Not my fault the guy cut his ear off.
Started with the shower curtain back when my job was memorizing lines: Shakespeare, O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Brecht. Back when I used to write trigger words in soap on the transparent glass or plastic whenever scrubbing. Back when I believed art could be transient and move hearts to action. On the line, O for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heavens of invention, I started swirling the O. The gesture started all slow-mo Tai-chi, morphed into a Karate-Kid-wax-on-wax-off, then got melodramatic Hollywood like some two-bit soap-opera serial killer trying to scour crime blood off my hands. And zip zap zop, this wooden O, the very casques that did affright the air in Agincourt, the image struck like a round-house to the jawbone and life changed.
I jammed a transparent plastic sheet into my 3D color printer, downloaded the image, jiggy-jigged the alignments, and tapped print. I thought the ink would run, especially when wet, but it didn’t. The image held and I stopped learning lines in the shower. I took walks, used recordings, back-pocket slips of paper between grocery lists. I enjoyed my shower and the image for what they were, almost a single task.
Today I memorized: How rich art is, if one can only remember what one has seen, one is never empty of thoughts or truly lonely, never alone.
Are you? Can you?
Two months later, I fell in love with an impulsive woman. After our fifth shower together, she said, “You know, you’re the first white guy I haven’t hate fucked. Can I have this shower curtain?” “Sure,” I said, “You know, you’re the most honest woman I‘ve ever met.” She took the curtain home. I printed another. Three weeks later, after another shower together, she said, “My sister fell in love with that curtain. Can you print another?” “Sure,” I said, “You know, I think I love your mind more than your body.”
And printed another curtain.
That Christmas was our first. I bought a swanky printer and kegs of ink. We printed beach balls, umbrellas, socks, posters, backpacks. She hand-painted teapots. We gave Starry Nights to everyone we knew and loved. Her family was huge, mine tiny, and everyone was merry with what they received. So were we with our work and giving.
That New Year’s Eve after sharing our resolutions and bodies, she said, “That painting’s public, right? No copyright. Older than what? 90 years? We can sell that shit.”
And we did.
Yesterday I memorized: That is how I look at it; to continue, to continue, that is what is necessary.
Can you? Is it?
Our first trip to China to find a manufacturer was a mind-fuck. We were already making more than we could manage. Had a live-in-work-loft in Green Point. We always smelt of tint. Often got busy while the printer chugged. Talked about the color of our hypothetical babies. But curiosity jigsawed us in Beijing. I got sick on dodgy Peking duck. She started doing business on the sly with an Italian fashion-mogul.
Lockets. IPhone cases. Hammocks. Lingerie. Yoga tights. Pillows. Nail polish. Guitars. Head phones. Our wallets sold like hot cakes. We couldn’t maintain. Fuck, we even laser-sprayed a Volkswagen van. We printed to order and automated everything except our joint signatures, even our love. Stinking rich, we drifted apart. Never had our rainbow babies.
Tomorrow we should memorize: When I compare myself to others, there is something stiff and awkward about me; I look as if I had been in prison for ten years.
Would you like to?
After making all that bank, most mornings I feel like cutting my own ear off. Might be the only way to actually feel.