Olive Branch

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July 7, 2013 by jamesessj

To the woman who placed her hands on me in the supermarket:

You knew not what you did. How could you know that I have a deathly fear of my person being touched? Unless it is by a man whom I find appealing, and that only after we have been duly wed. I do not blame you for snatching the last cantaloupe out from under my hands — cantaloupe are delicious and satisfying, especially with salt. I blame the supermarket chain for its poor planning! Running out of cantaloupe on a Sunday morning! Haven’t they ever heard of brunch? I defy you — not you from the supermarket, but the generic “you” — to stage a brunch without the presence of cantaloupe. It may be possible, but it will not be the Army. It will not be all it can be. To you — not the generic “you,” but you from the supermarket — I offer my apologies for screaming as I did and allegedly bursting your left eardrum. By way of reparation let me invite you, at your convenience, to brunch at a restaurant of your choosing. I will pick up the tab, you need only get the tip.

To the gentleman from the cable company:

That you should have arrived forty minutes late was entirely in keeping. But there was no call to comment on my appearance as you did. I was anxious that you should begin your work, and so I ran to answer the front door when you rang without donning my housecoat. To refer to me, under your breath, as “Brando in a teddy” was the height of unprofessionalism. Is it any wonder I should have scratched your face and detached a retina? Nonetheless I am aware that I may have overreacted to an admittedly emotionally charged situation. I have struggled with my weight for many years. You struggled with my weight for less than three minutes, which, for a man of your size, is an embarrassingly poor showing. Even so, hospital care does not come cheap. Allow me to make this amicable overture: I will not report your tardiness to your employer, who would surely dock a commensurate amount from this month’s pay, and you will not report me to the Sacramento Police Department.

To the neighbor children whose ball struck me in the forehead:

I forgive you. You did not intend to knock me out cold. Though it was the sound of your laughter that brought me back to consciousness. Even were I to entertain the unspeakable notion that you were aiming for my forehead, the fact remains that you do not possess sufficient dexterity to pull off such a skillful shot. You, who cannot even smile without losing your balance. The holes in your bedroom windows — your bathroom windows — your parents’ cars’ windows — the bricks that caused the holes, with their attached notes reading “I’ll get you” — and the swastikas spray-painted on your houses’ garage doors — these are regrettable coincidences. I might take the opportunity to quote the Bible on the twin subjects of reaping and sowing, but allow me instead to smoke the peace pipe by suggesting that good fences make good neighbors. As do Soviet-era OZM-3 anti-personnel mines.

To the man who stood me up Saturday night:

When using the Internet to procure one’s dates, one lowers one’s expectations to subterranean levels. What excuse can there possibly be, though, for leaving a lady standing outside in the pouring rain for four hours? My cell phone never rang, nor did it beep with an incoming text. I checked e-mail no fewer than eighty-seven times. But there was no phone call; no text; no e-mail. You had nothing — zero — to say for yourself. When I returned home, soaked to the skin and shivering uncontrollably, I left you dozens of voice messages, texts, and e-mails, many of which may have been incomprehensible, as my fingers wouldn’t stop shaking, but which I trust took you hours to delete, since you couldn’t be certain that somewhere between my many garbled missives were one or two from, for instance, your sponsor. Yet it occurs to me that some unforeseen accident may have befallen you, or some chance emergency called you away at the last minute — in which case, a thousand apologies for any inconvenience I may have caused, and a quick reminder that I am free this coming weekend.

To my sister Betsy, to whom I have not spoken in fifteen years:

Family relationships! Are they ever uncomplicated? You were younger, prettier, and more loved by both of our parents. I was fat, ugly, and had a temperament variously described as “surly,” “mean,” and “churlish.” As we grew older I did what I could to build bridges between us, but you seemed satisfied to be Homecoming Queen, captain of the cheerleading squad, and valedictorian. Not to mention girlfriend to the handsomest boy in North America, Joshua “Josh” Taggart. When you married him I laboriously fed every single picture of him I had collected over the years into my $150 Costco shredder, a job that taxed even its supreme powers to their limits. I burned the remains in my back yard while poking an ice pick into a replica doll I had made of you from straw, twigs, and a lock of hair I’d recovered from your shower drain. When later you reported that you’d suffered terrible backaches during your honeymoon, others laughed it off as sexual entendre. My giggles, however, were of the vengeful variety. Your subsequent happy life, I did not begrudge you — not even when you refused to name your daughter after me. Gwendolyn is, after all, a much cuter choice than Olive. What I did begrudge, and what led to our fifteen-year estrangement, was your insistence that I stop taking photographs of Josh. I had impetuously destroyed my whole collection, Betsy! I had to start over from scratch! But you would not listen to reason. Nor would Josh. Intractable, the two of you. Still, that was fifteen years ago; and blood is much thicker than all that water under the bridges I once tried to build. Cannot we reconcile? Little Kara (not so little anymore, I’ll wager, not if the family genes have had their say!) will be graduating this spring…could not I attend, to witness my niece’s passage into the adult world? I promise not to bring with me a camera or recording device of any sort. Only a cell phone, which, I think you’ll allow, is a necessary amenity, in today’s society! One never knows when the man whom one is currently seeing might call, or text, or e-mail. Besides, I imagine that Josh is not now the specimen he once was. Time is no respecter of appearance! That’s the wonderful thing about those of us who weren’t born with your advantages — we have nothing to lose.


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the author, if he lives that long

Willkommen, bienvenue…

Welcome! And please enjoy your stay with us here at the last piece. We love visitors, especially attractive male ones with loose morals, so if you're one of those, please do leave your name and number. If you're not male, or male and unattractive, or if your morals are...what's the opposite of loose? tight?...if your morals are tight, we still want to hear from you; we just won't be replying. Thank you again and don't be a stranger!

July 2013
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