Chloroseptic, aspirin, zinc, and whiskey. The worst thing about the cold – besides being sick, of course – is that I can’t even enjoy a good cigar. Lucky for me, I don’t smoke good cigars. At least not as most people think. While I love the big strong cigars, they make me look like a Munchkin trying to choke down a baseball bat.

Didn’t sleep well, and it had nothing to do with the cold. Since it was my morning to take Gnat and friend to the bus for camp, my dreams were given over entirely to the theme of Failing My Duties. I woke about every hour, tried to find a clock, walked around the room, peered through the shades, stumbled back to bed. Then the rain came. Then the rain ceased and the birds arrived with their idiot twitterings. Woke for good a half hour ahead of schedule. But I arrived at her friend’s house on schedule, got them both to the stop, just in time to be 17 minutes early for the bus.

Which was late. Got home around nine, and once again the whole empty day yawned before me. If it had been sunny I would have hit the lake with Jasper and gone to the office, but it was cold. Rainy. Miserable. April. So, office all day! No! Bed. But I couldn’t sleep. I was too tired to sleep. So I slumped in front of the machine most of the day doing busy work and editing the May family video. Again, lunch was tough. I missed her. I ate standing up, which somehow made it a bachelor lunch, then returned to slouching and editing and scanning and resizing and other duties that required no brains. Didn’t even listen to the radio. Silence. Rain.

I was so starved for Gnat that I insisted we play My Litlte Ponys tonight. I set up the castle, got them out of the bucket, laid out their brushes, repaired the balloon, fixed the door for Celebration Castle. We had fun, but we ran out of characters, so I fetched a Care Bear figurine we’d painted the other day. I improvised some dialogue – incorrectly, it would seem.

No, Sunshine Bear is a girl.

So I adopted a falsetto. Keep in mind I have a frog-croak voice as it is. Falsetto hurts. I sound like Harvey Fierstein run through a woodchipper.

Try another voice, she said. Gladly.

If there’s anything I will remember from this day it’s the procession to the rotunda. It was solemn, not sad. Confident and dignified. A rare American moment that makes theater and movies look noisy and empty - no matter what the wizards of Hollywood can contrive, it stands abashed in the face of forty score men in dress uniform impassively bearing a flag-shrouded box to the dome of the Republic.

I watched the Marine who accompanied Mrs. Reagan. Not a muscle on his face moved. His name was perfect: Jackson. She had composure and strength as well, and I say that as someone who never felt much warmth towards the woman. There was something insular about the Reagans’ marriage that kept us all at arm’s length. I think that people understood that Reagan madly loved his wife, but they didn’t quite know why. She was brittle and steely; whatever personal warmth she had didn’t come across on camera. She wasn’t a Hollywood knockout. But he was nuts about her, and he had his reasons. She repaid him with the long twilight vigil. She endured sadness you can only hope you never know, and in the end she wasn't hanging on the arm of a Marine like wet crepe. She looked as if she could have helped Jackson to his feet if he’d wilted in the heat.

When the coffin entered the rotunda I realized I had been standing for the last half hour.

Walked the dog. Worked. Played with Gnat, wrote this, transferred it to the downstairs machine; now I’m at the kitchen table. The news is playing a recap of the day. There’s Nancy Reagan again.

“Nancy Reagan had the frozen smile of someone who had been struck by lightning while riding in a limo.” Who said that? Kitty Dowd? Maureen Kelly? I thought it was great line. Then. But now here I am watching her pat the coffin, running her hand along the lines of the flag, and that’s when I finally tear up.

Made Gnat’s camp lunch. Prepared the coffee for the morning.

Laid out the flag for tomorrow.

I hadn’t intended to write this long – actually, I was just going to post the fortnightly movie. And here it is: Smoove the Worm! Shot in the verdant jungle of our backyard, with a Jasper cameo. Fresh Fence today – hit the link below, of course. See you tomorrow.


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