Friday, August 18, 2006

Edgy Thai

McSweeney's Internet Tendency accepted a review of Thai noodles I wrote titled "A TASTE OF THAI: COCONUT GINGER NOODLES." Jordan said he liked it. Thing is he asked me to tone it down. Said it was a bit too edgy. Yeah, Thai noodles. The kind you add boiling water to and sit down and eat in your cubicle or on the way to work.

Here's the uncut version:

It says: Real Thai Real Easy. No punctuation. I guess in Thailand they don't use it. Have you ever seen written Thai? Not the transliterated shit, but the real curly-cue crazy script, abugida. It looks like the stuff that teenage girls go crazy with all over their journal covers. Like the font that mid-Western housewives use to make lost cat and yard sale signs. The font that just yells, I’m so wild and crazy it's insane! I think it's called Curlz MT. These noodles taste like a mid-Western housewife would, all cheery (the coconut) and apoplectic (the ginger and something called kaffir lime) at the same time. But it's also hearty, sits with you for a while as if it's staying the night. Clinger, I guess. Man, if Piscine Molitor Patel had some of this on his life boat he could have lasted another 78 days. Oh, right, he was Indian.

My first thought was, oh, they must have misunderstood something. They made the changes for me. Just edited it down. And reading it over it looked fine and all. No biggies. But then I noticed that the last line was missing and that kind of threw me. I could see cutting it 'cause it doesn't make any sense unless you've read LIFE OF PI. Piscine is the main character; the verbose Indian kid stuck on a life raft with a Bengal tiger. During his ordeal he eats lots of raw fish, turtles and the occasional bit of flotsam. I figured (and rightly so) that if he had some of this heavy Thai noodle stuff he'd have lasted a lot longer. I concede it's stupid. But Jordan didn't ask me to cut it 'cause it's stupid. He said it was edgy.

That lead to another thought: why was this edgy? Surely the housewife stuff is edgy. I'm making fun of suburbanites. But he didn't cut that. He wanted the whole LIFE OF PI stuff out. But what was edgy about that? Maybe it was the comment that he was Indian not Thai. And that suggested that he wouldn't have been eating the Thai noodle dish. (On second glance it's not edgy. It's borderline racist.) But when I wrote it the joke was that people get Thais and Indians confused. But that's not funny, either. It certainly doesn't seem edgy. I figured that maybe he didn't realize I was talking about LIFE OF PI. Perhaps he thought I was making fun of some guy I knew.

"Yeah, that old fucker Piscine. That goddamn guy would eat this and feel great for months. Oh, right, he's Indian."

Then I thought that maybe I don't really know what edgy means. Putting edgy into a search engine got me results about the movie eXistenZ and stuff about New York hotels and dishes. The dictionary says it means "being tense" or "having a biting edge." "Oh, right, he was Indian." That does seem a bit tense, doesn't it? But not the kind of edgy I was going for. I wasn't going for the Post Office kind of tense or the meeting-your-girlfriend's-ex-for-the-first-time kind of tense. I was really just going for stupid. And I thought I hit that right on the nose.

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