This I Believe

Joel - New Buffalo, Michigan
Entered on October 2, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.


(For my older Father who had a passionate hatred of skim milk)

“You bought that damn blue milk again dear.. That skim milk stuff. I don’t want want to see the color of the sky in anything I drink. The funny thing is dear no matter how many times I tell you not to buy that. You buy it.. I can’t take it anymore I’m going to keel over dead.”

No father don’t die. Don’t mistake frustration for mortality. Mother buy whole milk so he can thrive and not keel over dead.

Its so simple mom at 1% I have no Dad. If you go whole I do.

Even at ten Father I will negotiate your life over dairy and reason. As a compromise could you live another twenty years on 2%. Let me postpone your expiration date. Code Blue Code Blue Milk.

In the post coital of marital aggravation, instead of expiring, you are rubbing the dogs butt and she does her two step, cha cha, cha of glee. You remind her “she is a crazy fool .A crazy fool.” Mademoiselle Fifi-Cuckoo, was the name you gave her which you lifted from a French mystery novel during your counter espionage days in Morocco. How you loved anything that didn’t argue.

Through the offering of food you speak, you speak of Food and ideas, the ideas of food, the food of ideas, and There is plenty of ham in the ice box son. Plenty of ham in the ice box.”

Once I dreamt you spoke to me under a waterfall. “Eat the ham, eat the ham son, before I keel over dead When you keel over dead in the water no liquid is displaced.

That is jewish mysticism, son”

You are sixty-five. You nap more than cats, the circumference of your belly appears to me as the earth, your flannel shirt the comfort of the equator. Your breaths are familiar waves, undulations in-between commercials.. You are the twice the age of my friends fathers. That is a crippling multiplication, this simple factor of 2, a perpetual flash card I am unable to hold up in my hand..

As my arms slip I fess up your age on the jungle gym.

I admit to my pals you might have seen the beginning of time and each of “your sperm must have their own personalized wheelchairs.” when a truck crushed my lunch box and there was peanut butter and jelly all over the highway you expressed your sympathies.

Blue and red and yellow felt 4.99 K-mart shoes are worn under your judicial robes. Comfortable shoes always supercede fashion.You weren’t a man that stood for leather uppers.And there is plenty of ham in the ice box son. Plenty of ham in the ice box.

Was I born old or was the world born too young.

Each time you nap I place my army soldiers on your chest, this way if you stop breathing then they will stop rising in enthused battle and I know you will be gone. Your war will be over. Mine will have just begun. As you wake the soldiers tumbles down into your legs. There is peace in the thighs. You believe I am just playing. But I am figuring your life span from my trip to the five and dime.

Code Blue Code Blue Milk.

“Dear Why did you invite those people over? The funny things is you know I hate company. Yet you have to be the social butterfly. I can’t take anymore Im going to keel over dead dear.”

Father I’m going to prop you up with two boards so there will be no keeling, over. While you are upright I will ask “what is so funny about the funny thing is” The T.V clown I grew up with, who sold panty hose to Mothers, that was funny. My sister and brother who ate jars of cocktail onions, then pinned down their friends to exhale on them, that was funny.

The woman on the tornado warning who gave signs for the deaf, developed cramps in her hands and started gesticulating wildly out of control, that was funny.

But you are so casual about the keeling. And a child hugs the literal as if it’s a parent itself..

So what is the funny in the funny thing is? And where does it reside and why are my lips blue, from pixie sticks, from uncertainty or from the thin pale milk of luminescence.

You once woke to a reenactment of the civil war on your chest. I prayed the South and your ribcage would rise again as soon as the hair and ground, beneath your breast stopped swelling and the soldiers laid down their arms I would become an orphan. Okay I still had a mother, but the milk she served was blue, so I concentrate on saving my men, due to your restless sleeping, were keeling over with the same vigor you had always promised to.

Ten years later I am watching Harpo Marx in a Night at the Opera. He is running up a velvet curtain with a giant smile or runs up a giant smile with a curtain, I am still not sure which one. Anyway gravity was defied by comedy and then I was informed you died.

But I watched the end of the movie, to know what happened and to find the funny in the funny things is .

As a casual young man I read the autopsy report in shorts,. With sunscreen and ice coffee

the paragraphs settle in all too comfortably..

There was an aortic rupture followed by…. Plenty of ham in the ice box son , plenty of ham in the ice box. The coroner said your code blue and red and yellow felt 4.99 shoes pointed directly due East. The funky compass of the hereafter. The last of my angels embalmed. Purveyor of Fifi Cuckoos. I nap in the sun, autopsy report on my chest, the wind billows out the words, the pages flipping like manic tongues, the natural order of aggravation; even in their black and whiteness the blue of sky absorbs, the light of milk reflects. Code Blue Code Blue Milk.