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  • Harry Jensen

March 17, 2021


Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, and I didn’t quite celebrate right. Instead of corned beef I ate a handful of carrots, instead of green Prosecco I drank a boxful wine, and instead of bar hopping I spent time with someone who is not allowed to have hammers after what she did the last two holidays.

I talked to a former limousine driver at work who told me that St. Patrick’s Day was the most frolicky and mayhemous day of the year, from the Irish and non-Irish both. A volunteer of English ancestry gave me some horrible Mardi Gras style complete beads with chunky plastic flags simply reading the word “IRISH.” It’s not the Irish flag, just a flag declaring Irishness, which is what the holiday seems to be about. Why we don’t do the same for other ethnicities on their holidays is a mystery to me. To even the playing field next Hanukkah, I’m going to hand out sugar cookies with frosting that spells out “JEWS.”

I have been clearing off my desk, and finally been throwing out some of the mail that has come to my Dad over these last six months of living in his house. I have not been able to get rid of it because I wanted to write about it, about its nothingness. I will make any excuse not to throw away the shittiest of shit, just to sublime the holy out of the mundane and wrinkled.

Most of the mail is very practical. A new(!) AAA card, for instance, in case he gets in a fender bender with another urn, or runs out of gas. A package from the National Study of Retirement Planning which begs of him to sign a questionnaire that might bear “an effect on your retirement planning and goals.” My father’s retirement plan turned out to be die immediately afterwards, which is not that different from anyone else’s. Now that he has few plans and fewer goals, I don’t think he’ll mind that being tossed. Finally, a ballot for voting in the 2020 presidential elections, my favorite. I received my dead father’s ballot at the same time that all of my peers were lambasting the Trump by saying voter fraud was impossible, when in reality it was easier for me than taking candy from a dead dad baby.

Among the other pieces of paper that I am getting rid of are a maudlin pink Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination fact sheet, an intern’s email on a post-it note, an empty condom wrapper which has sort of lost its appeal as a writing prompt, and a fortune cookie I received when I moved back into my childhood home / father’s mausoleum which reads “a new environment makes all the difference in the world.”

I kept the fact sheet not because I care at all what is shoved into me by distracted nurses, but because it reminds me to be grateful. My father was immunocompromised the last decade of his life, and died from his lungs shutting down, teeming as his airbags were with what he dubbed “pneumonia cancer sandwiches.” He never would have survived the coronavirus. If my Dad wasn’t dead, he’d be dead.


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