I remember duck-hunting with old Uncle Coot, a lifelong Norwegian bachelor who, upon hearing of my impending nuptials, gave me the keys to his old Ford and said, “run, son. Run like the wind.” I didn’t take him up on it, due to the sedation of my 401K drip and the near-vesting of company medical benefits.
He said it wasn’t that I sold my soul that bothered him, it was how easily I’d sold it. A tear came to my eye the next morn, when in the ebullient May light I could see the charred edges of our magnolia bushes, and a big patch of blackened vegetation just beyond the welcome mat. Coot had been a little tipsy the night before, his imagination a bit overtaxed, and I reckon he thought he was out west again, where you can have campfires in your front yard since your front yard’s normally a hundred acres.
Uncle Coot didn’t have a social security card or a birth certificate or anything reeking of beaucracy, so no one knew how old he was when we celebrated his birthday. He always used to sneer the lyrics to a Merle Haggard tune: “....so keep your retirement, and your so-called social security.....think I’ll walk off my steady job today”. Coot never held a steady job, or any job really, so it was kind of ironic when he sang it, although no one ever pointed that out to Coot. I thought it was really cool that he could have a blind spot that big, but then everything about Coot was big.