Saturday, December 11, 2010

Paper, Scissors, Rock — Begun with, No Gout About It, a Fushigi* — 2010.12.06

Last weekend I bought from my local used bookstore, Renaissance Books, Paper, Scissors, Rock.

Ann Decter.
Paper, Scissors, Rock.
Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers, 1992.
(Now McGilligan Books.)
ISBN: 0889740402.

It was one of those strange finds, in that I was in a part of the store I don't usually visit, but when I did this book jumped out at me — and not because it was at the right eye-level or because of the cover - which I couldn't see when it caught my eye. I walked to the area, glanced at the top shelves, lowered my eyes and 'found' this book. I bought the book without even looking at one word of it, or even the cover, because it being there 'for me' was a fushigi*-like incident that had its nascence the previous Friday at work.

On that particular Friday it came to pass that a rather unpleasant job assignment-choice needed to be made between my self and a co-worker who doesn't like to make choices. Without thinking about it, the 'game' Rock-Paper-Scissors popped into my head. I have no idea why. I mean, I've always found the concept fun and open to the possibility of abetting synchronistic happenings, but I don't remember having used it to make a decision at work ever. Now that seems unreasonable to me, but I certainly haven't used it since beginning my current job 10 years ago. Anyway, perhaps my unconscious saw R-P-S (Jan-ken-pon) as a quick way to avoid the whole time consuming see-sawing about who would get the worst job tug-o-war. I am too busy at work right now to waffle around false-sincerity delaying the making of a choice that may have more unpleasant consequences for the one person than the other.

Now things get funny, because my co-worker claimed to have never understood R-P-S!??! Note, he didn't say "I've never heard of it," but "I don't understand it." 
"Okay," I say without, I hope, any real condescension, "I'll show you." ¶ "But I don't understand it." ¶ "No problem. Rock is represented by a closed fist." I show him, "and paper by a flat hand and scissors this way." ¶  He shakes his head. "I just don't get it." ¶ "Scissor cuts paper, so scissors 'beat' paper. Paper covers rock, so paper 'beats' rock, and rock breaks scissors, so rock 'beats' scissors." ¶ "I don't get it." ¶ "Okay. Trust me. When you do it, you'll get it. On the count of three, with your hand, pick 'rock,' 'paper,' or 'scissors'. I'll do the same, and whoever wins gets to pick first." ¶ "I don't get it." ¶ "Just do it!"
And he did — and his rock beat my scissors. Sigh! (Doubt if he 'got it,' though.)

Anyway, that night while driving home on my usual route I noticed a sign that had two of the three R-P-S words. The only reason I noticed them was because of my co-worker's over wrought reaction to understanding, let alone playing, R-P-S. Nothing special in that, but simply that my mind-eye noticed something I've driven by many times, and never noticed before.

But then the following day I found the book Paper, Scissors, Rock. So, I bought it.

Yet another prompt to blog yet another fushigi came Wednesday. I drove to a work related lunch meeting within the city of Vancouver at a place I'd never been to before. While driving home, I was amused to see a window sign that also had two of the three R-P-S words in fancy yellow print: Paper Rock Bar & Grill. Today I went to find it on Google Maps. Très amusant because the Google Street View almost showed it — from the one angle it was blocked by a lamp standard, and by the one shown the angled window partially cuts off the word 'Paper'.

But I've attached its curriculum vitae:

Thus, on Wednesday, following all the prompts I was perceiving, I began to read the book.
So far it is not in a writing style I like — lots of short, even one word sentences, heavy with meaning.
For example:
The former Mountie praised the investigation. It took the RCMP sixteen years to bring two of the four white men to trial. One was convicted. The woman on the radio offers a list of people the Inquiry should be speaking to. Listening to indigenous people. The Inquiry has only spoken to four. And twenty-nine whites.
Screamed so loud through fifteen years of silence.
They can't even find injustice, Jane thinks; how will they ever find justice?
Home sweet home.
Hate. Sophia used to talk about hate.
Hatred, she said. A Sophiaword.
"Hatred," Jane says aloud, and thinks about a glass of scotch, two ice cubes floating. About the soft skin of a faraway woman, the firm thighs of a once-upon-a-time man (25).
But even all of that wasn't enough to get me to blog this as a fushigi, however — albeit, it had become a book to blog because I had in fact begun to read it.
No, the final straw in getting this blog done today as a fushigi was what I read in it this morning. On page 34, on a list of shops visited during a typical morning shop was a bread place called 'Oscar's' — just before reading about Oscar's breads I'd turned off the TV after having watched Cesar Milan take into his pack a dog named Oscar. But even that wasn't enough. No, the final kicker was 14 lines later, on the same page:
"Hi, Doc."
"Hello ... Pin in his left elbow."
"Mornin', Doctor."
Nod. "Gout."
"Gout? Like Henry the Eighth gout?"
"Ssshhh ... gout. Swelling of the joints...(34)."
And the reason that that was the straw that broke my fushigi back is because after eating some purine rich foods — smoked salmon, pickled herring and shrimp — at my business lunch Wednesday, I began to notice the preliminary signs of a gout attack Thursday, and by Friday morning I was hobbling around with a bad gout attack in the metatarsal joints, which is, for me, typically where I will feel it. Now, if you have read this far, please tell me how many times in a contemporary novel have you read the word 'gout.' How many times have you read the word 'gout' in a contemporary novel while experiencing a gout attack? Think about.

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