READING

Doing Somersaults Down A Big Hill in The Nude

Doing Somersaults Down A Big Hill in The Nude

Author’s Foreword

Abraham Lincoln was born February 12th, 1809, but so was I, and I’ve long outlived him thanks to John Wilkes Booth, so I’m actually now, proudly, the most important person born on February 12th in the history of the world. I know. It’s amazing. I’m amazing. Life’s fucking great thank you very much. The only other person born on February 12th who was competing with me for Most Important Person Born on 2/12 in the History of the World was Charles Darwin,[1] but as soon as I discovered that he was just a fish in a man’s costume, I was the pretty clear choice as his candidacy for the award was a big DQ from the start, him being a fish and all, not to mention that my discovery was considered equally important to science as his (i.e. that he was a fish, and that fish can do good work).

You also might be wondering how I got this trophy on the front of the book you’re reading (image reproduced above) or why there are so many schools in low-income neighborhoods named after me. Well, there’s two criteria for making you the Most Important Person Born on X/X in The History of the World: The first is that you do must something noteworthy, like figure out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop[2] or something, which thank God I wasn’t born a day later on 2/13 because then I’d be shit out of luck, Thomas Malthus not only having been my birthday neighbor and also the preeminent population theorist, but also and without a doubt more impressively advancing the claim that Godot was simply Waldo, as in Where’s Waldo’s Waldo, and the reason why we were waiting for him was because he was trapped formlessly in Beckett’s imagination like an abstract noun, Beckett himself being absofuckinglutely clueless on how to articulate what he meant by Godot, most likely having meant nothing at all[3], and fearing the proximity of his own end like it was the next stop on the metro, concocted an unseemly genre cocktail of absurdism and children’s literature as a sort of prayer which was in a nutshell shorthand for No One Please Dear God Ever Find Out That: 1) I came up with the nom de plume Martin Handford so I could author the famed Where’s Waldo series and could go to the grave with some assurance that I at least tried to figure out what my own fucking play was about; 2) That Godot meant nothing at all; and 3) Most importantly, three, that no one would ever find out number two. Needlessly said, this discovery of Malthus’s ultimately shattered the literary celebrity of Mr. Beckett, whom we now know was just an amateur kids-book freak and that the whole Waiting for Godot thing was just some big metafictive cross-genre titty-twister. If you want to find out how he found all this out I suggest you go and read Anne Frank’s diary, because apparently that’s where he got the idea. At least that’s what his autobiography says, but then again, he also called his autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings: Because It’s Trapped in A Fucking Cage, That’s Why, Idiot.[4] Anyway. Anyway the second thing you need to do is you need to be the longest surviving human to have ever been born on that day and not use any Performance Enhancing Drugs like HGH to help you along the way. It would suck if you get to the end of the road and then you’re fucking Barry Bonds or Lance Armstrong.[5]

Another thing you might be wondering is what inspired me to do all of this. Like why on earth was I so interested in becoming the most important person born in the history of the world on February 12th. It was my senior superlative in high school. My classmates voted me Most Likely to Do Something Meaningless But Huge. As senior superlatives go, mine was considered one of the more unachievable ones by virtue of its vagueness and confused language, but at least it’s not as bad as Most Likely to Build A Life-Size Stonehenge Replica. Go figure.

To my classmates, my success was a dubious proposal. For example, as a boy I was known around my neighborhood as the student who infamously asked, ‘Is this France?’ on Hank Wiley’s photograph in front of the White House. And people used to give me strange looks when I tried to take my pants off over my head in the locker room. Anyway, this is all to say that my life’s adversities inspired within me serious ambitions to do something meaningless but huge. So if you’re mad after learning that Mr. Darwin was a fish, don’t blame me. Blame my high school classmates.

The point of this here story is I guess twofold. The first is how I came to discover C.D. was a fish, and the second is how I’ve lived so long. If you were also born on 2/12 I kindly request that you either stop reading now, die, or never do anything fucking cool with your life, ever, because, well, you know.

Yours Truly,

Roger M. Boudoir

***

Chapter 1: Backgrounds and Backyards, 1809

Esther Boudoir was fetching water for dinner. It was very warm for February, so the water in the well had thawed, and Esther was bent on bringing back a few buckets into the house so they could brew a big batch of tea. Her husband, James B., had just returned from work. He was an apothecary, and Esther was his wife, the apothecary’s wife. She did stay-at-home-wifely things: cooked the meals, cleaned the house, did the laundry, slept with the neighbor. James, similarly, did at-work-husbandly things: maintained the shop, sold the drugs, provided for his family, evaded his taxes. It was only good business. And this was only marriage.

James arrived as Esther was fetching the water in the well out back so he walked through the house and hollered, “Lo, my love!” Esther heard this through the back door, and said, “I’ll be back in a moment dear, just fetching some water so we can have some tea. I was pining for you all day!” The last time the two had intercourse, John Adams was president, which mind you was in the 1700s.[6]

She attached her pail to the pulley system and cranked the bucket low, lower, thump, and then high, higher, clink. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” This kind of shriek is of the same genus of Shriek that sends spouses from their rooms to wonder if anything’s the matter. So James, good husband that he was, came running into the yard, and asked, “What’s the matter dear, is everything all—AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Once they relaxed all was normal. They had dinner, drank some tea, spoke about their days, went to bed. It was just as well. They dabbed a bit of scotch on the end of James’s kerchief and let the baby suck on it – the baby that was in the pail of course, the one that was pulled up from the water table, covered in dust and slime and goop: that baby – and the scotch made it sleepy. The baby started crying again in the night, but some more scotch put it back to bed, just like that. They dug a new well the next day with Bavarian efficiency. The Boudoirs were very calm about the whole thing, and told their neighbors with twisted smiles that the reason Esther never looked pregnant was because she was just so healthy![7] And then the Boudoirs’d laugh, go home and drink scotch until they fell asleep.

* * *

Chapter 2: Overcoming Adversity

It’s actually a pretty exceptional story of how I ended up doing something meaningless but absolutely monumental and historically huge. Not to mention scientifically revelatory. I was walking around a park in my neighborhood and I saw a seductively climbable tree.   It was almost like the tree itself was a ladder disguised in a tree costume.[8] The tree had these branches that were perpendicular to the tree itself and they were all on one side of it (the tree), and they were sanded down like academic writing or business students’ imaginations. So anyway this tree was really seductively climbable, and I just started walking toward it.[9]

Then I climbed the tree and literally, I shit you not, came out in London. It was like something straight out of a Borges story. Here I am climbing this incredibly sexy tree with branches like rungs and not getting any splinters and life’s like capital-G Great and I’m smiling and the birds are singing Top-40 kinda stuff and the sun is shining and dead metaphors are just like getting resuscitated everywhere around me and I’m clamfully happy and I’m like Hmmmm might as well call my mom on a day like today and there I am inventing the cellphone and then talking to my mom and telling her all about how life is so good and how I’m gonna open up a lemonade shop because I’ve just turned so many lemons into juice during this ascent of this one tree and how I’m forgiving her of all her mistakes as a parent like giving me all of that scotch as a baby and she’s making comments that are just really painting a huge penis on my day in terms of how annoying and stupid they are like how Father Time and Mother Earth are divorced and if I’ve showered today and then all of sudden I’m in a fish market in London and the connection is lost and I bump bump bump into a man that’s just got to be some famous author because he says “You must forgive me. I’m an author,” and I’m like dazed because he’s talking to me in an English accent and I’m like is this the tree I was just in? Anyway we end up catching up, and he tells me his name’s Charles, and I tell him mine, and he tells me he’s going to get some fish for dinner and invites me to eat with him.

We couldn’t find any, though. Charles asked a vendor, “Do you have fish?”

“No.”

He approached another: “No.”

And yet another – who told him the fish were on vacation.

“When would they be back?”

“Wednesday.”

So we’d come back then. I had no idea how to get back to the States so I just figured Hell with it I’ll stay with Charles until he tells me to leave.

* * *

Chapter 3: Fish

So it turns out that Charles is not just any author, but huge-deal/change-the-course-of-history kind of author. The book he just came out with is called On The Origin of Species.

“So what’s the book about?” I ask him.

“In a nutshell?”

“However you want in all honesty.”

“So basically the books about a few things. It’s a piece of antebellum queer writing.”

“I’ve got time.”

“Do you want to hear a summary of the book or rather the book’s chief thematic concerns?”

“I’m not much of a reader myself, so preferably both.”

“So basically the book’s about this white kid and this black slave and they run away together, the former because his dad’s a drunk and the kid’s a rapscallion, and the latter, well, because he’s a slave. They make a home of a raft on the Mississippi and on the way they have some funny and some scary encounters with those who live close to the river. In the end, the slave gets freed and the boy lits out for the territories.”

“That sounds like a great book.”

“Thank you. I wrote it over the course of an evening.”

“So what’s it mean?”

“Simply put, the book’s about evolutionary biology.”

“I get that.”

“Populations of species evolve through a process called natural selection.”

“Which is?”

“Anything with a mass has the same amount of energy.”

“I’m sorry what.”

“Yes, I get that’s confusing. It’s confusing myself.”

“Maybe just one more try.”

“Sure. Natural selection roughly translates to: ‘I think, therefore I am.’ ”

“Ok, now I think I’m getting this.”

“Want a few more examples?”

“Sure. Why don’t we get into this pose first though. It’s called Warrior one. Spread your legs apart.   Bend your right knee. Or your left. It doesn’t fucking matter. Just choose one. Then turn that foot out and stick both your hands up like you the police are behind you.” We both did this.

“Ok. So you were saying.”

“Yes. As I was saying. Natural selection is shorthand for the sum of the three interior angles of a triangle is 180 degrees.”

“One more explanation might help.”

“I see that you’re having some trouble with this. Perhaps imagine it this way. You are in a cave, and there are shadows on a wall in front of you.”

“Oh this is good.”

“Or this way. An apple falls from a tree.”

“Imagining.”

“How’s this? Mass is always conserved.”

“Tell me more.”

“I could go forever.”

“This is a great pose to be in while talking.”

“Isn’t it?”

“If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying that all men have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“No John Locke said that.”

“Oh.”

“But you’re close. It’s kind of like if you think of time as an arrow and a burger as a sandwich and cereal as soup.”

“That’s good stuff.”

We kept talking like this until Charles said it was time for bed and I fully understood his book. He offered me to stay in his room because since his wife died he’d been staying in the bathroom. When we said goodnight, he went into the bathroom and locked the door and turned on the water in the tub.

I woke up in the middle of the night to go use the bathroom. I knocked, to let Charles know that I was entering but he didn’t respond. So I just went in. When I turned on the light, though, he wasn’t there. There was just a fish in the tub, and a human costume slinked off in the corner.

I’m gonna go eat some cheese now, I thought.[10]

* * *

Chapter 4: The Elixir of Life

So once I found out that Mr. Darwin was a fish I knew that I had actualized my senior superlative and I was really proud of myself, as I know you must be, too. But I knew then that it was time to get back to living and focusing on staying alive for a very long time.

I can tell you about it, living for a long time, but understand that each person has her own way of dealing with these matters. The way I did it was everyday when I woke up I blungered for about three hours. After blungering, I made a big shoobaloo with my brunkel.[11] I’d then carry around the shoobaloo and shake it in the air all the while saying “Hawken, fintle, trin.” After doing this ten times in a row, a crewter would take me by my snuppil and say “Sheben.” I’d tell the crewter, “Harbumpt.” Then we’d shinkle the traxton and he’d be on his way.

And that’d be it. Nothing fancy or anything like that.

The End

[1] Coincidentally also born in 1809.

[2] Still unanswered.

[3] Malthus pointed out that he was, after all, a fucking absurdist.

[4] You can do that kind of stuff when you’re 234 years old. You can also, I don’t know, like fart loudly in quiet places and expect smiles from people.

[5] They don’t tell you this next stuff because it’s an American award, but it also helps if you’re white, a man, and are of course heterosexual, maybe born in the States and if not definitely Europe, and not to mention either Christian or rich, or both, or all six. If you’re most of those things, or all of them, you’re pretty much fucking set, like scoring a 2400 on your SATs kind-of-set. All you have to do then is something special and live long. But of course, these things are just suggestions, they tell you. It’s not mandatory. It just helps.a

a My understanding is that this kind of “help” that they’re talking about is like if you were a bird, it would just help if you had wings.

[6] And right now it’s the 1800s.

[7] More complicated indeed was the conversation Esther had to have with the neighbor that reassured him that the child was not his.

[8] Which happens. Just ask Jacob, Isaac’s boy.

[9] Also by the way on the topic of trees and their seductiveness. Its almost painfully clear to me now that the reason why God banished Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden had nothing to do with the fact that she ate the apple or that the tree itself was the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. For one, God like said to them something like: “This here tree is beautiful, and it contains all the answers to life, and all the sweetest fruit, and blah buh dee blah blah blah. Never eat from it, and forget that it exists.” So like the first thing and the second thing and the seventh thing that then happens is like you’re like Yo this tree sounds really amazing, I want to eat from it. And two if you’ve learned anything from the work of I don’t know, like either of the Martin Luthers, you always have to break the rules.

It’s also in my opinion curious that there is no extant literature on the type of apple that seduced A & E. I humbly proffer the hypothesis that the apple was without a doubt a red delicious one. Most obviously, I suggest this reading because red delicious apples suck. Their name is also without a doubt straight out of the book of capitalistic marketing strategies, just like calling a tree the Tree of Knowledge was too.a Why wouldn’t you want to eat an apple that is a self-proclaimed delicious one. This kind of move turns your customers into anxious patrons and makes them keep on buying your shitty products, which is great for business.

Which is just a terrible introduction to apples in general by the way. It’s like being introduced to dating and romance by a dude who is like really handsome but is just a black hole in terms of sentiment which nothing ever escapes other than his schmeckle and nothing ever enters except some poor girl’s (or guy’s) emotions. The analogy here being that red delicious apples are just about the least delicious apples just as really handsome guys are just about the worst partners.b

Anyway long story short the reason why they were banished was I’m sure because they fell for that marketing trick: and God was mad because of course she knows that red delicious apples suck, and in being seduced by the tree and the apple, Adam & Eve succumbed to capitalism and ruined the whole future of time as we know it. Point here being that it’s very clear to anyone with a brain that a tree that is full of knowledge would never grow red delicious apples. That’s just like common knowledge. The tree would have like Honey Crisps or Pink Ladies or something else. Steve Jobs saw all of this I’m sure and realized that Red Delicious would be a terrible name for his company for all of the above reasons and just said Hell with it, Macintosh is so much less contentious.

a Which, yes, make’s God a capitalist.

b Which is why it’s in everyone’s best interest to be ugly and nice, because then they’re always going to become prettier in the eyes of the beholder in a guaranteed-or-get-your-money-back kind of way.

[10] Charles and I returned to the fish market on Wednesday when the fish came back from vacation, by the way.

[11] If you want a brunkel like mine, you ought to criddle your tumtumtum until the end of soolab.

 

Photo Source: https://www.123rf.com/ (heading, “Stock Photo – Happy senior business man holding a trophy in his hands)

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