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A Naked Sunfish Holiday Tradition

Holiday Cheer from Aunt Edith

by
Rick Brown

My late Uncle Wes lived with my Aunt Edith for most of his adult life...although I’m sure it seemed like an eternity to him. He worked for the Bethlehem Steel Company in Baltimore for thirty years until he retired. He worked the night shift getting off around 7 a.m. when he would come home for dinner. In the summer when it was warm...and Baltimore can get very, very humid...he would go to a movie matinee in an air conditioned theater and sleep. If you knew my Aunt Edith you would assume what I did...even as a child...and that was that Uncle Wes worked nights and went to matinees to get away from his wife. He never said much. He was a slight, wiry man of few words. And the few words he almost always uttered were, “For Chrissakes Edith! SHUDD UPP!!”

Aunt Edith Photo

The man was almost incidental by nature. One time...after he retired and he and Aunt Edith moved back to the Cleveland area...my brothers and I were helping him put a refrigerator in a backyard shed because there was no room for it in the trailer they were moving into. After much jostling my brothers and I closed the shed door and thought we were finished. From her perch (as supervisor of course) Aunt Edith looked at the three of us with bewilderment and asked, “Where the HELL is Wes?” And after exchanging confused glances we heard muffled sounds coming from behind the fridge in the shed. “MMMPPPHH!!! Hey!! HHMMPPHHFFF!!!” We quickly opened the shed door, moved aside the refrigerator and liberated Uncle Wes. My brothers and I were all embarrassed and each, in turn, apologized profusely for our insensitive behavior. Aunt Edith broke into the humility with a shriek of, “What the HELL were you doing in there?” Which prompted Uncle Wes to ... once again ... chant his mantra. “For Chrissakes Edith!! SHUDD UPP!!” They were quite the loving couple. Their last name was Crabtree. I am not making this up.

Wes soon was diagnosed with lung cancer. Thirty years in the steel mills and 2 packs a day of Chesterfield non-filters caught up with him. The last time I saw him he was lying on the couch in their trailer smoking the aforementioned brand of cigarettes, quite literally coughing his lungs out ... or what was left of them. “I TOLD him to quit those goddamned things years ago. “ Aunt Edith offered for my contemplation. To which Uncle Wes replied sarcastically (yep, you guessed it) “Cough cough ... For Chrissakes HACK! HACK! Edith!!! SHUDD UPPP!!!” These were the final words I heard my uncle ever say and we all joked at the funeral that these very words were more than likely chiseled into his headstone.

A few years after Wes passed, my brother and his new wife were having their very first Christmas and invited everyone over...including Aunt Edith. My parents were there along with my siblings and their families. This included my brother Jim’s 9 year old adopted son Matt. Matt the Brat was what my father called him. I thought this surprisingly subtle for my Dad. If I knew where Matt is today...and thank God I do not ... I would have to guess some one killed him or he’s in jail convicted of several murders. I honestly don’t care so long as he’s nowhere near me. So Matt the Brat is playing with one of the toys some one so graciously gave him and he broke it. This kid could break anything he got his hands on. But in a moment of diplomacy my father (affectionately known as Snook) said, “They don’t make anything any good any more!!” To which...in the spirit of the season Aunt Edith quipped, “You’re right Snook!! Everything IS SHIT!!!” Well... happy holidays to you too Aunt Edith. Inside my head I distinctly heard a voice from my past reply, “For Chrissakes Edith!! SHUDD UPPP!”

You know...there are lots of reasons to go through life believing that “everything is shit.” There are days when it certainly seems true to me. I have my days when Sartre’s “Hell is other people” could easily be the thought of the day. But...unlike Aunt Edith...I don’t want to spend a big chunk of my life living alone in a trailer. And when I think of this particular Christmas it strikes me how most of them blur into each other...with the exception of a few. And this is one of them I distinctly remember. As much as family...and sometimes even friends ... can annoy a person ... especially at this time of year ... I have come to realize that even some one like Aunt Edith helped make me who I have become. I mean that in a positive way. Imagine ... Aunt Edith’s negativity was so over the top it MADE me consider the positive. I have no idea how she became so bitter. My father did shortly before he died also. Yet they both, particularly Snook, had a positive influence. They were there. Unlike today when some people are not.

This holiday season...regardless of which one you celebrate...take the time to savor those around you...even if they drive you nuts. They may not...for whatever reason...be there next year. And in some strange way, which will surprise you, their absence will make you miss them. I guarantee it. (a possible exception to this uplifting message might be Matt the Brat) And you might consider that next year YOU might not be here. So I suppose my holiday message may seem bittersweet to most...but that’s how I see it. And if anyone feels the need to take issue with my views then I encourage you to speak up LOUDLY...’cause I’ve got one thing and one thing only to say to you.

FOR CHRISSAKES!!!!

SHUDD UPPP!!!


Bigly

He was a bigly man
with a pigly grin
and jiggly hands
with a giggly charm
and a rigly plan
for all.

The pigly man
with his bigly stand
got  his wiggly gut
all squiggly stuck
about where his
jiggly hands have been.

Dennis Toth

http://leavesofcrass.blogspot.com/


Nan Sense

By
Rick Brown

My wife Yvonne and I had a delightfully delicious vegetarian Indian meal the other evening at a local Indian owned and operated establishment. Afterwards … while we were finishing our wine … I noticed in the bar area directly behind Yvonne, they were showing the Cleveland Indians game on TV. At first I made nothing of it. Simply a bar with baseball on the big screen. But after further contemplation I thought to myself …

"Hmmm… I'm watching the Indians … in an Indian restaurant.”

Consequently, this made me recall the time … must have been in the early 90s … when I walked into work at OSU library wearing a quasi "Tribe" jersey. And the first person I see is a graduate student from India. So I cheerfully greeted the young man … well … as cheerful as I get in the morning … with a "Good Morning".

After flashing a shy, wondering … yet wry smile … he replied, “Rick! What is this "Indians" you have so proudly displayed on your chest?"
   
And I thought …
 “Hmmmmmm … “



Rick's Books, Naked Sunfish Caviar
& Best Bites,
are available at:



Lulu.com


Rick's book, Best Bites is available at:
Lulu.com
&
Amazon.com


Jimmy Mak's new book,
Daddies Shouldn't Breakdance,
is available at:
Amazon.com & CreateSpace.com





Holiday Hoopla

Shadowbox Live
The Worly Building
Columbus, Ohio

by
Rick Brown

Click Here for the Review



Little Shop of Horrors


Shadowbox Live
The Worly Building
Columbus, Ohio

by
Rick Brown

Click Here for the Review




by
Sue Olcott


Click Here



The City

by
aNna (Wellman) rybaT

Blog: http://www.annarybat.blogspot.com



Chapmans Mill 3

by

Gabriel Guyer

http://www.gabrielguyer.com


Mah Na Mah Na

By
Rick Brown

So I'm sitting in our sun room enjoying a cup of hot joe and the newspaper ... baby Maltese Freddie fast asleep in my lap ... when "Mah Na Mah Na" comes on the iTunes. My Luther League pal Dale and I spent a good deal of time clasping our noses and singing an awful rendition of this while wandering aimlessly at a youth retreat. (Hey! We were maybe 16 years old!) The song … such as it is … was on the radio at the time … many … many … moons ago. If you aren’t familiar with the tune … and odds are very good you are not … check it out on YouTube. Red Skelton used it on his variety show. Even the Muppets did a version.

Anyway ... the whacky ditty is playing on iTunes … and 7 or 8 seconds into it Freddie leaps to his feet … still on my lap ... looks at the computer from whence “Mah Na Mah Na” emanates ... looks confusingly at me ... then the computer ... then back to me ... computer … me … a puppy perplexed … back and forth ... forth and back.

Finally, I pinch my proboscis and sing "Mah Na Mah Na" out loud … serenade style … to Freddie. (Dale would have been proud) My precious pooch pauses … ponders … gazes at me … tilts his furry little head slightly … obviously bemused ... licks my nose affectionately ... then settles back into my lap and resumes his nap.
    
     ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!

     I love this little guy!!!!!!

     Mah Na! Mah Na!




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Issue 1 - January 2002