Lots of news in today’s paper about climate change making… most other concerns… then again, there’s the matter of death.
[Very long pause.]
Once upon a time, people could think, with some measure of justification, “So-and-so will live beyond me.” You know, if you had children, uh, “Generations to come will bear the name of Sassafras!” [Laughter.] Or whatever your name is.
I was reading about some big movie that Gloria Swanson was making in… France, and… how eighty reporters crammed into her hotel room to… you know… and then, later, we’re reading about the production, and how hard it was to get permits to film in various, uh, French historical sites, and, of course—oh! My screensaver just flashed on my bow tie. My bow tie, which I lost somewhere. There it is again! Mm. Screensaver’s favoring the bow tie.
It’s a clip-on bow tie, I won’t lie to you, from the 1950s. Uh… but I’ve lo—I lost it. I have no idea where it is.
It’s very much nicer than the other bow tie I have, which is [laughter] also an antique clip-on… [throat clearing]. I noticed—the Magic Castle, where I’m gonna go with Kate, my friend who’s a professional magician, when I get to Los Angeles… they’ve got a… a… uhm… I believe Kate used the word “draconian” to describe the dress code at the Magic Castle.
I’ve been to the Magic Castle once before, in the nineties. Uh, that’s a whole other story, involving an amount of tragedy! Or misfortune, at least.
But I noticed the dress code… you know, somehow I—sss—when did I stop talking about death?
What I was saying was—oh! The French… thing… the Gloria Swanson, uh, it’s very tough making a movie. Oh, we gotta get all the permits. Hey! Let’s sneak a few shots in the doorway of this… monumental… edifice. Uh… and then… and then… uhhrrrhh, a casual aside by the author, some pages later: “this film, which exists only as a handful of stills.”
What I’m saying is… is this what I’m saying? It used to be, at least, wuh—when you knew you were gonna die one day, that other, luh, that life will go on! Let’s put it as simply as that. Life will go on. Now we start to wonder… and of course, this was always the case! But who knew there was—you could look at your watch and… [short laugh] set a… set a… timer… to go off? [Laughter.] For the moment at which all life is extinguished.
As I speak… the room darkens. Just by coincidence, I assume.
Is it cloudy? I suppose it is. It… it is but noon here! Darkness at Noon. Where…? Well, I know there was a Rock*A*Teens album called Darkness at Noon, but I believe they got it from a historic plaque or something. No, no! That album was called Noon Under the Trees. What is Darkness at Noon? I’m gonna cheat… and…
[Computer keyboard clacking.]
See what Darkness at Noon is.
Darkness at Noon!
Oh, yes. It’s a novel.
“It is a tale of Rubashov, an Old Bolsh—Bolshevik, who is arrested… and…” Et cetera.
Anyway, forget Old… Old Rubashov, the Old Bolshevik.
Because… [stifled laugh] we’re having real darkness at noon right now, and that takes precedence.
So! I, I’ll, maybe I’ll buy an ascot! I’m gonna look on YouTube and see if ascots are difficult to, uh… att—attach is the wrong is the wrong word, but… to stuff… [laughter]. You know what? Maybe I don’t know the right verb for what happens when you put on an ascot. Drape? Uh, wind? Stuff? Arrange? Hmm.
I’ve had very few occasions in my life in which I’ve needed to wear a tie of any kind.
On one occasion, a little man, tiny little man… uh, I mean, I don’t know why I have to describe him that way, except that I remember him tying my bow tie… a rich… a rich man! A, buuhhhrhhh, a short rich man [laughter]… I don’t, uh, it only matters that he’s short because he had to stand up on some—it was just part of the experience of having my bow tie tied by him. He stood behind me, and, uh, firmly, may I say, and, and, not frighteningly, but, uh, with vigor and strength, uh, tied a bow tie, and, may I say, with extreme swiftness that was shocking. I mean a bow tie seems quite complicated, doesn’t it? But I figure as a rich person, he has had a reason to [laughter] wear a bow tie a lot more than I have, and, and, he, uhm… there was something alarming about the…
I’m not comparing him to a baby chimp! But once I worked with a baby chimp. Back in the nineties. Never mind why. It was on the rooftop of a… of a… an office building in downtown Los Angeles. And there was a baby chimpanzee, and they said, “Be careful! Because he’s a baby, but if he wanted to right now, he could break your neck. With his, with his hands.”
And similarly, uh, this rich man, this Brett Kavanaugh, this—I’m not saying he was anything like Brett Kavanaugh.
O—other than in his privilege. A life of a certain amount of privilege.
He certainly… with his strong, swift hands… uh… tightened that, uh, bow tie, and… in an amazing… I bet it was a world’s record. [Laughter.]
An ascot, for whatever difficulties it presents, seems like something even I could figure out how to wear. [Laughter.]
But I’ll soon see YouTube videos which may convince me otherwise.
Anyway [stifled laugh], the world’s gonna burn to a cinder.
This way please, for the next.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.