A Plastic Knife And Spork / 25 June 2001

Dear Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME),

Back in California, as you know, I spent most of my time acting like a screaming teen on TRL when the cameras are off. Total focus, total preparation, my mind locked inside a tiny, Plexiglas cube, waiting, slackjaw’d, senses irised tight, only allowing in a small red light. And I bet you already know the end to this story, Senator: They never turned the cameras on. And the corollary: Everyone else was waiting, too. So there we all were, numb and waiting, holding our signs, not making eye contact, knees bent and ready to jump, tightly coiled springs vibrating with potential energy … and nothing, nothing. No release. No one watching. No one pointing a finger and giving us the nod. Calves cramping, throats atrophying. You can imagine the corrosion, the snippiness.

Then I find myself, just this past weekend, I find myself in your fine state, a resident with one of your driver’s licenses that look amateurish and quaint, a laminated slip of paper like a student ID, and I’m out on the back porch cooking hot dogs on the grill. Beer’s involved. I’m wearing sneakers with no socks, sneakers that aren’t even tied. No funny apron. In the wintertime, the neighbors’ places are right up in my shit, but then spring comes and — you know how it is — everything blossoms and suddenly I’ve got a natural Wall of Life protecting me from their ever-present gaze. I’m rolling weiners with a spatula, thought-balloons of smoke drifting over freshly mown lawns, the charcoal with lighter fluid embedded right into it, and I realize I’m eating America with a plastic knife and spork, coughing up wide-awake dreams.

I am uncoiled and lax, an empty vessel, critically appraising advertisements, making mix tapes, playing an unplugged Korean-made Telecaster, honking at the kids playing basketball in the cul-de-sac, digging cat toys out from under the bureau, going commando, making ice, buying Scotch tape, skimming, shaving, squeezing.I am an American, Senator, no longer waiting for the small red light but instead waiting for your call to action.

J. Green Allen

Joshua Green Allen

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