I received a wedding invitation in the mail the other day from my nephew. And to be perfectly honest I don’t know what to reply.
Nothing is ever a simple straight line, is it? The path to most answers is more like hacking your way through an entangled, ebony web of cyberspace.
You see, last month, the boy I call my older son, who I helped raise into manhood, didn’t invite me to his wedding.
But I decided to surprise him, anyway, at the pre-wedding dinner party just to wish him ‘mazel tov.’ And, as I was strolling down the long hallway to the hotel dining room, Hanz, by happenstance, appeared.
He took me out for a beer and explained that he knows his mother (he’s my step son) is crazy. “But she’s my mother. And you know what kind of craziness she will make.”
So I wished him bon voyage…(Just as this very strange, severe, thin-lipped woman, who turned out to be Hanz’s new mother-in-law, barged up to us, wishing me to burn in hell!)…At that, I tearfully hugged Hanz good-bye, saying I’d always keep the porch light on for him…He’s obviously going to need it.
A couple years before this my brother (the father of my to-be-married nephew) didn’t invite me to his daughter’s wedding in San Francisco. My future-ex (Hanz’s mom: Stephanie Blatt) had convinced him that I was certifiably crazy. And my niece, who I had penpal-ed with throughout her junior and senior highschool years from wherever I was in the world, explained that it was a family decision.
When I finally called, my dearest older brother- the-renowned-all-heart-doc simply replied there were going to be a lot of important people at the wedding. And I, his brother, the worldly raconteur, entrepreneur, adventureur and provocateur wasn’t to be one of them.
Hmm…G-d bless my dear, big-hearted brother, whose trifling backhands – especially in-his-beloved-game-of-tennis — have otherwise condemned him to being only second-best in the family.
That same summer, a close friend, Bob, whom I had tapped years ago to be my mother’s, as well as our family’s, lawyer, didn’t invite me to the wedding of his daughter — the same daughter I had sat and prayed over with him in her incipient post natal days of struggling for survival.
Bob said Stephanie’s stories claiming that I was suddenly crazy were very ‘compelling.’
Which is why he provided her legal assistance in absconding with much of my worldly possessions. However, he recently noted that after Miss Stephanie’s neurotic and misanthropic 10th or 50th phone call, her stories weren’t so compelling anymore.
But that didn’t mean that he, and his wife who had been close friends with my first wife and me since college, no longer harbored ‘crazy’ suspicions of what they apparently suspected about me for over 35 years during our continual visits and vacations together.
Hmm… Ain’t that a kick in the ass?
So maybe you can ascertain a tad of why I just don’t know what to say to my favorite – and only – blood nephew: Adam.
I mean, even now that everyone who cares have all been informed by all the doctors that while I did indeed suffer momentarily from Post Traumatic Stress 10 or so years back, they all, admittedly, had the wrong person under the microscope.
PTSD was inevitable just from one of the passel of my life-and- death-snatching experiences about the globe, particularly West Africa. Added on were traumatic events such as: The collapse of a three-year Russian project that I turmoiled on 24/7. Followed by the birth of my younger son with just about every congenital tragic malady available. And still ongoing. Followed by deeper than deep economic setbacks. Followed by an emergency quadruple heart operation, while at the very same time – and during a blizzard — our apartment building all but burned to cinders. Followed by my dear Miss Stephanie trying to poison me… And a number of months afterwards, after having spent 5 weeks in the hospital recuperating, she lodged egregious charges with ‘duh’ District Attorney’s Office…. After a few times of being an overnight-guest-of-duh-city, duh ADAttorneys finally used all their fingers and toes and single-digit IQs to add up that my-future-ex, Miss Stephanie Blatt, was a sociopathic, pathological liar.
Hmm… Did I forget to mention that?
They dropped-kicked all the charges. And they just wanted to now wash their greasy hands of the whole malodorous mess.
After all, I must have done ‘something!’ And, why-oh-why didn’t I just murder the female canine? Murder is much easier to prosecute than one of these he-said-she-said conundrums – especially when ‘he’ — namely moi — wasn’t saying nothing, simply because no one – in case you haven’t noticed — ever asked me.
Besides, I rarely explain myself…That would be crazier than a blind man in a gun fight. It’s my mercy rule: you don’t engage in a battle of wits with unarmed people. I don’t argue with fools because all they do is drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.
Hmm… Those who matter don’t mind. And vice-versa.
Anyway, all this came rushing to mind when I received one of those letters written in fanciful calligraphy in the mail the other day. It was an actual invitation to my nephew’s wedding. He is getting married in Colorado where he is practicing being an interventional cardiologist like his prominent father in San Francisco.
I guess, as you can imagine, it’s just too much drama for me. Too much tortuous psychiatry. Too much of an emotional toothache. I simply don’t want to deal with such tight-ass craziness anymore. Even though I do subscribe that you can never be too crazy; but you can be too sane.
But, it is smothering me. It’s becoming overwhelming…like gnats. All the Schadenfreude. All the whispers. All the gossip that travels faster than the speed of light.
I got to know Adam — even better than I already knew him — when he came back East to Philadelphia to college at University of Pennsylvania. We still talk. But we’ve gotten more distant. He probably invited me because he figures I won’t come out to the wedding in Denver, anyway. And he knows my somewhat facetious conviction that the cure for love — the delusion that one woman is different from the rest — is marriage: Which is nothing more than a deed to the front door.
Meanwhile my big brother, my arch-opposite (whom I do love dearly, as well as love to make dearly miserable…besides, he’s ‘my brudder!’…) and his wife coyly phoned me recently. No doubt to slyly ascertain if I had received the wedding invite. And I, who can jaw a deaf man into surrendering, exhaled nothing more than cigar smoke.
But, a few moons ago, I had jotted some notes in preparation for precisely this situation. And here is what, in my wandering mental ablutions, I pondered:
Thank you for the invitation. As you know, marriage is a wonderful institution. But, really, Adam, who wants to be in an institution? Especially since Miss Stephanie tried to enlist all of you into putting me into the precise one where she will undoubtedly pass her residual days of mental halitosis.
Obviously her exorcism didn’t work.
Anyway, I am writing to say I will be here, there and just about everywhere, but not in Denver at the end of August.
That is not to say that even a wretch like me doesn’t appreciate the olive branch – even if it was only, perhaps, extended to help make amends for the family’s supercilious past actions. Some of which I no doubt deserved.
To be frank, I guess I am at a proverbial fork in the road — between conviction and compromise. And I don’t know whether to climb high into the rarefied, rocky, mountainous atmosphere and stumble drunkenly adrift. Or race naked into the parched valley below, laughing and screaming about all the absurdity…
Since I am not made to feel like family, friend, guest or even much of a foe — more like some aberrant DNA — I wouldn’t know which side of the aisle to plant my seat-meat.
Furthermore, I simply don’t enjoy unintentionally discomfiting others – but only when it is on my daily bill of fare, in the course of my routine mischievous endeavors. That’s what I do! Then, as you are well seasoned to appreciate, I can, like a fleeing bank robber, ride that nag till she drops – or, finally shoot the damn sheriff.
But the wedding day nuptials are not a good day in time (or, in my case: Many days in time…) for such distractions. It is for you, and yours, at the ripe and mature and desperate-to-finally-get-on-with-it age of 36, to enjoy. No doubt to be followed up by what you two have already been enjoying, on overtime, without any unnecessary prompting rising from the Viagra.
So, if Alexandra isn’t pregnant already, I hope you come out banging at the honeymoon bell, knocking out your first in proliferating the family’s fine, fine, borderline bloodlines.
That is, if this is as you consciously desire.
Indeed, Adam, desire is the cause of all action. There is, simply no action without desires. So, pursue them. Just don’t allow others’ expectations to doom them.
And I, meanwhile, simply have no desire to engage in all of this, anymore. I tire of the melodrama. Even though family is the only drama I have always found sacred.
But there have been too many bends in the river. There is no laughter. No bon vivant. No reckless abandon of savoir faire. No insouciance…
And, admittedly, my heart isn’t in it any longer. It isn’t even my same heart after all the surgical, high-tech bypasses. And although my brain farted long ago, the bad gas still seems to linger.
It is my fault for allowing this to happen. It doesn’t matter that I was extremely vulnerable then. Nonetheless, I was still pilot-in-command. I enabled the lunacy of femme fatale Miss Stephanie to walk and talk among us like a free man-o-war. And then there was my everlasting inhabitance in that radical temerity which only fueled the wafting whispers of rigid judgmentalism.
Yet, all the while, I have forgiven everyone for not knowing what they do. And, I have also forgiven myself, not only for my cocky contempt for authority, but for enjoying the adventures of being perfectly human.
If I can offer your socially challenged left brain my two-shekels, I would tell you that we first must learn to forgive ourselves in order to be able to comprehend what we are forgiving in others. We must be able to live with ourselves, first, Adam. Because, if you can’t live with ‘me-myself-and-I’, you can’t live with anyone, especially a wife. For, a man may not know he’s a fool, until he has a wife to complete his sentences.
So what be this thing we call a mate? Is it love? Merely for propagation? Or is it just a rapturous moment of dopamines and pheromones whirlpooling in the omnipotent kettle of a witch’s brew. You know, an exploding cigar on which we all willingly puff.
Love, as it was recently defined for me by a woman with two great points, is: Finding someone you can tolerate being annoyed by.
How annoyingly profound.
Love is also, as I have reaped, totally unconditional— just as friendship is non-negotiable. And laughter and communication are the shortest distance between two people.
We enter into relationships and embark on well-worn cowpaths mostly because we are indolent and simply don’t make the effort to learn what else there is to do. Pre-ordained, no doubt. And, we are too fearfully tethered to explore otherwise. Too damn terrified of the so called alligator in the river of desire.
So, we don’t tempt our destiny. We do what has always been done. Which is just fine, as long as you recognize the bonds of those words and vows that are unconditional and non-negotiable.
For the only thing we can both give and keep, Adam, is our word. And when you give it, tacitly or otherwise, to a friend or foe, a relative or a lover, your child or your G-d, your word is your covenant. To keep…Honor…Obey…like any boy scout in His service.
And believe it or not, I always meant to keep all of mine. Each time. But, as always, I allowed life to intervene. Your father wouldn’t have. Nor his father. And that is, sincerely, most admirable.
But somehow in my life, wars are declared. Isn’t it amazing, the insanity of warring for peace. It’s like screwing for virginity.
Aw…what duh hell…what duh hell…what duh heck…let’s not go hanging ourselves up by the neck. Life is life. It ain’t nothing but a river running through it. And since we can’t step into the same river twice, just enjoy the pithy moment on this journey. Everything eventually flows by-and-by.
Along the way, just try to remember a little humility, at those trying moments, before it is forced to remember you. You know the routine: Stoop to see. Learn to recognize what you hear and be fast to listen to what you don’t recognize. And, most of all, feel with more than your heart, which, by its nerveless nature, is heartless.
Hmm…sometimes so much is uttered by what we don’t say.
Meanwhile, if we should happen to bump coffee cups while drawn together on life’s many fickle canvases from time to time, just meet and greet with a hearty laugh and appreciative wave.
And, if Alexandra should ask, explain that I am someone who used to visit – someone who sought to provoke one and all to make a noise so over-deafening during this trip thru here and now, that when you are no longer here your silence now becomes even more deafening.
And you called him: Uncle Drew.
Well, Adam, enough is never brief enough. And, if any of this missive has annoyed you and yours, all I can say is: tolerate it! And if it hasn’t…well, I’ll keep on trying.
Ain’t dat duh annoying way of finding someone to love?
And dats yDrewIS on DIS penal colony…