I lift my arm and pat myself once, twice, and a third time on the back for some extra solid encouragement. I’ve been doing this every time I sit down at my desk to write for a few weeks now. The reach of my right arm has increased considerably; I don’t have to use my plastic back scratcher anymore to reach the hard places. That thing creeps me out anyway because whenever I use it, I imagine a little plastic man walking around without an arm. He might come into my home and get angry when he sees me scratching myself with his severed plastic limb. Then he might try to have his revenge by taking MY arm.
I really can’t afford to lose an arm right now. I need it to write my novel.
The little plastic man will probably bring a little plastic weapon from his little plastic arsenal that he keeps in his little plastic house, a fork or knife maybe, the kind you can buy in bulk at the supermarket for picnics. I don’t think I’d be able to fight him off though. I’m not a very confrontational person.
I am sitting in my CHAIR OF CONTEMPLATION. I want it to sound like it’s something you’d find in a superhero’s base like the Bat Cave or the Fortress of Solitude. I wanna feel important, powerful, superhero-y, like I’m sitting in a chair that represents great justice. It was on the sidewalk in front of my neighbor’s house on trash day a few years ago. It looked so lonely there. It was the only thing that wasn’t inside of a trash can.
“Don’t worry chair,” I whispered. “I can’t promise you much, but I can be your friend and I can give you a nice home.”
It’s been at my desk ever since. I like to sit in it and think about things and think about writing about those things and think about whether or not those are things I want to write about in my novel.
It gets confusing.
When I can’t think of anything or when I can’t write about anything I’ve been thinking about, I like to play with the lever that adjusts the chair’s height. Up and down, up and down, up and down like that game I used to play with the other kids at church where one of us would squat and another one would stand and then one of us would squat and another one would stand. It’s sort of like that except it’s just me and CHAIR OF CONTEMPLATION and nobody else.
I don’t really have any friends that aren’t inanimate objects.
I knew that I wanted to be a writer when I was seven years old in the second grade. Didn’t know what kind of writer I wanted to be but I knew I wanted to impress girls. One girl to be exact. Her name was Janet. She sat in front of me and I spent most days watching her twirl locks of her hair with her fingers like a fork in spaghetti. She liked to read Hardy Boys books and chew grape bubble gum. One day I had enough courage (or stupidity) to pass her a note with a terrible poem I had scribbled out for her. It went something like this:
“Roses are red,
violets are, in fact, blue.
I hope you know that my
biggest crush is on you!”
I watched her write something on the back of the paper. I was excited because I thought that maybe she would feel the same. Maybe we would grow up to be cool teenagers and go to cool formal dances together, and drive around in my cool car. Then we would grow up some more and be adults and have a wonderful outside wedding on a cliff over the ocean with only our closest family members and coolest friends. There would be those food people carrying those appetizers with funny names, horse dwarves, horse doo-eee-uuu-vuh-rees, orz-doov-rez, or however you say the name on platters that look like UFOS. Only aliens could come up with a name like that for food. There would be a cool wedding band doing covers of the cool songs we used to dance to when we were cool teenagers and people taking pictures with their portable picture machines of our supermegaspecialawesome day.
Ah, young love. So exciting.
Two minutes later, Janet passed the note back to me with the words, “LEAVE ME ALONE YOU CREEP,” written on it in huge letters. She scooted her desk forward across the carpet as far as she could to get away from me.
That day, I learned that my poetry does not impress girls.
I used to watch a lot of news on television when I was little. My mother would sit on the couch in her nightgown every night while I tried to do homework in the other room. She would yell, “Peter! Come look at this!” whenever something interesting came on. We’d watch Dateline and 20/20 specials together about the harmful effects of different foods, animal testing, natural disasters, sheep cloning, sexual predators, the secret invasion of our planet by aliens from other galaxies, and dinosuars. Investigative journalism at its finest. Maybe I could write about things like that in my novel.
I’ve found that writing a novel has given me more strength to stand up to people. I’ve taken to threatening them with it. I was talking to a friend about her plastic surgery and she told me that I should consider having work done on my whole face. I told her, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.” Another time when a guy in a lifted pickup truck cut me off on the freeway, I rolled down my window and yelled, “I’m writing you and your stupid truck into my novel, asshole!” Another time, I got into an argument with a bartender because he cut me off half an hour before last call. I gave him my meanest glare and said, “You’ve made a powerful enemy on this day, Jim. You’ll pay for this dearly . . . in my novel.”
My CHAIR OF CONTEMPLATION is becoming kind of uncomfortable now. Half an hour of sitting here and I haven’t gotten any writing done or had any solid ideas yet. They’ll come to me. They’ll come to me. They’ll come to me. I just need to concentrate. Maybe I should write a novel about back scratchers. Maybe I should write a novel about a chair. Maybe I should write a novel about a chair with feelings. Maybe I should write a novel about love. Maybe I should write a novel about aliens. Maybe I should write a novel about my mother. Maybe I should write a novel about Dateline: To Catch a Predator. Maybe I should write about existentialism. Maybe I should write a novel about dinosaurs.
YES, I think that may be it. DINOSAURS: A Novel.