Thursday, April 25, 2013


            Here’s something:
            A man in a three-piece suit was parking his car: a faded-green sedan with silver coming out in spots where the paint had chipped. I wasn’t scared of him at all. The closeness of it, somehow, maybe the slant of windows, reflected branches, hubcaps, or illusions of differential space restrictions, stubbed my looking.
            “Space suits for two, please.”
            “Yes. We will have that arranged. Bring yourselves this way.”
            This thinking about talking was putting my mood elsewhere. I stopped it.
            The man in the three-piece was walking around his little green sedan. He looked content and bewildered. It was a good look. I wished that I’d had that look before, but I probably hadn’t. That was just as good, probably. I counted his steps as he went around the car, plodding up and down, from curb to street and back to curb and then along the sidewalk where there were dead leaves, of course. He looked in the back window, putting his hand to the glass and looking through it. The certain arch of his body seemed unusual to me. I didn’t like the way it seemed, to me, at the time. Seeming was my only out, at the time; you’ve got to know that about me, then, if you know anything.
            Rolled constrictions. Lighter weights. I go to all the trouble of looking, seeing these things, one in front, or behind, the other, like lips and then head and then pigeon and then mailbox and, of course, trouble. I go to all the trouble to see, and I get these things. These damn things.
            The sedan, green, faded, grimy windows, plump tires, dirt streaks on the hood, dangling parking pass from the rearview, a nice-sized trunk, headrests, the whole deal. A withering jumpstart to it all, I figured. I stopped thinking about the sedan. Then I couldn’t keep from it. The man had walked away. The man was gone, now, and all he’d left me was this damn sedan.
            I stared at a dent in the side door that looked, to me, like the face of Rip Torn. The sedan’s top was sun-scarred with V’s of rust. That, too, made me think about other things that I could possibly look at, making up some, maybe, perhaps for sure, it was a whittling of certain ideas I wouldn’t let myself have. It was complex, simple, and absolutely inchoate, or so it seemed, to me, at the time, possibly, to be, or not, or I didn’t let myself care.
            Distracted from objects by other objects, and then not, so much, really, at all, and then this:
            “Room for less.”
            “Blacker was the sky to me than licorice I couldn’t taste, to me.”
            “It was, so it happened, to be.”
            “Too much blinking without noticing what’s being seen, lost, there, here, or gone too.”
            “The sparrows are hanging themselves from the more sturdy branches.”
            “Like the salty glint of gypsum, it all shines, and shines, and then, somehow, for me, it does not.”           
            I stopped the gabbing in my skull, again. I tried to concentrate on something outside, nearer, more steady.
            The sedan no longer seemed green to me. It seemed bluer, a replica of blue, perhaps, or a miscreant off-violet, in a certain light, the fadedness of it, the sunlight’s slipping, slippery, soft to the look, seeing, as it was, leaves crumbled just over the curbstone, I was making connections, as it were, with nothing, by connecting everything. Sure, it was commercial-watching at its most burdensome, at best, letting most of it go, the things, the sedan’s color, the door’s dent, the three-piecer, the whole shebang of it, it was all just me making a pass at the weather, at most. A mailbox here. Dried dog shit there. Cigarette butts filling the sidewalk cracks. The true gunk of being.                
            By the way, here’s another thing:
            Well, it just so happens that I was eating Triscuits this morning when I had what Walt Whitman would refer to as a special revelation. I was sitting there at the table and picking crackers out of the box two and three at a time, breaking them in half, and then eating them. The salty taste on my tongue was pleasant as I chewed them, and the grainy texture felt good in my mouth as they broke up in there. I started staring at the box for some reason, reading all the words on it, just to do something, just to kind of pass the time I guess. I’d just woken up, and I was kind of lightheaded and still caught up a bit in sleep. Everything started coming to me in a fugue. Every new thing that came to me, or at me, kept building slightly on the last thing. I read: “BAKED WHOLE WHEAT CRACKERS” “Improved Wheat Taste!” “Not for nibblers!™” “NET WT 9½ OZ (269g)” “NABISCO®” My eyes just kept reading everything. It all seemed really important and intensely interesting. The top flap on the box had this little recycling symbol on it, the one with the arrows going around in a kind of triangle in the black circle, and it said on it: “Carton made from 100% recycled paperboard.” And under that in this really tiny print it read, “Minimum 35% post-consumer content.” I had no idea what this meant, but like I said before it all seemed extremely important.
            I noticed that on the tab that keeps the box closed after it’s been broken open for the first time it read, “To open slide finger under the flap and loosen gently,” and under that flap it read, “To close insert tab here.” I inserted the tab, and the box stayed closed. I was extremely pleased by this. Turning the box around I read the side of it where the nutrition facts and ingredients were listed. I wanted to find some significance in these things. It read, “No Cholesterol” “Low Saturated Fat (Contains 5g per serving)” “Good source of Dietary Fiber.” It also said on it that one serving size was seven crackers. I wondered who had come up with the number. Why not five? Or Ten? There was some deeper meaning there. Something spiritual. I read the ingredients: “Triscuit crackers are made by a unique process from whole wheat, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt.” It seemed odd to me that there was no, “and,” in there. I felt that it should have said, “and salt.” So again I pondered things. What was so unique about this cracker-making process? Were there actually people specially trained to make these crackers? Did they go to school? Did they have a license? And how the hell had they improved the whole-wheat taste? It seemed a mind-boggling mystery of infinite depths and immeasurable longitudes of thought.
            I turned the box of Triscuits over and looked at the bottom. It read in really tiny black print, “This package is sold by weight, not by volume. Packed as full as practicable by modern automatic equipment, it contains the full net weight indicated. If it does not appear full when opened, it is because contents have settled during shipping and handling.” For some reason I thought of all those bags of chips I’d opened over the course of my chip-eating life, and how there would be
a popping sound and sometimes only like five chips in there when you opened the bag. There was some esoteric kind of language being transmitted in all this. All these words, all of this language being used. I felt like I was deciphering some kind of code, some kind of hidden world of symbols and wonderful mysteries. Why else would the folks at Nabisco go through all the trouble of putting this stuff on the box? It didn’t make the crackers taste any better. It didn’t change my opinion of the crackers. I’ve always liked Triscuits; I probably always will. And even if they keep improving the whole-wheat taste, I’ll probably continue not to notice.
            After a few more crackers I gazed out the window at an empty lot across the street. In the lot there was a deserted mini-excavator with a large auger on the boom. I started thinking about Archimedes for some reason. I’d seen excavators with pincers and sheep’s foot compactor attachments and also with just the usual buckets, or sometimes with the hydraulic thumbs, but never just a small digger with an auger hooked on like that. I looked at it just sitting there for some time. Nobody else was around. So, like I said, I started thinking about good old Archimedes, about his greatest achievement—proving that a sphere has two thirds the volume and surface area of a cylinder. I’m not sure why. It just popped into my head. Just like that. I was standing there staring at this little CAT digger looking all abandoned in that empty lot, and I just started thinking these things, you know? And that started me thinking about others things like Pi, and then the siege of Syracuse, and then George Saunders, and then the Civil War, and then Axle Rose, and then China, and then Mao, and then mice, and then cats, and then Snoopy, and then that song Linus and Lucy, and then this piano teacher I had when I was ten who was really obese and smelled like lutefisk, and then lye, and then lyme disease, and then British sailors, and then Popeye, and then Robin Williams, and then the words “hirsute” and  “ursine” and “simian” and then I lost my train of thought and couldn’t keep building things like that in my mind anymore. I had a few more Triscuits. They tasted awful. I felt that I had discovered something worthwhile about life in general.