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January 4, 2022

Old Ass Soul

S.S. MandaniĀ 

Old Asshole lives where the sidewalk ends. It'll be a hot Florida day. You'll decide you want to go for the longest bike ride of your life. When all's said and done, you log 28.3 miles, lugging your mountain bike on the paved roads of painful suburbia. Not a long stretch of road for any serious biker, but you're not a serious biker. You're a putz with a non-putz of a grandfather who gave you $143 (i love you money) to buy a secondhand bike. And you bought a mountain bike. In Florida. In Orlando, Florida. Plus, it's a hundred and five degrees on the heat index. You look like you went for a swim. So you swim in the air, afloat in the wind, past the middle school, across the jammed intersection, through the gated communities where Woods lost to life and Shaq won his, around the bend by the docks overlooking the dove white Church atop the hilliest hill, into the quaint Main St. town with the trinket and toffee shops, along mansion row's empty homes, down the dirt road to wave at the library, Spanish moss swaying in the hot breeze overhead, and the long sidewalk along the perimeter of the forgotten graveyard, leading to nowhere but a bungalow at the end of the road, and that asshole tree. They call it Old Asshole because it's the reason the sidewalk ends. You see a small bronze plaque at its base that reads



Instead of growing up it grew out. Its gray hair flows down to flirt with uncut grass. Long, sprawling bones. Takes up the yard, overshadowing the bungalow, engulfed in its hug. A branch, a few feet off the ground, has a little nook, perfect for sitting, so you sit. Dropping the bike, you drop yourself into the tree, like a puzzle piece, arms resting on either side, trusting the armchair of nature, letting yourself fade into its shade old ass soul.

Every few years, you visit the tree, its branches hover and chart their own rivers through the space and time of the bungalow’s front yard. Until finally, you’re the old ass soul, yelling at the neighborhood kids littering on the lawn. And you sit there with your friend wondering how long they will let it all live.