Friday, August 9, 2013

Hez Heck: "Someday Doad'll Be a Dad"

Today, we get a rare glimpse into the life of rustic funnyman, Hez Heck, much deeper than we've been allowed before. Taking us well beyond the quips and jokes he's so famous for. The man is more like a philosopher, at least that's what he is in the way he thinks. But he always keeps us laughing with his suspenders-snapping routine. And yet, sometimes even funnymen cry; sometimes even philosophers are stymied, both in their understanding of life overall and in the common, everyday things that all of us know.

But we're going to keep this on the up and up, with no crying. Because that's not what we're here for. We seek only the joy of laughter. But we know -- we have to know -- there are those times when a good old fashioned cry does a body some good. You're convulsing, basically, your body involuntarily taking over, with a big old knot in your throat at times, and there's a kind of pain in your chest, like something's trying to bust out, claw its way out. It shakes you up something fierce. You think, "Am I dying?" When, no, the answer is, you're just bummed out.

Hez Heck thinks about the future ... at times, with all that means. The big, vast, immense, looming future. But he's not always thinking only about himself, because he gets by, he's done all right. Instead, Hez thinks of the future coming for his nephew Doad, whom he's partly half-raising, since he was half-raised already when Hez took him in, and "partly" because Doad'll never be----- ... Doad is Doad. The boy's ... something ... of a glum specimen, in certain ways. That loose board in the chicken shed's hit him a time or two too many. And yet he is growing up before Hez's eyes. Soon Doad'll be a man, soon Doad'll be a dad, and soon Doad'll be everything else Doad'll be ... like it or not.

When Doad's a man, he's going have to face the same kinds of challenges Hez has faced. Like being the one to put a new screen in the door when the kids rip it open. It'll be Doad that'll have to kiss his son's or daughter's mosquito bites away. It'll be Doad that'll have to chase 'em over the hills, bringing them home. And it'll be Doad that'll have to keep the old truck going. The thing's been in the family for generations. They treat trucks here like Cubans treat cars, lots of maintenance for decades of reliability. They pass them down. And if there's a generation when there's no sons, the trucks stay in the barn, and they wait till they get one.

Hez thinks, "Someday, by cracky, it'll be Doad that'll be wearin' one of these beards, and shirts, and suspenders." In every respect, Doad'll be a man. So -- and this is embarrassing -- Hez thinks maybe it really is the right time to tell Doad about the birds and the bees. That's Ma's idea, and Hez said he'd get around to it. After all, it's mostly natural, and the parts that are confusing, if you just feel around, finally you get it.

Hez pulls Doad aside, and launches right into the main attack. "Doad, someday you'll be a man." Doad answers, "Yeah." They pause. "Someday you'll be a dad." "Yeah." Hez lets that sink in. "And that old truck'll be yours." "Yeah." Hez waits to see how that registers. "And you'll be the man in charge." "Yeah."

The older uncle wonders about Doad's understanding. Doad seemed to take it all in without flinching in the slightest. "You understand everything I said, Doad?" "Yeah." But Hez is wondering, so he runs a little test. "You think you need to hear it all again?" "Yeah." "Is all this going out one ear and in the other?" turning around the phrase as only a funnyman like Hez can do. "Yeah," says Doad, blithely.

"OK, son," Hez says, "Go play." Doad answers, "Yeah." Hez sees it's an interesting case. Doad's glazed over. Hez leads him to the door and points outside. Then helps him out the door and down the stairs. Hez withdraws and watches Doad finally catch a whiff of country air. His head seems to be clearing. Then, in an instant, Doad is gone like a shot up the hills and down the other holler. Hez thinks, "He'll just have to get it the natural way, whatever he hears behind the barn, and the rest, feelin' his way. It's never hurt no one yet."

Ma comes in, thinking she heard voices, and that their time together was very short, especially if they'd been talking about what she figured they ought to be talking about, looking back on it being her idea about the birds and bees. Where is that boy? "You been talkin' to Doad." Hez says, "Yeah." "Think he's got it?" she wonders. "Yeah." "Is he gone?" "Yeah." "Are you all right?" "Yeah."

Ma wonders, "Can't you just spit it out and tell me more 'n that? What's that boy up to, anyway?" Hez's answer, "No good."

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