February 12 2009
Confession. Right up front.
This date is on the bottom of a can of V-8 that has been living in my refrigerator since, oh, I don’t know, November 2008 perhaps. I don’t dislike V-8, but I am not a regular drinker of the juice – as might be obvious.
I must hasten to add, as the guilty often say when they feel more accusations are about to be piled on them, that the can has been moved around in the refrigerator like a troublesome tenant: back of the top shelf, highest rack on the door, down to the bottom right drawer (surely the biggest island of neglect overall), back to a rack in the door, and so on. It was most likely moved when I cleaned – and I clean refrigerators Solomon Grundy-style. I suppose I should also confess that I don’t like cleaning refrigerators for the usual boring reasons. In fact, I have become rather skilled in getting the job done quickly by using liners and baskets and bins. But I digress. The guilty say that, too.
Today I am throwing out the V-8. I’m positive that it’s not a souvenir from a great event. Therefore it’s time to give it the old heave-ho. And I am not going to open it first, because the smell of food that has been overcome by being inside a can too long is not a smell that one ever intentionally seeks.
As usual, I see something here about writing. Sometimes what we write is very much hooked to the times, but a few years out, the detail will have lost its punch.
The first truly dramatic Mohawk haircut I saw on a woman impressed me greatly. It was about 8 inches of spike, black as shoe polish, and it provided a fine balance for her piercings and tattoos. I’m sure you are reading this with a “hohum yeah the blood pressure is going nowhere yet” sigh. And so it should be. But this woman appeared in the mid-1980s in the local cafes and ordinary places in Iowa. Remember the first time you saw someone decked out this way!! It was news!
I used this woman in a young adult novel, which I drafted in that period, then ignored for a decade, then revived, and eventually published. By the time it hit the streets, the readers no doubt thought the character was just about as weird as you find her today.
So: the lesson is obvious, isn’t it. The next time I look through my old pasteboard box of writings from whenever ago, I’m going to take a good whiff and slap an expiration date on each one. Some bits may deserve salvaging, but if they flunk the Mohawk ho-hum test, they’re history.