Posted by David
on Jun 13, 2005 in Upside-down Hippo
| Comments Off on The Screech of a Passing Bald Eagle
This is an email I received today:
Hi there, I’ll very happy have realtionship with good man, if you interested in me, please write me directly to my personal addr. and don’t forget write me more about you and send me photos. Looking forward to hear back from you soon and please don’t forget to attach your picture…
Svetlana ( this my name )
This is my response:
Thank you for getting in touch yet again. I see you have not yet located a good man or a basic English grammar text, but that’s OK. I have confidence in you, and I’m flattered that you consider me worthy of your repeated attention. I imagine you brushing off the dust after a long day of planting turnips on the collective farm, sitting down at the computer, and scanning the Internet for a good man who can whisk you away from such a grueling existence. It’s no wonder that you’ve settled upon me. You saw my photograph and were magnetically drawn to the panicked glint in my eyes, or you’ve stumbled across one of my essays and became aroused by my anal-retentive punctuation.
Yes, Svetlana, I am the total package.
But I’m afraid the answer is still no.
Please don’t do anything rash: my life is problematic enough without having the blood of a buxom Russian peasant girl dripping from the chandelier.* For example, I’m working fifty-hour weeks, I’m getting screwed over by various overpriced contractors and the entire regulatory bureaucracy of the city I call home, progress on my book has stopped, I’m finding it difficult to exercise given the archipelago of chronic pains spanning my musculo-skeletal system, a heretofore undiscovered but decidedly pungent species of mildew is frolicking in my carpets, and all my houseplants died weeks ago and have been steadily decomposing in their pots.
Not that I’m complaining, but I just thought I’d clue you in as to the species of tree you’re barking up: as you growl and pace and gnash your teeth around the trunk, you might want to be careful of the wolves that were there first.
But I don’t want to give you the impression, Svetlana, that my life is without its high points. Sunday morning, for instance, I took the morning off and went with my friend Stephanie to a local rock-climbing gym, where we learned the basics of climbing and belaying. I expect this will be a useful skill to have when you and the Russian mafia show up at my house for a shotgun wedding. With a trusty belayer at my side and a length of nylon rope fluttering in Prudence’s slipstream, I will make a beeline for the nearest rock face to metropolitan Baltimore, and I will climb it, leaving you and the Russian mafia scratching your heads in the dust. (As a gesture of goodwill, you can have the trusty belayer.)**
I’m getting ahead of myself. The climbing gym. For months, Svetlana, months, I have been obsessed with learning how to rock climb. Not that I would ever touch a rock in its natural setting, let alone attempt to scale one. Even on the plastic rocks screwed to the climbing gym wall, I spent the entire three-hour lesson praying that a bottle of hand sanitizer, glowing with holy light, would drop from the heavens. But you should know, Svetlana, that things don’t happen in America because we sit around wishing for them.*** I didn’t find my husband by messing around on the Internet,**** and I didn’t destroy all of the harmful germs on my hands by spreading around any mumbo-jumbo. It takes hard work.
But as I mentioned, I was trying to avoid hard work, so I spent my day at the rock-climbing gym convinced that bacteria were dissolving the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet. It was a small price to pay, however, for the exhilaration of it all, of tying the proper knots, performing that extended safety check, and finally, finally, having my rental shoes leave the rubber floor mat, relying on my wits and strength and the rope and a trusty belayer to guide me up the twenty-foot practice walls. We in the brotherhood (and sisterhood!) of rock climbers can easily lose ourselves in this “inherently dangerous”***** sport, scaling our way into the stratosphere, leaving the troubles of the world behind, with only high-flying bald eagles for company. Or perhaps the occasional shaggy yak.
You should try it sometime, Svetlana. Maybe after you’ve been blinded by the blaze of the sun on the snowy peaks, tasted the bite of the arctic air through your mask, you will stop looking for a “good man” to rescue you from your woes. A “realtionship” is not a magic wand, Svetlana. You are a strong and functionally illiterate woman, and the world is your oyster. Maybe after you’ve climbed a few mountains, you’ll give up on your starry-eyed ideas about the way the world works and settle down and start a business of your own, perhaps selling mashed turnips from a stand in your front yard, and let me tell you, it won’t be easy going. People will try to swindle you and hinder your progress for no other reason than that they can. But, Svetlana, you will look at those people as rock walls to climb, scary-looking from below but easily surmountable with just a bit of preparation.
All the best,
* I don’t really have a chandelier.
** Sorry, Stephanie. I’ll make sure this happens on your day off.
*** Things happen in America because the Republicans lie, cheat, and manipulate them into occurring and then bamboozle the media into claiming that it was an uneventful day.
**** Actually, I did.
***** A direct, machismo-enhancing quote from the brochure.