selected shorts

My Ability To Turn Off Whatever It Is That Causes Human Bodies To Reflect Visible Light

"I'm a quirky dresser. I'm absolutely fearless about what it is that I believe in. My shirts are incognizant and my socks: you must be completely unaware of my socks. That's, like, my approach to socks. 

Chris Farley in a film still from Tommy Boy, 1995. From IMDB.

Chris Farley in a film still from Tommy Boy, 1995. From IMDB.

My pants can be wily or even dishonest on some days* if I just get up and feel that, but I have to feel it. When I wear a tie--and believe me, sometimes I really wear a tie, it can be porcine, straight-laced, odious. I have a certain little boy quality. But there's also that big, fat, sweaty guy thing in there, too."

 

Gannon, Frank. "I Know What I'm Doing About All The Attention I'm Getting" read on Selected Shorts by David Sedaris, 2013. First published in Yo, Poe (New York: Viking, 1987) and was reprinted in Sedaris' collection of short stories, Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005).

 

The least cliched ways of talking about one's clothing choices, and a commentary on personality building through dress, the narcissism that ironically comes from being a bad dresser. I think something about the syntax of these sentences is perfect, semi-colloquial and just a bit off:

"It will be me putting on the pants, it will be me pulling up the socks. I know how to do this, I've been at it for quite a while. I dressed myself for a long time before anyone was paying attention, and I'll dress myself a long time after everyone's paying attention to the way someone else dresses themself. I know how these things go."

You must, must listen to the whole story, it's a "short short."

 

*or Sundays? I can't tell from Sedaris' reading. I like Sundays better.

With the Stuffing Out

"She was a giant of a woman, her face was set not only to meet opposition, but to seek it out. The downward tilt of her large lower lip was like a warning sign: "don't tamper with me." Her bulging figure was encased in a green crape dress and her feet overflowed in red shoes. She had on a hideous hat. A purple velvet flap came down on one side of it, and stood up on the other. The rest of it was green and looked like a cushion with the stuffing out. She carried a mammoth red pocketbook that bulged throughout as if it were stuffed with rocks.

Vintage photo with attitude (and hats) from the wonderful  Wildfell Hall .

Vintage photo with attitude (and hats) from the wonderful Wildfell Hall.

To Julian's disappointment the little boy climbed up on the empty seat beside his mother. His mother lumped all children, black and white, into the common category "cute," and she thought little Negroes were on the whole cuter than little white children. She smiled at the little boy as he climbed on the seat. Meanwhile, the woman was bearing down on the empty seat beside Julian. To his annoyance, she squeezed herself into it. He saw his mother's face change as the woman settled herself next to him, and he realized with satisfaction that this was more objectionable to her than it was to him. Her face seemed almost grey, and there was a look of dull recognition in her eyes, as if she suddenly had sickened at some awful confrontation. Julian saw it was because she and the woman had, in a sense, swapped sons, though his mother would not recognize the symbolic significance of this. She would feel it. His amusement showed plainly on his face.

The woman next to him muttered something unintelligible to herself. He was conscious of a kind of bristling next to him, a muted growling, like that of an angry cat. He could not see anything but the red pocketbook upright on the bulging green thighs. He visualized the woman as she had stood waiting for her tokens, the ponderous figure rising from the red shoes upward over the solid hips, the mammoth bosom, the haughty face, to the green-and-purple hat. His eyes widened. The vision of the two hats, identical, broke upon him with the radiance of brilliant sunrise."

 

O'Connor, Flannery. "Everything That Rises Must Converge" from Everything that Rises Must Converge. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1965.

 

Read the story or listen to it on Selected Shorts to get in on the joke! Beautiful use of clothing in fiction, underlining the plot and punctuating the moral, that exclamation point of a hat.