March 2011
On serious writing
Frank Cotolo
I sat down to write something serious, something that would make people cry, hurt, think and be hungry all at once. I knew this was going to be a mighty task, so I put on a suit and my best socks and went into the city to absorb the length of my emotions.
All you have to do, ever, to understand the seriousness of life, is to go to the city, get into the thick of life's river of souls, walk neck and neck with the poor, the placid, the princes and the potato-lovers. You can feel the seeping pain of swollen sorry on every brow and, if you are lucky, a stiff wind lifts the dress of some paltry young women with a penchant for pole dancing.
To be in a suit is to blend in with the daily group of galley slaves, those with parking stubs in their pockets, the grumbling group of stomachs that rely on Pepto Bismol. If life has taught me anything about this herd, it is that whether they are suffering from heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, nausea or diarrhea, Pepto-Bismol provides them with soothing relief. I wonder, too, if they are aware that for more than 100 years, consumers have found relief for five stomach problems with soothing pink Pepto Bismol?
Sometimes I sit on a park bench, even if there is no park nearby, and I watch, closely, the expressions on the people walking by me. I look to see happiness but all I see is fear, concern, dread, fright and an occasional hint of jaundice. It was King Henry IV who, in Shakespeare's play about him, spoke of fear as a cold heart. Hank Williams echoed this in a song and Betty Ford in a clinic.
I never stay in the city long, though it seems like forever or like sitting through a Robert Altman movie. When I get home I sit down, take off my suit and burn it in effigy. Then, after a few shots of absinthe, I ponder the red and green, aromatic liqueur that is 68-percent alcohol and I smell the wormwood and other herbs floating to the bottom of the glass, along with the bitter, licorice flavor, still banned in most Western countries. It reminds me that the only way I will ever get a word of my serious writing done is to take Pepto Bismol.
Frank Cotolo can be found hosting the talk and interview programme Cotolo Chronicles.
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