The Last Laugh
Gas Station Meat
Ahh, the gas station meat. The crown jewel in the pantheon of Dad's many "deal" stories. Dad loved driving around and looking for bargains. He usually found them in areas of the city where the only reason you would be there is if you were scoring crack. The merchandise was always stuff that no one wanted, never mind wanted to get a "deal" on. Which brings us to the gas station meat. We all took turns telling the tale of the bargain steaks he'd brought home once, after a trip across town in search of a cheaper tank of gas.
"I will never forget being halfway through my steak when you told us the story of how you bought them," I said, then continued in my best Dad baritone voice: "I was filling up the tank and notice this fella's got a station wagon there with the tailgate open. And the guy says, 'You want to check out my meat?' And at first I thought, 'Who is this weirdo who wants to show me his meat?'"
Dad was so proud of that dumb joke, his belly was in full force. Then the story reached its climax with each of us chiming in.
"That guy had half a cow in an old cardboard box in the back of that station wagon."
"That had come from God only knows where!"
"And Dad bought all of it!"
"For 40 bucks!"
"We were all sitting around eating black market roadkill."
Mom weighed in. "The ribs were really very good."
We swapped stories for a few more hours until the dielarity had exhausted us all.
Dielarious laughter is different than regular laughter, as it drains you of every emotion. It is an exhausting release of all the pain, fear, love, and loss that you had been holding in. If I didn't laugh, I would have spent that energy reminding myself that my life was about to change forever.
Dad's spirit was humor -- his and his family's. So ipso facto, if there was still laughter, he would continue to exist. That day, sitting in that hospital room with him and my mother and all my siblings, I wanted to laugh myself to sleep.