The Misprint Multiverse

the rythme I went throat shopping

Inspired by Brenda Miller’s “Typos,” a piece that explores the alternate realities that live in our misspellings and misunderstandings.

 

“God donut.”

Do you know about the origin of donuts? (Cue: “I donut.”) They are the fallen halos of gods and angels and holy aliens, doughy rings of divinity that tumble through dimensions, passing through cosmic cream coatings and stardust sprinkles and toasty high heat supernovas to arrive on Earth as the steaming image of the heavens: perfectly circular, to demonstrate the cyclic nature of all that was, is, and will be, and punched through the middle, to commemorate its whole-y history. Consume a God donut and you will understand the yeasty truths of the universe.

 

“Can you help?? There’s a black window spider next to my desk.”

An arachnid spreads eight knobby, mullion legs across the cinderblock wall, the ebony varnish a stark contrast against the drab white paint. Its crystalline abdomen and glassy spinnerets are unwelcome here––these parts are alien, utterly revolting, in fact. For the past two days, the black window spider had quietly nestled in the far west-facing corner of this eggshell dorm room. It emerged early this morning to spin a web, to catch some sunshine sustenance. After nailing several anchor points and establishing an auxiliary spiral, it began its methodical art, moving meticulously around the web until a delicate glass window adorned the far west-facing corner. The spider released a stream of destructive enzymes that melted a tiny hole in the wall––a swarm of light passed through, bits and fractals of luminescence suspended on the gauzy predatory panes. With careful ears you could hear the muted squeaks of eight hinged legs as it crept across the fibers and ingested the glints and glimmers and glistens that quivered with each subtle movement or gust. This vocation continued undisturbed, until the room’s inhabitant discovered the plurality of presences and frantically alerted his friend of the unsolicited visitor. A knock at the door: help has arrived, and with a broom! The young men wield the cleaning tool and invade, unraveling the spider’s creation. If they’d thought to pause their irreverent shouts of triumph, just for a momentous second, they might not have missed the gentle shimmering sound of the black window spider reaching its shattered end.

 

“I went throat shopping the other day.”

I’d been meaning to. You’ve seen it right, that new throat shop? It opened up a couple blocks over. I tried on a well-loved windpipe, and the neat thing is that each product had a little folded taffeta tag sewn into the lining, with details about its past life (or lives). Usually these shops have standardized color-coded tags––barcode beings rooted in a sterile anonymity to give the illusion that these are novel products, ones without context outside of your personal shopping experience. It’s nice to see a place that has a more intimate approach to the process.

I found the wilted thing behind an antique esophagus on the clearance shelf. The windpipe was in casually coarse condition, with soft rips at the seams and light fleshy bruising, but you see, it had this devastating dusty rose, deep plum complexion—a beautiful finish. I paused and lifted it, with the utmost care of course, and smoothed out the crinkled tag:

Date: 2011 August 13th

Person: Theresa Young

Info: Treat with soft voices and soothing tones. Aggressive coughing fits, impassioned monologues, heated debates, and other activities of the sort are not recommended. Wash down with white grape juice at least once a week.”

I was at the throat shop to find, coincidentally, a windpipe replacement––I’ve had my current model for the past two years, the one I got from grandmother at graduation. It came wrapped in parchment paper, on which she’d written promises with a shaky hand. Grandmother assured me that this gift would have a 14-hour battery life, keep my voice within a confident but non-offensive decibel range, and direct every “hi”, “hey”, and “hello” to its intended audience (to prevent the massive embarrassment of an unheard greeting). But two years has taken its toll. It overheats often after intensive use, choking up in uncomfortable situations, lagging during lecture discussions, and petering out to a murmur after about 12 hours––maybe even less on the more vigorously social days. I decided to try on the windpipe for the hell of it, partly because the shopkeeper was eyeing me suspiciously and I felt I had some consumerist commitment to prove, partly because I was intrigued. It slid into place listlessly. Didn’t have much give. My voice was tuned to a level below the socially-desirable frequency, faltering and cracking at inopportune moments. Dismayed, but not necessarily surprised, I detached the pipe and set it back in its dusty domain. I looked through the aisles for a while longer before I left, fingertips skipping over the supple surface of the other vocal mechanisms, compartmentalized by effect (persuasion, charisma, authority, etc.). I wonder what Theresa Young sounds like now.