Monday, June 11, 2007

Spots before My Eyes

At first, you thought it was the yellow sweater, that innocent magnet for every mote of dust in the neighborhood, every vagrant blob of oatmeal, even mustard drippings from the hot dog eaten by someone sitting next to you.

You did think that, but a larger pattern has begun to emerge. The white sweatshirt given to all the staff members of the Santa Barbara Writers' Conference last year. White! Innocent. Yeah, right. Within an hour of putting it on--to hide the ink stain on your shirt pocket--a waitress at a Mexican restaurant, carrying what was not even your order, got mole sauce on it.

The current to-go pile of shirts, pants, and ties, bound for cleaning and laundry, can be divided equally into two piles, essentially wrinkled and essentially splattered. Thus does the text emerge. Fifty-fifty probability of an item of clothing being worn and going to laundry without serious soiling. In baseball, grown men are rewarded for having a considerably lower average and are thought to be more industrious, in fact, if their uniforms are soiled.

Take smaller bites, you remember your mother patiently coaching her six-year-old son. Smaller bites mean less food on the fork. (And by implication, less chance of mischief such as spaghetti stains or blackberry jam stains.)

It isn't the size of the bites, your father tells you, it's the rhythm of the chewing. You've got to learn to chew with a better rhythm. In later years, people will admire you for the way you chew your food, seek you out.

You chew funny, one of your friends tells you one afternoon at lunch at the John Hancock Grammar School on Fairfax Avenue, within walking distance to the renowned Farmer's Market.

It is not the yellow sweater. By which I mean life is a minefield in which I am a poster child for dry cleaners and laundry. Splotches of ink are drawn to me, curds of yogurt go out of their way to find anything with my scent on it; blobs of oatmeal and the salsa picante of fish tacos and carnitas seek out my neck ties as though they were heat-seeking missiles. A scummy residue, worse than the mildewed undersides of shower doors, attaches itself to my reading glasses. Don't, please, don't talk about my computer screen. Birds see my car as an opportunity to emulate Jackson Pollock art.

You could try hypnosis, a former friend suggested. Sometimes the subconscious--it just needs a, you know, a little training. People try hypnosis to get help with smoking. You could--

Another former friend suggested accupuncture, and a friend whose status is frankly up in the air at the moment went so far as to suggest a chiropractor.

From ghosties and beasties
And things what go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us.
--An old Scottish invocation.

From Cheerios and pizzas
And things that stain and soil,
Protect us and enfold us in Glad.


lettuce said...

hello Shelly

protect us and enfold us in Glad.

that made me smile.

I hope you manage to resolve your friend's status satisfactorily.

lowenkopf said...

I'm thinking about it. :^)