ASCII by Jason Scott

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Goodbye, Stuff —

When I was about 9 or 10, my parents were living in separate homes, newly divorced, and both took on new hobbies to try and reboot parts of their lives. In the case of my father, it was Wok cooking. That is, he was engaged in the hobby of cooking various meat and vegetable dishes in a huge bowl that had oil in it, using wooden tools.

This meant that he had the bowl, the oil, the tools, and the cookbooks, and the fridge had a bunch of meat intended for cooking.

I was supposed to be in bed, and wasn’t. It was something like 1-2 in the morning. Hungry, I looked around the fridge for something, and found a big ol’ bunch of meat under cellophane, and ate a bunch of it raw. Well, probably a handful. I noticed it was pork. It was pretty good, although I didn’t feel entirely well.

Looking for something to read, I leafed through some programming books and, more importantly, one of the wok cookbooks.

Somewhere in the beginning of the book was a warning about the handling of raw meat for the purpose of cooking. It explained how pork, raw or not cooked right, could contain diseases or parasites or a host of other bad things, and that eating such unprepared food could result in extreme sickness or death.

Bear in mind I was 10.

I concluded I was now going to die.

I was quite positive too, that sort of cold realization when you’re out of fuel or faced with a thing hurling towards you or flipping over in your car; you just know you zigged when you should have zagged, game over, man. I didn’t understand things with full clarity, but the book was pretty clear that this eating uncooked pork thing was almost certain death, and so, even though I didn’t feel particularly sick or dying, I obviously was never going to wake up again.

Death’s kind of an odd thing to a 10 year old; at the time I just considered it a lost chance, a kind of ended trip; whereas later I would just have panic attacks. At my young age, I thought I’d just really messed up and felt bad about that, disappointed I didn’t do the right thing.

I didn’t want to wake my dad, because he was generally cranky if it wasn’t something really important. I didn’t think this was important.

I knew I wasn’t going to see any of the house again, so I went around saying goodbye to all the stuff.

Goodbye, favorite radio on the little cart. Goodbye, cool fireplace with the air-blower that could blow heat into the room. Goodbye, really cool hutch with little doors I liked opening and closing and trying to understand all the weird silver serving utensils in it.

Stuff has always meant a lot to me; still does, if I think about it. Stuff I collected, stuff I was near, stuff I did other stuff with. I read recently about people having stronger emotional connection to objects rather than people, but that wasn’t the case with me. Although, I should note, there was a lamp fixture that absolutely fucking terrified me and caused me never to go to one part of my home, and there was a specific sink I thought disapproved of me.

I knew I was going to miss the stuff, and I was going to miss my dad, and all over eating the wrong thing. A real shame.

I went to bed, sorry for screwing up, hoping my dad wouldn’t be mad, waiting to die.

Since then, I’ve been trying to make the most of my second chance.

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