Literary Upstart Finalist: All I Have Pictured (A Slide Show) 

If there’s one thing I truly hate, and I try to hate very little, it’s commercials with dead celebrities in them. It’s deplorable, shameless and downright weird. There are enough living people to sell me a can of Coke, I don’t need Greta Garbo selling me a Coke. John Wayne made once again flesh by computers and ad executives does not make me want to purchase a vacuum cleaner. Ginny, however, thought these ads were light-hearted in their intent and quite imaginative in their execution. We’d end up fighting. She’d tell me I’m worked up over nothing and I’d tell her she’s just as bad as them, and they are double-worse than Hitler. Then, often, she would storm out of the house and return from the deli with a Coke and drink it, in spite, in front of me.

But you’re not here to listen to our differing beliefs in advertising practices. You’re here to see a slide show of our vacation across the country. And in an attempt to prove to Ginny, wherever she may be now, that I am not without a sense of humor in these matters, I have inserted dead celebrities into the photographs of our vacation. As if they joined us in our travels. As if they shared with us a lobster roll on a pier in Portland, Maine or made with us human square around the Four Corners. As if somehow, from beyond their famous graves, they endorsed our love and the time we were together. We never actually made it to the Four Corners. But I’ll get that.

This is Ginny and me leaving our townhouse in Akron, Ohio. Please notice the sheer fullness of our 1989 Plymouth Reliant. Please notice also our nation’s thirteenth president Millard Fillmore peering out from the window of the second floor bathroom. His job was to keep watch over our home. Keep the plants watered, the bathroom tidy. Millard Fillmore was a lackluster president and as a sentinel he didn’t fair much better. For while the bathrooms were clean and the plants had their health, our home itself, when we returned, was not at all the place we left. Perhaps you cannot fault him for this. I choose to anyway. Fucking Fillmore.

Here we are, eating ice cream in Madison, Wisconsin. Ginny went to school out there and she assured me the ice cream was like nothing else. The freshness came from the quality of the cows and the city’s proximity to their udders and I tried my best to mask my disappointment but she could tell, she could always tell. The expectations... I muttered but she laughed it was fine and we sat there as the sun went down and our treats melted to nothing.

Oh, and behind us is German filmmaker Fritz Lang, enjoying some mint chip with chocolate sprinkles. As you can see, he has no qualms with his. There is joy in each bite, his face is saying, which you can tell because he was, after all, an expressionist.


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