Saturday, October 23, 2004

excerpt from The Bertrameister ...

Uncle Bertram was larger than life. An oversized man. Tall, with a wide frame and huge belly that started at his throat and plunged to somewhere around his thighs. He had a squared head with close cropped reddish hair and ruddy cheeks below powder blue eyes that seemed like two bullet holes in a cardboard cut-out with the sky behind it. His eyebrows floated on their own like furry little Hindenburgs and he wheezed through nose hairs thicker than English thatch. I know he wasn’t eight feet tall but as a small boy I thought so then. His legs, revealed to us several times each summer when he wore short pants - Lion Hunting Shorts, he called them - were thick and sturdy, resembling snooker table legs, except they were glaringly white with only a few orange hairs. He was given to grand gestures, and when he might lay his five-banana hand upon your shoulder, you knew his bones were hard and heavy. Everything about him was overdone. He was a grown-up Katzenjammer Kid.
He relished expansive dialogues, often told unexpurgated stories of rather inconsistent adventures that seasoned friends ceased to believe, but with which my older brother Andrew and I, were transfixed. Uncle Bertram had done everything dangerous and been everywhere exotic.
No one ever called him Bert. That was too disrespectful and common for a man of his Germanic intensity and immense superstructure. My father nicknamed him ‘The Bertrameister’, which was fitting and he seemed to appreciate the Teutonic title with a Kaiser-like dignity as if it were his due. One always knew when Bertram was around.
Especially, when he farted.

© RC Westerholm


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