A Sock In The Eye
by Mert Guswiler
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© 1997 - all rights reserved
Chapter I - In Which A Mert Is Introduced And We Are Given Explanations
Of One Kind Or Another For The Rest Of This Book
For as long as I can remember, I've always been greatly impressed by that
fellow Ulysses or Odysseus, depending on your geographical orientation and
cultural preference either for Greece or Rome. (He is a kind of lodestar
for me, even today, many years after this adventure I'm telling you about,
and must be important to lots of people since not too long ago there was a
television movie about him.) He was the one, you remember, that sort of
made it his life's work to sail about the world. It made him famous or he
made it famous or something. He was not deterred by doomsayers or a weaving
spouse, which is to say he just did it. And this was long before he had the
help of any sneakers to encourage him by telling him to "just do it." I'm
not saying I'm any descendant of his, biologically anyway, but there is a
bond between A Mert and a Ulysses, as you will see. We are both "trips,"
for one thing. Since he is famous and I am not, A Mert needs to be introduced.
There are two ways of looking at A Mert just as there are two ways of
looking at most things. On the one hand, A Mert is very difficult to spot
in a group of people because A Mert is a people, so to speak. On the other
hand, a very watching-type person soon learns to spot A Mert quickly.
Everyone, everywhere meets up with A Mert sometime during his or her
life. Some people can adjust better than others to this A Mert and these
people become part of A Mert's life. It is well to note at this point,
too, that the term (or whatever) "A Mert" can be either a specific one
(meaning me) or a generic one (meaning I know there are others out there
kind of like me or others who I'm kind of like). A person can be A Mert
and not be aware of it, although others around are quite convinced of the
fact. An unknowing A Mert usually does not remain that way - unknowing that
is; others make certain A Mert, and we're talking specifics here (meaning
me), becomes enlightened.
These others relish such telltale incidents as:
- A Mert writes letters that contain information like: "I am waisting
away on this diet; my waist now measures twenty-four."
- A Mert insists that she has written exactly what she means, and yes, of course, she can spell
(unlike some high mucky-mucks who shall remain nameless).
- A Mert carries on meaningful and empathetic conversations with a friend like:
Friend: "I can't come this weekend. Reader's Digest wants me to get this
article out by Monday."
- A Mert: "Oh, I heard from them, too! They sent me a bill."
- A Mert is a doer of things, like ordering a banana split and, halfway
through it, discovering why it tastes different - the chef or whoever
forgot the banana; like being given a small remnant of carpet and carrying
it around, explaining, "My new transportation. We just got a raise at work."
- A Mert, by the way, is very good at explaining things, especially things
like dire financial need when the occasion arises (and for A Mert, the
occasion is in perpetual ascension). A Mert with an eye problem and hence
wearing an eye patch goes into the office of the Noble Leader (boss) to ask
for a raise. Noble Leader counters with many-syllabled words and lengthy
government reports on the state of the economy that, translated, say "No."
A Mert, sighing, gets up to leave. Noble Leader paternally asks what is
wrong with the eye. A Mert leans over his desk and whispers, "Don't tell
anyone. I sold it to supplement my income."
- A Mert does the same things other people do but not the same way other
people do them, like buying eggs, for example. A Mert buys a dozen eggs,
and discovers at home that two are cracked. The next time a dozen eggs are
bought, at home it is discovered there are only eleven. "You should look
before you buy them," a friend advises. "With my luck, they'll think I'm
stealing them," A Mert responds. However, the next time A Mert checks the
eggs at the store, they arrive home, twelve and uncracked. A Mert has
broken the spell. That same night, the refrigerator goes wild and the next
morning everything in it is frozen solid. The loss includes one dozen
frozen-solid (and some cracked) eggs.
- A Mert never gives up, on eggs or anything else, which brings us to this
book. This book, pure and simple, is about what happens when you don't give
up, or to be truly precise and stuff, what did happen in the 1960s BT
(Before Terrorism) when you didn't give up. It really should be dedicated
to the Peace Corps because if the Peace Corps hadn't rejected A Mert, none
of the things in this book would have happened, or if they would have
happened, they wouldn't have happened in quite the same way. It would have
all been different, if it would have been at all. But then, that's the
thing about being A Mert: the way things happen is always different.
This book, too, finally answers those people who keep asking me, even
today, what was I "doing all those years over there?"
This book has it all as far as being "about" something. It even represents
a sort of victory, and in that regard, may be the only subtle enterprise
ever connected with A Mert. In that regard, too, it could have been
dedicated to Henry Fielding over whom A Mert has finally triumphed. You
see, some time back there was this movie called "Tom Jones" that sort of evolved
from a huge novel of the same name by this Henry Fielding. A Mert liked the
movie a lot even though it sent her on a guilt trip. You see, the novel had
been required college reading, a feat accomplished by A Mert and friends by
reading only the very, very long chapter titles. A Mert always felt she had
dishonestly earned her college degree by not actually reading the novel part
of the novel and the movie only reminded her of that fact. Immediately
after seeing the movie, A Mert began to slog through the novel, finally
regaining her honor when she finished the whole book.
"I have at last honestly and truly graduated," she told a friend as she closed the book.
"Someday, somehow I've got to find a way to immortalize this struggle and this
writer who's caused it."
That day has finally come with the very, very long chapter titles in this
book. You see, the chapter titles for this adventure are a kind of
immortality, although a sort of different kind to be sure. But as has
already been said, A Mert does things differently even to the bestowing of
I know because I am A Mert.