Everything is Medium: Little Michael and Big Ben

    Since the beginning of 2011, digital photographer Chris Schatz has been hard at work on his ambitious new project, “One Photograph a Day”. From the first day of the year to the last, Chris is going to take one photograph for each of those days and post it on his blog.
    I am excited to announce I will be collaborating with Mr. Schatz on his effort. For one in every five of his daily photographs, I will write a short story inspired by the image. The stories, and the pictures, will be posted on both of our blogs.
    For more of Chris Schatz’ photography, including photos from the project I have not written about, check out his blog.
    I hope you enjoy The Bloggery of Michael J. Coene’s collaborative effort with Christopher Schatz, “Everything is Medium: Literary Interpretations, One Photograph a Day!”


    Sometimes, friends became as such for the competition; their relationship fueled entirely by one’s motivation to best the other. So long as balance was restored in the end, the struggle would continue to go on forever. Such was the case of two friends named Ben and Mike, or–as the neighborhood said–Big Ben and Little Michael.
    Big Ben and Little Michael were opposites in many ways. Big Ben always wore a pair of thin spectacles, even while sleeping; Little Michael read paperback novels from four feet away, without straining his eyes. Big Ben had camped seventy-three times, not including practice stints in his backyard; Little Michael had difficulty breathing at the slightest incline of altitude, and he was loathe to the concept of a mosquito. Big Ben was an amateur tumbler who did not make end’s meet; Little Michael was a poet who did make end’s meet–but that was all he made.
    Little Michael was a short man–remarkably so–and a thick pelt of fur cursed all parts of his person, no matter if the area was standard or simply inexplicable. He also brandished a pair of wicked green eyes, and wielded them well. Long nights spent writing in his journal by candlelight had burdened his eyelids with purple sacs like ink stains, but he felt confident this only enhanced what he called his “poet’s aura”.
    Big Ben’s skin, wrapped taut around his hulking frame, was perfectly smooth, to the degree that when a person accidentally rubbed against his arm, a squeaking sound like that of a bathtub was produced. The optics he claimed as his birthright were light blue, and had been described more than once as “the color of skies and water”. Not the least bit prone to insomnia, Big Ben’s protective lids were as stain-free as the rest of him was hairless.
    When it came to women, both Big Ben and Little Michael were meek and insecure. Big Ben worried he occupied too much space, and that his wide fists lacked reasonable motor skills. He also had terrible posture, being so tall, and the resulting gait made him look a bit like a newborn sasquatch.
    Little Michael usually felt invisible around the opposite sex. He spoke too loudly–thinking they probably couldn’t see him down there– and once he finally had their attention, was rendered mute by an acute awareness of his resemblance to Frodo Baggins.
    At the end of the night, after many broken beer mugs and boisterous attempts at haiku, Big Ben and Little Michael declared a temporary truce. Little Michael removed his leather-bound journal, engraved with the initials L.M., from his back pocket, and ordered a glass of ice water from the bar. Big Ben walked over to the pool table in the adjacent room to use the chalk, which dotted the green landscape of the billiard, advertising a serious lack of care on behalf of the ownership.
    As Big Ben busily applied powder onto his palms, Little Michael sat down upon a stool, and began to read from his journal. He chose the poems at random, not allowing reason to infect the process. His voice, previously squeaky with the anxiety of improvisation, was now unearthed as if from an ancient tomb. Enchanted by the delicacy and bravura with which his words were composed, the women moved to him, their eyes wide and attentive as they formed a clustered circle on the floor around the stool.
    Big Ben, sensing Little Michael had the population sufficiently in thrall, stretched his back one last time, noisily cracking his spine. Then, he abruptly took to the floor, as if momentum was inherent to standing still. His long limbs became spring-loaded machines. He bounced and flipped about the billiards room–punch fronts off the floor, onto the pool table, into a handspring that morphed like mercury into a cartwheel before he hit the floor again, converting into a back tuck, and so forth. He made tumbling look logical.
    The phenomenon resulting from this strange collaboration of courting techniques, was a certain division of demographics. The energetic women–the ones who enjoyed dancing and exercise, rapid conversation and demanding careers in business–these ladies snapped to attention at the first sound of Big Ben’s exertion. With little reluctance, they abandoned the furry poet, and happily exchanged him for the smooth tumbler.
    The women who remained comfortably cross-legged on the floor, who ignored all sounds of male physical exertion and in fact consciously tuned such things out, were the cozy women–ladies who loved fireplaces and puzzles, paper crafts and flourishing home gardens. These ladies preferred the poetry, and the fur.
    At friendship’s end, weaknesses have become strengths, and strengths have become weaknesses. Little Michael and Big Ben have leaned on each other this way for years, and will continue to do so until the right woman comes around, eager enough to tolerate the position. Forever will be the pattern, when clashes coincide among friends, in healthy competition.

Little Michael and Big Ben

Published in: on April 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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