Rejection Letters

Great American Interview

That reminds me. That was the year I sat in front of the mirror every day, answering questions, interviewing myself. Practicing. Preparing for the inevitable, though the inevitability of what, I wasn’t specific about. Fame, acclaim, infamy, fortune, curiosity. The reasoning behind the questioning didn’t really matter. Or, more than not mattering or a lack of specificity, it changed. It was fluid. There wasn’t one impetus for the questioning so much as a variety, a slot machine of possibility. A star turn in a critically acclaimed movie or TV show; winning the lottery; writing the Great American Novel; building a giant sculpture out of Lego; writing or directing or starring in a Broadway play, or maybe some combination, or maybe even all three; blowing my hand off with a firework; producing or engineering or mixing having some important role in the crafting and creation of an innovative and attention-getting song, maybe even a whole album; cutting off a finger or hand or arm, either because I had to or maybe even some other mysterious, nonessential reason; being part of a cult; forming a cult; somehow helping or instigating the takedown and disbanding of a cult; painting a piece of art, a Great American Painting, maybe even, that sets fire to the art world; setting a famous painting on fire, accidentally or maybe on purpose, as act of protest or perhaps on purpose but still without reason; creating a Great American… Collage? Sculpture? Installation? Performance Piece?; witnessing a crime; breaking up or stopping a crime; solving a murder; planning and getting away with a perfect murder? the… Great American Murder? (no, no, not a murder, in part because, even in daydreams and make-believe, that seemed off limits, but also, if it were perfect, you wouldn’t be caught, else it wouldn’t be perfect, thus there’d never be an interview). Nevermind not being an actor or ever buying a lottery ticket or much caring about books or having played with Lego since before puberty or ever having been to a play or lighting off fireworks since doing so with friends as a teenager or even knowing the difference between a music producer and engineer and mixer or having any musical abilities or being squeemish around blood or having any knowledge about or connection to cults of any kind or being able to paint or collage or sculpt or install or perform… None of those restrictions seemed like they had to be limitations. They weren’t crushers of dreams, negaters of fantasies. If anything, they might even be factors of the fame, the attention, the curiosity. Addressing the seeming contradiction would likely be one of the questions, maybe a whole segment of the interview.

And then one day, Mary caught me. She walked in and saw me and asked what I was doing, and it felt like I’d been caught having an affair or manipulating numbers to hide our money problems or masturbating to cuck or bestiality or tentacle porn, or worse. Whatever worse might be. I didn’t want to think about it. She asked what I was doing, and I reluctantly told her, and she looked at me… not like I’d confessed to having an affair or that I’d lost more of my monthly share of our disposable income on online gambling or that sometimes I liked to watch small dick humiliation videos when pleasuring myself, but just confused. Like she didn’t get it, not at all. Like she’d never done anything similar, like she couldn’t even understand the impulse of someone who did.

We broke up not long after. I told her it was because I was embarrassed, like I feared she would never look at me the same, like I thought about her thinking about it every time I looked at her looking at me. I expected it to be a fight or a struggle or a conversation, at least, but she didn’t argue, so I guess it was true. For me, it was and it wasn’t. I was embarressed, true, but not for my fantasies, these delusions of one day being interviewed for something great. For being caught, a little, but mostly for her. For her lack of imagination. For the fact that she hadn’t ever imagined the possibility for herself. For her lack of preparation for… maybe not the inevitable, but at least what might be possible.

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Aaron Burch is founding editor of HOBART and, because he doesn’t have anything else to do, just started a rad new journal HAD (Hobart After Dark).

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