April 6th, 2009

It Was Only Yesterday





I visit Chester and his mommie again in the early 70s. Their house is one of those two-level ranch-style things in the suburb of Austintown. Thick pale carpets. Lots of junky bric-a-brack and curtains. An overall hot and stuffy vulgarity, an overwhelming middle-class tastelessness. As soon as I arrive Chester starts on the beer. Warm beer, which he gets from the multitude of six-packs stacked up in the basement, a reserve he maintains just in case they reinstate Prohibition. It reminds me of the beer and wine he kept in a cabinet at his tuxedo rental, which he thought was secret.

He tells me that he makes good money working for Master’s, his former competitor. I wonder: So what happened to his own business? Did it go under? I don’t ask.

Anne interrupts. “Oh, come on, Chet, don’t say you make good money because you don’t.”

Ouch! At that moment I actually feel sorry for him, having thus been humiliated, cut off at the knees by his wife in front of his own son.

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