Nov 15 2011 12:43 pm

deconstructing steelhead

Frank sat inside one of those awkward chairs that have a little desk attached to them and aren’t designed for people that are of above average height or girth. It was made of some remarkably hard plastic type material that resisted even the most stubborn graffiti carving attempts. The overhead fluorescent lights were dimmed beneath their cloudy stippled plastic covers. The cooling fan of the digital projector whirred continuously and was the only sound aside from the speaker’s voice and the occasional cough. Frank thought these Powerpoints were much less satisfying than the click-click-ca-thunk of an actual slide show.

Frank squirmed every minute or so, shifting his weight from one side to the other, bumping his knee into the little desk. He daydreamed about milk. Why does skim milk smell spicy to me? Do the cows eat something spicy? What if a cow ate peppers? I should buy a cow and keep it in the back yard and feed it peppers. Lisa would hate that. We’d have to move her table and chairs. There would be a lot of shit. I hate that table and chairs anyway. We need that back yard to work FOR US. To make us milk and delicious beef. Where would I slaughter said cow? Wasn’t there a Seargent Slaughter at some point?

Just then the audience began to clap, slowly, a few people at first, then one or two more, then people like Frank who were paying absolutely no attention. The applause lingered awkwardly and faded away gradually until it ended with one explosive single clap from a person who didn’t realize it was time to stop clapping until it was too late. The talk was something about deconstructing the imagery of Tohono O’odham tiswin earthenware vessels from the early 1800s. There were a couple interesting pictures during the talk but Frank thought it was odd that something like this could be deconstructed at all. In fact, Frank thought it was odd that anything could be deconstructed except an erector set or a house, for example.

Frank turned in his chair-desk so his feet were in the aisle and he was facing perpendicularly across the audience and he looked bored and vaguely smug with raised eyebrows and a perfectly flat mouth. His tall, columnar head was angled slightly forward and his eyes surveyed the room from front to back. The department chair stood up and said there would now be a break and that they would reconvene in five minutes time for the discussion. Several people stood up slowly and began making their way towards the speaker while others turned and started chatting with their neighbors, presumably about the talk, but more likely about how Prof. Allen had fallen asleep and let out one of those awkward sleep moans which everybody, including the speaker, had noticed.

Frank unfolded his tall frame from the chair-desk, raised his arms far above his head and arched his back and clenched his teeth and let out a long groan himself which culminated in the maximum stretch of his back and arms. He regained his posture with a heavy exhalation and walked toward the speaker, pushed a few students aside, got his face very close to the speaker’s face and said very loudly and slowly and deliberately pronouncing each word by opening his mouth as far as it could go: “I’m going to go and deconstruct a bottle of whiskey now.”


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