Dear Reader: this is the title page of my book, which is called The Intimate of Journals of Jacob Higginbotham. That’s a bit redundant, I know, for is a journal not of necessity “intimate”? To be sure. For it is nothing less than a veritable etude in intimacy, or rather, a snuggly concerto for fife and drum. Or if you prefer, it is the laboratory where someone concocts intimacy late at night like a strange and volatile elixir. Which reminds me: I wrote my Intimate Journals mostly during the day. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps you know, Dear Reader. It’s not as though I disapprove of the night, or find its particular terrors in any way uncongenial; no, for I never once found anything in this life uncongenial, and Heaven forbid I ever should. It’s just that the night is sometimes, or rather, often, okay, let’s be honest here, almost invariably difficult to see in; and insofar as I am a poor typist and must still, even after all these years, search for the correct letter like a myopic archeologist rummaging amongst the jumble of cuneiforms, I have found it expedient to write my Intimate Journals during the daylight hours, when I stand at least a remote chance of finding my way back home, wherever that is. Also, I like the feeling of sunshine on my face or arm. What was I saying? Oh yes: and it may interest you to know, Dear Reader, that I wrote my Intimate Journals over the course of a certain year, namely 2007, though Lord only knows when they will be published, if ever, but perhaps that is of little consequence, Dear Reader, for you are here with me now, and that is all an Author could reasonably ask, do you not agree? Well then, here we go.
Dear Reader, I wish to report that I have just returned from the Post Office. And I barely made it back alive. It was quite harrowing, Dear Reader, and for a while there the outcome looked all but favorable. I would have to say I consider myself extremely lucky to have survived my ordeals, especially the one involving the sidewalk, yes, the sidewalk, which contrived to suck at my feet like a municipal Charybdis, or rather, like a small black hole, such that I was scarcely able to progress. Likewise, the sun beat down on my hatless head and effected to throb surprisingly behind my eyeballs. And that’s to say nothing of the general quivering and shivering and shaking and quaking of my skeletal edifice amongst the fibrous coils of ligaments etc., nor of the gasping for breath and the tears streaming down into the corners of my mouth, such that I found it necessary to spit and to wipe my face with the back of my hand, which soon became quite moist and watery therefrom. And the worst of it is––can you believe it?––no one came to my rescue. Or even momentary assistance. No, Dear Reader, I regret to report that our fellow human beings were pleased instead to avoid me as if I had been a sort of leprous prodigy or an apparition which might appall the devil. They seemed, in fact, quite prepared to endure the ignominy of appearing rude in public by transporting themselves as quickly as possible and without so much as a beg-your-pardon to the other side of the street, with the result that I soon had the whole sidewalk to myself, or rather, it had me all to itself, as I dragged my mortal frame long its non-arable geography, alone and undefended, trying not to fall into the gaping abysses that yawned there beneath the metatarsals of my consciousness. How mightily did I struggle, Dear Reader, alone and, as I say, undefended, against the powers that assailed me and sought my engulfment! How desperately, and yet with what astonishing will to live did I avail myself of the native strength of my lungs to keep my blood well-oxygenated despite the rapacious owl perched atop my ribcage, with its talons firmly planted in my cardiac muscle! Nor, finally, were the tears that exploded hotly from my tear ducts any match for my invincible shirt sleeves, which arose as of their own volition to blot the teary deluge long before it managed to overwhelm my beard and embarrass my bowtie. And even the mopey Leviathan that reared up from the depths of my throat as if demanding to be kissed by the blond woman crossing the street up ahead of me, even him did I vanquish, albeit only after a mortal struggle, in which I swallowed and swallowed like a Nipponese hotdog-eating champion, until I overpowered him, and with a vague burble he sank back into the catastrophic dark from whence he came, and I stumbled on, aiming myself more or less along the pitiless white curb––toward what? I could no longer have said. But I was on my way there, by Heaven, I was on my way there.
I am very fond of avocado on crispbread. ––How simple and elegant my prose is today! Isn’t it a wonderful thing, Dear Reader, how I manage to shift aesthetic gears without the slightest grinding lurch or burnt-clutch smell. Nor would I at all object to it being said of me that I make it look easy. For the writer too has his skills and techniques to which the layman, though he may feel their effects to the very quick of his trembling soul, is not privy. And is this not as it should be? How marvelously the Good Lord hath ordered human affairs; for if I could fathom to its mysterious depths the rich man’s art, whereby he remains rich, and if he could fathom my own, whereby I remain so magnificently poor, then how, pray tell, could the angels distinguish between us? The result would certainly be an awful mess. Where was I? Avocado. What a strange little thing an avocado is. It looks and tastes like a vegetable, and moreover behaves like one in most recipes, and yet, it grows, as is generally known, on trees. Which would tend to make it more of a fruitlike sort of thing. I find this rather remarkable. Grapes, for instance, grow on vines, and are in fact the vine’s very own fruit; but so do pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peas, beans, and tomatoes of all kinds. How to explain this. Perhaps it’s a question of sweetness? Apples and grapes are assuredly more sweet than squash, and yet, Dear Reader, have you not tasted with your very own implements of tasting the most sweetly delicate tomato in the world, such a one as would put all pears and pineapples to rout? I will say nothing of snow peas and sugar beets, nor, for that matter, of sweet potatoes. No, Dear Reader, I think we’ve said enough on this topic, and at this point can proceed to the question of crispbread: is it bread or more properly a cracker? By the way, it would never in a bazillion years have occurred to me to smear avocado on crispbread had this delectable invention not been revealed to me by my very own True Love one evening as we sat at the little table in the little kitchen of my (yes, also) little apartment. She laughed disdainfully (a sound I had never heard before from her) and said (I quote) “I don‘t need this.” And I would certainly have to have been no less than a first-class lout not to have responded in kind, which I did to the effect of “My darling, don’t you love me any more?” And what an exquisite pleasure it was then to watch her sweet, milky fingers remove the slab of crispbread from the paper wrapping and place it on her plate, which in point of fact was my plate, but that merely as an aside. And O how delightful was the manner in which she scooped out a buttery portion of avocado from the black warty avocado skin and spread it on the crispbread as if this were the most natural thing in the world to do, and smushed it gently down with the tines of her fork. And am I perhaps mistaken if I openly declare how I did thrill inwardly to this fork-effected smushing, as if it had been my very own heart expelling its delicate, flavorful juice under the firm caress of cutlery? No, indeed. And yet, there’s more: for no sooner had my True Love brought about and achieved and accomplished this most excellent smushing, than she proceeded to add a sprinkling of Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Pepper over the whole surface, and then, Dear Reader, (dare I utter it?) then she lifted the entire edifice like a boat full of sea-sick refugees with little black frightened eyes toward the gaping chasm of her girlish little mouth, into which she then inserted a corner that could easily be bitten off. I was not sure I’d be able to finish that sentence, but I did. While my True Love is chewing contentedly on the smushed remains of my heart, I wish to take it easy for a moment, and to convey, in a somewhat lazy and shambling style, the following items: It is a fact, Dear Reader, that sometimes for breakfast I would serve my True Love lachs with cream-cheese on crispbread. We ate a lot of crispbread that year, my True Love and I, in that little kitchen whose walls I had painted a color called “Sage” and decorated with strings of little white Christmas lights and pictures of us on the fridge, and it is by no means my intention to deny that I purchased groceries that year always with her in mind, Dear Reader, can you doubt it? Of course not! And therefore I will absolutely insist that I bought crispbread and I bought avocadoes and I bought minced sun-dried tomatoes in a tall, skinny jar, and I bought organic dark espresso-flavored chocolate, and that’s not the least of it, Dear Reader, for I purchased and thereby acquired and thereafter brought home many other delicious comestibles as well, because it seemed to me, Dear Reader, it seemed to me at the time that a man should of course do these things for his True Love, assuming it were at all in his power, which fortunately at that time it was, and being the type of person who always does whatever he believes he should, I did so, and I put food before her on the little table, and when she wasn’t eating but crying, why then I furnished forth the Kleenex.