Shoots and Leaves

Dearest Carla Fran,


I am sorry to hear about the stray verb that marred your cover letter. Those little things can disturb one so afterwards–even vicariously, as I can attest.  I heard a student yesterday use the word “brung” to a professor during a seminar on the Augustan Age. It bothered me enough on his behalf that I dreamed of the word “brung” last night. I woke up  feeling like the wizened grammarian I am, and wondering whether I should at long last read that book Eats, Shoots and Leaves. This led me to think about an ex-boyfriend who loves that book. He’s a brilliant swing dancer, doesn’t believe in God, and is getting a doctorate in neuroscience. I wished for a moment that I knew what he knew.


I will say, though, that one misconjugated verb does not–and I think Strunk and White would agree–a cover letter make or break. The student’s comment was actually quite brilliant, and the professor spent more time addressing it than he did on any of the other better-conjugated but less interesting remarks.


I spent more time with Meg Ryan. I agree about the overall “blurghiness” and I’m bothered too by the amount of product in Meg’s hair, the curls of which remind me of window tassels or gift-wrap ribbon corkscrewed by scissors. I don’t know why I never reacted this way to Debra Messing’s curls (which were similar) during her stint in Will and Grace.  Maybe the color helped. It’s like an overly manicured garden–there’s very little pleasure in such a thing. You can’t imagine it ruffled by a snuffling dog or happily hosting a picnic.  This grieves me, as Meg’s hair has historically evoked the dandelion more than the orchid.


This, I think, supports my aesthetic objection to the over-plucked ab-defined orifice-waxed cellulite-free woman. A body that consumes that much mechanical work (in the sheer physics sense) can’t possibly have a sense of humor about itself, and is committed to an unnatural stasis. A body in motion stays in motion, but a body that’s being constantly pruned and weeded hearkens back, in a sad Sisyphean way, to the Bantu tribesman hacking at the jungle as it encroaches on the area he cleared for farming. I suppose it’s the confusion in our culture about evolution, conservation and preservation–the first is inevitable, the second is commendable, but shouldn’t the third should be the exclusive province of museums? Even Snow White finally climbed out of her coffin.


I can’t decide whether or not to count the re-appearance of Meg, Annette, Debra et al as a victory. In one way, yes–the same way that the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Part 2 is a victory. Only with older and funny actresses! Hurrah! But why oh why are we (and they) in the abject position of having to accept and promote such a script? Why do we have to celebrate such blurghiness, such mediocrity?


I went shooting again. It was less fun. On the left of us were two large pink boys, the kind whose heads seem both cylindrical and square, each with a stiff little brush of hair at the top. They were shooting their own guns. The .44 was aerodynamic and pretty, which somehow made it a hundred times scarier than our Gunnie. It was a luxury gun, a needlessly big and noisy gun.


“This cartridge,” Pink Boy 1 screamed, holding up a shell the size of an ultra-absorbent tampon, “can go through a concrete ______.”


The shells flew out to the right and hit us hard on the head and back. They kept asking us to shoot it. We finally did. A blue flame flashes out. The kickback is painful, even after you lock every joint in your body. The noise is deafening. It’s impossible to aim with such a thing so their target was a mess, but they clearly thought they were the gun equivalent of the cat’s pajamas. On the right were two expressionless middle-aged Korean men who had chosen the target of the woman being held hostage by the thief (the only target, I now realize, that has anything really resembling a human, with a face and expression). They were blasting the woman’s face out. When they missed and got the man, they brought the target back and taped his face over again so it would look free of bullet holes.


After I left, there was no naked lounging and no pikapika. I missed you terribly.






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