Another Big Question

June 06, 1994|By ANDREI CODRESCU

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans.--With vacation looming, the big question is: how does a workaholic acquire the grace of slack?

How does one hold at bay that sinking feeling when it's nearly 1 p.m. and the phone hasn't rung once? I want to imagine myself disconnected from the phone, free of the fax, unplugged from the computer, far from the intercom, days away from overnight delivery, pardoned from the doorbell, unworried about reservations, careless about reception & delivery, wireless, barcodeless, modemless.

See, that's me, over there on that patch of hot sand on the desert island with nary a lonely cloud above it, leave alone a helicopter, blimp or balloon. Nothing here but me and this tuft of grass under attack by a solitary ant with a dream. A dream of carrying the whole tuft to some underground office and hoping ** to get it there before noon.

No, better not study ants. They are workaholic. Better to watch that gull in free easy flight over the ripply blue mirror of ocean, diving for a fish. Oh, yes, it's feeding time in gull-sky, it's always feeding time in gull-sky, the stomach is like a gaping voice-mail box, full of fish, and still ready to take on more.

Forget the gulls, watch the turtles. There goes one, or rather, there sits one, immobile like the essence of Slack itself, dreaming dreams of the Void. I am turtle, I repeat after myself. And at that very moment, the turtle gets up on those fat turtle legs and takes off at 600 miles an hour along an invisible telegraph wire. Of course, even a real turtle would run from a workaholic.

The beach is not the answer. Maybe the woods. But I hear they've put cellular phones under mushrooms. And that mossy patch you're lying on is really the lid over a factory full of underground atomic workers.

I need a Slack Teacher.

B6 Andrei Codrescu is editor of ''Exquisite Corpse.''

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