Secrets of A Man At Large– Part One




Sanctum Sanctorum

Thursday April 1    So the job ended Wednesday, as written. (Let it be written, let it be said.) All health insurance benefits ended that day as well, so I ask my former employer to look into signing me up for COBRA so that I can see if the rates are affordable. (Interesting that a cobra is a poisonous snake.) Perhaps under the current economic duress the rates will have been eased with federal buffer funds. But oh my God!! Wouldn’t that be Socialism? All those Midwestern farmers with their subsidies… Socialism?? Medicare… SOCIALISM ??!!  But isn’t our money supposed to go back to the tax-paying American people? You don’t hear these teabaggers insisting on sending the money to starving countries, do you? No… better to spend our tax money on weapons.    As for me, I will gladly be a Socialist (though most people have NO idea what it means) if it will ease our the economic burdens that go hand-in-hand with being a capitalistic, materialist, acquisitive society: I work; I pay taxes; I buy all the crap they want me to; so now the leftovers can help pay for my health maintenance.   

Went to the bookstore and removed the cable boxes, as written. Went to Mary, Queen of the Universe and had a nice chat with Father, and then dropped off the boxes, and then home. Holy Thursday Mass in the evening: a nice, intimate service. One of my favorites.     

 Friday April 2     

Good Friday service in the mid-afternoon. They read the Passion Gospel while everybody stands, and I commend all the old knees in the church for not buckling, including mine. The church is completely bare by the end of the service, and we are instructed to EXIT IN SILENCE, but chat-happy Central Florida Catholics manage to buzz like a crowd of penitent bees as they surge toward the doors.   

In the evening I decide to make some salmon for dinner. I place a good chunk of butter in a glass baking dish, because that’s really all you need. I set the oven at 350, which melts the butter while it warms up. I decide to tackle a sink full of glasses and dishes and, while sponging inside a glass which had managed to develop a deep crack, the glass shatters in my right hand. Immediately I think of expired health benefits. I see a slice of skin part from the outer surface of my pinky and blood begins to flow. The word they use in these situations is “copiously.” I was mesmerized: I’d never seen so much blood come out of me! I raised my arm UP and thought, well, at least it’s clean from the soapsuds, and I place the pinky under a stream of running water for a minute or so. The pain is indescribable, but I gritted my teeth and realized it was Good Friday, after all, and this was a lot less expensive than flying to thePhilippines and flaying my flesh in downtown Luzon. Then to the bathroom, where the bleeding erupts into the sink, and I’m thinking: stitches: $500. So I use the dishrag and SQUEEZE for a few minutes until the blood mostly clots, and then I layer the wound with four bandages.    Back to the kitchen– remember that I’ve got a glass baking dish of melted butter in the oven– the butter has not just melted, it’s practically caramelized. I slip an Ove Glove onto my left hand and gingerly take out the dish; as soon as the cool air hits the butter, there are several minor explosions and I am sprayed with hot grease: my bare chest, my face, my hair, the work-in-progress-so-as-yet-unpainted wallboard behind the stove, and the terra-cotta floor.   

There is NOTHING I hate worse than the sensation of grease on me: if my nose even feels slightly oily, it’s time for a shower! Yet there I was, bathed in grease. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.    

Saturday April 3   

Slept in a bit, and then got up and began compensating for being in bed so long. People keep saying: sleep in for a month! And I keep saying: I’ve got linen closets to organize! Funny, that– the beautiful and talented writer Nancy Imperiale suggested the very thing as a fulfilling chore to address now that I am At Large, but I already did that LAST week, in anticipation. (I’m no fun at all; sorry, Nancy!)

The day passed; we went to IKEA for lunch and picked up some direly-needed necessities: a red metal BORBY lantern for the porch, with three big fat BARFOTA  pillar candles; two red leatherette NOSTALGISK storage boxes; a KAFFE French coffee press to replace the one I shattered on the stone floors; two packages of FANTASTISK paper napkins; and an AS-IS prop book which I got from a display and convinced them to sell to me for five dollars: it’s a book about ancient languages, complete with graphics of their alphabets, written in Swedish! What a find!    

In the evening I considered going to the long Easter Vigil service, but discovered that I didn’t fit into any of my dress slacks– all purchased a few years ago when I worked in children’s mental health services. Canceled Vigil plans, and went to Ross for new jeans, Lee brand, in sizes 34-34 and 35-34. THAT was a pleasant surprise– 35 waistlines! Who knew? Of course they’ll be falling off me as soon as I lose my middle, which I will easily do now that I’m not eating downtown every day; but right now I’m a man At Large, after all. (My friend Mark likes to pinch my waistline to remind me that I’m no longer the svelte creature that he’s had a secret crush on for twenty years.)    

Sunday April 4   

A beautiful 8 AM Easter Mass at Saints Peter and Paul, and then a nap, and then a late afternoon barbecue with friends. Rum and coke… a lot of laughing with our hosts and Donna and Rob. Kirk made devilled eggs to bring, and two loaves of bread that came out SO good that he decided to keep them at home instead.    A nap again… then up… began reading Wilde’s De Profundis; written from prison, it begins as a scathing, extremely clever  indictment against Bosie, his young paramour. This book should be required reading for any older man who falls under the sway of the climbing, needy youths who seem to populate the disco precincts these days.      

Monday April 5   

Up at a decent hour; coffee, some of that bread, and laundry drying at the launderette over near Aldi. Such fun! I watched a patron literally STUFF all his dry clothes into cloth duffel bags while I stood three feet away arranging MY dried clothes neatly in the laundry baskets: shirts on hangers, jeans folded, like with like…  After he left I mentioned to the woman in charge that he would have a LOT of ironing to do, though I thought to myself privately that he didn’t seem the type to do any ironing ever. She and I both deplored the whole task of ironing, she after watching her mother iron daily, all day, for YEARS. And I because there really is no need. But soon we will be getting a new dryer; the quarters are beginning to add up.   

Tonight Sammy is driving in from Atlanta to stay with us for a few days; Tyson will join us again (He’s staying with friends locally after being with us for ten days in March, followed by a shorter stay with friends in Tampa; he travels like Queen Victoria doing Her annual survey of the Colonies.)    

Thursday April 8   

We are speeding toward May 1st., when all the world’s Communist children dress up in matching outfits and parade before their leaders, right behind the tanks.    

The beach was very nice yesterday. What you do to get to Playalinda is drive drive DRIVE into the Merritt Island National Seashore, and then you make a left at the ocean and drive drive drive NORTH to Parking Lot Number 13. If you can find a space, you park; if not, Sammy drops you off with the beach luggage and then backtracks and parks in Lot Number 12, and then walks back to where you are waiting. Then you plod along the sand further north until you reach sparser areas, and that’s where you pitch your tent, so to speak. This natural beach’s boundaries have, I noticed, crept back south, well into the unofficial “no natural sunbathing” areas. No matter. There is room for everyone on the vast stretches of Playa Linda Beach and its mate further north, Klondike Beach.    

It took a while to set up the beach tent. It’s an L.L. Bean product, WASPy in its concept, and equally WASPy in the trouble it takes to set up: these hardy people blazed the West, remember? There are three long rods containing small metal collars and an inner stretch wire, which allows them to be collapsed and stored in a handy carry bag; but getting these collapsible rods threaded through the cuffs placed atop the tent is another thing entirely. We looked like Lucy and Ethel. And you have to anchor the thing to the sand with bright yellow plastic spikes, or else everything will become airborne in the high winds.           

Astronaut:    Houston– I’m seeing an unidentified turquoise flying object passing by our right windows.           

 Houston:    Can you tell us anything at all??          

Astronaut:    It seems humanoid but it’s hard to tell with all that cheap fabric wrapped around it… maybe it’s a Russian space experiment gone bad?          

Houston:    No way! We thought that monkey crashed to sea in 1962!   

Sammy is very comfortable with himself at the natural beach, but I am not, necessarily. I stayed suited and ball-capped, but had a good run / long walk along the wet sand, and continued reading Wilde’s De Profundis  in my little tent. I am convinced– WHAT a snotty little twit that Bosie was!    Years ago a bunch of us stayed over night at a NOT natural beach, but after many cocktails one woman decided that we should run like the wind along the ocean’s edge; she pranced and flitted and looked like a gamin sprite, while the rest of us looked like the Lipizzaner stallions; we probably were supposed to take off our sneakers but I for one didn’t want to cut my feet on shells in the dark.    

NEXT INSTALLMENT: A visit to Universal Studios; Gardening; and pasta-making.    







5 responses

  1. That is a thing of beauty. I think I will make it my desktop screensaver and it can be my “special place” to go to for anger management purposes. Sweet.

    Oh thank you for the lovely and talented mention. Et toi, aussi. Mwah mwah mwah.

    I run naked like a gamine along the beach every night, btw. It’s called Second Life. Try it. I’ve been a naked man, a naked woman, and an Amazonian Kitty Kat. Myow.

  2. I’m easy to spot at the beach too. Under the umbrella, usually with a large hat one, big sunglasses, even a shirt, and towel around my legs. It stems from the old question “how do you tell the native Floridian”. We’re the palest skin in the crowd. Remember that one episode of Bugs Bunny where he was by the pool, and the newspaper (remember them too) called to interview him. Thats what I look like by the pool or on the beach.

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