Wednesday, September 24, 2014
"Artisanal: pertaining to or noting a distinctive and classic art or product made in small quantities, usually by hand and using traditional methods."
When I was a freshman in college, I met a nice-looking senior on the quad. Actually, he was the friend of my former boyfriend, once removed. We shared an hour-long conversation. We made out, a little. When he told me he'd been accepted at the U of I School for Dentistry, my first thought was, yuck. My second was, I don't care, you're really cute. Or maybe I have that order reversed. In any case, we mainly talked about foreign films. Wrapping up the conversation, he mounted his bike and asked for my number, which I wrote on a sheet of notebook paper.
He never called. Which was fine; I had three dates a day, we all did, and somehow squeezed in a class now and then, if there was nothing better on offer. We fell in and out of interest or infatuation in less time than it took to eat an Arby's.
A semester went by, and by chance, I ran into him at the library. He looked embarrassed and said, "Oh hi, I meant to call, but my dog ate my papers." The explanation was longer than that, something to do with having safeguarded my number between the pages of a textbook, in between chapters pertaining to the root canal and diseases of the gums, I suppose.
This was my first exposure to the Artisanal excuse. Something hand-crafted, clumsy and homely, certainly with a long proud history, probably practiced alone, then in company; refined, added to and subtracted from over the years. Based on tradition, yes, but improved with a personal twist.
"Give me a kiss," he said, "and tell me I'm forgiven."
And I thought, fuck you, Doctor Cavity, go suction someone else's spit.
The reason this sticks in my mind, resists the mental floss of sweet forgetfulness, is that recently an English professor friend of mine outlined some rules for new students, including, something to the effect of, "If you miss class, for god sake's, don't tell me that your grandmother died."
Well, I found this a complete shocker. You mean others have encroached on the grandmother excuse? My grandmother-excuse, which I've effectively trademarked? My poor grandmother, who fell on the sword more times than I ever made it to French class? My grandmother, the one who died before I was born? Damn these poachers. I invented the grandmother excuse. Molded, crafted it, year after year, spun it on the wheel, adding pigment here and there, bringing up the grain to a rich patina, worthy for all my future jobs.
Well, that's life, right? A narrow aspect for invention, and likely someone beat you to it.
I don't lie, much, but only because my lies have a very irritating habit of coming true. I'm not religious, don't believe in Karma -- and yet, if I call work and say my tire is flat, it will be flat, or the battery dead. If I say I'm sick, I get sick. On and on, my lies have proved unforgiving.
So I only hit on the already dead relatives. They've never complained. And now, usually, if there's some commitment I can't meet, I say, "*I just don't want to." It's a very unpopular response. On the upside, I'm healthy and my car starts.