The Graveyard Game
I grew up across the street from a graveyard. By old world standards Ivy Green Cemetery is freshly dug. Still, it was founded in 1902, which makes it the oldest boneyard in town. Then again, there are only two.
The cemetery is fourteen and a half acres seated in a sprawling hillside that faces west. When the weather is in (usually it’s not) you get a fine view of the nearby Olympic Mountains.
Despite its relative youth, Ivy Green is almost at capacity. There are only a few prepaid plots left to fill. Yet it could take a long time for that to happen. Nearly all of the plots belong to women; as everyone knows, nothing dies harder than an Old Lady.
I was told early in life that the cemetery was not a playground. You’d think that should go without saying, but I was a child, thus, along with your basic dope, I was a being who needed to hear things that should go without saying. Yet that didn’t deter me and my best friend from devising a graveyard game we called “How Long.”
Seems to me that my friend (we’ll call her “Renfield” to cleverly pull a veil over the fact her real name is Wren Neal) and I were nine when we started playing How Long–which lasted a year or so. The game was devised by Rennie, who needed to show off the fact that she was aggressively intelligent. (She’s hasn’t changed,)
How Long goes like this:
Almost all headstones contain the from-till-to information. Now, imagine two nine-year-old kids walking up to a tombstone (for example: Josephine Blow: 1882-1968). Both players silently figure out Jo Blow’s death-age, then they subtract their own from that and say (in this case nine out of eighty-six) “Seventy-seven years is How Long I have to live.” The first one to say it correctly is the winner. There was a little calculator in Rennie’s backpack when needed.
But it was never needed because Rennie always won. I’d still be carrying the six (or whatever the hell it is people do with numbers) and she’d have it worked out and already correctly bleated–as it goes with cloven-hoof types. And although never requested, she always whipped out the calculator to rub my nose in it.
Regardless, losing How Long to Rennie didn’t bother me…much. I fully expected it. You see, by allowing her to show off, I was able to hog the stage by telling made up little stories about the people in the graves, while she basked in the glow of her mental superiority: “Josephine was a Tall Lady in the circus. Nine foot-nine, ninety-nine pounds. They had to coil her like a rope so she’d fit in the coffin.”
Anyway, I like to surround myself with competent, accomplished people. It’s easier to maintain a low profile when those around you shine brightly. Especially if you are like me, not inclined to be ambitious because of the hard work involved.
LS is certainly the right kind of place for me to hang around. This week alone we have an author with a degree from Harvard Law another with an M.F.A. as well as a Pushcart nomination, and a legend who has written more books than I ever read in school. Yet another bakes bread and Henson plays the piano. There are all kinds of lawyers and teachers and doctorates and world travelers and hidden talents in the LS authorship. For a slothful, semi-agoraphobic college bomb out, I find myself in good company.
So let’s cheer for the five lively and accomplished authors who appeared on the site this week. Three are old friends, and the two new to us have made excellent first impressions.
Monday saw the site debut of Oso Jones. Summer and Sweet Peas is a lovely and restrained piece; often the subject addressed, even in sincerity, comes off maudlin. But Oso shows excellent taste and a gift for effective understatement.
Congratulations to Yash Seyedbagheri for his 40th appearance. Amazingly, all but two have been in 2021. Echoes, which ran Tuesday, again underscores the consistent quality of his work.
Wednesday welcomed first time contributor Radhika Kapoor’s Sweet Tea. Each one of the three pieces that began this week are wonderfully subtle, yet each author has a distinctive voice. Radhika’s first story possesses a unique frankness, yet she never raises her voice.
Our friend and regular comment provider, David Henson took the helm Thursday and steered us into wild waters. The Devil You Don’t Know is a rare gem that manages to inject humor into childhood illness and eternal damnation. We congratulate David on his 25th with us.
The great Tom Sheehan closed the week with The Last of the Roses. Just when I think he said all that can be said about certain experiences and variations of the heart, Tom finds more and no one puts it as well.
A gentle reminder: To those of you who comment on the stories–Thank you. To those who don’t: Please give me a reason to thank you. And if anyone out there has a rerun choice, please suggest it. You don’t even need to write the spiel. Just name a past LS story and I’ll do a post-How Long sort of thing to it.
Now, for no other reason other than my need to do something silly after all the shining of others has passed–plus a desperate need to close this wrap somehow, I present an unnumbered list of Never Produced Special Episodes of Classic TV. There were to be ten, but I started sneezing and wanted this to be over. As always, I am open for suggestions.
Star Trek–Spock finally has had enough of McCoy’s attitude and beams Bones into outer space.
Saturday Night Live-Admits that they have become one with the establishment they lampooned in 1975
Beverly Hillbillies-Jethrine Bodine and Miss Jane get married.
The Waltons- Male bonding depression style: Grandpa and John Boy sell the family cow and go whoring in Charlottesville.
The X Files-Actual cut and dry conclusion to a story. Not left vaguely open ended.
Bonanza–Adam and Ben swap rugs
Gunsmoke-Marshall Dillion arrests Kitty for running a brothel and Festus confesses to the murder of Chester.
Mannix-Joe’s head finally caves in like a rotten pumpkin after one conking too many
Two part Munsters/Addams Family Crossover-Herman, Lily, Gomez and Mortica swap spouses. With Wednesday and Pugsley’s blessing, Lurch and Thing, tired of Fester, feed him to the Munsters’ pet “Spot.” Eddie accidentally swallows a silver bullet, dies and comes back as a were schnauzer. Marylin is involved in an extremely icky/incestous affair with Grandpa–who later poofs out of existence when he trips and is impaled by Grandmama’s wooden leg. Itt shaves itt-self and joins the Moonies.
(Get Well Soon, G.C.)