I had the idea yesterday, out of a kind of madness, that the other bone heads in the First Hebrew Cemetery, fed up with the hard time I’m giving Irv’s skeleton, would start witlessly piping up, creating an unbearable chorus of bitter, opinionated bastards.
“Oh, you think you’re hot shit because you’re alive, you arrogant fuck? I was alive, much more alive than you, shit for brains. You talk to your fucking father that way, you hateful pile of dreck? Who made you the prosecutor, judge, jury, bailiff, corrections officer, prison administrator? Huh? FUCK YOU!” and I wind up dashing from the graveyard, pelted by their shit bombs.
I had the thought yesterday that I still expect something remarkable from myself. I realize this is probably because I was always treated, even as the treatment was often rather rough, as a boy of unlimited potential, an extraordinary talent who could do anything I wanted– provided my father got to shit on it first, of course. This idea of my extraordinariness was no doubt, in part, my talented, frustrated grandmother’s hopped up over-compensation for losing her entire family, all her brothers and sisters and their kids. No worries, you got this genius grandson who will take up where they all left off in that ravine.
“Your grandmother was very good for you, and very bad for you,” the famous, now immortal, sculptor George Segal, my grandmother’s first cousin Georgik, told me, not without a bit of profundity, during one of our three or four meetings over the decades. It would be our last meeting– he wrote me a short, tightly worded furious letter immediately after about what an ungrateful bastard I was, how generous and wonderful the rich art collectors I hated were (they’d been so to him, after all) and how, while clearly quite intelligent and capable, I was poisoning my life with anger and hatred.
His son, after all (and this he did not need to add), was severely retarded, living in a home for adults who couldn’t care for themselves. As a boy I’d seen the son, a few years older than me and a big kid, gorge himself on potato salad and, running with his sister in a wheat colored field exactly like the one in Wyeth’s Christina’s World, vomit a fountain of half digested potato salad over his shoulder as he went, one leg kicked up behind as he paused for just a second to make like a geyser. My sister and I watched from above, at the wall-sized picture window, and neither of us ever so much as tasted potato salad after that.
And so it goes, eh?