These are not my feet…
But this is my voice…
I. From This Body Offers to Carry You (a collection in draft form)
“Tupperware and the Vitruvian Man.” I wonder what Leonardo da Vinci would have made of Tupperware. Circular, it participates in the divine, while gobbing up physical space in the square confines we call cupboards. If he’d had the stuff, I bet Leonardo’s credenzas would have been full of Tupperware that was full of Tupperware.
“Also Minerva.” After college she wore high heels to work. She taught school in farm towns, first home economics, then math, then English. She introduced seventh graders to the beauty and hell of sentence diagramming, and read their hand-written autobiographies, hundreds of them.
“A Brief Disquisition on Ketchup.” Ketchup is central to American cuisine, so central it really ought to be a food group unto itself. Yet, like many things American, ketchup is foreign in origin. The term probably comes to the English language from Chinese, the Amoy dialect, “koechiap,” meaning “brine of fish.”
II. From The Enjoy Agenda at Home and Abroad
Ch 2–“Shorty” (an excerpt). Along with sexism and racism, heightism is a fact of life today. Heightism cuts across race and gender. It’s not a just a man’s world. It’s a tall man’s world.
Ch 3–“Bridge” (an excerpt). A few weeks before the first wrestling team meet, Coach Curl announced that I would be wrestling every member of class until I agreed to be on the team.
Ch 4–“Call It a Dance” (an excerpt). I’ve been thinking lately about the degradation of dance. Not how we are degraded by it, although some of us certainly look foolish. I mean how we have degraded it. When was dance reduced to rhythmic flopping?
Ch 5–“Tilt” (an excerpt). These days, there is a profusion of images (we don’t say “picture” so much any more), not hundreds, but tens of thousands of them, but they are not in a drawer. They are pixels and bytes saved in ephemeral vessels that need much more attention and care than a drawer.
Ch 6–“Bring Your Horn” (an excerpt). She wore glasses, her long brown hair perfectly parted in the middle. She had a wacky sense of humor, and I sensed she liked me as much as I liked her. But I could never work up the courage to ask her out. She was a full three inches taller than me. We didn’t match.
Ch 8–“Tied” (an excerpt). I was wearing one of my Jerry Garcia ties at a colleague’s funeral many years after that concert when, slipping away to use the restroom, I looked in a mirror and saw, really saw my Jerry Garcia tie, as if for the first time.
Ch 9–“The Birds and the Beatles” (an excerpt). We bought every Beatle album as soon as it hit the store. This was, of course, back in the vinyl days. The first three or four lp’s, in mono, cost less than five dollars. We took them home, put them on the turntable, and sat down to listen. It was “close listening,” almost like the close reading of a poem advocated by the New Critics.
Ch 10–“Cookies and What?” (an excerpt). For a few weeks I try soy milk. I find I can drink the stuff. I can even enjoy it, so long as I don’t put it in coffee; it ruins coffee. Forget trying to froth it. All I can get it to do is bubble. Who wants hot bubbles in their coffee?
Ch 11–“Gelatiamo” (full text, a screencast). Gelato, to paraphrase James Joyce, is general all over Italy. When we hit a new town over there and feel the need, we ask 2-3 people where the best gelato is. Usually the response is immediate. There’s the smile, the widening eyes, the look of rapture.
Ch 14–“Good Bad” (full text). I told my father I really thought I should give New York a try. I needed to find out. I played the guitar. I had written one song. My only other talents were that I was good at algebra and could eat a McDonalds hamburger in one bite.
Ch 20–“Wreckage” (an excerpt). Then she missed a few days. She told my wife she wasn’t sleeping well. Then she missed a few more days. And then she stopped coming altogether. She died in just a few months, without having visitors, without returning telephone calls.
Ch 27–“Fang Xin” (an excerpt). On walks I’ve taken since arriving in Shanghai, a few blocks from here I’ve seen similar stores, with names like Family Mart and Fresh Mart. The F in FMart might be short for one of those more wholesome adjectives.
Ch 29–“Chalant” (an excerpt). In sprezzatura the individual demonstrates in attitude and action that he is “the total master of self, society’s rules, and even physical laws…, unable to err.”
Ch 30–“Vodafone” (an excerpt). Phone fear. My mother-in-law, an Italian immigrant living in the US, was reluctant to answer the phone. (My father-in-law never answered it.) If she did, her response was brief and diversionary: Hello? Please you talk my daughter, please?
III. From American English, Italian Chocolate
Ch 12–“Feet First” (full text, a screencast). As appendages go, the foot doesn’t get much respect. We lavish care upon hair, think of eyes as the windows of the soul, and look with awe upon skilled hands. Breasts, legs, and even butts are the objects of desire, the stuff of fetish. Feet, on the other hand…
Ch 20–“Hello, Mr. President” (full text, a screencast). The first time I dreamed about Jimmy Carter, he had been out of office for years. In the dream I was in my hometown, at a party at the Coy house, on the corner of Fifth and Church Streets. It was a summer night.