Dé Domhnaigh, Bealtaine 24, 2009

Tales From North Platte

There have been sporadic studies and news articles about the difficulties of being a first-generation university grad. Let me boil it down for you. My two best friends are currently living abroad. My mother has never ridden the subway. Neither has my sister or most of my cousins.

"Living in this town is like being in high school forever."

So saith Brian Keith, first cousin via our common maternal grandparents, Ivan and Shirley Beran, still alive and dying. It was far and away the wisest thing I've ever heard the boy say, and possibly the smartest thing he's ever done, unless one counts the times he resisted the urge to quit some especially unpleasant construction job for a day or two for the sake of feeding his children. It was the sort of line that puts a writer to shame. How many hours have I spent typing how many characters to describe how and why the rural life is bad for you? And all it is is a spontaneous line spoken by a high school dropout.

But who am I to question Brian's judgement? I'm emotionally closer to him than any other releative save the folks; and biology gives him an advantage over Dan for the title of surrogate brother. More to the point I am coming down from cocaine and am fresh home from a two-man three-way with a forty-year old single mother who has miraculously kept her beauty dispite her habits. What can I say? There is a brief moment in late spring when the Great Plains is the most gorgeous place in the world, and the poison of North Platte and every place like it becomes strangely alluring. And I have always known how to play this place. The game is very simple. Joshua D. Beran is North Platte and Madonna/Whore. Take that away and all you have is some mindless imp fellating Ernie Chambers.

My mother is about three inches shorter than me; lacks mustache and goatee, breasts noticibly more protrusive through her shirt than mine. Hair color exactly the same, parted through the middle. We went to work on my ailing grandparents yard both dressed in olive green Nebraska-logo shirts and black sweatpants. Some fellow at a gas station we stopped at on the way said I looked just like her. This was both unnessesary and unwanted. I had already noticed and was already writhing in primal disgust. I was wearing proper work shoes while she was wearing those God damned Crocs of hers. That makes all the difference in the world.

An older friend of Mom's from the VFW auxillery told us that her husbands lung cancer had spread to his brain. My mom asked if there was anything our family could do and the matron said that she couldn't thin of anything. Mom is fifty two and smokes a pack-and-a-half a day. Grandpa takes too much radiation therapy to handle sunlight anymore. I will ride the subway in their name. They will be blurbs in my biography forever, or else I will be a blurb in my childrens, or else they will be a blurb.

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