Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Tale of the Transitory Trout, Chapters 5 & 6

The chapter designation is somewhat arbitrary and only meant to indicate that the book began before this post and more is to be written... I think. But probably not by me.
ALTERNATE TITLE: "Mr. Rosewater's Cradle of Champions, Chapters 5 & 6"

Chapter 5
I flew to Seattle for a vacation and to visit my mom. Ben, who had been in Vancouver, BC for a Radiohead show, picked me up on his way back to Portland.
While in Portland, I stopped at Powell's on Burnside and got Ben "The Cheese Monkeys" by Chip Kidd, and also a copy of "Timequake" for my friend Lea. While in the Vonnegut stacks, I noticed a used hardback edition of "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater/Cat's Cradle/Breakfast of Champions" for roughly the same price as a normal used novel. What a deal!
I picked up the omnibus book for myself, even though I had already read the first two novels. It was a good deal for "Breakfast of Champions" alone, I thought, and I'll re-read the other two stories at some point anyway. And so on.
The book nearly doubled the weight of my carry-on bag, but did give me something to read while returning to Seattle by train. His pictures in the book were hilarious. The asterisk to indicate "asshole," both figurative and literal, and the self-portrait (see below) of, I believe, his alter-ego, a Mr. Kilgore Trout, and the picture of the undies, which, if I'm not mistaken, represent undies. I don't read many novels with pictures. Not because I'm a literary snob, per se, but because they tend to be hard to find in my size (at my reading level).
But asides aside, I finished "Breakfast of Champions" on the plane back to Denver. I put it in my bookcase, enjoying the anticipation of re-reading the stories at a later date. So it goes.
Chapter 6
I met Jenny at a friend's housewarming. I always seem the most charming when I'm in that professor stage between sobriety and drunkenness. "Goddam that Bush guy," I would rage, and so on. I seemed smart, and was dressed in my work duds; impressive... or, at least, I made an impression.
I could have sworn that Jenny was with *, the guy that she was hanging out with. Hmm. First impressions...
Imagine my shock when she asked me to "coffee... or something" at the end of the evening. I guess she realized the impression she and * had given off, and that I wasn't going to ask her out under such circumstances. Imagine that.
And we had a whirlwind 3-month relationship wherein I found out * was her "soon-to-be ex-Husband"!?!? I found out quite a bit more about her, too. More than I really needed to know to be quite honest. But like a heartworm, she burrowed a place in my heart, laid her eggs, and lived for a brief parasitic spell off of my kindness. That last statement was mean, and only partially true, but sometimes it's hard to separate the true from the fabrication... so it goes.
So, being several years older, four years more educated, and so forth, I thought she would benefit from reading some Vonnegut. I loaned her the big book of Vonnegut, only for us to break up before she finished the first novel she started in it. In my farewell, I requested that she keep the book. Perhaps it would aid in her growth as a person, I reasoned. Besides, I had already read all of the stories.
Talk about your clean breaks!
I haven't missed Jenny in quite some time. But sometimes, late at night when the light is just right, I imagine that I see the book in its old place on the shelf. I do a double-take and realize it was just a dream, or some sort of flashback hallucination. And I cry a single tear for the book I once had.