It was, yes, a Tuesday. I walked with Godfrey to the grocery store, as he was heading away on a jaunt. He needed a bag of apples, and batteries for the little lantern we had given him. “Perfect, Godfrey exclaimed, for late night writing”!!. We did not plan to cause a ruckus, we never planned, it was the rope holding Godfrey’s suitcase closed that snagged on the condom rack near the front of the store. It toppled, Trojans poured down on me as if from the heights, we turned in horror, bent at the same time to scoop them up and bonked heads- hard. I felt Godfrey’s nose crunch. I was lying on my side in a sea of safes, trying not to wet my self laughing. I could hear Godfrey moaning when we were set upon by three spotty faced clerks, apron clad, one wielding a price gun, one lad prodding Godfrey with his broom. The intercom croaked out terse words, annoying, beets, removal…After we were, once again escorted from the store, I walked him to the corner by the laundrymat, a lucky hitching spot. Along with his somewhat beakey nose, I could tell also his feelings were hurt..it was being called annoying, annoying muttered Godfrey.
Godfrey did not speak ofte , or fondly of his Uncle Lou. “I believe he was my Aunt’s husband’s sister’s ex husband, or a long forgotten paramour of someone she once knew.” A most annoying chap, part of our young lives was Uncle Lou. “I recall the leisure suits that he wore every day, his coal black hair with pompadour and long in the rear, he had a sticky goatee, and his one joy in life was tormenting me.
“I wet my pants when Lou scared me with his breath, he would pin me down and make me guess when he ate baked beans for his tea. Uncle Lou showed up every birthday, every trip we took to Glasgow or the sea. ” I was very small when I stood up to Uncle Lou, said “I dislike beets and you ate my cream bun, that was rude!. The sandwich you snatched from my hand and laughed at me while you gobbled it ,was made by sister Alice with dog-food. “You are not nice, I told Uncle Lou.
Furious, he was, and I no more than six, came up to his knee”. Down the road to the graveyard Lou chased me, through the large funeral of old Mrs Pettigrew, deep in the church coal scuttle, I hid from Uncle Lou. Cold it was, hoping he had given up I crawled out, it was late afternoon. A wedding just ending I ran black from coal, into the angry groom, I left a grimy print behind when I hid behind, the shrieking brides behind. A stramish did ensue, I managed to escape but waiting at the church yard gate, beets in hand on a plate was Uncle Lou. (He called me a maundering little eel-pout)
Oh, I’d take from school the long cut home, look for his ugly car in the yard or the sound of his trombone. I told Godfrey of Uncle Tony, with a similar loud car, he detected hot dog cookouts, or picnics like radar. Uncle Tony cooked three weiners on a stick at one time, if his fell in the sand he snitched mine. He wore a tiny swim suit that jiggled when he walked, beer for himself is all he ever brought when he came. Tony called me “Pretzel” never bothering to figure out my name…Uncle Tony was a slob, drifted from job to job, every time he was sacked there was someone else to blame. Godfrey laughed now, as we sat at the laundry- mat, and I described best I can, my example of a most annoying man.
“Uncle Lou called me Oddfrey”, my friend remenissed, “He ate one hundred Whelks in five minutes one summer in a contest” . “Beatrice and I when eight for a fun thing to do, decided to dress up as my Uncle Lou. She swiped two cigars and a pair of Lou’s grundies off the line, they came up to my ears. We slicked our hair down with lard, drew whiskers with char from the burn barrel in her backyard. We found Lou’s trombone where he left it alone, he was snoring asleep. We filled it with beets, hid it high in a tree, oh the paddling I got when Lou caught me. “He rubbed my face in the beets, kicked me into a muddy puddle, stuffed my kilt with wet grass….
I always opened dubious gifts from Lou last, knowing well it was beets, or bits the dog had left behind. A most annoying man, Uncle Lou Gland was unkind.
What became of Uncle Tony, who was not really yours? He made his way up North, in the same manky old car, he had a hotel room above his job tending the bar. Tony’s story has been told many ways, and will be told another place and time again…few asked his name, said he was hard to get to know, ate alone before work in the booth by the window. They haled Tony as a hero the night the place went up in flames, he ran up and down the burning stairs, getting folks all safe below, then he lifted the great heavy cash register, chucked it through the window and out into the snow.
He carried on as always after the news cameras ran, drifting off to his next job, perhaps not such an annoying man. “The bravest act I can recall, performed by Uncle Lou, was taking sister Alice on to sing with his band, after Ma threw her out. They went on the road, across the U-K, her voice drowning out how poorly they would play, Alice’s pranks resonate as legend to this day. When beets cross my path still, I recall how hard I ran, from trombone playing Uncle Lou, a most annoying man, Uncle Lou was a most annoying man….