Friday, September 2, 2011

Combatwords, September 2, 2011: Yes

Combatwords, September 2, 2011: Yes

Those who know me know that I can be very negative. I refuse so that I might demonstrate some discipline. I refuse because I fear what I am like when I am unhindered. I refuse because it is inconvenient for me to say yes. 'No' I will not talk to him. 'No' I will not comply. No is the domain of death, zero and yin. But life is yes. Love is yes. Danger is yes.

Thrive, live, act—say 'yes' to Combatwords this week.

Combat Expiration: 12am PST, 9/5/2011

Critique Expiration: 12am PST, 9/7/2011

Bonuses/Penalties: +2 if posted by 9pm PST 9/2/2011, +1 if posted by 3am PST 9/3/2011, -1 if posted by 6am PST 9/5/2011, -2 if posted by 12pm PST 9/5/2011

The Rules:

ps: the song is from an album called 'Yes.' I didn't pick that track because this song is better. See? I said yes to a controversial aesthetic judgment!

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  1. When my alarm clock rang at six this morning, I wondered if it would still work if it fell thirty feet, so I threw it out my window. I needed to be ready for a meeting by eight, but I wanted to sleep, so I slept. My sleep was interrupted by my phone, so I shut it off. I slept until noon.

    When I got out of my bed, I considered all the men who have sex right after they wake up and then have breakfast cooked for them. I thought my odds might not be so bad, so I knocked on my neighbor's door and asked. To politely summarize her, she said to try someone else. After sixty eight rejections and mistaken identities and intentions, I met a woman who had sex with me and then cooked me eggs, toast and bacon. I even got to have sex after breakfast too.

    I didn't want to stay with her, so I got ready to leave. She asked to join me. I said 'Yes.' I hailed a cab and told the cabbie that I was a famous storyteller and that I would pay her for the ride when I got home. On a crowded street I helped my bedmate and chef from the car and told the cabbie that she could sell my story for a profit. She didn't think that was a good deal and called the cops on me, but my Breakfast Buddy and I disappeared in the crowd.

    We passed a costume shop, where I bought a George W Bush mask. I told BB to meet me at the train station. I put the mask on, walked into a bank and told the tellers to give me all their money. It wasn't a crime, because I simply commanded them to do so and they did so.

    I ducked into the crowd. I tore off my mask, tore off my jacket and went down the stairs of the subway. I met B and B and we rode on the train while I counted my money. I knew that the cameras had missed me, that somehow I dodged them. I felt so damned free, so I kissed her. We got off at the next stop and we rode on the bus. It was crowded. The traffic was slow. A cabbie had mangled a bicyclist, a goner, some dude who would bleed out on Market street streetcar rails. I shouted 'I'm sorry! I'm sorry!' But everyone thought I was crazy. I had nothing to do with it at all.

  2. Mom died the night before. A guy from the nursing home called to tell me. I called the mortuary that morning. "We were wondering when we'd hear from you," the man said, as if I'd taken too much time. I had to justify myself: "They called me last night. I woke up and showered and called you as soon as I could." I suppose I can understand his position: He had a body in his mortuary and he didn't know when he was going to hear from me. What if I had been out of the country, I wondered. Then he would've really had an issue. "What am I going to do with this body?" he would've said to himself. "I can't bury her until the guy comes in and pays me."

    So I went to the mortuary to pay him. Turned out that I owed more than I thought. Mom had paid for her plot when we buried dad, but she hadn't paid for a bunch of other things, like the opening and closing of the grave and the vault - a steel case to hold the deceased, a state requirement that was adopted after my dad's burial to prevent cemetery grounds from sinking as the coffins rot and the weight of the earth collapses them.

    We made some small talk. He was a friend of my best friend's father. So we had something in common. In a way. He usually dealt with corpses. I was not a corpse. I admit I wasn't very perky that day, but I was still not a corpse.

    Next up was the choice of the coffin. Obviously, the higher-end models were out of the question. The cheapest one was the plain pine box. About $750, if I remember. For another $750 they stained it in cherry wood for you. I thought my mom deserved that. She liked nice things. But I wondered if I was thinking rationally. So I asked the only person I could ask. The undertaker.

    "I have no money," I said. "Is it insane for me to spend an extra $750 on a nicer coffin?" I thought he'd assure me it wasn't. But he was honest.

    "I can't tell you," he said. "That's up to you."

    "Do you have a payment plan," I asked?

    "No, we don't have a payment plan." As if I'd ask the stupidest question anyone had ever asked him. And I thought he'd show me some consideration being that he was friends with my friend's dad. And my mom had just died. And I hadn't left him sitting there for days with my mom's body.

    "Will you take a credit card?" I asked. At that point, I wondered: Is this a cash-only service? If it were, we were both in trouble. I couldn't afford to bury mom and he would've had a body on his hands, a pre-paid cemetery plot but a guy without enough money to pay for a steel vault, grave-digging services and a cherrywood-stained coffin.

    Fortunately, he said YES to the credit card. He picked up the phone and gave American Express the numbers. Then he said: "Excuse me" and transferred the call to the back room. This is what I surmise he told American Express:

    "You've got to raise this guy's credit limit ... No? Look, if you've ever done anyone a favor, do one now. His mom just died. I have a cemetery plot for her, but he's got to pay for our services and a coffin. ... No? Have you no mercy? Not even for a guy trying to bury his mom?"

    Somehow, someway, he got them to say YES. Not for the whole thing. I had to put some on another credit card. That was 10 years ago. I balance-transferred one of the cards and may have paid off the share of the debt that I used to finance mom's burial. But I still have a balance on the other card. I think there still may be a little portion of mom's burial cost on there, that I'm still paying month after month, year after year. It's probably down to a hundred dollars or so by now, maybe less.

    Sometimes when I pay my bills I can hear mom saying YES.