Five New Ideas - Part Five, JENNIFER KIETZMAN

It Was Like My Vagina

It was like my vagina had a pulse or something one of those Tales from the Crypt in which you realize your body is an incubator and that thrumming an aberrant pulse an engine that won’t quite turn over. I am certain the waterbug is dead. Select career pants and jackets. Either way you lose.

The storm approaches quickly. She will not go quietly. The picture is Braden tramping to the final rock of the island, set against water and sky. She writes too.

I don’t know what high road I thought I was taking in sitting next to him but he smelled BAD. In a compound sort of way. But in the end it was the scratching that got to me. The women in the back spoke of pleasant things to be encountered in Mankato, MN. But Mankato doesn’t have everything. It is true however that not far from there is where Jay Hormel redefined what it means to be meat. The baby was born. Does wine make my teeth red? Must everything have a romantic subplot?

The emptiness has to go somewhere. Who decides who gets the armrest? My seatmate in Navy plaid, that’s who. He expels air like tomato soup at a lazy boil. Through the clouds (less a thing than a happening at that height) the cemeteries look like circuit boards.

A guy at the cobbler’s told a small girl he wished he was her age and had it to do all over again. What for? I handed my shoes over. He remembered the trolley that ran from Carroll Gardens to Park Circle and one that ran from there out to Coney Island. His buddy walked in and demonstrated the basic steps of the Argentine Cross which ended by the door with a little waggle of the hips. He put his hands on my face (they felt like cold toast) and invited me to a Knights of Columbus dance.

Eight New Ideas

Prince Charles with that worried long red horseface has been named the world’s best dressed man. He said that sounds like something I would do. He said run your fingers all around me. Wouldn’t you? Is it possible that a building that big could just come right up on me like that? Its crown (cruciform groin vault) clad in silver Enduro KA-2 a metal developed in Germany by Krupp looks like a chestnut blossom (ice cream cone). Be it ever so humble. Ordered dust covers. Day wasted. Over the hours that are ours the others are like sedatives.

And now I am tempted by a top.

Catherine Kietzman brought in the most scrap metal and rubber during war drives. Favoring tax reform makes you a Communist. Everyone can stand to hear the poor cry. God didn’t do for you, Donna Paine. Catherine Kietzman did. The Post Office makes you a Fascist. We speak different languages but there is only one line. Though most patrons will not physically attack a cutter-in-line no words are spared. An old lady refused to let a man “simply” slide an envelope through the window without waiting in line. I admired her. If he tried that shit on me I’d tell him he had to get permission from everyone else in line before I’d even think about it. And when he slid it in anyway I kicked him in the balls.

The shirtless homeless guy on the train who already had three seats to himself jabbed at a woman standing near him and said you’re not moving. Apparently he needed more leg room. He was exposing our weakness to show us some kind of essential truth about ourselves (that we don’t always like to move) while demonstrating a juvenile tendency to take things TOO FAR.

The Indian tennis player (ranked 130th in the world) is moderately hot, yes? He has no fat on his body. But can he do the Lindy Hop?

My Great Uncle Phillip and Martin Kippenberger were fat jaundiced men with little heads and bad livers. Phillip taught mother everything she knows about packing and he wept uncontrollably at goodbyes. Anne’s dream in which I dissed her with a look that said don’t bother me now I’ve got problems made me think about how I consider myself a good listener. I get off the train and tell him I just got off the train he says he knows it he’s at the Chinese so I turn back.

There’s nothing wrong with Ellen her mother says she just loves too much meaning there’s a lot wrong with Ellen. We pull out the foot bath to see what good it might do.

The cluster of ants was so thick it turned the corner of the towel black. As I approached it slowly broom at the ready the economy size waterbug became bigger still until the cat snapped it up in her jaws and ran upstairs. And when you see Anita Bryant hand Ronald Reagan an orange you think about your childhood. Bud sent holly from South Jersey at Christmas and Ruthellen and Larry oranges and grapefruit from Florida. The only time you had lobster Mr. Cederstrom brought it down from Maine. I saw my first crocuses in Park Slope and smelled the hyancinths. I get excited just thinking about magnolias. Out of nowhere I smelled ashtrays and was reminded of home. Like bundt cake. The correct term is bald-faced and refers to a face without whiskers. Beards were commonly worn by businessmen as a way to mask facial expressions when making deals.


I’d gone into the kitchen to see how the sweet potatoes were doing and was thinking about what Anne said to Tom: “I know I love you.” In the end (which end?) we’re all human (really?) no matter how famous we (who?) are. A mourning dove was watching me from the window ledge. Much curiosity. Jason joined us. He suggested we give it some bread. I said no, there wouldn’t be enough for our dinner. He said I was being selfish.

More interesting to me than the general fact of homosexual activity amongst bonobos is that the low-ranking female bonobos “advertise” the sex act more loudly when invited to have sex with high-ranking bonobos. Other than other reasons for having sex (reduce stress and competition, develop affiliations, express and test social relationships, reconciling conflicts and consoling victims in distress) their impulse is to fuck up the social order. And if you really let yourself get inside that thought, coupled with how little we know of what they know, it changes everything.

The minister who was leading Jason’s sister Sharon’s retreat invited us to write encouraging words to her. Jason wrote about a time when he was nine and Sharon was 16 and she had just gotten her license and drove him to South Street in Philadelphia. He saw a homeless guy who said, “Hey, what are you doin’?” They went into a hippie shop run by a guy in tights so tight you could see his balls. Pink Floyd was playing. Jason said it was the first time he’d realized there were new experiences. The main thing (at least in our minds) was to say nothing about God, or his “son.”

Did you like the sausages? He always asks about them when my thoughts have moved on to something else.

We rifled through a big box of family photos. Jason said of my father’s mother she’s got your chin. He’s right. She does. Here’s one of the block parties: men with ’70s sideburns and striped pants playing volleyball in the street. And here’s a gray-haired man in leisure pants and a blue short-sleeved sweater-top with white piping jumping up to spike the ball. It’s my father, fully airborne. A woman no one knows could only be the girl he was dating before he joined the Navy. We let it pass. Then Pop and his navy buddies sunning themselves in their underwear on the deck of a destroyer. It’s the gayest he gets. There’s a picture of me jumping up in a spread eagle (both feet off the ground). I am my father’s daughter.

In the winter you can hear the wind whipping across the lake from way off. There’s a cat walking across the snow like Jesus, probably looking for the limburger we threw out yesterday. Also a nuthatch, three deer and a woodpecker. We’re all hungry. Here, try some of this pound cake.

I put the bower birds here so I’ll always remember them. I don’t want the feeling to go away. But when someone says they couldn’t live without you, they could. Who can you trust? Only my cobbler can tell me “good zipper” and have me believe him. He said “nice boots,” and his toothless assistant came running.

At the laundromat a very small boy literally saunters past a small girl. They eye each other animalistically. So much for childhood. They were the same height but she had a bigger head.

If you’re ever looking for Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews in Borough Park, don’t bother. Stores are out of them. Nutty Chews are not the same. I say I need Goldenberg’s, but he doesn’t sell them. The Chinese don’t carry them either. Neither does Boris. Neither do the three Arabs. They all had Nutty Chews. Forget Duane Reade, they never have anything. There’s a store on 46th St. and 11th Ave. that never looks open but always is. It’s run by a funny British Hasidic woman. She says she used to have a big Goldenberg’s display until “the Jewish inspector” told her to take it down and only carry Nutty Chews. “You won’t find Goldenberg’s in any of the Jewish stores in the neighborhood.” So Goldenberg’s is treyf?

Purple martins are expected here around April 15th.

Stiff Breeze

Is it true that if it can’t be grown it’s got to be mined? In looking for an answer, I thought vaguely (the best I could do) about the origins of things. I decided it was true and sad. True things are sad because they’re finite, like plates under desserts. Somewhere off to the right, a man sang that the spot where he stood was empty. Ruth Gruber, who in 1932 was the youngest person (age 8) ever to earn a doctorate, said Alaska taught her to live inside time and that it was pointless to be restless.

I like a man in a suit. I let the image move around me. I admire him standing there—too hot in a suit to sit. He dabs at his sweat without expression. I don’t even mind a little double chin on a man in a suit. Then he walks away.

As if it’s not bad enough to be overslaughed (passed over for a promotion), which is from the Dutch overslaan, slaan meaning to strike, it has to sound like what’s done to cabbage to make it edible. Heavy linen and heavy metal are not the same things. As a means of differentiating, that adjective is useless.

The Dharma Bums

Heading west I peeked into an orange restaurant with curved white walls and saw a child on a grownup lap stabbing a drink with a straw. I was running the marathon in five mile chunks. Somewhat into the first chunk I got a second wind and ran as if running was what I do. Jason called to tell me he bought sweat suits at Kmart on his break. The idea was that wearing these would make us feel like we lived in a heated apartment.

Mom’s house is messier than ever. Sleeping arrangements are on a first come basis. You can’t get to any of the bedrooms. Mary Jo and Paul took the pull-out couch in grandmother’s old room, Katya the double blow-up bed in the living room and I, the last to commit, the twin blow-up in the dining room wedged between a drop leaf table and some cane chairs.

When I hear from Jason he’s scrubbing and re-curing the cast iron cookware. If only we’d win the lottery but what about looking for better jobs? Forget about velvet bed pillows. One day I hadn’t heard from him in a while which made me wonder in the middle of a dysfunctional family drama if he hadn’t called in sick and question why he wanted me to get the refill on painkillers. Before the movie ended I got a text: I bought pants, three pair at $20 each. What a relief! The pants were thick and had even thicker pocket linings. Later he said that Matt’s assessment of his movie treatments was correct, that what he’d written did resemble stuff two guys would shout out at a bar, that he needed to make you “care” about them.

This is what this hat does. I’m not wearing it wrong. It doesn’t go down any further. I’m tired of updates from friends though I’m sure they’ve written perfectly good books.

P.S. My pie didn’t crack!