The Family of Saltimbanques
February 8, 2012 § Leave a Comment
By Peter Szulc
“Good morning Richard!
Oh I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number. Well no, that offer is exciting. Normally I’d love to have curry delivered to my house, but-where do I live? Where do you work? Raleigh, eh? Well I live far from Raleigh. Garner, in fact .Not worth your time for delivery. Different zip codes and everything. Look I just dialed the-yes ok thank you.”
You need to terminate your current cell phone number with extreme prejudice. Did you know it’s basically the same as a restaurant in Raleigh called The Palace of Curry? Well, I can’t judge its quality, but if it’s anything like its customer relations it’s probably on the poor to very poor end of the spectrum. How should I tell, then? You’ve travelled a lot more than I ever did, you must know what good curry is and isn’t. No, no, no hostility towards exotic cultures intended.”
-Does my head feel wet? Or is that just because the floor’s cold? Note to self: carpet floor.
“What was that? Ok, well, the crap will be cut presently. Your dad needs you to do him a big favor, Rich. Don’t pull that amnesia bit, you act like your old man never calls you. Yes, your old man, regardless of what a certain psychiatrist may be implying. Joking of course.”
-I really don’t know where this “I root against your favorite football team and I’m not your son” thing has come from. I’m chalking it up to an extended joke. From this angle the cracks in the ceiling look Mandelbrotian. Finding patterns is such a relief because it becomes impossible to un-see them once you tease them out.
“I shouldn’t have said that. I know you and James are progressing at a fast clip. Oh, I have to call him ‘Dr. James?’ That’s just his first name but with ‘Doctor’ in front of it. It makes him sound less formal. I could see Dr. Kowalski, sure, but-Yes I was kidding of course I knew his last name was Konrad. I was just making a point, Rich.”
-I need thicker shirts. I can actually feel the ridges in the tiles through this one. You can’t ask people for shirts for your birthday nowadays. They always think you’re trying to make yourself look so selfless that pampering you becomes a moral imperative. It just goes to show that everybody’s got a little manipulative streak to them, absolutely everybody.
“Look, Rich, I’ll be straight with you. In fact, I’m horizontal with you right now. Basically I’ve fallen, Richard and I can’t get up. How?
How are your paintings, Richie? Well, can’t say I’m familiar with that technique but you’ve had a chance to do a lot more reading on the arts than I ever did. You are absolutely one hundred percent correct: I’m rambling. I’ll get over to the gallery to see your handiwork at some point.”
-If you can’t trust a stepladder who can you trust? At least with a tool there’s a limited number of facets to understand. Then, of course, they all decide to fail in unison.
“Yes, I did receive your Picasso calendar just in time for the New Year. I’m still looking through all the paintings, though. I want to see the whole gestalt before I have to drive a tack through those suckers, you know? Before I hang them up. I used that term right didn’t I? Gestalt? I’ve read a bit, but not as much as you were able to, of course. You know they said I had some aptitude with art, and I’ll tell you, looking at some of these Picassos don’t you think your old man could have given him a run for his money? You don’t?”
-This is the second time I’ve nearly died while hanging a “Birds of America” calendar. I’ve always said my life was a Hitchcock film waiting to happen.
“Now come over here and help me up, please Richard. You’re selfishly using this opportunity to have a referendum on our relationship for the last 30 years and now is neither the time nor the place. I want to settle this whole affair smoothly without having to make a scene for my neighbors.
Wait a minute, when did I ever make you read ‘Self-Reliance?’ 3rd Grade? Well, damn right, of course I did! The title alone should indicate that it’s worth your time! I always said it takes a man to be self-reliant, but it also takes a man to know when he’s licked and by God gravity has licked me.”
-Would you like to talk? I can tell you a story about when I was kid. You know what I had to do every Fourth of July? I had to fill up a bucket of water and watch the Killer Bees and the Roman Candles and the M-80s convulse and choke to death on their own sparks. Then I had to pour that bucket over the driveway. I got very good at the specific science of maximizing the area I covered. So good, in fact, that I ended up spending more time looking at the driveway than at the fireworks. That must have been the whole point of the exercise, training me to think a certain way, I know that now. I never made you do this. You simply don’t have a head for figuring these sorts of things out, but that’s what I’m best at.
Well if you want me to stay down here could you at least order me some curry.”