Wit by Eric G. Wilson
You find your wife’s profile on a singles site you just joined. Her best feature, you learn, is her back, and she prefers nonsmokers (you are a nonsmoker) but would tolerate those who do. You think, I will take up cigarettes and pull-ups. Then, Not until she posts a sexy picture. Finally, This comedy is Romantic or Black. I didn’t dupe her with a fake profile into a virtual affair. Though it would have been drôle. Not to mention grist for my future divorce attorney. Maybe more custody. Our daughter is thirteen. Because of her, I buried my suicide plan. Rupert Holmes, who wrote “The Pina Colada Song,” lost his daughter to a brain tumor. She was ten. He recorded his hit, also called “Escape,” seven years before. A bored husband answers a personal seeking a man who likes the coconut cocktail. The seeker, turns out, is his wife, equally bored. The song’s Romcom conclusion: We have more in common than we thought, let’s fuck tonight in the dunes of the cape. The drink tasted like Kaopectate to Holmes. I vomit in the middle of the night. The cause is Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. That’s gross, people say. Instead of, You poor soul. I forwarded my wife an article on this condition. She said, What do you expect, being so depressed? Other studies sent: men struggle to share emotion, men for well-being require regular sex, suicide more common in men. It’s sad, she observed, how you identify with what you lack. Once after a lecture I delivered on melancholy a man said, I believe at birth God scoops a hole from our soul. Bob Dylan recorded “My Bucket’s Got a Hole In it.” He looks into the sea and sees “the crabs and the fishes / doin’ the be-bop-bee.” Rolling Stone compared the young Holmes to Dylan. Both were artists of originality to whom one should be alert. Hole, Courtney Love’s band, covered Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” If I knew my child would live with me half the time, I would divorce my wife tout de suite. Wouldn’t you fear loneliness? No, I would be the empty-handed painter drawing crazy patterns, and pale, waifish, nipple-pierced women, also supple and ironic, would be into me. When does edgy, erratic verve, Hamlet-esque, turn unsexy? Before you say a word. Words, words. Hamlet claimed there is nothing outside of pompous Polonius than he would willingly part with, “except my life, except my life, except my life.” My last girlfriend before I got married believed Hamlet is punning. Accept. She was ruddy, big-hipped, areolas clean of sterling. I saw her older on Facebook. Don’t think about bullets dodged or the shotgun I’ve hidden behind the basement boiler and what a mess it would make of my head. Hamlet’s poor jester Yorick, whose skull he lifted, was full-on Keaton, knock-about-wise. Why else would the Prince, sick of pratfalls, turn fanatic for the pun, the most virtual of comedies? Gravity grounds Buster, but the pun hovers forever above this and that, that and this. One afternoon in the White Cube Gallery, my daughter and I bonded over the death-head of Hirst, bejeweled as Jezebel. My comedy, a pun, is Black, a limbo between the child who holds me above ground and the wife who harries me into it. She has just posted a picture on the site. It is more maternal than erotic. Smoke: you can’t breathe it but it is still spirit. I have massaged her back many times. I always think, We will have sex. She, I have borne him a thousand times.
Eric G. Wilson has poetry published in decomP and fiction in The Collagist and Cafe Irreal. His essays have appeared in The Georgia Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Oxford American, and Salon. He is the author of several books of creative nonfiction, including Against Happiness (FSG), and he teaches at Wake Forest University.