When I die, I’m going to leave a lot of tools behind, and I’m worried that you’re going to use them inappropriately and hurt yourself. Despite their colorful outer shells that draw you in for a closer look and beckon you to plug them in and give them a whirl, they aren’t toys. Several of them can easily cut off a limb, put out an eye, or burn you badly.
My guess is that this won’t dissuade my friends from engaging in a melee after my untimely demise. The tear-streaked faces of my wife and kids, still shocked that I’m no longer here on earth and pretty certain I’m not anywhere else either, watch in disbelief as you guys come waltzing into my basement with a twelve pack and start grabbing at my chop saw.
Then, during calling hours, a line forms leading up to the casket, where I can be found laid out with a weird smile on my face, thanks to the misguided work of a new, young undertaker. You utter a few polite remarks to my family and hope to move on, but find that the greeting line is backed up thanks to an octogenarian who has knelt to pray over my dead body and then can’t get back up onto his feet. It’s awkward to be standing there and not saying anything more than “He was a great guy. Really, great guy.” So eventually you blurt, “So, uh, how many battery packs does his impact driver have?”
My personal opinion is that the family should just put everything out on the sidewalk and see who takes what. Bar clamps, pipe clamps, drills, levels, hammers, wrenches, torches, anything that wasn’t put into my personal pyramid in case I need it for the afterlife is sitting out there for the taking.
Of course, no duct tape will be left for the taking, as that is going to be part of my afterlife “tool kit.” But don’t worry – they carry it at most hardware stores.
Somewhere out there is a big graveyard of lost digital photos, a world of images that were transferred from camera to storage device or “the cloud” and by some weird quirk of fate or bad data management took a wayward turn and ended up in a black hole, buried in a folder within a folder withing yet many more folders within this lost universe, making them more or less unfindable.
Or maybe they were completely destroyed and no longer exist, though I’m told is very hard to do that with data these days, as everything digital is intended to live forever.
Maybe it’s not so much a “graveyard,” which suggests that we knew and cherished the images enough to have carved fond remembrances of them in a few poetic words etched into granite. Instead, these pictures that we never actually laid eyes on really don’t even rise to the level of lost luggage. At least we knew what was in our luggage – the comfortable boxer briefs, the hiking shorts with zip-off pant legs, the Ebenezer Scrooge sleep hat – whereas the pictures were snapped on a phone but were never viewed before we screwed up the file transfer and deleted them entirely.
But in losing them, these have become the best pictures ever taken. In my mind I desperately need to find them again, as they will one day remind me of this day in history, which was otherwise unremarkable were it not for the fact that I took pictures to my remind myself of it.
Actually, sending things to the cloud is an apt description: many a photo I’ve uploaded has disappeared, like a plane does when it ascends into the skies of New England, fading away to nothing as it rises into the ceiling of cumulus vapor, eventually gone.
And if I were to find these lost photos, what would I see? Probably something like 30 burst images of my big toe, snapped when I was trying to futz with the camera to get the settings right.
I’m not referring to the recent images of a large Hawaiian sea turtle (Honu) I took on a GoPro, as I did really care to see the several minutes of video I shot whilst snorkeling on the Big Island of Hawaii. Alas, I’ll have to settle for a photo of a moray eel, taken when I visited Kealakekua Bay and the monument to the British explorer Captain Cook. I haven’t deleted that one! (Yet).
I was a regular viewer of standard 1970s and 1980s television serials – sitcoms like the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family (or “The Poopridge Fartilee, as my big sister dubbed it) – as well as hourlong dramas like Emergency and Starsky and Hutch.
And occasionally I’d watch shows like the hip urban high-school drama Room 222, or the cop/detective drama The Mod Squad.
The Mod Squad were mod because they had diversity: Pete, the white cop with a mop of hair and sideburns; Linc, the black cop with an afro and a gap between his front teeth; Julie, the “girl” as we used to call adult women back in those days, played by Peggy Lipton, who would later appear in Twins Peaks.
In the opening credits, this squad of mod cops (as the creators may have called them in pitch meetings, or maybe when one of them was writing the first line of a haiku) individually emerge into view, where they are fleeing some unseen menace in a dank, urban tunnel. The camera freezes each in a closeup; the second one frozen is Clarence Williams III, who played Linc. Once together and in full view, Pete and Linc take Julie by the arms and they run off, suggesting that she’s not strong enough to keep up.
I remember almost none of the Mod Squad episodes, but somehow one scene was seared into my memory from the moment I saw it. As I recall it, some strange malady (or maybe poison, or drug) is afflicting people, causing intense headaches and paranoia. Maybe Pete is suffering from it as well. Linc is trying to save someone – maybe Pete? (can’t remember that detail) – who is in the throes of the malady, but when he approaches, the ailing victim doesn’t believe this black dude with an afro is actually a cop, until Link pulls out his badge and flings it across the room yelling, “Believe it man!” That line – “Believe it man!” – is one that I somehow can’t shake from my memory, many decades later.
As we are about to go to press, I ask my band of editors for a few extra minutes so I can scan the Mod Squad episode list on Wikipedia (I know, you hate Wikipedia; so do I, except almost every time I call upon it to give me information like this). Very likely, the episode in question is "Find Tara Chapman!" The summary of this episode is that the mod cops are trying to track down a "dying girl on the run" who may unwittingly spark a "meningitis epidemic." Hmm. That makes some sense. Meningitis affects the brain and can make people incoherent.
Alas, we lost Clarence Williams III in early June. Believe it man.
Years ago, I found myself in Hawaii -- never a bad place in which to find oneself -- and as often happens when you’re in Hawaii, I soon found myself on a beach. Well, wouldn’t you know it, suddenly there were waves, so I got in the water to give those waves a piece of my mind, and the next thing I knew I was wet. Great! Now what?
It seemed like a good time to body surf, which I consider myself to be a master of. Body surfing is great because you don’t need any of the fancy accessories that surfers and boogie boarders require, just your own blubbery ol’ naked body. (Full disclosure: it's not really legal to body surf naked at this juncture in human history).
And, in my case, that was pre-COVID blubber (so don’t ask what I look like now). Anyway, there I was, all wet, riding the waves with my hot (and yet blubbery) body, totally sans equipment, and the next thing I know a bodysurfer is coming at me at the speed of a large Hawaiian wave (which is very fast!). Except this particular body surfer was employing surfboards strapped to both hands. No kidding!
OK, they were mini surfboards, about the size of dinner plates, and had a name: “hand planes”! (Not to be confused with the kind of hand plane used to smooth out wood). Suddenly, here was yet another device I could purchase. Not quite as ridiculously expensive as getting a surfboard, but ridiculous enough to cost $150. So, really, is this the kind of dust-collecting device that I should spend yet more of my hard-earned money on, knowing that I’ll only use it when I’m in Hawaii, once in a blue moon?