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“How’s everything in Sunny Vale?”

—Bill Lluoma

My dad would always come home

from his job at the IG Farben (Reichold

Chemicals really) & ask, “How’s

every thing in Sunny Vale?” some-

times it would become “Happy Dale”

but i think it was always some private

joke, some strange form of irony—like

he wasn’t really expecting anything

to be either Sunny or Happy. I don’t

think my mother ever ‘got it.’ I like

to think that i did. But i was 8. What

was there ‘to get’ anyway? It was after

the donut shop but before the lawn

business. & by the time he was

working for DRAVO he had given

it up entirely, for more realistic

utterances like, “I was in meetings

all day so I couldn’t get any work

done.” & i like to think that i’m older

now than he was then, but i know

that’s not true, even if i don’t do the math.

But i will be someday. That’s how it goes

you know. You get older & there’s nothing

left of you but the empty shell of a joke.

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