- Ward Cleaver's Prozac Fever

valentines from hell

For this special Valentine's Day,

my grandmother, (the kakked one you

remember from 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 container that 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

the Infinite.

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

freaked fugue.

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.


"This is for your brother, isn't it,"

she interjected based on

her own hellish experience as my bride.

-M H-E-L-L!

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

theme song.

You know.

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

oh-so-carefully scribbled.

(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."

"xxoo, Gramma"

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

"Peter 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

of faux-concern.

"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 ---

NOTHING 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?"

"Mr. Long?"

"Yes, Furman Long?"

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2003 Arhythmiacs
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You never talk to your old dad!