Stories

Patti Smith Could Have Turned This Into Something

I’m writing when my 12-year-old son interrupts me. I’ve told him I need to focus, but kids are kids and…

“I know a kid in eighth grade with a full blown mustache.”

Now I’m curious about this kid in eighth grade. I write down what my son said because it sounds like the makings of a country song for middle schoolers.

“What’s his name?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is he tall?”
“Yeah.”

My son goes back to the project he’s working on. He has to write three pages a day during summer break. His friends say his parents are cruel. I tell him that ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of one day growing up to have children of my own that I could torture by making them write three pages a day, double spaced, about anything they wanted.

“Is he the only kid in school with a mustache?”
“I don’t know. I only know that I saw him once at the front of the school running to catch his bus and I noticed his ‘stache.”
“Did it flow in the wind as he ran?”
“If only.”
“That would be a fine piece of cinema.”
“Mighty fine.”

I tell him that ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of one day growing up to have children of my own that I could torture by making them write three pages a day, double spaced, about anything they wanted.

It’s quiet, then a gasp.

“I just remembered a piece of geek information.”

For the next 117 seconds I’m treated to a deep dive into Halo game theory. I know far too much about Spartans for any sensible adult.

“Hey, you know how when you’re writing and I ask you for something you say, ‘Not right now, I’m writing’? Do you think I could use that excuse to get out of my chores?”
“No.”

My husband calls up from the basement. He needs the vacuum.

“Not right now, I’m writing.”
“See! It works for you.”

I recently read that an actor deleted all social media from his life. He’s gone full analog. Says it’s really helped him focus. I think about the content out there in the world. I wonder if it’s too much for me. I do find the news about the threat of imminent nuclear war really harshes my mellow. Didn’t these guys watch Red Dawn?

I notice the dog got blood on the carpet. I trimmed her nails and accidentally hit one of the quicks.

I wonder if there’s a bit of poetry somewhere in this experience. Patti Smith could probably find it. I’ve been reading her work and marvel at her ability to write 30 pages of beautiful nothing that climaxes to a clandestine meeting with Bobby Fischer that only lasts a paragraph.

While I consider it, I get a sponge and start cleaning.