Monday, January 2, 2012

Mr. Anchorman/My Father

Might be the inspiration for a short film. Wrote this myself for class. Enjoy!

I think of my father very often.

When I decided, at some point during my senior year of high school at No. 35 in Tomsk, during one of those moments when you find yourself concentrating on anything but the task at hand, that I wanted to become a damn bookstore owner, there was a pretty unassailable belief that it was going to be a pretty lonely, pretty lacking-of-a-need-to-talk-to-people job. Pretty pretty pretty.

Well, what isn’t pretty at all - it’s actually quite ugly - is that all of that ended up being true.

People always assume, “that’s not going to be me.” It’s a pretty notion.

Well guess what: take that pretty notion and stick it pretty deep down the toilet, so far in that taking it back out would require a team of highly skilled, hazmat-suit-wearing plumbers (if those even exist). Because pretty soon in life, you’ll realize that that notion is the ugliest lie you could tell yourself.

I’m a bookstore owner here in Vladivostok, a city with a good amount of fanfare. Come 2012, we’re hosting the 24th summit of some economic association that in reality, the locals could care less about. On Wikipedia, there’s a pretty lengthy list of famous people that this city played host to, from Igor to Swati to Svoy to plain Vladimir.

Then there’s me, running an antique bookstore on the corner of streets so abandoned and unkempt, it’s a wonder no cars fall straight through the ground.

I love my job. I have a passion for the written word; for organizing, cataloguing, advertising, discussing it. I often spend hours in the inventory room, reading anything from Tolstoy to his contemporaries.

So where do you think you’d find me on a foggy Thursday afternoon, way before I finally opened the bookstore? The shooting range, of course; a few blocks down from the bookstore nowadays, if you can believe that.

I’m talking like you know me. Saying “pretty” this and “pretty” that, “of course” this and “of course” that. What a fool I am indeed. I’m repeating the same error that landed me in this god forsaken room. Being too open.

My father was in the army. I’m guessing he fought in some war during some important time frame against some important enemy, but I could care less about what he fought in. The greatest enemy he ever had to face was me, just a few months prior to that Thursday when I told him off.

Maybe it was machismo, maybe he was out of his mind; I don’t give. The point is he left my mother to fend for herself. She was a loving, simple woman that - god bless her soul - actually couldn’t fend for herself. She was scared of most everything. From something as stereotypical as spiders to something as unbelievable as making fish soup. Her parents coddled her, too much. The only fingers she lifted, she used to write the homework assignments she did every blue moon. Everything else was taken care of, even falsifying the school transcripts so her aunts and cousins wouldn’t think lowly of her.

So when my father got ahold of her - or rather, prompted her to fall in love with him during a drunken stupor at a bar - he couldn’t put up with her incompetence, and he couldn’t live with himself for having been drunk at the most inopportune moment.

I have no sympathy for him. But not because he left my good for nothing mother. But because he left me. I can’t blame him for not being able to put up with a woman who hadn’t worked a day in her life, but I sure can blame him for making like the wind when he found out she was pregnant. That army boy respect and reverence for all things moral and worth standing for flew out the window when those news came.


Again I treat you like you know me.

Whatever, yeah, I’ve got daddy issues. So when a handsome man in a blue blazer, a lean, tall body, jet black hair pulled back tight, shades darker than black, khaki pants, a Rolex and an anchorman position on the local news station … well, I was swept off my feet.

I didn’t know whether I wanted Mr. Anchorman to be my father, my boyfriend, my husband or my son.

But of course, he swept me off my feet, and I told him all I’ve told you and more in less than 2 weeks of knowing him. If he had any doubt as to what kind of person I was, he didn't have to wait too long to figure it out, that’s for sure.

If only that would’ve been reciprocal. Those 2 weeks that we spent painting the town red were beautiful, but mostly because between all my babbling, I didn’t let Mr. Anchorman get a single word in. I just saw his beautiful pearly white and shining blue eyes be the audience for my less than alluring stories of daddy issues, missed calls, failed dreams and bad diarrhea.

But the day I stopped talking was the day I realized I was up the creek without a paddle. And the canoe was sinking.

Mr. Anchorman didn’t know the first thing about his career - news, media literacy, investigative reporting, etc. I could’ve made a better television reporter than him, and I’d never laid eyes on a video camera. The day Mr. Anchorman was told he would have to do investigative reporting - one of those “budget-crunch-is-forcing-us-to-move-everyone-around moments” at big corporations - Mr. Anchorman quit.

“What do you mean you quit?!”, screamed I, loud enough for the sound of the words to reach the center of the Earth.

Freeze it there. Let’s have an homage to Mr. Anchorman. Suppose the shot is framed at just my face screaming. That’s a, extreme closeup, right? It’s definitely extreme anger. Now back up just one push of the button. Look here, it’s me and Mr. Anchorman, with a blurry background. His incompetent face versus mine.

One more step. Medium shot, no? Wedding dress versus the nicest suit money or a pretty face can buy.

Further out. Look at all those people looking on so attentively, the preacher in the background wearing an annoyed face.

We don’t need to zoom out anymore; no, sir.

Now I find comfort in the words of Tolstoy, here in this decrepit set of four walls that might as well cave in and take me with them anyday. At least you don’t have to work at a damn bookstore for that to happen.
Leo Tolstoy 1848

I think of my father very often.

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