Bubble Bath for Your Heart in a Tropical Storm

August 24, 2011

excerpt from Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues p. 49-50

Another try.  Suppose that upon a late evening with thirsty guests in your home your supply of beer runs dry.  You slip out and aim your car in the direction of the only store in the area open after midnight, a half-case of Budweiser your goal.  Well, a couple blocks from your house, the store not yet in view you are subjected suddenly to an intense sensation of being spied upon.  You scan for patrol cars but spot none.  And then you see it, in the sky (its altitude and size indeterminable due to lack of reference points), a whirling disc out-lined by concentric circles of white and green light witha  scattering of rapidly blinking purple lightpoints in its center.  It hovers — you are positive it is interested in you — beyond and above the hood of your car, whirling all the while, occasionally darting to the left or right with incredible speed.  Before you gain the presence of mind to decide whether to brake or accelerate, the outer rings of white and green are extinguished and the small purple lights arrange themselves in a recognizable pattern — a pattern of a duck’s foot — against the starless sky.  Seconds later, the whole craft disappears. You drive on to the store, of course, because there’s nothing else (for the moment) you can do.  A while later, stunned and excited, you arrive home with the beer (you forgot Rick’s cigarettes), where you are faced with the problem of what, if anything, to tell your friends.  Maybe the won’t believe you; they’ll insist you’re drunk or lying or worse.  Maybe they’ll blab too much; word will get to the press; you’ll be hounded by skeptics and nuts.  SHould you call the radio station to ascertain if anyone else saw what you saw?  Do you have a moral obligation to notify the nearest military installation?  The way you handle these questions, as well as how much thought you eventually devote to the meaning of the UFO’s visual message — why, you might wonder, a duck’s foot? — would be determined by your basic personality, and with all tender respect, that is of small concern to the author.  The significant query here is this:  would you not, sooner or later no matter who or what you are, feel a rise in spirit, a kind of wild-card joy as a result of your encounter?  And if this elevation, this joyousness, can be attributed in part to your contact with…Mystery… cannot it equally be attributed to your abrupt realization that there are superior forces “out there,” forces that for all their potential menace, nevertheless might, should they elect to intervene, represent salvation for a planet that seems stubbornly determined to perish?

Take now the clockworks.  Both the clockworks, the original and the Chink’s.  The clockworks, being genuine and not much to look at, don’t generate the drama of an Earth-tilt or a flying saucer, nor do they seem to offer any immediate panacea for humanity’s fifty-seven varieties of heartburn.  But suppose that you’re one of those persons who feels trapped, to some degree, trapped matrimonially, occupationally, educationally or geographically, or trapped in something larger than all those; trapped in a system, or what you might describe as in “increasingly deadening technocracy” or a “theater of paranoia and desperation” or something like that.  Now, if you are one of those persons (and the author doesn’t mean to imply that you are), wouldn’t the very knowledge that there are clockworks ticking away behind the wallpaper of civilization, unbeknownst to leaders, organizers and managers (the President included), wouldn’t that knowledge, suggesting as it does the possibility of unimaginable alternatives, wouldn’t that knowledge be a bubble bath for your heart?

Or is the author trying to ease you into something here, trying to manipulate you a little bit when he ought to be just telling his story the way a good author should?  Maybe that the case.  let’s drop it for now.

But look here a minute.  Over here.  Here’s a girl.  She’s a nice girl.  And she’s a pretty girl.  She looks a bit like the young Princess Grace, had the young Princess Grace been left out in the rain for a year.

What’s that you say?  Her thumbs?  Yes, aren’t they magnificent? The word for her thumbs has got to be rococo — rococococototo tutti! by God.

Ladies Gentlemen.  Shhh.  This is the way truth is.  You’ve got to let those strange hands touch you.

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