Hey, just because you’re dead and moldering in the grave doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of humor about it! Henry is remembering some of the disadvantages of that body he has more or less dispensed with for the moment, specifically, a boil on his posterior the pain of which rendered said posterior a locus of distraction and discomfort. Ah, right: Pain. That’s also a body thing, isn’t it? A boil on your behind can be a bit of an issue because what a writer does is sit on his ass and plunk away at typewriter keys. A writer’s butt is more important to a writer than one might think, and it needs to be maintained in proper working order. Properly oiled perhaps—although on second thought, it might be best to let that image subside. This is all a bit reductive, anyway, as it ignores the “troubles & wonders” that arise from the typewriter’s secret curse, but it still all starts with a good solid butt, and without that, trouble and wonder haven’t a foundation to sit on.
But, it’s more than physicality, it’s also posture. Can’t write standing up, sitting is great for writing as long as your ass is healthy, and to extrapolate, lying down in a coffin should be fantastic. Oh the things he could tell! If it wasn’t for that little detail of the muffling six feet of dirt betwixt him, coffin-bound, and a potential audience. Don’t take this too seriously.
For some reason, I ran into a set of illustrated instructions on the Internet once explaining how to escape from a coffin should you ever find yourself awake in the dark, healthy, and buried alive. They assure us it can be done. Screaming, as we know from DS 83, won’t accomplish anything. I read the instructions carefully and concluded that I’m too tall and not limber enough. A leopard could manage it, I think. I often wonder if it’s possible to will yourself peacefully dead should that ever become necessary, but I suspect not.
I got stuck in Buckner’s Cave once, in Southern Indiana, which is the closest I’ve come to this predicament. I didn’t like it. It was a narrow vertical passageway that corkscrewed, and you had to sort of squirm, twist and butt-walk your way up through it. I made it up without too much trouble. You emerge through a tiny hole at the bottom of this great conical funnel. Caves offer all sorts of fantastical topographic experiences like this, which is why some people like them, and I don’t. We explored for an hour in the cavern up top—people had sculpted an amazing little dollhouse town out of the clay at the back of the cavern. That was cool, but I also dreaded knowing that the only way back out was the way we came in. No choice, down I went, I had to, like a monstrous roach getting flushed down the drain. I got stuck, of course, and I don’t mean held up for a sec, I mean friggin’ stuck. Did I mention I didn’t like it? Finally, after some quiet screaming, a few sincere and fervent prayers, and tightly constrained contortions you wouldn’t think possible from a man who’s 6’6”, the back pocket of my jeans tore off and I slid on down and through. I haven’t been back to that spot since. The crawl in and out was tough but kind of cool—about a hundred yards, the ceiling between two and three feet overhead, and lots of bats flying through the low space, whooshing past your ears. Rolf, the friend I was with, went back a year later. He’s as wide as me, but not as tall, so he makes his way through the funnel challenge fairly well. He ran into three people up there, two guys and a girl. The guys, as one would expect, were covered in yellow clay and mud, which is totally standard, but the girl was spotless, and that bizarre fact alone made the encounter extraordinarily creepy. One of the guys asked Rolf, “You want some heroin?” He said no and slid back down the funnel fairly quickly.