Contrast: Thurber’s ‘The Night the Bed Fell’ vs. Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Night We All Had Grippe’

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.

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Weird McKinney Road Gravity Hill

“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.

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Most Complete Collection in the Entire World of the Man Literary Series, Joy Littell, editor

“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

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A fast second mile on the trail

I was joined by the Punker Model Writer Chick.

“I just turned 21 today. It’s my birthday. I couldn’t possibly have a more depressing self-hating, degrading, horrific experience than to spend my birthday with you. This is an absolute low point. It was either suicide or spend the day with the filthy, old, decrepit, ugly, ghastly, freakish, smelly, creepy, ancient Botendaddy… did I say ugly? Yet tall, lean, tanned, six-pack abs, ginormous with original hair. Let’s run, then let’s f@&$. It’s my birthday.”

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The trailhead

I hadn’t listened to a single word she said. Because I’m a man. She wore a sports bra and tiny runners’ speedos. I was staring at the jewel in her muscular girlie belly.

“You’re young, you can still have a life. Meet a nice young guy. You just hang out with me so you can avoid life. By the way, I’m barely under BMI normal. I’ve been eating almost exclusively fruits and vegetables.”

We ran as hard as we could but the uphill was just enough to have ‘sloawne’ me down. 8:49 first mile. We ran through the trail tunnel and hit two miles around 18:42. We had a shot at a sub-30 minute 5k.

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The Romantic Heraldic Early 19th Century American Tree

“You pretentious piece of dogshit! You crypt-keeper, Mr. Burns, Frankenstein. You, (for some reason not wearing a diaper today) diaper-wearing putrid swamp creature! To think I let you… oh my god the smell of it… defile me! Oh god yes! I yearn for you tragically. I love you against all reason. There I said it. I’m madly in love with you. So sue me.”

We hit four miles around 39:20. Not bad.

“Listen. I apologize. Now let’s go back into the woods and f@&$. You owe me, it’s my birthday!”

“Hazlenut Coffe with Bailey’s?”

Peace be the Botendaddy

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Campus Demonstrations Run Out of Control – Writer’s Workshop Trapped by ANTIFAT alt-righto BLAM KAIR Rainbow-LGBTQA LaGraza and WMNZ

The situation was becoming quite grim. The Writer’s Workshop was trapped in the Bolean Nationality classroom.

Naturally everybody was blaming the Botendaddy. It was their belief that his erotic behavior had caused this volatile situation.

All of the student groups were very angry that despite the Botendaddy having made love to virtually every single member of the  Writers’ Workshop, he had failed to also make love to a diverse swath of the membership of each revolutionary student organization.

Naturally, this led to these allied groups’ occupation of the president’s office and the vice-assistant-sub-provost-auxiliary-assistant to the super-numerary of the Harrison Bergeron Memorial extreme diversity office under Title MDCCLXXVI of the US Code.

The Boleans were using alien mind-power to hold the door against the seething, righteous mob of Social Justice Champions.

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Home of the Writer’s Workshop

“This is all Botendaddy’s fault. We should send him out to be slaughtered, so that we, the ancient and honorable Writer’s Workshop, may live.” Said the Professor, soliloquating like the wise Roman Cicero (Pronounced ‘Kee-Ka-Rho’).

“He refused to make love to them. They have a right to his love! Ah the smell of it!” Cried Ramon, standing and waving his gaucho hat dramatically.

“Listen everybody! The 7:59 mile yesterday was not a fluke! I could do it all along! I just needed my Ruby Sippers! Do ya know me Bert? Do ya know me?” I shouted.

“We have demands!” Shouted a member of LaGraza through the door. The shouter conversed with Ramon in agitated Spanish.

“She is demanding your magnificent phallo-centricity! Yon Botendaddy! You must make love to this Bolivian Beauty! This icky girl, Yuck I say! girls are icky-poo-poo!” Translated Ramon.

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Perez Rochibauld Utonic Memorial Gardens at the University ($2,000,000 donation)

Next Arabic was shrieked through the door. Fortunately, the Botendaddy speaks Arabic. They were demanding that I join them for Barma and a Finjaan of Qahiwa (El Coffee) and admit my man-on-man sexual war crimes, in lurid detail.

BLAM was next, Devon, a black man, spoke to them. “Sellout! Uncle Tim! Give up the sexy devil Botendaddy!” They cried.

“HUH?” Said Devon. “WTF are you talking about? And it’s Tom you morons!”

Then the Asian Nationalist Sand Pebbles Society began to chant: “Send Holman down! Send Holman down!”

“Wrong f&$king movie!” Hiroyuki shouted through the door.

The LGBTQ was next. “Park Ranger! We know you’re in there! Give us the Botendaddy! He must be in full drag!”

“What about partial drag?” Shouted the Park Ranger through the oaken door.

“Partial drag is creepy like Eddy Izard! Make Botendaddy beautiful!” They yelled.

“Impossible!” Shouted the Swole’ Bro’ and Guyasuta simultaneously.

The pounding against the door grew louder. “Hodor! Hodor!” Shouted the Librarian.

“Wait… I have a plan. Let me call the No-one Cares Lady and the Stalker.”

She got on the phone and started talking fast. Soon the Stalker, Weird Foreign Doctor Chick, PMWC and the Chasey Lady appeared in the great throne room with carton after carton of fresh doughnuts (pronounced ‘donuts’). The Social Justice Champions, White Walkers and Woolly Mammoths abandoned the door and ran to the smell of the donuts. We were safe for now.

The girls came in, proud of their great rescue.

“94n9 84N9 the Botendaddy? The PMWC suggested.

“Koppee Luwak?”

Peace be the Botendaddy

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Race Number 90 The Greenfield Glide

This is my first race since January 1st. I’ve been busy, you know. People actually talked to me this time.

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Race Notice

All the members of the Writer’s Workshop were there. Since it was right near that building on the right where we meet.

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See the Workshop’s Home on the right?

I was ready. Not really. My running has been shitty at best. Could I do the eight-minute mile? Who knows? I don’t. I’m not a f___king Nostradamus.

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Registration Table

Ever notice on WordPress when you first put in a pic’ and you want to give it a caption, two menus pop up at once, one a little black menu completely covering the one you need in order to write the caption? Who designed that?

The results

7:59 One Mile – One of my fastest miles in the past dozen years. Shows that I can still run in the 7:00’s.

18:06 Two Mile – Not too shabby, but a 10:07 mile in the middle of a race even though it was uphill, is not good. I need to cut my two mile time dramatically.

28:52 Three Mile – OK. Not great, but I should have had a shot at 27:45. Almost an 11:00 minute mile. Not a great effort.

30:45 5k – Complete Collapse at the end of the race on the uphill, plus the distance showed as 3.20 so WTF? I should have broken 30 minutes, but I just didn’t have the stamina.

Warmups

Could I have run harder? Maybe. I think the slow second and third mile killed me.

The Stalker showed up at the end of the race.

“Botendaddy, you ran like a dead anus. You got beaten by almost all of the decrepit old people and the fat people…

You are a shitty runner with your pathetic spinal injury and your shitty oxygen uptake. Ooh look at me! Pity me pity me! The age old cry, with your shit-covered spinal injury!…

F___ you! Your massive, freakish, de.ic.io.us adult diaper stinks too. How do you run in thing? Ah the smell of it! Can’t you see that I’m madly in love with you? Let’s go back to your University Office and F____…

Do you even know how to f___? Have you ever truly f____ed a woman? Get to work g__-damnit! F___ this woman!”

She shrieked while erotically moving her hands down the sides of her spandex-clad sweaty girlie-body.

“Bottled Cold Brew Mocha?”

Peace be the Botendaddy

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Review: Out of Order by William Saroyan

Man in the Expository Mode, Book 1.

I am going to review stories from Joy Littell’s magnificent compilations found only in the groundbreaking Man Series from 1970-72.

I am bored with most contemporary authors, not all, just most.

So Saroyan finds himself in the new Middle School, with a substitute teacher.

To him, the new school meant new things, new methods, new possibilities.

He describes her as thin with an ability to run very fast, apparently to chase students.

The teacher discusses Stonehenge, saying it was 20,000 years old, and the young author, in this autobiographical Vignette, asks her how she knows it was 20,000 years old.

Man Literary Series

This question, being perceived as challenging to her authority, caused her to chase him and he rushed out of the room.

He ends up reporting to the principal, who was equally appalled, blaming it on the 11 year old Saroyan’s Armenian background.

Saroyan’s uncle, a Law Student at USC gets involved, marches him back to the principal and teacher who then acquiesce to all of the Uncle’s demands. The principal and teacher back off, but Saroyan feels guilty about this and he tries to assure the teacher and principal that he legitimately wanted to know how people would know to determine the age of such things.

There’s a lot to this little story. What I draw from it are two things:

1. Sometimes we don’t know what appropriate behavior is and we have to learn. Saroyan figured out that a questions in a challenging way wasn’t proper or polite and he was sensitive to the teacher’s feelings, whereas many young people might not be.

2. Sometimes when we ‘win’, such as by getting the uncle to help, it’s overkill and it disrupts the natural order of things.

A lot of similar Americana stories tell the same tale, but don’t hit the inner immorality of ‘kid makes authority figures look bad’ ha-ha joke model, ala Marx Brothers or Three Stooges. We get mad because the high society people are upset that their magnificent affair was ruined by the Stooges. We want to laugh at the high society people.

Some say there is inherent cruelty in humor, that’s what makes it funny.

Initially, Saroyan felt that by challenging the teacher and then running away made it funny. Then, after observing the cowed reactions of the teacher and principal, he views it as a cruel mistake. He then discusses the next principal who tried to play tough, then tried to play nice and then just gave up.

Kids can be cruel and they are usually old enough to know better even at 11. We don’t need derivative, poorly-written, literary bowel movement like ‘Lord of the Flies’ to tell us so. Saroyan tells in us in just a few pages, which concise portrayal is what separates the good writers (Poe) from the bad writers (King).

I’m glad Joy Littell included this story. Maybe the wise-ass, smart-ass kids could read it and gain a little introspection.

Peace be the Botendaddy

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I was nearly Covfefe’d on my four mile run

“I am madly, passionately, romantically in love with you in a heraldic Patagonian 19th Century way.”

Said Ramon as we warmed up on the trail.

“Ramon I know it’s the new era but people might think you are gay. I mean just because you’ve never touched a female, you think girls are ‘icky’ and you’ve only ever been physically and romantically involved with males.”

I said as Ramon prepared to run shirtless in his creepy runner-Speedos.

As we ran, I desperately tried for speed but I couldn’t get below a four minute half.

“I wish to Covfefe you deep in your Covfefe and then fill you with my hot Covfefe.”

Quod Ramon as we hit a lame 8:59 mile.

“Ramon you’ve said many inappropriate things but to say ‘Covfefe’ in public? What if my readers see this? They are very proper almost prudish and quite sensitive to *hot* man on man action or Catfish on Covfefe.”

I said, as we hit an OK 19:24 two mile on the old train bridge.

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Bogus stock photo of Covfefe bridge

“But to show my love, I wish to stretch your Covfefe with my exploding Catfish.”

Stated Ramon emphatically.

“Look we just made 29:52 three mile we can get under 31:00 for the 5k mark. But don’t try to touch my Covfefe with your rotting Catfish.”

I scolded the overly muscular Patagonian.

“I am overwhelmed by your great beauty, Yon’ Botendaddy.”

I was convinced that Ramon was either blind or insane. Either that or in Patagonia, I am considered excessively attractive.

Our four mile time was under 41:00 which for me is pretty good.

“Mira, let us go to your hot tub to unwind and perhaps Covfefe?”

“Iced Vanilla Latte with Nutmeg?”

Peace be the Botendaddy

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Covfefe Explained

The Professor stood in front of the Writer’s Workshop.

“Today class we define the American word ‘Covfefe’ am. n.”

“It is an ancient word going back to the founding of our nation. It has deep, mysterious, masonic roots. It means: …”

The CEO raised her hand. “Professor, I believe it originated in the year 1830 as a bastardization of the Cherokee word ‘Ka-fa-fa-fi-ni-wa’ meaning:…”

Next was the Librarian. “No it comes from the days of the first railroad workers from  China. The Cantonese word was ‘Co-be-ba-no-chi-fa’ which means:…” She was interrupted by Big Chief Guyasuta.

“You are all wrong, it comes from Colonel Cove-fifillian of the Royal Colonial Erie Regiment in 1757. It means:…”

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From the Ancient Free and Accepted House Utonic with Love

He was cut off by the Park Ranger. “‘Cove-FiFi’ was a huge drag queen in Cincinnati back in the 1950’s burlesque scene. It means:…”

“You don’t understand said Ramon. It is a term from natural history coined by Charles Darwin on the Galapagos when he landed at Cove Fiphilanos, the term actually means:…”

The Voat Fat People Hate Verified Shitlady held up her palm to Ramon’s face. “It comes from the Caribbean Club Med scene it’s when two guys and a girl…”

The Stalker cut her off just in time. Look it’s a French word from the time of King Louis XIV, ‘Qu’aviez vous fous fais?’ It means:…”

“Enough. Said the Punker Model Writer Chick. It’s from a Tennessee Williams or Tennessee Tuxedo? (Penguin) play meaning ‘Catfish-Tosser'”

“Bottled Cold Brew?”

Peace be the Botendaddy

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