Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I had to play a gig with my praise band at a local church, and that little obligation took up most of my Sunday.
As promised, I do have the first installment of my Lenten memoir. I'm not sure if it's any good. You're going to have to be the judge of that. Let me know what you think. Drop me a comment.
Saint Marty is really insecure, as always.
I hate surprises. I hate surprise parties. People jumping out of hiding places and shouting at me isn't fun. It's like being pummeled by dodge balls in gym class. I hate surprise endings. When I read a book, I start with the last page, sometimes the last chapter. The genre doesn't matter--mystery, fantasy, biography, fiction, non-fiction. Whatever. I was in line at midnight on July 21, 2007, to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
. The first thing I did when I had it in my hands was flip to the final page to find out if Harry lived, Snape died, and scar boy and Ginny moved past the kissing stage to some serious skin magic. If Harry had died and ended up with Moaning Myrtle or Voldemort had destroyed the muggle world like a North Korean missile strike, I wouldn't have cared. I can accept happily ever after or misery ever after, as long as I'm prepared for it.
If I could read my life, I would already know the details of my end. The date and time and circumstance. Cancer. Car accident. Stroke. Chicken bone. It wouldn't matter. I hope for a long tenure on this planet, but if my last page was tomorrow morning at 6:57 a.m., I would accept my fate. I'd probably cancel class, since I wouldn't want to spend my final moments with 25 surly eighteen-year-olds who don't know a run-on sentence from a death sentence. I wold pop in my DVD of It's a Wonderful Life
, order a stuffed-crust pizza with mushrooms and chicken, and watch George Bailey save Bedford Falls from Mr. Potter. Maybe I would ask my daughter if I could braid her hair like I used to when she was small. I would slip my hand under my wife's pajamas to feel the warmth of her body. I'd let my four-year-old son eat ice cream for dinner and skip his bath. And, at the end of the film, I'd sing "Auld Lang Syne" with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, crying like I always do. I'd kiss my kids the way Stewart does, as if I'm having a low blood sugar and they're a pile of Skittles. With my children all nestled, snug in their beds, I'd climb into bed with my wife. We'd talk about something small, unimportant. The potluck at church on Sunday or the new John Irving novel. When it was time for sleep, I'd press my lips to her mouth the way I did when we first met, hungry, full of breath and tongue. The end.
Yes, I've thought about my final pages a lot. When I was nine or ten, I wrote the instructions for my funeral in my journal, including seating arrangements and hymns and the menu for my wake (pancakes and bacon). My family and friends thought I was just left of Gomez Addams in my weirdness. I preferred to think of myself as considerate, making all the hard choices for my survivors. No surprises. Simply read and follow the instructions on the box, like making brownies.
My life has not been all brownies, however, and I think that may account for my almost phobic avoidance of surprise. I haven't been successful at maintaining an uneventful life. In fact, I've sometimes navigated my days like a visually-impaired mountain climber, toeing the summit of Pikes Peak at midnight in a dense fog. If I manage to travel from alarm clock off in morning to alarm clock set at night with a minimum of spikes on my surprise meter, I consider those waking hours golden. Being a pessimist and a realist, I know life rarely works that way. Scratch "rarely." Life never
works that way.
Being a poet and a writer, I know literature can
work that way. With foreshadowing and symbolism, I can prepare readers for surprises. If these literary devices aren't explicit enough, readers can flip or scroll ahead to find out whether this Prince Charming finds the owner of the glass slipper filled with lithium. To eliminate the possibility of unpleasant plot twists, I provide a catalog of upcoming events and subjects:
I will talk a good deal about mental illness and sexual addiction. Accompanying these subjects, I will also discuss Internet pornography and masturbation. There will be a pregnancy, a stroke, a birth, and a pulmonary embolism. Throw in the election of the first African American to the Oval Office, and an Iraqi journalist pitching his shoes at the President of the United States.
That takes care of most of the Richter Scale quakes and tremors in this book. I will avoid subtlety at all costs. If something bad is about to happen, I will provide plenty of warning.
Most of all, I can promise, if not a happily ever after, a happily ever final paragraph, filled with snow and colored lights and possibility.
Confessions of Saint Marty