Speaking of Krauts

I’m almost all German. A bit of Cherokee for interest and bronzing, but the rest is undeniably driven, perfectionistic, and slightly… gosh, would likely be arrogant but for the strict Catholic upbringing in an overly-large family with little to brag about.

Still, my brother has an IQ of 200, which left the rest of us seven kids pitching and yawing about in the seas of mediocrity 50 and 60 points below. Hard to stand out in a crowd like that. My grandfather’s second, secret family are all geologists and rocket engineers in California. Us, we’re more like Prince of Tides types. Southern and sullied by shameful secrets. It’s a point of misdirected pride now that the Ya-Ya sisterhood has made it all fashionable.

Still, I wish I had been a part of my grandfather’s other west-coast family. I would have enjoyed a geekdom beyond my wildest dreams. Quantum physics and igneous rock talk at the supper table!

But here, once for kicks, I got to work in a makeshift metal foundry pounding and grinding (careful!) and finishing out bronze statues of famous Lions, working with an alcoholic artist who lived aboard a boat that he floated up from the bottom of the Bay of Slaughter. He was a shiftless sort that you just loved to invite to your parties because he was elegantly dashing and charming and had the best stories. And he would make these elaborate repasts for our lunch, replete with wine and cheeses and salads. Why yes, he did work at the local liberal arts college. How did you guess?

I made not one thin dime working for him, received no recognition from the local art community, and got very sick eating the food he served. And a bit of copper poisoning. And a twitch in my right hand that hasn’t gone away a year later.

But I can see the Shuttle launches from my balcony and dream of a different life.

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