It’s Andy Warhol, wearing a black, woolen cape, in a hamburger joint in California and chatting up a college kid. He’s being personable and seems to expect the student to pay his tab. Not that Andy Warhol isn’t good for the cash, but he isn’t sure how to go about settling the check. Should he wait for the waitress? Should he approach the counter? Hm. Up until this point no one has asked him for money. Is it because they want to give him his Coke and hamburger for free, like he has a special coupon?
Andy Warhol cocks his head. He sticks up for a local indigent vet, also in the hamburger joint, who has forgotten his money. He gets his new friend the college kid to pay for the vet’s meal. Andy Warhol has a lot of compassion for those returning from the war, or even for those who were stationed up in Alaska. Up there it’s so cold people can rarely go outdoors in the morning and enjoy cappuccino and talk with friends. He and the vet take a picture together. Andy Warhol’s regular entourage is unable to film the encounter because they are at the Amish market taking part in cheese-making.
Andy Warhol takes his stuffed lion out for a walk. No one stops him to make dumb cracks about Pittsburgh, his hometown. He rests in the town park on a bench near a vintage statue of Theodore Roosevelt. He takes over the local newspaper, known as The Daily Trout, one hand tied behind his back, and goes fishing. Andy Warhol visits the elementary school and talks to the children about what life used to be like before we all had electricity.
Meanwhile, back in the city, when Andy Warhol is shot, there is this sudden absence. Somebody has to temporarily take Andy Warhol’s place in the lively diorama lodged in the minds of art lovers all over the world, next to other lions.
The mercury-colored cloudlike balloons Andy Warhol favors wander mote-style across his closed eyed, hidden by dark sunglasses. These are the same sunglasses donned by Andy Warhol that time he was going down the Mississippi in an old riverboat. This is the tie Andy Warhol wore when he was having lunch with Andy Griffith, who was not wearing a tie. Andy is giving Andy some sound advice about a quandary in his love life. Just ask Elvis with his cowboy gun. Time, Andy, fleeting, etcetera, etcetera.
I never played much with dolls in my twenties, or even my thirties. I had a child in my forties and sometimes then I would get into it, wheeling those babies round and round, rocking and lullabying, changing their diapers. We had a lot of cloth diapers that we’d twist around the dolls, bears, the occasional monkey. We lined up and arranged our babies on the walnut coffee table in a tangled game of solitaire.
My childhood lamb Lammy gazed down with her smudged, plastic smile, down upon us from her wide-screen picture enclosure in the sky. Lammy had gotten stranded in a heated zone in attic days. Everyone can see where this is going. Our only giraffe grew bigger and bigger. We drove this surviving tall one down the street with her jangly neck jutting out the moon-roof. The town cheered, fanning us with palm fronds. The town thought we might be moving in a new aesthetic direction.
In my fifties, after years of repeated false starts, my child was really gone for good. All I’m left with is this papery snowman. His breath takes the form of an awakening. Every seventh word out of his crooked crayon mouth hails from outer space, I mean by that from a time out of time. I know the father of this effigy and it’s not Zeus.
I miss you, my warbling child.
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