When I was nine, I had a pair of zodiac pants. They were red, white and blue, and covered in zodiac signs. They didn’t have buttons. There wasn’t a zipper. They laced up the back. They were hard to put on and hard to take off, but I loved those pants. Wore ‘em all the time.
I had a friend back then named Crystal. She lived on my street, two houses away. She loved Elvis Presley. She had tons of his albums. Her dad loved scotch. Drank it all the time.
For her birthday, Crystal's mother made a pineapple cake. It had cream cheese icing. She got a new Close-N-Play record player, too. We wore plastic leis and listened to “Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii”. Crystal loved that album. Played it all the time.
We were listening to Elvis sing “Burning Love”. Crystal's dad stormed in with a scotch in one hand. With the other, he knocked the cake off the table. The Close-N-Play too. Stormed back to the den. Never lost a drop the whole time.
We picked chunks of pineapple cake off the floor. I got cream cheese on my zodiac pants. Crystal put the Close-N-Play back on the table as if nothing had happened. The tone arm was broken and the cover was cracked. Her dad was like that all the time.
Late one night he was driving home, in the rain, drunk at the wheel. Lost control and smashed the car like a pineapple cake. Went through the guard rail and over the side.
He died with a bottle of scotch in his hand. Crystal spoke of him later as if he were a saint. I wore those pants ‘til they fell apart. You like what you like and you hate it sometimes. But what you love, you love all the time.