Dear Reader, you can start spreading the news: I placed a jar in Tennessee. Was that not rather audacious of me? I quite surprised myself with the sheer pluck and boldness of which I seemed all of the sudden capable, insofar as I placed, as I said, a jar in Tennessee. After all, who would dream of doing such a thing? Surely only a Man of Action, I think that goes without saying. A sort of Pharaoh of the Fingers, not your timid dreamer of papyrus. I shall endeavor to speak calmly. Yes, Dear Reader, I certainly surprised myself and scandalized myself and otherwise took myself aback. Even now, I can hardly believe it. And so I find it necessary to repeat to myself at regular intervals, “I placed a jar in Tennessee.” Although, to be perfectly honest, as is, indeed, my modest but uncompromising habit, it wasn’t exactly Tennessee where I placed my jar. Actually it was nowhere near Tennessee, but rather a couple of time-zones removed to the West, on a little grassy hillock overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I would have come right out, let me assure the Dear Reader with all the earnest assurances of which I am capable, I would have come right out, that is, in the innocence of my heart, and said California, but I’ve never liked the word California. I’m not exactly sure why. It’s almost as though it reminds me of something unpleasant, and I can’t help but assume that for the Dear Reader, being a person of impeccably refined tastes, the same holds true. Which is why we understand each other so well. Plus, there’s something rather silly about the sentence, “I placed a jar in California,” is there not? And so for that reason alone, if for no other, I would have been justified in suppressing that sentence, as well as all related sentences, such as “In California I placed a jar” and “I a jar in Califonia placed.” For what could be worse than allowing an air of silliness if not to say ludicrousness to hang about the majestic act of placing a jar somewhere? It would be tantamount to asserting the futility of the placing of jars in general, something I certainly hope no one here is so wholly given over to despair as to admit. No, it would be evidence of the most hopeless spiritual buffoonery were one to suggest that there is anything at all ridiculous, ludicrous, laughable, inane, absurd, or silly about placing a jar in Tennessee or California or Kazakhstan or anywhere else for that matter, even if it is not even a jar at all, but instead, for example, a large dinner bell, or a sort of lopsided cart full of inflated manatee skins, or even a pile of sticks arranged in a semi-interesting pattern. And now I want to come clean with you, Dear Reader: it wasn’t actually a jar that I placed in Tennessee or rather in California, but instead it was a fullsized glass dinghy which I inserted into the ground at a rakish angle near a charming little stream, as if the dinghy were flirting with the stream somewhat, and were posing to advantage in a brazen machismo slouch. I stood back and considered my handiwork and called it good; and it goes without saying, Dear Reader, that I was mighty impressed. What a rascal I am! How arrogant and bold! I am an artist, you see, Dear Reader, is that not obvious now that you think about it? I wanted to tell you earlier, but I forgot. Actually, I thought it best to save this bit of self-revelation until the evidence was already on the table, otherwise you would have thought I was bragging. And no one likes a braggart. So I made up that stuff about the jar and Tennessee, etc. Not that I dislike Tennessee. It’s a perfectly good state. Nor do I have anything against jars, which, on the contrary, I find quite useful. I could just as easily have planted my rakish dinghy in Knoxville or on the Cumberland Plateau. Likewise, I could have placed a jar in California. I could have, Dear Reader; but I didn’t, now did I?
Born in Austin, Texas, and raised in Boone, North Carolina, John Crutchfield is a writer and theatre artist now based in Berlin, Germany. His poems, essays, translations and reviews have appeared in a variety of journals, including *Shenandoah*, *Seneca Review*, *Southern Review*, *The Appalachian Journal*, and *Zone 3*. His one-man show, *The Songs of Robert*, won an award for Outstanding Solo Performance at the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival. He has also created and performed interdisciplinary work with X Factor Dance, Sans Pointe Dance, G. Alex and the Movement, Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre, and Legacy Butoh. He has been Artist-In-Residence at the Djerassi Artists Foundation, Headlands Center for the Arts, the Association d’Art de La Napoule (France) and the Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe (Germany). At present, he serves as Associate Artistic Director of The Magnetic Theatre, teaches creative writing and drama at the Free University of Berlin, and works freelance as a literary translator. More info at: johncrutchfield.com