Of course his renditions of “Love on the Rocks,” “Big Bad John,” “Suspicious Minds” were top drawer. What would you expect from a three-hundred-pound, karaoke-DJ bear wearing a flannel shirt and elastic-waist jeans? But when his baritone boom rose like foam into “Annie’s Song,” I was so surprised I cried. It had been another very long day—another day I hadn’t downloaded QuickBooks, another day I’d skipped my posture exercises.
I’d performed a balance-beam routine to it in junior high school. The other girls had all picked harder songs like “My Sharona” and “We Will Rock You.” I thought choosing John Denver meant I was different—more genteel. And I was different: I looked like the fat kid in Bad Santa. I must’ve looked especially dumb in my sagging white tube socks, mouth open, looking down the entire time but still about to fall.
Later that night, the karaoke DJ and I did a shot of Fireball together. “I’ve never drank Fireball before,” I said. “Oh, you’ll like it,” he assured me, “it’s very popular.”
I went home and fell asleep and dreamed I moved to a cabin in the woods with no electricity. As a poet, it was the only environmentally responsible thing to do even though, I knew, I would have to kill myself when I got too old to work. “What a bummer,” I thought, and suddenly I was wrapping my mouth around a shotgun barrel so real I could taste it—like pencil lead. “How is that possible?” I wondered, then my friend, M, dream-texted me: [End Page 265]
“Help! Trapped at a remote finishing school! Come get me!”
“They still have finishing schools?” I texted back.
“Questionable ideas have answers,” she replied. [End Page 266]
Jennifer L. Knox’s newest book of poems, Days of Shame and Failure, was published by Bloof Books in October 2015. Her other books, The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway, Drunk by Noon, and A Gringo Like Me, are also available from Bloof. Her poems have appeared four times in the Best American Poetry series as well as in the New Yorker and American Poetry Review.