“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “I’ve Got Nothin” Chapter 39
By Bruce Williams
Three months ago on my regular Facebook page I asked for column ideas from my friends and family, and a friend of mine named Al Criss offered up, “Write about having nothing to write about.” I dubbed it “existential” at the time, but went ahead and added it to my “Ideas for Eli” doc where I noodle around topics, jotting down (oftentimes) various bits of effrontery and idiocies as well as what I deem poignant epiphanies and random occurrences that I might later attribute some meaning to. Thirty-nine chapters into this column experiment (“Would you want to do it monthly or weekly?” “Oh, weekly should be fine”—the fountain that was) I’ve hit a small wall…one of those short, mossy ones on an Irish berm that you can hop over but will probably twist an ankle catching your balance on the way down.
I am reminded of that beautiful comedic moment in the sacred Show About Nothing where George phones up Jerry and simply admits, “I got nothin’.” When you can’t really go too many places (over this last year) and you write about your family a lot, they begin to start issuing, “Stop staring at me(‘s)” when I’m sitting in my recliner (the dependably cradling “Larry”) hovering over my keyboard as I do some writing. I’m half-tempted to go ride the city bus for some inspiration—or head back up to Pike Place…one of the most colorful spots in the city with its Gum Wall, brass pig, drug addicts and fish tossers (I heard PETA took issue with this—the fish are already dead, you know). Observations are fueled by interactions—and the different ways our minds work.
But Nothing is everywhere. Nothing is the gaps between holidays. Our exhales and eight hours of sleep (I rarely remember any of my dreams). Nothing is the shit-shower-shave-shine, the laundry-dishes-garbage. The mortar in the brick wall. Nothing is watching reruns for the hundredth time—and still laughing (the aforementioned “Seinfeld” and “Family Guy” are my favorite flatliners as I ease into sleep). Nothing is pumping gas and wondering if you should be wearing a face mask (they’re six feet away, aren’t they? I don’t want to be mistaken for someone that disavows science, though, so I put it on…). Nothing is changing light bulbs and mowing the lawn. Nothing is miles of concrete and wall-to-wall carpeting.
My buddy John Scott threatened to “cancel his subscription” after last week’s birthday column because I wrote about shaving my back tuft…that big putz. If he’s not careful, I might do a whole expose about nail clipping or tooth brushing. We’re having some senior family members over later to catch up on a few birthdays—their antics are always entertaining as they wobble around asking me to repeat myself, only louder this time. I’ll keep mental notes of all the wrong names my mom calls me (“Jim…Doug…Tom…Bruce…”)—
Michelle is busying herself in the kitchen—she’s made a six-layer cake and her and Lou frosted it to look like a sunset, and the menu includes spaghetti, green salad, garlic bread and fresh fruit, so this time I really do get on the treadmill and knock out three miles, bracketing it with 50 push-ups before and after just so I can eat voraciously and with a clear conscience. I’ll pause by the mirror and flex a little like a 13-year old before I get in the shower. Later, there’s a social-distancing (boy, I’d like to crumple up that phrase in a big ball and kick it out of the stadium) barbecue with our neighbors, and Scott Woodey’s always got a few curmudgeonly complaints to entertain me with. I’ll just bring up the Mariners and let him have at it (I, myself, have the eternal optimism that Spring Training evokes—plus…all those prospects!)
So I churned out six paragraphs about nothing…that’s going to have to do this week. We pick up our new puppy next week (Mavis the Snorkie—a Schnauzer/Yorkie mix), so prepare thyself for some new dog tales. This house needs a little more chaos. My brother-in-law is set to take over our downstairs guest room as he recovers from foot surgery in a couple of weeks, and my mother-in-law will be returning from her house sitting/dog watching gig so we’ll have full occupancy, and I’m just waiting for the kids to start pestering me further about the lab (second dog) I’ve heard them murmuring about conspiratorially (Christ—let’s get used to the other one first why don’t we?) I’ll open my page up again to suggestions—or you, gentle reader, can reach out and offer your own two cents for future essays. But for now…I’ve got nothin’.