The man was sitting a little too far forward in his chair with a
slightly perplexed look on his face. His son and daughter were sitting
across from him on the sofa. The man’s wife had gone to the drug store
to pick up some medicine.
There was an odd silence in the room. Then the man — looking at
nobody in particular — said something. It was a simple, yet terrible
“This life sure has been a disappointment,” he said.
Neither the man’s son or daughter said anything. There was nothing to
say. For a seemingly endless moment, silence hung in the room.
The man was dying of cancer. Only a few days earlier, he’d gotten a
phone call from his doctor, who’d given him the news. After the doctor
had identified the disease, the man asked him for the prognosis. “In my
opinion,” the doctor had said, “you’re probably going to die from this.”
The man said in a quiet voice, “Could you please repeat what you just
said to my wife,” and handed the phone over.
Later, members of the man’s family were furious with the doctor’s
callous report. Some of them even held the opinion that the doctor’s
word had somehow sealed the man’s fate.
The doctor had given the man six months to live. Six months later, at
5:34 a.m., the man took his last breath in a small, dim-lit hospital
room. His family stood around him, some holding his hands, some just
watching. Later, the man’s son bitterly commented that though the
doctors weren’t much good at curing, they certainly were good at
There was silence in the room after the man died. Then people began
to leave. Only the man’s wife and a relative who’d flown in from the
East Coast remained, crying quietly.
Outside the room, the man’s son stood alone in the hallway. He had a
dead look in his eyes. The man’s son watched as a red-haired hospital
attendant, wheeling a stretcher, entered the room. Soon the man’s wife
and the relative from the East Coast left.
Inside the room, the red haired attendant zipped the man’s body up in
a blue plastic bag. Out in the hallway, the sound of the bag zipping up
echoed in the silent hospital halls. The man’s son watched as the red
haired attendant wheeled the stretcher with the body bag on it out into
Another moment later the attendant disappeared around a corner. Soon,
two nurses went in to clean up the man’s room. Out in the hall, the
man’s son listened to them laughing and making small talk as they
changed the bed sheets. Then he turned and walked down the hallway,
exiting the hospital and walking out into the still damp, early morning
The man who died on that morning was my father. That was 14 years ago
this week, but the memory still sits inside my stomach like a stone.
Every detail of the scene is as clear today as it was on that day. Even
now, I still avoid driving by that particular hospital building.
Yes, I remember it all. Every detail, every breath. Most of all,
though, I remember those awful words of my father’s.
This life sure has been a disappointment.
I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for saying that.
Oh, I could tell you about what a great man my father was, of how
many people loved him, how they wanted to be around him — this quiet,
sensitive man — because they felt there was something “special” about
him. I could tell you about the wonderful music he wrote, about all his
accomplishments. I could tell you all sorts of things. But the fact is,
those were his words, and he meant them. There’s no escaping it.
It’s odd though, but there was a gift in those words — words that I
hear every day of my life, and surely will for the rest of my days. And
that gift was that, at the moment my father said them, I vowed that I’d
never, ever say the same thing myself.
When my father uttered those words, it was, literally, the ending of
one phase of life — of life lived in a half-hearted, perhaps even
cowardly fashion — and the beginning of a new life. A life lived as if
each day were going to be my last.
I’m sorry, Dad. I’m sorry that you had to say those words. Most of
all, I’m sorry for whatever part I played in making them true for you.
But I also want to thank you for what you did for me.
We never spoke a lot during your life, Dad, but I know that you meant
for those words to leave their mark on me. I know that in that moment,
you passed me the ball.
Looking at it now, I see that it was — in the truest sense of the
word — a sacrifice. Pain, even humiliation, is sometimes the only way
to communicate truth. Truth that has the power to change lives. That’s
what you did for me, Dad. You gave me freedom.
I only hope that I’ll have the courage — as I go through my days —
to make the same sort of sacrifice myself. To be able to humble myself,
even in defeat, if necessary. If I can do that, then those words of
yours, and all the countless moments that led up to them, won’t have
been in vain.
GOLDMAN HOOH HAH: The Tongue is, for
the moment, dead. Buried? I’m not sure. Only time will tell. For all
those of you who’ve inquired why, all I can really say is that my heart
simply isn’t in it any longer. Our
stay active, and when our new
site opens (we expect this to happen
within the coming week), you’ll find that it will contain a plethora of
new books and videos, not to mention that it is the only site that will
put you one-on-one in touch with a private investigator or police
officer in times of need. Moreover, until “Revenge Of The Super
Snoopers” hits the stands, we’ll continue to sell
via our website. At the point of issuance of the new book, Volume 1 will be discontinued.
It will not go into reprint (or re-xerox, if you will). If you’re
interested in maintaining the complete collection, I suggest you
purchase your copy of Super Snoopers now. The Super Snoopers Special
Discount Package — which includes not only the “Big” book but the two
Super Snooper Internet Guides — is still available.
I want to thank you for all of you who’ve supported The Tongue and
cheered me on. I also want to thank all you Goldman haters. You guys
keep my fires burning. In any event, I have no doubt that all of you,
the lovers and the haters, will be checking back here each and every
week. In fact, I know you will (I don’t care what you say). Harsh
reality is all too hard to come by in this age of the Pod Person. You
want a dose of Harsh Reality? This is the place. See you turkeys next