All About the Stone Age
We went to a thrift store, and joked about trying on hats and getting lice.
“Miami Lice,” he said.
Was he safe? I hoped not. Was it scummy and frivolous to hang out with him? I hoped so.
My birthstone was emerald. I told him, and his chlorinated eyes said, “Well, that makes you not-simpleminded.”
We both laughed. An albino laugh. Watery veins stood out and his forehead looked like a stolen woodpile.
I wanted to make him butter from real cream, I wanted him to tell me all about the Stone Age. I wanted to know about what they did without butter, how they licked fire. How did he become allergic to garlic and light?
Anyway, that was part of the dream world I lived in at that time. If he existed, he is now elderly, or dead. Most of the time I don’t believe in him, or the curative properties of green tea, or a stern-assed God.
Saul and the Queen of the Jungle
Once a year, right on his birthday, Saul’d threaten to become a lion tamer. I’d laugh. He said it again on his 50th. I guess I was tired of hearing it. “Then just do it,” I said. “It’s never too late.” I was thinking of the Nike ad. How everyone should follow their dreams.
The happiest we’d ever been was at the circus. When we first fell in love, we traveled to see high wire acts. “There’s a net,” Saul said. “But you can’t see it,” I replied. “You worry too much,” he growled.
“Are you making eyes at him?” Saul said to me in queue at the grocery store. “What?” “The tan one standing next to you in the meat department.”
This had become like a game with us. “How about that sporty hipster over there?” he’d say. “Trying out his coil shoes!”
Saul was gorgeous in those days, twirling a chair with one finger, running laps at sunrise before slouching off to work. He managed a Burger Barn franchise, and hated wearing the company uniform.
While he slept, I’d kiss his back. “I love you forever Saul,” I’d whisper, when he was snoring hard, as if only his sleeping brain could understand.
It was clear that Saul was shrinking. One morning his slacks were too long. I tried not to worry.
“His spine is compacting,” our doctor explained. “He runs so often. Very healthy guy, Saul. Nothing wrong with a shorter version.”
This was true. He’d cover miles in the middle of the night. And sometimes he’d end up in another state.
One Christmas, he called from Nevada.
“Happy holidays,” Saul said.
“Joyeux Noel, dear Saul,” I said, a bit aggravated.
I stood near the bare Xmas tree wishing for a present.
When the circus came to town, I bought myself a front row seat. From the ringside, Saul looked short but happy. He’d gained weight, had a nose ring and a cheesy white smile. The crowd loved his best trick, sticking his entire head in Big Sheeba’s open mouth cave. Big Sheeba did not need to say that she loved him. She was the queen of the jungle.
When the accident occurred, I tried to avoid the newspapers. I made myself remember how comfortable Saul looked with the lions. I told myself that Saul had certainly lived life to the fullest.
In my quiet way, I cheer the big cats on. I find this is enough. At home, in my backyard, I’m training a posse of feral cats to love me.
Photo for “Saul and the Queen of the Jungle” used under CC.