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Fourth Sitting

The last sitting was somewhat shorter than those previous to give you some time to test out the tricks you've learned thus far: Did the "swirlie" hurt? Did your "walk the dog" brain area grow? Did the other third-graders giggle at the "Butt" jokes? Were the pictures you drew pretty? (...If you understand the nature and pattern of the rehash going on here, please feel free to continue it, either aloud or writing in the margins (between the pictures), or perhaps writing via tattoo.)

Due to that exciting news about sandwiches in Mexico (i.e. the fact that they may contain provolone and/or tripe), I would like to start a Mexican translation of this work, in hope that it, too, can be sold on sandwiches. This translation will be for Mexico only; the handwriting and/or font will be such that actual Spaniards or Southern hemispherdites will mistakenly think that it is a book about how everything they really needed to know they learned in Kindergarten, and so toss it up through their collective esophagus. After another few microseconds of hard consideration, and, well (because my brain hurts when I think), screaming, I got the groovy idea that I should include it under the same cover to make this volume thicker. The problem is that after many years of Spanish class, I remember only the word "agua," meaning water, so I could only translate this work roughly, as, well basically: "Agua Agua Agua. ¿Agua? ¡Agua!" This would be not quite as much fun as continuing in Anglish (tr: Inglés) as I have been doing.

Something in the last paragraph was a fib. I also remember "cebo de cabra," which means "goat suet." I always knew it would come in handy, and this is the day, for I think that word (or rather phrase) can serve as a rough translation for tripe, at least better than agua. When I was in Mexico (imaginative readers may wish to imagine that I have been to Mexico), and I asked for agua on my sandwich, I did not get tripe, and instead provolone.

I spoke of random general enemies, and now I speak of foreign tongues. The two are related, I know, for I took as a lad quite a few Spanish classes in which we learned not only vocabulary generally useful for the tourist, but also Spanish art, Spanish geography, Spanish origami, and the word for "goat suet." Why, we even leaned about regional-specific holidays in Spain, like the one I invented for Extremadura ("the Montana of Spain") for the purposes of a presentation I had to give. I called my holiday San Juan de la Cruz Day, and it was included on the final exam. After reading my thirtieth story by Ana Maria Matute, who I am convinced is the only author in Spain, I decided that I hated all Spanish-speakers everywhere, especially those that I did not know, which included pretty much all of them. If only that mass didn't exist, I wouldn't have to endure the bitter suffering that I was getting easy A minuses in; I wouldn't have to wake up from stormy dreams and find myself reciting the words for those fruits and vegetables associated with paintings by Goya.

So I developed a surly plan, I tell you, as devious as it was wily, which would with one swift kick remove all Spanish-speakers from my world and establish English as the universal language. I didn't carry it out though, as I was kind of tired, and settled instead upon a good long siesta, or rather agua.

As I said earlier, or rather randomly lied earlier, creativity is slow, but one must be slow, and yes, painful, to oneself and others, if one is to write a story with an actual point. The point or moral or message must be carefully interwoven with lots of descriptions of the sky, and people's facial expressions, and whether they crept stealthily or schemingly. For reasons like these, this book, especially in the wake of the preceding story, is not really a creative endeavor. Also, as it has no genre except a negatively-designated one (i.e. "not a creative endeavor"), there are no appropriate standards to judge it by, so I must have been wrong about this being a bad book. Also I should like to use the word if: if if if if if if if iF if if ìf ífîfïf if fi if iffy if & only if iff iffingly if `ifternoon, ma'am, if IF! ifIfifififififififififififfififififififififififif.

No, this is definitely a bad book. If more of it was like that last bit I should have to stop writing and do a choose-your-own-adventure instead. So I will magically as my first bonafidely wise act dub this book as a member of the genre of crappy books.

I would congratulate myself as an incredible genius at this point if the preceding move hadn't been obvious by page III. (Suggestion for reader participation: nod and say "Yes, I saw that one coming a mile away, yes I did. Also I saw Star Wars 16 times in the theater.")

Yeah, well, I saw it 20 times. And also snakes have green eyes, and other things. Relate the following three words: die, death, dead.

The connection, of course, is Spanish, which has words for all three, though I don't actually know them. Speaking of death, well heck, how can I help but say something profound about so profound and deep and overwhelming...

No. stop. In an effort to make this effort mildly readable, I have gradually and subconsciously decided to either be amusing or mildly thoughtful at any given moment. Despite the fact that I have not succeeded in doing this, I got a wave of apprehension during the last paragraph that I was obliged to, well, write something good, as in funny, when in fact I shouldn't be trying to write in any particular way, and I shouldn't be scolding myself for setting demands on myself; in fact, the word "should" shouldn't enter into this endeavor at all.

I see my cover is blown. I tear off all guises and shields and expose my bodkin for what it is:

See?

Ah, well, I guess you can't actually see, this being a book, and I being too lazy to draw a picture at this point. I was trying to reveal some darkly things about my motivation for being a tripe conduit, a mere part of your mind, an appendage or an itch in an appendage for another person, but it's really too complicated just to blurt out, and as it is, well, okay, maybe it might be an actually interesting topic compared to those so far discussed (I use the word "discussed" very loosely here -- phonetically, even.), but I have psychological bogeys about it, and you might dump me later or something. And besides, I am just a narrative persona, so in describing myself I'd only be describing you, or... something cool-sounding-in-a-surprising-table-turning-way like that.

Well, heck, my confidence is back. Why, just reading some of the last pages and seeing poorly-phrased passages like "I got a wave of apprehension," I am touched by my success in not applying the wealth of writing and grammar skills I possess.

...Which is what it all comes down to really: (note: I will use phrases like the preceding often and with little or no justification) I/we was/were taught in school the correct way to construct a paragraph. For instance, this kind of paragraph was taught to be correct:

Zoos are beneficial for many reasons. Firstly, they provide protection and shelter for animals. Secondly, they allow people to learn about unfamiliar species. Finally, they are good places for dates; they are especially good in suggesting sex to one's partner through the observation of animal behavior. In conclusion, zoos are beneficial for many reasons.

...While this was deemed inferior:

Zoos are beneficial for many reasons. Firstly, they provide things. I went to the zoo once, and monkeys ate my brother. It was cool, and suggested sex to my partner, who wanted to learn about the unfamiliar male species. Zoos are cool. I like them. In conclusion, zoos are beneficial for many reasons.

Now you know and I know that the latter paragraph is much better, that it says a whole hell of a lot about its author and the psychological forces shaping him, and in turn about humanity and general, especially youth, what with their sexual confusions and ambivalence about loved ones (including brothers) that all we adults are so surely free of... But still the first paragraph with its skillfully-constructed argument and its glue words always-received the better grade. What does that teach kids? Why, it teaches them to be just like you, or more precisely, you.

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© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer [ Contents ]