*noun. German in origin, meaning literally ‘to take pleasure in someone else’s pain’.
my friend once told me Ernest Hemingway had hemorrhoids.
my friend is a poet. she tells me all kinds of things.
the other day, for instance, she says she believes all poetry depends on the three Bs.
what are the three Bs, I ask.
the three Bs! she says. bed, bathroom, bar.
the three Bs are where poems are born. it is a well known fact. it’s practically a science.
oh, I say.
you ever hear Hemingway had hemorrhoids? says the poet.
then the poet says, I knew there was some reason he was such a hard-ass.
now there are whole afternoons when i’m lying awake in my hammock, wondering whether or not I will masturbate today or do anything with my life in general, and suddenly only the thought of Hemingway with hemorrhoids makes me happy.
Sometimes Hemingway even visits me in my dreams. he tells me to go find a shotgun or a pair of legs long enough to suck on for a few days. other times he just points at me laying in my hammock, and laughs.
sometimes I wake up in a hammock, and I plunge into the depths of some recent sadness, thinking of something Hemingway has told me in one of my dreams: the more you destroy, he says, the more people will love you.
or else he’ll say something like: if you want to ward off the specter of femininity, get a gun. people who don’t are cowards. or women.
what about women who like guns, I ask. what are they?
but Hemingway is gone already.
there are other times, like when I go to the grocery store, or to the bus station, when I find myself absolutely faking happiness for the sake of strangers.
and then I know that happiness and pure joy are only for people who can dance sober or for children with banana gas.
I know I don’t really like bus stations, because they are depressing and smell like grease.
and I know I don’t like beds, or bars. or bathrooms all that much either.
I know I like to write, lying in my hammock stretching out with a pen like an elastic bend to reach the table. or else, I like to write in my dreams, standing at a type-writer next to Hemingway standing at his own type-writer – not because he’s a hard-ass or because he is a man or whole or hungry.
because he has to.
because he has hemorrhoids.
*This is a true story.