Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I read parts of that novel over my friend's shoulder while stuck three to a benchseat on a 28 hour drive. Very impolite of me. It was published in 1984, which I do not think is right. That was a year of hairspray and neon and solos played on flying V guitars. I wonder who liked it then: was it just professor-types with tweed and cigarettes or did girls in red plastic earrings sit around and talk about it while listening to tapes of Duran Duran?
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And shouldn't everyone have been reading 1984 in 1984? If there was a book written 30-some years ago titled 2011 I guarantee you I would be reading it. There would be a centaur on the cover, a centaur who can teleport. He'd have a teased perm and too much chest hair.
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People say that living in The Future isn't what they told us it'd be, but they only point out the fact that they don't own a hovercraft. Somehow everything so incredibly more futuristic is entirely overlooked. I haven't even seen it as a coverspread: there's a machine that can print out 3D human tissue. In fifty years, they say they'll be printing out hearts. The hoverboard can be made from a standard shop vac: the organ printer is made from a converted ink-jet printer. (Maybe replacing the paper feed with a petri dish was one man's desperate attempt to finally solve the paper jam.)
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This year also saw the invention of spray-on clothing. Like cheese whiz, yes. It comes out liquid and then dries into a synthetic, which you can stretch and shape to taste, sew a zipper or a button onto, take off, and hang up in your closet.
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I learned just a week or two ago how a battery works. Some years back I read a memoir written by a man in prison in Cuba who made homemade batteries to power his homemade radio and I actually cried, thinking about the fact that if I'm imprisoned, I won't be able to make a battery. I was waitressing when I read that book; I walked from table to table in a fog, carrying trays of sushi, giving vacant half-nods, my heart pounding like mad. When does my break come? What will happen to Vallardes? I am so far behind. I only barely understand capacitors.
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Vallardes eventually moved to Miami. I lived about an hour north of there, but I was too nervous to try and look him up. I'm not so good with Cuban accents.
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Octavius is five months old. He has shiney eyes. He cocks his head to the side when you talk to him and raises a single eyebrow. He looks like the sort of fellow who could stroll down Little Havana wearing a spray-on suit with a copy of 2011 under his arm. I cannot begin to picture the world he'll live in but my boy, I hope it's everything it should be.

4 comments:

erin said...

don't take this the wrong way, i mean it as a compliment.
but sometimes, your writing is so good, i feel like i should stop writing myself; anything i could do, in comparison with yours, is just clutter.
it's breathtaking. simply breathtaking.

You can call me B.... said...

I completely agree with Erin...well said.

The Goodfellas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Me hace a sonreir! El guapo merece todo lo bueno que el mundo tiene, y mas.

Don Omar