Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Architects Really Ought To Know How To Swim

He put on his yellow hat. It was his because he had borrowed it from a friend long ago and never given it back. The friend, no longer in contact with the man who just put on what used to be his own yellow hat, has forgotten that he ever owned such a hat. To complicate matters, the original owner of the hat, the former friend who has forgotten all about the yellow hat, never really cared much for the hat. Now, the man who has just put on the yellow hat, the one who the hat, arguably, belongs to now, he decides he no longer cares for the hat either. He takes it off and sets it on a chair. The chair is blue. He bought it at a garage sale three summers ago. The former owner was a cop. The cop had purchased the chair from an architect. The architect had actually designed the chair himself, though he was unhappy with the results. As a result of this unhappiness, his blue chair, the architect’s, now has a yellow hat sitting atop it.

The architect died in a boating accident. He saw a fish in the water, leapt in after it, recalled that he had never learned to swim, and then drowned. It was deemed a tragedy by his family, an unfortunate accident by his colleagues, and a minor if somewhat comical event to everybody else. His boat, the architect’s, was designed by a man named Benson. Benson collected frogs. His favorite frog was named Tile. Tile was from Brazil. Benson thought Tile might mean something in Portugeuse, but he never bothered to check.

The architect was born in Portugal. His wife was not. She is a widow now, though she no longer wears black. In fact, her friends have been impressed by the range of color she has introduced into her wardrobe. One friend in particular, Peg, thinks that she looks ten years younger as a result of the colorful garments she has adopted.

Peg was herself adopted. Her real name is Leg. Leg was born to two Guatemalan immigrants living in Ridgefield Park, NJ. They commuted to work and were deeply, if dispassionately, in love with one another. When Leg came along, they decided they ought to give her up. When they brought her to the adoption agency they dressed her in an orange dress. “Here,” they said, handing over Leg. The woman at the agency looked at them suspiciously. “What’s her name?” “Leg,” they replied, but the woman at the agency misheard. “Peg, that’s a nice name, my sister’s named Peg.”

Peg, the sister, is malnourished. She looks terrible. Her cheeks are sunken and colorless, her eyes are bulging nearly out of her head, and her breasts have shriveled to nothing but nipples, little drooping gray buttons that stain the bars of her chest. She is tired too, all the time. She can’t ever seem to sleep enough. Her husband, Lisbon, works inside of a massive machine. When people ask him what he does he says, “I work inside of a massive machine,” and generally people nod at this response as if it were a reasonable explanation, which it is. The machine that Lisbon works inside of is owned by a fellow with a peculiar gait. People are always commenting on the peculiarity of his gait. His response:

Yes, I know, but that’s simply the way I was made.

People always shake their head at this as if it were an unreasonable response, which it is. He then drops his head in shame and shuffles off, fleeing from the unsympathetic eyes of the others. It is all really quite sad.

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