Kafka and Me
by Barbara Jean
guess Kafka had a dark side," my husband
informed me. He'd just finished flossing his
teeth and hadnt yet noticed I was wearing
the new nightgown I'd ordered from The Vermont
Country Store, the one with the dramatic, eyelet
I said gently, "some of us knew that already."
It was like he'd
suddenly realized that Dick Cheney had never been
a true friend, or that the little bug-eyed
mathematician with the mullet made more money
than him. It's not like my spouse to be that
dense, albeit he does sometimes shuffle around in
a pair of pajamas makes him resemble insane mafia
don Vincent The Chin Gigante.
found Kafka's secret drawer," he clarified,
annoyed. "I guess you've been so consumed by
Don Draper recently you missed all that."
drawer? Who are 'they'?" I asked. It
was all so Kafka already.
was this secret stash of pornography in it,"
he explained. "Girls on girls, animals on
animals. The Germans have been sitting on it for
sitting on whom?" I began slowly.
So it turns
out that Kafka, with whom I have felt a special
connection ever since I read The Trial and
realized he was telling the story of my life,
subscribed to a pornographic journal he kept
hidden in a locked desk. The German scholars (I'm
half German myself and understand) kept his
secret by stashing his porn in a library where
they knew it would never be found. But it was (probably
by a French scholar) and so there you go: Kafka,
seemed weirdly energized by the whole story.
wasn't just ordinary pornography," he said.
you mean?" I asked him. "What's
kind you see every day."
see pornography every day, I told him. I
don't even see it once a year."
It was true.
The most sinister website Id visited that
month was a consumer forum for Eureka vacuum
cleaners in which Minnesota Mamma got
into a fight with Country Candles Gal
over the redundancy of the power paw
I lay in bed
that night unable to sleep, haunted by Kafka's
dark and sordid pornography. Whats
worse, I wasn't able to come up with a mental
image any more filthy or disturbing than a
cockroach flouncing around in a negligee. So I
woke my husband up and began telling him the
story of how, back in the 1920s, Kafka had
considered opening a restaurant with his lover
Dora Diamant, who was apparently an excellent
cook. Kafka was going to be the waiter. He would
have wandered over and read you the specials.
how different the history of world literature
would be, I yelled, grinning
enthusiastically, if Dora had put some
flesh on those dry Czech bones. Hell, we might
still have The Castle but maybe The Kafka
blinked at me frantically, as if hed
awakened beside some peculiar insect. What
the hell is that thing you're wearing? he