BUDDHA'S HAND AND JAY LAKE
Ann and I had a good Thanksgiving, even if I did pick up a cold and also skin an elbow playing basketball against my younger brothers.
I didn't do any writing, but I did touch a lot of stuff, which is a form of research for writing. I've been so busy, I'd forgotten to do a lot of running of hands over surfaces and objects. Which sounds weird, but texture, feel, is an oft-forgotten way of describing things in fiction. Even, perhaps, a way to write your way into a story.
I always like to touch stuff when on vacation, to get a sense of the textures of a place. Australia was a gold mine for this kind of thing. As was, today, picking up a Buddha's hand, pictured above. It's a fruit, but it looks a bit like a squid! And it's a nice combination of smooth and rough! With little pinprick ends to the tentacles.
I don't know why, but that reminds me of a story about Jay Lake. Back in the day, when Jay was going to the University of Florida in Gainesville (he got kicked out, but that's another story entirely, and I really think the so-called injured party was to blame), he and I got it into our heads one Halloween to dress up in a costume and get some candy. We were out of my minds on moonshine a friend's mother had given us, and we didn't have time to buy a real costume. So instead we cut holes in a white sheet and put the sheet over an umbrella to give it some structure and figured we'd go trick-or-treating in this garb. Only problem was, coordinating two people shambling around under a sheet turned out to be more difficult than we thought, and the eyeholes didn't quite match up--not to mention we had very little peripheral vision. Even worse, we were over at Jay's "apartment" (an abandoned, crumbling motel in which he squatted) and it was right next to a four-lane highway. To get to the residential areas where we were going to score candy, you had to cross the highway. So off we went in our sheet, trying to coordinate our walking (or stumbling) and at the same time see well enough not to get killed. We made it to the median strip okay, but then Jay stepped on the edge of the sheet (he claims I did) and we went sprawling. The sheet was really too big. So we're struggling in the sheet, trying to get up and shouting out "Don't hit us!" As if the people in the cars could even hear us. And at the same time, we're also rolling toward the other side of the street, hoping that at least we can make it to safety that way. I bruised Jay's ribs that way, by accidentally rolling on top of him. But we didn't make much progress. So finally we hear this screech of brakes and somebody cursing and we finally get out of the sheet and there's this irate cop looking down at us. Our costume was so bad and our babbling about the whole incident so incoherent he had no idea what the hell we'd been up to. So he arrested us both and took us down to the sheriff's office, where they released us but lectured us about creating a public nuisance. Shortly thereafter, Jay left Gainesville and I didn't speak to him again for fifteen years. Each of us was convinced the other one was responsible for the whole debacle.