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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

who are you?

Mahndisa, I find it interesting that you suggested I think about writing comedy. Comedy and tragedy are the two twin masks that people associate with theater. Having said that, I should be a comedic genious on the lines of Ray Romano given the amount of heartache that's come into my life lately.

Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of my brother Andy's suicide. I don't talk about it much because I don't know what to say. The signs were all there - in fact, a guy at work asked me if my brother was suicidal (while Andy was still alive) because Andy gave me his truck and the guy at work said that was a sign. The truck ran very good, but it was old and crappy looking - and a gas-hog. Andy told me he knew he couldn't get much on a trade-in, and it would be more valuable if I had it. Evidently, he was thinking of doing something that was very out of character for him: getting a loan for a car.

Andy was the type of tight-wad who paid cash, or he didn't need it. I explained to the guy at work that my brother's life was looking up - in fact, he was doing something out of character and actually thinking of getting a newer car - and even getting a loan for it: "He's fine; things are really looking up for him," I said to the guy at work. I honestly thought that. The guy at work just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Hey, you know him better than I do! Glad to hear things are going so well - didn't mean to imply anything was wrong!"

I just bought this really nice Dodge Dakota pickup truck. It wasn't new, but darn close. Really nice looking vehicle. In fact, it was the first vehicle I went into debt for since I was pussy-whipped into buying a Renualt Alliance because this hot-looking girl I was going with, thought it was cute. (It was that or a Renault Del Fuego, and I thought the Del Fuego was either a woman's car, or a gay man's car, so I went with the Alliance.) I was 18 when I bought the Renault. Anyway, I was 33 then and hadn't taken a loan out on a vehicle since I was 18. I was very proud of this pickup I just bought.

I kept trying to get Andy to look at the truck. I wanted to show it off. I thought he'd be happy about it. Under normal circumstances, I'm sure he would be. He didn't want to see it. Then, he stepped outside to have a smoke, and said, "Let's see the truck." So he smoked while I explained some of the features. It looked to me as though he thought I was bragging, so I cut it out. I just said, "I'm sure you've got the credit rating to buy something like this - it's easier than you think." He just shook his head. This after he was telling everyone how he was going to get a loan for a car. I couldn't figure it out.

So a few days later, I go to Columbus to visit my other brother, Ed. Before we go to Ed's house, me, my wife and my oldest daughter who was 6 at the time, go to this super high-end Chinese restaurant in the swankiest mall in Columbus - Polaris. The restaurant was Molly Woo's. The interesting thing about Molly Woo's is the fact the entire dining room is done in red, from floor to ceiling. It's a huge room and the color is a bright, blood red. For anyone who doesn't think color can set &/or change moods, sure hasn't seen the dining room at Molly Woo's. It's striking. The food? Out of this world!

I had their sushi sampler, and the waiter brought out this stuff that looked just like lime sherbert. Hannah thought it was lime sherbert. It wasn't lime sherbert. It was this super, super hot paste that evidently goes with sushi. It's made from peppers that're are almost as hot as habeneros. That wasn't too fun for Hannah. That was the foreshadowing of things to come. My wife is a very panicky person, and when Hannah was freaking out over the green paste, my wife went into a tizzy.

That was a downer. Then, we get to Ed's house. Again, I'm showing off the truck, and Ed had the same reaction as Andy did - but for a different reason. This was March 22nd. I said, "Ed, what's wrong?" He said, "Andy shot himself this morning, and I didn't know when would be a good time to tell you." I said, "Is he OK?" and Ed shook his head. I said, "Is he going to make it?" and Ed shook his head. It went just like that.

It was like I was having an out-of-body experience. I went back into Ed's house, and my wife and Ed's mother-in-law and Ed's wife were all crying. Hannah couldn't figure out why, but she was crying too. It seemed like I was simply in a bad dream - but the dream didn't go away.

We start back to Findlay, and on the way home, still in Columbus, I stop for gas. This truck had an anti-theft feature that I've never experiened: if you manually unlock a door using the lock itself (rather than the unlock button) and if the keys are in the ignition, the car alarm will go off. I never knew such a feature existed. So there I am, 2 hours after hearing about Andy, and I can't shut the damn car alarm off at the gas station, and the ignition was frozen because the alarm was going off. People were staring at me - I just wanted to crawl into the wood work, because it was getting freaky. It was like my truck was possesed or something - and the timing of this couldn't have been worse. It forced me to take a deep breath, and calmly look through the owner's manual, while my wife freaked out - and Hannah started crying again.

On a seemingly unrelated note, my wife and I have been involved in this fight against this factory that's located one street over from us. They're demolishing the factory, and as a result of the demolition, a toxic cloud of smoke blanketed our neighborhood. People have been getting sick and the OEPA hasn't done anything about it, despite the fact that my wife and I have been circulating petitions; she's been generating media attention, I've been helping with this stuff by writing editorials, and we were working together as a team.

We haven't had the ideal marriage, but it looked like we were working together as a team for the first time in a long time. I'm on about the 2nd week of a voluntary lay-off right now, so I'm home all the time. Yesterday was March 22nd. The phone rings, and even though the caller ID displayed a number I didn't recognize, for some reason, I picked it up. It was the bank who has our mortgage. They informed me that we're in what they call, "pre-forclosure." I'm like, "What?!!!" And the guy says, "Yeah - you guys haven't made a payment since December of last year." I said, "How often is it, that someone is allowed to go 5 months without paying, and still have their house?" He said, "There's been a record number of bankruptcies this year, and we're really behind. If you don't have 5 months worth of payments by the time the foreclosure committee meets some time in the next 2 weeks, we're calling your sherrif." I told him it must've been some administrative mistake on their part.

I told my wife about it when she got home. It wasn't a mistake. The ironic thing of it is, we've had 2 incomes, plus we just got an $8,000 tax return and we just sold our 3 acres of land we had out in the country and walked away with $6,000 from that. So we've had 2 incomes and $14,000 float through our hands, and now I find out we're 5 months behind on our mortgage. WTF?

My wife says, "I asked Countrywide to send us a refinance packet, they assured me it was on it's way, and I've been waiting on it. I thought since they never sent it, I could spend the mortgage money on something else." She asked for that back in January.

She's been upset because her dad is getting married. Her dad is a widower, and during the hoidays last year, her dad's finance ordered her dad to take down all the pictures he had on the walls of her mother. That traumatized my wife. This explains why the payments stopped in December.

Her dad is having a house built on the coast of NC, and he's retiring from Whirlpool (where we both work) and he's going to live in NC from here on out.

I think since we owe more on the house than it's worth, I think my wife figured defaulting on the mortgage was the only way to get out from under it, and I think she's going to move to NC so she can be with her dad. I think she desparately wants to get back at her dad's fiance, so I think she'll be providing a confrontational presence, as an agitator, and I think she thinks she's doing this for her mom's honor, or something; like if she can break her dad and his new wife up, it'll be "one for her mom," that type of thinking.

We've got 5 kids, but nevermind that.

You would think this would be a tremdous downer, but it's kind of liberating. Not because I don't want to see my kids, but I was watching this special on PBS tonight about the history of socialism, and I found that Lenin became a hard-core communist, because he first pursued socialism, but the workers wouldn't unite, so he thought he'd have to become a professional revolutionary, and unite the workers - over their heads - so to speak.

I'm so glad to hear this, because when I ran for county commissioner, I wasn't a socialist, but I thought the message I was bringing forward would garner more votes, because I though the big union at our local tire plant would get behind me, hook line and sinker, and the president of the union basically blew me off.

The bad news about my house on the anniversary of my brother's death, put things into perspective for me. I'm pissing in the wind.

I've got an interview at a car dealership tommorow. Rather than worrying about politics and economic development (hey - these people are getting screwed as a result of the economid development practices which are super-shady) but even so, I'm just going to let it drop, and do what I do best: talk to people. Don't know if I'll get the job, but I don't care. The excitement of going on job interview will take my mind off things, and if they really like me, maybe this is my ticket out of Whirlpool. Once I get a little experience behind me, I can go anywhere - even NC to see my kids - and maybe live there. Who knows?