ooled under the mailboxes were thirteen rejection notices that had
fallen when I opened the door. It was difficult not to notice them.
Bernoulli, my clay artist friend, pulled me by the elbow, out the post
office, onto a bar stool at the Artist Cafe--where the serious
"artist" hung out (serious artists often drop that term in their
dialogue). I hate cappuccino but she ordered two, so I dumped in all
the cream and sugar packets I could lay my hands on. A gooey sludge
formed at the bottom of my cup. It was barely tolerable.
"Act cool," she said. We did. For two hours in our drabbest clothes,
we ignored everybody in their drabber clothes. No one sat beside us.
Bernoulli declared herself a performance artist. She donned a flowery
bathing suit, coated all exposed areas with was and had me drive us, a
camcorder, and a bucket of cement mix to the abandoned bridge. She
dumped sand into the mix, dipping her feet inside.
She said, "Start taping." I flipped it on. She was nipping out in the
October breeze, and while I was wondering how she could stand the cold,
she spoke, "I call this final piece, 'Slipped Between the Cracks.'" She
lowered herself between the guardrails. The camcorder clattered where I
dropped it and recorded my ankles running to the splash.
At her funeral / art show, no art sold, but everyone watched the video.
A Frenchman informed me, "Suicide is passe."
First published: October 1997