Now, this may not be pretty, but the telling of it is a necessity. Set nowhere at all in California like some Raymond Chandler detective novel to be revived via an atmospheric beach-front film noir hard-boiled crime drama, this piece is happening in Columbia City, the Land-of-a-Very-Few-Choice-Lakes. I am not the first sort of writer to establish my drama while floating somewhere above this dominion…Hoosier Theodore Dreiser typed what those in the know affirm to be the great American Novel in this very locale…LOON LAKE, my friends…Yes, “An American Tragedy” full of pouting and sex and murder by … drowning. My story nearly matches his. I am somewhat inspired by a super new film entitled “Inherent Vice” (we’ve ALL been there, ya know) a much adored atypical book from a 77 year old beatnik who rivals J. D. Salinger. Yes, quirky recluse Thomas Pynchon (usually penning Physics books) and I have both been around the block, so to speak, a few dozen times.
Still in development…isn’t everything? Currently only this outline of tips exists for you, DEAR AND DEARER AND DEAREST READERS, to peruse. A major cautionary overview follows– necessary to dispel grapevine hearsay:
1. Lead in with a portentous statement…and so it goes…Never allow sentiment to dictate the purchase of your old 1935 homestead which hinges upon shedding a perfectly adequate 1952 “Better Homes & Garden” type dwelling the Cleavers would have died for — in a decent more progressive zippy larger town — and then feeling joyful possessing enough cash in hand to close the deal. “Don’t wish for what you might want, cuz then you might get it,” sang Australian Peter Allen. You show and you show and you show…ding dong ding…an appointed family member walks three dogs that you are pretending you do not count as family members…another family member must remember to kick temporarily the cat’s litter box under the spare bedroom’s mattress’s freshly washed and ironed dust ruffle. Another family member squirts vanilla or blueberry aerosol cans all about…dried up, aromatic, crumbling pot pourri leaves (what pirate devised THAT concept?) disguise ash trays scattered to and fro. Voila…instant success…no, not yet…not yet! (Why did we EVER do this? Editorial comment.)
2. Forget about returning to your old hometown roots BECAUSE (and this should probably have been my number ONE tip from reading all of my life…damn?) because Southern novelist from North Carolina Thomas Wolfe accurately implied “YOU CANNOT GO HOME AGAIN, stupid”…what about his well-earned judgment did I fail to grasp? Everybody gave Tom a difficult time so he drank a lot and wrote all about all of them even more! Ha! Whoa, I had not read his books yet at that particular passing of the torch event but my mother belonged to his fan club? AHA! I could elaborate on this juicy topic but would step on way too many toes…I know this for a fact. And fictionally named people would know who they truly are in a heartbeat?
3. When your doting daddy draws up a will which he saved and which you still look at and cry— leaving you, an 8 year old kid, his home, his estate because he knows how much you love it (just talking generalities here) — and you review the dreary sometimes heartbreaking years spent in public schools and realize you could have started housekeeping had your parents run away to India or somewhere while you no longer got forced to trudge off in the direction of the 2nd grade…you lament that things got so far outta hand. You realize that your “Merry Widow” mother who moved to Indy (a trendy word for INDIANAPOLIS…trendy Indy) clutches your huge huge huge check…all of your money in this world in her little shaking hand…that the woman never had to show her house…or make repairs to the roofs you replaced four times from that day forward and the basement plumbing and the furnace and and and…that your mother was certainly a far better businessman than your father. (CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCEMENT AND SUGGESTION–ELECT HILLARY WHEN GIVEN ANOTHER CHANCE, FOLKS!)
4. Speaking of vintage plumbing fixtures now that I have passed the age Franklin Delano Roosevelt was when he died at Warm Springs, Georgia from a cerebral hemorrhage while in a compromising situation (an etching of him decorates my soap dish dated — you guessed it —1935!)…when I climb into my cast iron bathtub which can never leave the premises as it resides up a creaky narrow staircase which additionally turns a very tight corner to a landing which is the size of a postage stamp and then up up and away some more, AND WHEN I finally become situated in the very short tub, I realize that now Obama is president so I have taken bubble baths in the same glugging tub throughout how many presidencies??? Well, Hail to all of you chiefs! The drain both leaks AND clogs, and I guarantee that this time-warped body and that powder room antique are a disaster waiting to engage in some creative synchronized swimming STROKES of a different sort. As I currently claim to be ninety (because I have more than earned that status), the headline (maybe just maybe I’ll finally make it above the fold of the local rag and not instead onto page three again…never to be continued to page four?), the alarmist sensational attention-grabber might read: VERY OLD BAT FALLS DOWN GOES BOOM AND APPARENTLY GUSHED OUT HER NEW SENIOR CITIZEN BATHTUB THROUGH ITS SIDE DOOR All THE WAY TO A LOCAL NURSING FACILITY AND HER “GROOM” (not my favorite word choice unless I am working with a horse) CLAIMS HE NOTICED NOTHING UNUSUAL! Trust me. Totally possible!
5. Now, when a smart person like I am is referred to as “bossy” just because I have great ideas and once or twice tried to sell them through repetition which –by sour misogynous types –might get referred to as nagging, I defend myself revealing that I have pleaded like the Depression era’s favorite orphan, Annie to replace this tub by whatever means necessary. I am a bather not a showerer (shades of “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”…) the two species have nothing in common. A nice relaxing Nancy Reagan bubble bath…is that so much to ask? Others my age and younger (which hurts even more) have by some method built one home after the other each roomier than the preceding one and travelled hither and thither and yon and golfed and pooled and ocean-sided and certainly seem to share their good fortune via their marvelous lifestyle stories up one side and down the other…well, I now have something precious to offer in return? A photograph of Timmy MY Dog who would have turned 59 years of age on March 25th (our preacher’s wife Cornelia’s birthday also!) of this particular year…and that is NOT in dog years where one year equals approximately seven…actually a 59 year old Toy Manchester posing in what was once upon a time only a 20 year old tub a tub tub! I can feel the envy even as I write this little Sam Spade essay here…to manage to go through life hanging onto such a special memory and hold proof of such a happy happy little canine’s existence right in your hot little hand. I do NOT take after my mother. I AM my father’s daughter! Am I a phenomenal sucker or not? Rather I prefer to compare myself to that Arquette girl (Charley Weaver’s grand-daughter they say) who won the Golden Globe and the Screen Actor’s Guild Award and THE ACADEMY AWARD just the other day. YES, I DO LOVE MOVIES… who doesn’t? Now, don’t lie! Patricia, grandchild of Cliff Arquette, singlehandedly assured my appreciation for “Boyhood” this terribly dull, contrived movie plodding along in the manner of coming-of-age-is-just-reserved -for boys-in-their-rites-of-la-dee-dah-passage which always IS A CLICHÉ OF THE FIRST ORDER! In her capable hands a totally believable individual emerged…she stole the show which should have been retitled “Personhood”! Oh, and the director is a VEGAN! So there…I do have my individualized moments of sheer happiness after all is said and done. I just pray from my awkward practically curled up position that I do not crack my head open and do not drown in the very same bathtub that Timmy has been smiling back at me from during these scores of years. Now that would be pretty film noir, wouldn’t it?