So, yesterday afternoon, I am peacefully cleaning out my little pond-on-the deck (which I say like I have another pond somewhere, which I don't, but) and my cell phone rings. I answer and it's my friend Clark. "Hey," he says, "Remember that storage shed I gave you?" He's referring to the 12'x16' steel shed that sits in my back yard that he gave me a couple years ago. "Remember the guy who moved it? he asks.
The guy who moved it was a magician. He managed to get this shed into my back yard, wrangling it between the house and the garage, where he had a 1" clearance on either side. He couldn't do it with his truck, which only fit in my driveway when I took down one of the fence posts in the front yard. He and his son rolled it on pieces of pvc pipe through the gap, around in a circle and uphill to its current location behind the garage. It was a marvelous feat, kinda like having a circus come to your very own house and do strange and wonderful things, and then, when they leave, you have a very practical shed just sitting there, waiting for stuff. When you live in an 820 sf house, this, in itself, is a miracle.
Now the weird thing is, neither Clark nor I could remember the name of this wizard. We've tried before, when Clark wanted to move his other shed (he bought them when he and Steve-o were remodeling his house for what seemed like several years) to his sister, Catherine's. He called me then and said "Do you remember the guy who moved that shed I gave you?" And I said, yes, of course I remembered the wizard guy. Did I remember his name or phone number? Strangely, no, I didn't. Nor could I find the card he gave me. I think I put it in the shed, in case I ever needed to move it again, but then I filled the shed up with shit, and now I can't find the card... However, if I ever need to move the shed, I'll have to empty the shed anyway, and then I'll find the card, so that's ok.
"What about the guy who moved the shed?" I ask.
"He's dead," says Clark.
"He's DEAD?" I said. (The capital letters are supposed to indicate how incredulous I was at this piece of information.) "He's DEAD???" (Ditto with the three question marks.) "How can he be dead, he's like what, younger than us? Our age?"
This just goes to show you that even though you are getting older, you never believe you're really getting older, all evidence to the contrary. Like when you look in the mirror and, ummm, never mind about that. My point is that, in spite of all your aches and pains and wrinkles and shit, you still don't think you're old enough to die, until you're like my dad's age (he's 87), and then you're surprised that anyone's alive. There must be some kind of a line you cross over, but I'll worry about that later.
"Steve-o says he's dead," Clark says. "What was his name? I want to call Catherine and tell her he's dead." I get the bright idea to go online and look at the obituaries to see if any of the names ring a bell with us. So there we are, talking on our cell phones, me online reading Clark all the possible obituaries, which, fortunately, there are only two of, all the others being people that you're not quite so surprised that they're dead 'cos they're 90 or something. Nothing rings a bell. Clark hangs up and says he'll call back when he knows more.
He calls back in about five minutes. "Steve-o says he's not dead, it's some other guy who's dead, some guy he worked with." The wizard mover guy worked with his son, who is, of course, even younger than he was. "His son is dead?" I ask... No, it's not his son, it's some other guy who's name we don't know. They'll call me when they know who he is. Now why I should care why some guy whom I don't know who works with some guy whose name I can't remember (but think is a wizard at moving sheds) is dead, I can't say, but I'm pretty caught up in this whole thing right now.
For one thing, I'm still stuck at the online obituary page on my computer, where I've learned that on top of the regular obituaries, they have these, ummm, photo essays about folks who have died, called 'Moving Tributes,' and being the sucker I am for people's life stories, I am now reading or viewing or whatever these tributes and crying, for pete's sake, about people I've never even met. Which probably explains the whole thing about why I'm worried about this wizard shed-moving guy maybe being dead.
"Hey, Clark," I said, "That reminds me, I have a shitload of New Yorkers for you." What really reminded me was that I'd finally dragged myself away from the Moving Tributes on the computer, tears streaming down my cheeks, and seen the stack of New Yorkers perched on a table. "And I have Easter cookies!"
Several times a year I make cookies... Christmas, Valentine's, sometimes Easter. These are a refrigerated sugar cookie that are then glazed with brightly colored glaze. (1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, creamed with 2 eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, then 1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt and 3 1/2 cups of flour mixed in. You form this into a long roll and refrigerate. When it's pretty firm, you roll it out and cut it into shapes with your marvelous collection of cookie cutters. Then you bake 'em at 350 until they're slightly brown, and glaze them with a mixture of powdered sugar, water, vanilla, salt and food coloring...) I couldn't find my Easter egg cookie cutter this year. It's my biggest and the grandkids love it because, umm, it's the biggest, I guess. I don't know where the damn thing is. Probably in the shed with the box of less-used cookie cutters and the business card for the wizard guy who moved the shed into place using pvc pipe.
Clark was very interested. "You should come over," he said. "I have vanilla vodka." Now, to be frank, vanilla vodka sounds hideous to me, but then all vodka sounds hideous to me, having had an unfortunate vodka incident in my youth involving getting sick in an outhouse, which, due to the delicate sensibilities of some of my readers, I cannot expound on. Needless to say, I THINK I hate vodka. However, I seem to love Bloody Marys, which I somehow forget are made with vodka, and I have a new fave drink, the Pom-tini, which is vodka and Pom's pomegranate juice, in whatever proportions allow you to drink vodka without knowing you're drinking vodka. "I don't have any mixer, though," he said.
So I drove up to Clark's, carrying New Yorkers and Easter cookies. I stopped at the grocery store and got Pom, which is not, of course, kept with the juice, it's kept in its very own, special section of the store, so you know just how wonderful it is after looking up and down every goddamn aisle for twenty minutes. I also got ginger ale and then showed up at Clark's.
Steve-o was already there, and finally knew who'd died. It was Don. Don had died. "Who's Don?" I asked. Neither Steve-o or Clark knew, but he was dead, and he moved sheds (maybe) (possibly) and so we had a wake for him. The Pom-tinis were a tad strong for us, (Steve-o's a diabetic and has to be careful) so we threw in some water and made some really nice sipping drinks. At some point Judith, Steve-o's wife, called and figured out we needed food, and Steve-o went to pick her up and they brought back two Amy's pizzas, which they doctored and baked and we ate with our Pom-tinis.
Several times we talked about Don, even though we didn't know him, and the wizard shed-moving guy, whose name, at least his first name, is Jerry, it turns out. But things never got any more clear than that.
And then sometime before midnight we all went home and left Clark alone. His Easter cookies were all gone by that point, but he still has the New Yorkers.