After my last exposé
on Tom Robbins' unusual style, I had the following conversation with my
friend Tracy who initially recommended him to me...
TRACY: So where are you going
with this? I can't tell if you like [Tom Robbins] or if you're mocking
me. :-) Not that I'm going to be upset, just curious. :-)
ALEX: I'm just putting it out there.
They're humorous whether you find them clever or desperate.
TRACY: That's a nice, safe answer.
ALEX: Well, I'd like to think he was imitating
bad writing as a joke, but then again, this is a guy who has a talking
can of beans as a major character.
TRACY: Interesting. I've always loved
his writing specifically for his similes/metaphors.
ALEX: Jitterbug Perfume has more
concise similes and more metaphors. Lengthy similes make it look
like the author is reaching for a comparison by description because he
can't find the words. When you end up with a simile like "There was
a Spoon-rattling crash of thunder, and the rain began to leave the sky
like refugees fleeing a revolution, arriving with nothing but the clothes
on their backs and whatever skills they might have acquired in their dark
villages," it reads like he's trying to reach a word count his editor dictated
as the minimum requirement for his manuscript, else he'll be left out in
the rain as a washed-out hack and soon-to-be starving artist who substituted
quantity for quality and cobbled-together form for any semblance of true
TRACY: Apparently imitation is also the
sincerest form of disdain. Your point of view is noted, if not shared.
The prosecution may rest, counselor.
The following are from Tom
Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume (1984).
Again, I left out all the similes that
were literal or very nearly so. For example, "...were he not panting
like a Saint Bernard on avalanche patrol. His face was as red as a Christmas
sock, and his heart was pounding so hard that his bow tie was bouncing."
Of course, there are white beets, beets that
ooze sugar water instead of blood, but it is the red beet with which we
are concerned; the variety that blushes and swells like a hemorrhoid, a
hemorrhoid for which there is no cure.
Every toilet bowl gurgled like an Italian
tenor with a mouthful of Lavoris, and the refrigerators made noises at
night like buffalo grazing.
It smelled of chemicals—less mephitic than
sweet—and it was that smell that leaped to greet her, like a cooped-up
pooch, when she let herself in on a weary midnight.
Inside her hose, her feet were as red as newborn
She was as pallid as a Q-tip and as ready
When Madame Devalier raised her voice, it
was like Diamond Jim raising a poker pot. Even the termites in the foundation
He pulled the mask over his head and moaned
as a whale might moan were it about to upchuck some ambergris.
When they breathed, it sounded as if they
were testing the air for dragon smoke.
Although the day was rather balmy, he pulled
up the hood of his rough linen cloak and, blushing like blood's rich uncle,
As Wren blinked her bituminous lashes at his
queer behavior, Alobar stood, disrobed, and turned slowly around and around
before her like prime merchandise at a slave market.
In an attempt to prove his stamina, the king
set upon his harem like a starving rat let loose in a peach barrel.
The spring bubbled in a little glade, a clearing
lit like an altar by the ever-ceremonious moon.
His heart swung off its pendulum, and his
blue eyes stiffened like the ponds of December in a bowel-loosening, knee-locking,
cider-evaporating attack of deja vu.
Inside the hut there was a laugh, or the ancient
animal ancestor of a laugh; a cackle wound like prickly yarn around the
wild spindle in the throat of a fox.
Alobar shook him until his various necklaces
of various teeth chattered like a flock of enamel jays.
The shaman grinned like a weasel running errands
for the moon.
While his host hunkered over the diminutive
adobe hearth, Alobar sniffed at the various braids of dried vegetable matter
that hung against the walls, each broadcasting a different version of internal
conditions within the plant kingdom, and he fingered the bones, fangs,
and snail shells that, like chimes to be rung by the shaman's heavy breathing,
dangled from the ceiling.
The sky was a velvety black paw pressing on
the white landscape with a feline delicacy, stars flying like sparks from
its fur. The cry of an owl, brooding over its ruby appetites, cut
through the frigid air like a vibrating pin. Then, all was silent except
for the soft crunch, like ants chewing wax, of his boats upon the snow.
Thud! Down he went like a sack of meteorites
addressed special delivery to gravity.
A breeze suddenly raked the landscape, drawing
from the grasses a dark murmuring, and setting the thistle bushes to chattering
like thin teeth.
Or, to be precise, human above save for a
pair of stubby horns thrusting like bronze-tipped beet-diggers in the bright
When he glanced about him in the pale twilight,
however, he saw everywhere evidence of his participation: dried semen frosted
the thighs of napping nymphs, clots of it floated in the shadowy waters
like weavings wrenched loose from the looms of the trout, and upon the
tips of bracken there glistened drops too milky to be dew.
For a change, she'd pinked her Cupid's bow
mouth—tiny in comparison to Ricki's full Latino lips—and brushed on enough
purple eye shadow to make Bela Lugosi look like a lifeguard.
She made a face that caused the faint handlebar
of hairs above her lip to bristle like the fuzz on an ostrich's cheek.
There was an odor in the hallway more funky
than a cabbage pot, and on her doorsill there sat in certain firepluggian
splendor, like a dropping from the eclipse, like a disembodied bulb that
had been beamed to Earth from Starship Eros, another beet.
LOUISIANA IN SEPTEMBER was like an obscene
phone call from nature. The air—moist, sultry, secretive, and far from
fresh—felt as if it were being exhaled into one's face. Sometimes it even
sounded like heavy breathing.
Hips swaying like mandolins on a gypsy wagon
wall, V'lu climbed the narrow stairs, leaving her employer to fend off
with her fan the lewd breath of Louisiana, as she awaited the seven o'clock
news and yet another ominous view of the blacking out of Paris.
A silver glow, like a blaze of molten escargot
tongs, erupted from behind the ebony corona, and Claude felt himself trembling
with a sort of euphoria.
Like those pious citizens who attend church
every Sunday, then cheat and lie their way through the week, Marcel visited
a brothel religiously on Saturday nights, then seemed to forget sex entirely
for the next six days.
The LeFever twins had been small boys during
the Nazi occupation of Paris, but they recalled it as an adult recalls
the breaking of a bone in childhood: the sickening crack, the fear, the
pain, the sadness, the sudden ooze of blood that shows itself like the
black blush of fairy-tale witches.
The dead man looked comfortable enough, all
things considered (it bothered Alobar, philosophically, that the dead invariably
seemed more self-possessed than the living), but obviously it only would
be a matter of minutes before he began to char like one of those loaves
the forgetful Frol was forever leaving too long on the hearth, an image
that further hastened Alobar's departure.
It was with calm resignation, if not dim intelligence,
that she at first regarded the flames that darted among the boughs like
finches from hell, but when the heat grew more intense and she felt the
early bites of pain, she cried out sharply and sat upright in her intended
Her eyelids, like Wren's, were as thick and
languid as the peel of some pulpy fruit; ghe had the same chin dimple:
a wormhole in a pear; the same occupied codpiece for a nose. As did Wren's,
her lips parted reluctantly, like waters protecting an oyster bed, to slowly
disclose the aquatic shelf of bright teeth behind them, and in the girl's
eyes there fluttered illuminated parchments upon which intelligent things
were written, things that Alobar could scarcely hope to read.
Water is like flesh. Water will not stand
still. It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative, and curious.
Even water in a covered jar will disappear in time. Flesh is water. Stones
are like bones. Satisfied. Patient. Dependable. Tell me, then, Alobar,
in order to achieve immortality, should you emulate water or stone? Should
you trust your flesh or your bones?"
Chomolungma was what the world looked like
when the world stood on tiptoes. Pale from the strain, blue from the lack
The vegetation had all grown dizzy and slid
down her back, snow swirled in perpetual spirals around her skull, she
wore a glacier in her crotch like a sanitary napkin.
Unbound, her breasts bobbed to the surface
like jellyfish coming up to feed.
As she grew older and the incense trade grew
alongside her, she began to spend as much time in the business as in the
household, and it never occurred to her that a conflict might be sprouting,
like one of the ritual barley seeds, in the moist soil of her heart.
Marriage meant that she must leave her father's
home to live with her husband's family, who would treat her like a servant
if she was lucky, like monkey shit if she was not.
His head split like a milk bowl, sending forbidden
ambition, mixed with blood and brain, trickling into the public light.
She tried to drive the smile away with thoughts
of her sorrowful experiences, her disgraceful behavior, her insecure situation,
but this was one smile that didn't scare easily, it hung in there like
a tenant who knows his rights and refuses to be evicted.
"Kudra." The word swam out through her smile
like a blowfish swimming through a crack in a reef.
The mountains looked like the white picket
fence around the cottage of eternity, although Alobar clearly thought about
them in another way entirely.
The sun was starting to sink, and the peaks
were pinned with colored clouds, like ribbons designating where each had
placed in the contest.
With his free hand, Alobar scratched his head,
a head herringboned with equal parts chestnut and silver, like a cow pie
on a frosty morning
Like a careless animal on the lip of a tar
pit, his middle finger slipped and sank quickly from view.
Irrigated by snow-melt, the recently awakened
grass on the slopes glittered like spinach between the teeth of the hard
Far below them, in deep, narrow gorges, streams
worked themselves into a lather, roaring like all the seashells in the
world turned inside out; and above, great cold peaks in mineral armor were
trying to smash the sky.
"The Bandaloo-oo-p." The word sailed away
on the wind, its vowels banging together and scattering, its consonants
tearing the lips of the word like the bit of a runaway horse.
She had to sit in a drift until the pain subsided,
Alobar draped over her like a human tent.
Almost immediately the wind fell quiet, like
a drunk who has passed out in the middle of a rage.
A bartender's beauty is in his moves. Like
a lover's, like a matador's.
At the mention of "LeFever," a blush actually
did seep through V'lu's protective pigmentation, spreading upon her carob
complexion like an oil slick on the muddy Mississippi, and even though
her nervous system was, by hurricane drops, entertained, she flinched.
Madame crossed herself, ringed fingers flashing
like UFOs over the summits of her mountainous breasts.
Luc propped his cigar against the rim of an
alabaster ashtray. The cigar looked like some kind of vegetable, a root
crop, related, perhaps, to the mangel-wurzel. The vegetable was on fire.
Arson was suspected.
Through the plate glass windows, the foggy
streets looked like Frankenstein's idea of Club Med.
Like jugged bees, the funereal orations droned
As he warmed his horns on the sunny riverbank,
watching the wind-torn chestnut blossoms drift by like melted nymph flesh
on the tide, Pan dismissed Descartes and his prideful ambition to force
nature under human control, and thought instead of Alobar and Kudra, how
they had come to Arkadia, drunk on eternal knowledge, seeking him out and
laughing. . . .
Alobar believed they should have stayed longer
and learned more, and this belief kept surfacing like a lungfish in the
hot surf of their seventeenth-century quarrels.
She embraced him, swabbing his beard with
kisses at the same moment that the ship plunged its black, wooden tongue
into the murmuring mouth of the outer waters, knocking salt teeth loose
in every direction; and as the lash lines shuddered from the recoil of
that ancient kiss, as the mast pole tilted its neck like a voyeur for a
better view, and the mainsail, with a raucous, swift gesture, shook a skyful
of stars out of its folds and creases, Kudra and Alobar were carried off
to Greece— uncertain, intrepid, possibly immortal, decidedly in love....
To witness Kudra then, giggling and barefoot
among the poppies, it would have been hard for anyone to picture her on
her knees in a Constantinople pantry, weeping and wailing, shaking like
the shuttle in an overachiever's loom, begging Shakti, Shiva, Kali, and
Krishna to forgive her for rebelling against divine authority.
So, they advanced in the lavender mountain
haze like chatty autograph-seekers closing in on a celebrity's hideaway,
but in their secret hearts they wanted something other than your scrawl,
Mr. Shaggy; they wanted you to reach into their secret hearts and remove
the hard, knobby doggy bone of doubt that their apparent victory over time
had buried there.
His eyes flew open like the hatch covers on
an exploding ship, and he commenced to sniff at his extremities, as if
he were wildly in love with himself.
The laughter burst out of Pan like the barking
of some obscene dog.
It was no use. Pan had finished speaking and
would say no more. Nor would he sniff at himself again, for, incredibly,
his native odor had peeled away the perfume that masked it; had slowly
burned through the potent excess of patchouli like a sunray blazing its
way through a purple fog, and now, after less than an hour of suppression,
the goat gas—that chloride compound of barnyard and bedroom—was boiling
again, filling the grotto with a sleazy vapor, a steam to press a rooster's
Alobar issued a sigh that was shaped like
a funnel: a full quart of beet juice could have been poured through it.
Alobar looked around him. In every direction
as far as he could see, fierce outcroppings of gray stone, green curves
of pasture, uncompromising slopes, spiny shrubs and delicate poppies (unlikely
partners in a fling ordered by a reckless breeze), mountains teeming with
invisible springs, clouds lying like oatcakes upon the blue tablecloth
of sky, all of this seemed so inviolable that he could not entertain the
notion of its vulnerability, and he said as much to Lalo.
A ripple of annoyance like the shock wave
from a splat of buzzard guano, zigzagged along Alobar's forehead.
Compared to Western Europe, Bohemia and the
Slavic territories were still wild and thinly populated, offering many
a fox a place to linger over a bit of loon, like some remote animal ancestor
of Ernest Hemingway, but even there in the Eastern backwash, the gold-dust
twins, Christianity and Commerce, had set up their crooked wheel of fortune.
The Middle Ages hangs over history's belt
like a beer belly.
Our little couple, however, our Alobar and
Kudra, remained intact and indigestible, like the hard octopus beaks that
sicken the stomachs of whales, causing them to vomit the ambergris that
bonds the bouquet in great perfumes. Like octopus beaks, our couple. Or
It is rumored that maraschino cherries are
prepared with a chemical resembling formaldehyde, thus can neither be assimilated
nor eliminated but must ride in the baggage rack of the bowels for a lifetime,
like the seabags of the Flying Dutchman.
Kudra gave him a look that you could spread
on a bun. Her words, however, pricked him like the knife that does the
Together, they watched the sun break through
the morning fog, coming back to the deserted fairgrounds like a dandy returning
to the boulevard, prepared, when the moment was right, to strut some stuff.
From every doorway, the lewd breath of prostitutes
rose like hooks of smoke.
A misunderstood husband usually is armed with
a blunt instrument, its knob painted red like the face of a judge.
They circled Paris like microscopic angels,
looking for harp concerts in the snow.
Frankincense and myrrh might have reodorized
the diapers of sweet Baby Jesus, but they disappeared in the goat god's
gulf of funk like rowboats in the Bermuda Triangle; and sandalwood, clean,
gentle sandalwood, lasted as long, to the minute, as a snowball in hell.
Expansive, yet never cloying; romantic, yet
seldom melancholy, jasmine has the poise of a wild creature, some elusive
self-sufficient thing that croons like an organic saxophone in the tropical
A few flat clouds folded themselves like crepes
over fillings of apricot sky.
The wheel rolled to a stop, and bubbles of
oxygen slid off of it to skitter upon the surface of his stagnant blood
like waterbugs attending to some dizzy business.
So deep was he in "his" time, so removed from
exterior time, that he made no sound in the room, but he cried "Methinks
I have found it!" with force enough that the breath wheel was jarred into
motion again, a wild thump rattled his heart, and all at once his trajectory
reversed itself and he came flying back, shedding stars like dandruff,
gaining weight, contracting, shrinking, until he tumbled back over the
edge into the shallow bowl of our reality, his plasma sluggish in the pump,
his eyes pasted shut with some atomic glue, but voice finally audible in
the little sitting room: "Kudra! I have got it."
Around August, however, when the plants go
to seed, a pungent and singular aroma rises from them, like a gaseous wrench
that gives the surrounding atmosphere a sharp turn to the left, twisting
it into strange new configurations.
Kudra's right shoe lay upturned on the thin
carpet, like a boat washed up on a desolate shore.
Stopping neither to eat nor sleep, his brain
hot with imagined disasters, the man who once was a king in this land flapped
through the countryside in his filthy rags, his boots (ailing away from
his feet, his latest beard flying in the wind like a nauseated Chinaman
losing his bird's nest soup.
Shaking like a wedding announcement in a misogamist's
fist, Alobar examined the shoe, unfolded and reread the note.
They tasted like Grendel's underpants.
It had been Wren who comforted him when that
first white hair slithered like a viper into his happy garden, Wren who
had aided and abetted his subsequent subterfuge even though she'd been
shocked by his crazy notions of personal identity and survival, Wren who
had plucked him from the burial mound—and that very night spread her legs
for his successor.
From the start, the various perfumes had had
a confusing effect on him, but his native aroma made short work of them,
generally, and it was seldom very long before he was cheerfully, securely
stinking again like an old furnace stoked with gonads.
The jasmine blew like a soft wind from Egypt
across the scruffy pastures of his mind, the beet thumped a dance drum
with scrotum-tightening rhythms.
Pan realized that each application of the
scent only made him foggier, but, like a drug addict, he was already too
foggy to resist further fogginess.
It was a fine, old bar, long and curved like
a tusk and so solid that the entire membership of the Fraternal Order of
Belligerent Drunks of America could not make it budge.
The last chrysanthemums of autumn hung their
heads apprehensively over the rim of a vase, like voyagers whose crowded
boat was steaming into a strange and possibly dangerous port.
Dannyboy was slender, svelte, and nimble,
a tanned, athletic man with an Airstream nest of silver curls, teeth like
the spots on dominoes, and more twinkle in his single eye than most men
have in a pair.
A laugh went off in his throat like a rat-bomb,
sending the last of the guests scurrying for their bumbershoots.
THE MINUTE YOU LAND IN NEW ORLEANS, something
wet and dark leaps on you and starts humping you like a swamp dog in heat,
and the only way to get that aspect of New Orleans off you is to eat it
But there V'lu was, waltzing through the terminal
looking as pretty and composed as Miss Tanzania on a TV beauty pageant,
and smiling like the catastrophe that swallowed the Canary Islands.
Like a baby grand in a town without piano
movers, Ma-dame had settled firmly into place, her bulk as transfixed as
a wild hog in truck lights. A jazz funeral could have marched through the
gates of her corset, and she wouldn't have squirmed.
Who but Bunny had a large, deep, soft, hot,
suffocated voice, a voice like coal being formed in the swamps of the Cretaceous
The cassette silenced, Claude could hear the
blood singing in the old man's clogged arteries like the choir aboard the
Luc said nothing. Like a paper snake with
a white spark on its tongue, the tape hissed on.
The cigar was smoldering against Luc's cheek,
burrowing like a red-hot worm into the head that was now the color and
texture of one of Bunny's beets.
Alobar began postponing the cleaning of Einstein's
office to the very end of his shift, but still the professor was there,
2:00 A.M., slumped in his chair, looking like a musical teddy bear with
its springs and stuffing flying out.
The instant the reminiscence faded, the symptoms
of deterioration took over, grabbing the limelight like an insecure celebrity,
drowning out, with Welkian schmaltz, the shy snores of embezzlers, the
out-of-sync rasps of homicidal maniacs, the nocturnal whimpers of lifelong
What chemical evil could be working in his
tissues to cause them to smell like the bottom drawer in a maiden aunt's
At least it was a cinch to remove. He simply
pulled it over her head without unhooking it, catching her breasts as they
tumbled out, like croquet balls from a canvas bag. They were as smooth
as peeled onions and perfectly pinked. He squeezed one, nuzzled the other.
The pink did not lick off.
There was a run in the seat of her nylon panties.
Neither of them seemed to notice. His hand passed over the run like a streetsweeper
passing over a skid mark, maintaining momentum, registering nothing. The
longest finger on his left hand curled like a celery stalk and dipped into
the bowl of her buttocks, a bowl in which metaphors were easily mixed.
Effecto had played Priscilla like an accordion.
Wiggs worked her as if she were an archaeological dig: spading, sifting,
dusting, cataloging. Now, lying in a puddle on the sofa, she felt like
she was ready to be shipped to the British Museum. Accompanied by a crate
of late twentieth-century come shards.
Nude though he was, Dr. Dannyboy drew himself
up like a bank president. He tapped his patch portentiously, like a master
of ceremonies tapping a microphone.
But his apparently sincere conviction that
he could snatch the mouse hair and remove the scimitar struck her as the
kind of high-pitched delusion that can shatter a man's mind like a cut-glass
After a bit, Wiggs took her nipple in his
lips, applying a rubbery, rolling pressure, like Captain Queeg worrying
those steel peas in his fingers during the Caine Mutiny Court Martial.
Boingl The little pink pea stiffened with pleasure, much as an aged veteran
will sometimes stiffen with patriotism.
He snorted again, and his knuckle began rapping
at his eye patch like a mongoloid woodpecker drilling for worms in a poker
Whereas Wiggs, on his good days, had a smile
that snipped the tense prison air like musical scissors,
Finding herself stunned and upended by that
knowledge, like a myopic houseguest who has walked into a patio door, Pris
groped for sturdy furniture with which to right herself.
Her lids popped open. Any morning light that
might have been stuck to her lashes fell away like spilled sugar.
For a long time, she sat there regarding the
beet, looking at it with optimism, misgiving, wonderment, bewilderment,
and slight disgust, like a beginning medical student confronting her first
anatomical drawing of a prostate gland.
On page 83, a young actress was bent over
like a map of Florida, affording an unobstructed view of the inland waterway
around Cocoa Beach. Sailing in those backwaters would be sunny and brisk.
But at the end of the voyage, he'd be searching the horizon for Kudra again.
Gulls circled downtown skyscrapers, derelicts
with faces like soup bones luxuriated on jewel-bright park benches, and
out in the glittering bay, flotillas of sailboats showed off for watercolorists.
She made that devastating discovery immediately
upon returning to her studio apartment, where the refrigerator made noises
at night like sea cows ruminating, where the toilet sounded like the audio
portion of a white-water rafting expedition, where fallout from fifty failed
base-note experiments perfumed the peeling wallpaper, and where the Kotex
box on the bathroom shelf was empty now, except for a couple of frayed
and yellowing pads.
She lay in his arms, purring like a Rolls-Royce
that has learned it isn't going to be sold to an Arab, after all.
Her relaxed state was giving way to a video
arcade of blinking wonderments and beeping forebodings. A chill, like current
from a nuclear icicle, vibrated her sex-softened spine.
"Not in the least," he replied, loosening,
like an iguana butcher, the spinal column of one of his beloved zippers.
In unison, they stepped out of their pants.
Their gap-toothed zippers, split like the vertebrae of a temple sacrifice,
made a tiny clink when- they hit the tiles of the tub-room floor.
A tear bubbled up, like a syllable from a
flounder, in his single eye. It hung upside down from his lower lid, like
a transparent sloth from a ledge, until gravity finally pried it loose,
sending it plunging, silently, headlong, salt and all, into the anonymity
of the steaming tub.
She dare not tell him of the bottle, but,
rather, must show it to him, must hold it up to that gleaming orb of his
and watch the silver hairs stand on his head like the bristles of a robot's
She walked down the path feeling like three-fourths
of two pieces of slug bait.
Ah, but the next morning! When the streetlamps
went out, the bees lighted up. Wearing the dawn like silver on their wings,
they returned in a glassy phalanx to the scene of the crime. Like a glass
spearhead come suddenly to life, like an animated dagger with an angry
voice, like an electrified pineapple spike; like a darting fish made of
noisy sparks, half full of fire and half full of cold, the swarm circled
the death scene, diving and looping, again and again, a crazed cactus loose
in the air, humming defiance, forty little spines dripping poison and pain.
Like a necklace of gouged-out crocodile eyes—yellow-green
and menacing, shiny and ancient—the renegade bees encircled New Orleans,
a mosaic albatross that wouldn't lie still.
Like a fertilized condor egg, filled with
blood and promise, the bald head of Dr. Morgenstern split open. He died
They say that February is the shortest month,
but you know they could be wrong.
Compared, calendar page against calendar
page, it looks to be the shortest, all right. Spread between January and
March like lard on bread, it fails to reach the crust on either slice.
In its galoshes—and you'll never catch February in stocking feet—it's a
full head shorter than December, although in leap years, when it has growth
spurts, it comes up to April's nose.
However more abbreviated than its cousins
it may look, February feels longer than any of them. It is the meanest
moon of winter, all the more cruel because it will masquerade as spring,
occasionally for hours at a time, only to rip off its mask with a sadistic
laugh and spit icicles into every gullible face, behavior that grows quickly
February is pitiless, and it is boring.
That parade of red numerals on its page adds up to zero: birthdays of politicians,
a holiday reserved for rodents, what kind of celebrations are those? The
only bubble in the flat champagne of February is Valentine's Day. It was
no accident that our ancestors pinned Valentine's Day on February's shirt:
he or she lucky enough to have a lover in frigid, antsy February has cause
for celebration, indeed.
Except to the extent that it "tints the
buds and swells the leaves within," February is as useless as the extra
r in its name. It behaves like an obstacle, a wedge of slush and mud and
ennui, holding both progress and contentment at bay.
James Joyce was born in February, as was
Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo, which goes to show that writers are poor
at beginnings, although worse at knowing when to stop.
If February is the color of lard on rye,
its aroma is that of wet wool trousers. As for sound, it is an abstract
melody played on a squeaky violin, the petty whine of a shrew with cabin
fever. O February, you may be little but you're small! Were you twice your
tiresome length, few of us would survive to greet the merry month of May.
Confined to its usual length, February
still extracted a toll from Priscilla and New Orleans. On Groundhog Day,
a car-petbagger freeze turned banana plants as black as seminary shoes,
and night after night, the Mississippi .exhaled Yukon breath. The small
boys who tap-danced for coins on Bourbon Street were forced to compete
with their own chattering teeth. Aside from tap and chatter, the Quarter
was so quiet it might as well have been in Salt Lake City. Even the bees
took refuge from the chill. Where, was anybody's guess.
Apricot and artichoke were the colors of her
gown, which clung to her like a child about to be separated from its parents,
and cream was her turban, fastened with a glass jewel the size of half
His nostrils opening and closing like the
flaps of an airplane in distress, he pronounced it more precious than any
in the South of France and swore that he would send a team of botanists
to Jamaica to track it down.
Wiggs stepped out onto the asphalt and lifted
a benign, expectant face skyward, like the good-guy earthling in a flying-saucer
She felt like a can of cheap dog food that
had been ruptured by a railroad spike.
By Sunday evening, Priscilla was feeling slightly
better, feeling less like a dented can of cheap dog food than like a dented
can of expensive dog food. Alpo instead of Skippy.
The sky was sorrowful and disheveled, like
the head of an old musician.
A tremor ran the length of her, causing her
voluptuous flesh to quiver like the throat of a lovesick frog.
copyright 2006 Alexplorer. Similes copyright 1984 Tom Robbins.