Marching forward—Rachel with her hand sweating inside her wool glove and clasped by the much bigger one of her sister—the wind swept their straw-colored hair across their faces. Their mother, whose own hair was sheer and so blonde as to be nearly transparent, now refused to comb theirs, claiming it was much too much of a pain and that they would have to start doing it themselves if they ever wanted to be big girls. Esther was twelve, Rachel was ten, and as far as they were concerned, they stopped being little girls the day their father brought them to the barn to show them how to feed each of the animals—a cow, a pig, a lamb, and five chickens.
“Not every kid thrown to the wolves ends a hero: for each survivor, a mountain of beast-baits; for every Oedipus, a city of feebs.” – John Barth, “Autobiography”
It’s an almost orgiastic feast of the senses for a boy of eight. He is immediately struck with a carnal hunger instigated by a seamless sea of wafting smells, some recognizable (hot dogs, popcorn, fried dough) and others more exotic. There is a barrage of sounds: incessant chatter, footsteps, public domain tunes, laughter, whirring machinery, booming MCs, and even, somewhere beneath the bloated auditory mass, crying (?).
You are soaring in my mind, Vince Carter, for I ride in a cab past Air Canada Centre with severe spins staring at the neon maple leaf.
In my booze starvation, and grasping for potatoes, I went into the D-rate Mexican food chain, envisioning your 360-windmills!
What tortillas and yellow cheese! Lonely men stuffing their mouths! Booths full of college kids! Wives with the crunchwrap supremes, babies with the soft tacos!—and you, Morris Peterson, what were you doing down by the verde sauces?
I saw you, Vince Carter, airless, busted and old knees, filling your cup up at the Baja Blast dispenser and eyeing a Bosh jersey.
I heard your questions about the meat: Is that really steak? What price sub chicken? Are you my cashier?
I navigated through the several wet floor signs following you, and followed in my imagination by a burly biker.
We euro-stepped together past an acned teens sopping mop side by side snagging plastic knives and sporks, asking for a frozen Mountain Dew Kickstart, and never nearing the bathroom.
Where are we headed, Vince Carter? Breakfast isn’t ‘til much later. Where does your purple headband lead?
(I grab your Nikes and dream of us in a tie at the Slam Dunk Contest and feel ashamed.)
Will we dribble all night through the empty streets? The hoops will shade us more, no lights in the driveways, lonely together.
Will we backpeddle dreaming of the lost Raptors of purple past weathered basketballs in driveways, home to your silent fanbase?
Vinsanity, baldhead, and Half-Man Half-Amazing, what Canada did you have when Bowen twice went after your knee and you stood watching hope disappear and the disease of jumper’s knee?
12 – 1 PM: Breakfast
We are aware that our campers will most likely be waking up with hangovers, so there will be no bells or horns to signal the most important meal of the day. Feel free to stumble over to our musty mess hall any time during this hour for a standard serving of black coffee, cigarettes, and rye toast. For those in need of the hair of the dog that bit them, a glass of bourbon (neat) is available upon request. Unfortunately, we cannot provide anything for any women you were able to convince to come back to your bunk with you.
5. Make Yourself Presentable
This is not something they teach you in business school, but trust me; it might be the most important item on this list. It is imperative that you wash your clothes. Perhaps you went out for Tex-Mex with your colleagues after yesterday’s big meeting. And perhaps you spilled ranchero sauce all over your pristine white shirt while trying to update your LinkedIn profile. You might think you can just wipe it off and wear it again tomorrow, but guess again, amigo!
Even if you have your M.B.A., you might not know that you need to put that shirt-turned-tortilla into a washing machine and add detergent. Insider’s tip: bleach will help take care of that pesky stain faster than you can say “search engine optimization.” This technique doesn’t solely work for shirts; pants, socks, ties, skirts, etc. can all be made to look dapper by routine washing and drying.
You aren’t remotely as intelligent as you seem to think you are. It’s almost as if you’ve assembled a list of phrases and references that feign intelligence but contain no actual substance and then made a substantial effort to put them to memory. Like “postmodern didacticism?” What actual human being has ever used that in real life? Oh God, I saw that look, that demonic glint in the pit of your pupil; you’re going to write this all down the millisecond you get a chance. Jesus Christ, how self-absorbed are you? Do you really think this makes for good art? As if any sane human being would want to read carefully paraphrased excerpts of our most minor squabbles. And I just know you’re going to try to dress it up as some meta-textual commentary on, I don’t know, the artistic process or something, as if weren’t solely a masturbatory attempt at putting a stick of dynamite to this supposed writer’s block that’s kept you pent up in a Jericho of blankets with a box of tissues and a copy of Ortega’s “Man Has No Nature” at your side. And I am positive you are going to stick in some pseudo-intellectual reference somewhere in that sentence, when, in reality, I ended it at “box of tissues.” Let it be known that that’s where that sentence truly ended. But if you were really being honest with yourself, which I don’t think you’ve done since high school because we can all admit college and those dense film theory courses were the worst thing that could have happened to you, you’d realize you spend every free second of your life making excuses for your inability to act, to actually do anything, as if no person before has ever failed or been slapped with rejection, as if you were the only one in the history of humankind to ever experience life’s pitfalls. And I know you’re going to wrap this whole thing up with some self-aware, winking at the camera shtick, just to reassure everyone that you couldn’t possibly be that narcissistic, when, in all actuality, it could be an opportunity for the only authentic, irony-free thing you’ve done in nearly six years.
*I wrote this over a year ago. It never found a proper home, so here it is:
“What if we burned it down?”
The question hung in the air and rattled around in each boy’s head for at least two minutes before one of them spoke up.
“What are ya talkin’ about?” Jim finally spat out, mostly just to break the oppressive silence.
A 5/8-filled pot of coffee sat at the center of their small, circular table like some dark crystal ball, and the overhanging shroud of cigarette smoke only added to the mystical illusion. Peter rapidly tapped his fingers on the table to the beat of “Tusk;” his fingernails, about a week overdue for a trimming, added a sharpness to his percussion. Saul snubbed his cigarette out in the heaping ashtray that sat on the bookshelf behind him and tucked it behind his left ear; it disappeared into a forest of dark hair. Across from him, David cradled his mug in both hands, alternating between softly blowing on the top and taking shallow, cautionary sips. He set it down suddenly, the clank throwing Peter off his rhythm.
If identity politics governed film festivals
I wrote this today.
- If you can’t cite Hegel’s influence on the oeuvre of Ingmar Bergman, swipe left!
- “I’ve already told you: the only way to a woman’s heart is along the path of torment. I know none other as sure.” - Marquis de Sade
- DeVry ‘18
- Instagram: @philspector_superfan
- If you have a picture with any sort of carcass, I’m guaranteed to swipe right!
- Settlers of Catan players only!
- Lover of travel … magazines
- I’ve watched Antichrist a million times lol
- I’m REALLY into horses