“Tell me a story,” says Virginia....
When I knocked, I heard Charlie stomping in his kitchen, not a good sign. “Come in,” he yelled, as if hollering at a stubborn goat. I knew he knew why I’d chosen this time to visit. He pointed at a chair. I said “How ya feelin'?” as I sat.
“About the same as yesterday,” he said. “I don’t know why we raise our kids the way we do, or don’t. Whatever. We oughta let 'em out as soon as they can feed themselves, like most animals do. Instead, we rant and rave about things that are never the same as when we were their age, wishing they’d work as hard as we did, save their money – our money – and sacrifice for their futures. What for? When they finally settle down, they latch onto the latest false prophet and give him everything, figuring they won’t need it when the judgment day comes. Then they start all over, with our help."
“I get your drift,” I said. “Have you heard from her?”
“Of course not,” said Charlie. “She’s not going to crawl back here until our memories fade a little. She doesn’t want to hear my ‘told you so.’”
“Are you planning to say that?” I said.
“Hell no,” said Charlie, reddening, “but I might as well. It’ll hang in the air as thick as fog over the James.”
“Call her and tell her,” I said.
“What?” said Charlie. “That I believe people who can should live life in reverse? Retire first, work later if they need to? No kid should be told that.”
“She’s not a kid any more, Charlie,” said I.
He looked at me real hard, frowning, eyes partly closed, like an ex-girlfriend when I’d done something she didn’t like.
“I’m not a kid any more either, Charlie,” I whispered.
“You should've married her,” he said.
“Right, you know why I didn't,” I said. “I didn’t believe in myself enough, or anyone else for that matter, to not work hard, save my pay and sacrifice for the future. You wouldn’t have respected me.”
“So now we’re stupid together,” said Charlie. “What’s wrong with us anyway?
“We’re definitely not that,” I said, “and nothing’s wrong with us, other than we get played for suckers, one bubble after another. The others depend on people like us. We pay our debts, suffer our trespasses, and deliver them from evil.”
“Cut it out,” said Charlie. “You’re beginning to sound like that preacher.”
“Would you really want it any other way?” I said.
Different strokes for different folks
3 weeks ago