Dear Grandpa

Dear Grandpa,

Have you ever experienced anything like what is going on in the world today? It all feels just so overwhelming. The world must be crazier today than it has ever been – what with COVID, Trump’s political legacy, Trump’s minions, the doomsday glacier melting faster every day, and on and on and on. How do you deal with these stressful times? I’m sure you’ve been through more than a few.

A concerned young person

To a concerned young person,

It’s currently 4:45am. I’ve been up since 3:53am, but I’m still on the shitbox (the jon/the powder room/toilet). The urge, nay, the longing to urinate radiates throughout every organ and appendage in my body. It just won’t come out no matter what I do. I’ve read that sitting down relaxes the necessary muscles and valves. Just one quick moment of rest and self care is purportedly the easiest way to expunge yesterday’s whiskey. But ain’t that internet advice for you? Gets you sitting on the porcelain throne for an hour in the middle of the night awaiting relief. You’re not the only one who needs to stop scrolling, kid. This is what happens when you get old: you have a lot of shit to worry about.

Concerned? Of course I’m concerned. I’m always concerned. You want to know how I deal with it? I suggest you be full on neurotic at all times. Get your concern out there and into the world, make a fuss. Moan, audibly, when the person in front of you at the grocery store holds up the line through no fault of their own. Immediately clean every dish, cup, utensil, and counter surface right after use and make sure to do it in a way that draws as much attention to the work you are doing as possible so other people in your general vicinity take notice. Go ahead and send, at the very least, two articles with random information on safety hazards to your family’s group chat.

These are unfortunate truths: massive glaciers are disappearing, a deadly respiratory virus will most certainly and consistently mutate to remain endemic, and a narcissistic rodeo clown who’s overdone it with the orange make-up has started a fascist political movement. But, besides that, there’s even worse stuff going on if you ask me.

Do you want to know what I saw last summer? There were some kids swimming in the run off creek by the biking trail near my house after a big thunderstorm. There are signs warning everyone to take heed of what’s in that run off. The smell pleads with your nose to take notice of its presence. It’s poop water. I can even sometimes smell it when I’m on my back porch.

Those kids were having themselves a good old time. Laughing, yelling gleefully with mouths open as they splashed the tainted water in each other’s faces. How did they not know? Why did they not heed the warnings? Or did they just not care? Sure, these questions apply to COVID or any other issue you mentioned. I think it’s important you always ask them – particularly about something like this.

The memory of those kids soaking in the run off has been lingering with me for months. It has been shadowing the general hellish landscape of the outside world for me. This scene, and these kids, are the future of humanity – so ignorant and so blind. They aren’t even aware of what they’ve done to themselves or their friends as an old man looks on watching them swim in feces from afar.

I wish this weren’t the case but I have to be honest: I think, unfortunately, those kids are the best thing humanity’s got. They’re the varsity squad. I’m not saying the future of civilization is screwed but if you can’t handle finding a proper swimming hole, then you’ve got to at least wonder.

But that’s not the only thing I’ve been thinking about since last summer. There’s more to the story. Where does the poop even go after the run off and what are the consequences of that travel? I did a little bit of research and it turns out the run off creek leads directly to the river. The river is used for many recreational things – fishing, swimming, boating, etc. But it just so happens that this river is also a source of my town’s water.

Obviously, I’m no dummy, I know there’s a water treatment process. I know there’s a filtration and disinfection stage. But as I said, you might as well go full on neurotic. My very own drinking water that I have been drinking for 30 years without a care contains microscopic amounts of excrement. Many kinds, I’m sure of it. There is no way they can catch everything. Call me old fashioned but I just don’t believe in the efficacy of water treatment. And given how much water I drink, the probability is quite high that I may have even ingested my own excrement at various points in my life – albeit in microscopic fashion. Here I was, blinded too.

It stands to reason there’s a chance that I may have just expelled a piece of excrement from my body for a second time as I finish up my morning routine. What a thought to start the day, right? These are the things I think about. These are the problems I can solve. I know it may sound crazy but it relaxes me to contrive scenarios that are based on delusions and fears. It gives me something to do and, maybe, it could give you something to do too.

I think it’s pretty obvious people need to freak out a little bit more.

Take it slow and easy,

**Did you like “Dear Grandpa”? Send your own letter to Grandpa through the author’s website. Visit the Contact page and send Grandpa a message. Please note the thoughts and opinons expressed in this piece are Grandpa’s alone.**

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