Freudian Slips: The Cosby Show

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

November 13, 2004

The Cosby Show

Our house sits nestled on three wooded acres so it is not unusual for me to be cleaning up the yard, especially when cooler weather and my skin disease rekindle their alliance. Circling the property, I took note of all the pet cemeteries planted in our yard. If I scattered a few Indian arrowheads around, our land could be forever preserved as a historical site. As I collected dead twigs, I came upon a distinct feeling that I would be burying another pet today. Through ghostly images, I could see my shovel spooning the earth from two sides of a hole.
An incident which took place this past weekend may have influenced my thinking. While watching a football game, the phone rang then I heard a lot of footsteps and commotion coming from the floor above. Diane swung the door to the basement open and shouted at me downstairs. "Bill Cosby is dying!" Her announcement was a guttural call straight from the heart. I met her at the foot of the staircase even though the Philadelphia Eagles looked primed to be scoring a touchdown. "Who in the hell just called us and told us Bill Cosby is dying?" I asked. "Why did they call us and why are you so upset?" She corrected, "No, Lauren's hamster, Bill Cosby." The incoming phone call had nothing to do with the actor but everything to do with issuing a death sentence on our hamster. Call me stupid for stringing together a series of events to its logical conclusion. In three years, the hamster's name failed to stick with me because Bill Cosby was female. Even a background check on this hamster wouldn't uncover a single paternity suit. The lifespan of a hamster is three years but none of us wanted "Cos" to go off the air. I personally didn't want to see her go because Lauren loved her hamster so, even more than the Cosby show. Since Bill Cosby first started to seizure, Lauren began preparing for the inevitable. I forgot the hamster had even been sick. Today, however, Lauren's worst fear would be realized. It started when I came home from ordering nothing other than a fresh kill turkey for Thanksgiving, a thirty two pound gobble gobble Tom to be exact.
Barely inside the door, my wife announced, "Bill Cosby died!" Only a blithering idiot would assume it was the actor a second straight time. I asked a few follow-up questions to gauge the seriousness of the situation. I had only been gone from the household an hour, but life can change in a heartbeat. And it did. "Where are the kids?" I ask. "Does Lauren know?" "Yes, she knows. They're all out playing. Lauren left a box here for you to put her in." From the kitchen, I could see the art deco box doing everything an empty cardboard box does in our family. The box waited for a dead pet to be placed inside. My wife and I discussed the next course of action but we got our wires crossed. I mistakenly thought my wife had said Lauren didn't want to be involved in the burial. While this surprised my ears, I took it at face value. This was a departure from the norm because when a pet dies around here, the kids usually want bag pipes playing, a coronation, and midget pall bearers who specialize in lightweight funerals.
My personality is task oriented. Once I am put into motion, I do not like shifting gears. So I placed 'Cos' in the cardboard box and the two of us made a pit stop in the garage for a pointy shovel. I walked around back and debated whose grave 'Cos' should be buried next to. There were plenty of options not so ripe for the picking. I decided against placing her next to 'Rosie, the hermit crab'. A mammal shacking up with a crustacean didn't seem right. After deliberation, I opted to bury like creatures in the same section of the backyard. That way, if I get fined by the SPCA or PETA a scatter plot for excavation might come in handy. The ground was soft and the dirt left the hole with ease. I placed 'Cos' in her final resting place. As I backfilled the earth, I realized that this No Frills burial was less emotionally draining on me than a pet funeral. I walked back to the garage relieved of duty and singing 'Hi Ho Hi Ho there is no more work for Joe.' Back in the garage, I hung up the shovel on its metal hook, started to remove my grave digger's boots, and that's when I heard my wife's voice, the recognizable pitch it gets when furious.
"What did you do with Bill Cosby?"
"I buried her like you told me." I answered with compliance.
"I said Lauren wanted you to remove her out of the hamster cage. We got to have a funeral."
$%#^&%$$# expletives sound in my head, the translation of which meant it was on with the Cosby show. Alas, the grave digger boots stayed on, and I grabbed the metal shovel again with a vengeance. Around back, the ground was soft and the dirt left the hole with ease. I dusted off the cardboard box housing the little fellar. The kids came filtering home and before long we all gathered around back staring at the empty hole. The kids voiced a few empathetic words and this all seemed to be wrapping up rather nicely for a second time. Then, Lauren's cousin took a cell phone out of her sweatshirt. She said we need music for the somber occasion, pressed a button, and we are all listening to 'Time of Your Life' by Green Day in the wilderness. Never underestimate the convenience of technology. Try getting a Scot with bag pipes to the back of your property at a moments notice. Green Day seemed to make the moment more accountable. My wife began to cry. The children hugged each other. I passively leaned on the shovel all by my lonesome. I let the funeral run its course because it meant more to them than me. Soon they gave me the go ahead to pile dirt back on Bill Cosby. Dirt flew in the air with reckless abandon.
"Okay then." I said awkwardly to close ceremonies. I walked away from the group ahead of everyone because quite frankly all these pet funerals were running together in my mind. I had a standard issue orthodox funeral to go to the following day (see Requiem for a Heavyweight). The distance I had put between myself and the funeral, proved not far enough away to miss hearing the change in schedule.
Diane said, "Joe, we still have Brandy's ashes in the urn. We never buried the dog from last year. "Are you sure?" I asked sheepishly. To all you organization freaks out there like me, this is where a scatter plot would have come in handy. And to think I had a ream of untouched graph paper that I did not know what to do with. I am not really sure which astute kid spoke up but it sounded like smart-ass Theo from the Cosby show. "I saw Brandy in the laundry room the other day." The wife uttered the words I couldn't bear to hear. "We might as well have a funeral?" On a baseball schedule this is called a doubleheader. For funerals, let's just say we were breaking new ground. I wasn't digging any of it figuratively, but the shovel was literally about to take another plunge. "I'll go get Brandy." volunteered Jimmy, and he ran up to the house. So I pick another choice location from the field of screams. I approach the ground from a different side and begin digging. I could describe the ground as soft and the dirt leaving the hole with ease but you already know I have been there, done that. I realize too my eerie vision of digging two holes from different sides. Thank God I didn't have a nightmare because we were running out of pets. Outside of saltwater fish we were down to Smokey the mouse. We start the second service of the day, the second funeral for Brandy on public record. The kids start talking about the first funeral. I am just standing there trying to look like I am not going through the motions. With another funeral looming tomorrow, I was pacing myself to avoid becoming emotionally drained. The wife removes a cell phone from her sweatshirt and pipes up 'Blackbird' by the Beatles. 'Blackbird singing in the dead of night'.. The children better not boycott the fresh killed turkey come Thanksgiving. They can go hungry if push comes to shovel. But, if I end up burying turkey bones out back, I am becoming a vegetarian.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe, you made me laugh out loud. I envisioned tiny pall bearers slowly marching through the woods. Well written. ET

11:53 AM  

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