Woodcut Valentine

Naked Lunch – Slipping Again

None of us spoke for a while. How many times had our parents dressed us, fed us, and bathed us? Woken up in the middle of the night to attend to our illnesses: midnight vomit, mysterious gas, skronky coughs, fevers and headaches? Listened to our nonsensical jokes (Why was the orange late for class? He forgot his locker combination), our ideas for inventions (a toothbrush with toothpaste inside it), our recitations of school day events, our made-up songs? How many times had they both watched us at our soccer games, baseball games, basketball games, tennis matches, and track meets when they maybe would rather have been doing innumerable other things? How often had they gritted their teeth at some careless ingratitude we flung in their faces and just as frequently thought hard to remember that patience was a solace and a virtue, because we were merely children but also theirs—made by them and possessed by them in ways that rose up to look them in their faces every day? How many times had the thought crossed their minds that the whole exercise simply wasn’t worth it, that whatever pleasure they derived from our boyhood successes and small affection did not outweigh the costs they had born dutifully for so many years—that although we were alive and functional, the family itself suffered from a failure to thrive—and did this transitory thought take the form of something flashing, half-heard, half-seen, like the visions that occur in the interstice between drifting off and full-on falling asleep?

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