"Blackened is the end, Winter it will send, Throwing all you see, Into obscurity." -Metallica, "Blackened"

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On Twinkies and Death

As a writer, I am always thinking in transitions. I spend a lot of time on getting jokes to flow from one to the next, and making it look like I didn’t spend any time on it at all. When novel writing, I work hard to come up with hooks I can drop at the end of one chapter to ensure readers will start the next. It’s about the flow — linking words and sentences and paragraphs into bigger, cohesive movements.

Before my friend Howard passed away this past weekend, I was working on a blog post about a Twinkie the Kid Twinkie holder I just bought at a flea market for $3. How in all that is cream-filled do you segue between those two topics?

I dumped ol’ Twinkie the Kid into my draft folder. I knew there would be a time in the near future when I felt like writing again, but Monday wasn’t it.

Wednesday afternoon, Emily and I emptied out Howard’s cubicle. Digging through a friend’s personal belongings is awkward and awful and a little cathartic. We quickly formed multiple piles: one for Howard’s personal belongings, one for work-related items, one for office supplies, and a trash can for everything else. Souvenir sand dollar? Personal. Book on managing firewalls? Work-related. Tape dispenser? Office supplies. Mostly used tube of chapstick? Trash.

And then there was this.

Along with my dad and my uncle Joe, Howard was one of the biggest Three Stooges fans I knew. He loved all those old shorts, and could match me quote-for-quote when it came to reciting classic Stooge one-liners. One of Howard’s ringtones was of the Stooges smacking each other around, and he was totally jealous last year when I visited the Stoogeum in Pennsylvania last year. The other day at work I asked Howard if he had change for a five. “No, but I’ll give ya two,” he said while impersonating Moe and pointing two fingers at me as if he were going to give me a classic eye-poke.

I used to have those Stooge magnets on my home refrigerator, but when we purchased a new stainless steel (and magnet-proof) fridge, I brought them to work and stuck them on Howard’s mini-fridge. Occasionally he would move them around in different poses. We laughed about them a lot.

And when I saw them today, I thought Howard would have appreciated the humor in a Twinkie the Kid-shaped Twinkie carrier that was designed to carry a single Twinkie. What’s the point of it? He would have loved how ridiculousness it is. I would have bought a Twinkie from the Dollar General and brought it to work in Twinkie the Kid, and Howard would have called me a knucklehead.

And we would have laughed our heads off.

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1 comment to On Twinkies and Death

  • Paul in AZ

    This is a great piece, Rob. It actually gives readers (who have NO IDEA who Howard was) and making us long for a friendship with him.

    This is the best kind of tribute.

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