Home Page Photo

The Big Stupid Review

Archives

American Dream Serialization (Early Chapters)
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Maurice Stoker
Introduction to Jim Chaffee's Studies in Mathematical Pornography by Tom Bradley
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: American Dream Title Page by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 1 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 2 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 3 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 4 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 5 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 6 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 7 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 8 by Jim Chaffee
Studies in Mathematical Pornography: Chapter 9 by Jim Chaffee
01-01-2015
Modern Tragedy, or Parodies of Ourselves by Robert Castle
01-11-2014
Totally Enchanté, Dahling by Thor Garcia
01-04-2014
Hastini by Rudy Ravindra
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 5 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2014
Unexpected Pastures by Kim Farleigh
10-01-2013
Nonviolence by Jim Courter
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 4 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
07-01-2013
The Poet Laureate of Greenville by Al Po
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part VI by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 3 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
04-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part V by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part IV by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 2 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
01-01-2013
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part I by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part II by Thor Garcia
The Apocalypse of St. Cleo, Part III by Thor Garcia
The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter Volume 1 Translation by W. C. Firebaugh
10-01-2012
DADDY KNOWS WORST: Clown Cowers as Father Flounders! by Thor Garcia
RESURRECTON: Excerpt from Breakfast at Midnight by Louis Armand
Review of The Volcker Virus (Donald Strauss) by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-07-2012
Little Red Light by Suvi Mahonen and Luke Waldrip
TEXECUTION: Klown Konfab as Killer Kroaked! by Thor Garcia
Miranda's Poop by Jimmy Grist
Paul Fabulan by Kane X Faucher: Excerpt from the forthcoming Infinite Grey by Kane X Faucher
01-04-2012
Operation Scumbag by Thor Garcia
Take-Out Dick by Holly Day
Patience by Ward Webb
The Moon Hides Behind a Cloud by Barrie Darke
The Golden Limo of Slipback City by Ken Valenti
01-01-2012
Chapter from The Infinite Atrocity by Kane X. Faucher
Support the Troops By Giving Them Posthumous Boners by Tom Bradley
01-10-2011
When Good Pistols Do Bad Things by Kurt Mueller
Corporate Strategies by Bruce Douglas Reeves
The Dead Sea by Kim Farleigh
The Perfect Knot by Ernest Alanki
Girlish by Bob Bartholomew
01-07-2011
The Little Ganges by Joshua Willey
The Invisible World: René Magritte by Nick Bertelson
Honk for Jesus by Mitchell Waldman
01-04-2011
Red's Dead by Eli Richardson
The Memphis Showdown by Gabriel Ricard
Someday Man by John Grochalski
01-01-2011
I Was a Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein by Tom Bradley
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Fred Bubbers
10-01-2010
Believe in These Men by Adam Greenfield
The Magnus Effect by Robert Edward Sullivan
Performance Piece by Jim Chaffee
07-01-2010
Injustice for All by D. E. Fredd
The Polysyllogistic Curse by Gary J. Shipley
How It's Done by Anjoli Roy
Ghost Dance by Connor Caddigan
Two in a Van by Pavlo Kravchenko
04-01-2010
Uncreated Creatures by Connor Caddigan
Invisible by Anjoli Roy
One of Us by Sonia Ramos Rossi
Storyteller by Alan McCormick
01-01-2010
Idolatry by Robert Smith
P H I L E M A T O P H I L I A by Traci Chee
They Do! by Al Po
Full TEX Archive
Side Photo for The Big Stupid Review

Menage a Deux

By Hugh Fox

Nelson-Atkins Museum, KCMO

Three children, ten, eight and three, and she'd especially-especially liked him because of, let's not call it "feminineness," but "comprehensive visionaryness," like understanding, "So you've got a Ph.D. in Radiation Theory, Therapy, Whatever…the kids are more important than anything else. I mean I'll do my part, but I love it when it's Mom-centered, even now, you're only thirty-three, you'll have plenty of time for a career later, or you might even go into your other Monet-Matisse Self and start painting. William Carlos Williams was an M.D. You know…"

When Clarissa's sister, Carmen, had given him a gift-certificate for his birthday he'd gone out and bought a DVD of La Boheme. A little watching together every night after the kids had been bedded down. Down in the downstairs living room, the kids' doors closed upstairs. The whole point the quickness of life, "It's the same for all of us….I don't know one person, even if they got to ninety, who wanted to GO, who felt they'd had ENOUGH."

"So the point is to NOW-it, right?"

"Right!"

Lots of love between them, not every night, but he always said "I can hardly sleep without it," sex and a little Nyquil and he was out. And even without the Nyquil it was the same for her.

"Nous sommes animaux after all," she'd smile-say as she'd give him one last kiss before turning over in the bed so they'd sleep back to back most of the night, just at times, especially in mid-winter when the heating didn't quite make it, trundling into each others arms, snoring, sniffling, twisting-turning irrelevant, as if they were four arms and four legs on the same body.

Teaching English over at Somerville College, writing a book about Debussy ("Le meilleur des meilleurs"/ "The best of the bests"), office hours, time-to-talk-to-students, and library-time, but most of the time working on the Debussy at home so that Harry (5), Blanche (4) and Beatrice (2) got soaked in Golliwog cake-walks and dancing snow, moonlight and doll-serenades, préludes, menuets…you name it…always explaining, starting his explanations of the pieces with the original French, "La fille aux cheveux de lin, The girl with the flaxen hair…linen…," or "La Cathédrale engloutie, The cathedral, almost the same as our cathedral, engloutie…swallowed up…," even out in their little backyard in the Somerville house in the middle of winter, carrying a little CD player with him, "La neige danse…the dancing snow…," always laughing when he'd play with Blanche's hair "It really is de lin, as in linen…lin…linen…," or when Harry would start playing snowball-time, "Talk about the snow dancing! Talk about the Golliwog cake-walking…," so they felt that the whole Debussy world was normal…the norm…she could just imagine them growing up and flowering, the same way he/they had……

Years of all-engrossing, gobbling them up love. And Somerville was a kind of Parisian New England transplant, all the little cafes and the poets that called themselves the Bagel Bards, Phil always trying to write one poem a day, the kids starting to write them too, and even Clarissa had begun to try…and slowly began to find her own voice…a poem always accompanied by a CD of her playing the harp. Years back. When she was still in high school, moving into (MIT) college, torn between music (composition) and something her family considered more practical/survivable like medicine/radiation therapy:

           Lotus, crocus, long-dressed, big-brimmed
           eighteenth century me,
           wandering into the wrong century
           with all the castles in ruins or
           turned into tourist traps,
           being what I am nonetheless,
           much more than less,
           in spite of the times/timelessness.

"Fabulous, Mom!" the kiddies would scream as if they were at a football/soccer game. Which they were never-ever taken to. "Sports" off the board, heresy in the ambience that was contained in only two words, THINK and LOVE, preferably with THINK first…

The years passing, when Beatrice finally made it into kindergarden, Phil one night over coffee at Le Bonne Pain on Harvard Square, leaving the kids alone to their own devices, their lap-tops and CD's and DVD's (right now watching all of Thomas Hardy's novels made into films like Far From the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D'Ubervilles, etc., which they really enjoyed because, after all, they had been nineteenth-centuryized full-time by their parents (even every summer trips to small town, coastal England)…

Le Bonn Pain. A couple of chocolate muffins ("Screw the caffeine! I'll take one of my Lunestas!") and de-cafe skim latté with a little cream-foam on top, Phil keeping checking his watch. 6:30, 6:45…

"What are you expecting, a terrorist attack?" Clarissa laughed, "Not very likely here."

A springish evening, even though it was only mid-March, some people outside already, some non-customers sitting there as always, the usual beggars on the streetcorners, which disturbed Clarissa a lot-lot, wanting it all to be aristocratically sailing in an air free of racial-social downturns…at least in Somerville…Cambridge…

"I'm fine, just waiting for Sammy."

"Who?"

"One of my students. Polish-American…spent a year in Poland…great guy. Just a touch of, I wouldn't call it accent, but just 'flavor.'"

Just as he said the word flavor, there he was.

Twenty-fivish. The first word that came into Clarissa's head was "gay." Not that she had anything against "gay," but her mind had its own historical context. Very much Irish-Catholically raised, everything in its place, the hugest scandal in her life/her family's life the priestly breakdown which had resulted in the closedown of literally scores and scores of Boston area parishes.

"Sammy, Clarissa, Clarissa, Sammy…"

"My pleasure!" Handshaking, a little kiss on the top of her head (hat). "Let me get a little [looking carefully down at their muffins and coffee] something to scrunch on…"

"I'll take care of it," insisted Phil and pulled a chair out for Sammy who smilingly accepted the gesture and slumped happily down into it with a wide-beamed smile.

And after Phil had gone back into line, Sammy continued sliding through smile-country, "Just as beautiful as I expected. Phil is always talking about you, even in class, when we're reading the Romantics and Victorians…especially the Romantics, "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore…"

"I'd hardly call that 'romantic'!"

Amused but under the vanilla crust of amusement just a bit piqued too.

"A romantic raven!"

Sammy laughing, laughing, laughing…as Phil came back with two chocolate muffins and a cup of coffee.

"That was fast!"

"Well…you know, I'm a kind of pillar-post around here, one of the gang…"

"The best kind of gang!" Sammy patting Phil's arm after he'd put the goodies on the table, Clarissa feeling this tremendous 'oneness' between the two of them, her inner voices wanting to say 'Maybe it's better if I get back to the kiddies and leave you two alone,' but she stifled her inner voices and smiled.

Phil sitting down and looking more relaxed and ecstatic than Clarissa had seen him in years. The same with Sammy. Like they were long-lost brothers or something.

"Sammy's one of my best students. Wants to make a profession out of writing, novels, social commentary, poetry…"

"Mainly poetry. In fact I brought my latest volume along for you," Sammy smiled, reaching into his tweed (Harris?) coat and pulling out a volume. A strange drawing on the cover. Two sets of round somethings in green over red, as if they were in some sort of abstract body, Clarissa thinking breasts and testes, but stifling that thought too. Title: AMBIVALENCE.

Opening it up and showing her the dedication he'd carefully written inside:

                        TO CLARISSA, WANTING TO BE AS CLEAR AS
                                      POSSIBLE,
                                                       SAMMY

"Impressive!"

Opening it up, about to read a poem outloud when he gingerly took it out of her hands and re-opened it.

"Just a little sample. The title poem:

                     TO BE OR NOT TO BE

            To be or not to be, what I was
            intended to be but never quite
            made it inside the prison of
            YOU'VE GOTTA, until I finally
            tapped into my own gotta and
            did what the (chthonic) gods had
            always intended for me to do,
            in spite of all the Do-Nots that
            still spin inside my dictatorialized
            head that I am trying to turn into
            pure flour/flower that I can
            smell/bake at my own rate."

Never seeing Phil happier as he got up and kissed Sammy on the head.

"Maybe I oughta get home, we oughta get home and check out the kids. You don't mind if Sammy comes along, huh?"

Clarissa minding, wanting exclusivity, total focusing in on herself, but playing the hypocrite again, smiling as deliciously almond-buttery as she could.

"Not at all…"

"We've got that extra bedroom, you know, the one we're storing all our old books in…"

Clarissa pulling on her coat, feeling snowstorms, sandstorms, no storms at all inside her, for a moment feeling she'd reached absolute zero, the bottom of a universe that wasn't supposed to have tops or bottoms.

"Whatever…"

And out they went, Clarissa almost taking the three-quarters unfinished muffin that Sammy had left on his plate and wrapping it in a couple of napkins, but why bother, why worry, why fume, revolt, rebel, re-anything……once was enough.

Nelson-Atkins Museum, KCMO

© 2009 Hugh Fox