July 31, 2009

Ramble time.
   Lord, I was born a rambling man…trying to make a living and doing the best I can…
All right, Gregg Allman I’m not. What I am, however, is deep into that quicksand of emptiness, mired in the sinkhole of desolation.
   I am dry as a bone. Artistically, I mean. Creatively. Inspirationally. Wittily. Geniusly. You get idea, even if I do occasionally make up my own words.
   “That’s not a word,” people say to me when I do.
   “How,” I demand, “do you think new words come to be? Do you think they are delivered by a stork to the Webster’s printing office? Mixed in a test tube of noxious chemicals and cultured in a Pitre dish? New words,” I say loftily, “come about when someone creates them. If no one ever did that, why, the English language would become stagnant, dull and listless. Much like this conversation.”
   It’s a condition of a sterilized world, a world circumcised of imagination. We’ve gotten so bad we just abbreviate our words into cell phone text messages, so when a true Renaissance man like myself comes along and just invents words on the fly like a Mozart of vocabulary, I get scoffed at. Go figure.
   Anyway. Yup. Dry as a bone. Desiccated. Touch me, I’ll turn to dust and blow away.
   I’ve sat down to write a Friday column about a dozen times since Tuesday. I already had Wednesday’s done and figured I’d get another rolled out and be ahead of the game. Therein must have been the origin of the curse.
   “Not so quick!” the column-writing gods declared. “You won’t get off that easy! Don’t you know that writers are like artists: tortured souls all. Even Dave Barry is tortured, a sad, miserable man who sometimes can’t write something funny for hours on end. So here, here’s a nice bout of writer’s block for you. See ya at the top-left of the editorial page, wingnut!”
   Yup. Uh-huh. Sounds like I need to be standing in front of a wooden privacy fence with Hank, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer, doesn’t it?
   I reckon so.
   Like I said many times before, if I wasn’t such a selfish son of a gun I’d give this space to Floyd and Mary Beth Brown or Mike Reagan or any one of the other ultra-conservative columnists that inhabit the other parts of this page twice a week. At least I, a humble moderate, an unassuming centrist, or as I like to think of myself, a “wishy-washy ignoblist,” make more sense most of the time.
   Except Steigerwald. No way I’m giving up my space to Bill Steigerwald. At my most boring, I’m not that bad. I suspect he even bores himself, and writes in his sleep.
   It’s frustrating, though. I start a few columns on what I really think are great ideas and they fizzle out in a few paragraphs. Nothing hurts worse than starting what should be a great idea, then having to delete four or five paragraphs that committed the literary equivalent of narcolepsy.
   So. Hmmm. How about dem Saints, eh? What’s that? Not in season. Oh. Sorry. My bad. What’s the season? What’s the bag limit?
   Ho-hum. Sigh. Hey! You’re still with me? I’m impressed. I lost my ownself about three paragraphs back and am now reading Dr. Gott. How the rest of this column will be accomplished is neither my concern nor my business.
   I write these things, go back and read them, and I get to feeling like a couple of characters in James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks:
   Something very much like nothing anyone had seen before came trotting down the stairs and crossed the room.
   “What is that?” the Duke asked, palely.
   “I don’t know what it is,” said Hark, “but it’s the only one there ever was.”
That’s how I feel sometimes when I pause and read back from the top. What is it? Is there another one like it? Anywhere? Ever? The answer is usually a loud and frightening NO!
There’s got to be something in here. I can feel it in my abdomen. It might just be an ulcer. Or a hernia. Maybe just lunch, of which I ate too much, as usual.
   It’s like when I used to try to learn algebra. Even on the most elementary of concepts, I could feel my brain empty, like a deflating balloon, like someone had hooked a vacuum pump to my ears. To this day, I never passed Math 092 in college, and doubt I ever could have. Pie are not square. Pie are round, any fool knows that. I was at the threshold of my senior year when I gave up the ghost, because in the first case I ran out of money, and in the second I couldn’t convince them that I neither needed algebra nor would I suffer the indignation of being forced to learn it.
   I strongly suspect algebra is a mind-control plot, and we should all wear our aluminum skullcaps to maintain what little identity remains that hasn’t been sucked up by the television.
   Sometimes I go looking through all the columns I’ve written over the past 29 – count ‘em, 29! – years to see if there’s anything I’ve never written about. I think that I have written on more topics than Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica. However, there is a file in my head entitled “Columns I’ll Never Write” which contains topics that have come to mind now and then over the years and were summarily dismissed for various reasons ranging from getting in too much trouble to being labeled a nutcase. So judging by what I have written, you can imagine what’s stored in that mental folder!
   And now. Here we go. The moment you’ve been waiting for. Get ready. Here it comes…
   Have a great weekend. How’s that for a grand finale?