|Part I - Cabbage
"What's your blood type?" Yanwu asks me.
"I don't know." I tell her.
"You don't know?!" she says, "Why not?"
"It's never been an issue," I explain, "I mean, I know the
information's there with my doctor, but I've never bothered
to memorize it. Why do you ask?"
"In China," she says, "we believe a people are like their blood
type. Type O persons are like a castle. Hard to get inside, but
once there it is very nice, comforting, protective. Type A person
is like a Japanese house. Open, accessible, easy to enter, but
inside are secret and hidden. Type B person is also like Japanese
house which is open and easy only this time inside is not so
complicated, things are readily seen."
"And what about the type AB?" I ask her.
"They are the puzzle," she says, "doors are locked and
there's nothing inside."
"That's pretty interesting. Your blood as it flows through
your body, characterized by genetically specific distinctions, determines
your personality. A kind of biological superstition. Makes some sense,
but what is the biology of it?" I ask.
"It's simple," she says, "Type A has antibodies against type B and
visa-versa, type O has antibodies against both, and type AB does
not have antibodies against either. You see, it's important to know
your blood type in case you need a transfusion, and so that you
which persons you're compatible with. The Chinese are primarily
type B, going back to the Mongols, and Europeans are mostly type A.
What type do you think you are?"
"Well, at home, I'd say I'm a B person, but at work I must be AB."
Yanwu and I were at Lydia's high school when she explained all this.
We had watched Lydia's swim meet, and we were waiting for her to come
out of the locker room and give us her gym bag before she went with
the other girls to assemble for the homecoming parade. The girls swim
team was planning to ride on the back of two convertibles, tops down,
wearing tie-dyed t-shirts and spangles in their hair. They plan to
be the "Barbie girls, living in a Barbie world" swim troupe.
"What is homecoming?" asks Yanwu.
"In the fall it's one of the popular american rituals of high
school and college," I tell her. "The school plays its first
football game and many former students come home to watch.
There's a king and a queen. The school band plays music at the
game, and of course there's the parade, with the band and floats,
cheerleaders and the football team."
"Sounds interesting," she says, "but why do you think you're
type AB at work? I never noticed that."
"Well at work because I'm, uhm, boss, I have to present myself
differently you know. I've learned over the years that I can't be
too friendly, or too open the way I would in normal circumstances,
or in the end the people working with me begin to misunderstand
what my intentions are. It makes things very confusing sometimes."
"I see," she says, "when's the parade?"
"Any minute now," I tell her.
Part II - Greasewood Flat: "Get outta
"I should be there in about fifteen minutes," I tell J. "I'm giving
Lydia your cell number. I haven't heard from her yet and she's not
picking up her cell. The kids are at the homecoming football game,
then there's the dance, and food somewhere afterwards, so put your
phone on vibrate and if she calls we'll be able to answer it."
"Hurry up," he says, "the movie started already. The director's here
with one of the actresses. E. and I have saved you a seat."
As I walk into the cavernous main theatre at the EGG where it's opening
night for the Empire State Film Festival, it's dark but I can see that
the 900 seats are almost empty, pretty much like the stadium where
homecoming game is being played.
"Oh dad, we don't care about that," Lydia told me, "we're not there
the game or the crowd. It's just chillin' with our friends, walking
"Sure," I said.
In the dark, as I try not to fall down the stairs, I can just make out
J. and E. in the fifth row, surrounded by empty seats. They've saved
me a seat, right between them.
"Hey, what'd I miss?" I ask them. "You got your phone on?"
"Sure," says J.
"Jay, you explain," says E. "I'm watching the movie."
"O.K.," says J. "You see that tall, skinny, scruffy Jack Sprat guy
with the bloody lip? He's just moved home after a failed attempt at
making it as a louche-lounge singer in L.A."
"Not the L.A. I remember, Jay," says E.
"Anyhow," continues J. "he was working a lesbian club there with his
chubby bongo-drumming partner. They had an act called "Jack, Alan and
Bill" doing a kind of talking-blues with bongo backbeat, just the two
of them, but the girls there didn't like them much, heckling, shouting
and cussing them out. It's kinda like an all girl biker bar and he's
doing sensitive beat-poetry stuff in a bluesy sort of way. Finally
one of the biggest dykes pulls him off the stage, takes him outside
and beats him up. Jack and Bill toss their stuff in the back of
Jack's Volkswagen Beetle and head east, back to their hometown.
Jack needs to go home, his mother's terminally ill, his sister's running
the family drive-in by herself while raising her teenage daughter,
needs a kidney transplant by the way, and they're trying to find enough
money to keep the business going and pay for the daughter's operation."
"Why's he bleeding?" I ask.
"He just got beat up, again." says E.
"They don't seem to like his sensitive type back home, either," says
"He can't seem to stay out of trouble, and Bill's no help. The business
failing because of the McDonald's that moved in across the street.
drive-in restaurant with roller-skating waitresses can't compete with
Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets. Even though they combine the classic
tray on the car window with music on your car radio, like at the drive-in
"You know, when you go to the drive-in now, instead of hanging the speaker
on your car window, you just tune into the bottom end of the FM dial
pick up the movie soundtrack on your car radio. If you've got a good
then you get full stereo surround sound," says E.
"Oops," says J. handing me his cell phone. "It's vibrating."
"Lydia," I whisper, "is that you? Where are you?"
All four people down a few rows in front of us turn around, glaring.
I hand the phone back to J.
“Watch it,” says J. “that’s the director, the starlet and the two
festival organizers up there.”
"Thanks," I tell him, "the game's over. They're at the dance now. What'd
"They're going to have to sell the horse," says E.
"What horse?" I ask her.
"Not a horse," says J. "the house. They can't make the mortgage payments
on the house and the drive-in, so the sister's going to sell the house
and they'll all move into her girlfriend, the short-order cook's, trailer.
You see, the girlfriend lost her husband, they'd only been married
in Desert Storm, and the sister's husband left after he caught his
and the cook in bed wearing nothing but thongs. 'I'm outta here!' he
shouted, and never came back."
"How they all gonna fit in one trailer?" I ask.
"The girls will manage," says E. "and the guys are going to sleep in
the Volkswagen Beetle."
"That's cozy," I reply.
Meanwhile Jack's been dreaming up ideas about how to change the restaurant
and get back the business they're losing to the McDonalds.
"Now," he asks Bill, "what they got that we don't?"
"Good food?" says Bill.
"But, what do we got that they don't?" asks Jack.
"Music?" says Bill.
"Right," replies Jack, "but we've got to change it. People don't seem
care too much about that county-western shit my sister's been programming.
It's kinda like muzak for cowboys. Too much twang and no wang-doodle."
"Uh-huh," says Bill.
"So, I'm thinkin', we rename the place. "Jumpin-Jack's Flash" is so
don't you think?" asks Jack.
"Yep." says Bill.
"So we do a makeover," says Jack. "I'm thinkin' "Coyote Ugly"."
"You know, like the movie. We pump up the volume. Move to 90's music.
We get my sister and her kid to wear skimpy costumes, those shorts
alot of ass, tight halter tops, fishnet stockings to go with the rollerblades,
maybe we chrome the wheels?"
"Yeah, but isn't that like, all LeAnn Rimes shit?" says Bill.
"Sure, but there's also The Charlie Daniels Band, "The Devil Went Down
to Georgia" and Rare Blend's "Boom Boom Boom"," says Jack.
"I'm cool." says Bill, "When do we start?"
"First we gotta raise some money," says Jack. "I think we're going to
have to sell the horse."
"I thought they already sold the house," says Bill.
"No, you idiot," says Jack, "not the house, the horse."
"Oh," says Bill.
"Here," says J. handing me his cell phone, "It's buzzing again."
"Lydia?" I whisper, "where are you?"
The people up front turn around again. I decide to go upstairs to
the lobby for this phone call.
"Lydia, hold on for a moment."
In the lobby I run into a voluptuous blonde standing by
herself in the deserted space. Literally I run right up against
her as I'm talking on the phone.
"Oh! Excuse me!" I tell her.
"Say, aren't you the actress in the movie?"
"Actually, I'm Susan, the director. Nice bumping into you
though, or you me, actually. What's your name?"
"Uh, Galligan, Jan Galligan," I tell her.
"And what do you do around here, Galligan?"
"I run a website, 75Grand.com," I tell her, hanging up the phone.
"Though at the moment, I'm caught up in a dilemma with my daughter
"Lydia's in high school," I tell her, "today's homecoming, she's
on the swim team and they went to the game and then the dance and
now she's at a drive-in on Central Avenue, the "Kurver Kreme" and
she's in a car with a bunch of her girlfriends and they're surrounded
by a gang of boys from Troy high school who are taunting them, calling
them names, threatening them... I've gotta go try to help her out."
"By all means," she replies.
"Say, before I go, can I get your autograph?"
"Here, on this movie rating form. If you autograph it for me, I'll
give you all 10's," I tell her.
"By all means," she replies, taking out her pen. "Where should I sign?"
"Right here," I tell her, pointing to the "Comments" box. "By the
way, how does your movie end?"
"The grandmother dies," she explains, signing her name on the form,
the sister and brother inherit a stash of money she had saved for
them as a secret legacy. They drop a bundle on the drive-in, a total
make-over. They call the place "Unbelievable" with the EMF song as
theme song. They do the costumes, the whole nine yards. It's a smash.
The sister marries her girlfriend, they buy back the house and all
in together, Jack and Bill get the upstairs and they resurrect their
trio, "Jack, Alan and Bill" with Jack playing two parts at once. In
other words, "They all lived happily ever after.""
"Thanks! Sorry, I gotta run. See if I can rescue my daughter.
Hey... What about the horse?"
"You know, the horse. Did they sell it?"
"Yeah. But in the end, they buy it back," she explains.