“No, you stop it!”
“No, you stop it!”
“I hate you!”
“I hate you!”
“MOM! Billy’s mocking me!!!”
Let’s take a brief scan of some other things that mock, I mean, repeat.
1. Days of the week—what have we learned here? Not much, only that we have to work for five days in order to earn two lousy days of rest which we spend by stressing over the errands and things we don’t have time to do.
2. Earth’s rotation and revolution around the Sun—what did the Earth learn? Nothing. By now, after the 4.6 billion years, it should have learned how to defy gravity, and with the power of the centrifugal force, it should have expelled us humans (the Earth ravagers) off its surface.
3. Lather, rinse, repeat—I’m not going to say much here, only: why the hell does every shampoo bottle say this? After decades and decades (perhaps even centuries) of shampooing, do the manufacturers think we’re going to drink the goo?
So, how to use repetition without mocking anyone or anything? In art. Or in music or poetry where repetition creates rhythm. If used with skill in the form of alliteration, repetition can give the narrative its tone. Look at E. A. Poe’s Ulalume, “Of my most immemorial year: / It was hard by the dim lake of Auber, / In the misty mid region of Weir” (lines 5-7). How spooky! Does that not evoke the sense of moaning, mourning, and mystery?
Anyway, if you are not Poe and are slightly bored this weekend or if you live in the desert like me and you can’t go outside because it’s 120F (the F stands for Fuck! not Fahrenheit), I propose you take a pencil, paper, and an eraser, and you go kick repetition’s ass for once! This is how it works. Write a coherent story or a scene of 250 words, but you can only use each word once. I’ve tried it. It’s a pain, I tell ya. But when you are finished, your ego will grow by at least two feet. I encourage you to post your story here, so that I can praise and admire you!
Here’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
My “bestie” decided that trading our beautiful, nostalgic, architecturally splendid, Charles University for a modern, diversely crowded, foreign structure—Los Angeles, California’s USC—was more important than strong family ties, good job proposals, or other things one would consider pretty awesome when thinking about planting figurative roots.
Her plane, scheduled to leave in thirty minutes, is sitting on Ruzyně’s old, slowly deteriorating, gray runway. Its wings, glazed by bright sunlight, glitter like snow-covered icebergs she’d soon see from ten thousand feet above Greenland, amidst blue, shimmering ocean waters—both magnificent, postcard-worthy sights—sadly, though, representing vast distances between land masses and the torn-apart friendship, which started out as Mrs. Novak’s raspy voice asking several first grade students: “Can someone lend Katie (me, almost two decades ago) their crayons?”
Little, chubby Lenička—pig tails curling through red sateen ribbons—passed them, grinned, then suddenly swore an honorable comradely oath, making us friends forever.
Nervous tingles, stomach butterflies, belongings, emotions, neatly packed suitcases, ticket, passport, ready, set, detach myself? How?
I whisper, “Lena, don’t…stay…”
Deep sighs. Shoulders rising, descending. Long blank stares, emphasizing decisions made.
Luggage checks. Carry-on tags. Busy buzz.
Travelers’ voices blend into indescribable sounds.
Family reunions. Holidays. Vacations. Honeymoons. Business trips. Happiness—now boarding, flight 749 passengers please line up, echoes throughout.
“You will come visit, right?”
“Doubt it…been there once. Nothing what TV shows portray …kinda dirty, really, different…alien…not like home…but don’t worry. Everything’s gonna be fine.”
Hand shakes, hugs, good-byes, teary eyes.