Guided Tour through a Tour Guide

24 Jul

This is an excerpt of a FICTIONAL memoir from the first chapter of an inexplicably unpublished novel.

Crime Scene

American women who are famous for being famous are labeled either bimbo or bitch—except for boring, boring (and did I mention boring?) me. The public has long since made up its tiny mind. I’ve been misunderstood and misrepresented. I’ve been formatted to fit your screen and edited for content.

There are two kinds of people, and I am so sick of being called the wrong kind. Ordinary/extraordinary sums it up, but too nebulously for my liking. I prefer not to leave these matters open to misinterpretation. Specifically, then, there are tourists, and then there are the toured. Tour guide might seem like a third category, but you’re still on the wrong side of the gates with the star maps and the cameras and the ordinary ones. I’m not saying that being a tour guide was a bad way to pass forty waking hours a week. I got paid to be followed around respectfully, and I quite like the sound of my own voice when I really know what I’m talking about. Tour guide wasn’t my dream job—my dream is never to have to have a real job again—but I was good at it. Really. Don’t believe everything you hear, unless you’re hearing it from me. Okay, yes, some tour guides eschew lectures for something you could almost call conversation, but we all have our own styles. It would just have been phony of me, wouldn’t it, to behave as if those people actually mattered to me, when everybody knew we had no reason to expect ever to see each other again. And really now, how can you even think of being genuinely friendly with someone who’s paying for it?

Of course I noticed the St. Germaines, but they didn’t stand out from the Stonesthrow Tour herd anything like as much as you could see they thought they did. And that, in a nutshell, is what I was prepared to swear to under oath in the matter of the late Russell and the lately superfamous Andrea. Like everybody else, I know quite a lot about them now: how they had business, ordinary boring money stuff, here in town; how they stayed on a few days to make a second (and final) honeymoon of it; how he was killed with a cleaver or something enough like a cleaver to make no difference to Mr. St. Germaine.

They admitted, the experts, that they weren’t absolutely certain it was a cleaver, but did they ever change it up a little, throw in a “blade” here, a “hatchet” there? No, it was always, throughout that long, long trial, if not a cleaver, “a cleaver-like object,” “an implement such as a cleaver,” “the cleaver or quasi-cleaver.” Quasi-cleaver? Why didn’t that become the joke? Why did it have to be me?

For awhile there, I even found myself having to switch, after half an hour of Law, to another channel for the duration of Order. Look, the whole point of all the law schooling and billable hours that go into a trial is that you aren’t going to be allowed just to be yourself. You can’t go by how I seemed in that witness box. It was like when I took a little Italian in college: I couldn’t help but give a false impression when I was only able to talk about food and transportation and soccer. I couldn’t swear. I lacked the vocabulary to make devastating word choices. Inevitably, what I did say came out sounding nice and simpleminded, even though in English-speaking reality I am neither. At least in Italian class, millions had not been hanging on my every parola. Not that people hang on my every English word either. They only like to hear the one sentence over and over and over. “At no time did I perceive a cleaver.” It’s not just a punchline anymore, it’s a catchphrase. Fucking cleavers. I couldn’t watch Leave It to Beaver now if I wanted to. It isn’t just a catchphrase, it’s a guarantee that no one will ever take me seriously.

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