Qué Será

by jkatejohnston

13 November 2013

Dear Max,

One of the rock stars came to our door to drop off some bottles and cans. He was barefoot. He told me was flying to Portland to buy a guitar. It had a year and a name. Afterward Teresa said, “I don’t know what you guys were talking about, but I heard you say “awesome” at least three times.

Speaking of the rock stars, Teresa got their CD and she said it’s good, but she likes hearing them practice better than listening to the CD, maybe because when they practice there’s more bass and less voice. And for me there’s something appealing about being around the live, steady work part of it. You don’t get that on a CD.

When we first moved here, Edith lived in that house, where she’d been for over fifty years, and we would hear her playing the piano. She sold the house for over half a million dollars at the peak of the housing bubble and moved into assisted living. Afterward we would sometimes see her driving by in her gold Cadillac, very slowly. But we haven’t seen her for a long time. I guess back then we were the nice new young people on the block.


Teresa, by way of saying goodbye to Enzo called out, “Kisses!” And he called back “Farts!”


Enzo, showing me a picture in one of his books: “Look at all these snakes! Slither Central!”


Teresa volunteers on knitting day. She told me that the knitting teacher, Mrs. Rabbits (real name), sings during knitting, and all the kids catch on, and one of her standards is: “Qué será será! Whatever will be, will be!” Teresa knows all the words because twenty-five years ago she used to go to a gay bar in Long Beach called the Qué Será, also known as the K, and every now and then the whole bar would bust out in, Qué será será! So now she’s singing it with thirty-two knitting seven-year-olds. Qué será.

Have I mentioned that now I’m knitting too? A bit reluctantly. I have roughly the same attitude as Enzo. We’re the bitter knitters.


Enzo somehow got the idea that a dozen is a very large number, similar to a google or infinity. In his mind—and this is perfectly logical—numbers that have names are big. So when we read that the world record for number of rattles on a rattlesnake is a couple dozen he said, “That’s impossible!” I explained a dozen and a couple dozen. He was unconvinced. That was last night. This morning he woke up and climbed into my lap in the dark and explained that a couple dozen is almost infinity and after infinity it comes back to zero and then it’s not that far to twelve. I explained a dozen again. And a couple dozen. “Why don’t they just say it the plain way?”


Enzo: “Next time you see a policeman tell him, tell the government, never ever ever ever trade in live animal skins. You can tell the judge. Or you can always phone call Barack Obama. He’ll get the whole trade mixed up.” He may have said wild animal skins but my note says live.


A few days ago I had a cold and I woke up with my face stuck to the pillow. I had two sores on my tongue. Then I got this cautionary tale of a haircut. Teresa and I keep trying to figure out exactly who from the seventies I look like. We both think it’s someone specific, but we’re not sure who, and of course we have no idea if we’re thinking of the same person. David Cassidy? Not quite. I finally settled on either Rod Stewart or Jane Fonda in Klute. All this by way of saying that I’m in a a generally poor condish. I told my big sister about all this and she said that a while back she had a bad cold and lice. And she wondered if it might be possible to actually die of misery and shame.