I pictured Gordon Flanders as a young African American who wore hip-hop and was a TA for a lit class in some snooty New York university. When I found out he was white and a bartender, I imagined he was a young Charles Bukowski, less randy perhaps and not so broke, but just as raw. Like Bukowski, Flanders sees the ant that crawls under the bathroom sink and writes about how it makes him feel less lonely. Only Flanders has never read Bukowski.
When he’s not writing fiction, he blogs on Anyone’s Ghost and, on Saturdays, he pops up on Conceited Crusade. A few weeks ago, we collaborated on a short story, Elastic Phantasm. I got a first hand look at how his mind works. It moves like a cat.
You’re married. Is she the woman of your dreams?
I have been married one year but we have been dating for ten. She is not the woman of my dreams although I love her very much.
The woman of my dreams never ages, works at Ceibu restaurant in Washington DC, she drinks a lot and works a lot and we don’t see each other too much. She is tall and fashionable and has beautiful eyes and no history whatsoever. She just came from nowhere and she’s not afraid of dying.
I love my wife so much but sometimes I imagine we never met. Of course there’s no telling what would have happened since she has been the prime agent of change in my life since I was 19 and I was a scary person at 19. Ugly. Didn’t drink. Believed in Jesus. Sold energy drinks door to door. I guess in a perfect world we would have dated for seven years and then she would get tired of me and one day I would find her in bed with Zhang Zhiyi and she would tell me that she was a lesbian so it wouldn’t work out after all and I would say that’s ok you guys go ahead, is there beer and she would say I’m a pervert and she never wants to see me again. I would then roam the world in the shadows feeling sorry for myself and my family would understand that I had to disappear because of the emotional trauma that I must have gone through.
She might divorce me eventually, but I don’t think so because I am really good at waiting on her hand and foot without seeming too obsequious and who would want to give that up? Plus the sex is great and I’m aging really well. That and I’ll be rich soon. But me, I don’t believe in divorce. I lie a lot but I never go back on a vow that I repeated after a strange man in long clothes. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
What personal habit irritates the shit out of your wife?
I habitually wake up in the morning and continue to exist. I habitually have thoughts about things that are not what she is thinking about. No, really, it’s that once every six months I stay out late and don’t text her and she wonders what could possibly be wrong with me. I also work late and sleep until she wakes me up every day at 8:30 and then I habitually don’t jump out of bed singing.
Why do you use so much profanity in your writing?
Sometimes I just get really angry in a generic way and I believe in writing economically. I have been conflicted in the past about swearing so much not because it’s a moral issue but, well, really two very separate reasons with the first being that perhaps I am limiting my potential marketability and the second because I should express myself more clearly. But both of those reasons can suck dicks, especially the first. Also I am conflicted about saying things ‘can suck dicks’ all the time because I’m implying that sucking dicks is inherently bad and I don’t think that is the case. I don’t really want to suck dicks all that much, but I don’t mind if people do and in fact generally encourage the practice. And that’s the main reason I curse a lot, because I find it hilarious.
What writing project are you working on?
Currently not a god damned thing. I am working on learning how to develop software because when I try to write for money I can feel large beetles of many kinds trying to find their way out of my large intestine and I’m fucking done with that god damn it. So I need to get this money shit figured the fuck out once and for all, I’m really serious this time seriously…god damn it. Then I’m going to start a new project that I can happily not finish and not show anyone ever.
What’s your favourite book of all time?
You live in the US. Have you ever considered living elsewhere? Or are you one of those hicks who think the U.S. is the centre of the universe? (I laugh here so he knows I’m kidding. Sort of.)
I don’t know why you are laughing, and I don’t know why you provincials insist on spelling ‘center’ wrong. I did think I would like to live abroad. If I weren’t married, I would live in a lot more places, but even so I have lived all over the states. I thought I would like to live in Paris or northern France, because I went there many years ago and also I read A Moveable Feast. Recently I went back and I was like, you know what man, fuck this whole place, these people are weirdos. Middle of summer and these people ain’t got no ice and they ain’t got no screens on their windows and they ain’t got no air conditioning. Are you fucking kidding me? I can deal with the heat and the insects coming in the house but no way can I deal with not having ice. Besides people speak other languages and that is very inconvenient. I really like living here in the US because it feels like home. I have a lot of things to stress out about and I can best do that in a comfortable environment.
Are you an only child? Eldest? Middle? Youngest?
I am the second oldest of six. I was a mistake, but six was the ultimate goal, so in the end I played my part.
If you didn’t need to do anything, what would you do?
Would I be rich? Because if I was rich I would just go outside with a book and sit at bars and drink all day. Oh wait, am I married? Oh…no I can’t be married if I don’t need to do anything so yeah the book and the bars. Also really fancy ass restaurants too. Fuck yeah that shit is delicious. I would take homeless people out for drinks and then the most interesting one I’d meet each day I’d go to dinner with. I’d get famous for doing this on blogs like Humans of New York and in magazines such as Rolling Stone. Then I’d take interesting rich people out for dinner and find out if they hated themselves, too. We’d drink and drink and get into a fist fight outside while the uber cabs were waiting. I wouldn’t drive except on Sundays when I would drive a lot in a gas guzzling four thousand pound Lincoln Continental from the early sixties.
After I did that for a while I’d renounce the entire western way of life and then go on tours around the world barefoot, speaking to large crowds about the importance of whatever seemed to be important to me at that point. I’d eventually walk to Russia and whatever sad fucks were following me in hordes by then, I would lose them all in St. Petersburg. I’d go to the Taiga and build myself a house there out of moose skeleton. There I would write a book, twelve handwritten words a day in my own blood, on pages made from the skins of ethically murdered Sables, and at night I would drink a disgusting home distilled liquor in front of the fire, staring into it, remembering the brutal symphonies of Johannes Brahms.
When I died at the age of a hundred and fifteen from cirrhosis and a broken heart, a young girl would journey from the villages out to the moose house and find the book and bring it back to a humiliated and chastened world saying: “this is his mind, imprisoned for you. Take it in remembrance of your many failings, and then forget them.” And they would.
to be continued here…