Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Difference Between Pluto and Goofy


A student told me a story once about working at Chuck E. Cheese and having to wear the giant rat costume, not the acting job she'd been hoping for, but it paid the bills, as they say. The kids, demons that they are, sensed her fear of them and tore her rat head off and starting hitting her. So that was that and she was assigned to wash vomit off the balls that populated the cage that the children played in, the endless sea of plastic balls that could drown you, and someone had vomited in them (employees are instructed to refer to these incidents as "protein spills" --Orwell, anyone?) and they all were tainted. It struck me that this was as good of an introduction to the world of work as any -- my own was at a slaughterhouse, but it did not involve children or costumes and for this, I give much thanks. It did, however, provide insight into men and what they say when they assume (almost correctly in this case -- I was the only girl around for miles) there are no women within earshot.

My friend Melissa's mother used to take us to Chuck E. Cheese every now and again, and we'd play skeetball like fiends, then dance around in the room with strobe lights. Melissa's mother would be zoned out on valium and beer (the only way for an adult to survive such a place), and we'd play until we couldn't stand. To our credit, we never vomited in the ball cage or tried to attack the giant rat. Even as a child, I avoided anyone in cartoon costumes and my fear of Disneyland was and is tremendous. It would be years later that someone explained the finer points of the mythology to me, before I learned that Karen Carpenter was obsessed with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Someone else told me that Pluto was Mickey's dog and Goofy was his friend. They were both dogs, of course, but Goofy had risen in status. I loved that detail and used it in a story where the narrator feels as if she's doomed to always be Pluto. And now Pluto isn't even a planet! It's a dwarf star, but like most things that are demoted, it still retains its power to wreak havoc. That, of course, is part of the story as well, every story, not just this one.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"I will either have him or my own anger, and this might be all right, since anger is always a great comfort, as I found with my husband." Lydia Davis, Break It Down

Cocktail Hour

Drinking music suggestion: Viva Wisconsin Violent Femmes

Benedictions and Maledictions
In answer to Bonnie's question about labels -- Where to begin?! With make-up, of course:

Two favorite brands of late -- MAC (great lipsticks, especially Dark Side and Cyber) and Urban Decay -- I love the names of the colors -- oil slick, grifter, smog, cosmopolitan, and on and on.

19 comments:

JR's Thumbprints said...

Hey Michelle,
I had questioned the plausibility to your story, "The Difference Between Pluto and Goofy". The whole "head on a stick" game didn't seem real, but after thinking about the narrator's relationship with her father, I was floored at the implications. The story was definitely a good pick for AQR.

Now, on another note: "Where's that childhood Halloween pic?"

Frost heaves press said...

"The Difference Between Pluto and Goofy" would make a good poem title, too, and I think it already is one.

Lion King said...

It's a shame what they did to Pluto. But with any luck at all, the next planet will be named "Hakuna Matata."

Jack LaLanne said...

You appear to exhibit excellent flexibility in your photo, Michelle. It's my Orange Protein drinks, isn't it?

Captain Boblo said...

I've never been to Disneyland, but I did vomit on the Blue Streak at Cedar Point.

George Costanza said...

Watch out for tainted balls. Sperm can't swim with tainted balls.

Kramer said...

He's right about that.

General Dannatt said...

You must conserve your sperm for other deployments. Otherwise, there will be no sperm.

Pussies said...

He's so brilliant.

Woody Allen said...

What if he's masturbating?

Stanley Kubrick said...

What if he's Buck Turgidson is disquise?

Jerzy Kosinski said...

He's not really a general. It's his Halloween costume. Very authentic. Could've fooled me.

Henry Kissinger said...

Hakuna Matata.

Donald Rumsfeld said...

Hakuna Matata.

George Bush and Condi Rice said...

Hakuna Matata and Happy Halloween everybody! Go Tigers!

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle, another lovely post and view. You look most felixible and charming in the Hello Kitty pinks. No Lion King for me, luckily my son was too old for obligatory viewings. To the Detroit Lions, Tigers, Pistons and especially Michelle's Spells, Salutes and Bravos!

Sheila said...

I loved your story "The Difference Between Pluto and Goofy" I thought it was great. And may I just say that I was very upset the they just DECIDED that pluto wasn't a planet anymore. WHAT THE HELL?!?!

bonnie said...

Honey,
you look so adorable in Hello Kitty attire. Thanks for the Urban Decay shoutout, I'll be checking that personally at the Big Mall with the palm trees (and sampling liberally). They have Urban Outfitters, too, so what's not to love? You are very much to love and kiss kiss kiss
your Bon Bon forever and a day

r's musings said...

I envy you being able to do that yoga pose... don't know if my back will ever let me do it again. :)