When I wrote the last diary, I actually wrote two of them, one covering the second and third of July, and one the fourth. I stuck the one for the fourth in a floppy and... I lost it.
It was just plain gone, slipped through some kind of space-time dimensional field or eaten by a hungry ghost or something.
Anyway, a week later I'm doing my laundry and found it inside the washing machine. Must have been inside a shirt pocket.
There was an article too, but the floppy couldn't be read there. Since there are about ninety stories in the queue right now I guess it doesn't matter much.
I thought I was so damned smart...
You don't have to be married to know that there are two days in the year that a married man must never, never, ever forget. One is his wife's birthday, and the other is his wedding anniversary. Woe be to any man who forgets either of these important dates.
I was married on America's bicentennial, a date I was sure to remember. What a dumb move. I just had to pick a day that was impossible to forget...
Actually, it was on the 3rd, as July 4th, 1976 fell on a Sunday, when the judges aren't working and the preachers are. So we made the big day the day before, a Saturday.
In the spirit of the nation's bicentennial birthday, we were wed in the oldest courthouse in or west of the Mississippi valley. The old Cahokia courthouse is older, even, than the country whose birthday we were being married on.
Every year on our anniversary there were fireworks. I wish we had picked a different day.
I never once forgot my anniversary. Not once. What's even more impressive was I never once forgot my wife's birthday, either. Of course, you can probably guess that she forgot mine more than once. Hell, she forgot our kids' birthdays before.
Why is it OK for a woman to forget anniversaries and birthdays, but not men? We sure have a double standard going here. Like I've said, men are stupid, and I'm probably the dumbest one on the planet.
And women are evil. And their leader is my former bride, Evil-X, also known as “Satan”.
This was the first anniversary in over a quarter of a century that I was legally single, although last year we were separated and the year before she claimed to be working, although I think she was giving my fireworks to her new fool rather than working. I was a little blue and lonely in the morning Sunday. I need a girlfriend.
Preferably one half my age. Those Russian girls who keep sending me wedding invitations via email don't count. I need one I can actually touch.
I was determined to forget my anniversary, and celebrate my country's anniversary. I planned to do this, of course, with beer. How else?
Now, New Year's Eve is my real independence day, as that was when my divorce was final. I spent that evening at Dempsey's, as close to where they set off fireworks as you can get. I planned on spending the evening of July 4th there, too.
I went in an hour or so before the fireworks were scheduled to go off, and asked for a Rolling Rock. There still wasn't any cold! I told the bartender to put some on ice and I'd be back, and walked down to the Firehouse.
The Firehouse used to be “Jake and Elwood's” before being bought out by three Springfield firefighters. When it was Jake and Elwood's it was just an ordinary bar like any other bar, with the only theme being the statues of Dan Ankroyd and John Belushi wearing black suits and sunglasses over the front door. They really themed “The Firehouse” up well, though. Its door handles are fire axes, its beer tap is a hydrant, with another non-functional hydrant on the floor by the door. It has a fireman's pole that goes nowhere, just standing there like a ceiling prop. There are charred remnants of firefighting tools on the walls, and photos of buildings burning down.
I got a Rolling Rock. Somebody put money in the jukebox and Johnny Cash started spewing from the speakers. “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die...”
Wow, that Cash fellow sure wrote some friendly, family styled lyrics, didn't he? Too bad the trash they sing these days isn't wholesome family entertainment like that!
It seemed that the only ones in the bar were couples. Including two women who were kissing and groping each other. Damn it ladies, it's OK for men to be gay. In fact, I encourage all heterosexual men to go faggy and let me have their women.
If I were a woman I'd have to be a lesbian.
I finished my beer and walked back on down to Dempsey's. Ordinarily I'd have stayed away out of principle, Mary should have stocked the beer Saturday night, damn it. But the sidewalk in front of Dempsey's gives the best fireworks show.
Besides, that beer should have been cold by now.
Rier (whose name I can never remember exactly how to spell) was checking IDs at the door. His parents were walking up from the opposite way down the sidewalk, and a couple of guys were walking up behind me. “Dude, better check those two, they look kinda suspicious,” I said, pointing at his parents. He grinned.
One of the other people coming in said “yeah, man I know she's not 21!”
Rier groaned. “That's my mom, man!”
Although there were a lot of couples in there at least I wasn't the only seemingly single person, as there were a few groups of people. Including three women who looked like they were having foreplay for a threesome. WTF was it with lizzies on the 4th? I guess God's up there laughing at me again. I don't mind, if He's happy I'm happy.
I drank my beer and got another. People were starting to go outside in preparations for the fireworks, so I did too.
“You can't take that beer outside” Rier said. I simply gave him a dirty look and pointed to a group of a half dozen people swilling from brown bottles. He scurried off to harass them; I downed the beer and threw the bottle in the trash.
The fireworks were very, very good this year. They rivaled the 4th of July fireworks at Disney World, and they go all out on Independence Day there.
My tax dollars at work. All the streets have crater-sized potholes, the sewers flood when it rains too hard, few of the walk/don't walk signals work, quite a few traffic control signals (“red lights”) have at least one light burned out, there is a perceived racism problem (only three of over a hundred city firefighters are black) and 6th street's dotted lines are still as crooked as any politician in Illinois, but they can afford half a million bucks for a fireworks display. Or two – they shoot them off down by the lake, too.
At any rate, it was a real good fireworks display. I went in and got another beer. “Staying for the long haul?” Mary asked. “Might as well” I said, “I don't have to work tomorrow.”
But I didn't. I got bored, finished my beer, and left. I hate kareoke, and it seems that every damned bar in town (at least the ones that are open) have kareoke on Sunday.
I think Rier's singing was what did me in.
As I was walking back to the car, I heard what sounded like live music. On a Sunday? I followed my ears...
There was a band playing outside, in the YWCA parking lot at 5th and Capitol, half a block from where the Governor used to live. No, not the present Governor, he's too damned good to associate with the downstate redneck riff raff like the previous Governors did, all living in the Governor's Mansion at 5th and Edwards. No, this guy's Chicago all the way, and like everybody else in Chicago, thinks Illinois' southern border is Interstate 80.
I don't think he'll be in office a second term. He has a knack for pissing everyone off, not just rich people and Republicans as Democrats usually do. No, this guy pisses off Republicans, Democrats, business, labor, women, men, children, and their furry pets. The state's employee union, who has backed every Democratic candidate for governor since they had a union, claims that next election they're going to back a different Democrat in the primaries, and if Blagoyabich (or however the hell you spell his name) wins the primary, they will back the Republican for the first time in their history. I guess he really pissed them off.
The last Democrat to be Illinois Governor was in the early 1970s. He went to prison as soon as his term was up.
Had the absent Governor actually deigned to live in the Capital city, rather than moving it in a defacto manner to Chicago, he could have opened a window and heard the live music. His loss. Just stay the hell in Chicago, Governor.
In fact, I know how to cut Illinois' crime rate by 95%, increase public school test scores by 90%, reduce unemployment to practically nothing, and a host of other measures that would make Illinois #1 in about everything except population and area. All they have to do is give the Chicago area to Michigan, and give East St. Louis to Missouri.
I don't know who the band was, but I've heard the songs on the radio before. Just not for a really long time... I think it was the “Oak Ridge Boys” or somebody.
It didn't get any less boring. I was home before 11:00, and in bed before midnight.
Well, not actually bed... I left the bed at the foreclosed and reposessed house. It was “our” bed, the one we bought after that really bad car wreck when we had to have a waterbed just to deal with the pain of our injuries.
The one she made love to half a dozen other men on while we were married.
The pain bed.
I've been sleeping on the floor for the last month. I think I'll go buy a couch tonight.