A Stranger At The Bar
There is a stranger at the bar.
"Who's that guy?"
"Dunno; never seen 'im before."
The regulars feel irregular. The stranger disrupts the bar's
regularity and signifies the possibility of a world with shifting
foundations. The stranger orders a double whiskey. The bartender
brings the drink; the regulars are confused.
"Did he just say…?"
"Yeah. What the hell?"
The Stranger At The Bar Again
The stranger is at the bar again. He is less strange as
his continuity begins to instill a sense of predictability. He
drinks whiskey and listens to the regulars argue.
"You gotta be fuckin' kiddin' me."
"You just nothin'. What kinda damn fool wish is that? He can't
catch 'im. Don't you understand that he can't catch 'im, that the
whole fuckin' thing is shot if he catches 'im?"
"I just... well, I just feel sorry for 'im, that's all."
"You gotta be fuckin' kiddin' me. Sorry? You feel sorry for 'im?
What the hell are you talkin' about? The whole damn thing flew
right over yer head. See, you think it's just a cartoon; that's
where yer fucked up. Listen. What's he sposed to do when he
catches 'im? Think it through, man. If he catches 'im, there's not
fuck all left to do. It's not about catchin' 'im. It's about
chasin' 'im. Get it? Say the Road Runner's Truth or Beauty or Life
or whateverthefuck. That's the kinda shit people chase. Do they
ever catch 'em?... I said…"
"Fuckin' A -- no they never catch 'em. They chase 'em. And Wile E.
fuckin' Coyote is the most extreme example of these pursuits.
See? I can't believe you thought it was just some stupid
"Check this out. Wile E. is a demolitions expert, a seismological
field tester, a trapeze artist, a granite painter, a blueprint
designer/drafter, a boulder catcher, a pilot, a ballistics
expert, a robotics engineer, a catapult loader/launcher, a brick
mason, an anvil thrower, a harpoon gunner, and a bunch of other
shit. He never quits. Do you think he gives a damn if some sap
like you feels sorry for 'im? Fuck no, he doesn't, cuz that's not
what he's about. And it's not about catchin' 'im. It's about
tenacity. The whole damn cartoon is about tenacity. Ya got me?"
The Stranger At The Bar Yet Again
The stranger is at the bar again. He blurs the
distinction between strange and regular, as his relation to the
others is such that this opposition begins to break down and lose
its denotative sense. He drinks and listens.
"Hey I was thinkin' 'bout yesterday, and I know that I was castin'
the Carnivorous Vulgaris in a certain light, and I'm not takin' any
of that back, but--listen up--another way to see the whole thing
is that the Road Runner is The Earth and Wile E. and all his Acme
contraptions are the relentless attempts of Science and Technology
to unveil The Earth's secrets. Now I understand that yesterday
The Coyote was the good guy and today he's the bad guy, but the
cartoon can't be held to one interpretation. You gotta be able
to live with these contradictions. Have you read your Keats?
Whatever, yer feelin' sorry for Wile E. is still ridiculous."
The Stranger At The Bar Once Again
The stranger is at the bar again. He is barely worth
mentioning, yet he remains an oddity. "Stragular" is an
interesting neologism. The regulars assume their regularity.
"I'd say when Snoopy flies his Sopwith Camel."
"Are you fuckin' serious?"
"Yeah. It was a century filled with horrible wars, so Snoopy
flying his Sopwith Camel is the cartoon moment that best
represents the last century."
"Road-Runnerus Digestus, Eatibus Anythingus, Famishius
Fantasticus, Eternalii Famishiis, Caninus Nervous Rex, Wile E.
Fuckin' Coyote a.k.a. Ralph Wolf…"
"Just go, man."
"Awright, awright. When Wile E. is standin' on one of those cliff
overhangs, y'know? And the overhang snaps off and falls. Right fuckin'
there, man. The lip of the cliff falls. Wile E. hangs there. And
it's the look on his face. That's the look on the 20th century's
face. It's like the foundation is gone but
we still live in this paradigm of Newtonian physics and everyone
has got that look on their face. And it's like all there is to do
is fall and fall and fall until that--damn. I remember when I was
a little kid the first time I saw The Coyote fallin' like that and
the sick feelin' just waitin' and waitin' and then--that little
ring a smoke. I winced then. I wince now. It's right there, man."
"Snoopy, my ass."
"I gotta go."
"Awright. I'll see ya in a couple days. Merry Christmas."
The Stranger Is Not At The Bar
The stranger is absent. His stool is empty. The regulars
discuss an irregular coincidence.
"No shit! Me too!"
"No, really! The kids were cryin'. My wife was cryin'. The whole
thing was a goddamn mess."
"Yeah. I mean, where could they go? The kids go to bed. We put
'em out. Wake up in the morning --ho ho ho--gone."
"I'll be damned."
"Someone must a hit the whole damn town."
The regulars drink, look in the mirror and think.
"What kind a person would steal all the presence?"
Jon Sponaas is an ironworker. He lives in Lansing, Michigan
with his girlfriend, Jenna, and his son, Jaydn.
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