Kundera Wrote a Czech by Johnny Masiulewicz

I know peanuts are not nuts. I know that a koala bear isn't really a bear, that despite the schoolyard admonitions you can't get lead poisoning from being poked by a lead pencil.

I know that anyone who thinks that tapping on the top of a soda can before opening it "pushes down the bubbles" is a total moron.

I know that there is absolutely no mention of "separation of church and state" in the Constitution, and that nowhere in the Bible does it say that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.

I know the Carly Simon song "You're So Vain" was written about either Mick Jagger or Warren Beatty, and I know that she has a giant mouth that stretches from ear to ear and for that reason a blowjob from her would be engulfing to say the least.

I know the egg is indeed incredible and edible.

I know that mine is the only family in the western hemisphere, and one of only two in the entire world with our last name. I know that's only 16 people out of 6.802 billion, meaning .00000023% of the world's population is a Masiulewicz.

I know that Richard Brautigan and Nicholson Baker both made careers out of deftly strung-together nonsequitors, and that William Burroughs thinks he did but just ask anyone who's not a college freshman or hooked on delauded and they'll say "meh".

I know that being cold doesn't give you a cold, that a starfish isn't a fish, a seahorse isn't a horse. I know that no one thinks that they themselves are a bad driver, and that in this day and age the advertising credo "Sex Sells" has been replaced by "Fear Sells".

I know that in the Peanuts comics, the autobiographical avatar of cartoonist Charles Schultz was actually Shroeder, and not Charlie Brown like everybody thinks. And I know that in the strip that ran on August 19th 1957 Charlie Brown does kick the football.

I know the best way to piss off a fundamentalist Christian is to remind them that the evil pagan holiday of Halloween actually stemmed from a Christian holiday, and that the blessed Christmas holiday actually came from a pagan festival.

I know that moleskine is no longer made from moles.

I know the second best way to piss off a Christian is to ask them whether Jesus, after he rose from the dead, was more like a "Night of the Living Dead" zombie or a "28 Days After" zombie.

I know, like most men, that thinking about baseball really does work.

I know that the last bar Chris Farley was in on the night he died was the Olde Towne Ale House on Wells street, two blocks from the last house I owned in Chicago. And I know I was there the night before he was, sitting at the bar as I often did with actor and fellow Chicagoan George Wendt. And I know that every time some fucking fratboy douchebag would walk in, see him there, and scream out "Norm!" George would smile and wave and then turn to me and say under his breath "Fucking fratboy douchebag".

I know I miss my dog. The ex kept him.

But I don't know if swans can be trained. They're mean and opinionated, but are they smart? Can a group of them be drawn away from a person tossing them food by another person tossing them food?

I would have slightly re-written that one scene from the movie "The Unbearable Lightness Of Being". About two-thirds of the way through, Daniel Day Lewis' character Tomas alone in Geneva, standing shin-deep in a public pond tossing breadcrumbs to the flock of swans that glide around him.

Maybe swans can't be trained. Maybe that was the reason why the scene came out as apparently blasé as it did.

It's definitely not a throw away scene. In fact it's the exact opposite. According to co-screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrier this was the key scene of the entire movie. He explains in the DVD's documentary extra that the scene in which the movie's title is explained without a spoken word is that movie's key scene.

It's a short one, maybe eight, nine seconds for the entire scene from fade up to cut out. Those swans hover around his legs picking bits of bread from the water, from his outstretched hands.

He's in Geneva, alone. He has been forcibly rid of his prestigious brain surgeon career. He has sloughed off his radical political views, his drive to fight for nationalism, his womanizing ways. He's let his wife run back to Prague. She took their dog.

Without these responsibilities, these burdens, Tomas is now nothing but lightness. He spends his days in his low-profile position as a window washer, he relaxes with the newspaper, sees women without having to bed them, stands in public ponds feeding bits of bread to swans.

That's unbearable lightness, right? I'm picking that up? Or is it maybe just because I had read Kundera's book or seen that documentary which told me what the scene was supposed to symbolize.

I would have slightly re-shot that scene. At least for the people who haven't read the book. Perhaps made the symbolism a bit more overt. It's not like the swans weren't handed to me on a silver platter, with a few thousand years of cultural, artistic and mythological symbolism

The scene opens as before - Tomas in the water, swans around his legs, him tossing bread. But them instead of ending there, the swans slowly turn away from Tomas, paddle away from him in all directions til they are out of frame, leaving Tomas alone in the shot.

The symbolism is excruciatingly obvious, but in the context of the rest of the movie -- the bowler hat, the mirror on the floor, the adulterous lover ruining an affair by leaving his wife?

Can swans be trained? This would of course warrant most of the logistical difficulties of the reshoot. Would I, could I, have them all turn away simultaneously, have them all swim away at once. Or would they, could they, move individually, turning away moving away in no discernable pattern like leaves falling from a tree.

And how would I draw them away anyway. Is there some kind of silent swan whistle that only swans can hear? Maybe hold up some lifesized centerfolds of some sexy naked swans?

Or what if I had better bread? Can swans be trained that the marble rye from Yetta's Deli on 54th was immensely better than the storebrand crap from the propmaster's table? Would this be enough to convince swans to turn from the sure thing of an English actor playing a Czech nationalist with bread to a bunch of crew members surrounding them with what could be bread. Are swans lazy? Would they even bother to swim in a different direction even if they knew it was marble rye from Yetta's?

Or what about animatronics. I wonder if I could pull off my reshoot with radio-controlled robotic swans...

"Whatcha writing?" she asked as she walked up tapping the top of a soda can with her fingertips. I had heard that unmistakable tapping sound as it has gotten closer and closer and I had prayed that it was because she was wearing heels with little metal tips on them or prayed that it wasn't even her.

I said "It's a piece about changing a scene in a movie. The swan scene from 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being'".

She was a girl I had met on one of those on-line dating sites, and I was sitting on a bench at the Riverside Arts Market and after we had written back and forth on line for a while and texted back and forth this was to be our first actual meeting.

I had been feeling lightness as of late. I had left my high-pressure management job and had been eking by on freelancing and eBay. Had walked out of an oppressive and bi-polar marriage. I had recently shuffled off a 25 yr old student loan, more than a few pounds of fat in the gym. I didn't need to use an alarm clock anymore. The ex kept my dog.

I had been feeling lightness as of late. light enough to float up in the air. above everything, above the rat race, the day to day, just high enough that I could still clearly see the world but wasn't connected to it. And the world was still turning beneath me, the race was still on, everything passing beneath me. I was missing out on it all. The street fairs and the movie premiers, holidays, mall dates, gray days, Charlie Brown Christmas. I was light and I was free and I had nothing that I had to do. That meant that I had nothing to do. Honestly, that truly is unbearable.

"The unbearable whatness of what? Never heard of it" she said sitting down on the bench next to me and cracking open her soda. She had sufficiently pushed down all the bubbles.

"Daniel Day Lewis, Lena Olin, bunch of Academy Awards, came out in 1988, extremely (here I was gonna say "erotic", but then I thought that might not be appropriate talk for a first meeting so I just said) extremely historic. About the Prague Spring. From the book by Kundera."

"O Koontz" she blurted out "I've read Dean Koontz."

"No," (don't sound patronizing) "Kundera. the Czech writer."

"He wrote checks?"

Unbearable. I thought that I would try to find me a girl. Alot easier than trying to find me a job in this day and age. Too soon to get another dog. At least a girl might pull me back down into a gravitational field. The obligatory nightly phone calls, the lunch dates, the need to buy birthday presents would provide a semblance of a burden.

I went internet. I don't hang around in bars and I don't like being set up and it's too easy to be labeled a creep if you approach a woman in the cucumber section of the supermarket (don't ask me how I know that). There's no place online to indicate whether or not one taps the top of one’s soda can. Or the willingness to shave my back.

Were I lucky I’d someone whom I could call and commiserate with when I blow two tires simultaneously in the Sears parking lot. Someone who knew the dialogue of Chris Farley's best SNL skits, who pokes fun at the women on the dating sites who strained the parameters of the phrase "a few extra pounds". Someone who wondered like me why Ambrose Bierce's body was never found, someone who burdened me like a print avatar to which I owed my fans to return to over and over: the Slats Grobnik to my Mike Royko, the Kilgore Trout to my Vonnegut, the Dean Moriarty on the road, the Doctor Gonzo fearing and loathing in Vegas.

"O Johnny Deep was so good in that movie about Las Vegas" she blurted out, "and your name is Johnny too!"

I asked her if she had seen the much superior Hunter S Thompson bio pic "Where the Buffalo Roam" and she said that she didn't like nature films.

And at that moment she reached into her purse and she suddenly screamed “ow!” because she had inadvertently stabbed herself with the point of a sharpened pencil, and I waited for it and waited for it and I wasn't disappointed when she keened "O my god now I'm gonna get lead poisoning".

From then her babbling became just that, running on and on about watching "Dancing With the Stars" and the new shoes she just bought and the best tomatoes to put into gazpacho and the blah blah blah like lukewarm mashed potatoes being poured into ears. So I closed my eyes and the white noise of her voice was got softer and softer as if she was moving away and I opened my eyes to see if she had moved away.

That moment, I knew then, like so many girls before, that she wasn't the one for me. It was the lightness again, I was still unanchored, was still unhitched and had floated, still in a sitting position out of the gravity and was hovering above the bench. Not high in the air, just a bit above her head level.

Was this the key scene of this movie? "The Unbearable Lightness Of Internet Dating"? Is this explained in the DVD's documentary extra that the scene in which the movie's title is explained without a spoken word is that movie's key scene? But I found myself having to speak.

I called to her, to ask her to give me a hand, to pull me down, to lie and say I made gazpacho too, but the rotating world swept her away from below me.

So I hung there as the world spun by below me and it's a minor miracle that I didn't smash into anything sticking up from the surface of the spinning world as it rolled beneath me: the concrete columns that held up the Fuller-Warren, the Modis Building, the Eiffel Tower flickered past just a few inches from my face, Krakow, Angkor Watt, my left foot knocked of a coconut from a tree on Guam.

I remembered that in her profile it said that she worked in the electronics industry, so when the rotation of the earth brought her back around along the latitudinal meridian above which I hovered, I called down to her asking if she knew anything about building an animatronics radio-controlled swan.

But before she could answer the rotating world took her away again and I just barely missed sideswiping a giraffe as the Serengeti rolled beneath me.