Snoopy atop his doghouse dreaming.
It is quiet in the barracks.
The Red Baron has zoomed away, the Lafayette Escadrille in hot pprsuit, hoping to catch wily old von Richthoffen before he lands, nearly out of gas.
I am out of gas.
But I can be Snoopy, or, more properly, Walter Mitty, dreaming of glory, dreaming of being a fighter ace, helmetted and gogled, shot down by the Red Baron, falling into the rye on a late September afternoon, German farmers after me with pitforks, foreign devil fallen from the skies. "Hail to the Kaiser", I am practicing for fear of being forked.
"Nobody tells the Kaiser to f*ck- off. Never.
"I mean look what happened when Churchill told him to f*ck off.
"The Kaiser is a cool dude. I am ethnically German. My grandfather was a German.
"I have always been a German."
Very probably the way I would have acted. Most of us are so brave, so noble in our own heads, but when it comes to the moment of truth, we do what most people do in such situations.
We are no great shakes.
I am no great shakes.
For the past thirty years (after a decade of a suburban joy I wished I'd never left),
I have been clocking my own psychotic sprint for glory, for the Pulitzer Prize, for the Nobel.
We were talking of the Nobel way back in college, my friend so vain he had already drafted, like his hero Jean-Paul Sartre, a rejection speech for his Nobel, saying that the whole thing was a put-up job to promote Polacks (me?) and totally ignoring of late to nominate North American
writers. "I respectfully reject this prize on grounds that it is politically correct and probably full of AIDS activists, those overpaid blowhards who do nothing for the poor kids."
Now that's ego.
Yet forty years later, my friend Walter and I are still after the same blamed thing.
A Pulitzer would be nice.
Ah, but there you have to produce a work scrupulously researched, rich in politics, human content, drama. You'd have to be at least a Bob Woodward.( A page of Mr. Woodward's copy produces a scrupulocity worthy of a Meister Eckhard, medieval logician, indomitable debater.
A page of my own copy resembles a Franciscan monk high on Crack).
Yet I have bamboozled the best, certainly Alan Walker, of the Canadian Magazine, friend of Margaret Atwood--why the hell didn't I know that then, when I was a staff writer for the Canadian!--Peggy and I would have had some nice chats. She could have gotten me nominated.
The thing with Alan Walker though, he had a brain that would f*ck up a computer, encyclopaedic knowledge of damn near everything, and I only fooled him once on a story.
Ah well. Still dreaming.
I am with the Emir of Qatar, hoping for a writer's grant.
I am with Madame Azuela, in Argentina, hoping to get the key to Borges, with whom she'd hung out.
I am atop the doghouse hoping to catch sight of The Red Baron.