Today I am going to shave off my beard, but not in a reckless, casual way. I am going to shave it off completely, and carefully, but in stages, allowing for a moment to pause and say “This is what I look like as an old President, with mutton chops” and then “this is what I look like with a fu manchu” and then “this is what I look like as a cowboy, with a handlebar mustache” and then “this is what I would look like if I were Charlie Chaplin, shaving at a stranger’s mirror and saying ‘My God, what have I done? My career is ruined!’ until I don’t look like Charlie Chaplin at all.” Finally: “This is what I would look like in the witness protection program, wearing a lime suit with three buttons, a false pair of glasses, holding a book in my hands that I really haven’t read, a snappy blonde by my side who I have never met, hailing a taxi to New Mexico, my face bracing and clean from a smart smack of Aqua Velva with nothing to look forward to but the future and its perfect, smooth face.
Near the Barbecue Restaurant there flies a seagull. There is no reason for a seagull to be there. I imagine he feels the same way, and yet he appears to be happy. But then again, that is most likely due to its physiognomy. He cannot appear to be unhappy, much as a road cannot appear to go nowhere, although many do, because of their physiognomy. I have seen many a seagull walking on a road, looking at the horizon, smiling, making friends with the distance.
I asked the mailman if he had delivered my mail yet. “No,” he said, “only yesterday’s.” “Goody!” I replied, “that way tomorrow I can check my mail and pretend it’s new!” “Whatever floats your boat” he said. “That’s precisely what makes my boat float” I said, although I knew that what makes my boat float was infinitely more complicated than that, and often involved letters and postcards, sometimes books in manila envelopes. But he wasn’t listening anymore. He was delivering mail in a small, brown boat in the middle of a raging sea.
I make my letters large enough that I don’t confuse commas with periods. If the letters are too small, you have many more sentences than you intend to have. People read your work and experience a unpleasant, jerky sensation, and sometimes that sensation makes them stop reading. It is as though they were periods too, and should be made larger, so that they might pause and think about what they are about to do, and not do it.