Thursday, March 3, 2011

yes! yes! yes!

I’m a bookish boy. A voracious collector of lit, I purchase every book I read. And only after I finish the book, with its dog-eared pages and highlighted passages, do I set it gently upon my bookshelf. I dream starry-eyed of the day when my home will be wall-to-wall, floor to ceiling books, all books I’ve read and manhandled. Every pulpy page smudged with my oily fingerprints. And when the curtain falls on my time on earth, and my ashes are scattered at various points across the globe, I will burden my children and grandchildren with my collection, and they’ll wander from room to room wondering what to do with all these goddamn books.

There are a handful of writers who seem to speak directly to me. Whose books I clutch to my chest and cry yes! yes! yes! kicking my legs in the air and squealing like a teenage girl reading Tiger Beat. There’s Ray Bradbury and Joseph Heller. Jack Kerouac and Haruki Murakami. Steinbeck, Eggers and Vonnegut.

There’s Spalding Gray.

I had tickets to see Spalding Gray deliver one of his monologues. I had tickets twice, actually. The first time he was stuck in the Denver airport, grounded in a blizzard, and the show was postponed. Sherry and I went to dinner instead and drowned our sorrows in liquor, and Sherry got sick off margaritas and appletinis. The second time I had tickets, the show was canceled due to complications from injuries Spalding sustained in an earlier car accident. Then he killed himself. And since then there’s been a hole in my heart that will never be patched.

But last night, I took one step toward closure when I saw Garrison Keillor perform his one-man show. I’m probably too young to be such an avid fan of Garrison Keillor. The average age of attendees last night was 65, but Brandon has many personalities, and the shriveled old man inside of him – the same one who likes his coffee black and his bourbon straight – loves Garrison Keillor. I was introduced to Keillor many years ago through a quote in our local paper: “God never intended for me to work hard,” he mused. “I see that now. My true calling is to live unencumbered and follow the fleeting impulses of my heart and take a nap around 2 p.m.” And I’ve been hooked ever since.

In the book section of my myspace page several years ago, I described Garrison Keillor as the Mel Torme of literature. His prose are so fluid and velvety. His ramblings akin to the strangely melodic skeep-beep-de-bop of an unruly scatman. He shuffled onstage last night in a black suit and a pair of red Sauconys, and for an hour and a half he flopped his maniacal hair around, habitually brushing his frayed mane from his forehead. Eyeglasses perched atop his head, he revealed deep secrets of his youth. He told us of the first time he clumsily made love. He thought it went in straight forward, at a 90 degree angle, like a key into a lock. His words poured forth from his aged jowls like melted butter. It was funny and sad and glorious.

At one point I ran to the lobby to borrow a pen. He had inspired me to write, right then and there, and I scribbled in the dark on the back of a flier for David Sedaris, applauding and yelling yes! yes! yes! as I scribbled. I scribbled the words to my next blog. The blog you just read.

No comments: