Labor Day Weekend started out typically; get ready to go to family get-away-spot on Cape Cod. Drive to Cape; make great time (which actually, is not typical). Upon arriving, worry only about three things: What to eat, what to drink, when to hit the beach. Typical weekend, until Sunday afternoon. That's when I fell in love.
Yes, in love, I tell you—and it's madness. I've been falling asleep thinking of him, waking up thinking of him. The thing is, can you be in love with a dead man? The man I am carrying a torch for is Edward Gorey, famous writer, artist, and illustrator. Oh, and deceased. He died about five years ago.
And to think, his house was less than an hour's drive from my vacation spot. All this time, all these years, I never knew he was that close! On Sunday I went to his Yarmouth Port, MA home-turned-museum. This trip to “The Elephant House,” as Gorey’s Cape Cod house was called, happened because a few days earlier, I had been scanning a Cape calendar of events, and noticed an ongoing exhibition of The Gashlycrumb Tinies. I couldn't believe my eyes, my heart constricted painfully, yet with joy. I almost felt like I had taken "lye by mistake." The Tinies had been my introduction into the world of Edward Gorey, in the 70’s.
In 1978—I think—I went with some people to the Coop, the famed Harvard University bookstore/shopping Mecca of all things cool. The Harvard Coop was always a good road trip, and this one was no disappointment. I was with some guys—I really can’t come up with their names, nor remember their faces, but I do remember them being good guys. They were roommates of Jay, one of my best friends in college. 'Course, now I don't even remember why Jay wasn't on this trip, but I’ve digressed quite enough.
I'm at the Coop, and we wander and poke and touch and sniff, and we shop too. Suddenly, in the poster section, I freeze. In front of me is one of the craziest posters I've ever seen, and also one of the cleverest, Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies. It was an English alphabet of children being killed off, 26 little deaths, some neat, some ghastly. Not all homicides, some children just died of boredom, such as the ennui that got to Neville. Some were done in by the elements, such as Fanny; "sucked dry by a leech," or Winnie, "embedded in Ice." A dorm favorite was "K was for Kate, stuck with an axe."