Friday, July 9, 2010

The 49 percent

I had a massage yesterday. Oil, hot rocks, deep tissue, you name it, I had it. The masseuse was a tiny woman, probably half my size, clothes the size of sandwich bags. But, man, did she have some tough little hands. Of course, as always, my neck was of great concern to her. Or maybe even grave concern.
"Oh my god," she said, slathering jojoba on the damaged terrain of my non-sloping, non-feminine shoulders, "are you a lawyer?"
I laughed through the ripples of pain shooting up through my head. "No, I'm a writer."

"Ahhh." I could feel her nodding her head vigorously. "A writer. So that means you're broke most of the time and you can't get out of your own way."


I live my life twice. First in the actual events, second, in the retelling of fragments of events. It is in the retelling, fictional or not, that there is a grain of hope. No sprout, no water, just a grain needing earth to germinate. At times, it seems dishonest, writing a character from my real life. All of the true details are there; hard working, hard living, Marlboro smoking, angry man with a past that no historian would want to uncover. He (and this could be any man in my family, and some friends) is hopeless in the real world, unable to get out of his own f*cked up way. But in a story, maybe in a closing chapter, he redeems himself, even just a little bit. Maybe he quits drinking, or maybe he brushes his daughter's hair or tells his son that he's proud of him.

Maybe if I write it, it will happen.

You are probably gagging by now, on the naivete of this chain of thoughts. But why not live in the maybe, the part of maybe that exposes a horizon much deeper in color and texture than we ever thought possible in real life. Why the f*ck not?

I was ripped out of my thoughts by another question. Apparently, in a half sleep and high on peppermint oil fumes, I said something about never wanting to be married again, about how I was bad at it, and how I am VERY done wanting to have children.

"So, are you a man-hater?" She set a scalding rock on the back of my neck. It sizzled for just a second.


"No," I said flatly. "I love men. I understand them. More than I do women, sometimes. It's the ones who've got no b*lls that I have trouble with. The ones with no integrity, the ones who don't keep their word."

"Well, maybe you could write the gutless ones into better people."

"I wouldn't even know what they would look like as stronger people," I said with a tinge a bitterness.

"Maybe they would look like you," she laughed.

"God, I hope not," I said.

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