I’m nervous to admit this (a strange thing to say for someone who in the 3rd grade farted while a fake volcano was erupting and hasn’t been embarrassed since), but I kinda wrote my very first epic poem because of a boy.
[ queue everyone’s eyes rolling so far back into their heads they’re at risk of going blind ]
Anyway, about six years ago I went on a cross-country roadtrip with one of my sisters involving stops that were super-touristy at times and super-random at others and — every rare once in a while — very disappointing (I’m looking at you, Roswell). It was a great trip that involved singing “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” at least once every 60-90 minutes, and listening to an old radio soap opera which my sister thought she’d downloaded 100 episodes of, but really it was the same ten episodes in ten different orders of play and now I’m a spokesperson for Duz.
For white-white washes,*Not actually a spokesperson of nor sponsored by Duz Laundry Detergent.
without red hands,
the swing is back to Duz!
Anyway, one of the best stops was Bedrock City, Arizona. A Flinstone-themed amusement park that — devastatingly — closed its doors forever last year. But six years ago, my sister and I were there in the off-season and it was empty so I could go full-Rosie without embarrassing my sister and … the proprietors-at-the-time made me some damn fine biscuits and gravy for breakfast.
It was when I was eating “this magnificent feast” that two guys walked into the place looking for breakfast, but not really the park. Laaaaame. Now, something you gotta know about me is that when I eat I am fully-invested in the act of enjoying Every Gosh-dang Bite. My family likes to kid that I unhinge my jaw like a snake when I’m eating in order to take monstrously huge bites.
Basically, I have a history of trying to eat like a cartoon character, and I just end up resembling Bill Murray in What About Bob? “Fay, is this corn hand-shucked?!” And when I eat biscuits and gravy, you know I’m gonna have to mop up every last drop of gravy and that when the biscuits run out I will take unladylike measures to let none of that sausage-n-dairy goodness go to waste.
However, I did not go full-Rosie and lick the plate clean like I wanted because my sister was there and she doesn’t recognize the human tongue as a built-in napkin like I do. So I was scraping the plate clean with my fork (she stopped me from asking for a spoon) and trying to tell her that was as far as I was willing to compromise the integrity of enjoying my breakfast.
So anyway, these two guys come in for breakfast while I am really testing the limits of how much I can actually enjoy my breakfast with my sister present and one of them asks, “What is it about biscuits and gravy that’s so good? Is it the biscuits or the gravy?”
“It’s a perfect marriage,” I remember saying, “You can’t have the one without the other. Biscuit is the vehicle by which gravy is able to travel into your face and the gravy gives the fluffiness of the biscuit something to cling to. But if you have to eat just one, it’s the gravy.”
[ scrapes plate to emphasise point ]
The two of them were cute, one was cuter (not saying which one). After breakfast, my sister and I took Every Picture Imaginable while the guys had their breakfast. Then, there was a “moment,” while my sister was shuffling things around in the back of her car, one of the guys (not saying which in terms of cuteness) had gone back to their car to grab something and slooowed his pace as he past me and made eye contact and smiled.
Another thing you gotta know about me, I’m much better at picking up signals now than I was at the time. It’s very likely there were no signals. It’s very likely his being cute and looking at me and the one who’d asked me a question about the food I was enjoying, all added up in my head to make this a “moment.”
Basically, I’m a romantic. And as such, once I’d gotten home to Providence I did something I’d never done before: I looked on the Missed Connections website (now, also gone) to see if he’d written to me.
But Bedrock City isn’t actually a city, and trying to get google to tell you what city it’s in and it just keeps saying Bedrock City is a little more than I could take. Searching by locale wasn’t going to happen. So I started hitting the button marked “Random” and reading Every Single Listing.
I was going full-Rosie on this. No listing would go unread. Not on my watch.
But there was no listing to me from him. And I didn’t want to write him one. Not after I read so many listings of people hoping for a response from their intended reader, and found myself thinking of everybody hitting “Random” or “Refresh” in hopes of coming upon a listing meant for them.
So I had the idea of writing something that would answer all the listings in search of someone and serve as a listing to all those who want to be sought. Something to connect us all and remind us that one “missed” connection is small potatoes next to the wealth of connection immediately available to us with just the click of a button.
I hit the “Random” button, read the listing, and used it as inspiration to write a single line of verse. I hit “Random” again, read another, and wrote a line of verse. And I kept on going, hitting the button additional times to avoid “answering” any one listing multiple times.
Each line was worked into a pantoum so that they didn’t all have to make sense with each other. Just the lines that came immediately before and after. One listing, one line, and one stanza at a time I wrote until I’d responded to 300 listings and — effectively — created 150 of my own with the 150 stanzas of Random Bearings.