my grandmother, (the kakked one you
rememberfrom my father's side),
decided to rise from the dead.
It was just the sort of thing
you'd expect a gramma would do
on this, personkind's annual paean
to love, love, love. She did it
just to send my little brother love
and kisses and Cupid's grandmotherly
arrow from that secret someplace
beyond the Veil --- that seal-locked
someplace well beyond the black
Tupperware containerthat entombs her
earthly ashen remains.
No, they haven't made good their
threat to increase my
lithium dosage, dear dads.
I must readily admit it is
I who have conjured up
granmaw, who has spoken through me to
my poor unsuspecting little sib.
And the U.S. postal inspectors
damn near busted me for it, too.
Without the snail mail system
Netizens are so quick to inter,
this adventure in abnormal psych,
warped-out brotherly love,
and plain old high school hijinks
would never have been
possible. Ben Franklin's baby is
not without its merits,
faithful friends and readers.
It all started two Christmases
ago when Zippy Zipcode
(a Postal character as foreign to
Unix spuds as Spirograph),
unwittingly played Bud Abbott to
my Lou. I daresay the P.O. skipped
to my Lou, but that would be rather a
repugnant and unnecessary turn of
phrase, and so I shall not
commit it to print.
My long-suffering wife, trolling
the antique shops and
garage sales in a junk-collecting
odyssey to rival anything
you'd find in Homer, picked up
some wooden boxy thing
with French girly-font script
burnt in. "Toilette de Pension,"
it says. A primitive colostomy
box for decrepit Frenchie
pensioners, we deduced.
Pretty cool find.
I shook it and we
heard something rattlin' around
inside. I started opening
the thing, sorta secretly
hoping as I usually do when
I open old bottles and stuff,
that perhaps Barbara Eden might
appear (as she did in the early 1960s,
and not as she appears now, of course).
But instead, some postcards fell
out along with the
dusky dusty dank of decades.
They were two-sided postcards
showing off shiny black or
bronze caskets, one on either side,
each festooned with a glorious
spray of daffodils and jonquils and
calla lillies of every size and hue.
They were shot expertly
with a star filter, and each had a
nova-burst of inviting
heavenly light hovering just above
it, a luminous allure to
We sat there for one hundred and
fifty years in an awkward
and spooked silence when one of
us finally figgered,
"...must be some old funeral home's
marketing photos for
their casket line, no??"
An evil grin unfolded across my
face, curling way, way on
up to the far, far reaches of my
forehead, much as the
Grinch's grin Etch-a-Sketched
its way all up and down his
green Seussy face.
My wife, reading me in a millisecond
(and probably intuiting
that "I Dream of Jeannie" thing a
few moments ago), let out
a sigh of abject resignation that
always signals her
acknowledgment that much like
Fred Flintstone, Ralph
Kramden or even the highly-revered
Herman Munster, my noodle was a-cookin'
and I was winding up into some
She watched as I wildly snipped
letters out of color
newspaper ad sections and one by
one, glued them down,
ransom-note-style, over the photo
of the brushed bronze casket.
M-E-R-R-Y C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S F-R-O
"This is for your brother, isn't it,"
she interjected based on
her own hellish experience as my bride.
I finished it off with a red witchy
scrawl on the flip side of
the card, emulating that fine Munsters'
blood-drippin' font you see
during that masterpiece Jack Marshall
You see it just as Herman walks through the
door and freezes with that goofus
Faithful readers of dads-dot-com
will understand the cryptic
proxy message from granny that I
(Those of you who are uninitiated,
I bid you a warm welcome and extend to
you a quick backgrounding link. Go
ahead and click on it. We'll wait
for you to bone up and
come on back).
The message read:
"Dis is da box I wanted and
you put me in Tupperware."
Really, quite a fine holiday
sentiment I thought. I wrapped
it in wax paper and stuck it
under my tool box so it'd dry all
flat and sick and professional,
and the next morning, I
stamped that sucker and had the
gumption, walking unnoticed amongst
the other mortal commutin' suits,
to pop it in the mail bag next to
a rubber-banded stack-o-Santa
letters I saw addressed in glitter
marker to the North Pole.
At long last I had the holiday spirit.
I waited on pins and needles.
Mail gags just didn't give you
that immediate sick pop calling
the airport and paging
Gozinya" gave you, but I knew I
was suffering for my art.
A full week passed before the
call finally came.
"Got your card," my brother offered,
I was about to Uncle Tunoose a gulp
of joe through my nose,
but I choked it down and composed
myself as best I could.
"Yeah, came special-D, it did."
"I'll get you."
"Pardon? Beg your pardon?"
"DIE, blow-hole, you are MINE!"
My ghouly-yule greeting came all right,
it came just the same.
But it was hand- delivered to my
brother's door with a
feverish official knock from a
corpulent and sweating postal
inspector covering his abundant
buttocks with a housecall
replete with the histrionics
"This deeply disturbed piece of
mail was brought to our
attention, Mr. F___. We wanted
to prepare you for it, and
enumerate your course of redress
should you decide to press charges."
"Thank you, I'll be conducting
the investigation myself," he
demurred, closing the door, cracking
a cold one as the clock struck beer-o'clock.
With no hesitation whatsoever,
he picked up the phone and
rang me up on speed dial,
immediately recognizing my work.
Two Christmases have past since
I brought granny back, my
voyeuristic little friends, and
it has become a joyous tradition
in my brother's holly jolly household
to display the "Merry Christmas From Hell"
greeting card prominently amongst
the Ziggy and Mary Engelbreit
Christmas cards from friends and relatives
who alas, are merely living.
But as this Christmas faded and
the long Great Lakes winter
drove us to the very brink of
madness with a punishing
epidemic of cabin fever, I sought
a catharsis of love with the
coming of Valentine's Day.
Armed with my very last coffin card,
I raided my kids' forgotten back
stash of V-Day cards from their
pre-school days, snipped 'em up
and glued little red hearts exhorting
surprised recipients to "Be Mine"
all over the card casket's
lid. "I Like You A Lot," the larger
pink heart read, glued
down now on the gladiolas.
I did the ransom newsprint thing too ---
"Happy Valentine's Day from Hell"
it said, the double-L in "Hell" cut out from
an ad for "HaLL's" coughdrops.
The Munster-red script said:
"You put me in Tupperware, but I still love yuz."
And do you know what happened?
Go on and hazard a guess.
I'll tell you what happened ---
Here I paste up this sick-a-zoidal mess,
it goes through the mail system without a
postal eyebrow being raised, and all I get is
"..yeah, got the card. Thanks, man."
I slapped my xerox copy of the card down
(need one for the old portfolio, you know),
in front of my wife for her evaluation.
She yawned and sent me to the
store for Yoo-Hoo, and
hazelnut coffee, medium grind.
My son, old enough to test-run my
tamer stuff, wanted a look-see,
and desperate for even the most
minor of yucks or even a welcome
hint of revulsion, I showed it to him.
"It has a bad word on it," he scolded,
pointing righteously at the Hall's
coughdrop area of the paste-up,
and lobbing the card at me in distaste.
My dog Parvo, having just cost
me $93 bucks in emergency veterinary
services because of his boundless
stupidity, rolled over and played
dead as I walked past him and dialed a
happy sounding number on the Touch Tone pad.
"Airport paging, your party?"
"Mr. Long please?"
"Yes, Furman Long?"