Saturday, May 29, 2010
The following excerpt from Mary Karr's memoir, Lit, describes her meeting David Foster Wallace at an AA meeting. (They went on to become lovers and David had a tattoo of a heart inscribed "Mary" (Footnote: David subsequently married to Karen Green had the tattoo footnoted, amending Mary to Karen)...
(MK is outside the meeting smoking a cigarette)
"The door opens a crack, and in the spilled, triangular glow, a tall kid wearing a red bandanna over his streaming brown hair slips out. He stops six feet away and bends slightly forward - almost a butler's bow - saying. Excuse me Miss Karr. Mind if I join you.
Who is he? With his formal demeanor and gold granny glasses, he could be a student - some Ivy League suck-up.
Join away, I say, adding as I flash my wedding ring, I 'm a Miz.
My goodness gracious, ma'am, he says those are some seriously blinding stones your flaunting. We met before...
And we had. David was a Harvard Ph.D. candidate in philosophy I'd once been introduced to at the back of a reading by mutual pals. Some kind of genius, David's meant to be, though his red bandanna is the flag of gangster or biker, ditto the unlaced Timberland work boots.
I ask him how long he's been coming, and he says not hardly anytime, and I say it's my first go, and he asks if I get it, and I say if I got it, I wouldn't be out here smoking. He says same with him, adding while he drank a lot, he mostly did marijuana which can't be so bad because it's natural.
I say - cleverly, I think - Strychnine's natural...
We stare at the canons in front of us, both agreeing we really both have better places to be as we grind our cigarettes with our boot heels. Climbing the steps back to the lighted doorway, he holds the door, bowing as he says from his scruffily bearded face (this is the pre-scruff U.S.A.), after you Miz Karr.
It brings me up short - his outlaw wardrobe paired with the obsequious ma'am thing - and I say testily, Are you fucking with me?
No ma'am he says, his hands flying to his T-shirted chest.