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    Volume 10 |Issue 44 | November 25, 2011 |


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Writing the Wrong

Real Time


I am talented at one or two useless things and am a vault of useless tidbits of knowledge that I can trot out at cocktail parties, the mistress of obscure information: “Did you know that the word hysterical is specifically used to describe a female state of mind as hyster is the latin for uterus”; crap like that, which I also throw into plays and dialogue and think I am frightfully clever. I have also been cursed with a complicated imagination and, therefore, have honed into an art form, replete with mazes within labyrinths, the ability to create a tempest in a teapot, the likes of which no one has seen; to take a passing remark or a small encounter, a glance, a hint of smile or a scowl and create the most elaborate melodrama around it of which I am either the heroine or villainess, or victim. Mind you, if I am the heroine of the story it is because I have bestowed that title upon myself. If I am either the antagonist or hapless victim then it is obvious the misguided actions of others have willfully cast me in those roles.

When my wacky hormones decide to make their monthly appearance then the game is afoot! I can take the most innocuous of incidences and create a tale that will inevitably put me in a state, either of joy or extreme annoyance. I know the Universe has a perverse sense of humour because that is precisely when one of my unsuspecting male friends will call and bear the brunt of my discontent. At these times I am much softer with my women friends, more tolerant and patient, yet they too are not always spared my grumpy ruminations. The difference is that I rarely snap at them, as I do their male counterparts. The women are dressed down in the privacy of my own head. I know I irritate my war council, as I call my most intimate group of female friends, as much as they irritate me at times so I do not feel any guilt at telling them off in my head. I am getting crankier as I get older, and thus, the filters are becoming more porous.

Like, right now, as I am typing this, a woman in the seat diagonal to me keeps clearing her phlegmy throat and raking fingers through her unkempt, greying hair. It is taking all my self control not to shank her. “Shanking” is prison jargon for knifing someone in quick jabs repeatedly in the same area. This occurs usually in the prison yard. I think. At any rate, it involves the intent to commit homicide and that is precisely what I am feeling right now. Or, I could get her a bottle of water and a hairbrush and let her have at it. Oh! She just smiled at me because I am openly staring at her. Well, that was nice, actually. She has no idea that I am writing about her at this very moment. Alas, now the brief love affair is over as she has just dialed her cell phone whilst unceremoniously clearing the mucus from her throat. We are in a library and she is using her cellphone...I need to stop watching her as the next column you will be reading by me will be from a state correctional facility, where my chances of getting shanked will indubitably be high, and where I landed because I assaulted someone in the Darien Public Library. Okay, let me explain now what just happened. As I was writing the last sentence, I immediately got a vision of myself amongst the general prison population. This is of course comprised of prostitutes, crack addicts, criminally negligent mothers and shoplifters. I am beaten to a pulp the first day, have my cigarettes stolen, and am scarred for life as my dewy complexion and bouncy hair are heartily resented by the female dregs of Connecticut society. This thought is bringing tears to my eyes as we speak and now I am imagining all the innocents like me, who are languishing in prison for ridiculous, victimless offenses, such as pot possession and, as in the true life case of one homeless mother, giving a false address so her son could attend school. Now, I am imagining myself as an attorney, a champion of the underdog and the working class, who walks at an efficient pace down the long, hallway that smells of disinfectant, to the prisoner visiting area, my clipped footfalls echoing off the walls. I reach the room, where I am wordlessly frisked by a plump, taciturn, Hispanic female guard, who looks at me with skepticism when I tell her I am here to see my client (insert whatever name you like) who is being unfairly maligned by the justice system. Why is she skeptical? Well, because I look far too young to be such a cracker jack attorney naturally! Keep up people.

I enter the visiting area, assure my sobbing client that I will win the day and the state of CT will rue it. “Ms Ahmed, you have given me hope for the first time in a long time,” she will say, tears rolling down her cheeks, clasping my hand with both of hers. “Call me Sharbari,” I will say as I beam benevolently at her. “We are a team.” I am nothing if not filled with noblesse oblige. I am not embellishing, I pictured all of this clearly as I wrote it. I have managed, quite effortlessly, and in a short amount of time, to warm the cockles of my own heart.

Oh, Ms Phlegm is back. She left briefly when I smiled/glared at her for using her cell phone. She has not cleared her throat in the last few minutes, but she types like a tornado and now I find that singularly irritating as well, as it is loud and too fast.

The other day I sat in a stupor on my couch, staring at the wall. This was right after I meditated and thought of the million and one things I am putting off doing. So, naturally, instead of remedying that, I started working myself up, imagining all the offenses aimed at me, the slights, the vitriol. This ran the gamut, from friends who did not immediately return phone calls, to agents who rejected my manuscript to other authors who write in the same genre as me, who are celebrated when their mediocrity is clear, so clear to me. Okay, now phlegmatic woman is eating nuts, yes nuts, people, a food that is loud, that she extracts from a beat-up paper bag that she must dig around in, piercing the zen like silence of the study room with crackling noises. Nuts actually cause more phlegm from what I understand, so we are just adding ten pounds of crap to a five pound bag here. Well, maybe that is wheat. It doesn't matter; with nuts there is no way to avoid making that crunching noise. Her bovine chewing is causing seismic activity somewhere, I just know it.

Okay, I digress: that day, after meditating, I work myself into such a state that I want to hit something, or someone, possibly a muculous, older woman, who, oh dear, is offering me a cashew at this moment. “Salted.” One second, I just said. Let me just type this last word. (Insert 11 second pause here). I have not only taken her nuts but complimented her locket. I am such a heel. And that, folks, was a brief and, no doubt, harrowing, journey through my mind at this very moment. My apologies.

* Real time refers to something happening as we speak, or a simulated event unfolding in the exact time it could ostensibly occur, like when director James Cameron insisted on drawing out the movie Titanic to almost four hours so we could watch the boat sink in the same time it actually sank.


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