Monday, September 19, 2011

No Flowers, Please

Gogi? I remember saying. Is that your real name?

She said something to me, something impertinent I'm sure, that was lost in the whirring of the blender.

Grasshopper? She said a moment later, offering me a thick green drink in a jelly jar.

I swear, I said, I could drink these all night.

I do, she said.

Later, she put a record on her turntable and said, my mother used to sleep with this guy who's playing tenor. She used to follow Shelly Manne around, and I'm sure she slept with pretty much everybody in his band. She spent half of her life chasing after musicians, until she got too old and worn out. Then she started tending bar in this law-and-order dive, and all she ever dated were old cops. The last twenty years of her life she dated one cop after another. The same guys who used to make life so miserable for her old musician friends. They treated her like shit, the fat bastards. Funny, isn't it?

She went back to the kitchen and fired up the blender again, and when she returned she settled back in on the couch and said, my mother had this big, fat scrapbook full of signed photos and I.O.U.s from jazz musicians, most of them written on cocktail napkins or scraps of placemats. It was like a who's who of jazz musicians, seriously. Those sponges fucked her and drank up all her money and then dumped what was left of her for the old cops to pick over. I wish I still had that scrapbook. I wonder what happened to it? I'll bet something like that would be worth a lot of money.

She got up and put another record on the stereo. I'm sure my mother screwed this guy too, she said. I remember him coming around and crashing on our couch in his underwear. He was an A-number-one creep. Creep central. Bad complexion, bad teeth, nothing really to recommend him other than a decent wardrobe and the fact that he could play music. I guess that was enough for my mother. Me, I've always hated musicians. Every one I've ever met was a bum who never even pretended to be a decent human being unless he was on a stage somewhere, and that was just so they could get some woman like my mother to sleep with them and buy them drinks. Don't get the wrong idea, I love music; I just hate musicians, and don't even try to tell me that's not possible or I'll claw your eyes out.

I'm sure it's possible, I said. I don't have a doubt in the world it's possible.

Oh, Jesus, she said. Don't kiss my ass like that. It's so unbecoming.

I had some fine times with Gogi. We laughed a lot. She really did drink grasshoppers every night, and she had one hell of a record collection. She also had a lot of nice clothes. She hated crowds, I also remember that. I lost track of her when I moved in the early eighties, which wasn't unexpected; I should warn you, she'd told me when I stopped by her place to say goodbye, I don't keep in touch, so this really is adieu.

I found her obituary online a few weeks back, in a Phoenix newspaper. She died in 2002, at the age of 52, which meant that she was older than I thought, but still not nearly old enough. The obituary didn't say how she died, or, rather, of what. She wasn't survived by a husband or any children, which didn't surprise me, of course. Just a brother in Boston, I think. No flowers, please, the obit said, and suggested memorials to the Humane Society. I keep telling myself that one of these days I'll get around to sending a check.


  1. nice post, I don't often like Blogs, I respond even less...but that was great.


  2. Thank you, Klecko. This is just the one place that will take my words.

  3. This is a real tear jerker, seriously. I like the way it's written, straight forward and kind of cinematic. You set up a reality, with simple, in the room presence, while permeating into history. I'm writing this awkwardly, but I like very much how you created instant characters who have a present space and an inner space of history.

  4. Thanks a million, Susan. That's so nice, and not awkward at all.