[EDITOR’S NOTE: Return of the Reluctant has obtained an advance copy of Stanley Crouch’s memoir, entitled I’ll Slap ‘Em If They Smoke My Shit, to be published by Knopf in October 2004. Curiously, the memoir has been written in the third person, with a similar style to his previous work.]
When Stanley went to Tartine with Stanley’s ego to meet his nemesis, there were a lot of brief stares. Stanley thought of a horse, which spurred him to remember, as he now preferred to remember, because he could remember, that he was so masculine looking. His skin was shaven as a piece of paper, his torso just short of superman but muscular, his eyes the perfect tint to match the black marble in his floor and bathroom, and also the hotel room he stayed in last week, and also a few shades he saw at Tina Brown’s party, but he was very angry and mad, and he knew that all the women would want to fuck him because of his manliness and his eyes and the hotel room that he could check into with one of the six credit cards in his wallet, his eyes greedy and nearly decadant in their dramatis personae.
This contrast, whcih they used to joke about while smoking seven cigarettes a piece in a place that had a roomful of smoke, fury, and masculinity, meant too much and mayhaps too little right now. It was Peck that put a gash, a scar, a bullet hole, a razor burn, an affront to his masculinity in his maculine spirit. He, they, and we were superior or not, but it troubled him because there was someone in the room, maybe the owner of Tartine or the busboy who ran away because he was intimidated by him, disrupted by Stanley’s smooth, goddam smooth, smoother than his third cousin’s (second removed) infant bottom. The two had never talked, but there had been a review, a goddam review, a pretty ragged and pretty nasty and not so pretty review of Stanley’s book. Stanley’s genius stood next to Peck’s table, five times the genius of Peck, five times the man, five times the fighter (like Tyson back in the day), five times in his mind slapping Peck and watching him squirm five times the way that boy at the Voice did.
It had gotten a little hard to follow in Stanley’s mind. His grammar had deteriorated because Stanley had played the race card. Now he would play another one, just to see who Peck was. Five times. Tina Brown would be happy.
(Hat tip: Ron)