Many years ago, I attended a lecture by a man whose stroke, he warned us, had left him language-impaired. He spoke slowly and deliberately, sometimes using the wrong word. At one point, he lurched into a tragic sentence that began, “My mother, who is still dead…”
I hated myself for it, but I cracked up. I could not stop laughing behind my hand, even as people turned to stare. I felt terrible, let me tell you! Sorry for him, and ashamed and embarrassed for myself. Yet here it is almost thirty years later, and I still find it hilarious. Sometimes, just re-hearing the words in my head, my thumbs will go numb, that’s how serious it is. My circulation is affected by how hard I am crying with laughter. Maybe there’s something neurologically squirrely going on in my brain, too.
Nearly thirty years later.
I wonder if the man with aphasia is still alive?
Or if his mother is still dead?
Got A Minute
It’s been one of those days when everybody I want to talk to is dead. Not their fault; it’s a common-enough type of busy signal to get. I figure, okay then, I’ll drive out to the Russian place, do some shopping. I don’t know any Russians, living or otherwise engaged, so that’s nothing personal. But maybe an aisle of smoked fish will cheer me up.
I put the plastic sack with the butter, rye bread, and wrinkly-skinned mackerel on the passenger seat. “Hey, Mack,” I say as I back out of my spot, “What do you think? Get home quick, or do we got time to take the scenic route?”
Of course I didn’t want children. They can turn out so—wrong. I mean, what if they turned out like me?
Once, when I was bathing Mother, she looked at me, dripping and steamy-eyed, and demanded, Child, does your momma know what you’re doing?
Carrie Cooperider is a writer and visual artist who lives and works in New York City. Her work has appeared in such publications as New York Tyrant, The Antioch Review, the Southampton Review, Cabinet Magazine, and Artishock.