Friday, May 6, 2016

death and disruption ... of what?

In order to sound kool and in control and sage, I suppose I could call it all a "confluence" or something similar ... and then invent existentialism or some other hip-pocket folder of explanation or vision....

This morning, out of the blue, I got a small Internet note from someone in Belgium saying she had discovered and was hooked on this blog. Belgium -- imagine that. I suppose it's a sign of my advancing infirmities that I still think of such an instantaneous connection as wildly magical. Yes, I enjoy being flattered as well as the next guy, but more seriously, Belgium???!!! How did that happen?

Dan Aaron
A week ago tomorrow Daniel Aaron, father of boyhood friend Jonathan and colleague for a while of my father at Smith College, died at 103. I wasn't aware of it until yesterday and I hastened to send Jonathan a note of acknowledgment and sympathy. I seldom read the newspapers that consider themselves important, like the New York Times and the Boston Globe, and I didn't see the obit elsewhere. I don't imagine Dan would mind that I was late. I knew him as an easy-going human being who was father to a friend and something of a wild-card in conversation. But I was a teenager ... what could I possibly know or care about his literary 'stature?'

Jonathan's return email informed me that the death, while not unexpected, created a "puzzlement" of some sort for him. Who the hell doesn't feel "puzzlement?" Anyway, we linked up in the small way that email provides and Jonathan retailed a little of....

His wife Rebecca is in the strangle-hold of chemotherapy and by extension (unstated) Jonathan is too. Father dead, wife dying ... a puzzlement puzzling itself like a fistful of lively maggots. You want to say something nice, something consoling, something true and ... puzzlements don't work like that. They wriggle and writhe like some hundred-year-old hoochie-cootchie dancer showing off an impossibly daring bit of boob. Dan's death and Jonathan's difficulties make me realize that somehow I loved and love both of those men and my love tapestry has been somehow frayed. How? I don't know. But I know it. A puzzlement.

And then, this morning, my wife noted in passing that it was Friday and she had "missed Thursday." Days go missing in action as time passes and the scariest bit is not so much that they are lost but rather that there is no import or impact or meaning to that loss. What would you know if you knew it was Thursday? Sure, Thursday was once important enough to fit into the weekly category -- to imply that things needed doing, errands run, obligations met -- but how long can you maintain that fiction?

It's a confluence -- that's what it is. A confluence I tell you! Apparently disparate events convening like some curia of well-dressed clerics. If I call it a "confluence," I can sound competent.

But who can be competent where the hoochie-coochie dancer waves her boobs?


  1. Well you did win another fan from Singapore as well..

  2. Found ten minutes with Dan Aaron on youtube (I remember him well). Perhaps you have seen it: Professor Daniel Aaron -- Editor of Inman diary. Precious glimpse of him late in life.