At some point in my life, I’d like to publish a collection of personal essays. I expect these essays might be about Cork.
I don’t believe in a traditional God but I do place an inordinate amount of faith in coincidence. I collect coincidence the way some people collect coins. My friends know to gift me their stories. Here is an example of historical Cork, via Woody:
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shoots and kills Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater. Years later, the famous stage actor Edwin Booth— John Wilkes’ older brother— sees a well-dressed young man slip between a station platform and a moving train. He locks a leg around the railing, grabs him, and pulls him to safety. The name of that man, unbeknownst to Edwin Booth at the time? Robert Todd Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln’s son.
So that’s Cork: a Booth kills a Lincoln, a Booth saves a Lincoln. Neither act is linked to liturgy or transubstantiation (although transubstantiation does look like it could be Latin for train station) or Buddha or the Shahada or Oprah. It’s certainly not connected to The Secret. Cork always incorporates surprise. The Secret teaches you to materialize your desires by harnessing positive energy; want something badly enough, you can attain it. But Cork is about the unexpected. You don’t light a candle or keep wish vigil. Cork just comes. If you try for it, it will elude you every time. I never prayed for a Cork board. I never anticipated not having to buy one.
Last Wednesday, because my new job as a personal assistant doesn’t start until September, I answered an ad on Craigslist to sit for five hours in an unmarked van and guard church handbells. They were worth a lot of money. Luckily I didn’t have to resort to any hand to handbell combat, but I did exhaust myself enough doing nothing (who knew leaving toe marks on a front window would prove so taxing?) so that when I returned to Brooklyn, I locked myself out of my apartment. And I had just suffered great disappointment at my corner grocery, when all I wanted after a hard day of handbell protecting was a tomato sandwich, and every tomato looked as if had been juggled, mistaken for a grape by a stomper, then thrown at a bad actor.
I was locked out for about five hours. Sometime between the second and third hours, I met my upstairs neighbor, Kathy, a 55 year old dancer-turned-therapist. She advised me on the art of breaking and entering. We tried everything: coat hanger, her old Screen Actor’s Guild membership card, edge of a plastic egg carton, even the local precinct. The cops said my door is “quite a piece of work.” I asked if they could just shoot it open. They said “No Ma’am, we can’t.” Then they left.
Because I didn’t want to pay for a locksmith, I decided to wait it out. Kathy invited me upstairs and served me white wine. We talked about men, aging, career, Iowa, Bernese Mountain Dogs, VHS. We did not talk about tomatoes. There was no mention made of tomatoes. When my roommate called to say he was finally home, Kathy disappeared into the kitchen. When she reappeared, her hands contained two of the plumpest, freshest, most organic tomatoes I have ever seen. “I grow these in our rooftop garden. Want them?”