Making Time with ThurberMay 28th, 2009
by David Breithaupt
I mentioned to my girlfriend last week that we should make love on James Thurber’s grave when the weather becomes warmer. It was an idle suggestion, a sort of thinking out loud comment that I should have put more thought into before I spoke it.
“That’s a great idea,” she said. Her eys grew wide and I could see the gears turning. “I’d love to!” My friend is partial to public exhibitionism and I tend to lean toward the shy side of any public display of affection. Now I’d really stirred things up.
James Thurber is buried in a quiet nook of Greenlawn Cemetery, here in Columbus, Ohio, not far from where I live. In the summer, he is my usual destination for a low-impact bike trip, only a half hours ride east from my demi-ghetto. Thurber is always good for a sympathetic ear. He listens without complaint to my tedious problems. I usually leave some loose change on his headstone, tell him about all the great literature he has missed since he died and ask him when he’s going to write another book. He’s always non-commital. He knows brevity is the soul of wit.
But to make love on his grave? Would he be offended or find the show refreshing? Would his neighbors be watcing? Across the way are many of the Wolfe family, publishing scions of Columbus for as long as there has been paper and ink. The Wolfes are big money republicans and media moguls. I know they would not care for such a display of carnal affection. Tough shit. Let’s give them a little Moulin Rouge.
Now I’m wondering, what would it be like to screw on top of James? Could I concentrate properly in the presence of such a literary heavy weight? What would I think about? My Life and Hard Times? The Day The Dam Broke? Or maybe even Is Sex Necessary? Maybe the ghost of Harold Ross would appear or E. B. White. Could I keep an errection going under such visitations? What if Dorothy Parker came by, she would certainly waylay me with some witty and cutting remark, diminishing my ardor with a swift and stunning rebuke. Communing with Thurber didn’t seem like such a good idea after all.
If you need to fornicate on a grave, it is probably better to do it on someone like Jim Morrison or Janis Joplin. If Lennon had a marker I’d do it on top of him. But I think Thurber dictates some decorum, he was of the generation that didn’t hump on graves, unless I’m reading him wrong.
I need to think this one over. Maybe I’ll shut up before I utter another brilliant idea. Summer is still a month or so away.