Grin & Bear It

Grin & Bear It

I don’t know why I hated houses so much. Maybe they reminded me of the house I never had, the house I didn’t grow up in. I never met my dad, and mom kicked the bucket when I was three. My grandparents, her folks, took us in. My brother was barely born, an infant. We were raised at Grin & Bear It, a nudist community near San Jacinto, outside of Palm Springs. I know what yer thinking- all those tits and bush. And hairy backs, dangling balls. But I was a kid. I didn’t see people that way.

Still don’t.

I’m in San Francisco now, staying in the Mission. Got a friend with a Ford F-150 who lets me sleep in the back. Today we worked on a new house, one of those massive McMansions near Mt. Diablo. I guess its ironic. I build houses, make custom furniture. All these jobs that have to do with homes. And I don’t live in one.

I mean, what’s in a house, anyway? We build these huge shells, eventually filled by people who are rarely home. Instead, they take extended vacations to places like Costa Rica or Fiji, heliski on back bowls of Whistler, scuba in Aruba. I don’t get it!

And don’t get me started on the whole “ownership” aspect. In my book it’s over-rated. My friend Trent with the truck says it’s the American Dream embedded, (micro-chipped was his word) into our culture. I say it’s the American misnomer.

My brother asks me, “But don’t you miss living somewhere, like a neighborhood? With neighbors and all?”

I say, “Are you crazy?” Most folks I know hate their neighbors. I work with this dude from New York, lived in one of those high-risers, hundreds of residents crammed into a building. Ten years. Never knew a single one.

Recently I got a P.O. Box so Gran and Gramps won’t worry. They send postcards from Grin & Bear It about once a week. Usually get some resident to scribble some sweet message” “How’s it hanging?” or “Free to be, you and me.” That sort of stuff.

And I got things covered- my membership at the health club on Market Street provides health and cleanliness benefits.

Plus, I don’t have to answer to anyone. Works for me.

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About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, published author, editor, and workshop leader, his poems and fiction are widely found in over 500 print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Connotation Press, BlazeVOX, Thrice, Literary Orphans and Smokelong Quarterly. He is Managing Editor at (b)OINK magazine and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing. He is a six times Pushcart Prize Nominee and his fiction and poetry have won awards, including a Micro-Fiction runner-up (2012) and twice a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award (2013-14). His collections are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms); RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press), and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press).
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12 Responses to Grin & Bear It

  1. Ian says:

    Yes- America is one big cult. I love the scribbled post card messages- I get those, but from Jesus freaks who are also making vain attempts to convert.

  2. Andrea says:

    Don’t believe the hype! Be freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Unless you want a roof over your head. Don’t have too believe “the dream” but ya need a roof Blanche.

  3. david says:

    Free to be you and me… yes indeedy.. HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY.. what can I say?.. thanks for the enjoyable read…

  4. Beverly says:

    I wish I was this liberated (?) but, like Andrea, I think a roof over my head provides much security, sanity, oh I don’t know…something! But I like this character and his outlook, and I appreciate how you drew my into the story. Well done, Robert!

  5. Don says:

    I really like this one, you seem to be exploring the kind of person that I would love to know. He grew up in such a different part of society, yet the spare background about his parents is haunting. Then, he is making such interesting choices about his adult life. Hmm. Outsider possibilities? I have known some folks that are like this, but not since I was in my 20s. Very cool perspective and point of view expressed.

  6. Theo says:

    Grin & Bear It or Grin & Bare It? I got a kick out of this sketch, and can relate to lots of his rant.

  7. Shari says:

    From the comfort of my house I read this naked. Ha ha! Just kidding, you threw out some very provocative ideas here and I liked them. Still thinking about them since this morning, the first time I read through this.

  8. Dr. Crunk says:

    Poignant! Makes you wonder whether the disdain the protagonist has is for a world with pain he cannot reconcile and for which he hasn’t the skills to remedy. Beautiful twist that he works as a builder.

  9. Dez says:

    Is the protagonist someone that will eventually own a house, or rent an apartment? Or will he continue to live someplace on the street or in a garage? Homelessness takes on new meaning with this perspective, and these insights. Nicely created.

  10. Angela says:

    Beautiful and interesting and funny! I have a whole new perspective on homelessness since moving to NY…did a lot of couch jumping before I finally landed somewhere sweet. Personally…I have always loved my own roof, and my own stuff surrounding me. Love the irony of the homeless home and furniture builder. I think in his heart he would really like to build one of his own.

  11. g says:

    Love your perspective. different corners of the same room provide different views. i cant tell you how many times i would love to bolt from my leash.

    thanks for sharing

  12. Tom Froehlich says:

    Robert, not really sure where this was going. I understand the whole minimalist life thing, but wasn’t really on board. Maybe it’s because there are no relationships or dialogue which you do so well.

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