12% BEER
I Think I'm Living With Corky
  Sometimes I think that my boyfriend might be, well, you know, retarded. And I hate using the word "retarded" because I was raised to say "mentally handicapped" but in this case, retarded just seems to fit in all of the right places.

My boyfriend is retarded.

Poor Lipman. He means well. He really does. And he's not retarded all the time. Just some of the time.

Reason why I'm bringing this up:

He almost burnt our house down over the weekend. Down. To the ground.

Like I mentioned before, we're slowly getting our white trash decor on what with the new set up of the 40 gallon aquarium. After going to various aquarium shops around town, Lipman decided that there was no way we were going to lay down $30 for store bought wood when there's perfectly fine free wood all throughout the city of Austin that would suit us just fine.

After convincing me that this was the right way to do things, I found myself in a dried up creek bed collecting rocks and debating what type of root structure our piece of wood should have.

I admit. I had fun. It was like going on a treasure hunt, except a really crappy treasure hunt that requires you to find common things like "rocks" and "sticks" and "barking dogs."

Back at home Lipman got right into setting up and preparing our new finds for the aquarium. I had taken a position on the couch to make my mind memorize 6 pages of lines for the next show.

I watch as Lipman washes rocks out in our bathtub. I quietly smile as he mutters under his breath "we just have to have the right rockscape or it will all be ruined.... ruined I tell you."

He's sometimes very cute. For a retard.

Finally we go to bed.

I'm completely zonked out when suddenly I hear this shrill beeping. At first I thought it was my alarm clock and hit snooze a couple times until I realized that I'm not an idiot or the type of person who would actually set an alarm clock to wake up early on a Sunday morning.

Lipman sits up next to me. I'm having trouble opening my eyes, or so I thought because everything in the bed room seemed foggy.

"Oh SHIT.," I hear Lipman shout as he jumps out of bed and runs to the kitchen.

That's when I realized that our bedroom was engulfed in smoke. When Lipman opens the bedroom door, I can see that the kitchen is filled with even more smoke.

I didn't know if I should drop to my knees and start crawling to the nearest door or start collecting all the things I didn't want to burn down in the house with, ie. my Chuck Taylors, pictures of the family, the Nintendo NES we borrowed from the neighbors.

I look to see if I can make out what Lipman is doing. I can see through the smoke and watch as he grabs a pot that was on top of the stove and runs out the door with it. When I looked closer, the pot had a giant piece of wood in it.

We opened up all of the windows and doors and turned on the fans.

"What the fuck caught on fire?," I asked.

Lipman was quiet and kept himself busy trying to keep open the windows that refused to cooperate. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to breathe. Everytime I take a breath, I get a flashback to when I was forced to go camping with my Brownies troop and inhaled massive amounts of smoke because the troop leader burned wet leaves to get the fire started. (It wasn't a very good Brownies troop.)

Lipman stomps back to the bedroom and gets back in bed. By this point, there's only a small amount of smoke left in the house. I crawl in next to him and plant my face next to the window screen to suck in air that doesn't taste like beef jerky.

I asked again, "What set on fire?"

Lipman replied, "I left the stove on."

Well, that's a simple mistake, I figure. I've left a curling iron on before. It's normal to forget about things.

I slept like crap that night. Trying to breathe was a bitch and I was freaking myself out thinking that I was getting carbon monoxide poisoning. I kept debating the benefits of going outside to sleep in the car.. but it was cold out and I didn't have on any pants.

When I woke up, Lipman was already puttering around the aquarium.

"I'm sorry about last night, ba-abe.," he said. "I didn't know that was going to happen."

"Well shit, Lipman. You know, you just have to be careful. You gotta remember when you turn the gas stove on thatyou have to turn it off. It could have burned the house down."

"Oh, I knew the stove was on, Buntee."

I had only been awake for about two minutes, so it took me awhile to understand.

"You- meant to leave the gas stove burner going?"

"Yeah, I was boiling the wood. That aquarium book thing that we got said to boil the wood for about 8 hours to get all of the bacteria out of it."

I was floored. I didn't know what to think. I immeadiately thought, "If I have a child with this guy he's going to accidentally feed it rusty nails because he read that iron is good for kids."

"Wait- I don't understand. You were boiling wood and were just going to leave that huge log in the pot in boiling water overnight?"

"Yeah. That's what the book said."

"Did the book mention anything about it being fucking stupid as hell to go to sleep with a boiling pot of water over a gas light?"

"No...... no it didn't say anything like that. I put alot of water in there, I didn't think it would evaporate so quickly. It must have all steamed out in under 4 hours. That's why the wood caught on fire.."

I didn't know what to say. All I knew was that I was angry as hell, tired, confused that I hadn't ever noticed the possibility that Lipman might be retarded, and noticed that everything in our house now smelled like camping.

"Jesus Crist, Lipman. You meant to leave the stove on? You meant to leave it on?"

"Yeah.. to get the bacteria out of the wood for the tank."

"Holy shit. What the hell were you thinking? Jesus Christ. You could have burnt the entire house down!"

Lipman suddenly looked like an eight year-old boy. His eyes were all big and he was looking at me like I was his Mom.

"Do you want to hit me?," he asked. "It'll make you feel better."


"Lipman, no. I don't hit people. Hitting doesn't make me feel better, it makes me feel worse. I'm just so... well.. I'm just upset. I don't know what to think.. you know, because you're a smart guy, but sometimes it blows me away that you lack common sense sometimes."

Silence. Lipman looked like I had hit him right across the face.

"I'm sorry. Buntee. I am. I wasn't trying to burn the house down. You want me to make you some breakfast tacos? I'll make some breakfast tacos for you."

I was still upset. I was trying to let it go, but man, this was just eating at me.

Lipman noticed I wasn't responding. "Do you not want tacos?"


"You think I'm retarded don't you?"

Yes, I do.

"No, I don't think you're retarded, Lipman."

"Yes you do. You think I'm retarded."

Why aren't you wearing your helmet?

"No, I don't. I don't think you're retarded, I'm just .. you know.. I can't-"


Jesus Christ, that's exactly what I was thinking.

"Don't make fun of retarded people.," I said with as straight a face as I could muster. "They're wonderful people."


Dammit. He was breaking through. He was making ground. I could feel my lips want to smile. He was making up for being such a retard by being a retard.

I had to stop it. He obviously didn't know how upset I was. And besides, it's wrong to make fun of people with mental retardation. They're wonderful people.

"You can't make breakfast tacos with those eggs. They're too old."

Lipman stopped. He grabbed his keys and said, "Okay. I'll go get some new ones. I'm sorry Buntee. I didn't mean to burn down the house."

I said, "I know," and walked to the bathroom to take a bath.

When I heard the door shut and the car pull away, I laughed. A loud, bursting sort of laugh.

That Lipman. He is such a retard. He is such a stupid guy sometimes. But he doesn't mean to be. He just can't help it.

Lipmans are wonderful people.

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Copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 L.Leroy