Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Non-Winning Entry from McSweeney’s Column Contest

I knew I wouldn’t win, but entered anyway. It’s not that I am not funny. I’m plenty funny. Hilarious, even. It’s just that I really can’t see myself writing column-length pieces in McSweeney’s preferred style, which is funny, ironic, sardonic, sarcastic and laconic (but probably not in that order - or probably, yes, in that order.) It’s not that I’m not cool. Oh, I am plenty cool. It’s just that I don’t think I can throw off a “So-you-think-you-are-the-1,181-incarnation-of-Sri-Babaji-Snatam?-Please-fill-out-this-form-and-the-Rinpoche-will-be-with-you-shortly”-columns twice a month. I have to be in the right mood for them – and honestly, I am new to comedy writing. It’s really not my literary métier. Those of you who have read my extensive (and private) literary catalog will probably agree that I am more at home with the elegiac form. Ain’t nothing funny about an elegy, my friends. It’s as serious as a heart attack. So hopefully, what you are about to read is, in fact, funny.

‘I’ is for Italy

I didn’t know what I was looking for, which isn’t the best way of trying to find something. But that did leave me open to surprises, which I got a lot of and right away.

I knew I wanted to be happy – and all my usual ways of finding it – shoe sales at Daffy’s, mental-health-days off at Coney Island and intensive chocolate therapy did not offer any long-term, residual effects. Nor did the obsessive checking of the MLS listings for lake houses within two hours of New York City. Something drastic needed to be done. And when I say drastic, I don’t mean shaving-my-head-and-joining-an-ashram drastic. First of all because I need bangs to cover my wrinkles and I don’t like the idea of someone shooting botulinum in my head and two, do you know how much it costs to shoot botulinum into your head? And also, even if I could get my ass out of bed for 5-a.m. yoga at the ashram, I am going to need tons of espresso to be able to do it – and I have a feeling Guru Vegetariananda is not going to take too well to my espresso addiction. There, I’ve said it, and what’s more, I have no intention of quitting, not even for a week. But, Namaste.

So I packed up my under-market (!) Park Slope (!) one bedroom (!). Gave the keys to my landlord and put everything I owned into storage. I paid someone named Lick Shot to do it. He was from Guyana. The man at the storage place recommended him and when I called the number from the card, I had asked for his name.

Was it Mr. Lick? Mr. Shot? Mr. Lick Shot?

“Just Lick Shot,” he had said with his lilting Guyanese accent.

I knew then the adventure had begun and in the best possible way. This was even before the ride in the front of the moving truck listening to reggae music all the way up 8th Avenue to Brooklyn Heights. And way before all my clothes and furniture were expertly placed in my storage space like the Tetris pieces of my life. This is how eleven years in Brooklyn ended and how something new was about to begin.

What? Well, I was going to dive right into an Eat,-Pray,-Love journey. I was going to be all cute and Liz Gilbert and find Javier Bardem somewhere in Italy. He’d wear tight, black pants and a tight, black shirt open to the navel revealing his hairy chest. I’d lie on it under the moonlight and he’d play his gypsy guitar. Or something like that as long as the guitar wasn’t lying on my face and it would be all romantic. In this fantasy I was looking a lot like Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa. Ok, no, not the fat, happy lady who cooks with a lot of butter and cream in her East Hampton kitchen. That’s Ina Garten. Ava Gardner. She was married to Frank Sinatra and starred in The Son Also Rises. Hourglass figure, red, red lips. You know what, forget the film allusions and let’s get back to me.

I was going to Italy. I was going to write. And I was going with a wildly handsome man whose sole purpose was to hold my hand on the plane. His name is Q. No, I am not making this up. This is true. I was deathly afraid of flying and a handsome man was going to hold my hand. Basically, I could not trust Alitalia to assign a handsome, single man to sit next to me, so I brought my own. That I could trust the airlines was a lesson I would learn at a later date. For now, I was off to Italy.

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