Our parents’ divorce meant the Brothers Bogart saw their father but every other weekend. He was selling on the road back then, but came in late Fridays and returned us on Sundays, and took lodging with his mother (Grandma Bogart). These were simpler times, and frankly, I don’t think it ever really bothered me when we shifted to Cleveland Heights twice per month. A vacation of sorts, it was a respite, in a way. (At least for me. In all these years, I never really asked H how he felt).

Aunt Helen, of course, lived there. And when our Dad came to town and his boys came to stay, quite often our Mom was nice enough to let Adam come with us. Not that our grandmother was so thrilled about it, but — except for when the sheltie would playfully sniff at her — she was fine.

“Albert, what is he doing?” she’d ask timidly. “Tell him to go away.”

It was fun, though … and pure … and family.

Ed. Note 1: I mention “family” specifically. When our Dad first moved out, he was in the final downward spiral of his insurance sales career. Still in town, he’d cut a monthly deal at the Hillcrest Motel, inconveniently located at Richmond and Euclid. ‘Twas there that we stayed. (And NO, I don’t want to know how he found that place)!

The spot wasn’t as far away as it sounded, actually. We used to play ball at Negrelli Field on South Euclid’s northern tip. Dreidling through side streets in our father’s Plymouth Valiant, why it took but minutes to emerge down on Euclid. Not a big deal, to be sure, but with the outdoor pool (and a father that didn’t swim), well …

Grandma Bogarts’, however, offered a semblance of home: a renewal, a gentrification, if you will, of our fallen family. It was family.

There were the four of us (with Adam at times) upstairs in a two-bedroom walk-up. Grandma had her bedroom; our aunt had hers; and the three of us — a father and his boys? On a “studio couch” we slept…on a “fold out”… as a trio…our Dad in the middle with a son on each wing … wishing and hoping that in the course of the night our father (who moved around in his sleep), wouldn’t kick the middle third of the mattress out the window.

It was 1965, and the bedding— old, ugly, and a putrid burnt yellow — was awkward and inconvenient, and yet still warm, and fuzzy.

In a heartbeat, it seems, a half century passed.

I’m getting married this August. On the first, to be exact, once Shabbos concludes. Being the second time around, of course, there’ll be little in the way of pomp and circumstance. And still…I don’t want to see her that day — not before the wedding. Let the pulse of the day build through anticipation!

Extraordinary times clearly call for extraordinary measures: thinking outside the box, perhaps, or through the rear view mirror.

Ten days from now I’ll be a day from my wedding. Ten days from now, for the last time after twenty years, I’ll retire unmarried.

What to do? How shall I spend my last night single? What would be fun? Right? Appropriate?

Ten nights from now I will pick up my aunt. It won’t be for shopping or even for banking.

Ten nights from now we’ll pick up my brother and drive on to shul. For services…at Park Synagogue … our father’s yahrtzeit.

— And ten nights from now…after dinner, and after services, we’ll head back to Aunt Helen’s…

To sleep on a couch that is still old, and still a putrid yellow.

It will be family though, and on the thirtieth anniversary of my father’s death, the thought of snoozing on the same couch I shared with him lo those many years ago is … well …

warm and fuzzy.

One Response to “THREE ON A COUCH”

  1. Stacy says:

    You could spend it with your daughter!

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