Monday, 21 April 2008

the five obstructions


i was still awake late at night and chatted on gmail chat with Brandon Scott Gorrell. we decided to do something a bit like 'The Five Obstructions'. we decided to each write a story, following five rules. we each had 1 hour to write the story. i had to write my story by 2:45am. we emailed rules to each other. i emailed 5 rules to Brandon. Brandon emailed five rules to me. to see the five rules i emailed Brandon and the story he wrote, click here the five rules Brandon emailed back to me were:
1. it must take place in an underground, maze-like network of caves
2. the sentence 'WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WHILE WE GMAIL CHATTED' must appear at least once in the story, 'logically.' and it has to be in caps.

3. a character must burn to death from getting a molotov cocktail thrown into their face

4. you must fit the lyrics to a popular paul simon song into the story, logically
5. the first line of every paragraph needs to be a haiku, if you were to break it up into three parts. the parts where you would normally put line breaks, you have to put commas. this includes 'paragraphs' that are just like a line of dialogue.
here is my story, following those rules:

We have not had sex, I feel worried about her, and slightly awkward. She is taking all the things out of the bin and putting them on the floor. This is only the second time we’ve met. She is taking a piece of crisp out of her mouth and putting it on the floor. We stayed in my flat and drank whiskey. Now I think we should have gone out and looked at things. She is the same amount drunk as me – we drank exactly the same amount of drinks – but somehow she’s way more drunk. She seems dangerous. She seems like she wants to make me squirm for some reason. She’s saying reckless things, I think, to either try to hurt me or ‘break up’ with me, even though this is only the second time I’ve met her ‘IRL’ and really I shouldn’t be thinking of things in terms of a ‘relationship’, anyway. I went to go visit her once. Now she’s here. Before that, we only spoke on the internet. But we have chatted on the internet more than I’ve ever talked with a girlfriend in real life. I’m thinking, ‘Just don’t say anything, in the morning she will be okay.’

‘I’m in love with him, I want to be with him now, I don’t love you now,’ she says, sitting on the floor, trying to set fire to her leg with my lighter.

I am underground, a maze-like network of her, some kind of terrible joke. She is talking about her American ex-boyfriend, which up until now I’ve not really heard of, because she has only mentioned him in passing and I have looked at his band’s myspace page. He sounds amazing. I don’t know what’s happened. We had things to say when we didn’t know each other in person, when we lived in different cites. I put the album ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon on. She says, ‘What the fuck is this?’ and I say ‘Graceland’, wanting to turn it off but thinking, ‘I should leave it on or I will seem weak.’ She is strange. She is here in my living room, and I have wanted her to be here for maybe a year and a half, and now the best thing I can think of is for her to leave. I feel ridiculous. I feel over the top. ‘I don’t want to end up like a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard,’ I think. ‘You Can Call Me Al’ is playing. I feel stupid for thinking something simultaneously to a Paul Simon album.

We met on facebook, we thought we had things to say, she said I was sweet

Now she’s here with me, she’s come to stay in my flat, and I feel confused. She‘s doing something with the bottle of whiskey and a bit of tissue.

She’s looks at me odd, lighting the lighter badly, touching it to the tissue. ‘WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WHILE WE GMAIL CHATTED?’ she shouts at me.

‘What are you saying, please don’t throw that thing at me, who the fuck are you?’ I say.

She looks really pissed, like she might try to kill me, I am in a dream. She is holding the bottle and lighting the bit of tissue and aiming it at my face. ‘I WAS IN ANOTHER RELATIONSHIP,’ she shouts at me. ‘YOU CHEATING BASTARD,’ she shouts. ‘I AM IN LOVE WITH AN AMERICAN MAN,’ she shouts. ‘I WANT TO DESTROY YOU,’ she shouts. She is looking at my penis. ‘Not my penis,’ I think. ‘Please, not my penis.

She throws the bottle, it smashes on my penis, I go up in flames.

afterwards, we sent emails criticising the stories. here is the email Brandon sent me:
chris, you have broken a number of my rules for you. my rule was for the story to be in a cave. your story was in your flat. or is your flat in an underground network of caves? maybe i am wrong. but i think you broke that rule.

you broke the haiku rule, but you didn't mean to. the paragraph starting with "I am underground, a maze-like network of her, some kind of terrible joke" is 5-7-7. a haiku is 5-7-5. i think all the other ones were correct. this is not necessarily like 'breaking a rule', because you tried to abide by it, but if i was a government office and you were filling out a welfare application or something, and you messed up filling out the form, i would tell you that you needed to do it again. that it hadn't mattered if you tried. that you did it wrong.

i liked how you did the 'WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WHILE WE GMAIL CHATTED' rule.

i think you followed the paul simon lyric rule. i don't know any paul simon lyrics. i am assuming that 'I don't want to end up like a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard' is a paul simon lyric.

you broke the molotov cocktail rule. the rule was for it to hit someone's face. it hit your penis.

3 comments:

Anthony Joseph said...

I liked this story. i like the five rules thing.
i find brandons comments funny.

apants said...

This has defeated most of both of your hair and nearly both of your glasses.

It has almost defeated irony. That is one of best part of the five obstructions exercise. I think it must always beat irony.

Catherine Lacey said...

The best rules are:

4. you must fit the lyrics to a popular paul simon song into the story, logically
5. the first line of every paragraph needs to be a haiku, if you were to break it up into three parts. the parts where you would normally put line breaks, you have to put commas. this includes 'paragraphs' that are just like a line of dialogue.

Brandon is smart for including those rules.
The stories are both good too.