Thursday, December 18, 2008

To Die On The Toilet


Since I've been getting all reflective this week (and it's a slow news week), I figure I might as well tell this story since I thought about this man for the first time in years. The man I'm going to tell you about fits the category of "hater". The type of "hater" I talked about in my post yesterday. He's not really worth a blog post and he's been dead for 29 years but, I just buried him yesterday. You see, I've been carrying him around for years as a reminder that I should be better than what he ever thought I'd be. Okay, I'll explain...

I know some of you are probably getting tired of my constant trips down memory lane but, I only tell the stories worth telling that made an impact on my life. I believe I was 12 years old and it was summertime. We have this game we play in Philly (and New York) called stickball. You take one of those rubber balls that really bounce, cut it in half, and you hit it with a broom stick, sans the straws, or an even narrower stick. This game is kind of a ghetto hybrid of softball, if you will. The way we play it, there are only two outs and two strikes. You hit the ball, run two bases, and then to home. There are probably several derivatives of the same game but, that's how we played it.

I was up to bat and I swung so hard that the stick left my hand and went through Mr. Hubertry's window. It took the entire window out! My friends ran but, he saw me and came running out of his house, understandably upset, cursing like a sailor and demanding to see my grandparents (where I was visiting).

My grandfather was a soft-spoken, easy-going man who rarely got angry but, there was an edge about him. I got the feeling that people didn't really want to chance getting him angry either. He walked down the street and Mr. Hubertry told him what I had done. I expected to really "get it" but, to my astonishment, my grandfather didn't say a word to me. He walked back to his house, came back with a tool box and some measuring tape, and measured the man's window. Then, he walked around the corner to the hardware store (or somewhere) and came back with another piece of glass for the window. He measured it, cut it with his own tools, and replaced the man's window without so much as a peep. He even swept up the broken glass and put it in the man's trash can.

All the while, this guy kept fussing and cussing to him about me. He said that I was a "young hellion" and if he didn't put a switch to me, I wasn't going to amount to anything and that I'd be dead before my 21st birthday. My grandfather looked at him and without raising his voice said, "Hubertry, I just fixed your glass with my own tools, did I not? We all even now so, why don't you do me a favor and shut the hell up!" You could have heard a pin drop... Hubertry's mouth dropped but, I think he knew not to say anything else to my grandfather. For that matter, I wasn't going to say anything else.

My grandfather and I walked home that day and he said to me, "Don't worry about that jackass. Just do me a favor, don't be what he said you were going to be. You make something out of yourself and prove him wrong." And that was all he ever said about it. All these years, I carried that with me... throughout school, in sports, pledging, job hunting, the military, marriage, fatherhood, etc. Every now and then, when I felt like giving up or when I'd actually screwed up, I thought about Mr. Hubertry and what he said. It really stung me. However, I did have the last laugh.

A few days after my 21st birthday, I took a bus from college back to Philly and I went to see my grandmother. I also wanted to see Hubertry and show him that I had indeed made it to age 21, I was a junior in college, I was a success, and that he had been wrong about me but, my grandmother informed me that I was too late. She said, "Baby, they found Mr. Hubertry in his house dead. He had been in there for two weeks, slumped on the toilet. He had a heart attack." I said, "You have to have a heart to have a heart attack, Nana." His wife had left him years before and his children never visited him. He was a miserable old man who lived by himself and who nobody liked so, when he sat on the toilet that fateful night, never to get off again, I imagine that nobody missed him too much. It was two weeks before anybody bothered to look for him... he was mummified when they found him so, they had to take him and the toilet seat out together, I heard. What a gruesome way to go. It couldn't have happened to a sweeter guy.

I was disappointed, to say the least, and I said to my grandmother... "All these years, all this time, I was staying alive just so I could show that stuttering old bastard that he was wrong and he goes and dies on the toilet. He said I wouldn't make it to 21... well, I guess we see who got the better of that argument, don't we?" She laughed and laughed and slapped her hand on the dining room table. She couldn't believe that I had taken what that man said, nearly a decade ago so seriously. She kept shaking her head and saying, "Boy, you is somethin' else. You look just like your mother when you get angry." We sat for a long time and laughed about the whole thing and she said, "Baby, I wish you had of been here, since you felt so strong about it."

Despite his end, I still carried him around, still thought about him every now and then but, a little less than before. I'm at a point in life now that I'm comfortable with myself and I'm burying all of my old demons. I finally buried Mr. Hubertry yesterday.

18 comments:

Toni said...

OMG This is hillarious!!!

Angie B. said...

ROFLMAO @ U Keith

ZACK said...

I hope you flushed him before you buried him! Yuck! His death gave new meaning to the expression: "Ain't that some sh*t"

But I think we all are carrying certain people with us. Once we let them go, that's when the healing can begin. I just hope I don't do that for 29 years. (No offense to you)

CONGRATULATIONS!

Jazzy said...

LMBAO- That is sick...Just plain sick man...lololol.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

LMAO @ Zack -"Aint that some shit"
Oh man, this title alone had me laughing...OMG..

Sunflower said...

We all carry hurtful words that other people say around with us..
But we have to "flush" the words and those people away...Okay,I couldn't help that Keith-lolol

Lisa said...

"So when he sat on the toilet that fateful night never to get off again.." After reading that, I fell out of my seat..This was too funny Keith.

James Perkins said...

Will Smith has got to play you in the movie of your life...My God, you have been involved in some funny stuff..LMAO...

Halo said...

This was a funny story but at the same time there was a sadness to it. You hide your hurt through humor quite well.

Swaggie said...

Okay...I've had my laugh for the day now...This was funny as hell..They Had to take him and the toilet seat out of the house? I know it's not funny, cause a man died and all, but if I had witnessed that..I'm sorry..I would have roared..

Vanessa said...

Keith, Keith, Keith.....You are a fool...lololololol...I've just stopped laughing....This title caught me...but this story was wild..

Tate2 said...

That is totally crazy man...wow, he died on the toilet???Man ,I hope
I don't go out that way.

Keith said...

@Tate2- I said the same thing myself ,when I heard about it.

A.Smith said...

Wow... what a story...

I think it's always good to have a story or person like that. Something or someone that is that little extra push when you're struggling to get to your next point in life. Perhaps it's better when it's a positive thing, but hey -- we get it how we can.

blackgirlinmaine said...

Dang, that was quite a way to go. LOL I like that story, definitely something you would carry around for years.

CurvyGurl said...

Wow. Glad you got this off your mind/chest.

Somebodies Friend said...

Thanks for sharing such a funny story with us Keith.

There is a few different messges in that story also.

Huberty should of learned when to keep his big mouth shut, if we all learned to do this it would keep most of us out a lot of trouble.

And just because someone makes a few mistakes, that doesn't necessarily mean they are going to be dead of in jail the rest of their life like ol' Huberty thought would happen to you!

Kofi Bofah said...

Very well written.

And I have heard of stickball before. Although we didn't play it in Maryland.




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