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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (May 23, 1962)
WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 1962
THE DAILY NEBRASKAN" SCRIP
you say to that, Harold?"
"Ah, nothing, Or as Ethel puts it, 'Let's
not think about it." Now that raises an in
teresting point. Does she mean, 'Let's think
nought about' Or does she mean 'Let's think
not about it'? Rather the latter, I suppose,
considering the good woman's limitations. I
would also find it difficult to think nought,
I imagine. In the same category as contem
plating infinity, I should think."
"Mr. Gordon, I don't think it's necessary
to be so sarcastic in front of the boy."
"Not at all necessary, but then neither are
a lot of other things, when you stop to think
about it. Eating or breathing, for instance.
Not really necessary, either one of them, but
they do make life a great deal more pleas
ant, don't you agree? Or don't you? Living,
for that matter, is, I'm discovering, entire
ly dispensable if not downright unpleasant
at times. And conversation with solicitous
"If you'll excuse me, IH look in on the
ladies," said Mr. Howley.
"And if I dont excuse you? What then?
Sit here and pout, perhaps? Perish the
thought. Perish the body, too. Go, Harold,
and tell the ladies the latest exploits of the
old tyrant I'm sure your mother-in-law can
embellish and your wife can sympathize."
"Mr. Gordon, you're not . exactly being
"Not exactly, but close enough for my pur
poses. Go on, Harold. Look in on the women."
Mr. Howley left the room and the old man
fingered the loop of skin on the right side
of his face. It was a semi-rigid roll, about
the thickness of a man's thumb, connected
just below his ear and under his jowl.
"Looks like a small sausage, doesn't it,
Charlie? Oh, for God's sake, boy, don't look
so surprised! Did you think I didnt know it
was there? My misplaced mutated goiter,
that's what I call it. Poetic, in a sense."
"Does it hurt, Grandpa? If you dont mind
my asking, I mean."
"Don't mind at all, boy. Enjoy it. In fact,
that's the real tragedy of it all. For the
first time in my life I have a real-honest-to-God
conversation piece and nobody will men
tion it. What's the point in having an opera
tion if no one wants to hear about it? Nope,
that's what! Except for a few possibly salu
tary effects on the health, of course."
"How do you shave under it?"
"Ha, ha! By glory, boy, there may be hope
for you yet. That's the most sensible ques
tion I've heard in years. The fact is, it's
Larder than hell. I use a straight-edge razor
you know, the kind you sharpen on a strop
and I just scratch away and hope for the
best Do a pretty good job of it, too."
"What's it for?"
"For? Wen, it's to store spare parts, yon
might say. Come over here and 111 show
The old man cocked his head to one side
and pointed to a series of tiny scars under
his chin. "You see, they just pulled a hunk
of skin from under here and tied it up here."
He bent his head so that Charles could see
the small scar that ran down the middle of
his forehead. "They took some skin off my
forehead and stretched what was left a little
tighter to replace it. My sausage is in case
the skin on my forehead doesn't bold. Inter
esting, isnt it?"
"Boy, I'll say! But Grandpa?"
"What are those brown spots on your fore
"Ha. Those are there to cause trouble.
Those come from X-ray and radium treat
ments." "Gorii! What for?"
"You don't know? No, obviously you dont
Your poor, naive, ignorant mother. I dont
suppose she intends to tell you about the
funeral,' either Good intentions, my boy
you know what road they pave. Well, this
doesn't answer your question, does it? I've
got skin cancer, Charles. The X-ray was sup
posed to help but I rather think it spread it."
"You mean you're going to die, Grandpa?"
"That's the ordinary way to terminate
things. I doubt that I shall ascend directly.
I'm sorry. You dont really deserve my sar
casm. Yes,' Charles, I'm going to die and
rather subsequently, I imagine. Within a year
"Gee I'm sorry, Grandpa."
"By God, I believe you really are. Thank
you, Charlie. For your kindness I shall repay
you with some advice. You won't heed it, of
course, but no matter. It's the prerogative
of the old to bore the young with platitudes,
and I'm just selfish enough to take advan
tage of it
"Where should I start? Suppose we try the
end and work backwards. If you must die,
and I think you must, do it with decent
alacrity. If you linger on as I have so un
couthly done, people's sympathy soon turns
to embarrassment, which, since people do
not appreciate being embarrased, soon turns
to anger and dislike. They will take to skulk
ing about, casting surreptitious glances at
you to see if your condition has worsened,
and conjecturing wistfully about the possibil
ity of an early demise. They will squirm in
your presence and their talk, if they talk at
all, will carefully avoid any mention of the
phenomena which you yourself may find most
interesting. You will be treated like a pariah
"That's if you're lucky, mind you. If you're
not, they will spend hours on end fawning
over you, telling you to take it easy, and
inquiring solicitously every few minutes as
to your health. I've been lucky.
"Under no circumstances marry below your
station. If you are a college graduate, mar
ry nothing less than a college graduate. If
you go no farther than high school, make
sure your bride has her diploma. Don't be
deluded by 'love'; it's fooled wiser men than
ycu. Marry a girl whom you like, who doesn't
repel you physically, and most important,
one you can talk to. If you're wise, you
won't marry until you're thirty and have been
as sinful as possible, but I suppose that's
too much to hope for.
"Above all else, if you would be happy, re
main ignorant. There is nothing so isolated
and lonely as an intelligent man, and noth
ig so eternally blissful as a fool. The world
loves a man who can not, or at any rate
does hot, think, because he doesn't stir them,
he doesn't ma'e them feel inadequate. In
telligence only serves to make other uncom
fortable and the intelligent one dissatisfied.
Stay as pathetically ingenuous as you are."
The old man stopped and his grandson re
garded him in silence. "Didn't understand a
word of it, did you? It's probably just as
well. Nobody really understands, anyway."
"Will you have to die alone, Grandpa?"
"Good God! What makes you ask a ques
tion like that?"
"You just seem so alone, is all."
"We're all alone. All of us."
"Why? Why? Because nobody cares, that's
why. Nobody really cares about anybody
"I care, Grandpa. I don't want you to die."
"Oh, you dont. Why don't you? I'm cer
tainly not any use to you."
"I like you, that's why. I didnt use to, but
I do now. I guess I didn't know you before.
I was too young."
"But now that you are mature . . . I'm
sorry Charlie, the habits of cynicism are
hard to shake. Thank you. You almost re
store my faith in mankind. The third gener
ation, they say, returns to hod-carriers, but
"Grandpa, would you like to take a walk
with me by the river?"
"I haven't been outdoors for months. I
don't know . . . Yes, I'd like to. We can go
through the woods and I'll show you where
I used to hide when I was- your age and I
had done something bad. It's a little cave
with bushes in front of it, so you cant see
the entrance until you're right on top of it
Oh, I haven't seen that place for years. Here,
give me your hand, boy. Help me up."
In silence, they struggled into their coats
and went out into the rain, leaving the chat
ter-fuled kitchen behind them.
s" J If III I.
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