07 December 2007

Boot 'n Paddle - December 7, 2007

Five months ago I was assaulted by a school of brook trout. Following the attack, I was told that I would never write Boot ‘n Paddle again. They said that due to the vicious nature of the creatures and the mob-mentality that I was exposed to, it would be traumatizing for me to consider the masses reading my column. Doctors, psychologists, psychoanalysts and my neighbor, Barry, all told me to step down. They said there would be no shame in taking certain precautions in order to prevent severe mental agony.
“But it isn’t that simple!” I would say. “Can you ask the sky to stop being blue? Or the ocean deep? Can you ask a mountain to stop being mighty? Or ask a whale to stop being bulky? Can you tell a love song to stop being tender? Can you ask Mad Magazine to stop being hilarious? A light luminous? Tape sticky? Brook trout…merciless?”
This last one would always quiet the whole room, because they were still uncomfortable with the nature of my attack, and negate the reasoning behind their request.
What I am saying is I had to keep writing Boot ‘n Paddle because it had become a part of being Alex. Boot ‘n Paddle was inherent in my Alex. I mean, can you ask a sponge to not absor–– oh wait, I already did that.
This is my 20th Boot ‘n Paddle. Five months ago I had only written ten. Therefore, I have written ten post-brook trout Boot ‘n Paddles. Twenty may not sound like that many, but consider for a moment trying to come up with a creative idea every single Tuesday in addition to all other commitments. Consider finding the confidence to write something that will be read by everyone who stumbles upon The Hill News. It can’t be stagnant or repetitive of past columns but instead something fresh, something that the reader hasn’t seen on television or read in their favorite magazine. It has to be a formulation of the thoughts and feelings that the readers have all had but aren’t able render. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Easy reading is damn hard writing,” and I think he’s right on. Think about having to wrestle the ideas inside your head and pin them down onto the paper in such a way that the reader will know exactly what you mean. Consider writing a column that you know people will bad-mouth and criticize. Then consider for a moment typing that column on a keyboard without any fingernails because they were chewed off by unrelenting brook trout.

03 December 2007

Boot 'n Paddle - End of November

I’m really getting sick of people being good-humored and having fun. It’s the smiles and head nodding, the eye contact and gentle shoulder grabbing that’ve got me so down. Yesterday I saw two friends (not mine) talking and laughing together and I wanted to push them into a river.
Right now it’s snowing outside, symbolic of death, and people are playing. To me, having a snowball fight sounds great. It means I get to whitewash my little sister until she cries. Outside, they’re having a snowball fight but they’re having fun––
Actually, wait. Maybe, I’m wrong. Maybe I just never learned that the definition of fight involves the word frivolity. Or –– probably even more likely –– a group of scientists got together and decided that the rules of competition don’t apply to snowball fights. As if! It’s just people being immature. It reminds me of my intellectual capacity at age six.
Me. I’ve learned that smiling is a sure sign of imminent failure. Despite my parents’ influence (they are disgustingly happy), through extensive self-discipline and punishment, I have learned to never give someone the upper hand by smiling at them. If you smile at someone, you are showing them that they are more capable at something than you, making someone smile. On occasion I will smirk at the psychological anguish of others, but at that point I’m already the victor.

Hold it…. I haven’t been totally honest with you. I’m not really upset with people being happy! Those people I saw? I talked to them! I told them a joke and they laughed! The snow? It was beautiful! My friends playing outside? My friends! Smiling? Forever!
Gosh! I’m at my desk listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas and I’ll tell you nothing can get me down. It’s winter, there’s snow outside, there are only a few days until I start my advent calendar and¬¬––

(Mumbled voice from offstage)
Alex: What?
Offstage: Your sister was eaten by seals.
Alex: Oh.