Beer’s off the table. I mean, it never even entered my mind. Every single-speed enthusiast worth his weight in flannel has started at least four kitchen microbreweries. So that’s out. Same with meats. If I see one more menu advertising “flavor-conscious charcuterie,” I’m going to stop eating porchetta altogether. Okay, not really, but I’m definitely going to be really put off and order free range chicken instead sometimes. French fries are out. Chewing gum too. Shirt making (for humans, pets, and dolls). Sweater knitting (for doll-like humans who also happen to be pets). Soap barring. Beading of every type. Pencil sharpening. Beekeeping. Shoelace ironing. Shoelace wrinkling. Pencil un-sharpening. Jaw surgery. It’s all been done. And it’s not like I haven’t considered the full gamut of options, because I have.
I thought I had something when I tried artisanally brainstorming about starting something artisanal. I interviewed over two dozen antique store owners about the most environmentally friendly Fourdrinier Machine before I enrolled in a papermaking class just so I could have something to jot down my triple-distilled Whales Foundry ink brainstorm. That was before I stumbled into the local Artisan’s Bookshop and saw the Artisanal Brainstormer Quarterly: The First Quarterly Magazine for the Artisanally-Minded Brainstormer. I’m not exaggerating when I say there were literally fives of people who had my exact idea.
But, I wasn’t raised a quitter. Anything worth having is hard to get. I know that. So, I kept pushing. Pushing my way through the packed aisles of organic grocery stores. Pushing past passersby at flea markets and country fairs, all in the desperate hope of pushing my way to inspiration. Then, it dawned on me—an idea so simple and pure, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner: Artisanal pushing. Nudging not with preservative-induced anger, but with all natural, deep-seated, psychosomatic rage. From childhood.
I was careful to rub all callouses off my fingertips to ensure they were the vehicles of frustration my targets deserved, ten splayed pads of transcendent fury. I toned my forearms with newly chiseled hunks of iron ore from Western Australia’s famed Yandicoogina Mine so my contact, ranging from a casual brush-up to a full-on shove, could properly reflect my mood. For the first time since advanced craft camp, I was happy. I wanted to teach others. I wanted to share my gift.
So I approached my town’s chamber of commerce about incorporating an artisanal pushing conservatory and I was all smiles and nods until the secretary told me my endeavor reminded her of “Woodstock’s storied Nudge House, the country’s first ever pushers’ retreat, founded in 1897”. I was apoplectic. Sobbing without bounds, pushing without remorse. Something inside me must have died that day, because I’ve never come as close to creating any pastime so authentically artisanal. Damned if I didn’t try, but I’d lost my edge. With every step forward, I took two steps back.
Web spinning seemed promising until a possessive brown recluse sent me writhing in intensive care. Spontaneous shoe re-soling was genius, but I’d tripped the wrong man whilst tending to work on his well-worn Maglis and found myself on the wrong end of a savage beating. Cheese carpentry, noose braiding, and ladybug farming all suffered similarly abysmal outcomes.
Now I write, in a room filled to the brim with leather straps, yarn balls, live insects, and ears of corn, asking the reader for hope. You’d give money to the ASPCA, UNICEF, and The Red Cross without blinking an eye. Would you give an unlikely craft to an artisan in need? If so, would you also consider giving me some of the money you would have sent to UNICEF? I haven’t held a steady job in some time. And when I say “some time,” I mean ever. I’ve also never held an unsteady job (notwithstanding my brief tenure as a seesaw entrepreneur). Some deodorant would be nice too.
Yours in the bonds of artistry,