Long Legs

Today I’m writing, channeling really, the style and likes of author and poet, Ross Gay, who without hesitation fashions sentences as long as his arms (he’s lanky and his arms go on a bit) or as long as his legs (even longer).

I’m writing as him today, because I adore his writing and if you don’t mind, I want to be him for a little while, and besides, his “The Book of Delights” delights me, but also hopefully, given his personal propensity for delight, he might find it delightful that someone would go — not to the trouble of — but rather to the all-out-delight of attempting to imitate him. Which is, of course, impossible.

Make no mistake, I understand not even half or most or much of some of what he writes (I’m not as well read, nor as heady, nor will I ever be), but when least expected, his words send me reeling. He sideswipes my sense of humor, cracking the veneer of the day just enough to be followed often and swiftly by an — oh-what-the-hell — kind of joyful explosion.

Ross Gay

Sometimes it’s his content, other times his thought process, even the patterns of the sentences themselves, yes, the ones that go on and on, hemmed, stitched or buttoned with the comma or parentheses or dash to give it shape, but maybe only when what’s run-on prays extra loud.

I wonder if Ross Gay edits at all. He probably doesn’t. Much. His thoughts fall on the page exactly the way they do, straight from the horse’s mouth, there’s no turning back, no tugging the reins to head left instead of right, no fixing, no recalculating.

For which I’m essentially glad because, as I said, though I don’t understand some of his over-the-top ramblings, they DO carry the cheerful distinction (for me at least) of causing outbreaks of hilarity quite regularly, the likes of which I’ve not experienced for a good while, when reading at least. There I am, at eleven pm, practically unable to breathe from the rising and falling of mirth and merriment, when I should surely be gathering energy, not spending it. Or maybe, just maybe, reading Ross Gay is, in fact, a way to gather.

Today I wait for a front brake replacement in the tiny waiting area with two metal chairs wearing their plastic cushions, where windshield wipers hang on the wall ahead of me and the cluttered bill-paying counter rises apologetically to my left (no place to sign a credit card slip even) — I’ve got “The Book of Delights” in both hands, and am hopelessly over the cliff about roller skates of all things, which should not be that funny. But now, because of him, I’ve lost my brakes, you see — no sign of slowing by any means, not the hand brake, not calling for help — whatever. I’ve gone and plowed past the stop sign over a sentence so full of silly that I cannot begin to imagine how he possibly wrote it. Or what makes it so funny.

Wait! I know — he reached into my mind, snapping me to attention with his (too many words in one) sentence saying, “See, I know what you’re thinking, person I’ve never met, friend I’d like to know, quirky-thinking woman I hope to run into on a street corner — and here’s proof we should know one another.”

Ross Gay confesses on paper things one should never confess. Seriously. And you’d agree, especially the bizarre sexual dream, the one that should go no further than his own mind upon waking, the one that under no circumstances should appear in a book for heaven sakes (as my Iowa mother would say) but it’s written now — it’s out and about and lives forever in the minds of way too many people. Goodness. There they go, his sentences marching boldly where no words should go — and I’m laughing, hand over mouth (at the car repair joint), shaking silently (at the doctor’s office) or in bed alone, guffawing (but not loud enough to wake my housemate) ’til way past midnight.

Well — now you know the tiniest blink of a thing about Ross Gay. You have been served an appetizer of how he writes, along with a buffet of catalytic effects of his long and winding sentences, which invariably invite us along for the endless albeit entertaining ride to the very last bite of dessert.

Now you know he slides surreptitiously under my skin, rearranging the layers of what I think I know about myself, the big stuff, the little stuff and everything in between — who I am, how I write, what’s funny, what qualifies as write-about-able — ’til I cry uncle.

In Care of Relationships, Ross Gay, Terri Crosby, The Book of Delights


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