The Only Number I Still Remember

873-8480 you were an awful lot of eights on a rotary phone.  873-8480 I recite you over and over as if you were a chant, a mantra, a line from the movie Rain Man.

873-8480 I dialed you my whole boyhood to talk to Grandma Ruth.  I loved to talk to Grandma Ruth.  873-8480 restore my heart, deliver me, heal me, save me.

873-8480 you are the only number I still remember in this strange new world of the mind handing over information to technology.  If the global server crashed tomorrow, would we know who we are anymore?  Would our minds begin to strengthen again?  Photo albums, cameras, address books – sales would skyrocket.

873-8480 you lived on the truck route corner, the clatter and grind of jake-brakes vibrating the roof of the double-wide trailer home, moving the blades of the Dutch windmill pumphouse half a degree clockwise.  

873-8480 the covered porch where she taught me how to shoot pool, played the old 45’s, had a martini and talked about Paul Newman.  873-8480 the carport with her little yellow Porsche near her garden with the climbing string beans, the crystal bowl with peanut M and M’s beneath the lid, the little animal figurines along a ledge near the front-room ceiling: duck, whale, llama.  “Isn’t he the darndest thing?”

873-8480 the carved wood shapes of naked girls set into cupboard doors in the bathroom, made for her by a retired Army man, an ex-boyfriend who lived in an RV, Carl I think his name was.

873-8480 do you remember how she always kept Neapolitan ice cream in the freezer?  It explains her way of being in the world, how she lived: “a little bit of everything, kiddo”.    

873-8480 she called the couch a Davenport.  She called bratwurst Oktoberfest Sausage.  She read me Dr. Seuss.  She loved braunschweiger sandwiches with mustard and sliced raw red onion.  She called Richard Dawson the kissing bandit, wished bankruptcy on Wheel of Fortune contestants when they got greedy, went skydiving at age 72, called me on my birthday to tell me she had decided to commit assisted suicide through the Death With Dignity Act.

873-8480 hand me that box of tissue I can’t take it I’m vulnerable my heart might give out.  You’re a seven-number combination key on the lock-box in my memory bank.

 

 

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