A Letter to Frustrated Writing Students…

A Letter to Frustrated Writing Students…

It’s Right to Write

Dear Frustrated Writers,

If you are reading this then you are considering asking for help with your writing assignment. I know it’s hard to ask for help, and we all have been there. Here’s a few things I do; a few you definitely shouldn’t do; and a few words of wisdom from Stephen King which might help you on your journey.

Writing is a process of the imagination. An extension of ones consciousness and ability to articulate their feelings. The better you are at processing all that scattered information in your brain, the better you will become at the art of persuasion. Persuasion is key. Defining your argument, even in creative writing stories; You are trying to persuade your audience and transport their imagination to a beautifully crafted world that you have made. Including details enhances your reality, and sensibilities that can make a stronger argument. Reading other people’s work is the best way you can get your imagination kicked into gear. The more you read, the more you are going to write. Write about everything. Write about what you read, about what you dream t last night, about something that happened that was interesting that day, or something you wished had happened; Write about how you were walking back to your apartment and how that guy in the brown jacket and red baseball cap was following you. You looked back, and he stopped dead in his tracks, head down with his hands in his pockets, never moving, and fell through the Earth into another dimension in a swirling vortex of black hideous terror. Anything. It’s right to write.

My process of writing is probably like a lot of yours. Sometimes I have to rush to get that first draft done, leaving little time to get a polished draft completed to hand in. But I have a harsh schedule; Before I can begin homework, I have to tend to my other responsibilities such as taking care of my 5-year-old son, taking and administering jiu-jitsu classes, and physical therapy. That leaves me about 2 hours every night to get 5 classes worth of homework done. But when I can, and do, get the time to write, I always take advantage. I have a writing journal that I like to write short stories in, whenever an idea pops in my head. Sometimes it’s just a few sentences of an idea that comes to me. Other times, it develops into a ten page essay. My environment is definitely not one that a lot of writers would thrive in or want to emulate. I always have a movie or T.V. Show playing, with my headphones on, in a separate window when I’m writing on the computer. My wife is usually in the room with me and she is usually listening to her own show as well, or music, and we also are talking about our day, etc. The lights are off, and since I can’t feel anything but pain in my right leg, I’m usually laying down and full of narcotics. Don’t do what I do. It’s in the book, The Bedford Guide, telling you to have a calm, quiet and welcoming environment. Especially if you are having trouble getting started writing, just shutting everything off and sitting with that blank page in front of you, eventually something will click and you will get that first sentence out. That’s all you need. That spark of imagination, that “aha!” moment.

When you begin writing, finally getting that blank page covered with some words, write or yourself first. This is a great tip that comes from Stephen King, from his great book On Writing. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.” (King) Worry about the audience later. Make sure what you are writing is interesting to you and is something, in a story, that you would want to be told. After you get going, don’t stop. Do not re-read every sentence and start the editing process while you are trying to finish your draft. This is writing based in fear. Fear that what you are putting on that paper is already not good enough, not good enough for you or for your audience. Forget that, keep going. Confidence is king. If you believe it and convey it with enough passion, your voice will shine through like a beacon in the darkest night, and your audience will eat it up.

“I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. Dumbo got airborne with the help of a magic feather; you may feel the urge to grasp a passive verb or one of those nasty adverbs for the same reason. Just remember before you do that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.” (King) Stephen King is right on point, again. The magic is in you, we are just figuring out the best possible way to pull it out and organize it. Everyone has one great novel in them; that’s the saying, right? Well, if you don’t want to write a novel, we can do some kung-fu English division and get, at least, 40 fantastic essays out of you. Depending on assignment length, of course. Speaking of the assignment, especially if it is an analytical essay, always make sure you are conveying in the opening of your paper exactly what your argument is about and why you are making that argument. Analytical essays are not my expertise, so I always read the assignment over multiple times, then go over all facts and data that I want to present first. It’s easier for me to write personal essays and creative fiction pieces, but with some simple steps you can do all of it well.

Write truthfully. Listen, your professor and everyone else who is your audience is going to know when you BS your way through a paper. Know why? Because we’ve all done it, so we know what to look for and what that type of paper looks and reads like. Stick to your own style. It might be a fun exercise to try to emulate Virginia Woolf, but everyone’s writing voice is like a fingerprint. It’s unique and exquisite. Just be honest in your writing, one word at a time. Don’t worry about being right, or wrong, or polite, or obscene. If you’re honest and it’s engaging, this is what matters. To make it engaging, make it quick. Make it snappy, speed up the pace. Remove the filler, or the redundant words you added to hit your word count. If you think it reads a bit boring, just imagine how your audience is going to think of it. Take risks. Don’t be afraid; Kill your darlings.

The last bit of advice I can give you is the best bit of advice I also read from Stephen Kings book as well. “You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this or any other book on writing. Faulkner learned his trade while working in the Oxford, Mississippi post office. Other writers have learned the basics while serving in the Navy, working in steel mills or doing time in America’s finer crossbar hotels. I learned the most valuable (and commercial) part of my life’s work while washing motel sheets and restaurant tablecloths at the New Franklin Laundry in Bangor. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.” (King) If you are writing, you are a writer. Reading and writing is all you need. I can’t tell you how to write like you. I can help you organize and I can help you with your structure. I can help you with your word choice and your format. I can help you with your transitions, citations, or finding a great opening line to hook your audience. I can help you figure out a title. I can help you avoid repetition (like this), and I can help make sure your essay flows properly. Hopefully we can work together. Worst case scenario: You’ll get a hell of a story out of it.

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Rhetoric; Anatomy of A Superbowl Ad: Microsoft 2014

Rhetoric; Anatomy of A Superbowl Ad: Microsoft 2014

Microsoft Superbowl Ad

Microsoft

by James Gesner

What is Technology? That is the question that begins Microsoft’s 2014 Superbowl commercial. That question is displayed across our screen, and is being asked by Steve Gleason, a former NFL player, who is now living with ALS. ALS is a disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, impairing mobility and speech. Technology has allowed Steve to ponder his question to us, “What is technology? What can it do? How far can we go?” Even if Microsoft had stopped there, and not gone on with further examples in the commercial, the audience gains an abundant of pathos with seeing this man being given a voice, and able to communicate with his little boy.

Pathos is the emotional connection with the audience, the feelings that are being evoked through this medium and material. This ad by Microsoft is filled with emotions. The range goes from joy, empathy, inspiration, happiness, to a feeling of wonder, and more. There are moments, like with Steve Gleason being able to communicate now, through use of this robotic voice that is narrating our commercial, and talking with his young child, that can play at your heart. The title of the commercial is “Empowering.” Which it is, and it conveys that message clearly and gives us the audience a clear message of an empowering, emotional message of: Technology can bring people together, technology can change people’s lives for the better, and technology is the future. A deaf woman comes across our screen, hearing for the very first time, and a little girl sees her father, who is thousands miles away deployed by the military, but gets to see her on their laptop thanks to technology and Microsoft. In the regard of pathos, and Aristotle’s proof of rhetoric, this Super Bowl ad connects on an emotional level.

Logos for this ad was lacking compared with the pathos. Logos is the logic behind the message, and why it’s being conveyed to the audience. The logic may be more subtle, or lacking in comparison to the pathos, but it did not out right fail in its delivery. When the narrator, who the audience knows is Gleason says “technology has taken us places we have only dreamed,” we are than shown the launch of one of America’s successful shuttles to space. This is logical, because we have successfully been to the moon and the international space station, and deployed rovers to other planets and satellites into deep space. But, America no longer has an active space program involving human manned shuttles to the moon or even a shuttle program at all anymore. The narrator, Gleason, also tells the audience that technology has “given voice to the voiceless,” and, “gives hope to the hopeless,” while splicing images of the woman being given the miracle of hearing for the first time, and the countless children and wounded veterans and others being given mechanical and robotic prosthesis, so that they could walk again, or gain use of a lost arm. This is a more logical statement and claim, that is then reinforced with facts of logical visual proof that is given to the audience.

But, Microsoft does not give the audience any statistics on what an average disabled person in need of a prosthesis would be receiving and how it would be dependent on their healthcare coverage, and other factors. Microsoft logos in this regard is lacking, and the audience cannot be certain that every piece of robotics or mechanical device shown in this ad is built by Microsoft. Microsoft, from a logical viewpoint, is a software developer first, and is just in the past decade been entering into the hardware side of manufacturing. The audience does not understand if what they are being shown are things that are built by Microsoft, being run by Microsoft programming, or just are partners of Microsoft that get their funding. Plus, the average consumer who is watching the Super Bowl is not in need of a prosthetic limb, never mind an advanced piece of robotic technology. Logic asks, who is Microsoft really targeting with this advertisement? And why should the general audience care, outside of the great pathos presented?

This leads to the ethos, or the credibility of the advertisement. The Microsoft Super Bowl commercial begins with text explaining the condition of our narrator, as a current ALS survivor. The voice given to Steve Gleason is one of the standard robotic sounding voices. This adds to the commercials theme of technology, but it is also the voice present in the software that Steve uses to communicate. By introducing us first to Steve Gleason and telling us who he is, what he is suffering from and then showing us how technology is serving him to be the audiences narrator, it builds immediate ethos with their audience. We are then shown images of doctors using a Microsoft device to help explain to a patient, and the audience, how this new CT Imaging technology works. This is another example of ethos; the doctors are an authority figure, one of a social standing who has agency to tell us that this technology is credible and valid and good. Microsoft has an identity that they are trying to push the boundaries of. Microsoft is trying to push past the boundary of software developer and small hardware manufacture, and are showing us people of agency using their tools for far more complex procedures and devices. Microsoft is therefore showing us that their technology benefits all people shown in this commercial, from all different backgrounds of age, gender, race, and abilities or disabilities.

In conclusion, the ad is very successful in covering the proofs of rhetoric. Pathos, logos, and ethos do all have their strengths and/or weaknesses throughout the video as mentioned, but the audience is shown a great balance between them, for a commercial that is effective in delivering on its title: “Empowering.” Microsoft uses positive words, then positive images to reinforce their ideas and their product line. They do a great job especially connecting on an emotional level, using their technology to advance medical education, to connect loved ones, and help those with disabilities. The audience now associates Microsoft with helping these people, not just as that “Windows” company. It does a great job of becoming a technology company by the end of the commercial. It has successfully advertised its product, and shown that it is furthering its and our uses of technology for the future, and showed us how and why it is doing it.

I Remember: That Look

I Remember: That Look

That Look

by James Gesner

Every time I wake up in the morning, or get ready for bed at night, I have to open my bed side table drawer and take my heart and pain medications. That’s when I remember that look. I remember that look the doctor gave me when he shuffled into the room, looking at test results on his clipboard. When he looked up, and his whole face was drawn and pale, his white of his eyes were bloodshot. Then he let out a slight sigh, clasped that clipboard in his right hand and put his left hand on his hip that he had those bright blue scrub pants on. Then he said those nine magic words: “Well, it looks like you are in heart failure.” His bushy eyebrows were drawn high and his brow wrinkled as he finished my diagnosis, as if bracing himself for a round of cursing and wailing. I looked at my wife first; she was a newly registered nurse at the time, and we had been married less than a year. “Ok.” I said clearly and calmly.

“Well…” That look again. His eyebrows were back down, now a befuddled look of “Don’t you know you’re dying? You are dying! Your heart is so screwed!” was on his face. “Well,” he started again, “we should run some more tests, and our cardiologist will be down real soon to talk to the both of you.” His eyes were darting back and forth from me, sitting up in my hospital gown that never seems to quite cover your entire ass, and my wife who was standing at her full five feet and holding on to the beds guard rail, and looking paler than usual. “Got it, thanks.” I said again, and even offered a small smile. I think that last bit flabbergasted him. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn if he was considering to call down a psychiatric consult at that point. But in all honesty, in that moment of learning what was wrong with me, I had felt a little relief.

I knew what was wrong with me, finally. Knowing something is wrong with you; feeling it in your bones and soul; and never getting someone to offer you a real answer as to why, often treating you like a hypochondriac just wasting their time, is a nightmare. After countless trips to the Emergency Room to multiple hospitals, and being sent home, time after time with the wrong diagnosis, I finally had an answer. The first time my wife brought me to the ER, the doctors gave me a look like I was wasting their time. “Probably just a bad cold, virus or something…” Some snippy ER intern told us. “Go home, drink lots of water and get some rest.” Worst advice they could have given me. But we listened to the doctors. Home we went, water I drank, and then, back to the ER two days later.

Same Emergency Room, different doctor this time. After waiting over 4 hours, since I was not considered in critical need of care, he looked over my previous chart and gave me a look of exasperation. “We can get you a chest x-ray or 3rd CT,” He was talking to my wife more than to me, as she was the one in the nurses scrubs, “But my guess is that you might have developed walking pneumonia.” He didn’t even bother to draw any blood or check for edema, after we told him I was having trouble urinating and having trouble sleeping when laying flat. My wife, Emily, was getting pissed, she knew something was wrong, but she also worked at this hospital and didn’t want to overstep her place since she had just started working there. After the x-ray and a couple more hours of waiting, we were sent home with another sigh and a nod with the same, “Yeah, there appears to be some fluid in your lungs. Walking pneumonia is probably the problem here. Get home, get some rest, with plenty of clear fluids only.” We went home.

Two more trips and gaining another 40 pounds of weight in a week was the last straw for Emily. I couldn’t breathe anymore when I laid down and couldn’t make it up a flight of stairs without being drenched in sweat, out of breath and nearly passing out. She barreled into that ER, took me straight back to a bed, and started screaming at the nearest attending physician. “If you don’t admit him, and draw up his labs, I’m going to leave him here!” She was threatening to abandon me at the hospital, but it was out of love, really. They finally sent a nurse in to draw some blood. She gave me a look of indigence. I seemed fine, she obviously had better things to do. After all, it wasn’t like I was dying or something.

An hour after that is when they moved me into a private room on a new floor, and that doctor came in to tell me I was in heart failure. He told my wife that if we had waited even another day, I probably would have died. If Emily had not been so forceful with the staff, I would have died. “We, you…just don’t see people this young in congestive heart failure.” And he was the first to give me that look of pity. That look that will make your blood boil the more you see it. It will make you avoid eye contact as much as possible. Emily would tell me later on that the cardiologist told her that she never had a patient, especially one so young, take the news of something so grave, so well. “He’s strong, but…it’ll come out eventually.” She was right.

Over the next few months, I spent most of my time in that adjustable hospital bed with the itchy yellow sheets. But nothing was more uncomfortable than that line of doctors and nurses who would file in and out, just to see the youngest patient on the cardiac ICU floor. Because every time some doctor would come in, look at my chart and see that my echocardiogram showed that my ejection fraction was at <10%, I’d see that look. A normal echo is 75. Which meant that my heart was barely pumping any blood, and every wall of my heart was moving abnormally. After they read that, is when I’d get that look. “They deal with people having heart attacks every day, whats the big deal?” I asked Emily after 5 cardiologist residents came in to inspect me like a lab rat. “You’re a young adult. They deal with geriatric’s or babies. You’re not supposed to get congestive heart failure when you’re 22.”

They did every test. I had better cholesterol than my doctor. I had no clogged arteries. They found no strange bacteria infection or lingering virus. So they call what I got diagnosed with as, idiopathic cardiomyopathy. Which translates into: We don’t have a fucking clue, or; the least common type of congestive heart failure with no known cause. I hit the crapfest lottery and no one could tell me what the winning numbers were. So I would get that look of, you’re sick, we don’t know why, you’re probably going to die soon, sorry we can’t help you. If we had stayed in Houston where all this happened, I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be here. I would have died. Looking back now, on the comedy of errors that occurred, it’s amazing that I did survive despite their greatest efforts to vanquish me.

But Emily realized I needed a higher standard of care, and sent me back to Boston. Where they got my meds right, got my heart pumping almost normally and most importantly didn’t look at me like some sort of experiment. So when I reach over, and unscrew that white child proof safety top to my medicine and remember that look, in my mind I’m telling every one of those doctors to go to hell, I’m still here.

An Odd Commencement

An Odd Commencement

Writing exercise: Take a commencement speech and…make it interesting. Parody and hilarity.

 

Dear Peeps

UMass Dartmouth Graduation: Commencement by Roger Goodell – Full Transcript

“Welcome to the graduation of the surviving class of 2015…we’ve lost some great people these past 4 years, mostly due to the book stores insistence of charging us money for our texts…and alcohol. Mostly alcohol. But we are strong! We are moving on into the world together, unless we are applying for the same job, or you’re an art history major…Right Trevor? He knows. As Class President, I did not want to have my introduction end on a chorus of boos, so I will have someone else come up to introduce our guest speaker. With that, here is Rob Gronkowski to introduce our guest speaker, the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell!” (Gronk spikes microphone) …

Good Morning,

Thank you to Mr. Gronkowski for “introducing” me, we obviously have a lot of Patriots fans in attendance today…but did he really have to spike the microphone? Easy Gronk, have a donut. It’s a great time to be a Patriots fan, unless you’re the ball-boy at Gillette stadium. Anyway, I just wanted to thank the chancellor for her wonderful words earlier, and for speaking on my fathers accomplishments, regardless of the consequences; The FBI, role in the assassination, the arrest, etc. I am here to tell you, yes you, hey down front, be quiet…I’m here to tell you that your voice is important and I respect it. Before I even began campaigning all over the country to give commencement addresses at every school in a state that houses an NFL Franchise, I took a poll amongst students on those campuses; asking them what they thought was important for me to share with you today. Out of the hundreds of students I approached, I got about three of them to actually talk to me and want to share their questions with you now.

1St: “How did you get started and develop your career?”

Look, it is important to remember that I was sitting in your chair not too long ago. That one, row 4, aisle seat, can you see if I left my fried rice under the seat? No? Dammit. Hey, I know what it was like, I was nervous about my future too. I know it’s common at ceremonies like this to tell graduates to “dream and to dream big.” I say you need to do a lot more than that. When you dream, you are asleep! When you dream, it ends, or you wake up in a sweat calling out for mommy, but your wife just slaps you upside the head and tells you to shut up. Screw that dream! You need a vision! Visions! The best way to have a vision is…no not determination and planning…mushrooms. Yes, mushrooms, Just take a little, you’ll be fine. Keep a vision journal with you on your adventure, trust me. And always, always! Vision with a vision-buddy.

My vision was football, since I was 6 and my dad was spiking my cereal with hallucinogens, I would sleep with a football, and his name was Paddy. I loved Paddy. Paddy died when my wife buried him alive after a mishap in the bedroom…I don’t want to talk about that. So, my vision was the NFL. Not to actually be a great player in the NFL, but to be a part of the real heart and soul of the industry and work in an office. Everyone’s ultimate brass ring. I would write them a letter every couple of months, telling them about my adventures and visions of Paddy and I. For some reason they would always send me rejections. So I started, well they call it stalking, but what I did was just what I like to call ‘determined friendliness’ and I set my eyes on one particular executive. I can’t tell you his name, due to some pending lawsuits still, but let’s just say, mission accomplished.

After I wore him down in that basement, he finally agreed to let me intern at the NFL for a season. When he threatened to have me arrested the day I showed up for that internship, I had to remind him of the videotapes that we had “made,” and that one season internship has turned into a lifelong career! After about 10 or 15 years of this, I forget how long exactly, you’d have to ask him..or her! But, I asked, “Why did you hire me?” And the executive told me, “I hate you.” So, you see, it doesn’t matter how you get your foot in that door, just get in that door! Seize the opportunity that is in front of you, no matter how bleak or danger or “illegal” it is! In this economy, trust me, you need every advantage.

Look, a lot of you are going to make mistakes. Tom Brady makes mistakes, that guy is just a game manager who completes short passes, but still throws LOTS of interceptions. HEY! Who threw that? My head is bleeding, Jesus Christ! Brady was that you?! Security!

“Sorry boss, I was tossing it to Gronk. It was just a “mistake!”

OK, then. Anyway…god dammit, I need some ice, I might have a concuss…I mean, I’m fine! OK, see, this is a great example. Life is about navigating through uncertainty, being resilient. You just need to adjust to every blow to the head and keep being determined. Don’t let yourself get comfortable, avoid the comfort zone – and the friend zone, that thing’s a bitch to get out of. Challenge yourself and, the more you know, etc.

The second question asked by that massive focus group of students I polled was: “How do you make decisions?”

Well, a lot of people ask me that, and frequently it seems. Every-time I make up a new rule at the NFL offices, they’re always asking me: “Why do we have to bring you birthday cake every day now?” or “Why did you hire all the waitresses from Hooters as new receptionists?” Listen! When you’re the boss, you make the rules! Get your facts straight people! But because of technology today, everyone’s a critic, and everyone’s taking pictures of me with the Hooters girls in the women s bathroom and posting them online. Look, so much access to information, your challenge is not the amount of information, but determining the credibility of that information and making better decisions. The Hooters information is the wrong information. It just is, so don’t even look at it. Get other points of view, listen to other people, like the Hooters girls who said that they were not sexually harassed.

Get as much feedback as you can from a diverse group of people. Because you do not have all the answers, no one does! Not even Google, Trevor! So, shut up! If anyone yells out again about the Hooters girls, I’m canceling the next NFL season, that’s it! Where was I? OK, humility. You need humility and to understand that no one succeeds on their own. This world needs a lot less finger-pointing, especially at me, and a lot more solutions. We make decisions in the NFL all the time, then we over rule those decisions, then we vacate those decisions, then we just make new decisions that completely ignore the earlier decision. We have to, because we want to improve and not become complacent or piss off the players too much. Make decisions, but ya’know…easy.

Third Question!

I don’t know why I just shouted that and raised my arm in that forward saluting motion, I sincerely apologize. Third question, mmhmm: “What do you wish someone had told you, when you had graduated?”

Well, I don’t remember who spoke at my graduation, I didn’t graduate. But if I had, I’m still sure I would have no fucking clue, I was still on my vision quests. As long as you all listen to me, I’m sure you all won’t remember this either. But here’s a little nugget for you all to remember: your education is not over. This is just the beginning, because let’s face it, most of you just barely skated by and are morons. But it’s not all bad news, you have learned an important skill here in college: the skill of faking it until you make it, and now that is one skill that you can utilize for the rest of your life! Especially if you go to our NFL Careers booth over here to the left of the stage, and fill out an application. It’s all about teamwork, people, teamwork is essential for success. FYI, we do not offer health benefits or equal pay for women. But if you have worked for Hooters or another similar establishment before, please be sure to send me head-shots, a resume, and a detailed personal letter telling me why you should by my NEXT NFL receptionist. Big plus if you know how to Google, I still have to have my girls show me how to Google every day, sometimes twice a day when I feel like it.

By the way, did I mention that I climb mountains? Robert Kraft bet me four hundred grand I couldn’t climb this mountain, and I did it! But I think next year, I’ll just write him a check, cuz that shit was hard. Which brings me to our struggling economy. It’s hard times out there in the economy. The job market is tough for idiots like you with only an undergraduate degree. Worse for Trevor. He knows. Stop crying Trevor. Just focus on the best job opportunity, with great people to work with that will help you develop, and don’t stop blackmailing people until you get that job!

In conclusion, I just wanted to share with you two lines that my father wrote to me after I had told him that I graduated from college. I know right, sucker. When I told him, he wrote back to me and said:

“Stop writing me. We talked about this.”

It just meant to me that he wanted me to go out and make it on my own, and I could never thank him enough for that. You and I owe HIM all the thanks today for me being commissioner of the NFL, without those two lines of inspiration, I would still be working as a bartender at Applebees. Like Trevor will be soon.

Thank you.

The audience sat in stunned silence while the guest speaker tried to run down the aisles high fiving everyone during his exit.

Rob Gronkowski did not have a doughnut.

Film: Out Of Africa

Film: Out Of Africa

Out of Africa

by James Gesner

Out of Africa is a 1985 film, directed by Sydney Pollack and written by Kurt Luedtke. This is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest films of this genre ever made. The film stars Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen, Robert Redford as Denys Finch Hatton and Klaus Maria Brandauer as Bror Blixen. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Sydney Pollack. Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Actress but did not win. This film is based on the autobiography written by Karen Blixen (under the pseudonym of Isak Dinesen – her maiden name was Dinesen), published in 1937. This film I chose because under our focus, of doomed love affairs, it has not just one but many doomed love affairs presented through out. The character Karen Blixen has a doomed love affair that has just ended right at the beginning of the film, with Bror’s brother Hans. Just as her relationship has ended with Hans, the next scene is Karen proposing to Bror that they be wed, for her to be a titled married woman, and for Bror to have access to her money. Karen believes they will be a fine couple because they entering into this agreement of marriage as best of friends, and she does not expect a loving marriage just one of convenience. This starts Karen Blixen off on the path of first of many doomed love affairs in the film.

After Karen and Bror’s quick engagement, the film then transitions to Karen arriving to Africa, riding the train to meet Bror who went to Africa ahead of her. This scene depicts the first meeting of Karen and Denys, and it is apparent there is an immediate attraction between the two. As Karen arrives into town, she goes searching for Bror, going in first to a gentleman’s bar where no women are allowed. She is quickly escorted out, embarrassed, but finally finds Bror who informs her that he did not even expect her to come, guessing that she wouldn’t want to spend the money. Bror and Karen are immediately married an hour later in a quaint ceremony. The dissolution of their relationship has already had seeds planted at the wedding, where Bror is found by Karen to be flirting with another woman. Bror informs Karen that she bought his title, she does not own him and tells her to be careful. Karen then shoots right back at him, that her brother came to visit her before she left, implying she had an affair after their engagement. Karen then demands to be taken to her new house which is on a new coffee farm, not a dairy farm that she had agreed with Bror upon.

At this point, Bror has already left to become a big game hunter, and Karen is left on her own at the farm to get all the workers working, to attend to the local tribes needs and to keep the home. Denys is then reintroduced to us, helping Karen stay away from a wild female lion. Denys is shown in an earlier scene, when Karen is in his room snooping, to be an avid reader. It is apparent to the audience that Denys is a well-educated man, most likely comes from a noble family line, and is in Africa not because of necessity but of wanting to be there. He is a non conformist just like Karen is, but an even more free spirit than her. He challenges her emotionally and intellectually, from their first dinner together where he challenges her to tell an entire fictional tale after he starts it with just one vague character and sentence. Denys is obviously very much infatuated with Karen and it shows in their conversations together. After a period throughout the first third of the film a mutual flirtatious relationship is being developed between her and Denys, this is bringing to an end her first affair with Bror.

Bror wants nothing to do with the farm itself, and is just as keenly interested in Karen and her needs as well. Bror has been carrying on with mistresses from the moment they were wedded, and we discover that Bror has contracted syphilis and had passed it to Karen. Karen up until that point had been developing real feelings and love for Bror, and was trying to get him to stay with her instead of going out on his hunts and into the town to meet his lovers. When she finds out that she has syphilis, Karen must depart Africa and make her way back to Denmark where she has to suffer a long and difficult treatment to cure her disease, which was quietly deadly at the time. We find that she can no longer have children as a result of Bror’s indiscretions and passing her the disease. As she returns from Denmark to Africa and to her farm that Bror was supposed to be keeping up and running, we find along with Karen that Bror has not changed at all, is still carrying on with many other women and not paying any attention to her farm. This is the end of her love affair with Bror, as she asks him to move out immediately.

As Bror moves out, Denys is beginning to move closer with Karen. Their friendship is growing and Karen is upfront with Denys about wanting them to realize a long-lasting relationship as lovers, but Denys is as she says impossible to own or tame as Africa itself. Denys is one who hates labels and titles and ownership, over all things and people; he’s an ideal nomad and wants to come and go as he pleases. But he also tells Karen that even if they ever did get married, that the piece of paper proclaiming that marriage would never make him love her more. Denys even scolds Karen for her desires for material things and ownership capitalistic mentality. But Karen accepts the situation, probably realizing that if she pushed Denys to an ultimatum of staying with her, or losing her and going back out on his own into the wild, he would choose the latter. So Denys comes and goes as he pleases, and she pines for him every time he leaves her.

Denys does eventually agree to move in with her, but it is basically just a place for him to stay when he returns from his long hunting trips or flying his bi-plane around Africa. Karen divides her time on the farm with teaching the tribal children who work on her farm. She opens a onsite school and teaches the children reading, writing, arithmetic and European customs. But as she is focusing more on these kids, probably to the fact that she can not have children anymore due to her illness earlier, and pining away for Denys the farm has come into very serious financial difficulty. Karen is forced to get bank loans to keep her farm open, and even though it took years to happen the coffee she is cultivating is finally starting to yield a profit. With this, the pinnacle of her adventure is here, and now it is time to lose everything and everyone.

A wild-fire breaks out on the plantation and all the crops, her factory and all the equipment are destroyed. Karen is now destitute living in a foreign land, but she still is waiting for her Denys to return to her from his latest trip. This part of the story mirrors that of British East Africa as well, as all of the British that have made it their home there are becoming un-planted from the society as BEA transitions to the Kenya colony. She still is waiting for Denys to return, her love for him still very strong – but at the same time she is angry that he was not with her through these hard times. Denys tried staying there, only with her, and he became restless and distant, so again she compromises what she wants and allows Denys to again go and hunt or fly, with the knowledge that he would still return when he was done, instead of losing him forever. One scene that is fantastic, is the scene where Denys takes her up for her first flight, in his bi-plane to see Africa how he sees it; and I think that helped her understand why he was so in love with the continent and how he lived his life.

After selling all of her possessions, Karen is almost at rock bottom. But Denys does show up, just as her house is empty of the “things” she had to own, that Denys had criticised her for. They have one last dance with each other, and she knows that Denys will not leave Africa to go with her back to Britain or Denmark. Denys does agree to fly her to Mombasa, so she can return home and he can see her again before she leaves, in the bi-lane in the next couple of days. And this is the end of her love affair with Denys, as she finds out while she is waiting for him to return, that Denys’s plane has crashed and he was killed. Karen attends Denys’s funeral in the Ngong Hills Karen Blixen has now lost everything that mattered to her from the beginning of the movie. She has lost her husband, her money, her title, her ability to have a family, her true love of Denys and her home in Africa. Even the men at the gentleman’s bar, who kicked her out without words in the beginning, allow her to enter and have a drink with them before she departs.

The movie featured doomed love affairs through out, all involving Karen as the one experiencing the greatest losses. Karen and Hans. Karen and Bror. Karen and her farm. Karen and teaching the tribe children, surrogate to her inability to have her own children. Karen and Denys (the main doomed love affair), and finally Karen and Africa; as it is said that she never returned to Africa after that.

Writing Exercise: I remember…

Writing Exercise: I remember…

I Remember…

By James Gesner

I remember standing at the top of the stairs with my brother, in the middle of the night, listening to our parents scream at each other.

I remember having a long beige spiral corded phone in every kitchen of every house we lived in when I was growing up.

I remember the smell of brass polish every Sunday as my mom would complete her weekly OCD scrubbing of every brass figure in the place; there were a lot.

I remember a snowy winter morning and being told by my parents to get outside and play, maybe to go sledding. I broke my arm, getting hit by a toboggan after my first trip down.

I remember my brother showing me Jaws for the first time, when I was five years old, then humming the theme the next few times we went to the beach. I did not go in.

I remember being in my first shitty apartment in Taunton and waking up on September 11, 2001. The news was on every channel, but as the second plane hit, I thought some action movie was on.

I remember September 12, 2001 and the moment the Marines recruitment office opened and my best friend signed up for duty.

I remember buying a duplex in Plymouth when I was 22. Then realizing we just moved in next to the worst neighbors in history. Don’t buy a duplex.

I remember sitting next to my wife while she was having a C-Section, holding her hand, sweating more than she was. Our son was born, and was a dark blue. I did not breathe until he did.

I remember the first time my father hit me, getting upset that it didn’t seem to knock me out like he hoped, and hitting me again.

I remember my first date with my wife. We were in high school, 17 years old, we went to an italian restaurant that had great fettucine, then we went to a movie which I did not see because I was staring at her the whole time. Then we made out in my pickup for an hour, then we went to a park for a walk before I took her home.

I remember explaining The Matrix to three girls in my home room the weekend after seeing it six times. They didn’t get it, but thought Keanu was hot.

I remember working a summer helping to cut and place headstones, it’s all done by hand, and it’s all very heavy.

I remember walking home in the rain from Taekwondo, after being dropped off by my sister, but forgetting my red belt and being told to go get it.

I remember the first golf tournament I won after joining the varsity team as a freshman in High School.

I remember playing in a golf tournament up in the mountains of Vermont, in July, and the snow that fell in the afternoon, and how my hands hurt with the cold and clang of the steel to the golf ball.

I remember being at a shoe store looking for wrestling shoes, and being recruited by the High School wrestling coach to join the team since I was just in Middle School.

I remember tearing my knee up when I got off the wrong lift on a ski trip when I was 12. I laid on a double black diamond trail, without being able to get up, in such agony. Dozens of people passed me by, never thinking twice, until finally someone mercifully stopped to see if I was okay. Turns out he was the Vice President of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Got to go to the factory, get free Ice Cream and make a new flavor and had a blast after my leg was fixed.

I remember the look in the Doctors eyes when he told me I had heart failure, and then his befuddlement when all I said was “OK.”

I remember my sons first steps. More like his first sprint, he just stood up and booked it across the living room.

I remember seeing Superman for the first time. And that’s been my favorite superhero ever since.

I remember binge watching Nip/Tuck, Smallville and House while in the Hospital, while they tried to figure out what was wrong with my leg after they botched a surgical procedure. It was after watching House that I figured out my own damn symptoms and diagnosis and had it confirmed by the head neurologist that was never even consulted before that.

I remember a time I wasn’t in pain every day. That was a long time ago…8 years now.

I remember playing basketball in the rain, and the sound the wet net made when the shot went in perfect. Swish.

I remember watching The Sopranos finale with a group of people in Brockton. I think I was the only one who didn’t start swearing at the television.

I remember having a crush on Katie Holmes. Then she married Tom Cruise. Crazy, but still hot.

I remember getting pulled over at 3 A.M. at Bridgewater State University by 3 cruisers, for going 20 in a 15. I was dropping my buddy off after a night out. 6 cops with flashlights peering inside my truck, and one sees my unscrewed pool cue in the back. “What do you use that for?! Huh?!”…To play pool, what do you think? “Well….some guys use it as a weapon…or something…hrmphh!” We were let go without further incident or citation. Nothing good happens after 2AM.

I remember playing pickup basketball in Brockton with my brother. My brother is one of the best basketball players I’ve ever seen under 6’2″, who has played with some Celtics players, as his best friend is their primary trainer. Anyway, in Brockton, we won the game. They kept the ball that we brought to play, but I counted ourselves lucky as I thought they were going to just start beating us, since they just lost 21-8 to 5 white guys.

I remember my friend Timmy Grover playing 10,000$ a hand blackjack at Foxwoods. Every time he would put up his chips, a little old lady would go “Oooooooo!” This finally drove Timmy nuts, and he looked at the dealer and said, “Get this owl the fuck away from me.”

I remember going to Boston with my girlfriend and best friend, we wanted to out somewhere nice for dinner since we were graduating. We went to the Top of the Hub. I was in a button down shirt and khakis, Emily was in a Sun dress, and Brandon had sweatpants on; They took one look at him, and the Maitre d’ just shook his head and told us we were not going to be seated. We found solace at an upscale Steakhouse with a hostess who didn’t care. We racked up a 300$ bill and left a 25% tip.

I remember having to use a walker for months after getting out of the hospital when my leg was first diagnosed. My wife had to help me bathe in the walk-in shower and I needed to get a shot of narcotics before physical therapy to learn to walk again. My physical therapist was a taskmaster but she got me going again and I’ll never forget her and am forever grateful.

I remember the DMV denying my doctors and my application for a handicap plate on the grounds of my congestive heart failure, something about how young I was and blah blah blah. They then approved a handicap placard because of my leg. Even my Doctors were baffled. The DMV is a strange, strange place.

I remember driving through a blizzard, presumably on the highway, from Brockton to Taunton with my little cousin hanging out the passenger window of my red Ford Ranger yelling “I THINK WE’RE STILL ON THE ROAD!”

I remember going to The Foxy Lady with my fiance and getting a lap dance for the both of us from the same blonde stripper, upstairs in the VIP area. Very awesome.

I remember eating nothing but peanut butter and jellies, and mac and cheese while my parents were gone for months at a time, living down in Florida while I was by myself in Marshfield, when I was a senior in high school.

I remember coming home after being unable to finish my first year of college the first time around, due to being sick, in 2001. My mom told me they had sold the house and they were moving permanently down to Florida. I was just turning 18 and was now homeless.

I remember my mother having to sleep with a knife on her bedside table in the months leading up to her divorce. The things she told me that happened when they fought, after she finally got away from him, were horrific.

I remember having such a bad temper when I was younger, getting so mad that I punched a support column in the living room and broke my hand after a fight with my wife; my then girlfriend.

I remember how great my wedding ceremony and reception was, and how my wife kept started saying her vows first when the Justice of the Peace was telling me to “Repeat after me, James..” I held her hands softly, looked into her beautiful brown eyes and said “You Fail.” Great laugh caught on video.

I remember my wife trying to make french fries for the first time and she must have thought that the oil was literally going to boil. As the smoke grew thicker and the smoke alarm began to ring out in the apartment, she grabbed the pot and was rushing to go throw the oil away outside and it spilled all over her hand. The stench of the burn was awful, and the apartment smelt of burnt oil and hand for weeks.

I remember being on a bowling team with my mom when we lived in Vermont when I was 11. There was nothing better to do in Colchester, VT. Trust me.

I remember racing my ATV on the beaches of Lake Champlain with my friends and their ATV’s. Going over 40mph in the sand at 10 years old, I hit an invisible walk way someone had decided to pave from their backyard down to the shore line. The ATV flipped and I landed on my helmet. I woke up 3 minutes later to my friends who had turned sickly white with worry.

I remember being in the 6th grade and going to a girls birthday party, her name was Chelsea. I was “going out” with a girl named June, but by the end of that party and all the spin the bottle and 7 minute in heaven games, I had somehow lost that girlfriend; as I found out the next day, through one of her friends. I didn’t know what happened, and that’s when I learned that girls are a mystery wrapped in a nutty enigma coating. Hey, she kissed other guys there! I think what did it, was when Chelsea said my mouth and tongue was minty and kept kissing me to make sure, and told the other girls to as well. But I’m still not 100% on this theory.

I remember eating toast with raspberry preserves, along with black tea with milk and honey whenever I had a cold.

I remember being called “Ghost” by my history teacher in high school. Due to not always being present in class, but still maintaining at least a B average in class; my teachers would actually ask me earlier in the day if they saw me if I was going to show up, I would tell them yes or no, and they would be ok either way as long as I kept handing in my work and kept doing well on my tests.

I remember having 83 absences my senior year of high school. 83 that they knew about, never mind the ones where I would show up for home room check in and then bolt. But I never missed Mr. Sullivan’s English classes, even if it was to show up for that class alone and then go home.

I remember my high school graduation, and afterwards my best friend telling me he overheard another kid when my name was called for me to get my diploma. Apparently this kid was in my classes or home room and said to his friend, “See! He does exist!”

I remember getting pneumonia when I was working at Circuit City in Hanover. This was back when they paid their sales staff on commission. I also had a history of pneumonia, so much so, there is a scar across my right lung. My boss did not believe I was sick and wouldn’t let me leave. After going tot he hospital that night after work and having to be stabilized, all of a sudden I was given two weeks off with pay. Hmm…

I remember making love to my wife on the beach. The sound of the waves crashing, the moon light…the sand in our ass.

I remember deciding to go back to school and how supportive my family has been about everything. The long days, and nights. Helping babysit, helping food shop, cook and clean, etc. All great. But they can still drive you nuts. All families have that superpower.

Personal Essay: Power Hour

Personal Essay: Power Hour

Power Hour

 

0 Shots.

            The year was 2000, and my best friend Brandon and I had just graduated from Marshfield High School. Go Rams…or whatever the hell the mascot was; I’m old, give me a break. I had accumulated 82 full day absences in my senior year, and those were the ones where I didn’t bother going in and just writing myself a note out for the day in home room, and then leaving. Hey, I had my reasons; I wanted to go to the movies, or go out in front of the school, while skipping classes and play basketball. My teachers called me “ghost,” and would, if they saw me earlier in the day, they would ask me if I was coming to class, and if not, would just tell me when the next test was. I still passed with high marks, so they would like to point out to other students, especially my calculus professor:

“Gesner doesn’t even show up and he gets a B, if he did show up he would easily get an A! You idiots are here every day and you’re all failing, pay attention!” It was hilarious. His gray caterpillar eyebrows flailing in anger and his bald head weaving back and forth in frustration as he waved his Texas Instruments calculator around.

Graduation was a fun day too, I got to see some of my classmates for the first time. Or at least, they saw me for the first time. Brandon told me after, that when they called my name to come collect my diploma, two kids in front of him said, “See! He does exist!” So a few days after that mandatory madness, Bea (Brandon) and I decided to throw a party, because we had graduated, or it was another Friday. Today, Bea is a two tour veteran of the USMC, a marksman, hand to hand combat expert, and also a professional tennis coach. In the year 2000, Bea was a 5’8 Sicilian 18-year-old kid who looked like a mini Vin Diesel, and tried to give everyone alcohol poisoning.

I was living on my own at this point, my parents had both decided to move down to Florida, so I was staying with my girlfriend, now my wife, Emily in a shitty apartment in Taunton I had found, and also crashing with Bea as often as his parents were away on work in New York, which was pretty often. This weekend was going to be no different, and as we jumped in my 1998 bright red Ford Ranger and started driving to his place, he got the bright idea that could power a 2 watt bulb. “Let’s do a power hour tonight!” His maniacal grin and the way he was almost bouncing in the seat should have tipped me that this was a batshit insane idea. But I was young, therefore an idiot.

“Absolutely. What’s that?” I asked without an ounce of shame. Before Bea answered me, he had been fiddling with the radio and found a Backstreet Boys song. He let it play, and we both immediately looked at each other out of the corner of our eyes and raised an eyebrow at one another, at the exact same time. Then he started dancing in his seat, very animatedly; we were at a stop light next to another car coming from graduation, full of 4 girls from our class, he saluted them and kept on dancing. Then the sprite I was drinking started coming out of my nose.

“I…Hate…You….Stop it!” My American Eagle shirt was soaked with sprite and mucus. Awesome. I gave him a backhand to his arm. “Power hour?”

“Look at your shirt!”

“Shut up.”

“So, we take a shot of 1.5oz beer every minute for sixty minutes. If we run out of beer, we’ll find something else.”

Sounded very safe to me.

“OK, who else is coming?”

“I dunno. People.”

 

1st shot.

            Bea’s house was on the marsh in Marshfield, a large two-story cape overlooking the ocean, on a dead-end street. The perfect circumstances for a bunch of idiots with alcohol and bad intentions. Bea always had alcohol on hand, but just in case I had blackmailed my brother into getting me about $200 in assorted beverages. I threatened to move in with him and never leave. Little did I know he’d pull the same shit on me three years later when I owned my first house…karma, dammit. Bea and I set up the house before everyone got there; making sure every table had a beer pong lay out, a deck of cards on it, and a cooler full of drinks underneath it. Bea made pizza, burnt. He made chicken wings, burnt. He made fries, burnt. He made steak tips, burnt. He grilled up burgers and hot dogs, burnt and burnt. No, he wasn’t a shitty cook (or was he?) but he just loved everything extra friggen crispy, and if you didn’t then you were a moron. You could slap a slice of that pizza against the table and it would sound like steel hitting cement.

As people began to arrive Bea got out his stopwatch and threw it around his neck. He told me it was time to start our hour. Every 60 seconds we were going to take a quick shot of beer, on top of whatever else we were drinking from playing beer pong or whatever else. I am maybe 6’2 or 6’3, whatever, and he is 5’8, but our tolerance levels at that point were about exactly the same. We were in his kitchen, which has a bay window looking out to the marsh, sitting at the dining table in front of that window. He pulled out two long neck bottles of beer, and snapped the caps off with his teeth. “You’re a maniac.” I had told him. Bea already looked like he was hammered, since he was wearing his bright pink shirt that Emily and I bought him for his birthday that says “Real Men Wear Pink” to which he replied, “Hell yeah we do!” He had his bright neon tennis cap turned on backwards, the bright yellow stopwatch around his neck, then his baggy camo cargo shorts on with red flip-flops. Like a walking neon Vegas sign.

He slid across two shot glasses in between us. One said “ASS” the other said “HOLE.” I got the “HOLE” one.

We poured our beer into our Hole and Ass and quickly clanged it back. Bea hit the button on his stopwatch; 60 seconds. One down, ? To go.

 

15 shots.

            Everyone had arrived now, including Emily, and a girl Bea was interested in, named Karen. She was tall, taller than him anyway, blonde, beautiful and extremely sarcastic and outgoing. They quickly figured out what we were doing, after about the third time Bea shouted “Shot!” at me and then kept resetting his stopwatch. Emily was concerned, but Karen just wanted to play us in beer pong.

“You two morons are going to kill yourselves, you know that right?” My wife is doctor now, and was studying to be a doctor since high-school. She grew up in a household of medical professionals, she also has no problem with calling me on any of my bullshit or telling me when I’m being a moron.

“Yeah, but…” I always have to look straight down at her when we talk, she’s 5 foot nothing, our wedding photos are of me always hunched over looking down at her. But that little Irish girl was and is a marathon runner, triathlete, and fencing champion who could kick my ass. “…I love you.” I smiled and kissed her forehead, she sighed at me and punched me in the arm.

“SHOT!” Bea yelled from the dining room, where he was with Karen now setting up a round of beer pong. There were about 25 other kids running around too, some playing cards in the family room, others watching a basketball game on the couch, half a dozen outside on the deck, and the rest probably scattered between the basement and the 3 upstairs bedrooms.

Bea and I poured and drank, then reset the watch. We played the girls in beer pong. We won, so we kept on playing other people in beer pong too. After 3 more games, we finally lost, but we were almost walking upright still. We went to the kitchen to get some hockey pucks. Food, get some food. Two of our other friends were in there as well, trying to eat the pizza, when Emily and Karen came in with a camera and started taking pictures.

“SHOT!”

“Can you two knock that off for a minute, we want to get a picture of all of you. Can you all turn around, please?” Emily wanted us all to face the camera and smile. Bea had another idea.

“We’ll all turn around!” He had that look on his face, like a kid at Christmas who knows what’s in that big present under the tree. We all followed his lead, and that’s how my wife still has a picture of the four of us all turned around with our pants down, bent over, arm in arm, mooning her in Bea’s kitchen.

Karen started applauding. We forgot there were other people in the house, but remembered when the whistles started, and our ass cheeks started to blush. After we ate something, and kept on drinking as well, the four of us decided to go outside for a little bit as it was a beautiful night out, and the house at this point was extremely loud and no one was going to notice we weren’t in there. I was pouring the beers for the next 30 minutes or so, and I was doing well filling up the glasses, only spilling about 1/3 on the table by the time we got to half century mark.

50 shots.

            As we sat out under the beautiful night sky, stars shining above us, and waves lapping up against the marsh and beaches in the distance, my pouring of our shots got a lot more sloppy. I was holding a beer bottle with two hands like I was going in for surgery and that shot glass was the patient and the bottle was my scalpel, problem was I was leaving instruments inside the patient so to speak. So Bea had to take over again.  Everything from this point forward was a bit hazy to my recollection, but there are definitely vivid moments that I can remember. The first one happened while the four of us were all sitting out on that porch, Bea and I still pounding back our shots every 60 seconds with empty beer and Smirnoff Ice bottles littered around our feet. Karen was clearly getting more and more hammered by the minute, it seems losing those games at beer pong were catching up with her. But, she was having fun, giggling and taunting Bea. Then she flashed him, and by him, I mean all of us who were outside, or could see out of the bay window in the kitchen. This was not a quick flash, not a pull up the shirt and back down, but a “Hey, look at these!” type of a moment. The guys in the kitchen looking through the bay window had their mouths agape. Emily just giggled and clapped for Karen; Emily was blushing more than Karen was, and Emily was the one with her clothes on.

“SHOT!” Bea yelled as his stopwatch beeped at him; without missing a beat. Still looking at Karen, but pouring as he did.

 

60 shots.

You would think we would have stopped at 60 shots.

“SHOT!” As Bea was pouring us the next round, and talking/yelling at me: “Power hour enna half, man!”

“Yeah, you’re…you’re getting drunk.” I had gotten that sentence out almost without drooling on myself.

We had all made our way back inside the house, checked to make sure nothing was on fire and everyone was still alive, then the four of us headed up to Bea’s room upstairs. When we got up there, the door to his sister’s room, who was not home, was closed.

“Hey!” Bea yelled, as he pounded his closed fist on the white clapboard door. “No fucking in my… in mah sisters bed!” There was a thump from behind the closed-door, and a shuffling of feet.

“Uh, we’re not in her bed…” A small whimper of a girl’s voice barely made it through to us.

“Well…” Bea still had his hand on the door, now his forehead and cheek was leaning on it too. “OK, then. Tell him to wrap, wrap it up, my buddy’s gotta get in there.” He winked at me.

“Dude.” I sighed at him and shook my head while glancing at Emily. “At least tell er to cleanit up aftah.” Emily hit me again. When I get a thicker accent after drinking, apparently domestic abuse is OK, cus’ that’s the Boston way! …

“YEAH! And keep it cleanided…clean!” He slapped the door once more as we turned away. We seemed to be rocking back and forth in unison now as we moved away from his sister’s room, with the giggles, and shuffled down into his room at the end of the hall. Bea had a large bedroom, it was at least 20 x 20, with an elevated portion of the room that his bed on it, and a desk for his computer and television. The other half of his room had free weights and some other lifting equipment scattered around. There were a few bean bags and one recliner in there as well.

“SHOT!” That damned watch beeped again. The music and everyone else was still partying a lot more steadily downstairs at that point. We were getting to black out drunk territory at that point. This is where things come in waves, so that’s what I can tell you. First, I know how many shots we officially got to, not including the beer pong, etc.

 

93 shots.

            After that final one, Karen and Bea were up on his bed, clearly starting to move past the “just friends” stage of their relationship. The girl who was in Bea’s sisters room opened the door finally and came creeping out like she was hiding from the police or something, then two other girls followed her out.

“That’s boo-e-full man.” Was Bea’s response, the mispronunciation was either do to us being drunk or him having his mouth full of something else. I don’t know, I didn’t want to know, Emily and I just made our way down to his sister’s room and shut the door.

Here’s the dialogue of what I remember, with Emily and I in the sister’s room, and breaking the “not in my sister’s bed” rule.

“Ouch, ouch, you’re on my hair.”

“I got it!”

“No you don’t…”

“Who’s that?!”

“DAVE! What the fuck, Dave?”

“Do it Gesner, you deserve it!” A shoe is thrown at Dave, I’m 95% sure by Emily. Hit him right in the nose.

Next thing I can remember, I’m alone, on the small twin mattress Bea kept for me in his closet, now on his floor in his room again. I rolled over and see him and Karen still, or again, going at it.

“Ugh, man I’m in the room…” I made out probably two of those words in drunkenese. But Bea understands that language well.

“Shhh! Just….shhh” Karen hissed at me.

“Oh God…” I had tried to get up, then I’m positive I had blacked out again and just fell back down onto that little mattress.

Doors were banged shut, and I had heard someone moving around me. I opened my eyes to look up, but they were still dried shut together, with those gross sleep boogers you get in the corners. I wiped my eyes open, and immediately wished I hadn’t. There, above my face, were the hairiest pair of balls, just swinging a foot above me. Bea was fully nude, walking from around the end of his bed, for some reason straddling my area and walking over me. Trying to walk over me, straddling each side of the mattress…

“AH! Man! Make the nightmare stop!”

“Did you cut yourself?” Bea had still been standing over me, but now pointed at the dumb bells on the floor, which had blood dripping down a few. It had clearly been a few hours since I passed out, but I had no idea what had happened.

“I don’t think so, can you fucking move?”

“You love it.”

“I hate you.” As he kept walking away toward his door, I saw the back of his head. He split the back of his head open somehow. “Holy shit man, you’re bleeding!”

“Nuh uh. Where?” He felt around his head, finally saw the blood on his fingers when he pulled his hand back. He looked at for a second, then he touched his head again. “Weird.”

“What happened? Did Karen beat you for under-performing?”

“NO!…I don’t…no.” He looked in his bed, lifting up the sheets. Clearly, he thought she was still there, but she was gone. “Aw man! I pissed my bed!”

“You are the worst.” I was still checking myself for cuts and my own bodily fluids, just to make sure. “Or into really, really kinky stuff.”

He shrugged it off, and made his way into the bathroom in the middle of the hall. Still fully naked, not knowing if anyone was in there, or still in the house at all. I heard the bathroom door shut, then I heard Bea groan loudly.

“Gross! James, did you puke? You missed the toilet, it’s everywhere!” I checked my hands and feet for some reason, then my breath, which was awful anyway, like that would help.

“I dunno, I don’t think so. I honestly have no idea.” I still don’t know if I did. “Maybe you hit the trifecta. Blood, piss and vomit.”

“Yeah but I woulda just done it in my bed!”

 

I helped Bea clean up. We were still very much drunk at almost 10AM. The house showed the remnants of quite a party that was held. There were a few stragglers still sleeping it off on the couches; one under the dining room table, and a two outside on the porch as well. All the others had seemed to have made it out before we woke up to the Stanley Kubrick like mystery of Bea’s room. Once we got everyone up and everything cleaned up, we thought it was a good idea to drive down to Papa Gino’s and get something to eat.

Driving was tricky. We weren’t really drunk, not really sober yet. But, we made it, doing about 25 the whole way to the pizza place. We still had not showered, I’m sure we smelled like a brewery, and Bea still had blood on the back of his head, so we also looked like we just might have spent the night in jail as well. Good way to keep the pizza kids on their toes in the morning. Bea ordered a large pepperoni. “Extra crispy! Burn it!”

“Can you not burn like half of that? Thanks.” I nodded at the poor kid. He seemed utterly confused and just nodded in his little brimmed hat.

We got our food and sat down. Bea got up to go get a fountain drink, and noticed a juke box behind one of the other booths. He put a couple of quarters in and hit some buttons, then got his drink and ran back over and sat down across from me. I had just started to take my first bite of pepperoni pizza when that damn song from the Backstreet Boys came blaring through the entire restaurant. Bea immediately got up and started shaking his ass in my face and dancing all around like a lunatic, his neon clothes adding to the effect. The cashiers and cooks behind the counter literally peered over the counter to look at this nutjob to see what he was doing. He then started to mime the words to the song, bending over and putting his face right in mine while he was ‘singing’ “I WANT IT THAT WAY!” and had his hands on the table of the booth as he shook his ass to the beat. I lost it. I laughed so hard that dough, cheese, sauce and pepperoni came out of my nose. I snarfed Papa Gino’s pizza, right back onto my plate. Cheese dangling from my nostril, tears streamed down my face from laughing so hard and the pepperoni burning my sinuses. Bea took one look at what he had accomplished and just laid on the floor and laughed so hard…so hard he threw up.