Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What I used to do instead of writing papers

I went through a James Thurber phase a few years ago. Actually, I've always liked James Thurber, particularly the book The Thirteen Clocks. I remember my mom reading it to me when I was little, and then later when I was much older (because it is a book best read allowed), reading it to peers. When I say "much older," I seriously mean college age. While studying abroad, I even made some like-minded friends who delighted in spending winter evenings drinking tea and reading The Thirteen Clocks as well as other fairy tales allowed together. There's something so exuberant about how Thurber plays with language in that book.

At any rate, following this relaxing study abroad semester of joyful tea drinking and Thurber basking, I was thrust into my final year of college thesis writing and seminar paper completing. Instead of doing any of that, I would pen my own pointless Thurber-esque writings. I found one of them on my computer today while I was trying to avoid doing something else (par for the course). Because one of the requests for this blog was to post some of my writing (although I don't think the person who suggested that actually reads this blog), I'm including some of it--
un-edited, circa 2007 writing--here:

When he was only a dot on the horizon, seen by only Ms. Sarah, the nyctalopic old maid, he was already involved in the fabric of the town because he was already a part of what “might be” which is almost as important as what “would be” and almost as exciting as what “never was.” He became Ms. Sarah’s husband while he was still only a dot on the hill. She saw his gentle stride and knew him to be a kind-hearted old man who would wash her feet in warm salt water in the evening and tell her stories of his travels over the high seas. In her mind, he was also a sailor. He had been from one end of the world to the other a score of times and from top to bottom twice as many. He had seen mermaids eating fish raw with their hands and whales so large you could build a castle (albeit a smaller one) on their backs. He had been to where the people would eat without ever getting fat and grow fat without eating. He had heard the songs of sirens and thought it not as melodic as his mother’s voice singing him to sleep as a child and only slightly more than anything.
As he grew closer to the cottage at the edge of the village where Ms. Sarah stood, by the garden in her yard where she was planting sunflowers and cabbages side by side, she had to give up some of her imaginings about him and replace them with new ones. As his features became apparent, she saw that he was not a sailor at all, but maybe yet some sort of carpenter or wood maker. Where he wouldn’t have stories, at least he’d be reasonably handy around the house. Ms. Sarah considered for a moment the broken door behind her that creaked on its hinges, and when it was thrown open suddenly, like from a gust of wind or a dramatic house guest, made a disagreeable thropping sound not unlike the sound of someone swallowing a hard-boiled egg whole.
She saw that he was a very short old man who walked with a cane and an affected gait that was less of a hobble and more of a limp. It was not the walk of a man feeling his age, for he walked quickly with a jolly spring in his step, but rather the slightly inconvenienced walk of someone who had stepped on a thorn and for whom one foot is tender. He wore a dusty brown suit and a dark brown cape heavy with mud on the ends. He wore atop his head a proper matching brown hat which completed the outfit and made him seem quite the well-dressed little old man. It was a couple more minutes of watching him make his quiet progress toward the village that she saw that his clothes were a thing of patches and that his feet were bare and hardened to stones from many, many miles of walking. His hands were weathered too and had turned to stone out of sympathy for the feet. Ms. Sarah thought regretfully of her aching feet and the bowl of warm salt water and gentle hands. By the time he had reached her door, he was no longer her husband.

So yeah, that was really neither here nor there. As for future posts: astute reader, deepsnaps, suggested I take a crack at this list: I just spent a good 20 minutes pouring over this list and chose my must-try favorites. Unfortunately, I've recently started trying to save money, a (not so surprisingly) difficult task in this city. However, if (and when) I find my way to any of these delicious sandwiches (and with sandwiches such as the Bar Boulard croque monsieur--this seems an inevitability), I promise to write about them in mouth-watering detail.
Believe it or not, despite all the culinary attractions of NYC and the fact that there isn't even a commercial Chick-fil-a franchise open to the public in the five boroughs, this little beauty is number 78.


  1. Ahhh, the wondrous Chick Fil-A Chicken Sandwich!! One of the best sandwiches in the world. Having continuous access to it has been one of the best parts of being back in Kentucky!

  2. I love the "Thurberesque" story! (Although I wouldn't have recognized his style and haven't read him in a long time.) Search your computer for more lost writings. Or else pretend you have a deadline for something scholarly and see what bubbles up...

    I kind of feel like the story should go on, but it also works ending just there.

    As for the sandwich reviews, what good is that for your readers in the hinterland? (OK, just mix them in here and there.)

  3. Sarah--I've pretended to be an NYU student just to get one here. I can't believe a cosmopolitan city like this one has such an obvious failing!

    Mom--It wasn't really a complete story, more of a vignette.

    And the sandwich reviews will be of no use to my readers in the hinterland--other than inspiring jealousy and perhaps encouraging visitors?

  4. I want that sandwich! I heart chick-fil-a. I really like your vignette. I haven't read Thurber, so I couldn't compare it to his original style. But anyway I liked it a lot! What a way to avoid writing papers. :)