Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Little Taste of Grandpa's Cough Syrup

He places a couple of large glasses of whiskey on the table and lights a cigarette.  “Ya shouldn’t be smokin’.”

“Worried I might get cancer or somethin’?” Grandpa retorts with a laugh.”  Don’t worry.  I need some pleasure before da cancer, I do have, kills me.”  He takes his seat on the dark patio overlooking the backyards of several homes.  “So, have ya thought ‘bout what I said?  Ya know, ‘bout who ya are ‘nd whatcha gonna do with yerself?”

“Is that what da alcohol is fer?” I joke.  “Yeah, I’ve actually thought ‘bout it every day since I can remember.  Still don’t have an answer though.  Do ya have da answer?”

“Do I have da answer?  Ha!  I’d hafta be quite an asshole ta say that I did.  Do ya think I know what’s in yer heart ‘nd how ya should be livin’?”

“Probably better than anyone else would.”

“Well, I’m no fool ‘nd I’m tellin’ ya I can’t answer those questions fer ya.  But, ya gotta find a purpose fer livin’.  Ya either live fer yer purpose or ya float ‘round doin’ nothin’.”  He swirls his glass and the ice races around the amber liquor.

“So…”  I look up at the stars and coyly ask, “How do I come up with a purpose ‘cause I don’t know what mine is.”

“Good question…  I s’pose before ya get a purpose ya hafta know who ya are.  No sense tryin’ ta become President if ya hate politics.”  He smashes his cigarette butt into a pile of ashes and lights another.  “From my view, ya become who ya are ‘cause of a hodge-podge of experiences ‘nd yer reactions to ‘em.  Makes ya grow by seeing things dif’rently.”

“Reactions ta my experiences, eh?  Hmm…” I think I better top off our glasses.  “So, my reaction is bein’ tired nd’ watchin’ TV ‘cause my experience is workin’ two shifts atta terrible job.  What’s that mean?”

“I dunno.  We gotta find da meanin’ of life out tagether, I guess.”

“This is getting’ too deep fer me,” I tease.  The smell of the neighbor’s burning leaves act like meditating incense for the evening.  “Think we’ll figure out da meanin’ of life tanight?”

“A smartass like ya’s purpose should be comedy.  A real Johnny Carson.  Do ya take anythin’ seriously?”  I get a stern look.

“Nah.  That’s da secret ta a ‘good’ life.  Anyway, what do ya think I should do?  Go back ta college ‘nd earn another degree ‘nd debt?  I’ve been applyin’ fer jobs every day with little-ta-no response.  I’m barely livin’ off of side work.  So, I’m not sure what else ta do.”

“Ferget ‘bout a career ‘nd money.  That’s da way da Devil gets ya.  We hafta focus on what’s important.  We have ta be ourselves.  Luke, ya hafta matter.”

“Okay…” It’s difficult not to roll my eyes.  “Great.  How can I be ‘myself’ ‘nd ‘matter’?”

“What do ya want outta life?  If ya could do anythin’, what would ya do?”

“Umm…  I dunno.  I’d be a rock star or somethin’.  Ya know, something fun ‘nd creative.”

“Good!  Yer a ‘musician’.  I like it.  Now, how can we improve yer skills with singin’ ‘nd da guitar?  Buy ya some lessons?  Fix up yer equipment in the attic ‘nd start practicin’.  Ya need music in yer life.  Ya may not become rich ‘nd famous, but at least ya’ll do somethin’ ya enjoy.  Takin’ yer life ‘nd turnin’ it inta songs is who ya could be.”

“Sounds nice.  I’ll be da most talented bum livin’ under da bridge.  I can’t afford my lifestyle now.  How could I bein’ all artsy-fartsy?”

“Luke, listen ta me.”  He leans over and stares with an intensity I’ve never seen before.  “Ya gotta decide what ya wanna do or someone’s gonna do it fer ya.  Either ya choose ta pursue music or ya become a slave fer that restaurant, bar, landscaper, or whatever crap ya’ve been doin’.  But, if yer not happy, ya gotta make a change.  Once ya know how ya wanna live, then ya can worry ‘bout payin’ da bills.  Yer at a point in yer life where ya can walk ‘way from everythin’ ‘nd start clean.”

“What ‘bout you?”

“Me?  I’m atta dif’rent part of life.  Soon, ya won’t hafta worry ‘bout me either.  But, as I said before, I’d be a fool ta tell ya ta be a musician or anythin’ else.  That’s somethin’ ya hafta tell yerself.  But, life’s too short ta be doin’ somethin’ ya hate.”  

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