Monday, July 25, 2011

Weather Patterns.

Really, it wasn’t anybody’s fault. People were being blamed for it, because blaming people felt better than having no one to blame at all, but, if you had to blame anyone or any one thing, it should have been the location; but even then it’s hard to place blame. How can you pinpoint a phenomenon?

Her mother placed both parts equal blame. She blamed her daughter for marrying a fulminologist and she blamed her son-in-law for moving her daughter to Florida.

The Son-in-law also blamed the daughter, his wife, for being so God damned stubborn, but he also blamed himself for trying to convince her that it could wait until morning, that they could use cell phones as alarms, that no one needed to get out of bed right this minute to run downstairs to trip the breaker. 

Right before she fell she blamed her husband wholly, though, she might have reconsidered and blamed herself for trying to prove a point, but, after her neck broke, there wasn't any going back on that kind of decision making. 

Her father blamed the carpet company for not pulling the carpet tight enough so that the fall might have been avoided. 

The carpet guy blamed his drug dealer for running out of the regular stuff he smoked and so he had to pay extra for the stonger stuff that made him lose his concentration. 

What’s really amazing about all of this is that during the course of the blaming no one thought to blame the storm that brought the lightning that knocked out the power that angered the wife that stirred the argument between her and the husband that compelled her to get out of bed and march down the stairs and fall to her death because after all -- who can predict a phenomenon?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hard Skin

The first one she collected came to her; fell into her lap after the man sitting next to her on the subway clipped it off with no regard for where it would land or how far it would go. She looked down at its simple complexity, at its crescent moon shape, at the specks of dirt and dust on its underside and thought to herself: This is the piece of a person. Not wanting to attract attention, she placed her hand over the fingernail that had taken residence in the dip of her dress and waited until the man rose from his seat and shuffled out the double doors. When it was clear she placed the fingernail in her purse where it would remain until she arrived home, where she would place it in a jar and label it with the day's date. This curiosity became an obsession, and after only five months, her apartment was crammed full of jars full of fingernails.

It was on a Friday in November when she learned about the meetings, her co-worker, two cubicles over, a fellow collector, saw her picking a hangnail off the carpet with a pair of tweezers and decided to invite her. "I want to show you something," he said, gesturing for her to follow him to his workspace. He opened a desk drawer, and inside were dozens of eyelashes, pressed between thin sheets of glass, as if he were preparing to view them under a microscope. "They're only ones people have blown away and made wishes on," he said, beaming with pride. "How can you tell?" she asked. He made a face at her that suggested confusion. "It's a very delicate process," he said. "You know that." She didn't, but she nodded regardless and said, "Oh, yes, of course."

At the collector's meetings that met once a month, people pulled out delicate containers and viewing cases, each with only single things inside of them. Her co-worker passed around an eyelash labeled "despair," and explained to everyone that the person who blew on it had wished that their loved one would wake up from a coma. People murmured in approval of his exposition. One man passed around a jar that was empty, but, when she held it it felt like it was full of angry bees. It was labeled "faggot," and he explained to everyone that he collected hateful slurs, and that this one was caught at a baseball game with his gay son.

Several other jars and containers were passed around, and, when it came for her, she pulled out her largest jar of fingernails which was simply labeled "fingernails" and attempted to hand it to the woman sitting next to her. But she didn't move. No one said anything. When she asked if she should pass it around the other way, again no one spoke until the silence became unbearable and someone piped up and said, "No, I think we get the idea." The woman to her right pulled out an empty jar and unscrewed the lid, held it near her face for several seconds, scooping it through the air like she was trying to catch a firefly, before placing the jar in her lap and sealing the lid shut. She taped a label onto it, scribbled the word "embarassment" down and began passing it around the room.

She, the woman with the fingernails, moved to leave. As she made her way out, someone bobbed the jar up and down in their hand. Before the door closed behind her she heard them say to the person sitting next to them: "This is just awful. I'd hate to be whoever this came from."

The Subjectivity of Taste

She was smiling in front of a structure that looked like it was stacked with hard candy, lime greens and lemon yellows, strawberry reds and orange melons, all laid out with concise precision on top of one another, and the bright colors illicited something in him, made his mouth water, made him thirsty for something, though he couldn't tell what, if it was the architecture or the girl, who stood there with her toes pointed inward laughing about something, some secret that he desperately wanted to know, but couldn't, but never would, because it was only a picture, because he didn't really know her, because he never really knew her at all.