Monday, August 02, 2010
Our condensed version of Leon Rooke's short story "Early Obscenities in the Life of the World's Foremost Authority on Heidegger".
If they came across her sitting in a chair, quietly absorbed in a book, they could flip that book to its cover, breathe deeply, and say, "Not that creep again."

They hated her hair. "Purple! My God, even your scalp is purple!"

They never forked over a dime. They harped on how skinny she was ("Pure bone! And those rags you wear!"), and wondered why she sealed herself in the bathroom as often as she did.

"Christ, you'd think you had a lover in there. You'd think you were married to the bathroom, or to that Heidegger creep."
[T]he child said, "Well, how does he come off talking to me about grades, grades, and telling me that my 'precious Heidegger' wouldn't last a minute in a courtroom, when he was such a dumbo himself?"

At this remark, the mother flung her own venom at the luckless child.

"You will not talk about him like that," the mother said. "You will not talk to me, like that. Who is it, do you think, who puts shoes on your feet and provides a roof over your head and works twenty hours a day seeing to your every requirement? Who? Young lady. Who was it around here who for your last birthday bought you the bound eighty volumes of the lifetime work of that shit, Heidegger, that you can't get your nose out of?"
If she was going to be so rebellious, and have such a dirty mouth, and not respect anything, or anyone, and go around with hair looking like that, ad live with her precious Heidegger in this stinking room, and get so upset about goddamn muffins, then she could hit the streets, live on the streets, be as one with all the garbage and filth out there.
She told them both to fuck off. Shouted this at them, and flung her eighty Heidegger volumes to the floor, and told them to touch her if they dare. "Hit me," she said, "and I'll have the police on your tails before you can blink."
Although [the mother] wishes just once she had thought to peek through the keyhole, just to be sure. Because with a thing like this you don't want to just blurt it out, since there could be a thousand reasons the child locks herself up in there.

It could be that she goes in there only to read the eighty volumes of that loathsome fuckhead Heidegger.

How is it, the mother wonders, that a child of hers has come up with this ridiculous obsession?

Pp. 56-62
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