a word and further word from Tuesdays with Morrie
by Ken Baumann
I shook my head and said nothing. He paused. Starting with an idea, He dreamt he was dying. Koppel said go ahead. I was busy. I did as he
said. Work. Now it was gone. Tuesday people, I repeated. Who?
The disease owns him. I'm a three-year-old, I'm a five-year-old, I'm a thirty-seven-year-old, I'm a fifty-year-old. This was a smokescreen. I heard him exhale. No. He just said that. And I'm choking a lot. Yes? Last night? It was Tuesday. Have you ever really had a teacher? I forgot. He remembered. I raise a hand. I only hoped that, for the next few hours, I could fool him. The phone rang again. Lucky? Did he really say lucky? Don't say that. I put it down. Is something missing? And mine was sitting in front of me. He was eight years old. Please buy my cigarettes. He had hidden it the day it arrived. How old were you? You hate that word, don't you? Two pages. Three pages. Four pages. Don't say anything. I wrote it down. Older, yes? Older. Younger? Younger. Like you, I said. Nothing, I said, changing the subject. I knew it was coming. I could feel its breath. I worked because I could control it. Yes, yes, I quickly said, pressing down the play and record buttons. I'm lost. Then he coughed again. So fast. You think that's strange? He took notes, which is what he was there to do. My jailers. They called. They wrote. I've never had another teacher like you, they all said. That is why we have moonless nights. She said no. I know I didn't. Someone to wipe you. Watched what I ate. More is good. More is good. Can you imagine being unable to move your own head? What was the question? What did you decide? My story. Almost everyone I knew had a problem with it. Makes him sick.
Don't believe it. Do you accept that? I knew. This is such a shame. It's inside all of us. I began to enjoy my dependency. I was the invited party. Embrace it? It's growth. Mahatma Gandhi. I go to where the crowd never boos and no one is drunk in the parking lot. The tension of opposites. Cluck a tongue. Stay at home. They tested his blood. Take a look at this, the producer said. Ahhhhh, God, he would moan. I did not keep in touch.
A passionate, freshman egg salad. I finish a kid softness during the Vietnam War. Instead of chewing, we hug and it cracks me. A far end lotion cast in bronze. So healthy. Chicago, New York, Cambridge, Norman. His office tilted and he calls for his estranged son. The things his helpers so regret. I volunteered the dark callused yellow. I had my question. I had seen those movies. Roll back the eyes, a cellular phone shown me patience. I did what I had become best at doing: spilling coffee in my lap. Three figures near a large Japanese TV producer. This new hand. Waiting was how I operated. Five things at once, mentally ready, emerge. Hundreds of us come down on childhood. A day robe, a biblical prophet, sparkling long speeches and rows of wooden touch. He is crying and his lower teeth hold the first joke on earth.
That would make fresh sense. To rethink. Decay. Thousands upon thousands of funerals. Coach forgot. As proof, as before, I always felt yellow turtlenecks and prayer. Or a black velvet dress. Most of us don't get sores. What's the bugging. Her jeans unsnapped, my hairline, I don't buy it. Professional oblivion had a misery to lift you. Massage my revel. He was giving as an adult and taking as a young, beautiful emphasis. So in the mornings, the two boys were behind the candy store. To make money. Come on, he said to his brother. Get up. Uneducated. He had polio. Forced to wear a show of affection and the energy of two women. He urinated but couldn't understand why both sides didn't simply communicate. I laughed, wipe my laugh. The house wanted your fingers no more than five feet tall. Surrounded by wicker chairs. This time, without the need to make up a true to form dialogue, something like I get to be a baby one more time. He was yourself. Prideful. For all the things we didn't do. A quiet tissue into the wastebasket. Uh-huh? I rolled his toes, that never did any good. I used to beat myself up, choked with shrugged books. Inhale a shower of shower. It's got my legs and lungs and shoulders and I'm sunk. You never know the air he closed his eyes into. Almost magically surrounded by lack. Agnostic for what I miss. The hibiscus plant, the work, the preoccupation with cold food. You go in the Morrie. Nobody could milk a drama with daily details, a universe to difficult eyes. Absorb the rest of us.