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S*** Sandwiches, (Non)fiction, and Truth April 13, 2012

Filed under: Philosophy,Writing/Words — Annie Maier @ 3:27 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

April 13, 2012

The last three posts sort of took it out of me. Or maybe it was the (blissfully few) shit sandwich responses I received. For those of you unfamiliar with this term (surely there are others besides me!) I will explain it to you by paraphrasing my dear friend Raki: A s*** sandwich is when someone gives you negative news (or in my case, negative feedback) bookended by something positive. Though Raki didn’t explicitly say so, I would also add that there are some seriously passive aggressive vibes associated with such a sandwich. I mean, really, if someone says, “Wow, that sweater is great. Didn’t they have your size? Well, have fun on your date!” what they really mean is, A) you look like hell and should go home, immediately, and change, or B) you shouldn’t be surprised if your date stands you up. I don’t know about you, reader/writers, but I’m an honesty kind of person. Just give it to me straight, sans bread and sans… well, you know.

Anyway, that was way more than I meant to say about that. Must be talking with Raki that set me off! I laugh every time I think about her explaining this simple cultural concept. (For anyone who needs more, there are an amazing array of results when you do a web search. Here are my two favorites: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Shit%20Sandwich and http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shit_sandwich)

Anyway, while I am undaunted in being perfectly honest, and in speaking my mind as far as common decency allows, I’m going to take a break this week and give not a word essay, but a word poem. Or maybe a word story. Let’s see what my infected brain spits out.

Oh wait, hey, before I begin, I just thought of something in connection to the word of the day (which is, though I haven’t told you, “truth”). This sort of relates to what I say above, in a convoluted, literary way. There’s a lot of discussion about “truth” in relation to creative nonfiction (as opposed to basic nonfiction, otherwise known as journalism, which is even more black and white than the paper it used to be printed on). One side thinks truth is set in stone and the other side thinks truth, in this context, is necessarily flexible. (Here’s a great blog/article from Brevity: http://brevity.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/the-derrata-controversy-why-truth-matters/ ) Perhaps not surprisingly, I fall in the stone camp: truth is, for me, way too fluid to be messed with. Which means truth, even in the realm of my own writing must always be qualified. As in, “I think this is how it all came down, but really, what do I know?”

Taking this train to its logical conclusion, I also believe that fiction is an excellent genre for exploring, perhaps even exploiting, truth. Hence:

Truth

noun

  • the quality or state of being true
  • (also the truth) that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality
  • a fact or belief that is accepted as true

as in:

Vomiting Half Naked on a Plane

This story is true.

Three women sit on the lawn. It is lunchtime, but only one is eating.

Woman #1 is young, dressed in a white tee shirt and black jeans. Her hair is curly and wild and she doesn’t wear any makeup. Her eyes are small and the lids wrinkle shut when she laughs in a way that makes her look adorable rather than decrepit. As she speaks, she picks at a sandwich, alternately eating a piece and tossing a piece off into the grass. Curious squirrels stare at her from a distance.

Woman #2 has her back to me. All I see are stubs of short hair beneath a black and white bandana. She has a tattoo on her left arm, running from the crook of her elbow up and around her shoulder. I can’t make out what the tattoo depicts, but it seems intricate—perhaps a swirling green dragon.

Woman #3 has straight black hair bleached on the ends, pulled off to the side as if that half of her body belongs to a gypsy. The half that is exposed reveals a very small ear, the lobe of which boasts two pieces of spiraling black plastic joined in the middle. The earing is ugly and somehow threatening and I can’t stop looking at it. She wears a black shirt over black capris, with brown sandals on sunburnt feet.

I should say I know all three. I should say I transcribe the following conversation as it flows from their mouths, just as I will go back later, collect all the bits of discarded bread and toss them to my own, less timid, squirrels. That is, verbatim. I should say we are strangers and they are unaware of my presence. I should say I am in hiding, though they can see me sitting before them on the damp grass. I should say I am concerned about grass stains.

Woman #1: …so there I was, sitting between them with my pants ripped away, vomiting.

Woman #2: What happened to your pants?

#1: They ripped away, I told you, like tear-away pants, they just ripped away. I was sitting there vomiting (she imitates someone vomiting into a bag).

#2: Did the people next to you say anything?

#1: What could they say? They had a half naked woman puking right beside them without pants.

Woman #3: Okay, I so you were on a plane, vomiting, but what happened to your pants?

#1 starts from the beginning: I was rushing, late, hung over. They’d had to hold the plane for me and everyone was pissed off, grumbling and shooting me evil frowns. I bent to shove my bag, a duffle bag from the army store with all kinds of hooks and things, under the seat and one of the hooks caught on my pants, they were cheap-ass pants from Old Navy, you know how their clothes are, like crepe paper, all thin and cheap. Plus I had worn them every day for a month but didn’t wash them much because I was 23 and gross with dreads and shit. When they caught on the hook, they ripped away.

#3: What did they do?

#1: Who?

#3: The people around you.

#1: Nothing, they were trying not to look at me. I mean I was standing there without pants. Thank god I had on underwear.

#2: I was gonna ask that.

#1: Yeah, I did.

#2: So you vomited because your pants came off?

#1: RIPPED off. No I vomited later. I have a really sensitive stomach (her companions nod). I puke all the time, in stores, cars. I threw up at a movie last month. I ran out into the lobby and vomited in a trashcan, I was standing there heaving and some guy who worked there felt bad for me. He kept saying are you okay, are you okay. I said yeah, that movie is just really disgusting. He gave me free tickets.

#2: You threw up because of a movie?

#1: It was GROSS!

#3: And they gave you free tickets?

#1: Yeah, which was nice, but useless, I lost them. I lose everything.

Her companions nod. The squirrels move closer.

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2 Responses to “S*** Sandwiches, (Non)fiction, and Truth”

  1. Very cool post, Annie. I sure do miss being in class, workshop or writers group with you. It’s great to connect this way, though, and read your brilliant, conversational and thought-provoking words. Keep writing!

    • Annie Maier Says:

      Thanks Cheryl! I so agree–the thing I miss most about Naropa is being able to discuss and share work with you and a few other favorites. Thanks for visiting/reading my blog! Annie


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