Friday, October 8, 2010

You'd Think So, Wouldn't You? If You Were Insane.

The first tale I ever read to the cowboy was a Stephen King story called Premium Harmony, a cumbersome title for an elegant narrative whose horrors and humors (and indeed what’s the difference?) popped like so much corn from each page.

I tried to read with what my grammar school teachers once called “expression” so as to maximize the cowboy’s enjoyment—okay, let's face it, so as to maximize my own completely deluded enjoyment in imagining that this “reading aloud thing” would turn out to be The Thing---the grail, the key, the magical secret, the tipping point, the unstoppable power--that would get him, at long last, to love me.

While I was busy e-nun-ci-a-ting and sliding my voice around like a trombone the better to suit King’s various (but always doomed) characters, I was, of course, missing the point of what the cowboy was actually hearing: his first narrative concerning people not named Dick and Jane.

Which meant, of course, that I was also missing the point of what he was actually experiencing: the almost unbelievable gulf that lay between Dick and Jane (not to mention Spot and Puff) and Ray and Mary.  Ray and Mary being King’s married couple whose modern lives of bickering sorrow are forever changed by one trip to Wal-Mart.

When I say unbelievable gulf, I mean that the cowboy did not believe such a gulf had ever existed, let alone that he had, thanks to my benevolent spidery self, just been lifted across it.

“Does it really say that?” he would ask whenever I read him something particularly delicious, mean, or profane.

“Yes!” I would say, showing him the page so he could see for himself.

But even when he looked at it he didn’t believe it.

“They really print fuck?” he marveled.

There’s a point in the story where Ray tells himself that if he comes back to the Wal-Mart (in which his wife Mary has just keeled over dead) in a week or so and plays his cards right, that one of the sympathetic clerks just might toss him a mercy fuck. (Not that he would, but he sees that maybe he could. If he wanted to.)  

“Yes,” I assured the cowboy. “They can print anything now.”

It was as if I had just shown him sliced bread.   And wouldn't you fall in love with anyone who had just shown you sliced bread?  Especially if you were never going to slice it yourself and she was the only person you knew with a slicer?  

You'd think so, wouldn't you? 

If you were insane.

“That was great,” he said when I finished the story. “You read with such great expression,” he said.

Really, he said that. That’s because, well-read, unread, or anything else, he is the spider and I am the fly.  And he knows exactly which words to say to keep me forever trapped in his web.


  1. Oh, dear. But, former spider, you started out so well....

  2. Alas, isn't it always thus viz. spider to web?

  3. Wonderful piece.

    I love this part:

    “Does it really say that?” he would ask whenever I read him something particularly delicious, mean, or profane.

  4. Dear Tanita, Anon, and Linda:
    Thanks as always for making me think.
    And, by making me think, making me post.

  5. your blog administratorNovember 10, 2010 at 8:40 PM

    Time to post.