A Conversation Between Me and The Ghost of Zelda Fitzgerald
By Kelley Davidson, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio
A Conversation Between Me and The Ghost of Zelda Fitzgerald*
Last week I summoned one of my favorite women on my Ouija board. I didn’t think there was anyone else who could better help me continue the conversation about the connections between mental illness and creativity than one of the Jazz Age’s craziest, coolest deceased writers: Zelda Fitzgerald.
Zelda did not appreciate my Ouija board; calling it a “muddled middle-man.” Instead, she danced the Charleston through the veil between the living and the dead and conversed with me about writing, depression, and untapped potential.
Zelda’s ghost was a lot like her former corporeal self: razor-thin, quick-witted, and totally drunk. She made a few remarks re: the gaudy décor in my bedroom and after she thoroughly hurt my feelings, we got down to business.
KD: Zelda, what do you feel is the root cause of existential pain? Why do you think that most creative people are so miserable?
ZF: We grew up founding our dreams on the infinite promise of American advertising. I still believe that one can learn to play the piano by mail and that mud will give you a perfect complexion.
KD: So, you’re saying that most creative types realize that they have been sold a false reality by the American capitalist agenda? That they find our empty cultural traditions reprehensible and suffer under the weight and responsibility of creating meaningful replacements?
ZF: Excuse me for being so intellectual. I know you would prefer something nice and feminine and affectionate.
KD: Not at all, I’m really enjoying this. Do you want to share some of that gin?
ZF: I suppose all we can really share with people is a taste for the same kinds of weather.
KD: Nevermind. What about Scott? Do you think that choosing a partner with the same destructive vices as yourself helped or hindered your creative process?
ZF: Nothing could have survived our life.
KD: Woah. Sorry to bring it up. …Do you mind talking about Scott a little more?
At this point, Zelda Fitzgerald’s translucent ghost had consumed too much gin to stand and threw up on a pile of my dirty laundry. Our interview continued after she had a brief nap and a tomato sandwich.
ZF: Having thus emptied this deep reservoir that was once myself, I am ready to continue.
KD: Thanks. Scott has been accused of stealing several of your colloquialisms and even novel ideas for his own work. You were angry about his intellectual theft when it happened, and it was part of what drove you over the edge. Now that you’ve been dead for half a century, has your opinion changed?
ZF: Mr. Fitzgerald, I believe that is how he spells his name, seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.
KD: Ouch, I take it that you two aren’t getting along very well in the afterlife. I’ll change the subject. Do you have any advice for young writers who are struggling the way you and I have?
ZF: By the time a person has achieved years adequate for choosing a direction, the die is cast and the moment has long since passed which determined the future.
KD: That’s not very promising advice, but I can relate. I’m 27, and I feel that I’ve already wasted so much of my time and potential stuck in a rut.
ZF: Oh, the secret life of man and woman -- dreaming how much better we would be than we are if we were somebody else or even ourselves, and feeling that our estate has been unexploited to its fullest.
KD: That’s a very poignant thing to say, Zelda. But my friend Joe calls people like that “lurkers.” He says that they’re just lurking, waiting for the universe to spin an opportunity their way, and when they finally get their big break all their friends will say, “It’s about time something good happened to them.”
ZF: Life moves over me in a vast black shadow and I swallow whatever it drops with relish, having learned in a very hard school that one cannot be both a parasite and enjoy self-nourishment without moving in worlds too fantastic for even my disordered imagination to people with meaning.
KD: Me too.
ZF: Why is there happiness and comfort and excitement where you are and nowhere else in the world?
KD: Because I’m on antidepressants.
TO BE CONTINUED.
*This never happened.
Published on December 08, 2014