by Maddy Appelbaum
Bidwell HA Edition: Sinclair Hong & Hannah Fung-weiner
As a little freshman at Reed College, ripe with all the social skills of…a banana, my main method of getting to know potential new friends/enemies came in the form of the hypothetical question. This tactic worked out great and everyone has a positive opinion of me, so now I bring you, reader, a provocative way to get to know your potential frenemies. I hope this game fills you with the same immense joy/minor anxiety it did me!
Q: If you could throw your ideal party, not constrained by any physical or financial reality, what would that party be?
That was perhaps the best party in my life. At first, I thought I was dreaming. You know, a kind of sweet dream, definitely not a wet one. Sometimes, too good of a reality is less romantic than a mere fantasy. No wonder men keep looking for the perfect girl who is sitting right next to them. Let me tell you a bit about the party since you may want a narrative to entertain yourself from your daily routines. Trust me, it won't be too bad. At least, the experience forced me to write this letter to you.
So, it was three days ago when it happened. The party house looked like a dark-brown box with very shiny surfaces. It was like a big gemstone. As soon as I entered the house, I was told to pick whatever form or body I wanted to be from this cloud-looking figure. Inside the hall, I stood among the crowd watching them turning into dogs, Hennessy bottles, Lunor frames, chunks of gold, hydrangea, dollar bills, ex-girlfriend's photos, and Hemingway. I was stunned to see metamorphosis happening right in front of me.
Then, I was told it would only last for the night. I picked a tree since I have always regretted to be born as a human being, not firm like trees. I wanted to enjoy the every moment as a tree. Being a tree was much more difficult than I thought it would be. It required me to stand still, make sure my branches are not poking the others, and be patient with my surroundings. While contemplating on such physical change, I sensed a sharp internal change as well. I no longer had any obsession of being perfect. I did simply let it be. I didn't have to put efforts into anything. Being a tree meant a complete let-go of every unnecessary thinking. It was similar to submerging into a hinoki tub with a cold beer in hand, preferably Kirin Draft after a miserably long day. Anyways, I was just standing in the hall as a tree.
All of a sudden, Hemingway approached to me saying, "I'm Hemingway. You look like a fine tree. What's your name?"
I replied, "Well, I am Namu. Oh, I am Tree." He said, "Namu? What's that? Anyways, I like your firmness. Keep that posture. I gotta go drink some of the Cognac lying on the floor. Later." "A true man lives the life with passion. A true tree looks at the man with compassion," Hemingway uttered the phrases as he walked away from me.
Hemingway began to sip some Hennessy that was on the floor, he patted the dogs, and he looked at the photographs. Twenty minutes later, he rose up from the floor, grabbed the bills, and put some of hydrangea inside his cargo pockets. He didn't take any gold though. I saw him going upstairs entering into a room, I guess he went in there to write something. Looking at Hemingway, I wished I chose to be a writer instead. Being a tree was not bad at all, but I guess I wasn't apt for being a tree because I craved something more dramatic and exciting.
Standing in the hall with no human beings around me, I began to recall some parts of my life as an unpublished writer desperately looking for new opportunities to publish. I was once regarded as the rising star at Stanford's MFA program in Creative Writing although I was often criticized for the lack of elegance in my English prose. Tobias Wolff was the only professor who encouraged me to push my broken English further and turn it into a distinct style of mine. However, the publishers thought of my writing as fucking horrible. Fucking nightmare to be precise. I gained more respect for Nabokov since then. In fact, I felt as if my graduate studies was for nothing, but paying money to Stanford to get my coffee from Intelligentsia that was in town. By the way, the original Intelligentsia is in Chicago, far away from here. Speaking of coffee, I hate when baristas go on about explaining coffee's taste as the following, "it's got this touch of citrus and plum. And, it's a cup reminiscent of a creamy, cherry, and uhm...like vanilla cola?" What the fuck does that mean? Is it good or bad? That's all I want to know.
Anyways, getting back to the main plot, I have been struggling since departure from school to make money as a writer. I stopped complaining about baristas' comments on a variety of coffee beans. As a matter of fact, I only wished to hear some baristas explaining to me about the coffee's taste. But, I didn't have money to go to Intelligentsia anymore, instead I began to go to Seven Eleven. The coffee had the same color at least. One day, I saw a beggar outside the Sev while getting my coffee. He was wearing a peculiar type of robe that I wanted to look at him for some time. The robe looked in between a wedding dress and a Habit. He started to talk to me, and asked me if I wanted to come to his house for a party. I often thought my writing was bad because I lacked real and exciting life events, so I said yes. Outside the tent, he looked over at me and said, "come inside and see my place. It's the best place one can have in this whole world. Better than a cave, better than the Banyan Tree's presidential suite looking over the Maldives ocean, and perhaps, I say, perhaps better than your mother's womb?" His words sounded strange, but he seemed to be an intriguing source for one of my short stories. Thus, I followed him and went inside the tent. Going in there quickly placed my body right in front of a house that looked as a brown box craved of lignite. I am certain now that I traveled through space and time.
Looking back, I feel as if I entered the realm of divine because it was nothing like I had seen before in my life. Maybe, I was pitied by God or gods for all of my failures to make any money through pursuing what I wanted: writing stories. Richard, do you remember when we sipped some whiskey at the parking lot and talked about literature and landscape? I miss having whiskey and cigarettes with you these days. Since you are far away from the West Coast, somewhere in France, I miss you much more than usual. That's why I decided to share this experience with you and send you this letter. Was it you who transformed into the beggar? Were you the Hemingway guy? I think of these stupid possibilities. Nonetheless, they are sweet fantasies. Anyways, I will shortly write you more on this experience and send you couple of my short stories I've been working on. I hope you are well. Really well.
With love and respect,
Why, what else would I throw but a tea party for two?! My guest? The esteemed White Whale himself, Moby Dick. Our table? The sea. The menu? PG Tips and Carr's Ginger Lemon Cremes. Note: clothing optional.