I’m not exactly Proust–heck, I can’t even manage to read Proust. But I do like to remember. The act of writing seems in and of itself to stimulate memory. Was The Stupid Man Club my first foray against the patriarchy or my incipient life as a writer? Most likely it was a weird project born of boredom and creativity–a hallmark of my way of living even now.
The Stupid Man Club
My parents decide to install fire alarms throughout our three story house at 153 Dwight Place. The house is white shingled, with a wrap around porch. It’s a lovely house. The formal dining room is graced with Corinthian columns like something out of a British novel, but it is otherwise unpretentious and pleasant. Large, to be sure, with four bathrooms. But old-fashioned, with 50’s style fixtures. The basement is sprawling and damp. I dream recurrently that a pharaoh’s tomb is located off one of its twisty corridors. The roof leaks over certain spots that can never be fixed, no matter what my father does. The plaster just peels. My mother has papered the ceiling above the children’s bath tub with a blue sky studded with white clouds.
Men come to install the alarm system. My sister and I follow them around every day. Observing and recording their stupid seeming behavior in a small notebook. I’m the eldest, so I do the writing. Once they are finished, we find other stupid men to observe—repairmen, garbage men, gardeners, mail carriers, and more. Even the doctor making a house call with his black bag.
My father also appears to come and go more than he does to actually live with us seven days a week. He works half a day Saturday and Thursday night until past our bed time. He comes home on week nights well after we have eaten supper. I can’t remember if his doings are recorded in The Stupid Man Club’s notebook or not.