A few weeks ago I taught one of my classes of Taipei teens a deliciously idiotic text by American prose poet Russell Edson, “The Automobile”. The piece opens like this:
A man had just married an automobile.
But I mean to say, said his father, that the automobile is not a person because it is something different.
For instance, compare it to your mother. Do you see how it is different from your mother? Somehow it seems wider, doesn’t it? And besides, your mother wears her hair differently.
You ought to try to find something in the world that looks like mother.
I have mother, isn’t that enough of a thing that looks like mother? Do I have to gather more mothers?
. . .
Then after we’d finished the reading, I gave them a half hour to come up with their own short text about either a man or woman marrying some inanimate object. Predictably, some of their tales were obscene. Flora and Angel wrote the best of them, below.
(As for Russell Edson, whose work is precious to me, the best collection available is The Tunnel: Selected Poems. For those of you who may be curious.)
But here are Flora and Angel.
The Dangers of Marriage
by Flora Zheng 鄭佳峰
A man decided to marry the sun.
He liked to sunbathe in his yard, and was fascinated by the beauty of sunrise and sunset.
In order not to have to share his wife with others, he broadcast through the media that nobody could be shone on by her. They were not to go outside, but just do indoor activities.
The announcement spread quickly. Everyone had a different opinion.
Mr. Smith: “That’s crazy! The sun belongs to nobody. It’s nature’s creation.”
His parents: “OK! We must all respect our son’s decision. He has many challenges ahead and we should help him. It isn’t easy keeping such a marriage together.”
Of course, opposed by most, the marriage was finally not allowed. But the man was determined. He even began researching how to make an environment on the sun in which a human could live.
As global warming got worse, the man began to argue that it was his wife, she was angry, she wanted to be alone with him.
“Once the earth is finished, you will have to find a new planet for yourselves!”
The Dangers of Marriage
by Angel Zheng 鄭安婕
There was a young Taipei woman who loved shopping even more than most women. She shopped every day. One day she told her parents that she wanted to get married to a department store.
“Are you crazy?” said her father.
“No, I’m not,” she said. “I think he is strong and tall. And besides, he is rich. You should be happy.”
“What’s his name?” asked her mother.
“His name is Taipei 101.”
“But how can I get a grandchild?” asked her father.
“Don’t worry, Dad,” the woman said. “You’ll have new grandchildren all the time: the new bags, shoes and clothes I’ll bring home!”
“New bags?” said her mother. “Alright, you can marry him. But he has to get me what I want too!”
“No problem, Mom!” the young woman said.
Her father thought the two women were crazy.
The marriage happened and the young woman and her mother were very happy.
But three months later they were no longer so happy, and the father was yelling all the time, because there was no more room in the house for all the “grandchildren”.
And not only that, but the young woman’s new husband, Taipei 101, was discovered to be having an affair with a famous Taipei actress. The wife knew nothing about it until her husband was photographed by paparazzi one night in a pub with the actress. The photos showed up in Next Magazine. And there were other photos of the actress out biking with a tall building--her husband!
When she saw the news, she cried and was very angry. She slapped her husband and yelled at him. In the end, she divorced him and had to bring up the children by herself.
But her mother helps her a lot.