Monday, June 04, 2007

The Art Of Losing



My first childhood crush was a boy who lived next door named Lance, a name I have only heard on soap operas since then, but that I really like given its rather dramatic sound and the fact that it is also a verb. Our first date, if you will, consisted of me accompanying his mother to watch him play basketball. Lance's team lost, and when he walked to the locker room before the long ride home in their VW van, his mother said to me, You have to be really nice to him since his team lost. Boys don't take losing well. I did not know it at the time, but truer words were never spoken. Lance pouted a bit as we jostled in the back of the van. His mother, although a sage in matters of the heart, was a terrible driver. I felt bad that Lance had lost the game, but I was thrilled to be riding home with him all the same, even as we narrowly avoided death or car sickness from hitting so many potholes. I made him laugh a few times, and the pouting ended. I began to see my niche for all eternity -- cheerleader for the damned.

There are a lot of people who say that failure is a gift. If so, I'd like to return it for something a little different -- compassion or wisdom or, barring those options, a nice fondue set. But I suppose there's something about being forced to accept that some losses are inevitable, permanent, absolute. Once in high school, an English teacher asked us what we liked about the idea of death. This was my kind of classroom! No subject proved too bleak. I said that it gave value to everything else, that without an end, all things lost their luster. Someone else said the the idea of death was one thing, but the reality probably sucked. Most of us had lost small things already and had already begun to feel nostalgic for them. What we didn't know was that this feeling of being homesick, for wanting what was already fleeting, well, that would never end, that our lives would be defined by what we were and would never be again.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"With dynasties of negative constructions darkening and dying all around you . . please come flying." Elizabeth Bishop

Cocktail Hour

Drinking short story collection suggestion: Without Feathers Woody Allen

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Monday!

10 comments:

Tony Soprano said...

Dear Michelle,
As you probably know by now, war has broken out between my Jersey crime family and Phil Leotardo's New York one. The FBI informed me(How's that for irony. I guess it pays to keep the Feds informed about Islamic terrorists who frequent the Bada Bing strip club.) that Phil put a target on me and my upper echelons. I tried to strike first, but the hit I ordered on Phil got botched because the Italian subcontractors killed a guy who looked like Phil and also the look-alike's daughter. As you know, Michelle, in this present Mafia war, my brother-in-law and captain, Bobby, was killed while shopping for a model train called the Blue Comet. And, as we speak, Silvio Dante, my captain and manager of the Bada Bing is in a coma after being shot ouside the club. He's not expected to live.

I now am on the lam, sleeping with an assault rifle. From reading your blog, Michelle, I know you know how it feels to sleep with guns. I guess you could say I'm in a Blacksburg state of mind or Iraq.

Besides those things, my shrink, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, fired me, but at our last meeting, I put back in one of the steak grilling recipes I'd ripped out of one of her waiting room magazines, just as a parting gesture of goodwill. Next Sunday is the final episode of the Sopranos, Michelle. Thanks for all of your support of the show. I hope I survive.--Tony

Jon said...

We heard a lot of crap about death after our daughter died. (She's in a better place, God must have needed another angel...)
The best line I heard was from a woman who had suffered a similar lose. She said, "It never gets any better...you just get used to how bad it is."

Charles Gramlich said...

Cheerleader for the damned is a great line. Could be the title for a great horror movie.

eric said...

A great post and photo, m. You look so good!
I could have used more verbs in my love life. All nouns--though quite a mix of nuts they all were, good ones and bad. Of course, my teeth bite in all the wrong ways, so I shouldn't date or eat nuts.

Wonderful threads to ponder: love and death. All I need is lunch and it sounds like a day.

By the way, I hope it will always be your kind of classroom. In there will usually be someone who's always willing to learn from the most potent source. Of course, that's very often you--a teacher and a student of the most delicate arts that our hearts could ever know. Only you know your next lines and I can't wait to read them.

I'm glad to be here too, Doctor.

the walking man said...

Failure is just one option of many, compassion a learned trait beginning with empathy, wisdom a correct action on knowledge. Death as most people think of it is a loss, but only for them that are still living.

Cheerleading for the damned, well everyone has a necessary purpose but a nice fondue set might be better, then you could be a sort of short order cook for the damned.

Pass the garlic toast please.

peace

TWM

Sheila said...

awwww! What a great post. I think failure is important. If we didn't fail, how would we appreciate being able to succeed?

eric said...

There Are No Stairs

falling down stairs backwards
I reach and grab for the rail
and find nothing except the wish
that I had seen this coming
since I keep falling downstairs
a professional who never uses a net
and nothing seems to keep my feet
from walking toward every single
staircase that there ever was
with you at my back, Aphrodite
or you hidden in the trees, Cupid
I hit the ground expecting to
black out or die or be stomped
by your cloven feet, my heart
lanced by pins at the foot of the stairs to your front door.
I can't see you so much as
feel your energy, dark star,
evil snake haired queen of twisting little manling souls--your smile says volumes about
the extremes of your love and
rage, the fire I play with when she's gone and my life is my own
to wreck once more. It was
something I was glad to see and
I would have to remember later
as the fall was not a full story
and barely passes for
an entertaining poem.

Susan Miller said...

There are so many great lines in this one. You have incredible strength and power with this, and I can't help but smile as I read even the darkest of thoughts.

There is a distinct humor. It is as if sometimes you are saying, "this is fucked up...this is really fucked up and look, look how absurd it all is."

I don't know if that is your intention but it is what I get sometimes and I appreciate it.

Thanks, Michelle.

eric313 said...

She's right, you know. You're our guide, as well as a cheerleader.

eric313 said...

feel like being a cheerleader?