Every Christmas, we play kazoos. Each member of the family—aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, significant others—picks a colorful plastic instrument from the bag in which these simple little things have been dutifully hidden from the world like sacred treasures for the last 365 days, save a (hopeful) cleaning with soap and water sometime after their last use.
After almost three years of teaching high school English, I’ve found that one of the hardest skills to teach is literary analysis. Some of our 17-year-old selves might have remembered being irked at our high school English teachers, who, quite passionately, urged us to see the green light as more than just a light, but a symbol, representing the hopes and dreams and guiding path of our main character’s future (hey, Gatsby)! We rolled our eyes. Why couldn’t a light just be a light, or a scar simply a scar, or the letter ‘A’ just that- a letter?
Capitol Hill is quiet on a Wednesday afternoon. People have been swept off the sidewalks and tucked indoors. I spend this odd, midweek day off renting out a booth for the price of bottomless coffee. Well-dressed men and women filter in and out of Pete’s Diner on lunch breaks, but I remain. I am furniture, passing time, solid and stationary, as others mill about their lives.
June 24, 2016
Today I changed the pull-up diaper of a man about one year my senior. Though I’ll spare the details, know that there were many details and they all adequately tempted my gag reflex. Throughout the whole tidying, my thoughts ranged from “Why am I the one the one who has to do this” to “I’m not sure if I should write a thank-you to my mom for doing this for me back in the day or if she should write one to me for becoming potty trained before I was grown enough to do this much damage.” My spoken words, thankfully, were gentler. “Mike, you really gotta get to the toilet next time.”