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Musin’s and Thinkin’s – July/August 2012

by Jack Pendarvis
Illustration by Jason Polan

Musin’s and Thinkin’s – July/August 2012

Jack Pendarvis
9 Snaps

Sometimes as I sit on the porch swing and puff away on my trusty corncob pipe as eventide comes rolling in, I start to wonder whether eventide is a word and, if so, what it means, and whether I’m having some kind of a stroke.

A quick trip to the family dictionary usually sets things right, and soon enough I find myself swinging back and forth again, sometimes even on the porch swing, and ruminating about slightly more pleasant topics, such as the olden days of yore and Granny’s special preserves. They were terrible.

Why did she choose to preserve Grandpa’s bitter tears, for example?

I must admit, though, they make an excellent addition to a variety of cocktails.

Coat the inside of a chilly highball glass with a little sweet vermouth. Add cracked ice and a couple of shots of good rye. Rub lemon peel around the rim, and garnish with a cherry if so desired. Just before serving, dot liberally from a vial of a deceased relative’s tears, preferably one who was repeatedly disappointed in matters of love or business. It’s a lot like a Manhattan, but I don’t call it a Manhattan, because my grandfather never made it there. I call it an “Estranged Twin Brother’s Funeral.”

And therein lies a pearl of wisdom. It just might be that we can learn a thing or two from the oldsters after all. My old granny put it this way: “Elsbar majambo, miskeeter relinquar.” Toward the end she spoke in an elaborately constructed language of her own devising, I guess. To put it in layman’s terms, just like a briny splash of tears in your whiskey drink, a judicious sprinkling of woe makes the good parts of life all the sweeter.

It’s no secret that we’ve lost a little bit of that healthy attitude in our convenient modern world. “Walking a mile without shoes through the snow to the shack where my schoolteachers force me to bare-knuckle-box my best friend for having snow on my feet and then I caught pneumonia and died” has given way to the permissive culture of “Shut up, Mom and Dad, an aromatherapy hologram is feeding me pudding with flakes of fourteen-karat gold in it through a comfortable rubber tube in my butt while I watch naked HBO on my magic telephone.”

Being overly pampered and coddled has its appeal, but it dulls the senses, leaving us listless and befogged, like those guys eating the lotus on the island in that thing, or the cast of Entourage. I’m not sure Vince should have bought Turtle those customized thousand-dollar sneakers he wanted, though Turtle’s cherubic smile said it all. But that’s not the point.

We’ve come so far since my granny’s day, but we’ve also managed to forget that it’s the bumps along life’s road that truly make us who we are.

Of course, no one understood this better than the Yakuza, a shadowy criminal organization headquartered in Japan. Who can forget the popular film The Yakuza, which recounts their exploits? In the climactic scene, Robert Mitchum cuts off his own finger as a matter of honor. I think that’s what happens. I couldn’t look. But it certainly seems like a great idea.

After Robert Mitchum cut off his own finger as a matter of honor, he was probably like, “Gee! I was worried about my overdue library books, but now they don’t seem like such a big deal. Is that a bird I hear singing? Or is it an auditory hallucination brought on by loss of blood? Either way, what a dulcet melody. I suppose I never really listened to a bird before I took the time to cut off my own finger as a matter of honor. Wow, look at my blood spurting everywhere. Oh, well. I assume sandwiches will taste better than ever! Like, even the worst sandwich will be pretty good. I could sprinkle dirt between two slices of bread. Think of all the money I’m going to save on groceries.”

Then he looked in the mirror and saw that he was Robert Mitchum. “Oh, man. Dig my sleepy eyes. I’m so unconventionally sexy. Mmmph, mmmph, mmmph.” That’s the sound of Robert Mitchum kissing himself.

 

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