My father, who I will refer to as Big Papa Lesbrain, celebrated the morning of his 65th birthday by strolling the neighborhood wearing a gift, a chartreuse blouse, and backhanding free-range Labradors with his wood, a mighty walking stick. As to my mention of such an exotic hue, please note, I am not the color snob in this equation. I did not watch Medicare’s newest and most brightly dressed recipient strutting out front door and think, “How dare Dad have told Mom, ‘Thank you, Mamacitalesbrain, for the yellow shirt.’ Bitch, eso es charretrruse.”
I have not seen BPL’s blouse.
When I called to ask Big Papa Lescranium how it felt to turn sixty-five, he announced, and I could feel his grin through the phone, “I’m walking past the Pepto-Bismol-colored house with my stick and wearing chartreuse!”
Big Papa Lesbrain taught me to always buy women’s sweats. They come in more varied shades.
That’s why he wears them.
Since Big Papa Lesbrain is a retiree, he has time to sit at his writing desk and pen well-worded letters to his congresswoman about the infinite inconveniences that frost his sensitive galletas. She can be slow to meet his demands and this is why Big Papa Lesbrain adds to a growing list of decrees that he will issue when he is King of the World. He aspires to and fantasizes about this title while beating rabid border collies with his cane.
When we watch the History Channel together, he often muses, “Lesbrain, when I am King of the World, I will…”
He proceeds to give me insight into the mind of what Wilhelm Roscher termed “the enlightened absolutist.”
In places he haunts, by people who know him and don’t, Big Papa Lesbrain has been likened to a lovably pompous television psychiatrist. As a friend’s mother once drunkenly yelled over live mariachi at a wedding reception, “JOOR EFAT AIR EEZ A BERRY EHANSOME MAN! HE ELOOKS ELIKE DOCTORR EFRASIER ECRANE!”
Frasier did, briefly, experience his share of person of color competition in the form of a darkelganger named…
Before allowing the world a taste of my father’s utopia, I demonstrate how his influence molded my lesbrain:
1. While other Mexican-American children spent their afternoons polishing accordions, I was the only fully mustached tamale languishing in Japanese school.
2. When my Girl Scout troop leader interrogated me about missing cookies, I quoted Sunset Boulevard.
3. Our phone rang. I deepened my voice. I picked it up. I answered, “For whom does this bell toll?”
4. I went on a family outing to a rare manuscript library. We arrived before opening time to beat crowds.
Hear ye, hear ye! Oyez, oyez, oy güey! The King of the Güerld has issued the following decrees:
First Decree: Cats are speed bumps. Arigato.
Second Decree: Dogs may live but the canine world shall remain sharply divided from the human world. Those who dare to push bonneted Pomeranians in baby strollers shall be placed in the stockades outside the rare manuscript library.
Third Decree: Tracksuits may be worn if one is on a track team. All others must dress appropriate to their level of physical activity.
Fourth Decree: All children on Heelys will be shot on sight. Adults may use Heelys in the privacy of their own homes but if windows are left open during this display of silliness, see earlier part of decree.
Fifth Decree: In the interest of streamlining language, all repetitious consonant clusters will be weeded from words. Church will be urch. Chachalaca will be achalaca. As a result of this decree, Slavic languages will be silenced.
For more on BPL’s vision of a perfect human society, drink some Valerian tea, eat fried pickles before bed, think of Frasier Crane before slipping into REM, and have paramedics waiting.
In Part II, an endearing nephew molds his utopia from deer sausage and slushies.