About coolshake

My claim to fame, in my mind, is that I’ve seen forty-six states. There are still the Dakotas, South Carolina, and Minnesota to go, and it’s odd about Minnesota because I’ve wanted to visit from the time I read “Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My favorite novel is The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man. My favorite movie – toss-up: Three Days of the Condor and Kind Hearts and Coronets. If there was a prompt for FLYSWATTER, it is Our Lady of the Assassins by Fernando Vallejo. I’m unmarried and have two pills.

And why I write: The inspiration to write was the result of a romantic encounter of a very peculiar sort. Ms. Christina St. Sebastian, one of the managers at the company where I worked (since dismantled by bankruptcy), often sang “Johnny Angel” as she logged refund checks. I knew the tune from school days, seventh or eighth grade, I believe. Ms. St. Sebastian wasn’t even born at the time “Johnny Angel” was on the Top 40. Of course, it’s a classic, perhaps a rather campy little thing to some. I was never sure how Ms. St. Sebastian regarded it, but whether seriously or not, it’s a lovely song with lovely preadolescent sentiments, and quite accessible through oldies conduits. It wasn’t so surprising that a young woman would know it. But it was surprising to hear someone sing it nearly every day in the office. I finally asked, “Why ‘Johnny Angel’?” She said, “I once knew a boy, John ______, who was my valentine, and I was his.” I knew whom she meant, because he’s one of our most celebrated authors. But since most of us know at least one person who’s gone on and exceeded all expectations as an adult, I thought it really was a bit too much for her to sing about it day after day, however obliquely. Somehow she sensed the exception I took to this unconventional habit, and volunteered that although she’d been on equal, friendly, and sometimes loving terms with the men one encounters with aplomb as a post-debutante, i.e. doctors, lawyers, engineers, great financiers, royalty and heads of state, none has been quite equal in her estimation to that lad who followed his dream and became a writer. Of all these men, he’s the only one whose spark flickers undiminished by the vicissitudes of compromise and convention. “He’s still the same magnificent soul as that boy who handed me a heart he made himself with art paper, crayon, glitter and glue, and blushed. I know this from every one of his writings. And the little girl in me, who blushed back, still adores him.” I told her that I had always wanted to write, but for various reasons never found time. She insisted, “But you must! . . . if that’s who you truly are.” In no eyes but hers have I ever seen so much devotion to an ideal. I took up the plume that evening, hoping someday someone will have such tenacity of faith because of me. In the meantime, until I’m confident it’s not hope in vain, I’ll remember the intriguing oddness and happy longing in Ms. St. Sebastian’s succinct call to the literary grail, arising from her cork-lined cubicle.


One Response to “About coolshake”

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