Not One Alike

There’s a quilt on the bed. It’s a crazy quilt. It’s what’s called a crazy quilt. You know why it is called by that name? It is called a crazy quilt because it does not follow a pattern. It follows the shape and size of the pieces of cloth of which it is made, the pieces which are available. Any kind of cloth will do or any fabric of any size and shape. They are all sewn together and often with bindings and embellishments of added interest. Buttons and ribbons my be added, perhaps inexpensive yard goods or extravagant scraps from cut up dresses and men’s suits. Anything will do, but therein lies the secret. The best ones are serendipitous. Do you know what the word serendipitous means? It means you didn’t see it coming, it just came, just came together and that’s the way it is. That’s the meaning […]

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Prom Night

“Make it fast,” he said. I tried. “Officer,” I said. “This night is really important for me.” I broke the law. He knew it. I knew it. We both knew it. My girlfriend didn’t know it. I told her to give me a few minutes on the mezzanine level and she didn’t ask why. She hadn’t arrived. The police officer found me first. He stood looking at me with his arms folded and his gun and his badge and the perfect uniform with stripes sewn on the sleeves and insignia gleaming from the lapels with sewn creases and every button fastened over every flap and epaulet. In those days they didn’t wear body armor. I stood there in a rented tux which included a pleated white starched shirt with onyx studs and cuff links, a clip on bow tie and a cummerbund, but no badge, no gun and no rank […]

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The Night I Learned to Dance

I had good parents. They bought me dance lessons. Of course, the lessons they bought me never taught me how to dance. Oh, they taught me how to stand in a line with other boys facing a line of girls across the room and approach en masse to the girl directly across the room, bow and ask, “May I have the pleasure of this dance?” to which she learned to say, “Yes, thank you,” and we danced the fox trot or waltz or swing, but then we stopped when the music stopped. The boys led the girls back to their place and said, “Thank you,” in turn with another polite bow and the girls said, “You’re welcome” and that ended the lesson. As long as I stayed in the hall where lessons were given I could dance as long as everyone else danced, but I couldn’t dance. I was afraid. […]

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Night Train to Bucharest

It’s been twenty-two years so I suppose I can tell the story. “We are living an important and fruitful moment now,” I said. “What?” she asked. I repeated the comment. “We are living an important and fruitful moment now.” “Is that a line from some play?” she asked me. “No,” I said. “I just made it up.” “Why?” “I don’t know. I just did. Can you think of any better way to pass the time?” She looked at me whimsically. She had a little way of arching one eyebrow and screwing her mouth a bit to one side that made her look wicked. On her wicked looked good. “Pass the lighter,” she said. She lit a cigarette. The train we rode had no prohibition against smoking. In those days you could do anything you wanted on a train or anywhere else. People always do. The movement of the train made […]

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Twenty-Five Stars

We have a tradition at our home this time of year. On December First I put a star in our yard and another star in the yard north, south, east and west all around the house every day of the month until Christmas Eve. Then the twenty-fourth star goes up accompanied by the grandest star of all, hundreds of multi-colored lights on a wooden framework hoisted high into a tree in front of our home. All the other stars of various heights are staked into the ground, each star twinkling with clear bright lights. I use untold feet of wire and numerous junction boxes, all connected to one 30 amp circuit breaker in the garage. With one flip of a switch, I set our electric meter twirling merrily in anticipation of our monthly greeting from the power company. We leave the stars burning all night each and every night. If […]

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Family Tradition

My uncle Edwin Theodore Hansen, on my mother’s side was a general superintendent of heavy construction and chief of police. He liked to camp, because he was a general superintendent of heavy construction and chief of police. He had a cabin in the north woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and he often went there alone. You understand. My mother had another brother, my uncle Ted’s younger brother, who invited a couple friends to spend a weekend up at the cabin, because my other uncle had business interests and wanted to ingratiate himself to guys Ted didn’t know or care about, but in addition to being a general superintendent of heavy construction and chief of police, Ted was a heck of a nice guy so he said sure. You understand. The guys arrived early full of bluster and bravado and brought all their stuff into the cabin which included […]

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Champion

“I remember,” he said. “Yeah, I remember.” He leaned into the engine compartment of his old pickup. By old we’re talking decades, a 1985 model now well into the twenty first century. That’s old. Trouble started with the misfiring of a couple cylinders. He didn’t know how many. He didn’t know which ones, but he knew what to do. He’d have to pull them, check them, dress them and put them back clean and ready to fire, the spark plugs, all eight of them in an engine with half the emission controls disconnected. It didn’t matter in a state without vehicle emission inspection. He’d lived in California. That was a different story, but this wasn’t that story and it wasn’t California. It was November in a state with snow and ice early this year and the truck began misfiring because he pushed too hard on warm up and the after-market […]

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Memo

The darkness used to be ignorance. Now it’s technology. Every time I see a person walking down the street with head down and their eyes glued to a screen, I know they’re illiterate. ƒ

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Zeno’s Revenge

I had this professor back in college. I guess I grew up in a time when we realized not all professors were very bright. Maybe I grew up since. Anyway, this professor gave us an assignment to answer Zeno’s Paradox. Here’s how it goes. Zeno asked, “How long does it take an arrow to reach the target?” Old Zeno was a Greek. Philosophers love to answer their own questions. “Oh, I know,” said Zeno. “Stay with me now. The arrow can never get to the target, because before it gets to the target it must travel half way to the target. And before it gets half way to the target it must get one fourth the way to the target and before it gets one fourth the way to the target,” and so forth. “Therefore it can never reach the target.” Legend has it Zeno didn’t just answer his own […]

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A Dragon’s Tale

I met a dragon. It’s one of the dragons who live in our neighborhood. I heard him the other morning breathing out by the curb. I mistook the sound for a neighbor shoveling snow, you know, the rhythmic rasping a shovel makes on pavement. “How are you doing?” I asked. “Not bad,” he replied. “Yourself?” He looked roughly fifteen feet long from our tree to the corner, covered with green metallic scales and a tail that ended in a flared point like the ace of spades in a deck of cards. When he blinked a play of electricity flashed around his eyes like Christmas lights in the daytime. “Mind if I rest here?” he asked. “Go ahead,” I said. “I can see you’re draggin’.” He ignored the remark. Dragons get all kinds. “Want your walk cleared?” he asked. “I can handle it,” I said. I pantomimed shoveling snow. Like I […]

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