Once my contribution to someone else’s writing project is done, I’ll ask for the tin car as payment. The tin car is red, has fins and a paint job of raging flames painted on the sides. It sat next to the computer yesterday afternoon on the flecked and scratched metal table.
The car took on quasi-mythical dimensions when I got home. You see, I was disgusted with the English language. Disgusted with several other things too, including my ineptness at producing a newsletter on a system I don’t understand (I printed out and saved a copy of the mess I produced. There may not be a November newsletter unless I manage to cajole an ornery type into doing it; said ornery type loves getting cajoled to the point of refusal. People get their kicks in weird ways.)
So, as disgusted and dispirited I wandered through my books, I made faces and crossed my eyes at all the ones written in English. Bypassed all the ones written in Russian, Portuguese or Spanish. And opened Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Douze Contes Vagabonds at random, for the simple reason my copy is in French. (For some reason, I don’t ascribe as much importance to flaming insults hurled about in French as I do to milder rebukes voiced in English. Go figure.)
Where was I ? Yes, at Marquez. I open at random. Un Métier de Rêve reads the title of the tale. In the first paragraph? The Cuban seafront along Maleçon. The one featured in a clip done of the Buena Vista Social Club. In the story, a huge wave washes ashore and grabs several cars for Neptune’s lunch. One of those cars doesn’t wash out to sea. It gets embedded into the front of the hotel. The driver? Call her a has-been. An unfortunate casualty, a… But wait. The ring on her shattered hand. Is it… etc. (You want the rest, you read the story.)
“… Catastrophe and ruin will come; disorder will triumph,
but order will too, from time to time.”
Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian
In context, I find Yourcenar’s “from time to time” funny. But that’s like most situational humor; unless the teller is gifted to an extraordinary degree, you have to be there to get the joke.
I guess I’m not gifted to that degree as a writer. Or I’m not telling my jokes to the right people. Or both. Or…
“My father was the keeper of the Eddy Match Company in Montreal, and one night he…”