The Zapata Files

LET’S OPEN the 70-year-old file cabinet and peek inside.

Oh, dear. Look at the mess, the disarray. This is not a “Father Knows Best” cabinet. There appears to be neither rhyme nor reason nor direction. The files go this way and that. Let’s take a closer look.

filesThis cabinet seems strangely familiar. I do believe it’s my personal cabinet.

There’s a whiff of Boodles Gin. And ayahuasca.

Getting out of high school at the top end of my class, I enrolled at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Thought I’d major in philosophy. Weeks later, I dropped out and joined the military. A couple of years later, with only one stripe, I dropped out of that too. Better go to college, young man, because everybody does it. A path to success.

About seven colleges and universities later (really), from Louisiana to Tennessee to California, I got a Bachelor’s Degree in History, useless but better than nothing. In the meantime, I got married, became a father.

A file is tabbed Descendants. Inside are two sub-files. One is labeled Offspring. It contains two sheets. One is rimmed in pink and says Alienated. The other is rimmed in black and says Deceased. The second sub-file is labeled Grandchildren. That file is empty — and always will be.

And here’s a file labeled Siblings. There is one sheet inside. It is rimmed in rainbow colors and trimmed like sharp teeth. It contains two words: Alienated and Angry.

Let’s open the file labeled Marriages. There are three documents. Three wives! Here’s a file labeled Employment. The entry with the most sheets is Newspapering, but I never took a newspapering class in my life. What happened to the History degree? There are other pages in Employment.

I see taxi driver, bartender, insurance broker, insurance salesman, repo man and electrician. Electrician? Where did that come from? Let’s open the file labeled Schooling. Behind the Bachelor’s Degree in History are other pages. One is an Associate Degree in Electrical Construction Technology.

Here too is a document marked Incomplete. Looks like I was one class short of an Associate Degree in Computer Science. Digging farther, I find other papers. One says Certified Massage Therapist. Another says Certified Mixologist. (No shock there.) Another says Certified Private Pilot. Clearly, I was certifiable.

I often envy people whose life had a clear and straight trajectory. But perhaps I had more fun. I hope so.

I definitely had more wives.