Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blowing Monkeys out of Trees

The Map and the Territory(French: La carte et le territoire), is a novel by French author Michel Houellebecq. The narrative revolves around a successful artist, and involves a fictional murder of Houellebecq. from Wikipedia entry on The Map and the Territory

I admit it's getting better
A little better all the time (It can't get no worse)
"Getting Better", Lennon, a hundred years ago

fragrant feral front-yard fresias (©Tim Juliff)
It is possible that it is because I've been reading a bit to much of the French writer Houellebecq lately. After all, he is described in the press as the enfant terrible of French literature - can it get any worse?

But perhaps it has something to do with reaching an uncertain age. Whatever it is, it is bizarre.

My life is changing. Yes I know it happens to us all, but I just did not expect to be spending time blowing monkeys out of trees, looking for New York taxis with surprised eyebrows, and listening to an ugly old man yelling into his cell phone on the M15 bus about how he wanted to play with a South Carolina's woman's breasts.

If you haven't read any Houellebecq and want to find out about him, I suggest you read Tender and Terrible: The Vulgar Beauty of Michel Houellebecq in the Harvard Book Review. It might turn you off. Or turn you on. Houellebecq writes a lot about sex and death. And although I enjoyed his The Elementary Particles, I found the sex passages to be a bit overwhelming.

Not as overwhelming however, as the conversation I could not help over-hearing on the M15 bus in New York last week. I could only hear one side of it, but that was enough. In any case I think the woman on the other end of the man's cell phone wasn't saying much. It being more a monologue than a conversation.

I must point out here that the man in question is blind. He's a bit of a regular on the M15, and noticeable because of his weight (he weights about 280 lb) and because he is ALWAYS talking on his phone. Usually I can ignore him, but last week he was particularly loud, and glancing up from my Kindle I could see the woman opposite me looking stunned. His conversation had become a public sort of thing.

The fact that the man is blind is relevant in that it raised a number of questions. His conversation was with a woman he had not met in person and who lived far away. He hadn't been able to see a photo of his "intended" and he HAD sent her a photo of himself. How did he know if it was flattering? Could a photo of him BE flattering? Unlike the South Carolina woman, I had the misfortune of being able to see him.

I heard him tell his intended that he was 48. Yeah, sure. Whatever.

New York Cab With Eyebrows
I put him at around 60. He was asking Ms South Carolina a number of questions, loudly enough for the whole bus to hear. And not being able to see his fellow New Yorkers - known for their unshockability - looking down, looking out the window, looking anywhere but in his direction, he continued on, becoming visibly (yes visibly) more sexually excited. No mean feat when you are an overweight male over sixty, seated and dressed in loose-fitting clothes.

"I want to make love to you," he yelled into the phone. Obviously there was silence at the other end of the line which he mistook as indicating she hadn't heard him. "I want to make love to you," he repeated. And then, apparently thinking she didn't understand, "I want to have sex with you."

Getting no response, or at least giving her no time to respond, he asked, "How big are your breasts?" She must have answered as his excitement grew. "Can I play with them? I want to play with them!" regressing into what he must have been like when he was a demanding child wanting his sixth Big Mac.

On and on it went. He asked her could he visit, and if he visited, would she pay for his trip. At that I looked back up at the woman opposite. She looked shocked.

He was still talking when the bus arrived at his stop. As he alighted my eyes met those of the woman opposite. "Disgusting!" she commented. I nodded agreement.

And went back to my Houellebecq.

The world was sane again.

And as for the monkeys in the tree and the New York cabs with eyebrows, well you are just going to have to

Stay Tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The driver should have put him off the bus!
Gag me out!

Post a Comment