Jennifer Lynn Krohn was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she currently lives with her husband. She earned her MFA from the University of New Mexico, and she currently teaches English at Central New Mexico Community College. Jennifer is a member of the Dirt City Writers. She has published work in Necessary Fiction, Prick of the Spindle, In the Garden of the Crow, Yellow Chair Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Gingerbread House Literary Magazine among others.

Jennifer Lynn Krohn

Miss Pond's Etiquette for the Absurd

Just because the sky is a void that reminds you of your toothless great grandfather's gaping mouth as you fed him puréed peaches, just because you are an insignificant speck before that great black maw does not excuse your elbows on the table. … When your friend confides in you that another life resides in her body, don't just ascertain if this is a human fetus or another tropical parasite from eating questionable sushi. Be sure to ask whether she wants that second heartbeat before you offer your congratulations or condolences. She may hold that tapeworm dear. … At baby showers, do not announce that this child will be born, suffer, and die. Like telling a smoker that cigarettes cause cancer, you're only stating what everyone already knows. The fact that you think it is a revelation only reveals your own lack of imagination. … Do not break your host's or hostess's fine china, throw gravy across the light blue floral wallpaper, nor raise the glass of fine red wine and, as if giving a toast, denounce the trappings of their bourgeois life. Remember that in comparison to the vast emptiness of space, your pompous intelligentsia pose is equally as meaningless as the amateur watercolor that matches their sofa. … Do not invite the devil to your cocktail party. While he does have impeccable manners, fine fashion sense, amusing anecdotes, and truly good advice on the stock market, he never leaves with the other guests. He'll lie drunk on the couch, and, when you tell him you called a cab, he'll tell you how his father never loved him. He suffers the curse, he explains, of the eldest child: responsibility and no praise. If you give in and let him spend the night, he'll be passed out until 2pm, and you'll be forced to tiptoe through your own house. … When you collect your guests' empty tea cups and notice a terrible fortune spelled out in the last dregs, say nothing. Prophetic warnings ruin the mood of an afternoon. … Do not boast of giving or not giving the homeless your loose change. Do not claim that you have taken a moral high ground when you parted with $1.50, and do not claim that you have kept them from drugs in refusing them two quarters, a nickel, and a few pennies. … When you find yourself at dinner with two or three Messiahs, the traditional rules of etiquette apply. Do not discuss religion, politics, or quantum physics. Just as you would not ask a podiatrist to examine a boil between courses or a magician to pull a dove from the soup tureen, do not ask the sons of God to perform a miracle. … When your host offers to show you his pet unicorn, and you discover that it is nothing more than a boring old black rhino — do not voice your disappointment. Remember, it is not the fault of your host that the media has created in you such an unrealistic standard. … When, after you have murdered your mother, the furies come to your door, like with missionaries and trick-r-treaters, it is acceptable to keep your door locked, your shades drawn, and to pretend you're not home. … Remember, at a funeral always wear black and do not sit in the front pew unless you are a member of the deceased's immediate family. If you hated the dead, say only nice things about the corpse. You do not want the embalmers to take your curses as a reflection of their work. … When selecting a house warming gift, think about the message it will send. A feather duster, a vacuum cleaner, a tool set, a treadmill: life is a cycle of endless tedium. A flashlight, candles, a fire extinguisher, a gasmask: there will be disasters. I like giving a coffee maker or a French press, which does suggest a certain daily tedium but also declares that "This is going to be a happy day … Another happy day." 1
1 Quote taken from Samuel Beckett's Happy Days

"Miss Pond's Etiquette for the Absurd" developed out of a writing exercise to create aphorisms. While I was fascinated by the idea of what role manners would play in an absurdist universe, I was uncomfortable and suspicious of the voice of authority that aphorism naturally assumes. After all, the authors of both aphorism and etiquette guides presume to tell the reader how to live in the world, while absurdists recognize that there is no inherent meaning or purpose to the universe. Only by creating the persona of Miss Pond was I able to explore that dichotomy.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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