Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Slob's Story

From the file: True Tales of Detroit, circa 1989 (!!)

I am a slob, and it is a chronic condition.

I am unbothered by the atrocious state of my living quarters. “My place looks like a tornado just blew through,” I often quip. This usually gets a laugh.

Take my kitchen, for example. Or rather, my kitchenette—a closet with gas burners and a fridge. Why it is not crawling with vermin, I’ll never know. I enjoy cooking, but tend to drop things. Stuff jumps out of my wok as it's scrambled about. Or leaps from the bedslat-sized counterspace when I’m not looking.

The floor below is a ghastly wasteland of past repasts.

Once, to impress a woman, I not only took my car through a carwash, but also stuck a quarter in a heavy-duty vacuum machine, and cleaned out years of accumulated grit and garbage and grime. Later I took spray cleaner to the inside of the windshield, and to the plastic covering the speedometer. These areas had never been cleaned before. They were thick with some sort of goo, although no one smokes in my car—that is a hard and fast rule, like the wearing of seatbelts.

To my eyes, the automobile was again pristine.

But my car, while an extension of myself, is not my home, where I hang my hat and sleep at night, and shave and shower, which is what I want to tell you about—about the extraordinary disorder of my digs.

Disorder is an appropriate word. For one thing, I rarely straighten up the place. When I do, things get lost—the madness of my methods has been disturbed. Hence the magazines piled on the couch no one ever sits on, the overflowing bookshelves, the round dinner table strewn with odds and ends with which I could track the nearly five years I’ve lived in this place, if I were so inclined—a paradigm of superpositioning, if you remember that term from Earth Science. Pictures of a friend of mine’s kid when she was three. A handwritten note (circa 1987) from Stingray, an L.A.-based rocker who helped bring some Russian musicians to the United States a few years back. Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul On Ice; I don’t know why that’s there but it is. (I bought it used many years ago; in it I found a receipt from a Hudson’s Department Store, dated March of 1959. I was hooked.) Transcripts of interviews with jazz musicians, conducted in late ’87. Postcards and Christmas cards from all years.

I know where all this stuff is, in spite of the apparent disarray.

To straighten up is to tamper with my muses.

No comments:

Post a Comment