Sunday, June 25, 2006
The Nothing Special
As a child, I didn't have much patience for stories except for the ones I made up and "The Little Engine That Could." (I can still see the Little Golden Book with Little Engine's story which I now recognize as a metaphor for the writing life -- a long struggle up an almost impossibly steep hill -- no wonder I was enthralled!) But for the most part, I wanted reality, facts, the truth. God only knows where that impulse came from -- in my own days, I pretended to be things more than I ever was myself. Of course, the most asked question of childhood is the easy to answer -- What do you want to be when you grow up? I never said ballerina (too much work and you had to be excruciatingly thin, although I loved the idea of possibly dating Rudolf Nureyev (before I understood he was gay) or Mikhail Barishinikov (before I'd read one too many ballerina memoirs about what an asshole he was to date)) or teacher or nurse, the answers my female classmates gave out with disturbing regularity. I said I was torn -- no shock to those who know me now, although it got many laughs coming out of a five-year old's mouth (much like when I'd report to adults with an uber serious expression, "I'm a fatalist."). My choices included two things -- psychotherapist (like Freud, I'd clarify) or a writer. Lucky for me, I started loving stories after a fifth-grade meltdown after having to do a book report on something "that wasn't true, just made-up and I can't take it and I won't like it and why can't I read another biography or book on witchcraft or something interesting." Strident might be the best word to describe my affect in those days. Anyway, I eventually decided that I'd much rather write about crazy people than treat them and it's been that way ever since.
The most interesting answer, though, to the what are you going to be question came from my friend Curtis. He said, Nothing. He'd become obsessed with Andy Warhol after seeing him make an appearance on The Love Boat and did massive amounts of research on his ways, which I always saw as touched, but Curtis worshipped because he didn't seem to care about anything except for the commercial and the base, said that if he had a television show he'd call it The Nothing Special and it would focus on his favorite subject, nothing. Years passsed and when we were in high school, The Andy Warhol Diaries came out and Curtis bought them immediately. He tried to read them, but could never get through the tedious prose. He wanted to like them, but he didn't. Still, he displayed the book on his shelf in the most prominent position, a large book filled with the thoughts of a man who claimed to love nothing the very best.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Never allow yourself to feel anything because then you feel too much." Marlon Brando
1 part vodka
1 part clamato
a dash of tabasco
a dash of wocestershire
salt and pepper
Serve cold and use celery salt for the rim of the martini glass.
Benedictions and Maledictions
Your Comments Are Appreciated
We are a hotel at check-out time
and you are the maid, vacuuming
in the next room, collecting the trash,
stripping the bed. Everything comes
to an end, and maybe your head is in your
hands and maybe it’s on a platter. What you
have given me can be put in a small box,
one that I can take with me should I
desire. When I ask you what you want
to eat at our last dinner date, you set
down the menu, tell me it doesn’t matter,
at all, everything tastes the same here.