what was he thinking?

Devoting the time needed to develop a decent lefty hook shot. Playing Thumper in an alternative theatre production of Bambi. Changing his name legally to Bambi and starting life as a woman…”


by brian doyle


I know what you are thinking: you are thinking what was Mark Sanford thinking when he said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, when actually he was trailing an Argentinean? But we have all lied about our Argentine mistresses, of course, and the real question is what else was Mark Sanford thinking before he set his feet just so and, with a mighty heave, threw his career into the nearby Congaree River? Opening his diary, we find the other excuses he considered before mixing up the words mountain and mounting: Opening a series of laundromats in the former Gilbert Islands. Learning how to tan albino musk ox hides in Nunavut. Getting to work on that long-dreamed-of series of novels about warrior hamsters. Hopping on one foot from Columbia, South Carolina, to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, just because. Impersonating Luis Tiant, epic mustache and cigar and all, at a fantasy baseball camp in Tierra Del Fuego. Taking a turn, like everyone else, as a U.S. Senator from Illinois. Total immersion in the more obscure later poetry of William Blake. Sitting by the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll away. Devoting the time needed to develop a decent lefty hook shot. Playing Thumper in an alternative theatre production of Bambi. Changing his name legally to Bambi and starting life as a woman. Challenging that preening media queen Sugar Ray Leonard to finally fight the grim heroic Marvelous Marvin Hagler after years of running away, the weenie. Brief fling with (choose one) Angela Merkel or George Michael. Cornering the market on Lisa Simpson stamps at the post office. Writing thoughtful op-eds about vanity and overweening arrogance as the necessary tools of American politics. Learning to finally brew a decent pale ale. Making a documentary about rampant drug use among musk oxen. Tracking down rumors about how musk oxen always cheat at chess. Write a play with even more foul and vituperative language than David Mamet can manage. Pretending to be Jose Luis Borges at a conference of Argentine poets. Writing a book with Sarah Palin’s makeup artist: Going Rouge. Marketing new shades of lipsticks designed by pigs who play hockey on the weekends in drafty arenas where you have to put money in the light-box and lock the doors after you are done and put the key above the lintel and book time ahead with guys named Sappy. Reading the collected works of Thomas Pynchon aloud to Rihanna. Locking himself in a closet in the mansion and studying the Talmud. Interviewing the many musk oxen who cannot stand Sugar Ray Leonard. Playing Barry White records backwards and taking notes on the secret codes therein. Wondering if a steroid needle ever broke off and lodged itself in Roger Clemens’ butt and slowly traveled through his capacious self until it lodged itself in his brain which might explain his recent behavior. Playing endless tapes of Sesame Street and studying the body languages of Bert and Ernie to lay this whole gay theory thing to rest. Practice saying to the First lady of South Carolina, actually, darling, I have always loved backpacking and mosquitoes, I’ll be back in a few days, wish me luck!

Originally published:
Issue Fifty-Seven
March 2010


Brian Doyle is a muddled male mule who has committed eight books rather like a series of venial sins: five collections of essays, nonfiction misadventures about hearts and wine, and a collection of “proems” that the great American poet Pattiann Rogers says darkly will ruin the word poetry for ever and ever. More from Brian Doyle can be found in the Vault of Smoke.


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