Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Very Much like Boredom, Curious Men Seem to Emerge at Nearly Every Spot

A young girl does a cartwheel for no reason. At the cartwheels perigee her face flushes, and it remains flushed even after having reached its apogee. One man, a curious man, approaches her. He sticks his thumb out and presses it hard against her cheek. When he removes it the cheek is, for a moment, blanched, but it almost immediately regains its color. A third person, taller than the other two and significantly older, approaches them. He is dragging a chair behind himself. “May I sit down here?” he asks.

The young girl looks at the tall, elderly man and shrugs.

The curious man says, “Of course not.”

The other man smiles. “I thought not,” he says. He drags the chair away from the other two.

“Why did you press your thumb into my cheek?” the little girl asks.

The curious man doesn’t respond to her.

Then, moments later, he says, “I haven’t seen a chair in weeks.”

“Are you sure that that’s what he was dragging?” the girl asks.

But again the man does not respond.

A fourth person emerges, briefly, and then is gone.

“Who was it that starred in My Man Godfrey?” the girl asks.

“Benjamin West,” he replies, “or Clifford Irving.” He pauses. “No, no, it was Paul de Man. Or Samuel Butler…no, it was Irving Howe, yes certainly, it was Washington Irving himself – the great American patriarch of letters.” He stops.

“I’ve never seen it.”

“Oh well you must, you must! It’s a classic!”

And at this the small girl makes a face. The curious man asks:

“What is that face for?”

The girl shakes her head.

“Is it something I’ve said?”

Yes, the girl nods.

“Then should I stop saying things?”

Yes, the girl nods again.

And so he does.

The girl is by herself again. Her face is no longer flushed. She contemplates doing another summersault, but then remembers that she hadn’t done a somersault earlier. Thinking hard about what it was that she had done, the small girl grows bored. Having nothing better to do, she begins running away from the spot where she is and towards some other spot, some spot selected for no other reason than that it is not this spot, this spot where she had of late grown so very bored.

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