Barbie Dolls, Global Destruction, And My Upper-Body Workout


I never played much with action figures when I was a kid. I had them, just like I had Fisher Price Little People and Weebles and a Barbie or two. But I never really knew what to do with any of it.

My friends used to come over, and once the shock of the Barbie had worn off, they’d grab Han Solo and a Transformer and launch into some wackadoodle dialogue, spinning out a complicated conspiracy plot right on the spot.

I never had that ability. My brain — the creative side, anyway — doesn’t really work in narratives. Not spontaneously, anyway. Sure, I can make stuff up, I can write stories and plays and junk, but not off the cuff. I really have to think about it.

I’m much better with images — or maybe with discrete moments. In college, when I learned about Imagist poetry, I thought, “Now THAT’s what I’m talking about.” Amy Lowell et al. would take a moment, a vision, and spin it into something amazing. I love that. (The poetry is frequently terrible, but still.) I do the same thing myself, from time to time — though it’s never really amazing. Interesting, at best.

Here is an example: at the gym, I like to use the Smith machine. For shoulder shrugs, I load up the bar, drop it fairly low, and then, rather than stepping over the bar to do my lifts, I slip through the side, between the weights stacked on the supports of the contraption’s off-centered A-frame. And in my head, it’s like I’m stepping through a doorway, like I’m entering a new place.

I try to get through the opening without touching any of the weights, to slip by and leave no trace — no dead skin cells on the surface of the weights, no threads or sweat on the bar. I think of it like a crime scene, and I don’t want to leave any evidence for forensic scientists to find.

And I often wonder how many others do the same, at my gym and elsewhere. And I think about all of us passing through the same gap in the molded metal and how long it would take for all of us to get past it. And if it were the path to another universe, a safe place, a refuge from the world we’ve helped destroy, how long would it take for all of humanity to slip through, and animals, and plants, and who would be left behind?

See, Han Solo would never think about that shit.

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