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5:57 a.m. - 2002-03-15

MR. COMPASSION MAKES A TRIUMPHANT RETURN

UPDATE: We have been approved for a loan to buy the house. The dream has become a reality, I repeat...the dream has become a reality. We are building our dream home. That is all.

Ladies and gentlemen, we've now come to the part of the show that we like to call "Not A Whole Helluva Lot Going On".

The elderly at my church are dropping like flies lately. Last week I had to call people to tell them an old Hawaiian guy died.

Last night, another member of the church died. This was an old lady who had those plastic oxygen tubes in her nose. Those things always gave me the creeps anyway. You just know she had them because she probably smoked for ninety years and it's really hard to feel sorry for her when she brought this on herself.

I always wondered about those tubes that old people put in their noses to breathe. Do they lubricate them in any way? My nostrils are kinda small for being such a big guy so I don't have much room for tubes in there and if I had to get them, I'd sure want them greased up with vaseline or something. I used to have the nickname Prince Tiny Nostrils way back when. I don't remember the exact dates, which is why I used the term "way back when". It sounds like a long time ago, but it could have easily been last week.

Anyway, I had to call my list of people to tell them that Jessie had died. While looking at my list of seven names and comparing them to all the other names on everyone else's list, I made the decision that I have got the worst list of people to call. Two of the people are cool and come to church regularly. One comes to church regularly but I've never spoke to the guy because he has a humpback and he's all bent over with his head facing downwards and I feel like I'd have to lay on the floor on my back in order to hold a conversation with the guy so I just avoid him which makes it easier for both of us. The other four people never come to church because they're so old and feeble that it's fruitless for them to even try. By the time they got up on Sunday morning, took a bath and fluffed up their wigs, church would be over. So why bother?

Anyway, the two cool ones are either never home or they have caller ID, see that it's me and don't bother answering the phone because they're in the cool loop and already know that whoever I'm calling about is wrapped up in a morgue somewhere.

The humpback answers his phone and lets you know through his speech pattern that it requires a great deal of effort for him to say "Hello".

"Huh-huh-huh-hullo?"

"Yeah Alvin...Jessie died. Funeral's Saturday at noon at the church. Try to drag your hunchass down there. We're all gonna be signing her nose tubes and oxygen tank before they close the coffin, kinda like you signed your buddy's casts when they broke their legs. Peace out."

Then I had to call Dot. Dot's the one that thinks I'm calling to offer her prayer in this time of sorrow. Dot hasn't been to church since the 70s and has no idea who I'm talking about when I call her. Maybe she thinks I'm telling her that her Mom's died or something. Dot is elusive and mysterious. And senile as hell.

So I called Dot and after having to go through the Secret Service wannabes that answer the phone at the old folks' home, I got patched through to Dot.

I told her Jessie had died. She asked "Who?" I told her Jessie again. I wanted to say "Look, you wouldn't know her. It's not important. It's just that you're on a list here of people that I'm supposed to call when people die. Please don't get all bent out of shape about this. Somebody you never met died, that's it, that's all, go back to your Golden Girls marathon and let me call the last bunch of people please."

But of course, it wasn't that easy.

DOT: "Will you lead us in prayer?"

ME: (sigh)"Heavenly father ... you have taken Jessie away to that big oxygen tent in the sky. I'm sure she was a good woman who just happened to have tubes coming out of her nose which made it hard for people to talk to her because their eyes would focus squarely on those tubes and they'd say things like 'I hear the weather supposed to be extra nose-tubey this weekend' and then feel real stupid. Watch over her with your infinite watchoverness. And please watch over Dot. Dot's in need of your Godness. Dot is a fragile flower in your garden of old people and she's all panicky and shit about dying or something which is understandable. When you get to be Dot's age and you break your hip on an hourly basis, you're bound to start courting the grim reaper eventually. Dot's ready to hold hands with you, Lord. She wants to skip rocks off of clouds and see all of her family and friends, even if they have wings now. I guess that's kinda freaky, seeing your high school boyfriend with wings, but I think Dot's ready for it. She's prepped. If death was like bladder surgery, she'd have all her crinkly gray pubes shaved by now. She's good like that. So, you know ... go ahead and take her if you think it's time. It's in your name we pray ... Amen."

DOT: (silence)

ME: "Dot???"

DOT: "Amen".

ME: "Don't scare me like that Dot. I thought you were dead and I'd have to go back and call everyone on my list again."

DOT: "Will you pray with me?"

ME: "I just did, Dot. I've gotta go. Friends is about to start. Don't break your neck hanging up the phone now. Peace out."

(click)

I hate this calling people to tell 'em people died crap.

What I'm REALLY going to hate is when someone popular dies. Someone that people actually know and who hasn't been shoved in a closet in a nursing home for the last 20 years. Everyone's going to want to sit and reminisce with me on the phone.

Man.

I dread that day.

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