We're All Damaged

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reflections From a French Ski Lodge

In many ways, my wife is a more physically capable person than I am. And that’s why, at present, she’s skiing down the side of a mountain by herself and I’m sitting in a smoky lodge in France drinking Coca Cola Light.

If you’d like to experience Coca Cola Light for yourself, just take a normal Diet Coke, leave it out in the sun for an afternoon, and then mix generously with cat urine.

This morning I’m working on the same novel I’ve been working on for more than two years. Today it reads pretty well. But tomorrow it might sound like the scribblings of a drunken, talentless toddler, and so I’ve learned to treat good writing days with the appropriate amount of grim caution.

The owner of the lodge is an unsmiling woman in a thick sweater. The only thing she can say in English is: “Perhaps another croissant you would enjoy, yes?” A baby has been crying non stop for the last half hour. The man who I assume is the baby’s father is sitting nearby smoking a cigarette and reading a rugby magazine. He occasionally pats the baby’s head and says “Shhhh.” The oldest dog in the country is here, too—a French bulldog, appropriately enough—and every fifteen minutes or so he snorts over to my table to see if I might like to give him some of my croissant.

“Does it not embarrass you that your wife is such a good skier and you cannot ski at all?” the dog asks me in a French accent in my imagination.

“Not at all. We’re a very liberated couple.”

“Oh. However, you do realize” says the dog, “that publishing a novel is virtually impossible? Probably you would be better off to climb to the top of that mountain over there and jump off.”

“Listen, dog, I happen to have a master’s degree in fiction writing from a top writing program.”

“Congratulations. I happen to have two master’s degrees, one in humping throw pillows and the other in licking myself.”

“You know, it’s true what they say. French bulldogs really are a$$holes.”

The dog snorts and then sniffs a stain on the carpet. “Yes, this fact is undeniable.”

“If I give you half my croissant, will you promise to leave me alone so I can get some writing done?”

“Agreed. One last thing I must ask, though. How can you drink the Coca Cola Light? Do you not know they put the cat piss in there?”

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