Point of View: Good to Go

Cleansed, ready to begin anew

“You’re good to go,” my dentist, Perry Silver, said after cleaning my teeth.

“That’s what I said yesterday to Mary after we had the cesspool pumped,” I said. 

I don’t know, there’s something about the way you feel after you’ve had your cesspool pumped — cleansed, ready to begin anew. 

I’ve been reading Jung lately, about the unconscious and its repressed contents that we ought to face if we really want to know ourselves, and there before me, once the cover had been pried off and we were peering down, was the unconscious metaphorically speaking. 

“Not bad,” the pumper said. I gloried in his words. “Not bad, that’s good,” I said. 

My daughter was coming, that was one thing that prompted me — an avoider as well as a voider — to take action. I didn’t want a repeat of what had happened just prior to a festive dinner out there in Ohio, a root-caused massive cloacal contraction that cast us to the winds — Emily, Anderson, and the kids going to his parents’ house for the night, and Mary and I to his brother’s down the street, which was unoccupied that weekend.

Mary loved it that Todd’s house was so neat, so uncluttered. “Is he an architect? An engineer?” I asked. At any rate, its sleekness was the polar opposite of ours, whose dark living room with its raggedy books, sideboard, knife boxes (so the servants couldn’t steal the knives), velvet love seat, and dining room table that can be folded up against the wall when you’re having guests over for champagne, gavottes, and quadrilles is more 18th century than 21st.

Emily wants us to open and brighten it up, to consciously face our collective mess by ridding ourselves of the ratty oriental rug, by painting the classic burgundy window trim white (maybe Anderson will get to that when he visits next week), by replacing the three-cushion Jennifer convertible couches with one or ones more conducive to conversation, and by putting the plasma TV up over the fireplace, which we won’t do because that’s where Billy Hofmann’s beautiful painting “Louse Point,” with its moody allusion to the collective unconscious, is. We never tire of it. I’m glad I told him so once at One-Stop.

A founder of the Maidstoners softball team, the other being Dan Christensen, Billy, who could also pivot neatly in turning a double play, used to say he presumed Thoreau was my guide, and that if he wasn’t, he should be. This morning, in a review of a new biography of him by Laura Dassow Walls, I read that he once said, “Surely joy is the condition of life!”

He’s batting 1.000 in my book then.

But back to the unconscious, I dreamed the other night that my late stepfather was maniacally at the wheel of a car in which I and my mother were captive passengers. He was careening down the street toward a bank — we couldn’t stop him — and, as we feared, smashed the car right into it. A shot rang out.

I’ll admit it was puzzling, until I remembered that my basketball-playing grandchildren were on their way here and that they had great bank shots. Voila. Don’t talk to me about the unexamined life.