Feb. 3, 2010
Because I'm getting pretty gray at the temples,
which negatively impacts my earning potential
and does not necessarily attract vibrant young women
with their perfumed bosoms to dally with me
on the green hillside,
I go out and buy some Grecian Hair Formula.
And after the whole process, which involves
rubber gloves, a tiny chemistry set,
and perfect timing, I look great.
I look very fresh and virile, full of earning potential.
But when I take my fifteen-year-old beagle
out for his evening walk, the contrast is unfortunate.
Next to me he doesn't look all that great,
with his graying snout, his sort of faded,
worn-out-dog look. It makes me feel old,
walking around with a dog like that.
It's not something a potential employer,
much less a vibrant young woman with a perfumed bosom
would necessarily go for. So I go out
and get some more Grecian Hair Formula—
Light Brown, my beagle's original color.
And after all the rigmarole he looks terrific.
I mean, he's not going to win any friskiness contests,
not at fifteen. But there's a definite visual improvement.
The two of us walk virilely around the block.
The next day a striking young woman at the bookstore
happens to ask me about my parents,
who are, in fact, long dead, due to the effects of age.
They were very old, which causes death.
But having dead old parents does not go
with my virile, intensely fresh new look.
So I say to the woman, my parents are fine.
They love their active lifestyle in San Diego.
You know, windsurfing, jai alai, a still-vibrant sex life.
And while this does not necessarily cause her
to come dally with me on the green hillside, I can tell
it doesn't hurt my chances.
I can see her imagining dinner
with my sparkly, young-seeming mom and dad
at some beachside restaurant
where we would announce our engagement.
Your son has great earning potential,
she'd say to dad, who would take
a gander at her perfumed bosom
and give me a wink, like he used to do
back when he was alive, and vibrant.
It's the birthday of the epic novelist James A. Michener, (books by this author) born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania (1907), the author of Tales of the South Pacific. He said, "I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter."
It's the birthday of writer Gertrude Stein, (books by this author) born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (1874). When she was 30 years old, she moved to Paris and lived there for almost the rest of her life. She once said, "America is my country and Paris is my hometown." She covered the walls of her house in Paris with paintings by Cézanne, Picasso, Renoir, Gauguin, and others. Her house became known as "The Salon," and writers and artists came from all over to get advice and encouragement from her. Ernest Hemingway once said, "Gertrude was always right."
It's the birthday of the man who said: "Becoming a writer is not a 'career decision' like becoming a doctor or a policeman. You don't choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accept the fact that you're not fit for anything else, you have to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days." Paul Auster, (books by this author) born in Newark, New Jersey (1947), is the author of The New York Trilogy (1985–86),a set of idiosyncratic detective stories that deal with questions of identity and existential thought, as well as a memoir, The Invention of Solitude (1982), and several other books, including the novels Moon Palace (1989), Oracle Night (2004), The Brooklyn Follies (2005), and recently Man in the Dark (2008) and Invisible (2009).
Paul Auster said: "I don't know why I do what I do. If I did know, I probably wouldn't feel the need to do it. ... Surely it is an odd way to spend your life — sitting alone in a room with a pen in your hand, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, struggling to put words on pieces of paper in order to give birth to what does not exist — except in your head. Why on earth would anyone want to do such a thing? The only answer I have ever been able to come up with is: because you have to, because you have no choice.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®