Since the accident, he hasn’t been the same. He talks a little lower. He’s isn’t quick to laugh. He takes more time to himself in the evenings, and isn’t his chipper self in the mornings. Something about the accident changed him.
He’s Serbian now. Not all the time, mind you, but sometimes. Sometimes he’ll go into a room and when he emerges he’s a full-on Serbian person — speaking Serbian, wearing clothes that Serbians wear, and talking about Serbia. That never happened before the accident. Before the accident, when he would go into a room, he would emerge an American person — dressed like FDR, wearing a baseball mitt, and talking about how, if you really think about it, between Joey and Chandler, it’s Joey hands down.
Come to think of it, sometimes he would even emerge in a dress with rouged cheeks, large cantaloupes for breasts, and yell “Soups on, boys!” in the high-pitched squeal of a French can-can dancer with quadruple the sex appeal. That doesn’t happen anymore, not since the accident at least. No. Since the accident, it’s Serbian or nothing.
Or is it Croatian?
Since the accident, he doesn’t go on his morning walks. That’s because he no longer has legs. Then again, he didn’t have legs before the accident, either. So I guess he never went on morning walks or nighttime walks, or any kind of walks for that matter. He wasn’t able to go on walks, you see, because he didn’t have legs. What a dumb thing for me to not only bring up, but also to prolong.
Anyway, before the accident, despite not having legs, he was this strong, strapping man. Do you remember? Do you remember that one time when he lifted that boulder high above his head? And then he slammed it down on the children below? And then he repeated that process over and over and over again to a point where the children were unrecognizable, but the police and the crowd who had gathered around the screaming kids couldn’t help but applaud the number of times he had lifted up and slammed down the boulder.
It was six-hundred-and-twelve times.
But that man is gone forever. He can’t lift boulders anymore. Since the accident he can’t even lift a rock. He can’t lift anything. The other day I saw him trying to lift his toothbrush to his mouth and he couldn’t do it, and I just burst out laughing. “Ha, ha, ha!” I said.
“Why are you here in my house?” he asked.
“I’m robbing you,” I said.
“You never would have robbed me before the accident,” he said.
“Yes I would have,” I responded. “In fact, I did.”
“So that was you?” he said.
“Yes it was,” I said. “Didn’t I just say that, ya dingus? Anyway, byeeee.”
Before the accident, he had this long, flowing hair. Do you remember how long and flowing it was? Now his hair is longer and it flows more. It’s weird and off-putting. It’s too long and it flows too much. It flows all the way down to his feet and then back up to his head and then down again so that, when he lays on his side, his hair makes a perfect “S.” I hate it. Sure, before the accident, he went through phases where it was longer and flowed more than usual, but this is absolutely ridiculous. It seriously makes me want to throw up.
Oh, and his eyes: Since the accident his eyes have these deep dark circles around them. He paints them on himself. I asked him why he started doing that, and he said, “I’m practicing stage makeup just in case.”
“Just in case what?” I asked.
“In case the community theater decides to do Death of a Salesman." he said. "If I don’t practice, who’s going to make Willy look tired in a convincing way?” Before the accident he never would have practiced stage makeup. He didn’t have time. He was too busy working for al Qaeda.
Some things since the accident have stayed the same, of course. Before the accident he ate food. He still does that. Before the accident, when he would cough, he would do it through his mouth. He still does that, too. Everyone, including Barack Obama thought he would probably start coughing differently, through his nose maybe. Well, Barack Obama was wrong. I was wrong. Character actor and Academy Award nominee for The Lovely Bones Stanley Tucci was wrong. Stanley Tucci is a good actor, though, and I hope he continues to act.
Before the accident he had six genitals and twenty-three belly buttons. He still does. So does Stanley Tucci. I checked both of them. Forcibly.
So the question is: Will he ever be the man he once was? Will he ever come back from the accident? The accident was so powerful, after all, that I can’t blame him for duct taping his ankles and hands together and pretending to be taken hostage by Mariel Hemingway. If that’s what he needs to do to cope, then fine. Hell, if he wants to continue to spend every Sunday congratulating Boston Market customers on their mashed potato orders, by all means. I didn’t go through what he went through. Who am I to judge?
I think we just have to accept that the man we once knew is gone forever. And the man we have now — the man who will not leave his house without his lucky yellow-foam shark fin hat — is here to stay.