Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Men who have never touched a whippet"

When I really, really need to decompress, I retreat to writing that I either read and loved during my formative years, or writing that took me hostage for hours or days, forced me to finish reading and left me with such a scalding case of Stockholm Syndrome that I still adore said works.

Today I had an overwhelming urge to reread certain Michael Ondaatje's Elimination Dance. It's an "intermission" in his book of poetry The Cinnamon Peeler. In other news, at the grocery store today I pointed out a four-foot tall stalk of dill to my son. In an interesting show of one-upmanship, he pointed to a grouping of red apples and said "cinnamon". Perhaps he thought they were very large motes of the spice. He's two. One never knows what he's thinking.

Anyway, in my mind an elimination dance (if it is a real thing) is like a game of Bingo, but the opposite. As each characteristic or experience is called out, those who have experienced it sit down. Presumably the one left at the end of the dance wins something fantastic like a matching dinette set. Note: this could be a fun alternative to Truth or Dare at bachelor(rette) parties, etc. What's odd is that I don't think I've read Elimination Dance in the last five years, but I remember certain items exactly, such as:

"Men who shave off beards in stages, pausing to take photographs"

"Anyone who has been penetrated by a mountie"

"Men who have never touched a whippet"

"Any writer who has been photographed for the jacket of a book in one of the following poses: sitting in the back of a 1956 Dodge with two roosters; in a tuxedo with the Sydney Opera House in the distance; studying the vanishing point on a jar of Dutch Cleanser; against a gravestone with dramatic back lighting; with a false nose on; in the vicinity of Macchu Pichu; or sitting in a study and looking intensely at one's own book"

I believe I've seen someone in a false nose, and he was not a children's author. Alternatively, I could have seen a number of photographs in which the authors wore false noses, but they were very good replicas and so I did not notice. So, I'm working on revisions while simultaneously enduring some kind of mind-altering head cold, and I was suddenly struck by the worry that I might end up with a ridiculous book jacket photo. And then, in a flash of horror and fear, I realized that if I never finish this revision, I won't ever have to worry about it. Being someone who likes having something real to worry about, I now crawl back into the revision cave.

Catch you all on the flip side.

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