Article: 288573 of talk.bizarre
From: (Sweth Chandramouli)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: fiction, fiction, everywhere...
Date: Sun, 01 Dec 1996 03:58:03 -0500
Organization: Clark Internet Services, Inc.
Lines: 116
Message-ID: <>
Keywords: unintentionally intentional metafiction
X-Repost-Disclaimer: i sent this out four days ago, but the mail->news gateways still hate me.
X-FTSD-Apology: failing to fail to suck despite my best efforts. (see below)

   (and not a drop to drink.)

   just a little heads up: there's nothing of import here.  
   or at least, nothing that couldn't be fixed by turning it into a story.

            *     *     *

   sometime during the summer of 1995, i decided i was going to Do  
My Part for ftsd '95: fail to suck in a most magnificent manner, not just
on ftsd, but also in the months before then, with that final ftsd post
putting my total number of contributions to t.b at at whopping 25.  as
with most such endeavors of mine, it fell a little short of the mark;
while my ftsd post itself might have failed to suck, i can't say that all
of the ones before it did.  and i only got to 23 by the time december
rolled around, to boot.
   as a good friend once pointed out, i have a tendency to
"fictionalize" certain aspects of my life.  sure, it makes for a good
story, but sometimes important details get lost in the translation; case
in point: for the last four or five months, i've been very convinced
that that last ftsd post of mine was #24, and that, for a variety of
reasons, i hadn't posted anything since then.
   so when, a few weeks ago, i felt that little scritching at the
back of my neck, and decided i was going to start writing again, i didn't.
i wasn't going to waste that 25th post on just any old tale.  no, the only
way to make amends would be to wait until ftsd rolled back around, and
fulfill my little pledge, one year too late.
   that wasn't enough, though; after all, i couldn't just reappear
after a year's hiatus that had probably never even been noticed, with no
explanation whatsoever.  and i still owed two people stories from
months ago, that i had never gotten around to posting.  so, i decided, i'd
have to put a spin on the event--that 25th post would have to tell the
story of that intervening year. 
   silence, it seems, never suffices; everything needs a story.

   earlier this evening, my father came to town on business, and took
me out to dinner.  i had been sick since sunday, and wasn't terribly eager
to join in the sort of decadent feasting that he seems to thrive on, so i
recommended one of the lighter chinese places in town.
   over vegetable spring rolls, we discussed the new car my dad was
getting.  golden mushroom soup accompanied talk of my brother's upcoming
wedding.  by now, i was stuffed to the point of queasiness; i was just
reaching for another cup of tea when my father said something about how my
uncle was doing in jail in india.

   as the dramatic paragraph break might have hinted, this came as
news to me.  since he had been on a business trip for the last few days, 
my father had, it turned out, assumed that my mother had already told me
the story: as part of a recent government investigation into corruption
and tax fraud, the top executives of many large companies in india had
been arrested.  my father's brother was formerly the chief financial
officer for one of these companies--a company the president of which had,
as soon as the investigation began, fled to dubhai, after claiming that
all of the blame rested with my uncle.  the authorities had taken my
uncle, a diabetic who can barely use his legs due to a childhood bout with
polio, in for questioning; after eighteen hours of interrogation without
food or water, he began to go into insulin shock, and was forced to sign a
confession before he was allowed to be taken to the police hospital.
   my father continued with the tale, describing how my cousin,
who to the best of my knowledge has never flown anywhere, including
when he went off to college on the other side of the country, flew back 
to visit his father, only to be denied access to him until the guards
were payed off.  how my aunt had had to bribe the police guards with
thousands of dollars worth of rupees just to make sure that my uncle, who
can't use a traditional indian "squat over a hole in the ground" toilet
because of his leg problems, would be allowed access to a modern commode.
and how, thankfully, the lawyers involved seemed to recognize what had
happened, so that a judge was expected to dismiss the charges and release
my uncle at an early december hearing.
   figuring that i might as well get all of the bad news at once, he
also slipped in there the facts that his younger sister had been forced to
file for bankruptcy after a bad land deal, and that she and her husband
had already sold and moved out of their house in walnut creek, ca.--the
same house in which i had spent my first six months in the u.s., after my
family had left vancouver, some twenty years ago.  and what was one more
little tidbit--my grandfather's recent hip surgery hadn't gone as well as
people had thought; never a terribly healthy man to begin with, he now was
going to have to go back in to have even more work done.  
   somewhere during the middle of all of this, just before the
actual meals arrived, i had a little revelation.  suddenly, as i sat and
listened, and made odd designs in the condiments that were pooled up on
the side of my plate, that queasiness i had been feeling was gone,
replaced by a churning, hungry emptiness.  i devoured a plate of kung pao
beef, said my goodbyes, and came home, where i turned on gorecki's 3rd
symphony, drank a few bloody marys, and stared at the ceiling for an hour
or two.

   finally, something went "click" in the back of my head, and i
began to move again. i went to my mac, and started browsing through my
saved mail and news files.  eventually, i found what i had been looking
for--my old posts to t.b.  that's when i discovered that i had made 23
posts, not 24.  that's also when i "discovered" that i had, in fact, made
three more posts since then, putting my total at 26--that i had, in the
interests of a good fiction, forgotten posts made as recently as last may.

   most days, i tell myself that i'm pretty happy to be such
a born storyteller.  after all, i know how to string words together, and
make them do what i want--it's been a while since i've lost an argument.
i can jump into character on cue, sliding between roles at will--there
aren't many places where i couldn't make myself feel at home, if i tried
hard enough.  i've got a great sense of pacing, and know how to work a
crowd--a veritable riot at cocktail parties.
   that's what i say most days.  as i was sitting there, though, 
listening to my father, as i cringed and seethed at the thought of 
everything that was going on, there was a nagging little voice in my
head--one that i couldn't quite pin down, until that moment right before
the main course arrived.  sitting, doodling absently on my plate in soy
sauce and hot mustard, i realized what it was saying: 
   "this is horrible... and it's going to make one hell of a story."

   belatedly returning,

<>  because sometimes chutzpah doesn't cut it.
<a href="">.</a> <>