OK, I just said that to get your attention. And I got too, didn't I?
Actually, the year was well worth living. Most of my friends still have jobs and are surviving this huge economic recession. Some have jobs that may call them back in the future. Others have no prospects of work in the foreseeable future. I can tell you personally about that one.
I remember talking about the "end times" as a kid and it quite frankly used to scare the crap out of me. I pictured big fireballs being hurled by avenging angels who wore white robes but wore no smile. I figured that this is the just punishment from dancing too close to those girls from Royal at the Smock Recreation Center. Maybe I'll take a fireball to the head for all of those tomatoes that I stole?
What I dreamed of doing on my last day on Earth is running up to St. Hedwig's Cemetery and saying hello to all of those people that I knew when they pop out of their graves. It's funny but that thought didn't scare me at all. I wondered if Eddie Myers, our whistling bread man would still be whistling or if Frankie Blanda would show up wearing that really bad leisure suit that he's wearing in that picture that's plastered on his tombstone? And what about all of those cats that Mr. Spiskey drowned in the Redstone Creek? There should be tens of thousands of those. And what about old Bill Flanagan, a man that I first met while he was laid out stiffer than a board in his casket?
Sir Isaac Newton said that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Well, we do. My giants happen to be coal miners and steel workers and the occasional man who delivered either bread or beer. And the only place you can see their names today is in a little patch of land on the outskirts of Smock where they're carved in granite.
We owe a lot to these people. Our way of life, the way we view others, and how to treat relatives and friends. And the truth is that Lindsey Lohan or P. Diddy or or Shakira (is that her first name or her last?) haven't really taught me anything useful. Yet for some reason, people line up in front of the box offices to see them. Some camp out overnight just to get a ticket to see them. But how many people do you know have camped out overnight in front of John Hovanic's house or waited to hear a polka band play a wedding in the old St. Hedwig church hall? It would be worth the wait indeed.
Oral Roberts just hit the "general cancel" last week as we say in organist speak. We were told not to watch him on TV when we were kids or we'd surely go straight to hell. And so I watched him, rolling his eyes and speaking in languages that sounded like blabber commanding diseases and afflictions to "come out" of people. I figured that Oral had his own language, just like the priest had Latin. But I so wished that old Oral Roberts lived in Smock. Oh, he'd be different, just like the openly Presbyterian Hart family who must have surely done human sacrifices in their basement. The Catholic church would have been no match for him but oh, he was such a good man. Like Eddie and Frankie and Mike, he was a good man.
And last week, Oral Roberts, just like all of those who are now under that small patch of sod on the outskirts of my town, breathed their last breath on Earth and took their next breath in Heaven. I really do believe that. Mike Senker and Oral Roberts must be talking about their great kids. And Frankie Blanda's beer truck never needs an oil change. Not any more.
Hey, Happy New Year out there. Let's hope that 2010 doesn't get blown to hell, OK?