Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 17 February 2016


Hot Stuff

I never thought he might have been in pain.
No one told me there was pain in not understanding.
They said ignorance was bliss.

Once I let him touch me and then I saw it in his eyes.
And he ran off screaming as if I'd burned him.

29 June 1988

This is the third of The Drowning Man Poems. Like all the rest meaning is just out of arm’s reach. At least that’s how I feel about these poems and I wrote them. And, oddly enough, that appeals to me. It keeps me coming back.

The girl in this poem is Hot Stuff. I know that’s not clear from the title, especially when viewed as a standalone piece, but in the next poem William calls the doctor ‘Honey’ and so I feel it’s implied that the narrator here is Hot Stuff. I have no picture of her in my head. I have no picture of William or of most of the characters I write. I’ve always wondered about why this is. When my wife reads a book she often tells me who she’s cast in certain roles. She was reading an Ian Rankin novel a wee while back and said that she found herself picturing Rebus as Robbie Coltrane rather than John Hannah or Ken Stott. Of course he works but that’s not what would happen if I read the book. There are exceptions. Randal P. McMurphy is Jack Nicholson and I don’t care who else plays him—my daughter said Christian Slater did an excellent job when she saw him on stage—but I can’t move past Nicholson. That said his Joker has been surpassed but, of course, when I read the comics the Joker is just the Joker irrespective of who draws him.


Kass said...

Burning - screaming - the pain of not understanding...quite intense and accessible, even if a deeper meaning is beyond arm's reach.

Jim Murdoch said...

I think what’s important in this poem, Kass, is it’s that William does the touching. It’s not Hot Stuff that touches him. He’s curious. Naturally. But what does he expect? For most of us our first experiences of sex are vicarious. We read about it. And it sounds great. I clearly remember the first time I had sex and it was an eye-opener. I didn’t run off screaming or anything but it did not live up to my expectations. NOTHING could’ve lived up to my expectations. And that’s the thing about getting to do stuff we’ve dreamed about. Mostly it’s disappointing. What’s worse: not knowing or knowing? It’s not such a straightforward choice.

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