The Twain Shall Meet
Posted by evankessler on December 7, 2010
I’ve been suffering from a severe arterial blockage of writerly aspirations lately; self-diagnosed–of course (not very reliable as far as diagnoses go). Rather than self-medicate with holistic medicine or go under the knife, I went to see a man about a cure. His name was Mark Twain. He’d taken up residence at the Pierpont Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan, a peculiar place of residence for an epidemiologist or whatever he was, but I’d heard whispers upon screams that this guy was the best in his field– so much so that they’d named a few prizes after him. Now I’m not one for trophies and accolades; me, I fancy results.
When I arrived for my walk-in analysis, I was charged $15 up front. This was a tad bit strange considering I hadn’t even been examined yet, but I offered up my health insurance card. Unfortunately, my subpar coverage failed to lessen the copay.
There was absolutely no wait –an impressive occurrence if you consider the current state of health care– or if you’ve happened upon an emergency room lately. Given that this particular purveyor of treatment came so highly-acclaimed, you’d expect the line to be out the door and the wait to be at least thirty-minutes.
The examination room was like none I’d ever seen. The bland colored walls were a sterile shade of gray, but in the place of doctorly credentials and tongue depressors, the room was adorned with samples of historic manuscripts trumpeting the greatness of accomplishments in this genius’s chosen field. to go with photographs and drawings attesting to this verbal healer’s worldly travels.
Clad in a white suite and sporting a comical-yet-somehow-debonair mustache, this Twain fellow displayed an astounding wit and appreciation for the situation at hand. I wasn’t sure he was who he purported to be at first, as many of the room’s scholarly decorations to which he laid claim were peppered with the moniker of some “Samuel Clemens” fellow, but he assured me he was on the level. His character certainly matched everything I had heard, a man of considerable humor with an obvious social conscience– and gift for blending the two. I drank in what I determined to be a healing sort of wisdom as he told me about his past adventures.
When the question of eradication of my motor skill issue (affecting the transfer of the words in my brain to the physical and digital page) was raised, Mr. Twain mulled it over. He mumbled something about “learning to be good” and began to ponder it once more, seemingly backtracking from that first thought as though there were so many different ways to tackle the problem. This progression of deep evaluation and subsequent recommendation swayed back and forth like a pendulum of indecision, bringing forth a range of suggestions not the least of which was (but not limited to) putting your entire heart into the matter, then swinging once again towards the consideration of certain discouraging obstacles one faces when trying hardest to do so. These obstacles included, but were not limited to, birthday parties, baseball games, and the sabbath.
Finally he shot me look as though he had finished the process of sizing up my creative bottleneck with a slight brainstorm of none-too-taxing mental gymnastics. His facile delivery denoted an obvious solution akin to a mathematical wizard given an elementary school addition problem. “You’re good as you are,” he said. “You can write whatever you want to write. Don’t think so hard.”
I felt two encouraging pats on the back and a breeze as he disappeared from sight, only to leave behind a few samples of some of his more light-hearted fare (“Humorous Stories & Sketches,” “The Diary of Adam and Eve“). Mind you, he didn’t take occasion to sign them.
- Happy Birthday, Mark Twain (finebooksmagazine.com)
- Was Mark Twain the ‘World’s First Blogger’? [Bloggers] (gawker.com)
- Holbrook performs Twain on author’s 175th birthday (omg.yahoo.com)
- Holbrook Performs Twain On Author’s 175th Birthday (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mark Twain Project (benpeek.livejournal.com)