My birthday's in two days. I'll finally be out of the teens that offered me so much misery and confusion, and be one step closer to being an adult. In the field I work in (car sales) I am by far the youngest person you're gonna find, and yesterday I had like four people tell me that I shouldn't take days off because I'm only 19, and I don't have kids, and so I don't understand anything about responsibility, etc etc. Having people nag me about how young I am is one thing that I cannot tolerate since I have had more of a life up to this point than most 50 year olds. So this just kinda brings my day down.
My girlfriend comes and picks me up, and we're driving home. Spontaneity ensues, and I'm like, "hey, let's go to the farmer's market." The farmer's market is an LA landmark, a collection of quirky little shops and restaurants, that has been there since the earlier part of the last century. Adjacent to it is The Grove, which was intended to be a modern supplemental to the Farmer's Market. The LA board of commerce wouldn't allow an Abercrombie, Starbucks, or Barnes & Noble to be built in the farmer's market, so some developers bought the land next to it and put it up. It's supposed to be patterned after an italian plaza, and it does so fleetingly.
Regardless it was nice out, the West Coast sunset painted a beautiful orange glow that deepened every ten minutes, and it was still about 70 degrees out with a cool breeze and a gentle stillness to the air. We walked into the farmer's market, and my wandering eyes fixate on something familiar. It's one of my first girlfriends, and the one who introduced me to the wonders of the rumormill and the art of being vindictive. This wouldn't be weird if I was in Seattle or Auburn, WA, which is where we were. But Los Angeles??? Janette was always easy to identify by her looks. She is very pretty, half irish, half korean, with an uncharactaristically deep (alto) voice. She's not really my type of girl anymore, I go for busty and wide-hipped, two things she is not.
She was chatting with who I take is her current boyfriend, who looks suspiciously similar to me, just not as built. She looked up for a moment and saw me, and there was a brief moment of abject confusion. My girlfriend has this thing with wnating me to go find and talk to all my ex's to close the past or something, so she was like "come on, go talk to her" for five minutes. I've already come to terms with my past in my mind and I prefer to leave it where it is: in the past, in two cities I don't live near.
The niceness and ambience of the evening was further punctuated by my girlfriend insisting on running into the Apple store so she could gape at a new G5 with no software on it and move the mouse around, start going through the sale shoes at Nordstroms, and then going upstairs to see what bargains were on the shirt rack, into Victoria's Secret to see if they have any 36DD/DDD bras or corset tops. Then we went into the Barnes and Noble to see if they had the Interpol CD (they didn't), and Gaby discovers the wonder that is the B&N CD sampler system. YOu scan in a CD and you can listen to all the songs. So she goes straight for the Princess Mononoke CD and starts listening to silly Japanese ambient crap with little peeps and shakey sounds, and goes "OH, TRISTAN LISTEN! It's the song they played when those little tree guys appeared!" and pushes the headphones toward me. I'm like "Oh, yeah" and put it on for about 3 seconds and am like "neat, yeah, I need to find the bathroom." To which she picks up the Monsoon Wedding sountrack and scans it and goes "wait, I wonder if they have that silly Bollywood song on this, here, listen" and hands me the headphones. I finally get sick of it and am like "GABY, I need to use the bathroom. I really don't give a crap about whether it's there or not, honestly. I don't like 'silly' music."
All this does is compound to me the fact that although we see eye to eye on a number of groups and styles, to my girlfriend, music that is silly rules the day. This doesn't help my mood.
Then I get home, and by this point I'm starting to feel okay. I check my messages and there's a message from my dad: "Hi Tristan, this is dad... i have to give you the news... call me when you get this no matter how late it is." I call, and discover that my grandfather is on his deathbed. I talk to my mom (it's her dad) for an hour or two; my grnadfather was not the greatest guy ever. He beat his kids, he beat his wife, and he drank himself into oblivion. Since my grandparents divorced in 1997, he's been living in a motel in southern Washington, and according to my uncle, who had been caring for him, he was unable to walk, control his bowels, or speak coherently for the past 2 or so years. At one point he had to be taken to the hospital and have his feet partially amputated becuase he put his shoes in too tight and left them on for a month. His blood circulation was so bad that his feet were basically rotting off his body. I heard how they looked from my uncle and when i think of the description now, it makes me want to puke.
He used to be a semi-pro-boxer in the 50's, and was #1 on the Army boxing team. He was way into "being a man" and such, and when an accident destroyed one of his legs and he had to have a metal bar put across the bones to stabilize them, he was discharged and never boxed again. But he got in enough barfights and punched his kids enough that he never really lost it.
I was his favorite grandkid, and he would take me out to see Seahawks football games when I was a kid, and would take me into the backyard to throw balls to me and such. The meager things I know about sports come from him. Through most of my childhood I thought he was great until, when my family went broke and we had to move in with them, I was home sick from school and heard him screaming, and came upstairs to see him in the process of beating my grandma. From then on I was terrified of him.
It's hard to remember the good things about him. The guy was a raging racist, ironic inasmuch as he's part black, and my grandmother part Jewish, but at least as far as he goes, it was probably a backlash from the time period he grew up in. When my uncle dated a girl who was Korean/Italian (there are more Asain-White mixed couples in Washington State than anywhere else in the world; I dated a couple mixed girls there as well), he literally chased the two of them down the driveway with a bat. When I was a kid I went to a school in a black neighborhood and was constantly getting beaten up in the Rodney King days, so he explained to me from his recliner the physical weaknesses of black people, and how I could exploit them.
He had to take everything like a man, and so did all of the boys: when he went to the dentist to get a root canal, he wouoldn't have antibiotics. When they did surgery on his leg he only let them do local anesthsia becuase he wanted to be awake to see the process. He'd punch through doors and walls and windows and laugh at the blood, that was the type of guy he was.
My dad called me at six this morning. He'd died ten minutes earlier, and my mom is flying to Seattle with my sister to help with funeral arrangements. I believe that God understands what drives us to do the horrible things we do and that because of that there is no hell, because there are no sins that cannot be forgiven. All I can do is hope that things are going to get better for him from here on out. I'm not crying. He wouldn't want me to.
Donald Creery, 1931-2003.