* All about them the golden girls, shopping for dainties in Lairville. Even in the midst of the wildmaned winter’s chill, skipping about in sneakers and sweatsocks, cream-colored raincoats. A generation in the mold, the Great White Pattern Maker lying in his prosperous bed, grinning while the liquid cools. But he does not know my bellows. Someone there is who will huff and will puff. The sophomores in their new junior blazers like Saturday’s magazines out on Thursday. Freshly covered textbooks from the campus store, slide rules dangling in leather, sheathed broadswords, chinos scrubbed to the virgin fiber, starch pressed into straightrazor creases, Oxford shirts buttoned down under crewneck sweaters, blue eyes bobbing everywhere, stunned by the android synthesis of one-a-day vitamins, Tropicana orange juice, fresh country eggs, Kraft homogenized cheese, tetrapacks of fortified milk, Cheerios with sun-ripened bananas, corn-flake-breaded chicken, hot fudge sundaes, Dairy Queen root beer floats, cheeseburgers, hybrid creamed corn, riboflavin extract, brewer’s yeast, crunchy peanut butter, tuna fish casseroles, pancakes and imitation maple syrup, chuck steaks, occasional Maine lobster, Social Tea biscuits, defatted wheat germ, Kellogg’s Concentrate, chopped string beans, Wonderbread, Bosco, onion rings, escarole salads, lentil stews, sundry fowl innards, Pecan Sandies, Almond Joys, aureomycin, penicillin, antitetanus toxoid, smallpox vaccine, Alka-Seltzer, Empirin, Vicks VapoRub, Arrid with chlorophyll, Super Anahist nose spray, Dristan decongestant, billions of cubic feet of wholesome, reconditioned breathing air, and the more sholesome breeds of fraternal exercise available to Western man. Ah, the regimented good will and force-fed confidence of those who are not meek but will inherit the earth all the same.
* But breathes there a soul
with man so dead
who never to his head has said
“Is there anything happening, Fitzgore?”
* I tried to write a story about a reunion between my father and myself in heaven one time. An early draft of this book in fact began that way. I hoped in the story to become a really good friend of his. But the story turned out perversely, as stories about real people we have known often do. It seemed that in heaven people could be any age they liked, just so long as they had experienced that age on Earth. Thus, John D. Rockefeller, for example, the founder of Standard Oil, could be any age up to ninety-eight. King Tut could be any age up to nineteen, and so on. As author of the story, I was dismayed that my father in heaven chose to be only nine years old.
I myself had chosen to be forty-four-respectable, but still quite sexy, too. My dismay with Father turned to embarrassment and anger. He was lemur-like as a nine-year-old, all eyes and hands. He had an endless supply of pencils and pads, and was forever tagging after me, drawing pictures of simply everything and insisting that I admire them when they were done. New acquaintances would sometimes ask me who that strange little boy was, and I would have to reply truthfully, since it was impossible to lie in heaven, “It’s my father.”