detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Wednesday, August 28, 2002

: . To Life!

Gorged on Chinese takeout I decide to walk off the calories in the muggy outdoors. “Your health, your health!” I tell myself. Fresh air. Exercise. I am after all no spring chicken. So why do I end up walking back home carrying an overpriced liter bottle of Tanqueray (I could’ve bought a hardcover!) from the nearby liquor store? And worse, the cashier, this old troll, doesn’t even bother to ask for my ID. After years of looking young for my age, Time has finally caught up with me and, as the Russian novelist Nina Berberova once melodramatically put it, has cruelly “wielded its axe over my features.” This alone calls for a stiff drink. Not that I’ve ever been “easy on the eyes” as it were, but this, of all my many concerns, is the easiest to gripe about. The rest can wait. To each its own day of lamentations. For the past three days, I lay curled in bed, like a piece of dried shrimp, like a cheese doodle, the blinds drawn down, the lights off, and nothing, nothing but NPR rattling out the latest calamity and the air-conditioner on hi-cool. Once during a previous “episode,” after I had enumerated the usual woes, my friend S. asked me, “but you’re still showering right?” and when I tell her that I haven’t gone crazy enough to wallow in my own filth, she replied, “well, you’re alright then.” On the front stoop of my apartment building, this forlorn Romeo, drenched in sweat, was muttering “Get out of my life, you bitch!” again and again but with different intonations. He seemed to be savoring the phrase, turning each word in his mouth, and figuring out the most savage way he can spit the phrase out. When I approach him, he turns toward me and says, “It’s like, you know, writing things in a book.” At this, he raises one hand as if he were picking a ripe fruit. And then, “Get out of my life, you bitch!” in all its infinite variety across the street and up, up the evening sky.

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