Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I Forgive You, Pops.

Why do I keep beating on my dad?

"He's dead," you're saying. "Let him up. I know he can't get up because he's dead. But you know what I mean."

"Well, give me a reason to stop beating on him," I'm saying. "He can't give me a reason. Oh yes. He is dead!"

Well, wrong. I am working on my paper on newspaper column writing, and I'm rooting around among my books of collected columns for a quote from a "microcosm" columnist, that is, a columnist who describes his or her life in what we used to call quotidian detail. (It means daily, commonplace. Very fine word.)

I find one of my real treasures, a collection of columns by Ben Beagle, whom I started reading when I was ten years old in Roanoke, Virginia. He wrote for the Roanoke Times, the morning paper. I was a big Mickey Mantle fan because of Mickey Mouse. You understand why I was drawn to Ben Beagle. Moreover, he led a nice middle-class life when compared to my fundamentalist blue-collar life. He seemed sophisticated.

This was a man who referred to his wife for 35 years as "the station wagon driver." I could feel the sexual energy in that description.

I found my collection of his columns. My dad had gone to a Ben Beagle book signing and gotten it signed, dedicated to me. There it was on the flyleaf. I hadn't looked at the autograph in 20 years.

Good move, pops. Nice little time bomb. I know you didn't like me but I never doubted you loved me with crazy crazy sad daddy love. Nothing but trouble, of course, but better than being out there alone in the storm. Better when Pops is the storm.

Addendum: By god he's still alive. (Ben Beagle, not my pops.)

1 comment:

Pastor Kathy said...

A microcosm columnist who describes life in quotidian detail?

I realize you may be limited in your search for quotes to the books you have available, but would Celestine Sibley meet your definition? Ben Beagle may still be with us, but Celestine passed away some years ago (1998? 2000?). I used to enjoy her slices of life from Crabapple, a suburb of Roswell, Georgia. Turned out we shared the same vet, too. When I read her autobiography (Turned Funny, I think was the title) I discovered what a tough old broad she really was.