An Award-Winning Disclaimer

A charming little Magpie whispered this disclaimer into my ear, and I'm happy to regurgitate it into your sweet little mouth:

"Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for those of you who start to laugh and piss your pants a little. Although this blogger understands the role he has played (in that, if you had not been laughing you may not have pissed yourself), he assumes no liability for damages caused and will not pay your dry cleaning bill.

These views represent the thoughts and opinions of a blogger clearly superior to yourself in every way. If you're in any way offended by any of the content on this blog, it is clearly not the blog for you. Kindly exit the page by clicking on the small 'x' you see at the top right of the screen, and go fuck yourself."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Down to Zero

"Oh the feeling
When you're reeling
You step lightly thinking you're number one
Down to zero with a word
For another one

Now you walk with your feet
Back on the ground
Down to the ground
Down to the ground."

My wife and I have been spending a lot of time recently watching "Homicide: Life on the Street". It's a police procedural-- well, it's a lot more than that-- that was filmed in Baltimore, and Fells Point, from 1993-1999, and it was one of my favorite shows on television when I was in middle and high school. There's a picture of me, somewhere, standing in front of the building that was used as the headquarters, in Fells Point-- and I'm grinning in that picture about as big as I can.

I can remember well watching Pembleton, who made suspenders look cool, scream a confession out of some moke in The Box, or Bayliss going through some existential crisis, or Munch never doing any actual police work-- just cracking wise, or paranoid. I can remember the brilliant Yaphet Kotto astonishing with his performance as Al Giardello, expertly towing the line between rabid attack dog and sensitive mentor. I can remember watching this show in 1998 when I decided to enter college as a theatre major, but I can remember watching "Homicide" in my parents' basement dreaming not of becoming an actor, but becoming a cop.

Instead, I became a father. I wrote a book about cops. I appear in local theatre plays. And, in 2011, I'm still watching "Homicide", with my best friend beside me on the couch-- and she loves it-- while she breastfeeds our twins, or pumps.

The song lyrics at the beginning of this blog are from the Joan Armatrading song "Down to Zero". The song plays at the end of the Season 5 episode of "Homicide" called "Prison Riot". I love Joan Armatrading's voice. It's a lot like Tracy Chapman's, and it's frequently confused for hers, but there's an earthier quality, a more impassioned fervor to Armatrading's voice. Something. If I knew more about music, or anything, maybe I could tell you what it is, but I don't know.

The older I get, the more I realize that there's a lot I don't know.

Life's funny. On December 15th, my twins were born. I didn't get to cut the cords, because the O.R. was way too chaotic, and my son came out white as a hospital wall. I was hurt, bummed-- diminished, I suppose might be a better way to describe it. My daughter had jaundice, my son had to have help to breathe, but we all went home together, and they grew, and we fell into a new routine, of feeding, and pumping, and watching Kay Howard, Meldrick Lewis, Mikey Kellerman, John Munch, Tim Bayliss, Frank Pembleton slug their way through another shift on the dirty streets of Bal'more.

Maybe four days after we got home with the twins, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. Stage 4. Metastases in his stomach, his liver, his brain. Multiple masses in the brain, including one that was so huge it was growing even while he was hospitalized. A mass that's 9 centimeters in his chest. He's lost thirty pounds in no time at all.

No time at all. Down to zero.

Down to the ground,
Down to the ground.

I was reminded, in thinking of all this, of the story of a young New York City patrolman who, on one particular shift in the early 1970s, shot and killed a suspect who had pulled a gun on him, and, several hours into the same shift, delivered a baby. That's how fucked up life is-- that these things happen like that. That life can come in and go out so soon, so close. My brother-in-law's life has not gone out, but it feels as though it is on its way out, as the lives of my children begin.

And what's to be done? My mother-in-law wants to send them lasagna, and cookies. She wants to festoon my nephew's room and life with an abundance of toys to make up for the fact that his father won't see much of 2012, let alone 2013. People want to clean their house and hold beef-n-beer benefits. People want to pay their bills, and I guess I hope they do. Me? I don't know what I want to do. It sounds cruel, but I have two children to raise and provide for, and I don't know how to do that, and I feel like I've got to start figuring that out. I never figured me out, and I guess that's going to have to wait until, I don't know-- retirement?


In the meantime, I'll be changing diapers, and receiving more bad news texts from my sister, and watching "Homicide" with my wife while our twins snore on our chests.

Since news of my brother-in-law's ill health broke on New Year's Day, I know now what Joan Armatrading is singing about, about being down to zero-- at the beginning, or at the end, it barely makes a difference. Sleep-deprived, half-psychotic, half-dreaming, in love, in mourning, in despair, infatuated, indefinable.

Down to the ground,
Down to the ground.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got something to say? Rock on with your badass apron!