by Len Lippman
August 28, 1987
(On a very, very parenthetical day in a very, very parenthetical world, the dawn was dawning. The sun was sunning, the birds were birding, and the man was waking. In greetings to the new day, the man began to sing a song. And a very parenthetical song it was. For it had no words. No words, no tune -- indeed no sound at all.
Having greeted the new day in his fashion, the man rolled over to greet his wife, to introduce her to the new day in all its splendor. As he rolled over, turned over, repositioned, however, his gaze fell upon the conspicuous emptiness beside him. It was then that he recalled, with the most parenthetical of recollections and the most parenthetical of emotions, that he was not married, had no wife, never had.
Having recalled his situation in his fashion, and having greeted the day in his fashion, he decided that his time in bed for the immediate period should end immediately. And immediately it did. Or immediately he would have wished it. And immediately it would have been, had he not forgotten one very, very important, very, very parenthetical detail.
As he swung his legs around to one side to facilitate the immediacy of his immediate rising from his immediate, prone, lying-in-bed position, the very, very restrictive, very, very parenthetical detail became very, very unparenthetically apparent. His legs, having been swung around in a very swinging fashion, as was the leg-swinging fashion that this particular man found particularly fashionable, did not arrive in a dangle-like position, but only remained in, continued, perpetuated their very undangle-like, prone-type position.
Having been forced by circumstances, and by evidence by no means circumstantial, to recognize, realize, pay attention to his present circumstance, the detail, previously and parenthetically mentioned as very rapidly becoming apparent, came to the height of its apparence, a state known as "obvious". Having reached the extremely apparent state of obviousness, the detail entered the man's consciousness.
Had he been able to kick himself, he most certainly would have. For such was his fashion when an apparent detail which he should have recognized before it entered the realm of obviousness was finally realized by him, and in such an obvious state. But he was unable, in his present, past, and soon-to-be-future-if-not-acted-upon, prone-type position, to kick himself. So in a most parenthetical shout, he shouted to the parenthetical world, on that singularly most parenthetical day, that he had no bed, and never had, and had always slept on the floor.
Having shouted parenthetically, and making no sound, as was the way with parenthetical shouts, and thus making known, if only to himself, the nature of this most restrictive, most parenthetical, most prone-like-position-perpetuating detail, he now rose successfully from the floor. The floor, of course, was where the man, having no bed for such activities, did most of his bed-type, prone-type, sleep-type activities.
Having risen and having, in the immediately preceding moments, ceased his sleeping, the man let out an extremely, parenthetically, inaudibly, silent-type yawn. Having done such, as was the fashion of this extremely, parenthetically fashionable man, he walked quickly, or perhaps slowly, across the floor, which of course could be parenthetically referred to as his bed. So after walking over his extendedly metaphoric-type bed in an extremely parenthetical fashion, he found that he had gotten absolutely nowhere. But such was the fashion with parenthetical walking -- it doesn't, on the abstract, concrete, parenthetical whole, get one, if anywhere, too far.
So there he stood, now fully awake, and finally, naturally recalling his nature. He then turned about in an extremely parenthetical turn, which of course got him, as parenthetical turns tend usually to get one, nowhere. But in his absolutely-nowhere-getting turn, he did come to face a startling revelation, which turned out to actually be a nature-recollection-accelerating device, or in mundane terms, a mirror.
As he gazed paradoxically deep into the depths of the extremely shallow-type mirror, he saw absolutely nothing. And this nothing was indeed a true nothing, as it excluded him, as nothings will tend to do -- exclude most everything, that is. But on further, and closer, and deeper inspection, he found that the mirror did not hold nothing, but everything -- everything, that is, except for he, him, the man.
And then finally, conclusively, in a completely confusionless state of conclusion, he realized, remembered, recollected why -- why his singing and his shouts and his yawns were parenthetical and could not be heard, why his walking and turning were parenthetical and getting him absolutely nowhere, why he had no bed, no wife, and why, in the mirror, he was excluded not only from a theoretic nothing, but also from a realistic everything. At last, with the startling clarity of perfect, unquestionable sanity, he knew -- he was a parenthetical man.)