The photo is from 1978. My son, his truck. Behind him, my truck.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Handyman Sketches: An American Dream

Don't Blame Me, I'm Just Here to Fix the Garbage Disposal: Part Ten

An American Dream: Thursday, May 14, 1987

Replace another dishwasher.  Hot day again. 
Carrying out the old one I heave it up
to the dumpster — by myself —
and feel a POP
in my spine.
Why do I lift dishwashers?
Here's why: 

Ice strapped to my back,
I squat stiffly with pangs
as I tuck in my five-year-old.  He says,
“I don’t like to go to bed because sometimes I have dreams.”
“Everybody dreams," I say.  "Every night.”
He: “Once I had a bad dream.  It was called The American Dream.”
Me: “Oh really?  What was it about?”
He: “It was at the beach.  There
were all these bright color rocks. 
When you look closely at them, you can see little aminals."
(That's what he calls them: aminals.)
"A big wave came. 
It was so big, it followed us home. 
It went up one side of a hill and down
the other side into another ocean.”
Me: “Why was that called The American Dream?”
He: “I don’t know.  That’s what it said it was in the dream.”

I have a dream, many nights, which I don’t tell my son: 
I’m walking naked down a crowded sidewalk.
Nobody notices.  Nobody cares. 
That’s the writer’s bad dream.   It comes true.

We share love, myself and this boy.
That’s why I lift dishwashers.
We dream.  Sometimes badly.  But we dream.

Note: Among my contracting jobs, for many years I've served as the on-call handyman for a group of townhouse-style apartments — or rental units — or whatever one should call an enclosed square of two-story dwellings in a subdivision of Sunnyvale, California.  It's steady money.  As a minor league writer, I need that.
I tried to summarize the experience in prose, but verse seems to work best.  Most of the events took place in the 1980s though a few are more recent.  This is Part Ten of a series.

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