New fiction: Jesus love her

Jesus love her

I used to be “white kid who wouldn’t die first in a probably racist horror movie about Central America” good at Spanish. Now I’m “probably overestimates previous language competency” good. I’m the kind of guy who will show you my translations of Borges from high school and take too much credit for them, especially as a strict proponent of the ‘look up what it means in the fucking dictionary’ school of translation.

I try to write passages like that without using quotation marks, but then it’s maybe too hard to read, and then I look maybe like I’m just some kinda punk who needs to be obfuscatory. Or even like come up with a more obtuse synonym for obfuscatory, like fuckin’…well, shit, no, that’s about as bad as words get.

But you know like I also fuckin’ love that word. Probably learnt it offa Sylvia Plath, age 15, tenebrously crowding the edge of the bed and wondering how much longer I could believe in Jesus. Soporific, that one I knew before the little girl learned it in The Hours, ’cause o’ Sylvia Plath and her poems. Her poems like black and white bedrooms or stacks of teeth or canoe trips across the part of my ear that moves when I smile.

I’m the kinda guy who used to give out copies of Strunk & White to people on the school newspaper if he felt like they needed more guidance in language, even though that book ain’t say shit useful for a living human speaking English. I’m the kinda guy who got turned off vernacular by a high-school English teacher who legitimately insisted façade was pronounced ‘fack-aid,’ and who couldn’t for the life of her imagine a shift in tone, Jesus love her.

There’s this imaginary person you can make laugh politely, and then get other people to tell tweed-jacket ‘amusing little stories’ about you at parties when you’re either senile or dead, God bless. You just write some kind of white-shouldered constrictor knot elegy that calls upon the gleaming marble fountains of FrrFrrfrrfrr and the chaste portwine stain birthmark on the pallid thigh of Grrrrrrp and stuff it in a paper cone along with the ashes of Francis de Sales and crack bang boom friend you are a writer.

There are champagne bubbles in practically all your jokes. I had had an exclamation point there, but struck it, lest I come up with a better description. O, it is a good description, though – there are champagne bubbles in practically all your jokes!

Between you and me it could just be the raisin, but that’s neither here nor there – but somewhere else entirely, where only dunces who can’t make it in publishing go.

You are the white cotton T-shirt to the a capella rendition of “Amazing Grace.” You are the ageless indigo denim trouser to the artfully steamed cappuccino, “extra hot.” A perfectly rare chateaubriand, any of the angel scenes in Angels in America, you are indeed when Harry met Sally, and you don’t look fat in your author photo.

Except I don’t know anything about white-shouldered elegies, and I googled the expression very complicated knot to get to constrictor.

I shoulda been on Vaudeville. Er, Vaudeville shoulda lasted long enough not to be racist and then include me. It’s a different kinda joke, ya see. It’s like twice removed from the kinda joke Sandra Bernhard told at a smoky party in 1989, ya know? It’s like floating there in mid-air all traced in flecking gold paint and immobile like a snakebite victim.

It got bit by the future. It got bit by the convincing hypothesis that nothing is absurd anymore. Not being able to make someone laugh is my kryptonite. I can feel the diaphragm of my soul do a big belly-flop into shame when a joke doesn’t land.

What can I say, I’m a storyteller, not a storyshower.

I am not a white cotton T-shirt, though I am sometimes an a capella rendition of “Amazing Grace.” What I’m saying is minimalism seems like an SNL skit to me, but at least it’s got all the old greats.

Hey, I thank you very much for your hospitality, and uh…you kids like coconut cream pie?

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