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« The Bouillabaisse Kid. | Main | Off A Pigeon Shit Ledge Together. »

To The Kid Shooting Down From The Stars. 

Hey, bud. You'll be here soon. Here's a little list I made up, you know, to read on the flight. I love ya.


A Mom's love, my own anger. Water gushing up my nose. Getting stung by yellowjackets by the tomato plants. My brother slicing open his tongue on a sled blade. My brother getting bashed in the face by an aluminum bat. Kissing a great girl who smelled like cake. My Mom-Mom's love. Getting pepper-sprayed in the eyes. Backing into a dipshit's car in the high school parking lot. The joy of hitting a RBI double. Becoming hooked on sleeping with a vaporizer until it gummed up the finish on the  bunk beds. Standing in line for George Thorogood tickets in the 15 degree pre-dawn darkness. And running from black bear cubs on a trail in the spring forest. And stalactite welts on the roof of my mouth from pizza and impatience.

Someone splitting my head open from behind with a tossed cinder block. Finding my cat smooshed out on 9th Avenue. Kissing a great girl who tasted like Jager. Slowly forgetting what my Dad's voice sounded like. My mom crying/her nose all swollen and red and runny. Fresh bluefish scales all over our back sidewalk. Dogs. A baby chicken in a cardboard box under a lightbulb out on the porch. Knowing I wasn't ever gonna hit any homeruns even before the pitcher threw the ball. Playing the guitar. Playing the guitar on my back on the floor. Playing the harmonica. Playing the harmonica on my back on the floor in a puddle of spilt drinks. Looking at a lily pad on a Mississippi pond and throwing my buzzbait at it and watching the bass erupt. Getting seven teeth pulled at once/passing out in the dentist's parking lot. My Pop-Pop's love. Firing bullets into the slate sky at the end of the day when I didn't care anymore if there were any deer around or not. And meeting an airline stewardess in Chicago and going back to her place somewhere in her city.

Marrying your Mom on a gorgeous October evening. Red Lobster with her two hours later. The flashing cop lights out on Fayette Street when people got hit by cars. Walking around London by myself and happy about it. Trafalgar Square with your Uncle Dave and the pigeons. Pigeons all over your Mom's arm in Venice. My Pop-Pop saying 'nigger' like it was any old word. My Pop-Pop limping up to the streams he drove me to: to see if I caught any trout. Standing on top of the Empire State Building in a thick fog. Violet, your sister. The happiness your sister taught me. And all the happiness you're gonna teach me too, man.

Throwing a chip of rock into Walden Pond. Recording records in a sweltering garage. Inhaling (I inhaled). Watching the magical purple sunset over a west Texas motel parking lot. Getting hoagies and cheesesteaks at the deli with my paper route money. Our first VCR. Video tape spilling out of the VCR/the horrible hissing sound it made. My mom buying me books whenever I asked her too. Charles Dickens. Drinking moonshine with the writer Larry Brown at a house party. Your Uncle Dave beating everyone in the room at arm wrestling til there was no one left. Standing outside the gates of Graceland because it was too expensive for us to go in. Walking right past the ticket counter at The Norman Rockwell Museum and going in without paying. Emily Dickinson's bedroom/ the chest where she hid her poems away. Containers of live rattlesnakes in the back of a Texas liquor store. Pasta in Rome. And looking at the lights of Mexico from an El Paso highway.

Holding your Mom's hand as your sister was born. Throwing tennis balls into rough streams for the dogs. Eating a raw habenero and leaving work early. Getting hit, by men and women. Reading books on hotel bathroom floors. Signing people's yearbooks and never ever seeing them again. German rain. German pilsners. Whispering to my Mom-Mom an hour before she passed. Roller skating at Radnor Rolls. Asking the girl from Spencer's Gifts for a New Year's Eve date to go see my brother's band, Marah, and her saying no. Joining Marah over pitchers of Honey Brown on Spring Garden Street. Making friends/ letting them go. Making memories/ keeping them forever. Looking up at the stars from a rowboat on the Chesapeake Bay at four-thirty am. And playing air drums to entire live Genesis records until I gave myself goosebumps.

Cooking Thai stir-fry for your Mom in Philly. Watching my Pop-Pop's brown junker disappear around the corner. Christmas trees in all their forgotten December glory. Trees out on the January curb. A little piece of holiday tinsel in the front flower bed in July. Standing in the flooding river in Wales. French truckstops. The bored tired eyes of the French truckstop counter girl. Calling your mom from a billion miles away. Riiiiiiiiiiiiing. Riiiiiiiiiiiing. Riiiiiiiiiing.

And never forgetting the lonliness of the ringing when you just can't wait for the pick up.

And smelling pancakes cooking while I was still in bed.

And jerkoff Pete Rose rolling an autographed ball across the table at me without even a glance my way.

Adults screaming at each other.

The first notes of Backstreets rising up out of the humid night.

People waiting at Arrivals, nervous.

Me and your Mom and Violet and the dogs: waiting.


Reader Comments (23)

gah! larry brown?!?! we moved down here right after he passed. he's my favorite writer-- both for his writing, and for his story, knocking the ball out of the water in pretentious o-town.

now i run a grocery store in water valley where we sell his son Billy Ray's very excellent milk.

funny how small the world can be.


great list, by the way. we have a girl and a boy 17 months apart. she's 3 now and he's 19 months. y'all are going to look at each other over the crying children and wonder what precisely you were thinking. but after the first year... it's getting pretty unbelievable.

good luck. be as nice to each other as you can, that's my advice.

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentera.

Amazing. Good luck with the pending arrival. I hope everyone comes out on the other side of this healthy and happier than ever :).

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle

you're awesome. love your words.

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterali

I never smelled like cake and I ain't no stewardess so I sure as hell better be the one who tasted like Jager.

You write good.

January 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

Might I be the one who smelled like cake? Congratulations on your beautiful family, Serge. I read your page and Monica's often. Best wishes on the impending arrival of your son!

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Everyone should make a life list of memories. Beautiful. I hope your brand new son makes you proud every single day.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaty E.

Your memories are like poems. Lovely.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

this made me cry... my son is 17 and his father is leaving on Sunday to move to another state with his new wife. I'm afraid this will break him in half.

As a helpless mom, unsure of what to say or do... I'm going to show this to my boy... and do my best.

so thanks.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura B

Dude, quite bashing your Pop-Pop over a word that was used casually for 20 years by EVERYONE. And do a Twitter search on the word and find out who STILL uses it.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJake

Jake, that word certainly wasn't used by everyone. My parents would have washed my mouth out with soap had I ever uttered it and the same would have happened to my friends as well had they done so.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Um yeah, neither of my grandparents ever used that word. He isn't "bashing" his pop-pop, he's mentioning a memory that obviously stands out in his mind. He mentions several other pop-pop memories that show his love for his grandpa.

Who defends the use of that word, period?

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJane

Any honest person can seahc Twitter RIGHT NOW and find out that the word is still in constant usage and by who.

Also, for someone Serge's Pop Pop's age, yes, the word was in COMMON usage.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJake

really enjoyed reading this...thanks

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjg

who cares who says the word on twitter now? who cares if it was common usage then? who cares if people still say it even though they shouldn't?

serge isn't allowed to remember it and write it down?

and... just because people said it then and say it now doesn't mean that its okay.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterali

I just like that people are saying Pop-Pop over and over.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterserge

nervous and waiting and remembering and sharing and thanks so much for all of it.

January 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarian

This was FUN reading. and some of the comments here read like an episode from 'My Name is Earte'. Monica cracks me up. I had to go back to see if she wrote " I ' ain't' never smelled like cake..." which was reminding me of Joy Farrah Darville Hickey Turner ( Earle's wife). But she didn't say 'ain't'. You guys!!!

Anyway, my best friend in the whole world is from Philly ( just moved to Floridwaaaaa) says 'Hoagie" and Mom-Mom, Pop-pop. Awn and awn and awn...

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina

You missed out the triangle sandwich from a Shell station, before singing in church in Bedford!

Powerful stuff. Innit

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter(London) Amanda

Can I add one for the boy?

Standing in Maxwells on an incredibly warm March night so hot in the club that condensation was dripping from the ceiling while Marah played and I poured water on your dad's head when he waded out into the crowd to sing Dishwasher's Dream.

That is one of my best rock and roll memories ever

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSean

You are the best writer. The things you come up! Just the best!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergranelaine

Beautiful. You and The Girl Who definitely inspire me to want to write again. Once upon a time I had aspirations; doing a memory list of my own will be a good place to start.

Oh - and Monica - I laughed at your "You write good." comment. Funny stuff.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJill

Serge - FYI, plane tix from Salt Lake City to Phila on sale for $89 each way thru May --

February 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbuffy summers

Love it. I wish I could write all those things in my life like that, you've a great memory, and great imagination, what a lovely idea. Hell I'm gonna give it a go!

February 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan

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