LeeWords

Good Narrative Principles

May 16, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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In the Old Days

The slightest thing used to unhinge me. Like, picture the loop on a strap of a watch that keeps it from flapping around once it’s secured inside the tongue of the buckle. Yeah, it’s a little thing and sometimes it breaks. In the bad old days, if the littlest thing went awry, I’d be paralyzed, unable to do anything, I mean anything, like focus on work or even a stupid conversation about the weather, until I made it right. Once, when the loop on my watch broke, I camped out in front of a jewelry store waiting for it to open. The owner, afraid that I was about to rob him, called the cops. Since then, I’ve developed coping mechanisms to address my slight OCD tendencies. Most of them involve clever solutions, like, returning to the example of the broken loop, I’ll simple take off the watch. Sometimes, if I can’t get past it, I pop a little pink pill, which generally does the trick.

(Photo: Tim Duch)

May 15, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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The Way He Did What He Did

Maybe the thing I’ll miss most about him is the way he cut the strawberries. Using a simple paring knife, he’d carve out the calyx, alias the green stem, with a minimum loss of sweet fruit, leaving behind a hole that was exquisitely small and symmetrical. Only a surgeon would approach the task of preparing strawberries with such precision. True, it took him forever. While he was engaged in this task, he wouldn’t tolerate “chit chat” as he called it. As you can imagine, he wasn’t the easiest of men to live with. Since he’s been gone, I’ve switched to bananas.

May 12, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Stakeout

There is no way that the guy who opened the cheese shop across the street uses organic milk. Make that zero chance. Agreed, I am borderline obsessed by what I freely acknowledge is my own bugaboo concerning all things organic. Artisanal. Farm fresh blah blah blah. Consider this: if it’s true, as he claims, that all his cheeses are made from farm yard animals that all are lovingly raised in sheltered environments free of pesticides or any hint of conflict, then he should be charging more. And yet he undercuts me six ways to Sunday. Wish I knew for sure because my bladder is screaming for attention, but I’d be a fool to leave my secret spot on top of the hill with a clear view of his alleged artisanal farm. They’re about to round up the cows. How much you wanna bet they’ll kick one or two of ‘em in their fat behinds?

February 28, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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The New New

Jake made sure everyone knew what was at stake. He’d been doing it for weeks on the advice of the midwife who couldn’t guarantee his wife Betts would carry their baby to term. Every day, as he was boarding the skiff that took him to the jobsite at the base of the New New York Bridge (New New for short) he’d remind his team captain that when he got the call, he’d need a ride back double time. It was the weather that screwed him over. While Betts pushed, Jake, stuck on the skiff tethered to the base of the bridge, played endless rounds of gin rummy. The river roiled and heaved and only grew still the following morning, at which point, Jake was hardly in a position to take issue with the ridiculous name Betts had chosen for their son ‑ Albert. On the list of boy’s names, it didn’t even crack the top one hundred.

February 27, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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DYI Casket

I joined the local Build Your Own Casket Club at the urging of my dear wife, Michelle. When she first mentioned it, I barely responded. It sounded like a terrible idea for all the obvious reasons. So, the question is, what am I doing here sawing, chiseling out dovetails and gluing this to that? Turns out, once you get over the ghoulish, macabre factor, it can be kind of fun. Must be something about preparing your final resting place that frees people up. I’ve gone three times and not once has anyone bragged about their kids, their grand kids and all the super places they’ve visited. Instead, we talk about the little stuff — best friends we’ve lost track of, the first kiss and peaches. Is there anything better than a perfect peach? After I finish building my casket, I’m thinking about branching out to bird houses.  Conversation might not be as lively, but heck, it sure fills up the time.

February 22, 2017
by Lee Eiferman
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Nearing the End

IMG_0066The last two hours of my life were the best, better even that day in the field when I poked Daisy-Lou the idiot cow. I ran cuz I was at the slaughterhouse on a slow-moving line. I saw an opening and BOOM, I went for it. Thundered down the streets of Queens with flat footed, wheezing guys in pursuit. They yelled. They shot at me, but, I kept going, causing all manner of ruckus. I plowed into a bus. A blur of three-year old screaming kids scattered.

Now, that’s what it means to be a bull.

August 11, 2016
by Lee Eiferman
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The Hendersons Will All Be There

IMG_4922Picture floating through space inside a badly damaged ship. You had to make a hard choice between salvaging the life support system or powering the extraneous extras designed to make your travels palatable. The only shred of distraction that’s available to you is listening to the odd Beatles tune “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” which you do once a day as a well-earned treat. Looking out the window, floating in the vast emptiness, your thoughts turn to putting on a show on trampoline and the sheer euphoria of being back on planet Earth.

(Photo Credit: Nick Duch)

August 9, 2016
by Lee Eiferman
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Lipton Soup in a Can

IMG_9264Anse was having a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that as a town employee he was expected to sacrifice his evenings and weekends to mastering the intricacies and particulars of a street milling machine. His Boss stated with the confidence of putting the matter to rest, that the life blood of suburban towns pivots on the depth of its tax base. Frustrated, Anse, still not quite grasping the connection between the town’s claim on his free time and the size of its wallet, kicked over the lunchroom garbage can. His Boss assured him that once the new condos were built, the town would be sitting pretty. But right now, he cautioned Anse, we’re like Lipton soup in a can, which made no sense either.

August 8, 2016
by Lee Eiferman
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A Moment

IMG_9218On a Sunday morning, Dad and his two surly teens emerged from the van on the edge of the park and headed towards their church. They each walked alone as if cloaked in their own shroud of misery, when a girl, clinging to her boyfriend trotting beside her, glided past on a skateboard. It was the girl’s panicked eyes darting from Dad to his kids that got to them. Something about her fear mingling with wild joy brought them right back to now, this moment. I’d like to say that as they shared a smile their private resentments melted away so that they could come together as a family. But maybe that’s more than this slender moment can carry.

August 5, 2016
by Lee Eiferman
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Ill Will

IMG_9226The origin of the ill will the Guy who owned the bodega directs at this one customer, a seemingly kindly Older Woman, stretches way back to the ‘80’s. It was a blistering hot summer day. The AC was cranked up to February. The Woman, who wasn’t an Older Woman yet, popped open a can of Diet Coke then refused to pay for it, claiming, it had gone bad. “Taste it” the woman insisted and left in a huff. Lonely, she now visits the store every day, hoping for a friendly exchange about the weather, Donald Trump or the still broken street light. Instead, she’s met regularly with stony silence. She has no memory of the inciting incident. But he does.