Friday, October 11, 2013

How Chuck Palahniuk Made Me a Vegetarian

Someone passed out. Swear to God. Chuck Palahniuk was reading "Guts" onstage in his pajamas, and it was around the scene where the 13 year old realizes that the pool drain has sucked his intestines out of his anus that a chick in the balcony dropped like a rock. It could have been that Tipitina's was hot last night, summer not having left New Orleans yet, or maybe she was wearing overly warm pajamas, but Chuck told us that it happens sometimes when he reads that story.

Last night I went to a reading of his called "Adult Bedtime Stories" and the invitation had said to wear pajamas. Getting dressed for this thing was different from any other event I'd gone to. Because really, what did I want to show the world that I wore to bed? I've been falling asleep in shorts and a tank top. Not bad, but did I really want people to see that much of my legs? Nnnnnno. Not even writers that I was star-struck by. So I threw on some fuzzy pajama pants, slippers, and a black t-shirt.

For those of you who don't know, Tipitina's is music venue first and then a bar. The floor is standing room only, with a balcony on the second floor. The ticket got me a signed copy of Doom, his latest book, a white inflatable ball, and two glow sticks. There were instructions on the wall to write a number, an adjective, and a place, and a noun on the ball, and there was also a pocket inside to shove a glow stick into.

There's a certain mood that's created in a dark room full of grown ups who are all wearing pajamas and writing words on inflatable balls that are glowing like Chinese lanterns. It was quite different from the feeling I had at Claire Keegan's reading at Loyola last fall, where we all sat quietly in chairs as she read, though Chuck swore that Virgina Woolf had done readings just like this.

He sat on a stool at the podium and read "Guts." "Guts"'s um....I will never eat chunks of meat, carrots, peas, or orange vitamins again. It's just something that you're going to have to read, though you run the risk of cutting meat, carrots, peas, and orange vitamins from your diet, and also masturbation might become a thing of the past. Unless the thought of shoving candle wax up your urethra does something for you. Just know that after reading it, any idea that you have of feeling pleasure will most likely result in a prolapsed rectum.

Then we played some games. We had to throw all of the balls into the center of the crowd. It was like watching balls tumble around in a bingo cage, only they glowed red, green, orange and yellow, and they had words like "uvula" on them. Then another writer, Monica Drake, took the podium and read a short story of hers.

They took turns like that - Monica, Chuck and another writer called Chelsea Cain - reading their work and throwing things into the crowd. They threw us sparkly retainers that lit up your upper jaw when you stuck them in your mouth, and toy spiders, and kittens. Not real kittens because Chuck said that the only kind of grotesque writing he can't take is senseless violence to animals.

He didn't mind senseless violence towards him and the others onstage when he told us to throw all of the balls at him.We pelted those guys, and they played Mad Libs with the words on the balls.

So really, it was like a big slumber party with games, drunk people, stuffed kittens, and pajamas. And also a complete loss of appetite after he read "Cannibal."

Cannibal. How do I describe it? I learned the terms "blue waffle" and "ham wallet" now I wish I could unlearn them. It was about a boy who unknowingly aborts girls' fetuses through oral sex. But it's worse than that. Not worse in a way that the writing's bad - the writing is good. But...still. Meat's off the menu for a while, as is physical contact with any other human beings.

But even with all of my new-found aversions, I had a great time. And! And! If I ever become famous and do a book tour it will only be in my pajamas, just like Chuck Palahniuk and Virginia Woolf.

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