I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

April 16, 2013 - 1:50 p.m.

Dr. House's Eulogy

I wasnt wasting time but I was busy and now I dont have a lot of time to write this if I went to have lunch before class. Which I do. I get to cheat for a few hundred words so that helps.

Last night was my friends memorial service. I dont want people there to find the entry so Im going to call my friend Gregory, youll find out why I chose that name shortly. Carey it isnt because hes filled with turtle meat.

It isnt easy to get to the Y in Little Neck where the service was held. I thought I was going to go with Alan, his second oldest friend, but Alan is in Florida. So I took the subway to Penn Station then the LIRR to Little Neck, the a bus to the Y. This was not a fast trip even starting from my office in Columbus Circle.

I didnt know what to expect in terms of how many people. He never talked about any friends other than Alan. I was happy to see a large crowd. The only ones I knew there were his mother and sister but someone knew me immediately though he only met me at the wedding. Im apparently famous for being his friend that was on Jeopardy. Even the Rabbi knew that.

I liked the Rabbi, she reminded me of the Vicar of Dibley, about as high a praise as I can give a clergyman. Clergywoman? Im going with clergyman.

I had asked Gregorys sister if I could say a few words and she said yes. Heres what I wrote. Remember the names have been changed to protect me.

The hero of "'The Sirens of Titan" is asked what he's done good in his life. He answers, "I had a friend." I had a friend, a friend for a lifetime. I was a mature man of 13 when we met while Gregory was a mere child of 12, he had not been Bar Mitvahed. He was all of seven months younger than me. From February to July we were the same age. Every year come July he'd call me an old man. Come February it was my turn.

We met right here at the Y. We were in the rec room. This skinny little kid comes up to me and tries to fake punch me in the nose. The idea was to pull short just before contact (Yep I see you knew Gregory too) He misjudged and hit me.

I sometimes feel that Gregory's dream was to be a sitcom character. He was a hugely successful doctor but he wanted to be Ralph Kramden with get rich quick schemes. He always wanted to invent something. He'd love to have been the Chef of the Future or to invest in glow in the dark wallpaper. He always wanted to start a business with me. I told him that I wouldn't trust me with my money and he shouldn't either.

So many of my favorite memories of him were his crazy sitcom adventures. When he was home from college one summer he was living in Little Neck and had a date with a woman in New Hyde Park, five minutes from here. He got on the expressway and didn't realize that he missed the exit till he was in Huntington. Another time I got a frantic call from him at 2 AM. His parents were on vacation and he came home and the pipes froze and burst and the basement flooded and he didn't know what to do. I had to tell him about the water cutoff.

He was even a sitcom kid. When he was very small, long before we met, he thought that the turn signal on cars told the driver which way to turn. OMG! HE DID INVENT SOMETHING! He thought of the GPS back in the early 60s.

We enjoyed each other's idiosyncrasies. He's always fall asleep after eating. I'd call him a lizard. He never caught on to movie conventions. When a man and a woman would have a fight the first time they met in a movie he was always surprised when they fell in love. He could never figure out what he was going to eat in a restaurant till I ordered first. He could never make a decision without wishing he could change his mind as soon as it was irrevocable.

These are the things I'll never forget.

I liked it. Ive written three eulogies. I think it isnt as good as my fathers but better than my mothers. It went over well, I got the gentle laughs in the right places. Gentle laughs is what I was going for, not guffaws.

I was happy that other people said things too. Quite a few. His sister went first and I went last, The two people that knew him best. The rabbi did ask if anyone else wanted to say anything and person that did was the one that remembered me. He wrote a few notes during the service, he hadnt prepared anything.

I was a bit taken aback by what everyone else said. They were all colleagues of his, other doctors. What took me aback is that they all referred to him as Dr. Gregory House. Remember thats a pseudonym. Im proud of myself for not saying Ben Casey. I thought; who refers to someone at a funeral by their full name including title. Even the Rabbi did that. I dont think I have ever been to a funeral before where speakers didnt seem to be on a first name basis with the deceased. His sister of course called him Gregory but she gave more of a newspaper obit filled with academic and professional achievements. I was never comfortable with Gregorys professional friends when I met them at parties and Im still not comfortable.

One woman, I think the wife of a doctor or maybe his accountant, she sat between them, brought a guitar. She played a few songs. After the ceremony she asked me if I played. Im used to people asking me that because Im often surrounded by musicians and have such a passion for music. It took me a second to realize that she didnt know any of that. I asked what made her ask. She said, You look like a musician. I guess being the only one with a ponytail made me stand out.

If I die (I have no plans on ever doing it so dont start getting prepared) my musician friends will probably sings some songs. I have a request, nothing sentimental, keep it to funny songs and murder ballads. I dont want that sensitive singer/songwriter crap even after Im dead.

And I dont want any hagiography. What I like what I wrote about Gregory is that I didnt say what a wonderful person he is, that can be about anyone Id hate for people to say what a kind, smart, funny, sexy guy I am. Everyone knows that stuff. Talk about what makes me, me even if it isnt exactly good. Talk about me loving bacon and chocolate and hating vegetables. You know thats one of the things you think of when you think of me. The idea should be to write a character guide as a playwright or director would give to an actor. Come to bury Caesar not to praise him. Of course I wont be there. I wont have any idea what you do. You can sing praises to Jesus and serve rice, It wont make a bit of difference to me.

I wont rant about my students or even the tale of my going home. Im going to each the aforementioned lunch.. peanut butter. Writing will be sporadic for a week as the WFUV starts tomorrow. Tonight Im off to see Anais Mitchell and Amy Speace. That should be amazing and well worth not getting any sleep tonight.

Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017

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Horvendile April 16, 2013
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