Here's the story, of a lovely evening, as unraveled by a Boston College Dean. She had long hair like her mother, who's living now in Queens:
It's Valentine's Day night, that bastion of Hallmark sweethearts and suburban roses, and Gasson 100 is crammed with the young. Their abs are visible and flat, their nose rings shine, they wear hip orange knit caps with pompoms utterly ridiculous on anybody over 25, and they travel in packs—none of this paired-off stuff. Ten minutes late, and to frantic applause, author Dave Eggers lopes into the room, taller than you'd think from the jacket photo on his wildly popular book, A Heartbreaking Work of Suprapubic Genius (2000), and definitely buff,1 in jeans and a brown sweater over a drooping brown T-shirt, wearing scuffed brown oxfords spattered with white paint,2 a subtle shadow on his jaw.
1 God if I were only twenty-one again. I'd show that hunk of manly firmness a thing or two about literary climax.
1 'Yeah, so I couldn't believe it. She gives me the check for $1,500 dollars, and then she's like, 'I can give you a ride back to your hotel if you'd like.' I mean, what am I supposed to do with that? I was like, 'Mrs. Dunsford, you're not trying to Anne Bancroft me are you?'
2 A badge of courage no doubt from his days as a high tower painter in the Spanish Thivil War.
"I didn't bring a coat." pause. "Anyone have a coat?" A Dickens orphan with a gamin's charm, Dave Eggers knows how to work a room.
Here's what he actually said, contrary to this dean's fantasy report:
"I ain't brought no coat." pause. "Which one of you mutherfuckers have a coat?'
"Who a Dickens fan here?"
Next Eggers turns on a boom box, but the music blasts out of the oversize speakers mounted incongruously on the wood-paneled walls. Eggers can't believe it: he only wanted background sound, not a concert, and now Ryan comes up again to try to fix the problem. "Are you like an RA or anything?" Eggers asks Ryan.
No, no no. Hardly. Again:
Eggers then reaches into a humongous Adidas bag, the kind you get for winning fifteenth prize in the Seven-Up sweepstakes, and pulls out a big-ass boom box. 'You some kinda RA? Cuz I done fucked RA's, JA's, BA's, TA's and their nappy-ass sisters. I done fucked every kind a A they is? Whatch'you think about that?'
Toto's "Rosanna" shrieks out of the boom box and Eggers begins to read a passage about a junior high dance, a dead-on description of a tangle of sweaty adolescent bodies on a dance floor, their tongues entwining like "squids sucking on each other's brains."1 As the story builds to a crescendo of partner-swapping and wet tongues, the narrator repeats rhetorically, with the in-your-face inflection of every teenager down the ages, "And why not?. . . And goddamn it, why not?" 2
Signing books afterward, now wearing a navy baseball cap with an M on it, Eggers sits at a table for an hour and a quarter, fully as long as his reading, individualizing each book with a slim felt pen. CURT, he writes at the top of one title page; at the bottom he draws a 3-D open box with the words "a box half-full of ennui & desperation." CURT is grateful for the autograph readily acknowledging his desparation. However, he insists he does not have any ennui. Eggers will have none of it promptly writing in another ennui underneath the first one. CURT presses his point. A third ennui, this time with an exclamation mark. Just then a relatively attractive thirty-ish brunette, presumably from the Eggers campaign, appears with her lips up next to CURT's ear and whisks him away from the scene.
Squid \'skwid\ n, pl squid or squids [origin unknown] (1613) : any of numerous 10-armed cephalopods (esp. of the genera Loligo and Omastrephes) having a long tapered body, a caudal fin on each side, and usu. a slender internal chitinous support. Spend most of their time swimming at great oceanic depths, eating small plankton, and sucking each other's brains.
God: 'Yes, well-'
Jesus: 'No wait, I think I can take that one. It's because that song sucks. That's why Dad and I totally were fucking with his sound system. I was like, hey man, I ain't trying to hear that.'
As for the other half of the box? A few minutes earlier, Eggers (then wearing a baseball cap with an R on it) had quietly asked a group of students around him if any were education majors. (McSweeney's, by the way, has just opened a nonprofit writing lab for underprivileged youth in San Francisco.) When one young man said he planned to teach high school English, Eggers (then wearing an S cap) took out what looked like his payment for the evening—a check for $1,500—and signed it. "You'll be underpaid your whole life," he said. And he endorsed the check over to the student.
And why not? And goddamn it, why not?
- Clare Dunsford
AAAAHHHHH. Because, Clare, that's fifteen hundred fucking dollars, that's why not. God dammit. Don't give it to that over-privileged dreamer. Give me that money. 'Oh, I totally want to teach education to under-privileged inner city youth in San Francisco, only I can't, because there's totally nowhere to park.'