Today at work we wear black pants and a blue shirt with stripes. The stripes are subtle and are of various colors. It is one of our favorite shirts. By "we" I mean "I", and by "our" I mean "my", as in,
"My lunch today will be less satisfying than usual, not only because it is a home-packed rather than deli-purchased lunch, but because I will eat it while feeling guilty about some harm I caused a friend thoughtlessly last night."
Today we wear black wingtip shoes even though they are not a required part of the company dress code.
We walk down hallways sometimes briskly, sometimes leisurely rolling our shoulders a little bit moving our neck around because it is sore and we wonder why.
I've taken to knitting my brows on the Bronx-bound 4 It keeps me awake in a way prune juice never did or could I've never had prune juice is one explanation, another is still waiting to be stumbled on in the wings among props for last fall's production of La Traviata It was put on by ninth-graders and was therefore a disaster though I wasn't that devastated not being a huge fan of opera
I like bicycles better, especially those ridden by attractive young women, the ones who used to ride horses until horses were discontinued due to a fatal flaw in their design: the look in their eyes had a way of evoking a deep regret
The same can be said of some people— I know because I'm one of them. So are you.
Before I knew what I was doing, I was writing a sestina about Shelley Duvall. At first, I thought it might be a sestina about Conway Twitty, country singer, Or perhaps Engelbert Humperdinck, the “King of Romance”. But it soon became apparent that the subject of my continued fascination Was indeed the willowy bug-eyed star of The Shining and Popeye, The latter providing a role so suited to her it was beyond uncanny.
But what does it mean to be beyond uncanny? I find it hard enough just to be canny. I’m no Shelley Duvall— That’s pretty obvious. But I wish I’d been born early enough to play Popeye To her Olive Oyl, though I’m not a very good singer. (It was a musical, remember?) True, Popeye’s pipes need not be fascinating— The salty old seaman’s raspy voice is an indispensable part of his romantic
Charm, after all—a part of his character. Ah, romance: A true sailor’s only weakness. Its power over us is uncanny (Us being Popeye and me). Both of us find ourselves fascinated By the same woman. The only difference is that, to me, she’s Shelley Duvall; To Popeye, Olive Oyl. One is an actress, the other a character. Both are singers. But what is the real difference between the two? I don’t know. Popeye,
Do you? Oh, who am I kidding. He wouldn’t know. Why is it that Popeye Is aware only of Olive, while I am aware of Shelley as well? Is it romance That causes me to conflate the two into a perfect whole and then to sing her Praises as if Shelley/Olive were a single entity? And yet, the uncanniness Is hard for me to get past. If only I could ask Shelley Duvall What she thinks about all this. But she probably would not be fascinated
If I sent her a letter—who am I, after all? Nobody famous or fascinating— At least not in the way movie stars can be, or comic strip icons like Popeye, Though I must admit I wish I were. Oh, what I’d give to be with Shelley Duvall Up on the screen, instead of here in my apartment, full of romantic Fantasies, but short in romantic realities. How I’d love to find more uncanny Happenings in my life, more strangeness, fewer strangers, more singers
And dancers and poets and actors, perhaps even seamstresses at their Singers, Sewing costumes for big-budget Hollywood musicals that fascinate Millions with sheer loudness and bigness, not to mention those uncanny Moments when people break into song for no reason. Oh wait, where’s Popeye? I’ve gotten off track. I’ve once again let myself lapse into sappy romantic Musings on the life I’m not living, inadvertently leaving Shelley Duvall
By the wayside, or the seaside, with Popeye and Swee’Pea (who look uncannily Alike, despite the latter’s being adopted.) Oh well, that’s romance—fascinating Enough to make one forget one’s favorite singer, say, or even Shelley Duvall.