When you begin to experience intimations of mortality, and you’re not reading the poem by William Wordsworth, you just might be approaching a milestone birthday, like your 65th. All sorts of things happen to you in the year leading up to your 65th birthday. You get accountings from the Social Security Administration telling you how much you have accumulated in benefits and how much you will receive each month, depending upon when you elect to begin receiving benefits. And, even though the benefits come from money you paid into the Social Security fund, you have to pay taxes on that money as it is received. Any tax genius will tell you, of course, that part of those payments represents returns on the money you paid in, like interest on a savings account or dividends on stocks, and that therefore you do owe/should owe/must owe taxes on it. Tax freaks are to economic reality as ex-wives are to amicability. They have no concept of the fact that the returns in every year were less than the inflation rate, which means that you lost money every year. You didn’t gain money every year. What you are receiving is entirely and only some return of your contribution, with no economic profit whatsoever. But accounting profit, though not real profit, is taxable profit. This is government speak – calculated to confuse idiots into allowing themselves to be fleeced without going ballistic.
You come into a marketing profile that gets you adverts from every geritol fixation product/service vendor in the world. Bob Dole wants you to take Viagra, whether you need it or not. Your doctor gives you a free sample pack of Viagra to try out. You take one and are priapic for six days. Your dick hurts so bad that you wish it would either go soft or fall off. Your girlfriend/wife finds out that you have a stash of Viagra and starts monitoring the pills inventory. If one is missing that does not conform to some inexhaustible frenzy of sexual melt down between the two of you, you will be accused of having a girlfriend on the side. She would never believe you gave one to a friend to try, and if you have been away on a trip and one is missing, you are dead meat.
My physician has a perverse sense of humor about such things that is absolutely fantastic. Good old Irishman named Sutton. Last month, upon the occasion of my physical examination, knowing that me daughter recently graduated from medical school and that I would never refuse any request made on behalf of a female med student, he asked if one such could be in the room during my prostate exam, as she professed some interest in urology. Of course I had to say yes. So he brings in this 25 year old going on 14, totally innocent church going thing who I am certain has never seen a neked man other than the cadaver they gave her in anatomy lab – and maybe that was female. After he does his digital prostate exam, he asks if it’s OK for Miss Med Student to do one too. Of course I have to say yes. She approaches gingerly, touching me poor bum so gently that I feel an erection coming on. Sutton starts to snicker. She gets nervous and I can feel her hand/finger shaking as it enters me from the rear – more excitement. Afraid that she is about to destroy me virginity she slowly reaches in with her finger, maybe up to the first knuckle. Sutton tells her “Put your left hand on his hip and reach way in there. He’s a big guy and you have to reach way in to get to it.” I think she is now about to collapse dead away in a faint, and I have a vision of her lying there on the floor of his office with her finger still inserted in me arse, looking like she’s hitch hiking. She finally reaches me prostate and Sutton asks, “What’s it like?” She faintly pronounces me in good health, withdraws her digit and runs from the room – Sutton laughing out loud at this point. She’s running down the hall, glove that was in me arse still on her hand. I sure hope she didn’t have to wipe a tear from her eye.
I get sample packs in the mail of various laxatives and medicaments for burning rectums on the assumption that your bowels don’t work well any more. You check out the Hemlock Society on the Internet, and you actually join up. Then, after reading the pamphlet on self help dignified death, you start accumulating items for your “Exit Kit”. You learn that you have to feign some affliction that will get your physician to prescribe something that, if taken in overdoses, will cause heart and respiratory failure. Then you have to keep up the pretense without taking any of the medicine, so that you always have on hand an adequate fresh supply of potentially lethal pharmaceuticals. Also included is the obligatory small hose and plastic bag to go over your head when you are inhaling the gas-of-the-month. Then you have to have a “game” plan for your demise. You don’t want your beloved to find you in the house and spoil forever the magic of the domestic venue you have shared with her lo these many years. And you certainly don’t want to have soiled yourself at the moment of death so that her finding you is really a disgusting event. And if for some reason your “kit” is not effective, and you have to do it with a gun, you certainly don’t want her to find that mess around the home grounds anywhere.
Insurance companies send you adverts on their senior citizen programs, supplements to whatever government programs you may be eligible to join. The only problem is that I am healthy as a horse and haven’t felt the need for medical insurance for the last twenty-five years. I can’t really bring meself to accept that I am at a point in life at which I need be concerned with anything at all. For me nothing seems to be changing. Am I stupid? Everyone else is getting old at this age. Why am I not willing to get in the game?
I live on an excellent diet of veggies, olive oil, breads of old Europe varieties, tons of garlic, olives, peanuts and other healthy shit, and, of course, that means that I can with impunity enjoy pasta, juicy steaks and me favorite sausages within reason, and all the red wine I might desire. I don’t feel like I’m getting old or act like I’m getting old. I am strong like a bull. I can’t accept that I am supposed to be a person who might welcome these products and services that are being touted to me every day. But I do hedge me bets.
In my own case, I have planned an “exit” party for one at a local motel. In that manner, no matter what, I shall not be found at home, having forever ruined the scene in the matter of future habitational enjoyment by my dear beloved surviving domestic partner. Having decided to do “it” in a commercial setting, as it were, I have planned to lay on a party of sorts – my last Martini party – my reward for all these final years without Martinis. It will be in a budget motel, of course. No sense having that final expense as a major item on the credit card, you know. I shall go to me favorite booze vendor and acquire the makings of a damn fine final picnic, replete with pate, crackers or breads, assorted pickled veggies, sliced deli meats of various flavors (no worry about too much fat and salt on such an occasion), candies that go well with Martinis (Snickers are best), extra large pimento stuffed olives, Noilly Pratt Vermouth and Beefeater gin, a pitcher, stir rod and ice, and a very lovely and elegant Martini glass. Assuming that I have the ability to select a time and date, there will be a football game on the tele, or a good war movie, preferably starring John Wayne. The perfect mise en scene!
I shall be discovered next morning by the hall maid when she comes to make up the room. There will be the customary call to the constabulary and the subsequent notice to me next of kin/lover to come and identify the remains. Short period of sadness, followed by a grand memorial celebration, hopefully at Muldoons, at which they will parade all the photographs of me making a bloody fool of meself whilst still alive, and all will have a grand time. That’s the way to go! Me cremains will be kept in a small box, intermingled with the cremains of me favorite cat, Oscar, atop the tele in the breakfast room. On the box will simply be our names “Seamus and Oscar”, or maybe “Oscar and Seamus”.
But that time has not arrived at this writing, and the contemplated event is a faux surprise party honoring me 65th. About four months ago, as I was beginning to do me morning grocery shopping at H.E.B., me very favorite grocer in Houston, I hear a voice say “Hey, Seamus”. I turn to greet whoever it may be, but no one is there. Assuming that I have simply imagined it, I return to me shopping, but again there is that “Hey Seamus”. Again I turn, and again there is no one. I begin to get the picture that some childish person is playing a prank, and return to me business at hand. Again “Hey, Seamus”. Again I turn and who emerges from a crouched position behind a food display, but O’Donnell. How delightfully and typically Irish. Here is this enormous man, bigger even than meself, attempting to conceal himself behind a pile of potatoes, conspirator to the very end, calling out and hiding again quickly, so that the Gombeen men or whoever else might be after him don’t get lucky this very day.
Having revealed himself, he now boldly accosts me and I am loudly greeted and receive the customary slap on the back and bear hug that is the hallmark of the large man’s greeting ceremony. This is followed by the usual conversational indirection, meandering eventually to the point at which he reveals to me what he very recently had been told by someone else only upon his oath to keep the secret, especially from me. A born informer, what! “Seamus, you already know about the party, right?” That is code for “I am about to betray a confidence, and you can salve my conscience by confirming to me that you already have heard this from another source, so it is OK to discuss it.” Never one to fail in me duty to a dear friend, I say “Of course. Who told you about it?” Whereupon he tells me everything that is afoot concerning the plans for a surprise birthday party for me at Muldoons in honor of me 65th. I must swear never to reveal who it was that told me of it, especially to Belinda, who is assumed to be behind it all. No one wants to incur the wrath of Herself who must in all things be obeyed, dear and lovely person though she is. We then slowly disengage through another maze of small talk, and I go merrily about me business of selecting appropriate tucker for the day’s repasts. For a month I say nothing of it to Belinda or to anyone else.
About a month before the great day, I send an email message to all who might be interested in attending the surprise party in honor of me 65th, except to Chuck and Belinda, who are the originators of the idea and who truly believe that I know nothing of it. The message reads, “I am told that the cheap bastards at Muldoons plan to throw a surprise party for me upon the occasion of me 65th birthday on Friday, 13th December, beginning at 7 pm. In order to keep expenses down, they certainly will not invite anyone, and they will assuage all guilt by comping me a few glasses of their cheapest tipple. I would appreciate it if there were many there to celebrate with me, even if, upon discovering the multitude, a decision is made to hand me the bill at the end of the evening notwithstanding that it is me birthday. It will be my pleasure to host such an event. All I ask is that you must pretend that this is indeed a surprise party and that you heard nothing of this from me. I, of course, will be duly surprised to see you and ask in me most credible manner how it is that you came to know that a party in me honor was being laid on this day. You will then say that you can’t remember who told you about it, all with a straight face, and we will go on from there.” Belinda just happens to find a print out of the email that I left lying around for precisely that purpose, and there ensues a stress interrogation the like of which is usually reserved for the errant husband in whose trouser pocket a condom is found. After allowing for a reasonable, but short period of denial and cross examination, I confess to the conversation between O’Donnell and meself, and there is much laughter. But I urge that Chuck not be brought into this loop, so that he can figure it out for himself in some odd manner, all the while wondering just what has befallen this grand surprise.
About ten days later, just before Thanksgiving, I get an unusual call from Chuck to wish me a happy Thanksgiving. I have never before, in all these years, received a happy Thanksgiving call from Chuck. There is the customary small talk and well wishing, an inquiry into the health and condition of his wean, Thumper Mullen, who, I am then informed, has fallen and has a grand knot on his forehead. Falling down and getting a knot on your forehead is a rite of passage for all Irish males, and we joke about this for a few moments. Then he comes to the point and asks about an email I am reputed to have sent to many, inviting them to me surprise 65th birthday party. I ask if he has a copy of it, and deny all knowledge of any such communication, suggesting that someone is pulling his leg, and asking if it is true that such an event has been planned. He now goes into shock, as it dawns upon him that he has just given away the surprise by asking me about an email message he never saw, and fearing that when/if Belinda hears that it was he who spoilt the surprise, he would be in deep shit for a very long time. There ensues a begging sequence in response to which I swear that I will never tell Belinda that it was Chuck who let the cat out of the bag about me 65th surprise birthday party. Belinda, by the way, is standing there all the while, listening to one side of this conversation and trying her best not to laugh out loud. And so the conversation ends with Chuck feeling like a low down dog for having betrayed the secret, but at least reassured that I intend to pretend to be surprised and never reveal to Belinda that it was he who told me. And he still has not actually seen the email message. And of course, as it was sent to O’Donnell as well as to everyone else except Chuck and Belinda, I am certain that it was that great informer O’Donnell who told Chuck about the email. If you want any secret to become public at the fastest possible speed, tell it to O’Donnell. O’Donnell most certainly did not reveal to Chuck that it was he who ratted out the secret to me in the H.E.B. supermarket a month ago.
This story was then sent to O’Donnell for his approval of its publication, considering his being featured in it so prominently. One does not wish to give offense to friends. There are all too few of them already. In response, he regaled me with a tale of his recent, this past Tuesday, visit to Muldoons and Chuck asking him about what he might know about the party coming into the public ken, as it were. He, of course, denied all knowledge of anything, and Chuck, in very unctuous tones, announced that he would make inquiry and get to the bottom of it. That is what prompted the Happy Thanksgiving call, to be sure. Now, more confused than ever, Chuck believes it is he who has ratted out the secret to me. Now Chuck absolutely cannot stand the thought that anyone might know something that he doesn’t know about the goings on in Muldoons. And so O’Donnell and I and Belinda are simply rolling on the floor with laughter thinking of Chuck’s frustration and what sort of “front” he will put up along the lines of “Aw Hell! I knew it all along and was just playing around with you guys!”
So now it is 5th December, and I have yet more than a week before the party. In the old days I would simply start the party right now and it would still be going on when me birthday came round. Ahhhh! The old days! It seems like yesterday. Tis gob smacked I am to note that I have now for almost 13 years been completely Belinda whipped. I told someone yesterday that I have already bought me last motorcycle. He almost broke down and cried. He had called me to brag that his son – not he, but his son – had bought a new bike. Lest you think this a lament, I am very gratified that I am too busy and too happy to want to go awol anymore. Am I starting to mature? E Pluribus Unum. From many women, one alone. This is a very happy time for me. But I still don’t totally comprehend why it is that I am being rewarded with such happiness. I am as in love today as I ever was with my first love. It is as exciting and as lovely as I have ever dreamed it could be. I am sharing my life with the smartest and the most interesting person I have ever met. And she is lovely beyond belief.
So now it is 17th December. The party is done. It was a grand and watershed event, and I’m happy to have survived to that day, and to this.
Where to start in the recounting of the evening to you presents dozens of choices, each poignant and humorous, a true yin and yang construct, feung shuey out the door. The door to Muldoons faces south, and, despite the fire code, there is no other exit facility. That way, but for the air conditioning, you would enjoy the aromas from the kitchen venting at the Café Express next door. As Café Express is a very fine place that serves really good casual healthy tucker, its kitchen vent aromas are always redolent of garlic and herbs and spices – YUM! Inasmuch as the television personality who weekly calls everyone’s attention to restaurant inspection failures – the rat and roach report - likes to eat there, they go to great lengths to keep the place reasonably clean.
I suppose what I appreciate most about that night is that, surprisingly, it was not used as a staging event for the promotion of agendas not of my choosing. As O’Donnell can verify, we have things we appreciate and things that we do not appreciate. And we have damn little patience with the latter. We use the short fuse system of dealing with the mediocre and irrelevant. In the context of O’Donnell and me, you don’t want to be the person who introduces any dissonance into our evening’s revelries. And if you do, don’t count on the management to intervene on your behalf, or the police to arrive in time to protect you.
Wonderfully, all the Enron Corporation criminals stayed away from Muldoons that evening. Although Muldoons is their very favorite venue to enjoy the pleasures financed by what they stole from shareholders and from employee retirement trust funds, that night they were notably absent. Had they made an appearance, they would probably have usurped me prerogative to be the center of attention, which would have pissed me off mightily. As I had pledged to Belinda and Chuck that I would not make scenes when the Enron crooks stopped by to spend lots of money, their intrusion into me party could have driven me over the edge. (See “Murder At Muldoons) They were enjoying their own notoriety this past weekend, as a video of a “good bye” party at Enron headquarters a few years ago – not long before their fraudulent scheme caused the company’s collapse – had just made the television. In the video, CEO Skilling, now known as Defendant Skilling, is seen and heard announcing to a group of Enron accountants and financial types that the way to enhance share prices was to switch to Future Value Accounting. In FVA, the numbers are stated as though what you wish to achieve has already been achieved, even though it has not. Think of it as hallucinogenic accrual accounting. In this manner the capital market assigns to your shares a price/value level that reflects your intuitive genius more than you eventual performance. Sounds very California to me. But this is being joked about by the Enron Biggies, and Ken Lay – now known as Defendant Ken Lay – is also there chuckling about it all. As of this morning you can go to the Drudge Report and click on the story. When you get to that page, you can click on the appropriate icon and watch the video yourself. This aint fiction here!
Having enjoyed the absence of any intrusion by Enron phonies, there are others to whom I probably owe a debt of gratitude for not showing up and ruining the ambience. Al Gore didn’t show up. How lucky can you get? Al was still recovering from being on Saturday Night Live where he got to sit on a set that replicates the Oval Room of the White House, and his tremors had not yet subsided. The drooling was not yet totally under control either. He was lamenting that he had just told people he would not be running for the Democrat nomination for President in 2004, whereupon Republican Trent Lott provided an opportunity to seize that initiative all over again. Trent also stayed away from me party, and that meant that we wouldn’t have to tolerate television cameras and reporters overwhelming the guests and the evening with their intrusiveness. Trent Lott, in case anyone missed it and was on another planet this past week, was at a Strom Thurmond retirement party doing his best imitation of Seamus Muldoon having too much to drink and saying things calculated to offend absolutely everyone and ruin his career. Now Muldoon has survived many such events, but Trent Lott is not as skilled or experienced in having to endure the exquisiteness of utter shame. Trent, who is described as the Senator whose hair does not move in a hurricane, must have thought he was out in some field wearing his white sheet and burning a cross with the good old boys, and he mentioned what a bloody shame it was that Thurmond had not become President so that there could have been strong segregationist leadership in the White House, avoiding future problems of uppity minorities intruding upon the venues and privileges of the real Americans, their former owners.
Trent has now been on television numerous times offering assorted insincere regrets for having said what he said. These pseudo apologies are so ridiculous that if you don’t happen to be a member of any offended minority, they are outrageously funny. Imagine a television studio in which a sarcastic satire show is working on rehearsing Trent Lott funny apologies. They have the actor, looking for all the world somewhat like Trent Lott, making various video sound bytes in which he tries out one insulting phony apology after another, while a panel of offended minority people reacts to this follow-up insult. The only thing he did not promise to do this month to make up for his blunder was to send everyone a Happy Kwanzaa card. Regardless of your attitude toward minorities in this country, one would have to admit that the leader of the “in power” political party’s legislative contingent cannot be heard lamenting that minorities were given a shot at equal opportunity at the same time that his party professes to be newly more sensitive to minority issues and to be “reaching out to blacks”. You’d think the least a grateful person would do who had been put in Lott’s privileged position would be to fake it for a while to see whether any minority group actually bought into the program and started voting Republican. Then, if the program didn’t sell anyway, there would be little downside in trashing them. You know, as I write this, I wonder whether Lott’s best position would be that the message is perfectly OK, just the timing is a little off.
I love a party where there is no agenda – just folks getting together to have a good time. Every time I have attended an event given for the purpose of promoting an agenda – no matter what agenda – it seemed as though the place was crawling with proselytizing enthusiasts. Nothing is more boring or boorish than a fucking enthusiast. And some of the agenda fests are so utterly California – YUK! The folks who don’t like us to eat animals are the worst – worse even than the Jesus freaks. The Jesus freaks want you to leave their event glassy eyed and drooling and go immediately up to the first poor bloke you encounter and inform him that you know Jesus by his first name – that you and Jesus are mates – that you and Jesus just hoisted a few down at Muldoons, just like He did at the Last Supper. But the goddamn animal rights idiots want you to renounce meat. God didn’t put me at the top of the food chain to eat vegetables. And if God didn’t intend for animals to be eaten, She wouldn’t have made them out of meat. It if looks like something edible, eat it – to hell with all this nonsense that animals have “rights”. Only a Democrat would wish to empower animals, hoping that they could then be unionized and become some grateful voting block for electoral exploitation – better that they be eaten. Do you realize that if cattle and poultry could vote, Al Gore would now be President of the United States? That’s a reason to eat them in and of itself. It makes it much more enjoyable to think that every time I bite into that yummy bacon cheeseburger I am striking a blow for the American way. The delectation is enhanced by the knowledge that in so doing I am spiting the thousands of imbeciles who live on vegetables and demonstrate against war.
At my party there was no agenda except to celebrate my good fortune with conversation and alcohol. I loved every minute of it. And so, my friends, sometimes it is not what goes on at a party that makes it such a huge success, as what does not go on there. Whenever we are tempted to be ungrateful that something was not as whiz bang fantastic as it might have been, we need to stop and consider how bloody grateful we should be for what did not occur that could have, and for the fact that so many awful people were not present.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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