life, even if Mr. R exists, if only in part, as a microscopic frozen squiggle. Just think of it! No messy personality to deal with. No arguments as to who takes out the garbage, whose turn it is to do the dishes. No worries over this one can't stand to live in the city, this one in the country. No ridiculous and three-sizes-too -small girdle regarding loving, honoring, and obeying. Just grab the ice and go, like a jog to the quickie stop.
The you-know-what bank sets me to thinking about cryogenics, wherein celebrities are having their heads frozen (usually after death) (though with some, it's hard to tell) for posterity, to be attached to bodies when the technology emerges. I find this extremely exciting, not because I want those celebrities back (with the exception of, say, of Woody Allen or Al Pacino (which raises a philosophical question about whether we can really be ourselves, in a different body) (posing a religious dilemma regarding the afterlife) (I won't go into this, having enough problems with the before-life) --- except for the fact that I'm not a celebrity – yet. Time is not on my side, maybe because a dog and a husband are in the way. Both are nearly impossible to budge.
Recently an AuthorsdenHappyDen acquaintance told me to give up foolish dreams such as celebrity. (Not dreams of being attached to a different body. This could not possibly be foolish. This would make everyone, especially me, ecstatic, and I would be so relieved of the burden of this physical concatenation I wouldn't need the catharsis of writing at all.) (But I see here I've unwittingly insulted all writers (please just try and keep in mind that my two middle names are Un and Wittingly) (which is strangely like my very best friend's first two names: Anne and Whitney (she'll appear later, when I've reached the age of 3, though at this rate, I will never escape Kentucky Baptist, and should be by now be converted, baptized and given Extreme Unction, or the Baptist version of Extreme Unction – Nearly-Extreme Unction? Sort-of Extreme Unction, or if the conversion, baptism, etc., don't quite “take” - Extreme Malf-Unction?) -- Anyway, I'll give up foolish dreams when I think of other foolish dreams with which to replace them. Oh wait, I have those. I hope to come back in my next life as a pet owned by me. I also dream of going to the ocean, and of being a male, so I can hitchhike without fear. Though now that I think of it, look at me (re-read the above): I would be the feared rather than the fear-ee. But the result would be the same: I wouldn't make it to the ocean. Although, with the help of cryogenics, I might make it, say, a few hundred years from now. But I'm a bit impatient. And what if my new body is afraid of water?
The fact is, I can't create a big family tree, because I don't know enough. My father's parents came from Russia to escape religious persecution, settling in the most glamorous city in all of the western hemisphere: Chattanooga, Tennessee (whose claim to fame was to have the worst air quality for decades running). My mother's parents came from somewhere equally exotic: Brooklyn, NY. My father's grandparents: I don't know: presumably Russian as well; my mother's grandparents: some talk of Polish or French blood in there; her maiden name is Grumet (but not pronounced Gru-may; rather, Gru-mette). (It is the Polish part that makes of the Non-Russian leg a Polish joke, which has to do with the in-turned-knee, but here we stray again).
Which reminds me -- at my grandfather's funeral (you'll have to pardon my Billy Pilgrim-ness; one minute my grandfather is bald, ruddy-faced, and smiling, the next he's – wait -- bald, ruddy-faced, and smiling), the rabbi went on and on and ON about how wonderful Sam Grumet was. All about everything, as though the two of them were inseparable – best friends, brothers, twins, Siamese. Every other word was an adjective (superlative, of course), or Sam Grumet. The problem I had with this glowing tribute was that throughout it all, he referred to my face/moustache-sake as “GRUH'- mit), indicating of course, that the rabbi was utterly clueless as to who the man in the box actually was. I should give give him a piece of my mind, I thought (which occurs to me all the time, but which I reject, feeling I can't spare any, but it must be remember eed that I am ruminating on this rejection with the same mind) – so I did exactly that.
I said that to us family, it all rang false due to the mispronunciation. Gru-METTE, not GRUH-mit). And thus, everything he said was suspect. (I didn't actually say that, just thought it). I didn't know my grandfather very well. So I could only say to myself, either the rabbi's guesses were correct, or my grandfather was the Anti-Christ. I think the rabbi mumbled an apology and made a mental note not to attend MY funeral, which hopefully would be soon. Or to indeed deliver the eulogy since he now, unlike the situation with my grandfather, knew everything about me of any importance whatever: which is that my forte, my purpose, my function, the basis of my personality, is all about being a pain in the.....asteroid belt.
My father's parents were Isidore and Dora Shavin. I don't recall her maiden name. We called him Zayde (Yiddish for Grandpa) and her, simply, “Mom.” To me, they were always ancient. My father was their youngest child, there had been two miscarriages either right before the first of the three children, or right before my father. No one seems to know for certain. Zayde was in the junk business, by which I don't mean drugs, I mean junk parts. The family moved from one low-income neighborhood to another, many times, over, in beautiful blacklung Chattanooga (which did finally clean up its air, and is very proud). Chattanooga is actually a very lovely place. My father's brother Seamour settled on Missionary Ridge (I won't make that joke), a hilly place encircled with sidewalks, in the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in the southeast (I think that's correct). I have much to say about this house, but won't, at least not now. It was built to meld into the environment, and did. The view of the city is spectacular. His wife, my Aunt Gerte, still lives there. The middle child, my Aunt Pauline, who married Alex Parker, lived in Chattanooga with their two daughters but moved to Atlanta, Georgia after my father and mother did.
Whoa: how did we get to Atlanta? I haven't yet left the hospital, Kentucky, or Mississippi. I'm not sure how long my mother and I were in the hospital. I may have to call her to find out. The problem with that is that I would have to, you know, call her. Which really isn't so bad, if we stick to politics, extended relatives, my brother's continued status as her favorite daughter, money, my hairlife, and all my ass-backwards life-choices. We can't discuss the weather. WAY too controversial. At any rate, there you have some background. I've heard it said that once one is gone, one is barely remembered by grandchildren, and even less so by great-grandchildren. And then – well, it's like you've never been here. Unless, of course, you leave behind something (besides descendants) – you know, like art. Great art. Or maybe an autobiography (which has always sounded to me like the Story of My Car(s). Or maybe your head waiting for its better body.
It's a depressing thought, so I'm going to try something a friend has been encouraging: transcendence. I'm going to try and rise above this depressing thought (I could substitute a new thought, but I'm a firm believer in believing what one believes, unless there is proof to the contrary). Ok, I am currently transcending. I am gorging on gallon after gallon of Rocky Road ice cream straight out of the container (s), with whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Also, pecans. Across from me sit Al Pacino and Woody Allen, and their heads are on the bodies of Matthew McConnoughey and Pierce Brosnan. We are all watching Annie Hall for the hundredth time, and I am winning at Scrabble. My husband, Mahatmas Ghandi, my mother, Mother Theresa, and my children, who are all waiting on me hand and foot but also begging to go to sleep early, are there, and my father, a writer, (and remember, part Russian) is working on his autobiography, “The Idiot,” which of course refers to moving to Mississippi (OK enough with Dostoyevsky) (and my apologies to Mississipans), and finally, my husband has budged, along with the dog, such that I can be beside myself, this time, with joy. Once again, I have company with my other self, only this time we're alive, revved to the max on sugar, and happy as clams. To my knowledge there has never been an unhappy clam, but I've never understood how that is determined. It may have something to do with transcendence, (you thought you were swirling in a disgusting polluted dark ocean, but actually....), which reminds me of this great joke about the only Jewish man in a town of Catholics. It's a good one. There's a chicken in it. Which reminds me of another joke with a chicken.
There, I've successfully transcended! I've completely and totally spaced it about how I'm soon to be gone and forgotten, a brief blip on the cosmic compass, and then lolling in a box with an esteemed servant of the Lord mispronouncing my name at least 100 times in twenty minutes. I'm hoping my granddaughter will take him to task, but by the time I have a granddaughter (having had children very late in life), I'll have a new body under my head and can do it myself.