In which Citizen Jim comes out of hiding to castigate Chicken Sheets for not sharing an important Hollywood tidbit with him. (If you’re triggered by the phrase “WITCH HUNT,” stop reading.)
Of all the things humans have thought up to make life “better,” Daylight Saving Time might be the most evil. Sure, okay: once Daylight Saving Time ends, we get the chance to sleep an hour longer on the night when we “fall back” to standard time, but nothing else about reverting to standard time is worth “gaining” that hour.
This is especially true when you can’t be arsed to go in to work until nine o’clock because every sunrise seems to hold the promise of getting some writing done as you’re crawling into bed each night even though, in reality, no real writing will start the next day until seven o’clock and no flow will kick in until seven-thirty, which will leave you with roughly half an hour to produce anything of value.
As days like this stack up, one on top of another, it’s not hard to see how futile and useless the pursuit of art actually is.
And if you’re over the age of 40 the worst thing about switching back to standard time is the fact that the sun sets before five o’clock and the drive home from work is cloaked in darkness that is sliced many times each minute by halogen lights on the front of oncoming cars, rendering many midlifers unable to see the road ahead of them.
In other words, night blondness is not a myth, and I have it.
“Did you just write ‘night blondness’ in that last sentence?” Citizen Jim asked as he read over my shoulder.
I squinted at the computer screen, my finger on the backspace button of my keyboard. “Yeah. I meant to write ‘night blindness,’ but I hit the wrong key,” I said as I corrected my mistake.
“Maybe you have day blindness, too,” he said. “Night blondness sort of sounds like a useful disorder women could have on dates with handsome men whose good looks keep their dates from seeing a total dick sitting across the table from them in a swanky restaurant.”
As soon as I filed away that idea it occurred to me that somehow Citizen Jim had gotten into my house and was standing behind me quite early in the morning without my knowing how such a thing could have happened.
“How did you get in here?” I asked.
He moved from behind me and was peering over the side of the study carrel I use as my writing space. “I sneaked in the door while you were outside checking the mail last night. I hid under your bed until you got up this morning,” he said. “You really need to clean better under there. I woke up with my lungs full of dust bunnies and enough of Chrissy’s fur to make a new cat.”
“Then maybe you shouldn’t go around sneaking into people’s houses and hiding under their beds,” I said.
“How else was I supposed to see you? You haven’t written a Citizen Jim story in three or four months!” he said.
That wasn’t true. “That isn’t true,” I said. “I wrote one about three weeks ago.”
“What was it about?” he asked.
“I have no idea,” I said. “Something about a trunk? ‘Junk in My Trunk’ maybe?”
“I’m not gonna deny you’ve got plenty of that,” said Citizen Jim. “Your ass is HUGE!”
“Now that you’ve insulted me in the way you came here to insult me, could you leave? I’m trying to work against a deadline,” I said.
“You aren’t trying to work against any damned deadline! You’re trying to work against my happiness!” Citizen Jim said. His face went red and veins started showing on his neck.
“What did I do this time?” I asked, taking a deep breath and holding it with my eyes trained toward the ceiling.
“Oh, I think you know. You’ll deny it, then say I’m on a WITCH HUNT. Then your supporters will say you did it for all the right reasons, and then you’ll think up a stupid nickname for me that never really catches on,” he said. “You’ll defame me and threaten me and accuse me of treason—all just to keep anyone from looking for the truth because they’re too busy trying to solve the mystery of what the hell you’re babbling about. SAD!”
“Are you sure Donald Trump isn’t the one who’s working against your happiness? Because you just described what he, not I, would do if accused of something as grave and threatening as working against your happiness,” I said.
“You’re stalling for time, Sister Kristy,” he said, “when you know good and well that you’ve kept important information from me.”
“If you want to look at my taxes, they’re in a file right behind you between the microwave and the pantry,” I said. “Now, please. Goodbye. I need to get back to work.”
Citizen Jim wasn’t listening to me. He was rifling through a stack of papers on my printer, the editing copy of a story I’d written a few days before. He threw the papers in his hands over his shoulder and said, “Why didn’t you want me to know that a movie had been made of our friend William Gay’s novel The Long Home?”
Well. William Gay, while a writer so wonderful that I wrote him a letter after reading The Long Home to tell him how beautiful the book was, had never really been my friend.
“I didn’t know anyone made a movie of that book,” I said. “And William was your friend, not mine.”
It’s true William Gay and I had smoked a couple of cigarettes together outside a used bookstore in Fairhope on an afternoon when he happened to be in town back in 1999 or 2000, but I doubt William Gay had carried away any close feeling of kinship from that experience.
“Bullshit! I know you spend half your life on the Internet Googling and Tweeting and Instagramming with a shit load of ‘Jesus-Christing’ in between!” he said. “I can’t believe you wouldn’t have come across this important news at some point in the last four years. And if you did, it seems strange that you didn’t tell me. Or maybe it doesn’t. God, you’re horrible!”
“I know, Precious Lamb,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s your way of calling this a WITCH HUNT, so you must be guilty as hell,” he said.
“No, in fact, I’m innocent, but now I’m wondering how you came across this information so long after the fact,” I said.
“Oh, no! No, ma’am! I’m not gonna let you track my Internet history the way every bullshit website I visit does,” he said. “If I told you I watched an episode of ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ which made me do a Google search of Vincent D’Onofrio which led me to a Wikipedia entry about his 24-year-old daughter Leila George, which then led me to a story about said daughter’s being engaged to grizzled 59-year-old actor Sean Penn, a story which also mentioned the fact that Leila George had been in a movie called The Long Home, which I then searched for on IMDB, discovering that they started filming all the way back in 2015—if you ever found any of that out, you’d use it to try and sell me quilts or moonshine or roofing nails or something! So quit asking questions.”
“Yes, I agree,” I said. “It’s probably best I don’t know any of what you just told me.”
I also wanted to add that I thought it was uncanny that Jim described 59-year-old actor Sean Penn as “grizzled,” because that was the word I had used many times to describe William Gay, the now-deceased author of The Long Home. I also thought it was funny that “grizzled” (inside my own funhouse of a brain, anyway) was so like “craggy,” a word which Jack Pendarvis, a still-living writer, once used in a story to characterize an unnamed fictional novelist who I’m convinced was supposed to be William Gay, the late author of The Long Home.
“I didn’t call Sean Penn ‘grizzled!’ I was quoting the National Enquirer article I read!” Citizen Jim said. “Stop putting words in my mouth just so you can say something is uncanny.”
I decided to let it go. I was just so happy that Citizen Jim had come to see me that I didn’t want to pull the pin that would precede his exploding in anger. I didn’t have time, anyway, as it was 7:50 and I needed to start getting ready for my workday, which would end with my driving home in the dark at 5:30, blinded by oncoming cars and cursing Benjamin “Fart Proudly” Franklin for devising the horror of Daylight Saving Time.*
I would definitely be using a flashlight to check under my bed before I turned in, though.
*- While often credited—or, more often (and more correctly), blamed—for DST, Franklin didn’t really “invent” the concept; he only mentioned the idea in a satirical essay as a possible way for his beloved Frenchmen to spend less money buying candles and lamp oil in the 18th century.