Fiftieth Anniversary Of Going Blind
“A new survey shows in stark relief that what some are calling
the Great Decline of religion in America continues.”
—The Huffington Post, 17 May 2015
Last stretch south from college near Boston, living on
non-inherited wits, my hippocampi having learned the trick
of hiding behind a girl or at least standing near abandoned vehicles,
I got a hitch with a jaunty guy who claimed to be the sword swallower
at a traveling circus now parked outside a haunted house
in Patterson—decades after med school I’d give my eyeteeth
to make a home visit to Doc WC Williams’ patriarchal haunts.
The bizarro’s wife also served as the senior bearded
fat lady’s stand in. She forced me to lie down under her
in the back, bury my head beneath disco balls, Kewpie Dolls,
sequined seahorses, five open-mouthed wide-eyed clowns playing pinball.
We eventually stopped somewhere in Philly
while a preppy friend twiddled his thumbs at the Liberty Bell.
Waiting in the family Main Line tailgating station wagon,
Ed drove to their bonkers-large Haverford place
so I could drop him off and make my way to Germantown
to pick up the love of my life.
Punching above my weight, I first met Karen
when my buddy fixed us up for Princeton’s homecoming game
just the week before fellow Harvard alum JFK was assassinated.
The blond folksinger took a few slugs from my silver flask
of rotgut whiskey, charmed off my class ring
and other things then proceeded to get herself
to a convent experiment that ended by New Years.
Next chance to resume, this near-sighted Californian,
realizing he’d lost his glasses back in Jersey,
tapped the brakes through a blizzard.
It took two and a half hours inching inching inching inching
opening the driver’s door a crack
to keep track of the camouflaged central white line,
every once in a while pulling over
to look at a map or for a better place to take a nap.
Arrived, I surprised Karen’s mom’s games inside games,
cardboard boxes of sealing waxed jelly jars setting up
what she insinuated was orange marmalade for the summer.
Her auf Deutsch baritone and aggressive mustache
were obviously unimpressed with my Jewish upspeak
and regrettable hair style.
The matriarch ordered in the man of the family
who demonstrated his anthropogenic climate disruption
was none too happy having some snooty little schmuck
interrupt Saturday football
by the pair of ritual drowning cement shoes
meant to do this alien a solid.
And frankly the ex-nun’s still shorn appearance left me cold
so we called it quits
after which I took the next bus to Cambridge
where for the first time this atheist
gave a second’s thought to joining Hillel but quickly dismissed it
in favor of more solitary dorm bedroom oh my activities.
About the Author
Gerard Sarnat MD received his education at Harvard and Stanford. He established and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised, has been a CEO of healthcare organizations, and was a Stanford professor. He and his wife of forty-five years have three children and two grandchildren with more on the way, and live in the room above their oldest daughter’s garage. For Huffington Post reviews, reading dates including Stanford, publications and more, visit GerardSarnat.com.