Two Rubber Bands
by Kyle Minor
Once upon a time there were two rubber bands, one red, one green, both with some degree of elasticity, but neither knowing which would break first if it were stretched too far. The conflicts these two rubber bands were having had to do with which one of them did more of the housework. These two rubber bands were not married, but they were living together, and, shit, it's hard to live with another person, especially when both of you are rubber bands without hands or fingers, which means in order to do any house work you have to rely upon your elasticity, stretch around things, slingshot them, etc.
This is a stupid metaphor. This is really a story about a man and a woman who live together but are not able to get along, and consequently fight a lot about doing the dishes. They do have hands and fingers, and, really, doing the dishes isn't going to change the fact that his mother just asked him on her deathbed to never have children and if he did to be sure to keep them away from the evils of religion, and that her mother is a Greek rite Catholic who calls every evening: Will you marry soon? Will you have children soon? I'm getting older. What if I die without taking my grandchildren to mass? I want to see my grandchild in her Easter bonnet. I want to kneel beside my grandchild and sing In Excelsis Deo.
This is a stupid fictionalization. This is really a story about a man and woman who live together, get along quite well most of the time, disagree about whether or not to go to church, disagree about whether or not to take their children to church, disagree about whether or not her family is a family of absolutely loony religious fundamentalist zealot nuts, but decide to love each other anyway and live in the tension such loving would provide. Sure, there is a finite elasticity in bo th their "rubber bands;" sure, he is bad at doing the dishes; sure, it is his mother, not hers, who is always worried about sentimental grandchild stuff. Forget the conventions of literature. Fuck trouble. There is trouble, yes, but they will survive, they will love each other, they will raise their children as best they can, and love them, and love each other.
This is also a stupid fictionalization. Once upon a time there was a marginal writer sitting in the Jimmy John's restaurant in Maumee, Ohio, typing, typing, typing, the Counting Crows on the music system, the caffeine from the Coca-Cola cascading caustically through his capillaries, the euphoric sadness of Coca-Cola, the Counting Crows fading to Chumbawumba, the whole of America calculated to make him and everyone else think things like Coca-Cola, the Counting Crows, and Chumbawumba are important, the whole of America calibrated to the elusive harmonic resonances of fame, he wants fame, he wants fame, he wants fame, on the radio Chumbawumba sings "pissing the night away," at home his wife is doing the dishes he should have done, somewhere far away his mother is weeping over not having much to do with her grandchildren because they live so far20away and because there is a religious divide that he has initiated that keeps her from saying to her grandchildren the right and important things she wants to say to her grandchildren, and what he is right now doing is thinking about how his novel, which opens with a race riot and climaxes with the bombing of an abortion clinic, is going to make him stinking rich and famous and maybe even remembered after he is dead, even though he knows how unlikely all of that is, and even though he knows the nobler deed would be to abandon all this metaphor bleeding out into things that are real on the page but nonetheless significantly less real than the flesh and blood things to which they make reference and from which they draw their power, he will put away this exercise in self-examination and self-flagellation, which he knows will amount to nothing in the end, (because isn't it true that eventually the earth will anyway crash into the sun, and our existence will not be remembered by anyone, anyway?), and he will go back to the novel which he hopes will make him famous and possibly rich, and he will drink Coca-Cola, and his wife in her solitariness will put away the dishes she has washed, and his mother will weep and wail and then put herself back together and teach kindergarten and give to small children not her own the things she wishes she could give her son's children, the way she thought she could before literature and metaphor entered into the sanctuary of the family.
About the author:
Kyle Minor is the author of In the Devil's Territory, a collection of short fiction newly available from Dzanc Books. His recent work appears in The Southern Review, Plots with Guns, and Best American Mystery Stories 2008.