submit or ye shall be fill your ass full of cutglass

If repeated blows from loveís vicious truncheon have taught me anything (and they most certainly have NOT), it's that the most rewarding relationships are haunted by an atmosphere of disaster, an awareness that they are doomed to almost certain failure, and not just any kind of failure but a spectacular failure arising from specific and obvious defects in the personalities of one or both participants, defects that first met the withering glare of public scrutiny on certain crisp mornings in that crucible of future character deformities the kindergarten blacktop, as is often the case, since the human temperament is mutable to a point, arguably, but not really after age five. All relationships someday end anyway (let's face it one minute it's champagne and delicious little buttery tarts that you simply can't get enough of, they're just that good, and the next minute it's check please and you can get your own cab home can't you), and making yourself vulnerable to this feeling of impending cataclysm, living comfortably inside it like a toasty igloo made of cold cold snow, lends a piquancy to the proceedings, a sort of paradoxical energizing that gives rise to a giddy shrieking death spiral of grim but animating humor, a strange elation which seems similar to hysteria and which may in fact BE hysteria. This is what people mean when they speak of the EUPHORIA of ROMANCE. The chill of terrible knowledge can be made to seem indistinguishable from the shiverings of gratitude for one's good fortune and the trembling caused by a fear which is both inexplicable and all possible human and animal fears rolled into one. All three sensations result in the desire for a sweater, so if you fall in love keep plenty of sweaters around, cardigan sweaters since cardigans are the preferred sweaters of the defeated and the disquieted, and in the pockets of these frayed and forlorn cardigan sweaters keep some stale bread for feeding the birds when you take long contemplative walks around the reservoir muttering and shaking your head in such a way that people give you a wide berth and try really hard to just keep looking straight ahead so as not to risk eye contact with you and you become known to the people in the neighborhood as that crazy bird man in the UGLY SWEATER. Nothing drains the life out of a relationship like solemnity and complacency, as a horsebacked Attila the Hun was said to have remarked just before he neatly separated an inattentive Visigoth's arm from his body with a swift and flashing sword. O the glint of the Hunís pitiless steel as he leads his armies of doom across the steppe! Or maybe it was Billy Bob Thornton in an interview with Leeza Gibbons on the day of the announcement of his engagement to an extremely intelligent orangutan in Borneo, an orangutan who had previously broken the heart of a certain mover and shaker in the Clinton administration (not George Stephanopoulos, that was just a rumor). There are three people you should not take romantic advice from--Attila the Hun and Billy Bob Thornton are two and I am the third. Some advice: Never refrain from bold advances or tender midnight declarations for fear that your caresses will be rebuffed, because they almost certainly will be rebuffed, your murmurs left to evaporate and melt into the silence of the evening, the gauzy murk or murky gauze into which unreturned whispers of love disappear, and this you see will be your salvation, this rejection will save you from entering a relationship and prevent the setting in motion of the banal but harrowing developments previously described or alluded to, leaving you in the enviable position of having acted on your feelings without suffering the brutal consequences of having them returned. If these words seem overly cynical I apologize, as it has not been my intention to undermine the lighthearted conviviality of this special day for you, son. There is so much more to say but despite my typical crabbed and tiny script Iíve run out of room on this card as you can see, but I will continue on next yearís card, and close by wishing you a happy birthday. Remember you can always reach me by writing to my post office box in Kansas City, I check that every three months like clockwork.

[Forever after at]

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you were my favorite scarecrow