Sour Milk

I've been having trouble with my writing lately, and the trouble is this. Whatever I write is too stuffy or too absurd or too dry or too flowery or too boring or too silly or too dull or too irrelevant or too raunchy or too childish or too brazen or too bashful or too embarrassing.

Nothing ever seems to come out right, and when it does come out right, I am so enthusiastic that I bounce out of bed the next morning to review the wonderful thing I wrote the day before only to find that in the night it soured worse than milk left out on the counter.

I am now 40, so I know the truth of the impermanence of such things as confidence in one's ability to do meaningful acts. When we were 20 or 21 or even 26, we had an overabundance of confidence that we were bound to do very great acts though we had no idea what these acts were. Now, we know what the acts are that we do, but we also know that they are nothing more than ordinary.

Now that we are 40, my friend L. and I meet in the town where we attended university. We walk around pointing out all the places where we used to consult with boys we liked. Late evening, we stop to watch a gang of fire twirlers on Library Mall. A sickly type with stringy hair approaches us and unfolds his hand, about to reveal, I am certain, a joint. Instead, he asks if we would like to buy some of his jewelry, pebbles entangled with wire. "I made it all myself," he explains. "I didn't even plan it, I just let it flow."

"Yes," we assure him. "We can tell."

We walk around some more, hoping to find a house party, but then realize that even if we do, no one wants gray haired moms at their house party. Instead we sit by the lake and tell stories about people we know and people we don't know and people we wished we knew and people we might have known if we had made slightly different choices.

Finally, I explain to L. the trouble I've been having with my writing. She suggests I start a blog.

"Friends don't let friends start blogs," I remind her. Still, she thinks it's a premier idea.

We go back to the hotel and watch Lady Gaga videos on L's phone. We watch and wonder, how does a person become a Lady Gaga? We like to wear wigs. We like to showboat. "If only we had a little more chutzpa," I say.

"And talent," says L.

Maybe we should have reveled in our foolishness instead of shunning it. Maybe we should have dared to sing show tunes on Library Mall like certain doughy transvestites who always drew a crowd. Maybe it's not too late.

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