Driving Me Crazy

I made a comment on a Facebook post earlier today which caused me to remember all the times Roberto Herrera’s driving literally drove me crazy. The worst time was when he was still walking, and therefore, still driving. We were on our way home from somewhere and as is usual in Houston’s East End, we had to traverse several railroad tracks to get home. This one particular time, the lights were flashing, the bell was ringing, and the gates were down. I began digging my nails into his shoulder, screaming, Don’t do it! Roberto, undaunted, swerved around the gates and onto the tracks, where a train was bearing down on us, honking its horn furiously. We cleared the tracks with minutes (inches?) to spare. It was a short few blocks home to our apartment on Park Drive. However, once we got there, I couldn’t move. I literally could not move. I was paralyzed with fear. Even though it had been well known for a long time that I have an unfounded fear of freight trains, Roberto apparently didn’t comprehend the extent of it until that moment. Another time, we were driving home late one might from a Christmas Party in …

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Leighton Hamilton Playing the Blues

An old beau of mine has been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe because this is the fifth anniversary of his death at the young age of 56. Or maybe as I myself grow older, nostalgia kicks in. Anyway, he spent his last years back in his hometown of Dalton, Georgia, and Tuesday nights were spent in front of the mike at The Blues Train Cafe. Here are some photos from that period.

The Nose Knows…

and so does he. After reading a post about nice smells, Rob decided to turn the tables and post his list of the smelliest things on earth. Did he get his inspiration from that old cult classic, Pink Flamingos, featuring Divine and the Marbles vying for the title of The Filthiest People Alive? The list would make Divine herself swoon with horror. But he forgot a few items. You haven’t LIVED until you’ve smelled rotten potatoes. We left a bag on a bottom shelf of a rolling cart that we kept in the laundry room right next to the kitchen. I kept thinking there was a dead mouse somewhere, but I searched high and low and never found it. I finally moved the cart and noticed what was on the very bottom bin. Liquefied taters. I mean to tell you it was horrid. Another smell that I’ll never forget is the smell of rotting salmon. I had purchased some salmon steaks and one package of them (I’d bought several) somehow slipped back between the back of the trunk and the back of the back seat (in my Mazda 626 sedan, you could literally crawl into the trunk from the back …

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To Herbert on Father’s Day

I was adopted at birth and never had a father. At least not a birth father that I knew. But I did have a father figure. A friend of my mother, Thelma. His name was Herbert Grannis. He was around as long as I can remember. He read the Sunday comics to me until I was able to read them for myself. He did so many other things for me that I never got to thank him for. So I’ll do that now. Thank you, Uncle Herb … For having the patience to indulge a four-year old by reading the Sunday comics to her every Sunday morning when I am sure you’d rather have dived into the sports section to check baseball scores. For sitting patiently as you held me in your lap while I plucked hairs off your arm. It was this weird “thing” I did and I have no idea why. For putting together my Barbie Dream House (it would be worth a small fortune today) and all the cardboard Danish Modern furniture that came with it so my dolls would have a place to park their plastic asses. For attempting (that’s the operative word here) to teach …

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It Happened So Fast…

I am spending the last day of my week-long vacation cleaning out my email inbox and came across something I wrote to a close friend the evening that Robo died. I thought I’d share it with you. It happened so fast this afternoon; EMTs, cops, medical examiner … I guess with his constellation of health issues, they wanted a definitive cause of death. The house is finally quiet tonight after hours of chaos. And I have lost my best friend of 30 years. And I didn’t tell him how much I love him today of all days. Go do that right now!

The Last Best Thanksgiving

I am remembering Robo’s last Thanksgving, our last Thanksgiving together. I recently spoke to a friend who is going through a rough patch with a dying relative. She told me, I keep thinking of things in terms of “last” as in last birthday, last Thanksgiving, last Christmas, etc. I told her not to thinnk of them as the last, but the best or the most cherished. And that is what Thanksgiving 2011 is to me, and always will be. Thanksgiving was always Roberto’s favorite holiday, for reasons you can imagine: Food and football, a license to pig out and overdose on sports on TV? It doesn’t get better than that if you are a guy! The menu was fairly simple. We were hooked on Giada DeLaurentiis and her cooking shows, so a lot of the dishes were Giada-inspired. For starters, I made a berry strada. Followed by tomato and green bean casserole. I also made cornbread with creamed corn and jalapeno peppers, rich and creamy. I had found a fresh turkey breast at the grocer and roasted that on my own (later I would come to rely on precooked turkey from Pappas and Honey Baked Ham Co.). Dessert was the …

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