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At A Glance
Sorry from the Shower (Text Interpretation)
A man and his wife get into an argument about religion. The argument is trivial, but it’s the type that can break up a new marriage. She, a strict catholic, allows no room for interpretation as far as religious viewpoints are concerned. He believes there is a God, but wonders what kind of god would send every person of non-religion or different religion to hell, despite the life they lived. They attend a party. It’s the wife’s friend’s house; the friend and the wife are in the same Bible study class. The husband goes to the bathroom. Every wall in the bathroom is a mirror, a technique used to make a room look bigger. Why they would want the bathroom to look bigger, the husband doesn’t know. There are three switches on the wall: one is for the fan that makes the mirrors clear during or after a shower, one is for the white fluorescent lights above the sink and medicine cabinet that wife turns on to apply her red blush and black cherry lip gloss, the last is for a red heat lamp light that is located directly above the toilet, used during the winter to keep the temperature the same in the shower and outside. The husband turns on the red heat lamp on accident, but he doesn’t bother to turn it off. Sitting on top of the toilet is a green Buddha statue that smiles and waves as its belly pokes out from behind his robe. The red light makes the Buddha’s smile look sinister, the opposite of the intended effect. The husband finishes and leaves the seat up. The wife is talking to her friend around a cheeseboard with grapes and strawberries. She sips a merlot that resembles the gloss on her friend’s lips. Her friend goes to mingle with the rest of her guests and to change the music from African rhythms to something classical. “I didn’t know I was in the middle of such hypocrisy,” the husband tells his wife. “I don’t know what you mean,” the wife says. “I was just talking about that Buddha in the bathroom. I couldn’t concentrate on a damn thing, that Buddha looking at me pissin’.” “Well, when did you become so offended by religions other than Christianity? I thought you were the one who thinks everyone is okay, even if the Bible says different.” “I’m just saying. When you talk the talk, you should walk the walk too. I don’t go to a Bible study group and worship the devil in the shitter.” “You’re impossible. Since when does a stupid decoration mean anything?” “Don’t say that about your almighty cross hanging above the alter down at St. Timothy’s. Father Gerald would have a goddamn fit.” “Don’t use those words in my presence. We’re leaving.” The wife walks over to where her friend is standing next to silver-framed picture of a Matisse painting. The friend is raving about the mozzarella and tomato salad someone brought. There was never enough food at this kind of party. The host always made something like white turkey chili and relied on her guests to supply the rest of the food. “You know, I not feeling well, I think I drank too much wine. I’m sorry, but I think we are going to leave,” the wife makes an excuse for her premature exit. “Oh, sorry to hear that. I hope you feel better for church tomorrow morning.” There is an unspoken rule between these people that allows for an exit from a party when there is trouble between couples. The friend understands. The car ride home is silent. Acoustic instrumental music plays over the factory speakers, in their navy blue station wagon with black leather interior. When the guitarist plays the notes, there is a sense of relief in the momentary beauty, while the screeching of the strings is endured in between the chords. The wife wishes her husband believed what she did. Religion is a kind of security policy for her, used to prevent internal damnation that is bought and sold at church every Sunday. The husband doesn’t want the rest of the world’s souls to be damned to hell, and he claims his protest of church is for them, but part of it is lack of motivation. He counts the light posts as they ride through a suburban neighborhood, touching his forefinger to his thumb and releasing every time his window is even with a light pole. He hates the sight of fluorescent bulbs. Yellow light always seemed more homely to him than the blue-purple that shined and hummed on the streets, in public restrooms, and above office cubicles. They arrive home. He goes to the basement. An old green and blue striped sofa, with red flowers embroidered in the middle of each color, sits in the corner next to a wooden nightstand with old national geographic magazines in its drawers. His feet stick off the end and his neck sits on the armrest. She goes up to their bed, a white comforter engulfs her body, but she rolls to the spot where her husband usually sleeps. The frames of their bodies are left in the bed, permanently imprinted into the old, yellow mattress that was once white and puffy. Each wakes every hour and stares at the matching alarm clocks in their respective places of slumber. The light shines green on their faces. They close their eyes again and sleep for a time. It’s nine in the morning. He is cold and sore in the neck. She is sitting on the edge of the bed brushing her long, dark Italian hair. She hears the shower start and realizes her husband is awake. She hopes his night of sleep was better than hers. He lathers his body. Always, he washed his body and then his hair. The tiles on the shower walls were black and white in no apparent pattern unless you studied them closely while sitting on the toilet or when taking a long shower to avoid the day ahead. The doorknob rattles. They never locked a door in their house. Most of the old knobs in the house required a master key, and they were the only two in the old white one-story. “Can I brush my teeth while you’re in there?” “Yeah, go ahead.” They tend to their hygiene in silence. Foam covers her teeth and drips down her chin. The husband applies a bluish white cap of soap to his head, the shampoo is anti-dandruff. She brushes so much that there is no longer any toothpaste in his mouth. He is standing in the steam, the water rushing over his soap less body. “Sorry.” “It’s okay.” She puts up her toothbrush next to his, and he turns off the shower. She walks into the bedroom, and follows with a towel too small for his body wrapped around his waist. She is wearing a blue dress with a red ribbon tied around her waist. He thinks she resembles a child, but her beauty is mature as well. He puts on a pair of dark brown khakis and a button-up short-sleeved shirt, white with blue squares. “Where are you going all dressed up?” She asks. “To church,” he responds without expression. She smiles at the corner of her lips and he smiles with his eyes. They get into the navy blue station wagon. The same music continues from the night before, beautiful chord to screech, to beautiful chord. The sun shines through the front windshield. Both smile as the yellow light fills the car.
:: Sun 3/21/2010 3:14 PM
In a River at the Festival
We only watched people go by sitting on the river, our bodies limp from dancing the night before and roasting in the morning sun. Music festivals always brought the oddest people together. A blonde girl with curls down to her shoulders stood on a cliff downstream. The cliff was no taller than a man if he was standing on the water, but it was the place to go because of the deeper pool of dark green, cool water that lay beneath it signaling a place to plunge. Her breasts were bare, like many of the women in the camp, but two handprints made of paint were smattered on her pink, pale skin that took the place of a bathing suit top. One handprint was a mixture of black and blue and the other a mixture of blue and red, but not enough to make purple. She jumped in the river and disappeared into the darkness. When she emerged after a long awaited, anticipatory period, her paint had lost some of its luster. The blue and black and red ran down her slightly overweight stomach, like mascara from weeping eyes. Her pink, red pupils now showed themselves to the spectators, her obliviousness making it much more appealing. She lay down face first on her tie-dye skirt, and put her hands above her head, only exposing the sides of her breasts and the untended hair beneath her arms. Next to us, a man asked passer-bys if they would like to buy a twenty dollar framed picture of Bill Nershi, the sixty-odd year old front man of String Cheese Incident. “I’m sellin’ this photo of the Billy. Need some cash for that pizza bread they got on shakedown street and ice.” Most declined to the smiling portrait of the strummer looking to the sky for inspiration. The large smile exposed his yellow teeth, and his gray hair reflected the lights from the stage. His beard, full and bushy, sponge-like in texture, was the true testament of the man’s age. He had been playing his old acoustic for a while, but their farewell tour signaled the end of a time when the man would be able to play with his old friends on the stage. A couple stood upstream, walking slowly to where we were sitting. The water rushed around their ankles, making little whirlpools n the process. He was wearing a pony-tail with an orange tie that accentuated his long black hair. His chin held a goatee, his skin was a yellow-tan, and his eyes held a slight slant that was mirrored in his son’s. His son was a sat in a hammock like contraption on the front of his mother’s chest. The mother’s long red hair flowed down her shoulders splitting between her chest and back. Through the red strands, a purple bathing suit top was visible, and her red skin, from the sun, looked painful and beautiful all at once. Others were nearby building a rock tower in shallow water. This was an attempt to pass the day in a cool spot while eluding the boredom of the day, until the late night concerts started. Flat rocks stood on top of each other, a monument to their pagan god. A car radio from a campsite near the creek played faint music for the bathers. A man and his wife swayed slowly in the river, standing in a knee-deep section. Slowly they danced his hand on the small of her back, hers on his wide shoulders. The other hands grasped each other, fingers interlocking and creating a turtle shell with eight lateral plates. Like the sun and the moon they danced around the earth. Their child was in between them in his mother’s womb. This was the first time all three of them would dance, but they would again at the boy’s wedding, and in their dining room listening to “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog.” Now only a slow saxophone, with single guitar riff, and a steady drum beat fed their movement. The boy nestled in the warmth, eyes closed, felt the slight vibrations of the music and the nature that surrounded him. The father let go of his lover’s hand, and places it on her stomach, searching for texture on a globe. The drummer patters the cymbals, and they look into each other’s eyes. It was so hot. We had to stay in the river. We sat and watched the people go by.
:: Sun 3/21/2010 3:10 PM
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