There is more to me then reaction and compliance; at least I think there is.
Her sashaying walk could have fooled any man into thinking she was more then the sum of her parts but up close I could see what she would have looked like as a child. Her upper teeth protruded slightly over the lower and her eyes were that fraction too close together, she had evolved into something stunning but I could see the Alice band and the school photo that lurked underneath. The older I get the more I can see it.
“So would you like to be involved in our little art group?” She asked and I nodded mutely, unsure what the collective involved other then being within a group of people who seemed far more talented then I. Or at least thought they were. All the people I know who are the most talented are the least arrogant, the least ego centric, the most unconfident, and all the charlatans with no originality are the quickest to promote and execute their ideas. I still don’t know where I fall within that list. Probably somewhere in the middle. Probably within the few who think they have a talent if only they could get a clear month to nurture it.
“I hoped you would,” she said and I felt dizzy and it all seemed too easy, “so do you have any ideas for future projects?” I looked at her dumbly.
“Yes, what would you like to see us do?”
An old work colleague had emailed me about this new “creative” group with a header that read, “this might interest you.” Those emails are the worst. You suddenly have to act upon the generalisations you make about yourself to seem less vacuous.
“I really love blah blah… You know what interests me? One day I will etc etc.” Why couldn’t people see the pea cocking for what it was?
I said, “thank you that does interest me,” and now I find myself at a local café being asked if I had anything to contribute to an artistic movement I only a slight interest in being involved with, and only because I had not done anything practically creative in years.
I use to write letters from the dead or nearly dead, little pieces of prose created from limited information in obituaries or from relatives I hardly knew. I displayed them on the internet, at a few exhibitions, behind glass in my house but it all got a touch macabre when I started publishing an online diary as though I were dead. I started with a speech to be read out at my funeral and continued with comments and criticisms of the event itself, (clothing, music, the misjudged sandwich choice) and followed it up for weeks after with observations on the way everyone was carrying on without me. “Mum! How could you throw away my favourite slippers like that? Dad, why won’t you cry?”
I began to scare my ex, he was non-religious in every way but filled with a superstition he did not realise he possessed until I started “invoking the grim reaper.” It was just words I said, and in all honesty if the grim reaper had a sense of irony (as he seemed to), then I would live a long healthy life.
“I am quite interested in the subject of death or dying,” I said and she smiled like a teacher who had always stuck up for you, but whoops you got your times tables wrong again, and this time in front of the head teacher. I fumbled, backtracked, cursed my terrible words “and by interested I don’t mean I am keen to die any time soon and if the chance came to live for eternity I am fairly sure I would take it, but more in a…” I paused trying to find words of eloquence or sustenance that would make me seem less of a moron.
“Your interested in the inevitable terror that unites us all?” she offered brightly with an undertone of total boredom and flatness.
“I guess so, it could be interesting to try and make people talk about it through art because it makes them uncomfortable… but the more you get people to face up to it, then the more people might…be okay with it…?” I trailed off weakly. I had nothing.
She nodded her head as though she was contemplating and did a show of looking upwards, umming and ahhhing with her finger on her lips.
“We could find something in that…there could be an angle,” she said and wrote something in the notepad in front of her. Probably a big cross next to the box “basic creative skills.”
“If you come up with something solid then suggest it at our first big meet up,” she said and I began to gather my things, a strange silence filling the space between us as I struggled to put on my coat and she put her pads and pencils away. I felt the heaviness of silence as only the submissive party can, a sign of failure to engage. I asked her what she did.
“I write poetry. I write poems about people I want something better for,” she said and her buckteeth flashed.