Posted by: stillironic | January 19, 2010

Let Me Set the Record Straight—6

Minus a Life

At the time of Ray Blechman’s funeral, Jack professed that the explosion that resulted in his own “digital mutilation” foreshadowed the more recent explosion that ended in Ray’s “passing.” I remember people nodding solemnly as if Jack had offered up a profound insight. I lost my temper and told Jack that maybe he had to go through life minus a digit, but Ray had to go through life minus a LIFE.

Ray was nothing more than miscellaneous and minute clumps of incinerated tissue—aftermath, if you will. No part of his once winsome self was now even one two-hundredth the size of the little-boy finger Jack lost.

I wasn’t the only one irked by Jack’s inappropriate remarks either. Someone had the bad taste to joke that if any Blechman had to die, too bad it had to be the good-looking one. Let me stress that I never heard anyone actually state they wished Jack had died instead; everyone was tastefully circumspect about this matter. But even so. I mean it’s one thing to think too bad it had to be Poor Ray—which is how everyone still refers to him, as if given the name at birth—but to give voice to it is quite another, and something to which I would certainly never stoop.

But we’re not talking about Ray Blechman here, however, we’re talking about Jack, or Smarts, rather. That was his nickname. And the nickname wasn’t based on his being intelligent; if anything he was a mental void if you ask me. “Smarts” came from his being absent-minded and forgetting where he was going. He kept knocking into objects and people by mistake and muttering “boy, that smarts.”

For some bizarre reason his poor grandma, who took to shuffling around aimlessly in her later years, suffered the lousy fate of being his most frequent target, as if acting as his own personal magnet. Every time he collided with her, she seemed to fracture a new bone and have to be carted off for six weeks of traction at Fructose County General.

© 2010 by Virginia Gerhart

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