Six months have passed since I retired, and I am slowly redrawing my habits. I was happy to leave the back-to-back conference calls and the constant grinding stress from my corporate masters. I was not happy to leave my work comrades. I had processed – therapeutically – the feelings about leaving them and still think of them fondly every day. I had not, however, considered the feelings I would have about the non-work part. I miss the trappings. I miss my gym.
February came and went before I was able to send my corporate polo shirt out of the house, the uniform that I wore weekly for years. I felt silly, but I took a photo. I still long for the fresh turkey sandwich on a French roll that I would literally run next door to get in the five minute break between calls. I miss reading the newspaper on BART going into the city. I challenged myself daily to complete the cryptogram and the two crossword puzzles between Lake Merritt station and my office, which meant finishing them while I walked the five blocks to work. I couldn’t do it if it was raining. This month, I finally decided to find a new gym.
I don’t want to write about my dad, even though Father’s Day is coming this week, and that’s a natural topic for my blog. Circumstances in recent weeks have thrust this topic into my lap, but I am resisting full force. In a prompt from my writing class, we were asked to pick the fourteenth photo in a randomly chosen album. The fourteenth photo: there we are in North Carolina on a drive from Detroit to Miami in 1973, but my first thought was, I don’t want to write about me and my dad.
Later that day, my wise friend Nancy saw a set of essays about famous fathers on http://myoldman.org/. With praise towards my weekly entries, she wondered what I would say about my parents instead of writing about food or art. How can you refuse a friend? Especially when they flatter you?
I didn’t know my dad well enough. That’s my problem.
The whole world is at her fingertips and it has been for years.
I read this book last year where the hero and villain chased each other across several countries to acquire secret technology that would rule the world. It had jet planes and speedboats and was written in the late nineties. The secret technology was described as the ability to connect all the world’s encyclopedias so that someone could type a word into a computer and learn everything there is to know about that thing. It would make education available to all, raise the standard of living for the poor, equalize disparate classes, and topple secret governments. The Internet.
[Gentle Readers: This week’s blog is a short work of fiction for a rare change. I have started a writing class and hope to provide the next new and improved normal nonfiction entries, after receiving instruction and feedback. Meanwhile, one class suggestion for this week was to reimagine a fairy tale, and I thought you might get a kick out of my submission. As always, I welcome YOUR feedback as well. ]
The Grand Ball was the big event of the season, a chance for the duchesses and baronesses to display their most extravagant gowns and jewels to trap the eye of eligible bachelors. Silk brocade swished through the air as the dancers whirled through the intricate steps of Empire waltzes. The music swelled as the violins approached a crescendo, propelling the whirling dancers into their fastest turns, and drowning out the sound as the poisoned darts hit home.
Can you fall in love under duress? If you lived in a world that required you to mate for life OR ELSE – could you do it? How would you do it? Would you try to fake it? Could you be convincing? What if you had to fool the Spousal Police?
Now the fact that you will turn into an animal if you fail to fall in love with someone during your stay here is not something that should upset you or get you down.
– Hotel Manager, The Lobster
There is something intriguing and dare I say it? fun about a movie in the alternate world, dystopian as the critics call it, the world that seems like our own but is just Off. The Lobster, a 2015 movie now making the arthouse cinema rounds is one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen in a long time. It takes place in a society like our own, with modern dress, skyscrapers, freeways, and hotel swimming pools very much like our own. But it becomes quickly obvious that there is something different going on. In that sense it’s more like a puzzle, like The Sixth Sense or Fahrenheit 451 or the Memento. Something is different.
The first part has to establish that difference and to give it shape. We don’t need to know why the rules are this way, not at the outset, but we need to know what they are. The setup in The Lobster is that the adults without mates are required to become “guests” at a hotel. They must couple up within 45 days or they will be transformed – surgically, and the less said about those gory details the better– into the animal of their choice. The couples must be validated to the satisfaction of the authorities, so you can’t just pick somebody. Tests must be passed. When the guests are given shotguns to help reinforce the rules, the consequences of failure are clarified. Continue reading “The World Must Be Peopled!”