The Lovesick Taxidermist

Posted on February 2, 2010

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“I love you so much, Raymond, and I think it’s really cool that you’re so into words”, says my wife when I ask her what ‘epanorthosis’ meant.

“You’re one writer in a thousand – no, in a million”, she says, leaving me scratching my head but also wanting for a mirror and a comb, because I know it’s not enough to be into words in this world, one must also look the part.

As if she read my thoughts, she adds “I love your beard – it makes you look like a writer, too, and so intelligent.”

“You think so?”, I say, pleased about the success of my facial hair, which I groomed to distract onlookers from my baldness. That I may be more concerned about the remaining tendrils sprouting off my otherwise naked head than about my art is beginning to worry me, but I put it down to advancing age.

A shrinking violet most of my life, it was only the arrival of who later was to become my spouse, that swept me off my feet like the blizzard of ’57.

Now you probably want to hear that story. But since I was once called a “periphrastic writer” in a now famous article in the New Yorker written by no less a penman than J D Salinger [in his essay entitled “Cornered by Conspiracy”] I shall not tell that tale in a straightforward manner, but by putting you in the mood for love first using the eclectic style that you, as my reader, have come to expect from me.

You know, until meeting her I did not know love first-hand. When writing about love, however deeply I probed my own brain, I could not come up with that crimson feeling – my head was filled with antiquated ideas of woe and the savoir-faire needed to last through a date between strangers. The very idea of falling for a woman myself was about as attractive to me as catching small pox – given that the reality of AIDS had not begun to occupy our modern minds in those days.

I lived in a shack then that was an asylum for me from the world at large and from people at close range. It stood on top of a venue called “The Crystal Palace Union” in Hartford, Connecticut and was rented out to local performance art students, who developed what is called ‘popsicals’ – neither music proper nor musical – but a melange of light tunes and brainless theatrical plots, usually arranged around mankind’s most pertinent pestilence – love. I was an involuntary witness to these stage creations: the music, or what I assumed was the music, floated through the ventilator shafts across the roof mixing with the stench of rancid butter on my table. Night after night, I was overloaded with stupid story lines, and I wrote partly in order to fend off these simple schemes, because my soul hungered for the real thing.

I was like a taxidermist, trying to give the appearance of life to something that was dead inside me. The truth is, of course, I was only scared. But working so hard to describe the unfathomable made me stronger, too.

“Tell me”, I ask my wife, “when you met me, what did you see in me?”

“You are a great writer”, she says. “It doesn’t matter to me that you are uncool.”

“Ah”, I say. “That makes sense. That was what I was thinking. What does ‘vasoconstriction’ mean?” I pull the string again.

“I love you so much, Raymond, and I think it’s really cool that you’re so into words”, she says. You’re one writer in a thousand – no, in a million”.

“I love you, too”, I say, “and thank you so much, you don’t know how good it feels to hear that.”

I think have to put more words on that tape and I have to change her filling because she might have got wet and I don’t want her to rot from the inside.


Submission for the 1st Milk Wood First Annual Writers’ Dash Competition hosted by Harriet Gausman. See also Virtual Writers, Inc. Blog.

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Posted in: rootedinlove