Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Tragedy Of The Food Writer

Every creative writing class on the face of the planet will teach you the two universally accepted tips to becoming an acclaimed writer: write what you know and suffer.

The first is rather self explanatory, prompting the young impressionable writer to scavenge his past in hopes of unearthing a personal anecdote worth half a motif. This very same anecdote will be mentioned to the writer's friends between cigarette drags and doing coke lines off of Bob Dylan records. However, the friends will inevitable dislike the tale, claiming that the preceding story hasn't awarded the writer the monotonous cliche at the climax of the plot. This type of negative feedback prompts the writer to take some acid, stare at a white wall, and think up a completely ludicrous story about a talking wildebeest. This is called fiction, and those same pretentious friends now love it. After being read aloud in class, the professor turns to the young writer and compliments him on, "Crafting a brilliant commentary on the forgotten dead of the equally forgotten Korean war. Also, the part about the chimney sweep was just sublime." The writer doesn't understand, but instead of raising objection, he just nods, basking in the all too fleeting glory, knowing very well, that in the morning the euphoric rush will be gone. The proverbial clock strikes midnight, and the writer reverts from a literary genius back into a lonely grad student. Well, at least there's still alcohol.

The second universal lesson is that of suffering. The writer is from a normal family: dad has a steady job, mother is a mediocre cook, and his sister is currently weighing up the options of med school or moving in with her boyfriend named Chad. This infuriates the writer to no end; he wishes that his father was killed in Vietnam, his mother, a secret heroin addict, and his sister is actually a man named Chad. Seeking to understand the truth of the human condition, the writer travels to the far reaches of the world, seeking out the horror stories no one was the courage to mention, the tragedies that fail to make the nightly news cast. After months, the writer accepts his failure, moves back home, and get a part time job calling out bingo numbers in a retirement home. The writer leaves work everyday with tears in his eyes. Striving to emulate his critically acclaimed peers, the writer tries drinking himself to death, stealing morphine from his pharmacy friends, and nonchalantly stating that the scars covering his wrists are from a construction accident. In reality, the writer enjoys milkshakes and walking his dog.

Unable to undergo the metamorphosis into a true writer, our protagonist turns to food to drown his sorrows. However, as fate would have it, the inspiration he finds in ravioli, sushi, and the beautiful art that is the burrito, is something he could not simply shy away from. No acid, no Zoloft, just a fork and an empty stomach.

On assignment, the writer enters a restaurant and begins to study his fellow patrons. Examining their faces, the writer comes to the grand realization that they are all miserable people who exist in a facade of happiness, and more often than not drink too much cheap vodka and cry themselves to sleep. Not caring, the writer takes another bite.

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