A N A G I N G K E L I S , Y E A R S F R O M N O W , R E F L E C T S O N A M I L K S H A K E L O N G E X P I R E D , B U T H O W T H E B O Y S , A H , T H E B O Y S R E M A I N
BY JEREMY RICHARDS
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A soft pool of light falls across a corner of the stage. Enter KELIS, slow but matronly, rubbing her arthritic hands and staring off into the distance.
KELIS: It was … how long ago? No matter. The recipe is now public domain. Bananas, vanilla ice cream, pumpkin-seed butter—yes, that was the mystic green hue, the aftertaste of autumn, the chill beyond the tongue. Despite the hubris of my youth, I honestly don’t know if my results were better. Yes, I’ve had my challengers. Is preference inherited? Is it desired? What I do know is this: the grass is flattened out with the shapes of tents, and, simply, there is no more room in my yard. So it is with regret that I ask you boys to now leave.
Go on now. Please. I can no longer tolerate your patience, and the icebox is on the fritz. Perhaps—and it sounds callous, but I don’t know your intentions—perhaps this is what you were waiting for: Raymond passed on two months ago. You know something? He was lactose intolerant. That’s true, no, that is indeed true. Shame, shame, shame.
Do I teach? What do you mean, do I … oh. Oh, no, I could never live up to that promise, either. The milkshake is not learned. The milkshake is the cultivation of a suffering given way to risk—to pick up all that remains, stuff it down with a wooden spoon, and blend. This is why no one can re-create my lure. Now that I think of it, there was also this—there was the prayer I murmured as I held down the cover and pressed that button: Lord, please make my yard a beacon, make my yard a crosshatch of clover and grace, a place where those boys gone crazy over my milkshake may come to find shade. Amen.
And they came. Yes, Daniel, you were the first one to come in search of my milkshake. Still thirsty after all these years. But I appreciate that, I do. And then there’s … oh, Lawrence, I’ll never forget when you came to my doorstep with that bouquet of plastic straws. Oh! How I blushed. Yet you, too, went without a taste. Remember how I said, I said, “Once you get involved, everyone will look this way”? I was talking about you, Clarence, and you, Mitch, and Frank, Henry, Jack, Trevor, William—all of you got involved, like it or not.
And now, like it or not, you must find another yard. You must stop drinking from the hose and climbing the poplar tree. I have stopped charging, for I never really charged in the first place, and nothing I promised was ever mine to offer. So why? Why the promises? Sometimes I’d ask myself the same thing. Sometimes I’d push my hand into the blender before the shaking was done, dangle my fingers near the blades, then stop.