You May as Well Live

Hear that sound?

I stopped at the light in front of the K-Mart and turned to look at a guy who was watching the parade from the parking lot. He was pimped out in a black and white summer suit and hat that perfectly matched his wickedly detailed black and white Corvette. He looked like he'd been waiting all winter for this moment. His vanity plate said something I can't recall at the moment--only that it dared you to challenge his fabulousness.

His dedication to aliveness made me grin. It was just the thing I needed at the moment. He sat on the hood of his car, a king on his throne, jaw jutting into the warm air, inviting someone to clock or kiss him. Me, I just wanted to thank him for having a pulse, for the blood coursing through his veins and into mine. I wanted to tell him I'd just seen my dad in the hospital, and I wanted to ask him if his dad was still alive, but instead I sat at the light and stared at him until he returned my volley.

When he did, we nodded at each other with a mutual alpha-male cool that didn't give away too much, but there was also an implicit understanding of what that heated moment meant. As the light changed to green, I gave him a discreet thumbs-up. His rigid jaw broke into a broad smile and he nodded. I nodded back, pulled away, and went home to tell my kids that their grandfather was still alive and kicking, hooked up to a saline machine and doing whatever he needed to do to stay alive--just like them, and you, and me. The undead.

James O'Brien


Jim Walsh can be reached at or 612.372.3775.

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