Tag Archives: family

What I Think About When I’m on Quarantine Part Four

My mind wanders back to Texas in the early fifties while on quarantine, and this story keeps rising to the surface. It’s been so long ago I don’t know how much of it is true, how much made up and how much true only in my heart. You’ll have to decide for me.

Holding a dozen red roses, I stepped inside the flapping, torn screen door and I saw that the roof was half gone, long vines growing through it. I hesitated a moment as I remembered the last time I stood there, sixty-five or more years ago.
This house sat at the bottom of a sloped pasture from our home. My little legs only took moments to scramble through the tall grasses and to mount the creaking wooden steps. I heard her voice.
“Baby boy! Git on in this house right now! I got some ice cold wallermelon for ya!”
Mary’s voice made me feel happy. Ma and pa were pleasant, but they were miserable like the weight of the world was about to weaken their knees, forcing them to the ground. Ma tried to find a smile and a gentle caress from time to time, but Pa never rose above a scowl and a menacing leer. I kinda felt sorry for Ma. She carried her sorrow around like a rough old wool blanket, but Pa scared me to death, like he was gonna pull back his fist and knock me from here to kingdom come. My brothers were on Pa’s side. They told me the only reason Mary liked me was because she just wanted to touch my white skin. Those mixed emotions made going to Mary’s little cabin across the way so exciting: her comforting manner and my fear that Pa would find out. For the longest spell I never understood why Pa and my brothers hated Mary.
“Now you come over here and sit on Mary’s lap so she can give you a big hug.”
When I walked across the room she noticed the dandelions I had picked along the way through the pasture.
“Why, is those for me, Baby Boy? Mary’s gonna have to give you a extra big slice of melon for those purty flowers.” She put her big brown arms around me and hugged. Mary smelled like fresh-baked cornbread.
Just then the screen door flew open. My father’s hulking frame blocked the sunlight trying to flood into the tiny dark room.
“JerDan! Didn’t I tell you never to come to Mary’s place again?”
Actually, he used another word in front of her name, but ever since that day I never felt right about using it. He grabbed me up under my armpit and jerked me toward the door. The dandelions fell from my hand. As he dragged me out the screen door and across the porch, I heard Mary calling.
“Baby Boy, ain’t ya gonna say good-bye to Mary? Baby Boy?”
And for the first time I heard her cry.
The next morning Ma told me Mary died over night and the ambulance had come for her body. I looked through our back door and across the pasture to see the men carry Mary’s body out on a stretcher. A bunch of black folks stood in the yard crying. I supposed they were her family.
All these years I thought Mary died because I had broken her heart, and the memories caused hot tears to run down my pale wrinkled cheeks. I didn’t bother to wipe them away. I just walked over to the spot where I had dropped the dandelions and placed a dozen red roses, putting on top of them a card that said:
“I’m sorry, Mary.”

Why Are You Late?

(Author’s Note: I’m a day late with my Mother’s Day tribute, and it wouldn’t surprise her in the least bit.)
“Why are you late?
My mother said that almost every time I walked in the door. Sometimes I was down the street at a friend’s house. His family had the first television on the block. Mickey Mouse Club came on at 4 p.m., and was an hour long. The first half was singing, dancing and acting silly. It was all right. I was too young to appreciate fully Annette Funicello at that time. When I was older she became Annette Full of Jello and much more fascinating. The second half was a serial. My favorite was Spin and Marty, two boys at a summer camp. Spin was a city street kid, and Marty was a naïve rich kid. At first they didn’t like each other, but by the third season they were buddies. As soon as the final song–“MIC, see you real soon, KEY, Why? Because we love you”—finished I was supposed to be out the door and headed home. In the winter the sky was getting dark at that time of time. Everyone knew if you were caught outside after dark, something terrible was going to happen.
The only situation worse was to be out of the house in the dark and dark clouds rumbled with thunder and lightning. My brother was bringing me home from the movies one time. He always resented having to pick me up places. It cut into his cruising time up and down the main drag of downtown. On the average I’d have to wait about thirty minutes on the street outside the theater. When I decided to start walking home, he became even madder I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
“Why are you late? Didn’t you see the clouds in the sky? Didn’t you realize it was about to rain?” my mother said with a particularly angry exasperation.
Yes, I knew it was about to rain. I knew she was going to be hysterical, but there wasn’t much I could do about it since my brother continued to scour Main Street for a girl desperate enough to go out with him. Of course, I would never get away with saying that so I instead went into my sniveling little coward role and whined, “I’m sorry.” I suspected she gave up her tirade because she didn’t want to listen to me whimper. On the other hand, my brother jutted his chin up and out as he walked right past Mother without acknowledging her.
As a child I seriously debated with myself whether I wished to bother to try to date when I was a teen-ager. The appeal of the young ladies hardly seemed worth the inquisition. If my brother came in after ten o’clock, she would greet him at the front door with her hands on her hips. She knew the movie downtown never let out after nine o’clock. You could drive a young lady home anywhere in town and still be home by ten.
“Why are you late?”
He tried to ignore as was his custom, but she blocked his path. Squinting she pushed her nose into his face.
“Let me smell your breath.”
“Aww, Mom.” He took a quick step to the left and escaped into the next room.
“Are you having sex with that girl? You better not get her pregnant!”
That imperative statement contained two major ironies. One, my brother did start coming in staggering from too many beers, and when he did Mother just stood there giggling, finding the way he lost his balance and fell on the sofa to be quaintly enchanting.
However, Father was not amused at all. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? You’re scaring the hell out of your little brother!”
The other irony was that by the time he finally got a woman pregnant I was married and had impregnated my wife, and I was six years younger than he was.
The fear of being on the receiving end of the withering question “Why are you late?” tended to make any situation worse. One year for Halloween my mother took me downtown to a five and dime so I could buy a mask for the school festival. She sat out in the car while I was supposed to rush in to pick out the mask. I stood in front of the table and froze. Not only did it infuriate Mother for me to be late, she also blew up if I spent too much money on foolish things such as Halloween masks. I saw ones I liked but they were too expensive. Dithering for too long a moment, I finally decided on the cheapest thing I could find. By the time I paid for it and ran out to the car, it was too late—Mother’s face was crimson.
“Why are you late? How hard was it to pick out a simple mask? Now I have a splitting headache!”
Well, that took the thrill out of Halloween, and it was the last one before entering junior high school. Once you’re in junior high you’re too big to wear silly Halloween masks.
I soon found out the reason Mother had such a short fuse. She had cancer and died before I entered high school. All dread of the scoldings went out the window. After a while I kind of missed them. It wasn’t any fun staying out after midnight on a date because Father went to bed at 9 o’clock every night and didn’t know when I came in or even that I had gone out in the first place. In fact, I was usually home by ten o’clock anyway. After all, the movie was over by 9:30. We could make the drag a couple of times to see who else was out that night, drop by the local drive-in for a quick soda and still be home in time to make Mother happy, if Mother had been there.
I am now older than my mother was when she died. I’m still home by ten o’clock. I never had to stand by the front door demanding why my children were late coming home. My son hardly ever went to movies unless it was Star Wars, and my daughter always dated guys who had earlier curfews than she did.
With luck I have a few more years. Boring people like me usually live a long time. It’s too strenuous to do anything exciting. But I do know that when my life is up and I finally am reunited with my loved ones in heaven, my mother will be standing at the Pearly Gates with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her lips.
“Why are you late?”

Songs of My Life

I’ve had a never-ending love for my wife Janet ever since I saw her face and I was a believer. She stood on a bridge over troubled waters in Fort Worth, Texas. (I don’t know if there are troubled waters Fort Worth. Go with it. Love doesn’t make sense.)
Actually, we’d already been married several years. When I looked through the viewfinder of my camera at Janet holding our baby daughter I realized how deeply I loved her and it would be for ten thousand years. The tiny girl helped bring about that epiphany.
We named her Grace, but I always called her Amazing. The first time she cried I thought how sweet a sound it was. By the time she entered kindergarten we shortened it to Mazie. After all, we were from Texas and we could not wrap our lips around any word more than two syllables.
Mazie was a remarkable child–smart, beautiful and adventurous. Janet handled the escapades better than I did. She knew how to pat my hand and say let it be. Like the time Mazie climbed out her bedroom window at midnight to walk down the street to see her boyfriend. She was only thirteen years old. Luckily the police brought her home after they picked her up with her boyfriend walking down the street holding hands. Janet waited a few weeks before telling me about that. I supposed she was trying to think of the right words to make it sound not so bad. Mazie taught my heart to fear.
Then there was the time I was cleaning the living room and found a note from the private Christian school in which we had enrolled Mazie. She and her boyfriend were given an in-school suspension for saying dirty words between classes. Those Christian school kids can be such tattle tales. Mazie explained they watched too much MTV, and it was a bad influence on them.
Eventually Mazie bored of her first boyfriend and went on to another boy who was the epitome of moral rectitude. Mazie quit cussing for him, just as Janet said she would. Shortly thereafter, she dumped the student saint because he thought he had the right to choose what career she should pursue. From then on, Mazie only cussed just a little and was very responsible about everything else she did. And Mazie my fears relieved.
The years went by fast after Mazie grew up, went to work, got married and had a baby of her own. Janet held my hand, and, ooh, our lives were filled with sunshine, lollipops and rainbows everywhere. We hardly noticed the wrinkles and gray hairs that were popping up all over us.
And then Janet went away, as I knew she would. I appreciated how precious Grace appeared. She held my hand and promised to comfort me until the day when I would join her mother. It will be as if we had only just begun. Because I had a never-ending song of love for her.

A New Me

When I awoke this morning I was confused. Looking down at me was my mother. She’s been dead for fifty years, but there she was, looking as young and beautiful as I remembered from my childhood.
“And how is Jerry this morning?” she asked.
I was so dumbfounded I could not find the words to respond. This bald man came up, put his arm around my mother’s shoulder and smiled.
“Look, Daddy, Jerry is wide awake and ready for breakfast.”
Okay, this man was not my father. My father was not bald and he rarely if ever smiled. Mother picked me up and handed me to this man she called Daddy. How this guy could hold me I could not figure out. I was a two hundred pound old man. For that matter how could my mother pick me up? And when I was the size for my father to carry, he never did. At least I did not remember him carrying me. There was something terribly wrong about this situation. They were calling me Jerry and that was my name. The woman looked very much like my mother. And this man was a complete stranger.
“Bring Jerry in here, Anthony,” the woman called out from the kitchen.
Now I was really confused. My father’s name was Grady. And I never knew anyone named Anthony until my daughter started dating. My daughter, where was she? For that matter, where was my wife? And why was I peeing in my pants? I hadn’t peed in my pants in more than sixty-five years.
“I’ve got to change his diaper first, Heather,” this man, trying to pass himself off as my father, said. My real father never changed a diaper in his life.
I wrinkled my tiny brow. He called my mother Heather. My mother’s name was Florida. My daughter’s name was Heather. All this confusion made me very unhappy. The only thing I could think to do was cry.
“Why is the baby crying?” Heather called out from the kitchen.
“If your pants were wet you’d cry too,” this man who called himself Anthony said.
After he changed my diaper, I began to feel hungry. Bacon and eggs would taste good, I thought. Maybe not. I now could not rightly remember what bacon and eggs tasted like. I had bad dreams all the time. My wife could usually tell me what they meant, but at this moment I could not remember her name. I did remember how good that bottle of milk tasted. My father—whatever his actual name was—was pretty good slipping it between my little lips.
I decided he was not so bad. I looked at my mother and knew I had loved her a long time, way back in a past that was fading away and into a future that was brand new yet so familiar. Maybe even better.
Author’s Note: I wrote this before my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby named Liam. And I’m still around so this story doesn’t make any sense, except I think it’s kinda cute.


Bob and Madge sat in the Mexican restaurant, sharing a large plate of nachos, and each sipped on their margaritas.
“Remember the time Susie smeared the queso in her hair?” Madge laughed as she crunched on a tortilla chip.
“Yeah, when the waitress came up, we asked what we should do,” Bob replied, “She replied, ‘I don’t know. If I had a camera I’d take a picture of it.”
They both laughed and took another big slurp of the margaritas.
“That’s one thing we did wrong with Joey.” Madge scooped up some guacamole. “We always bought him a hamburger, no matter where we ate. Remember when we got in late at the beach and went to the restaurant where the waitress walked up with the wrong order and Joey started screaming when she walked away.”
“We shouldn’t have let him go hungry like that.”
“And then the next night we went to the hamburger joint late and he toddled down the aisle as fast as his two little legs would carry him. And the line was backed up.”
“They should have taken that little boy away from us, the way we starved him.” Bob stuffed another nacho in his mouth.
“No wonder he ate all the chocolate doughnuts in the back seat.” After Madge took another swig of her margarita she twisted her face. “But that was another trip, wasn’t it?” She shook her head and pushed her salt-rimmed glass over to Bob. “You better have the rest of my margarita. I’m not making any sense.”
Bob was about to take her glass when he pointed to the last nacho on the platter. “Do you want that?”
“No, you can have it.”
“I don’t want it.”
“Then why did you ask if I wanted it?”
“I was just making conversation.”
“I don’t think you need the rest of the margarita.” She pulled the glass back across the table.
“If that’s the way you feel about it….” Bob reached for the last nacho and ate it.
Madge started laughing, her face turned red and she coughed.
“Okay, that settles it,” Bob resolved. “We must never leave each other. No one else could ever understand us.”


Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado
July 8, 1895
123 Main St.
Enid, Oklahoma

My Dear Wife,
I miss you terribly and hope the company will soon recognize my talents and promote me to vice president in charge of sales so I may enjoy your company more often. With luck, I shall return to you by the middle of August. The weather in Colorado is pleasant enough but I would sacrifice my comfort to be under the torrid Oklahoma sun with you and the children. Tell the children I shall take them on a great camping adventure before school starts. How is Edward Junior recuperating from his bout of chicken pox? I must be off to my next appointment soon in a small town called Golden. It reminds me of your lovely locks.
With love,
Your Husband

Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado

July 8, 1895

321 Main St.
Waxahachie, Texas

My Dear Wife,
I miss you terribly and hope the company will soon recognize my talents and promote me to vice president in charge of sales so I may enjoy your company more often. With luck, I shall return to you by the first of August. The weather in Colorado is please enough but I would sacrifice my comfort to be under the torrid Texas sun with you and the children. Tell the children I shall take them on a great camping adventure before school starts. How is Edwina recuperating from her bout of measles? I must be off to my next appointment in a nearby town called Red Bud. It reminds me of your lovely locks.
With Love,
Your Husband

321 Main St.
Waxahachie, Texas

July 18, 1895
Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado

My Dear Husband,
I am quite confused. We live in Texas, not Oklahoma and we have a daughter Edwina, not a son Edward Junior. I have red hair, not blonde. Edwina is terribly afraid of the outdoors and the little creatures that inhabit it so she would not enjoy a camping trip. She had chicken pox, not measles. I reread your letter several times thinking I must have misunderstood it. As you have pointed out to me several times I do have a tendency to misunderstand the simplest of statements. I will continue my sessions with Dr. Fitzmorgan in Dallas. I’m sure he will straighten this out for me.
With Love,
Your Wife

123 Main St.
Enid, Oklahoma

Aug. 4, 1895

Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado

To My Soon-To-Be Former Husband,
Don’t bother to come home, you lying, cheating scoundrel. You should have realized you were not clever enough to have two wives at one time. To refresh your memory, I am the blonde-haired woman living in Oklahoma with our son Edward Junior, who by the way had measles not chicken pox. I exchanged several telegraphs with the lady residing in Waxahachie, Texas. She has canceled all her appointments with her doctor in Dallas and has engaged a lawyer. I have also hired a lawyer. Please expect a letter from the main office of your company stating you have been dismissed from your job because of a complete lack of morals. I must be off now to visit my mother and to apologize. She was right about you.
With absolutely no love,
Your Soon-To-Be Former Wife

The Beach

“I can’t believe I spent fifteen years on the subway looking at a picture of that damn palm tree thinking it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in the world.”
“George, did you bring the sunblock? You know I get splotchy if I don’t have my sunblock.”
“Freezing my ass on that subway going home every night, staring at that damn palm tree. Spring Hill, Florida, the poster said. Go retire to Spring Hill, Florida, and be happy, the poster said.”
“If you didn’t bring the sun block I’m going back to the car. I’m not going to get all splotchy just because you forgot the sunblock.”
“Fifteen years of thinking if I survive another New York winter and save my money, I can go live under that damn palm tree.”
“Oh. Never mind. It was at the bottom of my bag.”
“They didn’t tell me the houses were halfway across the county from the damn palm tree.”
“Do you want a Coke? I got diet and regular in the thingy here.”
“You drive an hour and when you get here, and it ain’t all that big, either.”
“Your belly’s getting too big. I’m giving you a diet.”
“Look at that beach. It’s nothing. Atlantic City has a bigger beach than that.”
“If we were in Atlantic City right now you’d be freezing your ass off. Now drink your Coke, for crying out loud.”
“Somebody ought to sue those bastards for false advertising. Making Spring Hill look like some damn South Beach or something.”
“We couldn’t afford an outhouse in South Beach. Drink your Coke.”
“I have to walk out a mile before I get my ass wet, the beach is so shallow.”
“If you want your ass wet, I’ll pour the Coke down your pants.”
“I mean, fifteen years of saving our money to move to Spring Hill, and the damn palm tree isn’t even pretty.”
“George, where the hell else do you want to go?”
“Aww, Louise, don’t start in on me.”
“You want to go back to New York, George? It’s snowing in New York, George. Do you want to spend another winter shoveling snow? You want to shovel snow until you drop dead of a heart attack?”
“Give me the damn Coke, Louise.”
“You want to live in South Beach, George? Why? You want to stare at all the young girls in bikinis? They wouldn’t give you a second look. You know why? Because you’re an old man, George.”
“Now you’re just getting nasty, Louise.”
“I know I’m just a wrinkled up old broad from New York, George, but you know what? I think you’re the best looking thing on this beach.”
“I know I’m the best looking thing on this beach. I’m the only thing on this beach except for that damn palm tree.”
“Look, George. The sun is setting. Not a cloud in the sky.”
“Well, maybe not the best looking thing on the beach. For a wrinkled up old broad from New York, you’re okay, Louise.”
“Drink your Coke, George.”

Christmas Spider

On Christmas Eve Mother Spider paused a moment after delivering her babies, looked through the branches of the small fir tree to watch the sun set over the Austrian snow drifts and sensed she would not live to see Christmas morning. She did not mind so much—for spiders only had a brief span on this earth—but she wanted to leave her darling little children a special memory of their mother before she went away.
A heavy thud interrupted her thoughts. Running to the tip of the branch she saw a woman, wrapped in rags, chopping away. Mother Spider had heard legends of humans putting evergreen trees in their houses on Christmas Eve, hoping that an angel—one of those who heralded the birth of the Christ Child centuries ago—would visit every home. The tree, which symbolized best of love and peace, merited the granting of the family’s wish for the New Year, whatever that wish might be.
Mother Spider consoled her children who became frightened by the jostling and thumping as the woman dragged the tree from the forest into her small cottage. Two little girls and a boy ran to the door and with giggles galore helped their mama set the tree in the corner by the fireplace.
“My dears,” the woman told them, “we will not be decorating the tree this year because I did not have time to gather nuts and holly and we have no fruit to adorn the branches.”
“Don’t worry, Mother,” the older girl replied soothingly as she patted her mother’s shoulders. “We remember how pretty the tree looked before father died. That is enough.”
“We’ll decorate the tree with our Christmas memories,” the boy joined in. “It shall be the prettiest tree we have ever seen.”
The woman put her face in her hands and cried.
“Don’t cry, Mother,” the other girl cooed. “It’s Christmas. We are together. What more shall we want?”
“You don’t understand, children.” She wiped her face with a cloth. “If we cannot pay the landlord at the first of the month, we will be cast out in the snow.”
“We always have the Christmas angel.” The boy hugged her. “Surely she will see this is the best tree in all the kingdom and grant our wish.”
After kissing and hugging each of her children, the woman gave each of them a bowl of porridge for their supper. Then the family settled on an old feather mattress, snuggling under worn quilts, and fell asleep.
Even as she felt the life slowly slip from her body, Mother Spider decided she would decorate the family’s tree with the last of her web. She told her little spiders what she was doing and that they should stay nestled among the branches for they had had a long, busy day and needed their rest. When she was sure they were all in a deep slumber, Mother Spider began her task, beginning at the bottom of the tree and working her way to the top, spreading her silvery fragile tinsel.
At first she did not think she had the strength to finish her job, but she paused to consider the poor woman and her three loving children who needed the angel to grant their Christmas wish. When she finally reached the top of the fir tree, Mother Spider turned because she thought she heard the flapping of gossamer wings.
There before her was the Christmas Angel, emanating her soft heavenly light. The spider breathed deeply, trying to stay alive for a few moments more. The angel glided to the tree.
“My dear little spider,” the angel whispered in a loving lilt. “What have you done?” She smiled. “You don’t have to speak. I can read your heart. Rest, tender spider, for your labor has won your wish for this desperate family. Behold, your web is now silver spangles and when your spirit departs, I shall make your body into a brooch of rubies and diamonds.”
Mother Spider looked down to see her baby spiders scampering across the branches.
“Your children are here to say their farewell. Go now. What a gift you have given them.”
The next morning the woman and her daughters and son awoke to the sun coming through the window, making the silver tinsel shine. They danced and sang around the tree. Then the mother noticed the ornament at the top and screamed for joy when she saw the rubies and diamonds. The family never wanted for anything again, and shared its good fortune with the destitute of the village.
In the years to come, the spiders who witnessed their mother’s transformation into the grandest Christmas gift ever, told their children who in turn told their children of the miracle they witnessed. Each one wished that one wintry night they would be fortunate enough to live in a fir tree chosen to be blessed by the Christmas Angel.
(Author’note: This is a new interpretation of the Christmas spider legend.)

Family Holiday Dinners

I just hate holiday dinners with the family. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, any excuse for all the old faces to gather to chew on food and each other.
My children, of course, are fine. They know to eat what’s on their plates. We don’t threaten them with anything terrible if they don’t eat their vegetables. You don’t want vegetables? Fine. That means you’re full so you won’t have dessert. All of a sudden those green beans don’t look so bad.
What I hate are the backseat chefs, or whatever you call them. It never fails. My wife is making gravy with evaporated milk when her mother wanders up.
“You’re using a whole can of evaporated milk to make gravy? When we were growing up we were so poor we could only use half a can of evaporated milk and finished it off with water.”
“You had evaporated milk in a can?” my aunt counters. “We were so poor when we were young we only used water in our gravy.”
“You had gravy?” my mother-in-law’s aunt from a second marriage interjects. “My family was so poor we didn’t even have a stove. We stuck the chicken on a dead tree branch and held it over the fireplace. All the drippings sizzled on the logs.”
“You had logs?” Uncle Billy sits up at the table and waves his arms toward the women. Frankly, I don’t remember what side of the family he’s on. He just appeared one Sunday with someone, and they called him Uncle Billy. “We were so poor we had to burn dried cow patties. The smell was awful, but the chicken tasted mighty good. Better than that stuff wrapped up in plastic you get from the grocery store today.”
“You had cows?” Grandpa Grady grabs Billy’s arm and yanks it down. I don’t think Grandpa Grady likes Billy very much. “We didn’t even have cows. Only rich people had cows back in the good old days. We just had goats. And you try to start a fire with goat pellets!”
“I remember one year when we didn’t have any animals at all on the farm.” Grady’s sister Bertha meanders into the kitchen and sticks her nose in the saucepan where the gravy is simmering. She sniffs. “I hope that ain’t giblet gravy. I hate giblet gravy. That stuff gives me gas. You want to have a hard time cooking a family dinner? Try digging parsnips and carrots out of the ground and boil them in the bath water left over from Saturday night.”
“One Sunday we just ate dirt.” Billy brings along this woman who calls herself Ticey. I don’t know if Ticey is Billy’s wife, sister, cousin or girlfriend. No one dares ask. “We were from Oklahoma. That’s all we had. Dirt has a lot of good stuff, iron, minerals. And you thanked the Good Lord you had dirt to eat. Once in a while it rained so we got a treat. Mud pies.”
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, great grandma Donner comes in from the bathroom hitching up her drawers.
“That’s nothing. You should hear the story about Uncle Jim and his family going through this mountain pass one winter.”

Ben-Hur, Done That

Bobby couldn’t believe his luck. His father was actually taking him to the drive-in movies to see Ben-Hur. All his classmates saw it in the walk-in theaters and raved about the sea battle and the chariot race. It showed this one guy scraping the skin off his leg trying to get his chains off. And a lot of guys fall off their chariots and get run over by the horses. This was great stuff.
Bobby didn’t go to many movies since he turned twelve the price went up. The drive-in, on the other hand, were only a dollar a carload. They used to go to the drive-in all the time when Bobby’s brothers lived at home. Five people and only one dollar. His mother didn’t feel like going anywhere anymore. When Ben-Hur came to the local drive-in, Bobby tried to talk his father into taking him. It would be 50 cents per person, dangerously close to what the walk-in theater charged.
“For God’s sake, Grady! Take the damn boy to see the boy to see the damn movie! I’m tired of listening to all his whining!”
So there they sat in their car in the darkness and waited for the screen to go black and the music to come up. By the time Ben-Hur’s boyhood Roman friend came home and tried to talk him into giving him the names of Jewish dissidents, Bobby’s father dropped off asleep, his head flung back against the seat and his mouth wide open. The snoring was deafening. When the soldiers broke through the front door to take Ben-Hur away for throwing a rock at a general, Bobby’s dad fell into the steering wheel, setting off the horn. A group of men charged the car.
“We spent a whole dollar to see this movie! We want to hear it too! Wake him up!
“Mommy said never to wake daddy up,” Bobby whimpered. “She said he would get mad.”
“Well, I don’t give damn if he gets mad or not!” one big man yelled as he jerked open the car door.
Bobby’s father fell out face first into the gravel. The car horn stopped, and the snoring was muffled. The men went back to their cars. Bobby had a tough time concentrating on the rest of the movie. He even missed the part when the guy scraped the skin off his ankle on the boat, because Bobby kept looking at this father lying on the ground. The snoring stopped but if Bobby looked closely he could still see his body go up and down as he breathed. Mom would definitely be upset if he came home with daddy dead. He was supposed to mow the lawn the next morning. Bobby couldn’t keep up with the chariot race. He thought Ben-Hur had the white horses and the Roman the black, but he didn’t know for sure.
By the time Jesus rose from the grave and Ben-Hur decided he didn’t hate anybody anymore, Bobby’s father coughed and snorted, sitting up abruptly on the gravel and then crawling back into his car.
“Ain’t this damn movie over yet?”
“Yes, Daddy. It’s over.”
“It’s about time. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it.”