This work copyrighted by Terry Rogers. All rights reserved.
(Originally published in MCR under a pseudonym.)
but somehow my grandfather always seemed to know when I was polishing my pole. Not matter how quietly I did it, he would always walk in on me at mid-stroke. Even late at night, when the nagging urge kept me rolling around in sleepless agony, and I fought it with all my will -- Wait till morning, wait till morning -- but I knew everyone in the house would surely be asleep, so I did it, because I just couldn't take it anymore, even then the old buzzard would catch me. Usually he liked to do a sneak-attack, knowing that if I heard him approaching I would put away the cream and jump under the covers like nothing was going on. My bedroom door would fly open and he'd yell, "Ah HA!" (My grandma was deaf as a doorknob without her hearing aid). Grandpa would have this crazy smirk on his face, shaking his chubby old finger in the air and dancing a jig like a drunken buffoon -- yes, my warped grandfather was quite thrilled to catch me in the act.
What he loved the most was that I tried to hide it; I always felt like it was weird -- perverse even -- for a kid to enjoy polishing his pole as much as I did. Grandpa let me feel that way, even though he was actually quite proud of my enthusiasm. Despite the fact that every generation of men in our family were avid pole-polishers (including my late father, who was locally notorious for his skills), Grandpa taunted me relentlessly for my embarrassment. He loved to cajole me with comments like, "Had a little difficulty sleeping last night, huh Junior?" or "Think I'd better crawl underneath the house today -- sounded like some sort of squeakin' or rubbin' goin' on last night. You hear anything, Junior?" Grandma would go, "Really? I didn't hear anything at all!"
"I don't know why you're always tryin' to hide it, boy," Grandpa finally said one day, while kneading the cramps in his side that came from the incessant laughter. "It's not like nobody else ever does it!"
"Well, sure! I mean, well, I used to -- hell, all the time! But after we been married a while your Grandma put a squash to that right quick. Yep. Said that's her job now. Well, I argued for a while, mind you -- man's got a right to polish his own pole if he wants to -- but truth be told, your Grandma's got a much better knack at it than I ever had! Uh huh, woman got some silky-smooth hands, that there Grandma of yours, Yessiree boy! Last fifty years been more or less just her little hands polishing my pole ('Give or take a few random occasions here and there, of course,' he whispered.)."
"You think I'll ever have someone to polish my pole, Grandpa? Maybe even someone as good at it as Grandma even?"
"Why sure! Of course you will, boy! All in due time, all in due time. But no sense in rushin' it son; you just keep right on enjoyin' yourself polishin' your own pole in the meantime -- it'll all work itself out in the end."
Now that I'm grown, and Grandma and Grandpa have unfortunately both passed on, I still sometimes stay up late at night, when all the other guys are asleep, and polish my pole. It's a much bigger pole now, of course, than the one I used to practice on in my room as a kid, but it still feels just as good doing it. Sometimes when I'm right in the middle of it, enjoying the glow of my pole's beautiful shininess, I begin to laugh -- I can't help picturing Grandpa going, Ah HA! I see his goofy old red face bouncing all around the room.
He was right though, my grandfather: now that I'm the Fire Chief -- just like my dad was, and my Grandpa before him -- I've got lots of people around to polish my pole for me, whenever I want. But sometimes it just doesn't come out right unless I do it myself. I still get a little embarrassed sometimes by how important it is to me to have a well-polished pole; I guess I got that from Dad and Grandpa -- they were both so into it when they were in my position. I even keep a pole at home, a short one in my room, just like the two of them did. My pole is in fact the same pole Grandma used to polish so expertly. It's always tough to explain to others why I've got it -- a brass pole going to nowhere -- sometimes I tell them it used to be Grandma's pole, but then I have to hear all kinds of crass comments that I could do without. I'm still looking for the right woman to come along, someone I can bring home and then sit back while she polishes my pole for me -- someone who's even better at it than I am -- but no such luck as of yet. Oh well. No real rush. Meantime I'm pretty happy just going at it all by myself.