The Bio (con't)

That was then—a long, long while ago. And after a time, over the rolling humps of the years, every once in a blue-cheesey kind of while somebody wants a bio out of me. ("Just a few sentences, not a lot, a few words, something to go into a faculty handbook, or for a yearbook, a resume, a love letter... " aieee!) And I do my best to oblige.

Perhaps it's the writhing of the actual life—a life and its time that gets longer by the minute—that won't be jammed into a ball jar no matter how much sugar gets thrown in with it. Perhaps it's just the hokey self indulgence of it all, like those photos of authors leaning their temples on their thinking fingers and looking soulfully into the camera. Perhaps it's perversity, perhaps it's simply—hell, I don't know what it is but if you press me to the wall like a headmaster I used to work for and it was do or die then I'd come up with something like this (which he kneaded and molded and brushed some chicken fat on) :

Frank, the latest addition to our faculty up here on the hill was born in l937 on Staten Island, New York. He acquired a B.A. and shortly after an M.A. from Brooklyn College. He is a stellar acquisition to both our literature and theater program. A man of many talents, Frank can wield a bat (I saw him hit a single, double, triple and home run on faculty day.) as well as a pen. (We'll be reading his poems and stories soon.) Frank is happily married and has two bright, beamish boys. His hobbies are fishing and ice-skating. His honest-to-God personal statement is: "I like to be where the beer comes out of the bottle."

I don't know where the devil he got the fishing and ice-skating from, and the happily married bunk. Plus the "personal statement" is way out of context and makes me sound like a big-bellied beer-guzzler. Though what happened on faculty day is true—though to be fully true you' d have to mention that I struck out on my last turn at bat. But all in all, he at least tried to put some life into the thing.

Which is what most bios are missing. They are full of a lot of details and when you really take a look at most bios and obituaries you realize how stupid and trivial and unrevealing are the enumerated milestones of anybody's life.

They don' t tell you what you really want to know about the person and they pretend as if they're saying something meaningful, as if they've just uttered the last word that could be said about him. And it's just as stiff and embalmy as a corpse with hands folded exuding a pious reserve that no man alive ever had.

Admittedly, my jolly headmaster didn't give too many revealing facts. But at least he made an attempt to put a little life into the soup. After all, what's the good of all the thises and thatzizz, and then this here happened and that there and so on and so forth and therefore and etcetera ad infinitum if you never find out what went on inside the person, why he did what he did and what was he shooting for—you know, the real events, the inner life, the twists and turns of it, you know, what went on within the secret closet. That's what a bio should have in it or what's the point?

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