The True Story of My Life


“Down deep I’m really shallow.”—Ava Gardner

Born cold country, first memories robotic movements in snowsuit.

It is read onto tape I am to be lawyer, calling with unmistakable aura of self sacrifice and whatever celibacy looks like to four-year-old. Conceive immediate distaste for work.

Precocious reader, advanced to academic equivalence with averbal immigrant giants who rend my flesh at recess. Pictures of Blessed Virgin consolidate foot fetish.

Wake at 4:00 AM to sound of P’pa, mechanic at abattoir, ahem-ing over breakfast.  Formulate vows.

Scholarship to expensive school—priests, uniforms, male company. Escape to public system, rasp of nylons as fifteen-year-old girls cross legs.

Ascend cornices of social purgatory, slightly but unfailingly beyond means, first lesson how live that way, to Paradiso of university, enlightened sex.

A year in Europe. Aversion to work now phobic. Avoid gainful employment by climbing around on monkey bars of literature, prolong adolescence till thirty, now permanent. Granted title with clap on back that propels me to suffocatingly provincial university town, sleep with wrong wives, forced further north, discover French women, guilty pleasures of writing comedy.

Promotion to tenured associate professor induces claustrophobia, abdicate, take advance for first novel to Greek island.  Novel, Foreign Matter published in New York to reviews my mother could have written.

Live Greece, finally warm enough.

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