Safety Box 617

The bank clerk she could not find the safety box sign in card that would allow me to sign in to Safety Box 617. She searched several times through the hundreds of cards, and still could not find my signature card.

“I know it is there,” I said. “ I have accessed the box just last month.”
“I don’t know what has happened, but I can’t find it”, she said.
I was certain that the card was there, and with some hesitancy, I requested that another bank person search the file. The clerk agreed.

Within minutes the bank manager arrived, and began another search. On his first attempt, he found the card. It was in the G file, but stuck to another card. I signed the card, and the officer allowed me entrance to the vault. He removed, Box 617, and brought me into the private viewing room, and he left the room.

The box was full of jewelry – some real, and other costume jewelry. The box was Suzanne’s history. The box was Suzanne’s stuff. I intended to collect the jewelry and send the pieces to my daughter Tania.

I had previously packed some pieces in small storage bags, and others of more value I wrapped in tissue paper. Earrings, pins, broaches, and rings were all packaged separately. As I unwrapped the real jewelry, I found a multiple stranded pearl necklace, with a gold clasp. I knew that piece. Suzanne had worn that necklace so many times. She wore the necklace when she was wearing a dress or gown that was quite revealing. The pearls rested on her chest, and she looked so lovely. Among the jewelry was another very long string of pearls, but not as ornate as the multiple stranded set of pearls with the gold clasp.

As I looked at the necklaces, and the bags of jewelry, I became overwhelmed with emotion. Tears in my eyes. My hands trembled. I touched the pieces, and brought the necklaces close to my face, and to my nose. Could I smell Suzanne? I thought I remembered her smell. I did remember her smell, and I could only think of Suzanne. Her skin, smell, smile – mostly her smile. I took some of the tissue to wipe my eyes. Box 617 held Suzanne – her person, and not my memories of her – but her. Many thoughts of our life together. Each one just fleetingly, and not complete, but each one joyful – so joyful. I was missing her, but the jewelry kept her in the room.

I had brought a cloth sack to use to take the jewelry back home with me. I placed the jewelry in the sack, and checked the box to be certain that nothing was left in the box. Prior to leaving the private room, I contacted the bank clerk to complete the visit. Upon leaving the vaulted room, the clerk would check the box for any content, and search the room in case something was left on the table, or floor. Everything check out, and I left the vault and signed out on the identity card.

When I arrived back at my apartment, I took all the jewelry out of the sack. As I searched thru the contents, I did not see the multiple stranded pearl necklace with the gold catch. I searched again, and several more times. Where was the necklace? I was becoming quite anxious, and I could not understand what had happened. I know I placed the necklace in the sack. I know the clerk and I searched Box 617, and the private room. We both were satisfied that nothing was left in the room. Where was the necklace? I actually panicked. I went to my car, and searched the car. Perhaps the necklace had fallen out of the sack. The car was clean. I know I saw the necklace – I held the necklace – I smelled the necklace.

I called the bank, and requested that the clerk who had checked me out to search the room again. Perhaps someone had been in the room after I left. The clerk told me that I was the last person to use the room, and that she would check the room. I should stay on the phone. Within minutes the clerk informed me that there was nothing in the room. I must say that I did think that perhaps the clerk or someone in the bank found the necklace, and had stolen it. The necklace was there – it was clearly there – in my hands.

My despair was all consuming. I left my apartment, and went back to the bank. At the bank, I spoke to the clerk who did the search. She suggested that we both check the room. We did. It was empty. I apologized for the need to search. I stood in the bank for several moments. I could not leave. Perhaps just one hour ago, I had the necklace in my hand in this bank. I know I held the necklace in the private room. How could I have lost the necklace? How could I have misplaced the necklace from the bank to my apartment? Nothing made any sense.

Standing in the lobby of the bank, I saw in one office the bank manager was seated at his desk. I needed to speak with someone about my plight. I needed to speak with someone about my loss, although I could not accept that I might have lost the necklace. I knocked on his door, and he asked me in. He immediately recognized that we had met at the vault. He asked me of my concern. I told him of the entire sequence of events, from the moment I entered the bank to search Box 617, and the lost necklace. In telling him, I did lose some control, and started to cry. He was silent at first, but then he asked me to tell about the necklace, and about Suzanne.

And I did. I told him about our chance meeting in 1963 in Toronto, Canada. I talked about France, family, the farm, animals, gardens, and Suzanne, and Suzanne. He listened and hardly spoke. I rambled on, but always where was that necklace. I told him of how that Box 617 awakened a lifetime of memories, and feelings. As I searched thru Box 617, I was once again with Suzanne. It was so strange, emotionally consuming, and yet so meaningful. I think that the jewelry and its placement on her body, her hands, and her ears all generated her presence.

At one point, the gentlemen, whose name I have forgotten, said that perhaps – just perhaps the necklace was not there. He suggested that perhaps I thought it was there, and it had to be there among her jewels, but in fact it was not. He said that my need for it to be there, and my memory of the necklace was all there was, and not the actual piece of jewelry. As he spoke, I was not upset, nor doubting his notion. In fact, I could believe that I was so emotionally involved in those moments in the private room, that I could have imagined the presence of the necklace. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps I never did have the necklace in my hands. Perhaps I did not smell her skin. I had been with him for at least thirty minutes, and I thanked him for his time and concern.

I told him that what I felt in that room, and my search in Box 617, was a moment shared by many persons who search through other safety boxes. Other persons who are also reminded of their loved ones. Other persons who relive their soulful moments with departed loved ones. He suggested that was likely the case, and that I was fortunate to have had such joyful memories. I thanked him for the time and left the bank.

Upon my return to my apartment, I immediately telephoned my daughter  and asked her if she remembered the necklace. She said that she did, and she asked what had happened. I told her of the mornings search, and the loss. I asked her if I had ever given her the necklace, or did Suzanne give it to her. She remembered that during her college years, a pearl necklace was given to her, and that she could not find it. Tania believed that perhaps a roommate had stolen it, but nothing was ever done with that possibility. She did not believe it was that necklace, but another set of pearl strands. There was nothing more to say about that possibility.

I am writing this piece because Box 617 has become such a striking moment in my life and how the things of our past can prompt feelings that are never forgotten. Perhaps I did not see, nor hold the strands of pearls with the gold clasp. What I did see, and hold was Suzanne – her smile, her smell and a life of such excitement and love.

Tom Golden, March, 2015.

 

Bedroom Technology

Our bedroom is quite ordinary at first glance. A large king size bed, a dresser, two night tables, curtains, and a chair piled high with yesterday’s clothes, a Burpee Seed catalog, and last Sunday’s New York Times. Perched on top, a half-finished bowl of oatmeal. Upon closer inspection one sees the chrome, plexiglass, wiring, dials, buttons and switches of the 21st century.

At the foot of the bed stands our color television. The cord for the set curls around the bed to a wall socket behind our bed. The skill with which we avoid entangling in the cord is the mark of a demolitions expert.

We recently acquired cable T.V., as a result a second fifteen-foot cable connects the television with a control panel resting on our bed along with ten feet of insulated wire. The cable installer told me the wire can’t short out, but I’ve never believed the Underwriters Label on our heating pad, and I am not going to start now.

In between our pillows lies the remote-control unit that controls our television. Fortunately, the remote unit has no wires or we would have long since strangled in a web of vinyl coated copper.

On each of our night tables rests a Tensor, high intensity reading lamp. Both lamps have low and high power settings. My wife’s lamp has a switch on the bottom of the lamp, while my switch is located just behind the bulb. The placement of the switch is crucial to ones’ health. On full power, my lamp shade is an inferno, requiring fine muscle coordination  to avoid third degree burns.

The height of the lamp is adjustable. When my wife is asleep, I can lower my lamp and read without disturbing her sleep. At the same time, I can remove the varnish from the top of my night table owing to my high-intensity torch light.

The sounds of the 21st century permeates our room. Our cable control box has fifteen switches, allowing access to thirty separate channels. Combine that with the three volume settings allowed by our remote-control unit, and we can click ninety times per night without repeating a sequence.

The late show is over and my wife clicks the off button on our remote control. The lamps are doused, and we pull up the covers and crawl under them. Our hands touch, and a muted click is heard, followed by a blast of light, and the blare of Gloria Gaynor singing, “I will Survive.” One move of my left knee, and all is quiet once again.

 

 

Marriage

Will he or won’t he

She thought day after day.

Marriage was so near, yet so far away.

Autumn fell to winter then

Spring burst in the air.

Their love was still burning

But why was there still fear.

To those who went before them

Such fear is not unique.

To love is very simple

To marry is to seek,

A lover and perhaps a friend

A partner who can pretend

To show no pain despite the ache,

And long for rest yet stay awake.

To make a vow, and take an oath

To be just one, but cherish both.

 

 

THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION

The Federal tax code allows for unique deductions for persons who are married. There are also special tax deductions if one has children. The Congress of the United States agreed that it was necessary to allow for taxation allowance for such special familial circumstances.

Well, here goes. Please finish reading before you damn the concept. Finish reading and find it in your heart to agree with everything that I have suggested.

The Federal government should introduce tax deductions and other fiscal benefits to all persons who willingly intermarry. The intermarriages that qualify will be racial, and religious and across sexual proclivities.  The rational for such a legislative decision is the likelihood that only by the bond offered by marriage will we finally lessen the chokehold that bigotry holds our nation.

Only by the intermarriage of Black and White, Christian and Jew, Gay and Transsexuals, can we hope to progress beyond the destructive obedience to the mindsets of superiority, and ignorance. In time, but sooner than later, subsequent generations of children born of such marriages will be free of the hate that now pervades our nation.

Well – what do you think???

THE FIRST POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION

Cold, not just a typical winter night. Bitter cold, gale wind without pause, and snow so thick that only memory led Joseph to the pub. The fireplace was ablaze, and the warmth brought immediate relief to Joseph’s shivering body. The regulars were at the bar. Seated at one end was Rachel and her brother Issac. Samuel, the local butcher, and his wife Muriel were busy talking to Moshe the bartender. Joseph sat on a stool just alongside Samuel, and with his head in his thawing hands, Joseph was gently sobbing.

Moshe: Joseph are you alright?
(no response from Joseph – just muffled sobs)

Moshe: Joseph, Joseph what is the wrong? Why are you crying?

Joseph: (barely audible) He is not mine.

Moshe: What? What did you say?

Joseph: He is not mine.

Rachel: Say Joseph can we buy you a drink?
(no response from Joseph)

Issac: Joseph, what’s up?

Moshe: Joseph, please- please tell me what is the matter?

Joseph: My son….
(Moshe interrupts)

Moshe: A son. Joseph you have a son!

Issac: A son – did you say a son – you have a son.
(all gather around Joseph)

Muriel: Mazel tov, Joseph. Mazel tov.

Samuel: That is great. Wow, wonderful, wonderful.

Joseph: (shouting) He is not mine.

Moshe: What are you talking about? How is Mary?

Muriel: And the baby, how is the baby?

Joseph: (Plaintively) Please leave me be. My son is not mine – he is not mine!

Moshe: Joseph, you are not making any sense. Mary has given birth to a son. What are you talking about?

Joseph: Mary says that my son is not mine. Do you all hear me? My son is not mine.
(Joseph gets up from the stool and heads toward the door)

Samuel: (grabs Joseph). Stop. Joseph you are not going anywhere. Please tell us what has happened.

Rachel: Yes. We are so thrilled for you and Mary.  We don’t understand what you are saying.

Joseph: Mary tells me, not once, but over and over again that my son is not from me – he is not mine.

Moshe: What happened? Why this crazy talk. You are not making any sense.

Joseph: And there are men in the stable, and camels. Big smelly camels, and three men with funny costumes, and weeds or plants that stink. The camels are stomping on our things. I cannot understand what the men are sayings. And Mary greets them as if they were our family. She is acting like they are kings – some kind of royalty.

Samuel: Did they talk to you? Did they introduce themselves?

Muriel: Is Mary save with them? Should we all go to the stable? I am worried for Mary and the baby.

Joseph: Mary says that I could go and not worry cause she was expecting the men. They came from far away, and followed a star to the stable.

Rachel: The more you talk, the crazier it sounds.

Moshe: Joseph I want you to sit down, and let’s go over all that occurred tonight. We are your friends, and we will help you, Mary and your son.

Joseph: Moshe. You do not understand. The boy is not my son. Can’t you understand?

Rachel: Look Joseph. Mary is your wife, right. Mary was pregnant, right. Mary gave birth this night, right.

Muriel: You hear Rachel. Is she correct?

Samuel: Joseph there is no need to talk anymore. We are going to the stable and find out what is happening.

Joseph: We can’t go back. Mary says she is fine. Not just fine, but perfect. She told me to go, and not to worry.  She told me that tonight is the most special night for all mankind. She told me that she loves me.

Isaac: Okay, so what is the problem?

Joseph: Isaac what is the problem? Are you serious? How would you feel if your wife told you that your first child – your son was not yours. How would you feel?

Moshe: Joseph, my lovely dear friend Joseph. I feel so bad allowing you to suffer so much. At times my memory fails me. My dear Joseph you have nothing to fear or worry about.

Joseph: (stunned) What are you saying Moshe? What do you mean I have nothing to worry about?

Moshe: Everybody listen up. Our dearest Mary is just depressed. Simply depressed. She means no harm. She is just suffering a POST PARTUM DEPRESSION!

With that pronouncement, all gather together and hoist Joseph on the shoulders of Isaac and Samuel and they joyfully head to the stable.

WRONG SIDE OF THE BED

Many years ago, the wrong side of the bed was clearly marked by the presence of a “pot de chambre,” that is a chamber pot. Upon awakening during the night, a careless move to the floor on the “wrong side” of the bed resulted in disaster. With the passage of time and the introduction of in-house plumbing, the chamber pot has been transformed into a planter, or flea market novelty.

The pot may be gone, but the expression “wrong side of the bed” has endured as an explanation for annoying personal behaviors. Getting up on the “wrong side of the bed” is now considered to be the cause of grouchiness, moodiness, depression, lethargy and a host of other regrettable feelings and behaviors, not the least of which is “feeling lousy.”

Perhaps there is a “right side” of the bed, which if located and used will ensure vigor, good will, affection and sex. The physical structure of most beds offer few cues as to the right or wrong side, let alone the good or the bad side.  Beds with a headboard, and/or a wall behind the bed offer just three possible “right” sides. One might eliminate the foot of the bed as an escape route, and thereby enhance your chances of choosing the “right side” by 33 percent.

The prospect of having just two choices to select the “right” side might be too risky. One might move the bed to the center of the room and then have four sides to choose from, or at least three sides with a rotating `foot.’ For the avid gambler, a circular bed would offer a limitless search for the “right” side.

It’s possible that the number of bed sides and their locations will not solve the demand for a splendid morning personality. We must hit the floor on the “right side” and the design of beds offers no help.

The presence of a bedmate insures a forced choice of the “right side.” In a bed with a head board, foot and partner, the “right side” is most likely your own side. Whether such a choice ensures a personality change is a much more complex issue, and never under your direct control. Furthermore, the sleeper is never concerned about the side of the bed to get up on. Sleepers just get up after a nights sleep. They could, if asked, describe their mood. It is the observer, that is, spouse, friend or `other body’ who feels compelled to identify a cause for the sleeper’s mood.

“Boy, I see that you got up on the wrong side of the bed today.”

With that pronouncement, the sleeper quickly surveys the bedside looking for the infamous “pot de chambre”. Not finding any, the newly awakened must assume total responsibility for the mood in the bedroom or immediately leap to the other side of the bed with the hope that there lies the “right side”, and acceptance.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS

The video shop was crowded. I was somewhat relieved by the bustle, because I felt that my anonymity would be preserved amongst the crowd. I quickly scanned the group looking for any neighbors, local politicians, or friends of my children.  I immediately searched the comedy tapes, and then the Walt Disney videos hoping that any suspicious eyes would be relieved by my innocent selections. The true nature of my video quest would have to wait until I felt more secure.

Slowly, but deliberately I worked my way over to the counter. I leafed through the video catalog. Mysteries, comedies, documentaries, dramas, musicals and then adult movies! Immediately, I turned back to the pages cataloging the mysteries, comedies, documentaries, dramas, musicals, and yet, as if by a magnetic force, I was once again scanning adult video titles.

“Can I help you”, said the clerk. I was stunned, and I immediately closed the catalog book. “No thank you”, I blurted. I had never said, “No thank you,” so rapidly. I felt caught out, so I walked over to the wall displaying the latest video releases. I needed a moments respite. I was almost ready to take a copy of “Raindance”, and suppress my urges. I could rent the musical, and hold my head up high as I left the store, but lust and desire held me in place.

I did take the musical. I roamed down an aisle, and worked my way to the rear of the store where there was a separate room filled with adult movies. Why did they have a separate room dedicated to the worlds smut? Everyone knew what was in the back room. Every child in town knew that the rear of the store housed videos reserved for the local perverts. Entering the room, even casually, would mark you as not just curious, but as a lustful degenerate.

Just to the right of the rear entrance was a rack of foreign language films. Fortunately, I had every right to stand near the rack and scan the foreign films since my wife was French, and I could speak the language. I took two videos that were in French, with English subtitles, and I furtively slipped into the sex room.

The walls were covered with video cassettes featuring near nudes of women, men, two men, three women, etc, etc. Each title seemed intriguing, as did the photos. “Lust on the Orient Express”; Caught from Behind 6”; “Charm School”;” James Bond Meets Octopussy”. Should I choose from the title alone, or from the cover picture?

I picked up one of the videos, and as I started to read the description on the box, a middle aged man walked into the room. Quickly I replaced the video and left the room. I went directly to the counter with the French films, and waited for the clerk. “Is that all you want?’ she said. “No”, I said, “Just put this aside, please” As I regained my composure, I wandered through the shop and re-entered the back room. Just as I did, the man left. I was annoyed that he had left. I wanted to make my selection in his presence, without shame and without guilt.

I found myself staring at one video that featured sadomasochistic content. Dare I take that one? The thought excited me, but such a public demonstration of my fantasy life was too frightening. I chose one film, because it contained my name in the title, but I then randomly chose another with a cover that could have been a husband and wife in a bathtub.

I went to the counter and told the clerk the numbers of the videos that I wanted. The French films were numbers 334, and 336, and the smut was number 113. I thought that would be enough, but she replied, “Excuse me, was that number 113”? I thought to myself, who heard her? Did anyone hear her? Even if no one else heard her, I did! She must have known that all films with numbers from 100 to 200 were X—rated films.

I had been in the store for twenty minutes, and I knew that fact. I repeated, “Yes, number 113”. I meant to say it in a whisper, but it came out in full voice. She replied, “That will be eight dollars, Mr. Golden.” I was stunned. Instantly a massive fever gripped my head. Suddenly I realized that I had worn my golf shirt, which had my name embroidered on the chest pocket. I forced a smile, withdrew the eight dollars from my wallet, paid the clerk, and quickly exited with my three videos. With head bowed, I scampered to my car and drove home.

Which do we watch first? The French films of critical acclaim, or the depraved. Sarah must have heard me as I entered the house. She startled me with her shout from the upstairs bedroom. “Tom, please bring me a glass of water.” I was so tense and guilt ridden, that I replied, “Do we have any oranges?”  Sarah replied, “Tom, I said water, not juice.” I replied, “Sure, darling. I’ll be right up.”

It was time to bite the bullet, or at least my nails. “Sarah, are you up to watching a movie?” She shouted, “What?” “I was wondering if you would care to watch a movie?”   “Tom, I’m thirsty.” I shouted, “I’m coming. You like love stories don’t you?” She replied, “Yes, sure I do. Are you coming up”? I walked to the bottom of the stairs holding the video # 113 in my right hand, and the glass of water in my left hand. I shouted, “Sarah, you know many love stories are so boring – don’t you think?” Somewhat annoyed, she replied, “Tom, I’m really dying of thirst. I don’t care what movie we watch.”  That should have been a relief, but no way.

“Sarah, the video clerk suggested this great foreign film. Should I bring it up?” Sarah with some exasperation replied, “Whatever. Tom are you coming or not?” “Sure, I’m coming. I’m just getting some ice for your water.” “Tom I don’t need any ice. I’m not hot. Just thirsty.” I laughed to myself. I was just thinking about the orgy that might occur if only I were able to climb the stairs.

“Tom!” “Yes”, I replied.  “Would you like some ice?” She replied, “No thanks, I don’t need any ice. I’m not hot.” I laughed to myself.  “Tom!” “ Yeh!” Sarah said, “Tom, forget the water, I’m going to sleep.” I called, “Sarah!” No answer. She must have put the wax plugs in her ears. Ah what the hell! I shouted anyway. “Sarah, I’ve got this Triple X porn video for us. You’ll love it. What do you say?”

All was quiet on the second floor. If I were not married, I would have watched the video myself, in the family room. Being married I felt such an act would have been the ultimate perversity. I walked into the kitchen, and opened the refrigerator and took a Stoneyfield Vanilla Yogurt. I ate the yogurt, while reading every credit on the porn video box. I’ll try tomorrow; the video rental is good for three days.

 

I Don’t Know

Man: What do you mean you don’t know?

Woman: I just don’t know.

Man: You always say that!

Woman: Well, it’s true!

Man: What’s true?

Woman: I don’t know. It’s true that I really don’t know.

Man: Wait a second. You mean you don’t know, or you just won’t even try.

Woman: No not at all. It’s that I don’t know. Trying won’t help.

Man:  What don’t you know about it?

Woman: I told you. I just don’t know!!

Man:  Okay, I’m sorry let’s forget it.

Woman: Forget what? That’s just like you.

Man:  What do you mean?

Woman: You are always ready to dismiss me.

Man:  That’s not true.

Woman: Well, you just did!!

Man:  Why do you say that? Just because I said `forget it’?

Woman: Yes, that’s right. You always do that.

Man:  I don’t always do that, or anything else.

Woman: Oh, yes you do.

Man:  Cut it out! I don’t always do something. Forget that always thing!

Woman: Sure.

Man:  No, it’s true. I said `forget it’ because I didn’t want to have an argument.

Woman: I’ve had it! I can’t even tell you I don’t know, without you getting disgusted and then cutting me off.

Man:  What do you want me to do?

Woman: Nothing!

Man: That can’t be true. Tell me, just tell me what to do when you say, `I don’t know’.

Woman: Nothing. Don’t say anything.

Man: You mean that I shouldn’t answer you at all?

Woman: Yes, that is exactly what I mean.

Man:  I’ve never done that in my entire life.

Woman: Done what?

Man: I have never said nothing when someone told me that they didn’t know something’.

Woman: What do you say?

Man: Well, sometimes I say `What don’t you know, or how come you don’t know, or why don’t you know?’ Many times I say, `What do you mean you don’t know?’

Woman: And what do they usually say?

Man:  I don’t know.

Woman: Don’t be cute.

Man:  No you know what I mean. They usually say, I don’t know.

Woman: Is that so bad?

Man:  No.

Woman: But you looked confused. You looked bewildered.

Man:  Well, it’s just that I’m not sure how to continue after           someone says `I don’t know’. If I don’t answer them, then what do I do?

Woman: Nothing!

Man:  Just be silent and not say a word?

Woman: Yes. Then forget it and go on to something else.

Man:  But earlier I said forget it, and you jumped down my throat.

Woman: I know, but that was because I was angry at you.

Man:  For what?? Why were you so angry?

Woman: I was angry because you wanted me to talk about something I was unsure about. Do you know how difficult it is to talk about something you are unsure of or confused about?

Man:  But I was asking about you. I wanted to know what you were thinking – your feelings.

Woman: I know what you wanted, but sometimes I don’t know me!

Man:  And that’s why you said `I don’t know’?

Woman: Exactly… I think.
Fine

Bring It Home…

There is a constant drum beat to allow the States to control various decisions for residents, e.g. abortion rulings. The assumption is that any one state is so homogenous that decisions would be reflective of a popular agreement. Maybe yes, but maybe no. Let’s use New York State as an example. Were we to offer a state-wide referendum on abortion, we may find a great divide between folks in New Berlin , New York and East New York, Brooklyn.  Perhaps we would do better to have such decisions closer to home rule and have the decision made at a county level.  Better yet, any town, hamlet, or village could  possibly offer the most agreement on just about any issue. If all else fails, we could appeal to the basic family unit, and then before we go to sleep just ask the pregnant woman sleeping next to you what the hell she wants to do.