This blog is welcome to anyone and everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Unless you don't like writing short stories or smelling bear. Or if you voted for the other guy. Also, I don't really like it when you leave up the toilet seat, so could you stop doing that? Muchas, muchas gracias.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Story by Amy Hempel,

who I've been reading a lot lately as a way of filling in the minutes before I sleep, while I drink my morning coffee, and as a way of procrastinating.

Okay, here it is:

The Man in Bogotá

The police and emergency service people fail to make a dent. The voice of the pleading spouse does not have the hoped-for effect. The woman remains on the ledge -- though not, she threatens, for long.

I imagine that I am the one who must talk the woman down. I see it, and it happens like this.

I tell the woman about a man kidnapped in Bogotá. He was a wealthy man, an industrialist who was kidnapped and held for ransom. It was not a TV drama; his wife could not call the bank and, in twenty-four hours, have one million dollars. It took months. The man had a heart condition, and the kidnappers had to keep the man alive.

Listen to this, I tell the woman on the ledge. His captors made him quit smoking. They changed his diet and made him exercise every day. They held him that way for three months.

When the ransom was paid and the man was released, his doctor looked him over. He found the man to be in excellent health. I tell the woman what the doctor said then -- that the kidnap was the best thing that happened to that man.

* * *

Maybe this is not a come-down-from-the-ledge story. But I tell it with the thought that the woman on the ledge will ask herself a question, the question that occurred to that man in Bogotá. He wondered how we know that what happened to us isn't good.


Blogger Ryane said...

That was a great post. I love the story...

9:44 AM

Blogger matty said...

this is quite cool. tho, i do fear that the world is about to end due to the string of events that happened to me today. i don't know this might be a cool thing in the end but i'm not really ready for the world to end.

...someone told me that it was silly for me to think this because the world doesn't not revolve around me.

I told him that he was mistaken. the world does revolve around me at certain times of the year.

or not.

not sure.

now i'm confused.

and, you looked fabulous last night! you are such a hottie!!!

6:46 PM

Blogger Metalchick said...

That is a good story! I guess in a way it's saying that sometimes good can come out of bad things.

1:10 AM

Blogger matty said...

metalchick rules. she inspires me toward hope! I can't wait to sit down and explore her blog more -- which I shall do today! And, get her linked to my page!

Ing! Someone told me that the world actually revolves around you and not me. Is this true? If so, can you slow it down a wee bit --- it's all going a little faster than I like.

6:58 AM

Blogger ginab said...

Hempel is and has been and remains cool. Usually tackles irony.

I'm very glad those are not my teeth. They are too gross. Too.

And I wish Matty would stop with the grabbing of his privates. Makes me think things ;-).


7:50 AM

Blogger Karen Little said...

Sometimes I think that most of the things that happen to us are good for us, and that most of the things that we do to ourselves tend to be bad.

I liked this post a lot - it made me think. Will have to read amy hempel soon.

10:03 AM

Blogger josh williams said...

A wothwhile way to procrastinate.

7:14 PM

Blogger ing said...


Yeah, I wish I'd written it!



Looks like I need to check your blog. . . later. Stuff to do, y'know? But the world will not end. I promise. It's just beginning.

You are the sun in my universe, and you certainly have an orbit. Thanks for the compliment, too! I needed that. I hope my new knee boots are the ticket to hotness. Tomorrow, however, it's heels and lacy socks. One must always salsa dance in heels.



Or rather that no matter how bad it was, the future is probably going to be great, so don't get trapped back there in the distasteful stuff.

Good advice, eh?



On metalchick, yes, and yes.

On me and the world -- well, if it revolves around me, I'd say that yes, things are going a bit too quickly all at once. I'm trying to slow it down, but things keep happening!! Why?!

I need the world to stop for a minute and think about what it's doing.



Perish the thought! It'll rot out your teeth. . . which I think is why Matty has so many patients visiting the dentist's. He inspires too many thoughts as he's filing away those charts.



Hoo boy, you've got a point. I need to stop doing unto myself for a bit! More dancing, more cycling, more writing, less beer.



You said it! I just loooove this writer!

8:05 PM

Blogger Me said...

Oooo, I wish I'd written that. I'll have something to ponder for the rest of the day while I hang upside down off the couch and ignore the bags that need unpacking. Thanks Ing.

3:00 PM

Blogger matty said...

I had 3 Diet Cokes, listened in on 4 odd conversations for inspiration but ended up blogging about a movie. Oy.


Mrs. Palfrey is going to be missing you at tea. oh well.

4:35 PM

Blogger ing said...


There are so many, many stories I wish I had written. And so many that I have written and wish I hadn't.


matty, though:

I think what you said about the movie was a lot more than stuff about a movie. Good post!

5:10 PM


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