I get my cell phone back, call Big Dave, and head off through the airport to passenger pick-up…It’s crowded, though to say that and mean it would be to go out on a limb because crowds can be relative to types of places and times and some places are always crowded whereas others are not and the airport is one of those places that is always crowded, but is that even true? Every night, especially in the wee hours, there’s almost no one there.
Crowded is a crowded municipal train at five pm when people are packed in like sardines, sardines which also I suppose in a can are crowded, but dead, which prompts the question: is crowded a live condition or can a whole crowd be dead – and I mean literally dead not just passive – and still be a crowd? A dead crowd certainly does not feel crowded so to the extent that one needs to feel to be crowded one cannot be dead and be crowded and thus by extension one cannot have a dead crowd.
So, sardines are not crowded. But that’s also not what people have been claiming about them all these years; people have been claiming that they’re packed in; but there’s a relationship between being packed in and being crowded: people, because they are alive, can be packed in and crowded; but sardines, because they are dead, can only be packed in. Though I bet there’s someone out there willing to use crowded in the inanimate sense. She might for instance say, Those words look crowded on that page, please double-space. But are words really inanimate? Are words like dead sardines? Or can words, unlike sardines, successfully be crowded, in the animate sense?
So let me back up. There are enough people in the airport today to make me uncomfortable, but then I have sociophobia so any number of people makes me uncomfortable. If I also had xenophobia claustrophobia agoraphobia and acrophobia I wouldn’t even be at the airport right now, but since I only have sociophobia I just want people to get off of me; that’s all I ask, Just get off of me.
Like parasites or leeches or ticks they get under your skin by talking; talking is their method of penetration; they stand in front of your face and talk until you listen then they look at you and you have to answer you have to say something and as soon as you do they’re in you you’re engaged and you can’t shake free of them, ever; they’ve deposited a seed a germ a contaminant of themselves inside of you that you will carry around with you forever until you die and you will pass the disease of that person on to others you meet even to your own family until everyone has the disease of everyone else in them and we’re all sick.
“Hop in, Bitch!” Big Dave calls through the passenger side window of the Outback.
I get in. Despite the cold, Big Dave is in shorts and a Hawaiian beach shirt.
“Dude, what happened?” he says, staring at my face, his mouth hanging open a bit.
“I was detained.”
“Detained? For what?”
“Being drunk on the plane.”
“Awesome,” Dave chortles then adds, more thoughtfully, “It is so weird how, how unassuming you are, and yet you are always getting into so much trouble.”
“Yeah, it is weird.” I have to agree.
“But so no fine, no court date, jail time?”
“No, no, nothing, thank fucking god. But it could’ve been terrible…I mean…I think the punishment for something like that is fucking…but then they just up and let me go. I don’t know why…. something about Terminal C. I don’t know.”
“Wow.” Dave pulls back out into traffic, concentration on my recent escapades obviating his need to drive like an idiot for the moment. “Auspicious commencement to your vacation, to say the least though, fuck, huh?”
“A powerfully distinctive voice.” ~Michael Schmidt, author of The Novel: A Biography
“I read Guest’s work like I read Lyn Hejinian’s – with amazement at the logic and connections made.” ~EK Reeder, author of Ramshackle and Fremont
“Winter Park is a fine, considered, original piece of creative work…I enjoyed it hugely.” ~Toby Litt, author of Corpsing