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How I Became Impossible

January 11, 2012

Last night at dinner, my family (all four of us! Eleanor is still here until January 21!) decided that I was never boring, only annoying. I was pleased about this. It made me think of this Mary Ruefle poem:

How I Became Impossible

I was born shy, congenitally unable to do anything
profitable, to see anything in color, to love plums,
with a marked aversion to traveling around the room,
which is perfectly normal in infants.
Who wrote this? were my first words.
I did not like to be torched.
More snow fell than was able to melt.
I became green-eyed and in due time traveled
to other countries where I formed opinions
on hard, cold, shiny objects and soft, warm,
nappy things. Late in life I began to develop
a passion for persimmons and was absolutely delighted
when a postcard arrived for the recently departed.
I became recalcitrant, spending more and more time
with my rowboat. All my life I thought polar bears
and penguins grew up together playing side by side
on the ice, sharing the same vista, bits of blubber
and innocent lore. One day I read a scientific journal:
there are no penguins at one pole, no bears
on the other. These two, who were so long intimates
in my mind, began to drift apart, each on his own floe,
far out into the glacial seas. I realized I was becoming
impossible, more and more impossible,
and that one day it really would be true.

Oh, how I love this poem! It reminds me of the moment I realized I was “becoming impossible,” looking out into the town square of the town where the guy lived in the movie Back to the Future. There I was. There was the clock tower. It was during a tour of Universal Studios–the first time I remember feeling like I was physically in the place where I spend most of my time.

Also, of course, I really am impossible. I used to tell people that I wasn’t that easy to offend, until I realized it wasn’t true… I am easily offended, although willing to forgive, being one of those people who flares up quickly and then calms down almost as fast. I can be hard to get along with, hard to live with, and occasionally annoying. But if you can believe in me and five other things before breakfast, it might make your day more interesting.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2012 10:10 am

    my daughter thinks i am annoying. very. a couple of weeks ago, we went away for the weekend and brought a friend of hers along. in the car, it became clear that my daughter thinks i’m annoying, so at one point i turned around and asked the other girl if her mother was annoying. and she said NO. i was flummoxed. aren’t all parents annoying, by definition?

    it is a nice poem – thank you.

    • January 11, 2012 10:19 am

      My kids said that some parents are boring–they think a parent is usually one or the other. So wouldn’t you rather be annoying?

  2. drgeek permalink
    January 11, 2012 10:13 am

    Of course the natural response to this poem is: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    (Or would that be for a poem named “How I became inconceivable”?)

    Also, is the line really “I did not like to be torched”?

    • January 11, 2012 10:18 am

      Yes, drgeek, that would more properly be for a poem called “How I Became Inconceivable.” Although becoming that after the fact of conception is…
      Ahem.
      Yes, the line really is “I did not like to be torched.” I double-checked it to be sure that she is making you think of the more common word while creating a much more unlikely image.

    • January 11, 2012 10:19 am

      I simply ADORED that line, drgeek! I don’t even care if it’s a typo.

      When I get the indication that I’m annoying my children, I dial up the annoying and break off the knob. Or, I simply say, “You have no idea how much MORE annoying I could be if I really wanted.” They usually smile or laugh nervously and change the subject. I love the smell of victory at any time of day, but I do not like to be torched.

      • drgeek permalink
        January 11, 2012 10:46 am

        It is a beautiful line that conjures up an interesting image… the world is positively infested with typos these days though. Accuracy is becoming a pet peeve.

        If the poet was English, I would suspect that “torched” referred to the odd practice of taking a flashlight, shining it in sleeping eyes, and yelling “Look out! Lorry!”

  3. January 11, 2012 10:30 am

    I am reading a free e-book (Gutenberg-supplied) and it is rife with typos. The one I love with all my heart is, “He burped with passion.” *can’t stop laughing*

    (I don’t like being torched, either.)

    • January 12, 2012 8:37 am

      I would torch that book. Wait, I think you have; you shine a pretty bright light on it.

  4. January 11, 2012 10:51 am

    I don’t have my own kids, but people pay me good money to annoy theirs, and I do a stellar job, if I do say so myself. I, too, loved the “torched” line. Torch me not!

    • January 12, 2012 8:38 am

      Those parents should be torched that you do such a stellar job.

  5. January 11, 2012 11:03 am

    Burped with passion. Where’s the typo in that? It is perfect. Also torched, though I’ll admit (because my eyes just don’t read poetry well) that I missed the line altogether until it was brought to my attention. Story of my life.

    I’m annoying, I think. Which is way better than boring. I like to think that my sense of humor makes up for the annoyingness. I tend to say things I shouldn’t, in the wrong way, at the wrong time and thus am misconstrued and misunderstood. I spend way too much time mulling over unintended remarks I’ve made.

    • January 12, 2012 8:40 am

      Freshhell, me too, about mulling over remarks that didn’t come out the right way. That’s why I much prefer writing. It comes out right more often.

  6. drgeek permalink
    January 11, 2012 11:39 am

    Perhaps this makes you the Mother to impossible children, FreshHell.

    • January 12, 2012 8:40 am

      She does believe in both of them before breakfast some days.

  7. January 11, 2012 12:53 pm

    I like the bit about the rowboat.

  8. January 11, 2012 2:16 pm

    I just adored this poem!

    • January 12, 2012 8:42 am

      So glad you did! You are one of a few people who I feel like I’m winning over to liking more poems.

  9. January 11, 2012 10:34 pm

    I am partial to “where I formed opinions
    on hard, cold, shiny objects and soft, warm,
    nappy things.” I love the poems you share!

    • January 12, 2012 8:42 am

      “nappy” is a particularly good word there, isn’t it?

  10. January 12, 2012 2:12 pm

    It is important to believe in something before breakfast.

    Hepburn called Tracy ‘Nappy’ in the movie State of the Union because he was showing Napolean tendencies… Saw it last night. Very fun flick.

  11. January 14, 2012 7:30 pm

    This is another awesome poem. I can see myself turning impossible, probably sooner rather than later, although I hate bugging people so maybe not.

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