Saturday, August 27, 2011

Recollections as Edible Gingerbread

Appraised with clinical detachment, my most vivid recollections comprise a gingerbread house. Like other houses on the historic register, my memories have distinctive adornments like semi-hardened coral-red frosting.

Fitting to a house constructed from all-spice cookie slabs and semi-hardened frosting, my recollections reside on a corner lot with no particular orientation to the rising or setting suns signified by butterscotch.

This particular gingerbread house first panned its way into my view as the kind of special effect that calls to mind viewing the world through the semi-transparent lenses on the wrong end of candy binoculars. But these are the ocular peepholes that constitute my understanding of the fantasy that passes for reality and vice versa.

If I were to click a photograph of the coral-red gingerbread house in the ideal light, it would appear ordinary to you and disappointing to me. If this photograph was all we had to judge my recollections, we would proclaim the historical register designation real-estate fraud and culinary malpractice.

Furthermore if I were to sit in a gingerbread Adirondack chair with my back to the front of the gingerbread house holding a rock candy mirror in my left hand and painting what I saw in the mirror with my right, you would be disappointed with the veracity of every forsaken gob of frosting I committed to the ginger snap canvas.

I drift toward Main Street like a game board token when I arrive in familiar and unfamiliar towns. My gingerbread house sits a few blocks off Main Street. I suppose this is a kind of equivalence fallacy never to be reconciled. Since I am explaining the details of an edible dwelling, I don't want to ruin any sensory pleasure you might figuratively derive from dunking my chocolate-dipped chimney into cold milk, gumming my recollections, then swallowing. Suffice to say my recollections will never reside in the prominent storefronts of Main Street, rather they will be mixed, baked, built, eaten and re-mixed a few blocks off Main.

Oh sure, my gingerbread house has obligatory gum drops. Gum drops that were plopped on the roof after wondering “Shouldn't a gingerbread house have gum drops?” The gingerbread people who inhabit the house are foot soldiers in the dark armies of my sundry alter egos. Maybe they are just cookies, but the little bastards ignore me. They appear happy enough albeit with delicately applied smiles and bulging candy pearl eyes. It's no wonder children routinely behead them with as much malice and forethought as an appetite for sugar.

The neighborhood streets have storybook names like Story Street. The story of simple recollections began as a poem. The poem was adorned with a title that implied geographic location because that is what poets do regardless of whether geography is germane. In this instance the location had everything and nothing to do with the poem like those candy beads that pass for jewelry.

But you would have finished reading the poem by now. The poem surely would have come up short. Perhaps missing baking soda. Perhaps too much was left to the imagination. Perhaps the poem was over-baked. It's near impossible to enumerate the ways in which the poem would have failed. That's precisely why I am going to spell it out in architectonic block letters like the ones gingerbread architects use to win over wary clients.

My preference in explaining the elusiveness of memories requires more than an all-spice house tricked out in gum drops. I suppose I would write the narrative in block letters with chubby street chalk. I would start on the western end of Story Street, then block letter my merry way eastward to the Candy Land board located somewhere below the Story Hills. By the same token street art is under-appreciated, particularly in short story form. And as a practical matter, it rains here from time to time -- even in my recollections.