Out, Damned Spot: An Email to My Wife

I sent this email to my wife yesterday. She told me she found the email enjoyable and funny. I honestly can’t imagine why. I was in an angry, hateful mood when I wrote it. Nevertheless, this is fairly representative of the type of emails I send herso I decided to share it.  

From: Seth Pollins [mailto:sethpollins@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 3:13 PM
To: Karen Pollins
Subject: Out, damned spot, out!


I had been looking forward to this day for months: the day I would finally wear my cardigan with my white button-up shirt (the shirt I bought at Banana for my birthday). This might seem superficial to you, perhaps obscene. What can I say? My outfits serve as armor, a defense against the dark side of the force. Wearing the outfits I’ve envisioned, I feel calm, confident, a hero in my own drama. This helps me. More than this, clothes often come to embody certain moments for me, and today the cardigan/button-up combo was meant to embody this crisp clear day: autumn–the season as a feeling, if not a date. The only complication in this vision was the recent temperatures of the Writing Center: since day one, the heating/air-conditioning has been fucked up here on the second floor of the Villanova library. While we broil in the Writing Center, the people in the Math Center down the hall bundle up in layers, assaulted by air-conditioning.

Anyway, when I arrived at the Writing Center today, I was already hot and bothered. (The weather is unseasonably warm today, and I had to hurry from the car to the Writing Center). So I immediately discarded the cardigan, and rolled up my sleeves. Soon I discovered the spot–and the horror began.

I was in the middle of my first tutoring session when I happened to notice something on my sleeve. The spot, perhaps 2 mm across, faintly rust-colored and certainly not obvious (but visible to me) materialized, seemingly out of nowhere, like a phantom, an ominous spot on an x-ray, a hint of disease, ruining my white shirt and my perfectly constructed hero-vision.

I said to my student, “Excuse me, please,” and I rushed to the bathroom, where I gathered a tremendous wad of wet, soapy paper towels and frantically scrubbed my shirt, exaggerating my horror as I scrubbed, clenching my face and scrubbing harder until I actually began to feel the exaggerated horror as real–all too real. By then I had drenched my shirt, and when I looked in the mirror I felt desperate and ugly, and I became preoccupied with a sole, burning thought: I need a haircut! Worse, I realized I hadn’t shaved for days, and this, I knew for sure, just enriched the impression that I am exactly the type of ugly slob that rolls out of bed and throws on whatever-the-fuck shirt, stains and all. So, with my beard growing, wolf-like, by the minute, and my woofing, hideous hair flouncing about, I rushed back to my session, hating myself and my shirt, and sat down.

The student, obviously a bit perplexed, looked at me with not one, but two elevated eyebrows.

“What happened?” she asked.

Can a dry-cleaner clean a small, nearly imperceptible stain? If I’m the only person that can see a stain does that mean the stain is impossible to clean?

I found your phone; I left it on top of the water cooler.

I put potatoes in water for dinner tonight. Make roasted potatoes and chicken and broccoli. For you, you can make either the chicken breast or tempeh. If you make the chicken breast, remember, since you are not eating the chicken on-the-bone, or with the skin, you merely need to cook the chicken. Put it on the baking sheet with foil, and bake for 24-26 minutes. This, perhaps, is the ultimate picture of just how insipid eating chicken without bones or skin can be: a piece of chicken baking on a fucking sheet of foil. But that’s what you prefer.

OK, let me know if you have any questions.



1 thought on “Out, Damned Spot: An Email to My Wife”

  1. Nice write. Totally understand the self-obsession, and how, in those moments, everything resembles a bad hair day. I must also add that I am very happy to see your chicken obsession lives on, as strong as ever. I miss you.

Comments are closed.