I stood in front of the Writer’s Workshop ready to pontificate my verbal bowel movement. It was ‘Pride Week’ so I was surprised that our four *gay* Writers were all at the Workshop.
“What the hell are you guys doing here? You should be at the Pride Festivities?”
“Oh delectable Botendaddy, all four of us are madly in love with you, each in our own way. We wish to sit here squirming in psychic torment as we are forced to listen to your glorious river of mindless, self-involved, megalomaniacal bull feces prattle like Alexander de Large with his eyes held open watching ultra-violence.”
Said Ramon, leaning back in his chair.
“He is a goddamned moron.” Offered Hiroyuki.
“Our lives are meaningless if we give up our Friday nights to listen to his stupefying drivel. Have I really fallen so far? I have no life!” Moaned the Caribbean Queen.
“Botendaddy is a vapid, mindless shithead. It was either come here or kill myself. It was a tough choice.” Said the Stalker.
“I’m totally drunk and high. I may have taken some acid. I’m hallucinating to the point that the Botendaddy actually sounds marginally intelligent.” Said Chief Guyasuta.
“Listen. I just read James Thurber’s short story “The night the bed fell.” It is written in a farcical, rhythmic style rising to a crescendo eerily similar to Shirley Jackson’s “The Night We All Had Grippe.”
Grippe is, in my opinion, the most brilliant short-short story in American Literature in the last 70 years. You can see influences of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” for the ‘writing as rhythm’ style, S.J. Perelman for the dry anti-humor and finally the framing of the story is almost a literary response to Thurber’s “Bed”.
In “Bed” we have the family, with vivid descriptions of the location of each and the various idiosyncrasies of each family member and guest.
While we lack the motion of each character as they move about in “Grippe”, Thurber instead mentally visits the rooms while he interprets each character for the reader through his own lens.
The swirling motion of “Grippe builds to a tornado like crescendo ending up with the lost blanket while in “Bed” separate actions in each room including the writer falling out of his own bed and the noise creating the ensuing chaos as everyone thinks the attic bed fell on father.
We see some more modern treatments of this building-cyclone style of farce that draw on both stories, such as “The Russians are Coming” which builds to complete chaos, but in a town and not a house and the final scene of Grandpa in “Lost Boys.” ‘What I could never stand about Santa Carla is all the damn vampires.’
You can find both stories, ‘Grippe’ and ‘Bed’ in the ‘Man in the Fictional Mode’ series by Joy Littell, 1970-71.
“I am exhausted.” I turned to the Professor. She rolled her eyes.
“Botendaddy… enough of your stupefying nonsense come with us back to our festival hotel suite and let’s just f@&$. You owe us after making us listen to that.”
Said the Park Ranger and Swole Bro nodding in agreement.
“Iced mocha with whole milk?”
Peace be the Botendaddy