The Nuisance-at-First 


Powerline Andy is voice-strong, and he hand-dangles from black cables about twenty-nine feet away, yelling at you. And you can’t get closer—Andy and his cables are always about-twenty-nine feet away, in awkward-shouting distance. At first, when you see him over the sink window while washing dishes rubber-glovedly, he is a nuisance to you. When he follows you up Mount St. Helens on your hike, ever-yellingly, he graduates to pest. “Why are there power lines here?” you wonder. Your scenic ocean cruise brings Powerline Andy over the Atlantic on a still-more-unexplained cable that stretches into two horizons forever, but there he is, regardless. Indistinct shouts and kicking legs, about twenty-nine feet away.

You begin to fall in love with Powerline Andy. But the sweet nothings you shout about-twenty-nine-feet-ward only humiliate you in the eyes of others, and Andy isn’t looking for that kind of a relationship right now, anyway. You settle for friendship and that’s a perfectly-fine, grown-up-acting thing to do, you decide, and it’s all Andy ever really wanted, anyway. But he’s your best friend. He’s there at the not-your-fault fender bender that you’re pretty sure gives your neck that twinge later in life. He yells you the pancake recipe that you always forget. It’s half a cup, not a third, of blueberries. Third-of-a-cup was the other recipe, remember?

You see other people and age. Powerline Andy is a comfort, vigorously-as-always flailing and vigorously-as-ever shouting, as your last child leaves the nest for Ball State. From her beater van window, she waves to you with her memory hand. She waves as well to Uncle Andy, who’d been her rock during the hard years, and had waited super-supportively outside the hospital room at her birth, about twenty-nine feet away. “I’ll miss you all!” she calls back in the voice-strong voice she’d picked up as a toddler and never, ever lost. And she’s gone.