Thursday, December 21, 2017

December 21: An Old Fart, Winter Solstice, Calumet

And they're all grown up now, and I'm an old fart with his memories and his Pall Malls.  My name is Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumbermill there.

Sometimes I try to call up old girl friends on the telephone late at night, after my wife has gone to bed.  "Operator, I wonder if you could give me the number of a Mrs. So-and-So.  I think she lives at such-and-such."

"I'm sorry, sir.  There is no such listing."

"Thanks, Operator.  Thanks just the same."

And I let the dog out, or I let him in, and we talk some.  I let him know I like him, and he lets me know he likes me.  He doesn't mind the smell of mustard gas and roses.

"You's all right, Sandy," I'll say to the dog.  "You know that, Sandy?  You're O. K."

Sometimes I'll turn on the radio and listen to a talk program from Boston or New York.  I can't stand recorded music if I've been drinking a good deal.

Sooner or later I go to bed, and my wife asks me what time it is.  She always has to know the time.  Sometimes I don't know, and I say, "Search me."

I think about my education sometimes.  I went to the University of Chicago for a while after the Second World War.  I was a student in the Department of Anthropology.  At that time, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody.  They may be teaching that still.

Another thing they taught was that nobody was ridiculous or bad or disgusting.  Shortly before my father died, he said to me, "You know--you never wrote a story with a villain in it."

I told him that was one of the things I learned in college after the war.

Vonnegut is feeling old, thinking back on old times, old girlfriends.  He wants to somehow reconnect with his past in some way.  So he chases it in the middle of the night.  He is Yon Yonson who works in Wisconsin in a lumbermill. 

Greetings from the city of Calumet.  It's an old mining town, but I'm pretty sure that another one of it's industries was lumber.  I used to vacation with my family near here when I was a kid.  We stayed in a little hunting camp in the middle of the woods for two weeks every summer.  I don't remember a whole lot of those times, except for the bear claw marks on pine tree trunks and the smell of the outhouse.

We drove up to the Copper Country after I got off work this afternoon.  It felt like a long trip, even though it was really less than two hours.  It's the Winter Solstice, so light was in short supply.  By about 5:30, the sky was almost black as we drove along the shores of Lake Superior.  We got to our hotel a little after 6 p.m.

We are on this little excursion because I am performing for a radio variety show at the Calumet Theatre tomorrow night.  I'm reading poetry and an essay, acting in some skits, and singing (not very well) a commercial jingle.  Just got back from a rehearsal.  It's a little after ten o'clock.  Tomorrow, it's another rehearsal, followed by the actual shows (two of them) in the evening.

I haven't been surrounded by a crowd of performers and musicians for about ten years.  It felt a little like a homecoming.  As soon as I sat down in the auditorium to watch the rehearsal, I wasn't anxious anymore.  I knew I was surrounded by people who respected me and what I could do.  It almost made me want to take up acting and directing again.  Almost.

Tonight is the start of Christmas.  I'm away with my family, doing something I love.

Saint Marty is supremely thankful for this night and this trip.,

No comments:

Post a Comment