Part I of my Seattle Story
Boobs I do not Have; Sex I Cannot Sell
When the sun nudged night off the ledge in Seattle 17 years ago it found my wife and me lugging boxes of Ganja Tales books to a little spot along a winding path at Myrtle Edwards Park.
Can you imagine the excitement? I’d just spent two years writing nine marijuana short stories. Now I’ve paid thousands of dollars to have them printed up in Kansas City and I’ve driven them all the way to Seattle. The ink is only just dry on these babies – all 2,500 of them. And I’m going to sell out the entire press run at the world’s biggest hempfest.
When the boxes are stacked, I fish out a few Ganja Tales books and set them in a nice display on a makeshift table. I then connect the three pieces of a bamboo fishing pole I use for a flagpole, and work the thick end into the ground, watching the green ganja pennant my wife sewed flap proudly in the chill breeze. She and I also stretch taut the big red banner with the huge yellow GANJA TALES sewn on it. This, too, she made for the trip.
And that giant laminated poster of the Ganja Tales book cover featuring Regulus, the ganja iguana? Yep. Got it. Finally, after four days and a long trek from Nebraska weighted down with thousands of pounds of books, we were ready to roll, ready to sell some books and talk to some good people. Yes, Virginia, dreams do come true, and hard work and determination do pay off.
Enter a lithe woman, perhaps 22, to stand on a spot across the sidewalk from us. She has no banner, no booth, nothing to sell. Only herself. She is green from head-to-toe. Her short hair set with a tiny tiara, her eyelashes, her nails — all of her – green; green dusted with a light coat of fluorescent silver.
And since she’s wearing a bikini or skin suit of some type, she appears naked. Of course I command my eyeballs to stop staring at this brazen hussy, but the disobedient orbs in my head, such wild dogs as they are, refuse.
The Devil take me! I keep throwing glances her way, wondering the nature of her game. I don’t have long to wait. The first dribs and drabs of people amble up the path and they, too, are drawn to the Green Goddess, as I called her, like a powerful magnet: drawn to her cold and frozen beauty.
You see: she was a statue, unmoving and completely still.
And I’m looking at ten people with their backs to me staring at the goddess asking: Is she real? And just about then she flicks, say, one finger for one instant. And people freak. “Oh my God!” they exclaim. “She is real!”
And they drop money into the bowl at her feet, then move on up the path, oblivious to li’l ol’ me and my book of marijuana short stories. Oh that Green Goddess is real, all right, and getting richer by the minute. Sigh.
My book took me two years to write out here on the blazing prairie they call Nebraska in what little spare time I had between teaching classes and grading stacks of English compositions. Late nights, early mornings, weekends … walled off in a room with a shut door. Alone. Writing.
And now people walk past and won’t even look my way, much less stop and talk.
The dribs and drabs of 420 folk became a trickle, but I couldn’t sell a book to save my life. It was about then I realized what a huge mistake I’d made. You know the feeling. Yeah, that one. Be brave you tell yourself, don’t lose your dignity.
And every time I look up the Green Goddess has a small crowd watching her. Sometimes she moves, sometimes she doesn’t. Periodically, her boyfriend, I assume, comes by to gather up the green harvest of never-ending money she draws to herself. Friends, she may have been a Green Goddess, but verily, I say to you: She was the Goose Who Kept Laying Golden Eggs. All day long.
Me? I got a ganja book dead on arrival and a long ride back to Omaha, complete with shame and embarrassment burning hotter than a magnesium flare in my guts.
How can it possibly be that there’s more than 100,000 marijuana smokers in this here Seattle park and not one of ‘em interested in a book of cannabis short stories? Upon my word, I just never, in a million years, saw that one coming!
Well, it’s mid-day now. The trickle is a flood and the sidewalk’s clogged. Walking anywhere would be near-impossible. And I still haven’t sold a book. (God, just shoot me. Or lightning. Got a spare bolt to strike me dead with?)
And now comes a pretty little thing in a cute summer dress skipping down the primrose path in Myrtle Edwards Park, and I don’t know it yet, but she’s going to crush my heart.
Next week: “Miss Smarty Pants, aka the Professor’s Daughter.”
Notes, Slag, Wood chips on the Shop Floor, Considerations and Et Ceteras …
I know it’s 2017 and there’s people out there waiting to pounce on anything and everything, so let me say this about the word hussy.
But first of all, have I told you I’m married and have a daughter and a granddaughter and Venus on my Leo ascendant which sextiles my natal Neptune? So if you now these words you know that I am, like all humans, both yin and yang, sun and moon, male and female. (Thank you for this consideration. I will now proceed with my discourse.)
If I only call the Green Goddess a woman, that gets old in a hurry. To do so would simply not be “writerly.” So, what were my choices? Trollop, wench and hussy.
It took me 15 minutes of research, another ten minutes of thought and contemplation and, finally, a conversation with my wife before I went with hussy because it was the only word with a non-sexual reference. Honest. Please look it up like I did if you don’t like the word. Actually, it’s quite innocent.
So cool your jets. There’s no argument here. Words are the colors I use to paint. I get along fine with most folks, but not those who try and take my words. Don’t ever try and take my precious words from me, never; for that would initiate a death match. I will not part with my words. In my birth chart, you will see my gentle Moon (frightfully!) parked for all eternity next to angry Mars in Scorpio. And what’s he do? Why, the rascal squares my Pluto in Leo!
So many Hiroshimas, so many Nagasakis. Yes, I die a thousand deaths each day. But I regenerate, I keep coming back. I, indestructible, am Phoenix rising, growing stronger with each return.
I’m a writer. That’s what we do.