by Megan Golden and Akim Reinhardt
One time he showed up at the lake, having driven two hours straight from the city, climbed up to a massive rock wearing only his green speedo, took a last sip of vodka, and executed a perfect swan dive from thirty feet.
One time he sewed the head back on a girl's favorite doll.
One time he put his fingers into his teeth and whistled. We heard it a quarter-mile away.
One time a blue fish clamped its sharp teeth down on his forefinger. "Get it off me!" he yelled to his brother-in-law sitting in the boat with him. But the brother-in-law froze, so he pulled out a knife with his left hand and cut the fish off himself. His finger tip was dead for many years.
One time he gave us some quarters to buy cigarettes from the machine in the back of the bar. Kool sounded good, but he was disappointed. He didn't smoke menthols, so he gave them away.
One time he said, "Well I'll be damned."
One time he took a red nosed pit bull that had been used for bait away from some teenagers on the street by flashing his wallet, claiming to be an animal inspector, asking if the dog had its shots, and then saying they could hand it over or pay a fifty dollar fine. He kept the dog and named him Amsterdam for the avenue where he found him.
One time when he was driving back up the hill from the train station he passed a hitchhiker. He rolled down the window and explained "I'd give you a ride but I got my daughter in the car."
One time he was lying in bed, reached under his pillow, pulled out a black comb, and vigorously scratched the itch on his chest for half a minute. Then he tucked the comb back under his pillow.
One time he wrote a poem on the inside of a Nilla Wafers box.
One time he accused a boy of being slovenly and lackadaisical.
One time he was driving along W. 231st Street, hunting for a parking spot. He finally found one, just before another driver. He parked, but the other driver wasn't happy and they exchanged angry words. He then got out, walked around to the passenger side, opened the door, reached into the glove compartment, pulled out a large knife and slipped it into his pants pocket.
One time he smoked a joint with Bob Dylan.
One time he said he wouldn't eat anything he couldn't kill.
One time on the way to school, when we teased him for using a chic woman's bag to carry some work tools, he chided us. "What the fuck are you talking about? A bag's a bag, don't be ridiculous."
One time his lover's husband set his van on fire. He continued driving it for several years even though it smelled like rotten fish.
One time while sitting at the dinner table, he took a gulp of water and defiantly shot a tight parabolic stream out of his mouth, over the dishes and halfway across the room.
One time he decided to build his daughter a dollhouse. So he did.
One time he installed an air conditioner in the window of an eleventh story apartment. When the woman questioned whether it was securely fastened, he climbed outside the adjoining window, grabbed on to the air conditioner with his bare hands and hung from it, his legs dangling above the earth while the woman screamed and begged him to come back inside.
One time he offered his spare couch to a man who used to sleep on a pool table after cleaning up the bar.
One time he sang "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date" with her as they drove to school.
One time he grabbed a spoon, sat down on the couch, turned on the television, and ate a half-gallon of ice cream.
One time when arriving at work he roused a man sleeping in the entryway by gently nudging him with his foot and loudly saying "Good morning sunshine!"
One time William Holden got drunk, hit his head on a table, fell unconscious and bled out. "Well," he said, "it looks like old Bill Holden fell off the barstool for the last time."
One time he gave a little girl an old flexible flier sled. He then put an old plaid shirt on her and tied her hair back in a ponytail. She picked out a can of red oil paint. He gave her a brush and let her paint it all by herself.
One time he entertained people in his home while wearing a bathrobe. All of them were fully clothed.
One time he rode around in his station wagon, listening to the radio, tapping out the beat on the steering wheel, and occasionally hocking phlegm out the window.
One time he earnestly pronounced the word referring to the onset of adolescence as "poobetree."
One time he drank martinis and polished brass with Betty Bacall.
One time he bought a new work van and installed rumble seats in the back for us to sit on. We were going to try them out on the ride up to the amusement park that Saturday, but he went downstairs to find the van had been stolen. Eventually the cops found it, but by then the insurance company had already paid him off.
One time he referred to an old friend as "a crazy faggot."
One time he got ready to leave the house and go to work without his shoes on until she reminded him to put them on.
One time he glued and nailed lumber scraps to a round piece of plywood. He painted it white and hung it on the wall.
One time he took pain medication, drank beer, and then ran his 1977 Chevy Cheyenne pickup truck into a lamp post half a block from his home.
Akim Reinhardt's website is ThePublicProfessor.com