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July 14, 2003       |       Today's Terrorist Threat Level: Mustard.       |       Happy Birthday, Tommy Mottola!

persist this!

T H E   P E R S I S T A N C E
O F   M E M O R Y


BY
KAREN ASHBURNER



First of all, I'll admit, I was a little extreme back when we first met. I knew you liked good food and beer and literature so I memorized the entire "Restaurant and Bar" section of the New York Eyewitness Travel Guide. I walked around saying things like, "You can get almost any alcoholic drink you fancy in New York bars; the most popular drink is ice-cold beer." I sounded like a tour guide, and not the sexy kind of "I'm so hot and stifled under this uniform take it off of me" kind of tour guide. Maybe I was more like a part-time waitress, snappish and uninformed. I read things like the Czech Black Book on my lunch break because I thought I would sound smart if I could recite pieces of a letter written to Ludvik Svoboda, former President of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic: "The occupation organs have so far failed in gaining the support and population. This failure heightens their nervousness." I was wrong. Worse, I began to lie in bed at night thinking of the same word, over and over: Dubcek, Dubcek, Dubcek, then began to fear that I would say it out loud, that I would say it loud in some place quiet.

God, I hope I was nice to you last night. I hope I said something fun and good- natured and hopeful. I probably didn't though, did I? I probably said "Dubcek." Did I say it three times in a row? I was probably some kind of shit-faced, fuckhead about it all. I hope I wasn't shit-faced. But I probably was. Fucked-up as Cooter Brown is what I was. I know it. But it's not my fault. Some good-looking guy is always leaving me something "Hecho en Mexico" on my desk. And what am I? A saint? I have to drink it. If you don't drink the Hecho offered to you by good-looking guys, then the mean gods of fire and non-redemption send you nothing but uglies for the next six months. But that's not your fault. There you were, a good-looking short guy from Philly trying to be nice to me. And what do I do? I shoot you down. Just like that. I'm such a shithead. I probably gave you some condescending blow-off, or even worse, gave you some nondescript, polite, limp-wristed finger wave and a "So happy to have met you, so happy to have met you..."

I can't help it. I'm from Alabama by way of Mississippi, or is it the other way around? I know, you could give a shit. You're busy pouring your heart out on paper; you're a goddamned poet; your writing is haunted by the echo of a woman, of a woman and carrots. I'll bet she was a beautiful woman. I'll bet you still kick yourself in the head every morning for fucking that shit up. That's deep. I love that shit: women and carrots. Nothing better. Not that I'm a homo or anything. No way. I really love men, deep men that have the nerve to tell the fucking toaster to fuck off. My toaster is always getting my shit too, that's one thing we have in common. Not that we have chicks in common or anything. Okay, there was that one hot chick at summer camp, but every girl has a summer-camp story. Me having a homo summer-camp story doesn't make me special or anything. I'm just too in love with myself, that's my problem. Who am I, anyway? What do I have to be in love with? Nothing.

So, anyway, Iím sorry. I really am. I wasnít myself. I was the Diana of Central Park; I was an unmarried goddess; young women left their dolls at my altar; in the depths of the woods I could hear the baying of the hounds and the cries of the nymphs as they hunted the stag. I sought the advice of Bishops and ballet dancers; in my dreams they married and danced Swan Lake in front of an audience of mounted police. I laughed when a drug dealer robbed you, laughed at your six-dollar haircut, told you I was a Christian, told you I could go to war and still love my enemy. I was harmonious, like Stan Musial batting a ball, or Allie Reynolds winding up for the pitch: just as the drumming of the rain, just as the feet of a thousand soldiers marching.

But thatís all too poetic, isnít it? Thatís too fucked up and poetic. What kind of a girl compares herself to Diana? I'm fucked up right now, aren't I? Yes. Shit. Goddamn it all to hell. I'm sorry. I've watched too much television today. It was that Mathew Perry movie that did it. That guy always pushes me over the edge, reminds me of a guy I used to know in Mississippi. A walking Gap ad, that guy. Donít get me started. You know, that Mathew Perry would be a hot guy if he werenít so tall. But, okay. Now I really have to apologize. I mean, who the fuck gets fucked up to write an apology letter? Iím a shit, but Iím sort of good looking in that squirrelly kind of way. Does that count for something? Do you know how you write a word and it looks weird? Like itís not spelled right? Like squirrel. Squirrel is that kind of word for me. Iíve looked it up in Websterís twice already. I know Iíve spelled it correctly, but it just looks wrong. I could stare at it all day.






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