The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
1. Tell me about your favorite book, film, painting, and/or album that doesn’t exist. You don’t have to be the (future, potential) creator though you could be.
That would be Miles Davis: Down on the Polka, of course. Everyone thinks Miles dropped out of the scene around 1975, but I have it on good authority he pointed his horn in the direction of those accordion riffs he first heard bouncing from the walls of the Polish center in East St. Louis. Released on Kielbasa Records the same year the soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever” topped the charts, “Down on the Polka” features duets with a teenage “Weird Al” Yankovic on “Hoop-Dee-Doo,” “Beer Barrel Polka,” and other favorites. Sure, Kind of Blue, Birth of the Cool, and In a Silent Way are masterpieces, but Miles Davis: Down on the Polka is what I crank when I need oom-pah for my soul.
2. Those of us on the left (and, frankly also in the middle) are quite hacked off about the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision and what it implies for individual rights in America. What’s one right you’d like to take away from the sort of people who think Dobbs was a good idea, said people being everyone from Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Amy Coney Barrett to the average right-wing yokel dragging their knuckles through America’s ill-kept streets?
I would remove their right to make signs in their sad-ass version of the English language. It wouldn’t stop them, but it would slow them down. They’d be forced to learn something before scratching their nonsense onto strips of cardboard.
3. Say you’re a walrus, and you’re invited to an important dinner at your boss’ house, what would you wear? And what would you be telling yourself in the pre-dinner pep talk you would doubtless be giving yourself on your ice floe while waiting for your Lyft to show? Would there be specific rules you’d suggest be followed by yourself? (Yes, there would be rules…3 at least. Please be specific. In addition to the literal scores(!) of writers who intermittently peruse Six Ridiculous Questions, there are indeed many a walrii engaged in same.)
I don’t have to suppose I’m a walrus; I am a walrus. I’m so glad you asked (what are the odds?). I have wanted to tell you for a while. My advice is not speculative; it’s from my own hard-won experience:
RULE 1: Always eat the fish in the fish buffet from the bottom-up. Unless you’re a fan of your boss’ slobber, dig deep, fellow walrii!
RULE 2: Go easy on the bicycle horns. The people at the aquarium dig them, but you can bet the boss doesn’t want that noise—especially after your 90-minute cover of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” the last time.
RULE 3: Forget mating season. Casual walrus business is the business. When summoned to the leisure space of your alpha, ignore all text messages from your loins.
RULE 4: (most important!) The boss enjoys tossing icefloe politics into the discussion. Ignore his single-malt inquiries the way you ignored that mackerel hanging out of someone’s back pocket a few minutes ago. The boss is testing you. He is looking for confirmation you think the icefloe belongs to the penguins.
4. You live in a grimdark version of our very reality. What would a day in your life look like? What percentage of your/our current reality would have to change to make this so?
A teacup moved two inches to the left would do the trick. “Grimdark” day begins with everyone on Twitter roasting me for believing in gravity and other fake news. The email isn’t much better. The client I signed a few hours ago is asking for a status report. The cell phone collections people call while I am on hold with the doctor’s office about “concerning irregularities” in my recent blood test. The floor under my feet vibrates with the fist of the downstairs neighbor. The baroque music the doctor’s office plays disturbs him. “Quiet hours” are all hours, far as he’s concerned. The only noise allowed is when he is singing Bad Company in the shower at 2 a.m. I read on Facebook that my problems are due to Mercury in retrograde. The doctor is finally on the phone. He tells me between fist-thumps from below the news isn’t bad for someone my age. Someone has replied to the Facebook post, confirming the Mercury and the retrograde. Another email from the client. This time he informs me it’s been 10 minutes since my last response. I conclude my problems are due to not being Swedish. If I were Swedish, I’d have a yurt, a hip minimalist house, and a Volvo. But, dammit, I’m too short to be Swedish.
5. Obsidian toast: Please discuss.
It’s what the client in the previous answer had for breakfast.
6. “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things…”
“Raindrops on roses” (3 out of 5 stars) – yes, but I read on Yelp you should keep them away from those lilies that give dogs and cats and people like me a splitting headache.
“…whiskers on kittens” (1 out of 5 stars /5 out of 5 stars) – let’s get something straight. Can something you hate also be your favorite? I have nothing against cats, but I know they don’t like me or anyone much. That’s pretty much their deal.
“Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens” (2 out of 5 stars) – I don’t like the way this is going, not at all. Is this entrapment? I love a warm beverage on an October day as much as the next person. But the mittens threw me. You’re being too nice. I don’t trust you, man.
“Brown paper packages tied up with strings” (0 out of 5 stars) – First the mittens, now strange boxes. Did you see that movie “Seven”? Don’t tell me you didn’t. I know you did. Are you trying to get rid of your collection of Gwyneth Paltrow vagina-scented candles? Opening the box and seeing my own head would be better.
William Lessard’s work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Fence, and The Southwest Review. His chapbook, instrument for distributed empathy monetization, was published by KERNPUNKT Press. He is Poetry and Hybrids editor at Heavy Feather Review. Read more of his work at: www.williamlessardwrites.net.
Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, Rain Taxi, The Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, and others. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana, was published by Stalking Horse Press. Forthcoming are a novel, Twilight of the Gods, and a story collection, Cartoons for the End of the World. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.kurtbaumeister.com.