Why Don't You Do A Few Laps Around The House?
I was reminiscing about some things today that I had not thought about in years. Namely, this cousing that I had growing up who must have been in his forties. I think that he was my dad's brother's son, or Uncle Bob's son. Same thing really. I have tried all day to remember his name, and I think that it may have been Jerry, the same as my uncle. I am pretty sure that this cousin is dead now having drank himself to death, although I cannot be certain.
Anyway, this cousin was married to a woman of Asian descent. Maybe she was Vietnamese, I honestly don't remember mcuh about her other than I was not too fond of her. I met these people precious few times in my life but I remember that when they were coming for a visit, for some unknown reason we had
to have catfish, hushpuppies, and coleslaw for dinner. As a child, I was not terribly fond of this meal, and although I do get a hankering every once in a while in my adulthood, I cannot say I am terribly fond of it even now. I suppose the idea was that we were highlighting the most famous local dish or something being as Crescent City, Florida is the home of the annual Catfish Festival.
The first time I remember them coming for a visit I cannot have been more than about 3 or 4 years old. I know this because I distinctly remember this event happening in "the red house", the converted goat barn that was my home until some time around kindergarten. I remember my mother and the Asian lady in the tiny kitchen of this shack making coleslaw. My mother was explaining that she would not put sugar in coleslaw because that was not the way it should be, but that's how restaurants make it. Or something. My dad and Jerry were sitting in the living room which also served as my bedroom while I was sitting on a bar stool at the counter which also served as the dining room table. Looking back on this, I wonder where everyone sat to eat, seeing as there were only three or four barstools. Maybe they didn't feed me or something. Knowing my parent's sensiblilities, I doubt they would have let me eat on the couch or on the floor.
Regarding this house, as I said, it was a converted goat barn. That is to say that before my family took up residence there it had been the homestead of a heard of goats. Literally. You see, many years prior, in the 70s I would imagine, my father had had a trailer on the property along with some livestock, including these goats. While in the process of installing air conditioners on the roof of a new low income high rise in Palatka (which to my eternal sadness is no longer standing) he suffered a heart attack and had to be hospitalized. While in the hospital, his "wife", a woman named Del, had his trailer reposessed by the trailer company. Therefore, upon his return from the hospital, he found that there was nowhere for him to stay. So, he set to work, and in what I understand was short time, he cleaned out the shit from a pole barn and made it into a house. I know for a fact that the floor was patched together from various smaller pieces of wood, due to the fact that the strange green carpet is now old and pulling up and you can see where the pieces of floor were pieced together.
This was a simple house for a man of simple needs. It consisted of a front door which led into a very small living room. This was also my bedroom, the dining room, and the office for my father's service call business. There was a large couch, a huge office desk, my double bed, a standup freezer with the small television on top, and next to that was the kitchen counter, which functioned very much like a bar. On the other side of the bar was the prep counter, the sink, the stove, a suspended convection oven, and the cabinets. When one walked in the front door, if one took an immediate left, there was a small hall that contained the washer and dryer, as well as another freezer. Directly across from the laundry room was a small bathroom, which despite it's small window, always seemed to be the brightest room in the house. Then, on the opposite end of the house from the living room was the bedroom where my father slept. This contained a huge shelving unit that held part of all kinds. In front of this was queen sized bed. There was also a record player and a closet, both of which were of great intrigue to me as a child. Some of my earliest memories are of playing in this bedroom, listening to the albums my sister left behind when she moved out (the day I was born) of Alabama and Michael Jackson. I loved Michael Jackson before I knew he was cool, but as a child, I was convinced that he was a girl. That was of no matter though. I loved looking at the Thriller
album cover while listening to the record because whoever that pretty lady was, she was hanging out with a tiger, and that was neat.
Anyway, back to this cousin of mine. I don't remember much about him as I said, mainly that I thought he looked a great deal like Tom Brokow. I always liked Tom Brokow and from an early age I was a fan of NBC Nightly News. I was very concerned about the Gulf War, especially since I was told that another cousin, Steven, whom I had never met was serving over there, jumping out of planes. I liked cousin Jerry because he looked like Tom Brokow. I did not, however, like his wife.