An update for the three people that came back to the Thurmosphere after I posted about my Colonoscopy prep. I’m going to assume that my visitors came back to check on me, even though one of the visitors logged in from Sri Lanka, and the other two were search engine referrals.
I’m fine. Thanks for asking.
I won’t go into detail (your welcome) but I’m particularly proud of one thing that the doctor wrote in his notes following the procedure. Dr. Smith wrote:
I was a little disappointed that the good doctor didn’t use an exclamation point to end his sentence, but he still captured the incredible work and attention to detail that was given to the preparation of this particular bowel. After all, it’s not like he’s an award-winning blogger or something important like that.
Nevertheless. God bless Dr. Smith, Kathy, Ben the anesthesiologist and the myriad of beautiful nurses that helped put my ass back together.
It’s time for another Colonoscopy!!! At the risk of being the butt of everyone’s jokes, I want to have some fun with it. Because in the end, what else ya got?
Here’s the situation: I’m giving a doctor I’ve never met and his team of beautiful nurses (at least in my mind) total and unrestricted access to an area of my body that I’ve only seen on camera or mirrors, and certainly never spent much time fussing with.
Since I’ll be heavily sedated (roofied) I may not be able to speak with my assailants so I thought I’d write some words of encouragement, last minute instructions, or an interesting emoji across my ass. Here are a few ideas:
“May your aim be true”
“Take a picture! It lasts longer.”
“Can you have a cigarette ready for when I wake up?”
I’d like to introduce you to your Great Great Grandmother, Sharon Lee Anderson Thurman.
On this day, exactly one year ago, I was sitting in a University of Utah Medical Center hospice room, waiting for your Great Great Grandmother (GGG) Sharon to pass away. She had had several serious health complications over the last few years and everything finally caught up with her. Despite her regular threats to leave us early, she fought to the end and I’m very proud of her for that. I can testify that her last few years weren’t easy.
Once she passed, the duty of making the funeral arrangements fell to me. Although several relatives and friends offered, I refused their help and chose to do the minimum for a variety of reasons. It was an odd time. First, the Covid pandemic was in full effect. Wearing masks and getting vaccinated became mandatory. People were scared. Hospitals, funeral homes, and other death related service businesses were short-staffed…everything was delayed or canceled. Second, some family issues existed and I didn’t want to create any additional drama.
Sharon loved attention. It was a part of her personality that everyone close to her recognized, but that she denied. From her prized golden Michael Kors purse, to her unnecessary wheelchair, you always knew when Sharon was in the room. It was a characteristic that allowed her to make new friends easily, but one that over the long haul pushed them away. A blessing and a curse.
If I had written an obituary it would have said something like this:
“Sharon Lee Anderson Thurman of Salt Lake City, UT passed peacefully away in her sleep on November 14, 2021. She was 79 years old. Sharon resided in Salt Lake City (almost) her entire life, living her final twenty-plus years within a mile of where she was born and raised. She was proud to be a Utahn.
Sharon is predeceased by her son Mark, the youngest of her three children. Sharon is survived by her daughter Jan, son Scott, and her four grandchildren, McRae and Ellen (Jan’s), and Ariya and Haydn (Scott’s).
Sharon was born to Thomas Webster “Webb” Anderson and Mary Ileen Jensen. Webb was an automobile mechanic, and Ileen worked as a clerk at Zion’s Bank. Sharon was the middle child. Her oldest brother Doug, passed away a few years ago, and her youngest sister Cheryl now lives in Idaho.”
Your relatives were “rednecks”, “pioneers“, “Hillbillies”, farmers. I suspect that anybody that has deep genealogical roots in Utah, like we do, has a similar history. Your “kin” were also fanatically Mormon, a religion that places a high value on large families. Back in the day, an individual’s esteem, was measured by the size and strength of his or her family. In fact, not that long ago (1800s) a large family was critical for it’s name to make it to the next generation. More children, specifically male children, insured that the family’s name and genetics would continue. Sharon’s parents, Webb and Ileen (pictured), were responsible for making the leap from the farm to the city, and they took a lot of those rural, Mormon values and perceptions with them.
Sharon went to Highland High School where she fancied herself a bit of a delinquent, or “Greaser“. She was the one getting caught smoking in the boy’s room, or saying “damn” instead of “darn”. She often told the story of how she and some of her classmates would hike up a nearby mountain to repaint the “H” near Highland High (a tradition that continues). One particular day, Sharon and some of her classmates decided to carry an old tire to the top with them, with the plan of lighting the tire on fire and rolling it down. It didn’t end well and Sharon was allegedly grounded for months.
Sharon loved to ski and she was really good. She took pride in the fact that she was the one that got the family started in the sport. She certainly started me, giving me my first lessons on the slopes of Mountain Dell Golf Course. That’s right. A golf course. There were no chairlifts or even a rope tow. We had to hike up that stupid hill! I vaguely remember learning to side-step and doing the herringbone to make my way back to hill. If I didn’t do it right, Sharon would whack me with her ski pole. All of Sharon’s children loved to ski, and all of her grandchildren love to ski. Her first grandchild, McRae Williams was so good that he was asked to represent the USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea and Ariya (pictured) was the Captain of the El Dorado Hills High School ski team!
Sharon loved music and had dreams of being a concert pianist and playing in Carnegie Hall. Unfortunately, while working in a restaurant as a teenager, she slipped and fell into a tub of broken glass, which resulted in a handicapped hand. The hand healed, and she eventually regained full mobility, but she’d never play at Carnegie. Your Great Uncle Mark was a talented musician. His instrument of choice was the guitar. And then of course Haydn (aka “Kublaii”) Thurman went on to become one of the greatest musicians to ever live! Sharon loved to listen to Haydn play the piano. She would sometimes sit outside the teaching room and listen as Haydn taught piano to his young students.
Sharon loved painting, a talent that she inherited from her Father, and Grandfather. She specialized and taught Decorative Painting (“Don’t call it Toll Painting! Don’t you DARE call it Toll Painting.) In the 80’s she served as the President of the Decorative Art Society, a position she was very proud of. This artistic gene has been passed on to her Granddaughter Ariya, who has developed into a fantastic artist in her own right.
Sharon loved her husband, James “Jim” Kent Thurman. She was proud to be Mrs. Thurman. They met sometime in the late 50’s, or early 60’s. Jim was in college, studying to become an accountant, and Sharon had just graduated High School. One of Jim’s Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers, who was dating Linda Bement, Ms. Universe 1960 lined them up. Linda was one of Mom’s friends, and the rest is history. Back then, people got married and had kids as soon as they got out of school. That was “Plan A” for many. Sharon and Jim were married on February 23, 1961. Soon after they were married, Jim was conscripted into the US army and sent to train at Fort Hood, in Texas. Fortunately, he never saw active duty and they soon moved back to Salt Lake City. Sometime in the 1970’s (maybe it was caused by the 70’s), their relationship took a hard left. They took steps to try and save their marriage, like marriage counseling, and even getting “married in the temple”, but they eventually divorced and Sharon never remarried.
Here are a few things that I’ll remember about your Great Great Grand Mother:
I didn’t realize it while she was alive, but she was and continues to be, one of my greatest teachers. Among other things, she taught me the basics; how to walk, use utensils, read, write and bend the rules occasionally. She also inadvertently and unintentionally helped me to learn a new level of patience, empathy, and duty.
I remember having the croup as a small boy and her sitting with me in the steamy bathroom trying to help me clear my lungs. She rubbed Vicks mentholatum on my chest, and hooked me up with some righteous paregoric when my stomach hurt.
I remember a time when she was driving me and a friend up to what was then Park City West. I was in the back seat wrestling and being naughty. In an effort to try and discipline me, while keeping her eyes on the road, she reached back to squeeze my leg and accidentally grabbed and pinched my friend’s leg. We laughed about that for decades.
I remember the road trip that she, her mother (Great, great grandmother Ileen) and I took from Salt Lake City to Washington, D.C. where I was moving to start my career with a company called Concierge Services of America. I was in my early twenties and amazed that I could have a good time with two old ladies. In St. Louis, we stopped for dinner, and the waiter suggested a “Gordon Salad”. We couldn’t figure out what the waiter was saying until we were back in our rooms when it dawned on us that he was saying “Garden Salad” with a heavy mid-west accent.
I remember the annual pilgrimages to Disneyland. One year, Sharon and Jim bought a brand new Chevrolet station wagon complete with an 8-track stereo. They purchased three cassettes that we listened to over and over and over. The soundtrack to “Grease”, the soundtrack to a “Star is Born” (Barbara Streisand and Chris Kristoferson) and Roberta Flack (“Killing Me Softly”).
Well, Great Grandson, I hope this gives you a little idea of the wonderful person your Great Great Grandmother was. She was human, with faults and personality issues that often drove us crazy, but the net effect of her on my life (and less directly on yours) was overwhelmingly positive. I miss her.
That’s it for now! Go tell you Mother you love her…Great Grandpa Thurm
Yesterday I published a post addressed to you, my Great Grandson. I’m not a little surprised that anybody actually read the post, but it caused some confusion amongst the Thurmosphere faithful and I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify a few things;
First. Today, I am a sixty-year-old man, with two children (that I’m aware of) I can with a high degree of certainty call my own. Neither of them have had children of their own (that I’m aware of). Thus, you are (currently) a fictional character and my familial title is just “pa”, “dad”, or ‘father’.
Second, I anticipate my children will one day have children of their own. That would make me a “GRANDpa”. I’m no mathematician but I do know my way around a calculator, and it tells me that the soonest I could become a Grandpa is Summer 2023. Moreover, these communiques aren’t for my grandchildren. I’ll likely be able to crack-wise directly at them. These messages are for YOU! My Great Grandchild. I’m already dead! Sorry, not sorry.
I’m not killing myself or dying (that I’m aware of). I’m in the best shape (physically and mentally) since I turned sixty (do the math). I feel great. I just wish this writing gig generated enough income to get your Great Grandma off my ass case. (Note: She’ll never see this. She is not one of the faithful).
I estimate that the soonest you, a genuine, direct descendant, no-bullshit Great Grandchild of mine will have the ability and desire to read this is probably around the year 2060. I’m not so sure the human race is going to make it.
Until next time, kiss your computer (e.g. personal AI-enabled robot) for me…Great Grandpa
If you write something, and nobody reads it, does it exist? Is writing even a thing in the future or do you just have to think something and it appears on some futuristic pair of eyes?
This is my biggest issue with creating content. I appreciate everybody and anybody who has read my book and/or visits my website, but laboring over a post for hours, sometimes days, only to publish and then have nobody read it is disappointing, not to mention it being a really poor ROI. As a self-published author I tell myself that I write because I enjoy writing. I tell others, “I don’t care if I sell even a single copy”. But I lie. I do enjoy writing, but not enough to keep doing it if I’m the only one enjoying it!
Unfortunately, I can’t force people to view my writing, let alone pay for it (unless their family. Perhaps, like many great authors before me (e.g. Lovecraft, Melville, Wilde, O. Henry, and Edgar Allen Poe), my work will be appreciated more by readers unborn.
These were my thoughts when I heard one of my favorite musicians, Shakey Graves, sing the verse in his song “Roll the Bones” that goes, “Yeah, and sell your belongings. All your clever drawings. Try to make a dollar from the grave.”
That’s why I decided I would begin writing to you, my yet-to-be-conceived (YTBC) Great Grandson. Enjoy!
This is your Great Grandpa Thurm telling you to tell your father that you love him and good bye.
(Editor’s note: Before anybody goes all “Karen” on me, understand that in my mind I’m writing to my YTBC Great Grandson, but it could just as easily be my YTBC Great Granddaughter! I love all my YTBCs equally.)
Whilst digging in the Thurmosphere archives, I uncovered a priceless relic from the past. Nestled in between a plastic baggie that preserved the fore skin from one of my circumcisions’, and a box with my wife’s first tooth, was a video cassette (VCR) entitled “Couple of the Century”.
Now, some of my friends may remember that my wife and I were contestants on a Hong Kong television program called, “Couple of the Century”, but only a few actually ever saw it (and may have doubted it’s existence), and fewer still understood what was going on when they watched it as the program was broadcast entirely in Cantonese. Fortunately, through the magic of technology, I was able to digitize, translate and add English close captioning to the video for their, and your, viewing pleasure.
However, before you watch the video, let me set your expectations appropriately by providing you with a few caveats/excuses:
My Cantonese is a little rusty. Consequently the provided translation may be a little wonky. Some of the words are translated correctly, but most are not.
Because of the poor translation, some people may be offended. Sorry…not sorry.
Many of the other contestants in the video are some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. I haven’t seen any of them in decades, but at the time they all had wonderful senses of humor and were incredibly forgiving. I’m hoping that’s still true.
Not only do my translation skills suck, but my video editing skills are even worse! This first (and probably last) video that I cobbled together is a few minutes of promotional content that TVB (The Hong Kong broadcaster) ran prior to the contest. There are several more hours of content that I will only spend (waste) my time on if this video gets some traction (goes viral). Otherwise the VCR goes back in between the skin and tooth.
I just read a funny post by the Rivergirl, on her website she calls River’s World. The content is somewhat crude, but it’s all in good fun. The comments are comedy gold.
According to the blog, young (teenage) Mormon’s, in attempt to remain chaste in the eyes of God, practice something called “soaking”. It’s when… well, I won’t go into the deets, but it sounds like a loophole I would’ve jumped through. We found are own loopholes back in the day.
Here are a few other fun terms: Outercourse, Drumping, Jean Jam, Vegetarian Sex, Jean Tang, Active Spooning, (see more…)
“Are ya’ all making these things smaller these days?” the man joked as one of the flight attendants moved forward to help. It was a soft bag, and after a few strategic shoves, they were able to close the compartment door. The man looked around for someplace to put his 10-Gallon hat. Another flight attendant pointed to a small space in a compartment several rows back. However, the urban cowboy had no intention of having that much separation between himself and his hat. He shook his head and mouthed the words, “No. But thank you kindly,” exhaling as he took his seat next to Brig.
Another prayer unanswered Brig thought sarcastically as he turned his head back towards his window, hoping to avoid conversation with this man. Although Brig was looking the opposite way, he could feel the man’s eyes surveying him, sizing him up, trying to find a way to introduce himself. He looked like a guy that liked to talk, or maybe Brig was just being his usual dick self.
Brig leaned his head against the bulkhead and closed his eyes as the aircraft began to taxi towards the runway. He was finally on his way back to Hong Kong. It had been more than ten years since he had last set foot in the “Fragrant Harbor.” He wondered how much it had changed.
2.12 – Mountaineering
Brig was at a point in his life where young men pushed for greater independence. He desperately needed guidance from his parents, particularly his father. Well-meaning relatives and friends of the family tried to provide direction, but Brig shut them out, finding his only solace in climbing the mountains along the Wasatch Front, a sport he had taken up soon after his mother died.
July 14th, 1997
God, it was hot today. The sun was almost unbearable, and that last pitch was a bitch. But once we made the top, it was all worth it. Davey and I went up the Social Engineering line on Dead Snag Crag. Looking down Big Cottonwood Canyon, it reminded me of the John Muir quote, “Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” I wish I could climb all day, every day. When I’m climbing all I think about is that moment…I don’t think about all the other bullshit that’s going on.
Tomorrow we’re thinking Heisenberg, up Little Cottonwood. VII is in town, and he’ll have a nervous breakdown when I don’t show up for church, but he’ll get over it…or he won’t.
Oh yeah. I’ve got to remember to pick up more ‘biners. Stoked!
2.13 – Rebel Yell
As Brig became more rebellious, continually antagonizing and testing his father, Brenda became more obedient, driven, and sought every opportunity to please him. She embraced being a young Mormon woman and was every bit the role model that the Youngs were expected to be. Of course, Brenda lived without the pressure of being the first-born male. Still, she was too young to understand her brother’s attitude, and often chastised him for his bad behavior. Consequently, Brig and Brenda grew apart.
Brig’s circle of friends changed. He began drinking beer and chewing tobacco, two significant rule violations for members of the Mormon Church, and ones that threatened to derail him from fulfilling one of his most important responsibilities as a Young and as a Latter Day Saint – serving a Mormon mission.
One warm evening, Brig had been out drinking with some of his climbing buddies near the base of one of their local rocks, and boasted that he could free climb (without ropes) a specific route they had been contemplating. Of course his friends called “bullshit,” and Brig was forced to accept the challenge. To be fair, his buddies didn’t expect him to climb, and they certainly didn’t expect him to climb right then, but Brig was seventeen, over-confident, and buzzed on liquid courage. Even sober and during the day, the route would have been challenging. But buzzed and at night, Brig fell and landed badly. He broke his left arm and both legs in several places, but his head had miraculously gone unscathed. Doctors told him how lucky he was, and that he would need several months of rehabilitation. The doctor prescribed Demerol, and Brig learned that drugs could take away more than just the physical pain, at least temporarily.
2.14 – Boyfriends in Bolos
Brig jerked awake and instinctively threw his hands to his ears to protect them from the overly loud announcement from the flight attendant blaring over the airplane’s speaker. “Good morning once again passengers. We will soon land in San Francisco where it’s a cool 57 degrees. As we prepare to land, we ask that you return to your seat, buckle your safety belt and return your tray table and chairs to their full, upright position. We hope you have a great day and hope to see you again soon on United.”
“Why always so loud?” Brig asked under his breath as he sat up and rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands.
He glanced over at his neighbor, who looked as though he hadn’t moved the entire flight. His white shirt still looked freshly pressed and his hat was placed lovingly on his lap. Brig surprised to see that the man was was wearing a bolo and in this semi-conscious state, Brig’s eyes accidentally met the other man’s.
“Going home?” the man asked Brig, who was still groggy from his nap and the drugs.
“Are you on your way home…to San Francisco? Visiting friends, or just passing through town?”
“Um…no.” hoping his brief answer ended the conversation.
“No? No what? No home? No visiting friends?” the big man smiled and persisted. He was trying to be friendly, oblivious to Brig’s growing agitation.
“Getting out,” Brig pronounced the word “out,” emphatically… o-u-tah!
“Getting out of…” Tex was starting to pick up on the negative vibe and finished his question tentatively “…Utah?”
“Just out man. Just out.” His aggression began boiling over. “…and why are you so interested? Are you writing an article for ‘Dumb Ass’ magazine?”
“Well, excuse me for asking…”
“No. Excuse me,” Brig retorted, not letting the man finish his sentence. “I’ve given you every sign, used all of my body language skills, to communicate to you, without being rude, that I have no interest in speaking with you. None! Look. We’ve had a good flight. I got some sleep. You protected your hat.”
Now it was the cowboy’s turn to be confused, “What?”
Brig observed that their conversation had attracted the attention of a few of the other passengers. He raised his voice so that they could hear better, “It’s not you, it’s me. We had a good time together, but it’s over.” As if choking back tears, Brig continued. “It’s over! Do you hear? We’re done! I need to move on.” Another dramatic pause. “If you love me…if you’ve ever loved me…” pause. “Never speak to me again.” Brig turned to his window and dabbed at his eyes with the back of his hand.
The man looked around, embarrassed, well aware of the implication. “You’re crazy,” he said to Brig. “He’s crazy,” he said to the other passengers who were pretending not to have noticed.
Brig smiled at his blurred reflection in the hard plastic window.
2.15 – Spiritual Touchstone
Upon turning eighteen, all worthy young Mormon men fall under enormous social pressure to serve a “mission.” Serving a mission involved leaving home, volunteering two years of their life to teach Mormon doctrine, and attempt to convert as many non-Mormons to their religion as they could. Brig had the added burden of being the only son, in arguably the most notable modern Mormon family since The Osmonds. Brigham senior had served a mission in the Philippines, Brig’s grandfather (VI) in Mexico, and all of his great-grandfathers before him had served somewhere in the world dating all the way back to the first Brigham Young.
Brig was a neurotic mess as his eighteenth birthday approached. He needed to tell his father that he was not going to serve a mission. Not only that, Brig had developed an obsessive desire to climb Mount Everest, and needed to convince his father to pay for the expedition. While convalescing from his fall the year before, one of his friends had given him a copy of the September 1996 edition of Outside magazine. It was the edition that included the article “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, who wrote about the 1996 disaster when eight climbers died attempting to climb Everest. Although the story was a tragedy, it had planted a seed of thought in Brig’s brain that was at times all-consuming. He carried the magazine everywhere, and when the magazine began to fall apart, he made copies. When he learned that the “Into Thin Air” article had been published as a book, he paid $180 for an illustrated hardcover edition signed by the author. The book replaced the Book of Mormon as his spiritual touchstone. He marked passages that were particularly meaningful to him with a yellow highlighter, to the extent that the book became more yellow than not.
Brig decided that he would first ask his father for the money to climb Mount Everest. He anticipated that his father would reject his request, especially when he learned that it was likely to cost more than $60,000. Brig would plead, and his father would eventually point out that Brig would soon be going on a mission. At that point, Brig would promise that if his father approved the trip to Everest, he would go on a mission within a year of his return. In Brig’s mind, it was an excellent compromise.
Tex would have run off the plane had the other passengers not been in his way. He wanted to put as much distance between himself and his alleged ex-boyfriend as possible. Brig was in no hurry to get off the plane himself. Just as the gate attendant in Salt Lake City had promised, he had plenty of time to make his connecting flight to Hong Kong. In fact, he had more than enough time to get an alcohol-fueled buzz started in United’s business class lounge. He made his way through the SFO international terminal, grading the women in his head as he went. Seven. Five. Yikes! Minus two, or is that a dude?
Brig found a flight departure screen to make sure that his flight was still leaving on time and out of the same gate. He had to pass through security again and did so without incident. He took an escalator up to the United lounge where two young women sat behind a large desk. “Good morning. May I help you, sir?”
Brig found a flight departure screen to make sure that his flight was still leaving on time and out of the same gate. He had to pass through security again and did so without incident. He took an escalator up to the United lounge where two young women sat behind a large desk. “Good morning. May I help you, sir?”
“I think you most certainly can,” answered Brig. Brig awarded both women a respectable seven while noticing that the name tag of the girl that was helping him said, Britney. “Which way to the alcohol?”
She laughed politely as the other girl glanced up. “If I could just see your boarding pass…” Brig sensed that Britney didn’t think he belonged in United’s “executive lounge.”
“Of course. We wouldn’t want any lower-class passengers or other bad elements to get into our lounge, would we?” he smiled. Brig handed Britney his ticket. As she examined his documents, Brig took the opportunity to examine her colleague who was writing something down. Blonde. Big Boobs. Perhaps a seven was too conservative.
“Here you are, Mr. Young.” It surprised Britney to learn that the rough-looking man in front of her was a Platinum Elite member of the United frequent flyer program. Over the last few years, Brig had racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles. “And here are two vouchers for free drinks at the bar, which you’ll find right down this way,” she said, motioning to her right.
He thanked the girl and made his way to the bar where he ordered two jack and cokes, grabbed several bags of pretzels, and found a comfortable seat near enough to the bar and out of the general traffic. It was blissfully quiet and uncrowded. He hoped his flight would be the same.
It was still morning, but he gulped the first drink down as if it were the first round of happy hour. Breakfast of Champions Brig thought to himself and opened a bag of pretzels. He scanned the lounge for talent. To his left was an older couple, the man reading a newspaper, the woman thumbing through a magazine, and far too old to register on Brig’s scale. A group of four men huddled together near a flat-screen television. Several other people sat by themselves, tapping on computers or talking on their cell phones. Just as Brig was about to give up, a tall Asian woman strode through the entrance of the lounge. He was raising his second J&C to his mouth but stopped the cup halfway to its destination.
Hold the phone. What’s this? Could it be? the superficial voice inside his head started the calculations. “Could it be? It is! It’s a ten!” Brig whispered reverently as if a miracle had just walked into the lounge. In truth, Brig awarded scores of ten every day, but as Brig got a closer view of, or spoke to a ten, a skin blemish, an annoying laugh, a bitchy tone, a nervous twitch…something would inevitably lower the score. Such was the case with the latest ten. As the woman walked towards Brig, her hips got bigger, her chest smaller, and she had a slight skin problem on her right cheek. Acne?
Sorry folks, I spoke too soon. She’s a nine. My bad, Brig announced to the audience inside his head. A nine was still good…very good. He kept his eyes on her face as she walked toward him. He was sure she would look his way, and he would meet her stare, smile, and flirt. She was Asian, and maybe she was going to Hong Kong. His hopes of enjoying the mile high club rekindled.
A man behind Brig yelled out, “Angie!” The woman paused, recognized the man yelling her name, smiled, and waved.
An eight, and dropping fast. Come on girl. You can still turn this around.
She walked past Brig without a glance.
You lose! Final score: six. It looks like I’m going to need to drink a lot more, and she’s going to have to beg for it before I crawl into an airplane bathroom at 30,000 feet and bump uglies with that tramp!
2.17 – Nepal
On an uncomfortably warm Friday evening, Brig surprised his father, who was in Salt Lake City and working from his home office. VII was on a conference call when Brig walked into his study. He acted surprised to see his father busy and pretended to leave, but those days Brig rarely initiated a conversation with his father. Still speaking on the phone, Brigham VII waved Brigham VIII in and motioned for him to take a chair as he finished his call.
“Son! To what do I owe this pleasure? What are you doing home on a Friday night? Surely one of the many beautiful sisters in our fair city would give up her spot in the Celestial Kingdom for an evening with Utah’s most eligible bachelor.”
“I could ask you the same thing. I didn’t realize you were in town,” Brig lied. Brig had known VII had an important fundraiser to attend the next night and had been planning to spring his plan on this specific night for weeks. Brenda was out, and the Young men had the house to themselves.
“Yeah, I’ve got that Primary Children’s Hospital thing tomorrow night, and I’m making a few calls to make sure we get a few healthy donations. So what do you got going on?” His Dad sounded genuinely interested, maybe even happy.
“Well. You know how I’ve been into mountain climbing the last couple of years.” He didn’t say since Mom died, but they both realized that climbing had been remedial for Brig. “I’ve completely recovered from my fall. In fact, I placed third in a competition up at Snowbird a few weeks ago.”
“I didn’t know you could compete at mountain climbing.”
“It’s actually a race up a rock wall they’ve built on the face of a building…I’m pretty good,” Brig smiled. He hoped that information would rekindle the pride VII used to have when Brig played football.
“I can see that. You’re so thin, and yet I can see the definition in your arms. Flex for me.”
Brig held out his right arm. “The beach is that way.” Brig bent his arm and his right bicep bulged through the sleeve of his t-shirt, his index finger pointing away, at some imaginary beach. For the first time in recent memory, they laughed together.
“Would you look at that!” VII barked in mock astonishment. “Brig, I’m glad you’ve found something you enjoy doing.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Some of the guys are planning a climbing trip, and I was hoping you could sponsor me.”
“Sponsor you? You mean like a corporate sponsorship?”
“Not necessarily. I mean…I mean pay for,” Brig stammered.
“Pay for a climbing trip? I don’t see why not. How much could it be? Unless of course, you’re going out of the country…”
“Yeah. That’s definitely part of the expense.”
“Where is this mountain?”
“Nepal,” Brig mumbled.
“Nepal? The Himalaya’s Nepal?”
Brig nodded sheepishly. “Everest.” He wanted to be confident and knew his father responded better to confidence, but VII had entered intimidation mode. A long awkward pause followed, with VII staring incredulously at his son, and VIII staring down at the hardwood floor.
VII suddenly laughed, breaking the silence. Not a chuckle, or a sneer, but a real gut buster. “You had me going there, buddy. Everest. Don’t more people die trying to get up that mountain than make it to the top?” He laughed again.
Now it was Brig’s turn to be incredulous. Climbing Everest was his dream, and the one person on the earth that could either make it real or crush it thought he was joking. Brig stood up to leave. “You know what? Fuck it! And fuck you!”
Seven stopped laughing. He had never heard his son curse before, let alone the F-Word. “Now you listen here, young man. I will not have that kind of language in my home.”
“What? English?” Brig said in mock surprise.
“Oh, that’s funny. You know what I mean.”
“You mean fuck? Don’t you like the word fuck? Or you don’t like to fuck?”
“Get out of here!” VII demanded.
“Fuck! All right. Fuck. You’re serious?” Brig mocked.
“Fuck! O.K. I’m fucking going. Fuck you later.” Brig slammed the door as he exited.
2.18 – Bumped Up
The sound of the lounge attendant announcing that “United Flight 971 to Hong Kong is now boarding” broke Brig’s thoughts, and once again he gathered his packs and walked towards the exit. He waved goodbye to the lounge greeters, rode the escalator down to the international departure hall, and made his way to Gate 96 where his fellow travelers were waiting to board. He wormed his way through the crowd, gave the gate attendant his ticket, and walked down the gangway onto the Boeing 747. Brig showed his ticket stub to one of the two flight attendants waiting at the open door. She pointed him towards the stairs leading to the upper cabin. “Excellent,” thought Brig. He had always liked the upper cabin. It felt somehow more exclusive than the business class seats below.
Business-class on the Boeing 747 was a significant upgrade. United’s business class passengers got their own entertainment system, meals were better, the seats could be adjusted to a nearly horizontal position making it easier to sleep, and the flight attendants were generally more attractive. But for Brig, the icing on the business class cake was the amenity kit that the airline provided, which included a variety of toiletries, a pair of slippers, and an eye mask.
Brig had just finished putting his large backpack in the overhead storage compartment and was arranging his seat when someone startled him from behind.
“Good morning sir, would you like a drink? Some champagne or a mimosa?” A male flight attendant held out a tray of drinks in plastic cups.
“Eh-h-h-h” Brig shuddered as he shied away from the young man.
“I’m sorry, did I scare you?” said the attendant.
“No. Just surprised me is all.” Brig had expected a female flight attendant. He got an effeminate man instead.
“Would you like something to drink?” he asked, nodding his head towards the tray.
“I was hoping for something stronger. It’s been a long morning. Do you have scotch?”
“I’ll be happy to get you something more suitable once we’re airborne,” said the attendant, whose name tag identified him as Cliff.
“In that case, Cliff, I’ll take two!” Brig grabbed two cups of Champagne and thanked him. Cliff moved off to serve other passengers that were boarding and reaching their seats.
Brig was again seated on the starboard side of the airplane. As he sat down, he banged his head on the ceiling and spilled some of his champagne. He chuckled as he realized he was feeling the alcohol from the lounge. Let’s keep the momentum going, eh? He pounded the first cup of champagne as if it were a Tequila shot. The second cup followed soon after.
He kicked his shoes off and slid them under the seat in front of him. He closed the window shade and donned his eye covers. No one would dare disturb him with a pair of those things on. He leaned his chair back and relaxed, oblivious to the other passengers.
Brig was beginning to drift off when he felt someone tapping his shoulder. A man’s voice whispered, “Excuse me.” Brig tried to ignore him, hoping that whoever it was would realize how inconsiderate they were being and reevaluate their actions before touching him again. The annoyer persisted, placing his hand on and shaking Brig’s shoulder. He repeated, “Excuse me.”
Brig snapped his eye covers off of his head and in a falsely controlled tone asked, “What?”
A man in a suit and tie with a strong jaw, high cheekbones, and a full head of dark hair stood before him. Not realizing, or choosing to ignore Brig’s tone, he continued, “I’m sorry for disturbing you, but I was wondering if you would mind switching seats with my fiancée?” Looking past the man, Brig saw that the fiancée was none other than Angie from the lounge. She smiled, nodded her head, and wiggled the fingers of her right-hand hello.
Brig wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol or not, but he readjusted Angie’s score back to ten. The annoying man, who Brig had nicknamed Ken, was waving his hand and snapping his fingers in front of Brig’s face. Angie giggled.
“I’m sorry, what was your question?” asked Brig.
“I asked if you would mind switching seats with my fiancée. It’s a long flight, and we’d like to sit together.”
“No,” Brig replied.
“Great. Thank you.” He stood up as if to give Brig room to change his seat. “We really appreciate it.”
“No, you’ve misunderstood me. I mean ‘no,’ as in ‘no, I won’t switch seats with your fiancée.’ Not, ‘no, I don’t mind.’ That said, I would be more than pleased if you switched seats with your fiancée.” Brig turned his head to the side, arched his eyebrows, and smiled lasciviously.
Ken stared at Brig waiting to see if he was pulling his leg. When he realized Brig was serious, he moved closer to Angie and whispered something. Ken helped Angie take her seat opposite his own, across the aisle.
Ken placed a small carry-on in the storage compartment and took his seat. He took another look at Brig, paused for effect, and said, “Thanks.”
“I’m sorry,” said Brig. “Doctors orders. I get claustrophobic if I can’t see out of the airplane.”
“Um-hm,” replied an unconvinced Ken. Ken looked over at Angie, extended his hand, and shrugged as if to say, “what can you do?” Angie took Ken’s hand and smiled.
Douchebag, Brig thought.
Despite the satisfaction of his self-proclaimed victory over Ken, and the ensuing silent treatment, which he wanted anyway, Brig couldn’t fall asleep. Brig was “jonesing.” He dug into his stash and swallowed another two pills, knowing the combination of pills, alcohol, and altitude was a dangerous one. He was 30,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, and his anxiety was peaking. Perhaps this was as close as he was supposed to get to Mount Everest. He was flying at approximately the same altitude as the great mountain’s peak. Brig could open the cabin door and throw himself out but could muster neither the courage nor the energy.
Brig spotted Cliff and waved to get his attention. Cliff had been friendly enough at first, giving him two mini-bottles of Jack Daniels for his first round. “Even though I’m only supposed to pass out one bottle at a time,” Cliff had whispered as if he were conspiring with Brig. But their “friendship” had lasted less than two hours of the fifteen-hour flight. Cliff, seeing the frenetic drinking pace that Brig was setting, recognized that Brig might turn into a problem and forced him to slow down by serving him only one bottle at a time. After another three rounds, Cliff reported that they were out of Jack Daniels. Brig doubted that he had drained the ship of their JD, but he was undeterred.
“No problem. I’m an easy-going guy,” Brig tried to whisper. Most of the other passengers were asleep or watching their in-flight entertainment. “What alcohol do you have the most of?”
“We have lots of Sprite. How about a nice, cool, and refreshing Sprite?” Cliff countered.
“Doesn’t have the effect I’m looking for, but thank you for the suggestion.” He was trying hard not to get angry. “How about two vodkas?”
“How about we slow down Mr. Young? Why don’t you take a nap?”
“Would that we could Cliffy. Would that we could.”
“It’s Cliff. Just Cliff.”
“Well, ‘Just Cliff,’” Brig was becoming irritable again, “it’s nice and quiet in here right now, isn’t it? All my fellow passengers are sleeping. Not much work for you, eh? It would be a shame if a drunken asshole like me were to get loud…and obnoxious,” Brig said in an increasingly loud voice. Ken, who was sleeping in the seat beside him, stirred underneath his blanket.
“O.K. Mr. Young. Calm down. I’ll get you a vodka,” Cliff relented.
“Two please,” Brig said, holding up two fingers and whispering. “Oh, and a beer,” he smiled sheepishly. “And some pretzels?”
The rest of the flight dragged on. Cliff gave up trying to stop Brig’s binge. He was, however, effective at slowing Brig down by disappearing for long periods of time. It seemed to Brig that the other passengers were also getting upset with Cliff’s poor service. Three hours away from their destination, Brig finally passed out.
2.19 – Coming Apart
After his quarrel with his father, Brig spent the night in his Range Rover alternating between sobbing and sleeping. He had quit praying years ago, but when he was alone and down, he still spoke, and sometimes wrote, to his mother. He pulled out his journal from under the driver’s seat.
Why did you marry that asshole? Was it the money? His good looks? His ambition? OK…I sort of get it…and I can also understand and forgive you for finding someone else. I’m thinking now, hoping, that you were planning our escape.
Brig realized he was really writing this for his father. He imagined his father finding his journal, and reading how Brig hated him, and how Brig knew that his mother had been unfaithful.
I do. I understand. But he’s a horrible father, and Brenda and I don’t have you to protect us anymore. He doesn’t care about us. He spends more time with his illegitimate children in the Philippines, or Germany, or wherever it is, he goes.
I’m sure, now, you see how he is…if given a chance to do it again, you wouldn’t, right?
I’ve never asked him for one God damned thing, but when I do, when I ask him for the one thing that matters most to me, he laughs. I expected him to say no, but to laugh in my face? It’s not right. He doesn’t even realize how destructive he is, how much I hate him, and everything he represents. He has more money than God, and he can’t part with a sum that he makes in a few minutes, maybe seconds, to allow me to realize my dream? What a dick!
Brig punched upward, hitting the roof of the Range Rover and hurting his wrist.
The next morning he called his father’s office, intending to leave his father a message on his answering service. A woman’s voice answered, “Brigham Young International, how may I direct your call?”
“Brigham Young please.”
“May I tell him who’s calling?”
“This is his son.”
The woman paused. Brig could practically hear the wheels turning in her head. “Why wouldn’t Mr. Young’s son dial his direct number?” she wondered. Regardless, she wasn’t stupid. She wouldn’t challenge the person who might be her boss someday.
“Wait, wait, wait, wait,” Brig pleaded.
“Yes. I’m here. How can I help you, Mr. Young?”
“He’s in the office today?”
“I believe so. Shall I put you through?”
Brig thought about it for a few seconds and then decided he would still leave his message. “I’d prefer to leave a message with you if you don’t mind?” Brig said pleasantly.
“No, not at all. Please go ahead.”
“Hi, Dad. This is your son, Brigham.” He paused, allowing the woman time to write it down.
“Hi, Dad. This is your son, Brigham.” the receptionist repeated. “Got it. Please continue.”
“I have decided NOT…please underline the word ‘not’…to go on a mission.”
“Not… underlined… to go on a mission,” the receptionist repeated back to Brig.
“Fuck you! Brig.”
“And if you could double underline the word fuck, and put an exclamation point after ‘you,’ I would appreciate it.”
“Let me…” the receptionist stammered, but before she could finish her sentence, Brig had disconnected.
2.20 – Hungover and Jet Lagged
Brig was being shaken violently. He opened his eyes, unclear where he was. Eventually realizing he was on a plane traveling to Hong Kong, his first thought was that the plane was going down. He curled into the fetal position and screamed.
“Mr. Young, wake up!” someone yelled.
Brig opened his eyes wider and shook his head. Cliff’s stern-looking face came into focus. Behind Cliff stood a large man in uniform. Military? Police?
“Mr. Young, wake up!” Cliff repeated. “We’ve landed in Hong Kong and it’s time to deplane.”
Brig felt the world spin. He sat up straight, trying to slow the motion, but to no avail.
“Oh my God. Don’t you dare,” squealed Cliff, realizing what would happen next.
“Quick. Grab his arm. Let’s get him to the bathroom,” ordered the uniform. It was the ship’s captain.
But it was too late. Brig managed to open the seat pocket in front of him before retching, covering the in-flight magazine as well as the bag he was looking for, in vomit.
The captain retreated towards the stairs. “I’ll send up the clean-up crew.”
“That’s the thanks I get for serving you all of those drinks!” Cliff hissed.
Brig retched again, though this time to his left, on the seat next to him, where Ken had been sitting.
“Can you at least try to keep it all in one place?” Cliff begged.
Cliff threw his hands up in surrender and backed away as Brig prepared to get off the airplane. He slid his laceless shoes on. There was vomit everywhere – on his shirt, on his shoes, on his pants. He wanted to lie down, but more than that he wanted to get off the plane.
Brig choked back the next urge to retch and stood up. He grabbed the seat in front of him to steady himself. He wiped his hands on the top of the chair and walked towards the stairs that led towards the plane’s exit. Halfway there, he stopped and retched again. Realizing he had forgotten his carry-on, he turned around, went back to his seat where Cliff stood in stunned silence, opened the overhead compartment, yanked out his backpack, and said “See you next time.”