The Challenge


            Robert Benchley was, in fact, male (hence the name “Robert,” although in this day and age there is no rule stating that one named “Robert” must be male.  I am sure that there are “Roberts” out there who are female, or some Robertas whose a’s are silent).  I am finding it difficult to write like Robert Benchley.  This may be because I picture him hunched over a typewriter in a den, rather than hunched over a laptop on a desk with thirteen half-full cans of flat Diet Pepsi and an empty bag of Goldfish crackers in a room plagued with orange linoleum.  I picture Robert there, typing away, without breasts.  (Although, I must admit, it is more entertaining to picture him with them.  Maybe wearing a tiara even.) 

            I can’t sit like Robert Benchley.  The empty Goldfish cracker bag and breasts prohibit me from doing so.  I tried everything.  On the cover page I sent with this document, I used the “initial” technique adored by many other breast-bearers.  Instead of Lulabelle Roberta (silent “a”) Rickersbottom[1], I have used the name “L. R. Rickersbottom”, in the hopes that the audience wouldn’t know that I am (prepare to be shocked!) female.  The fact that I have already given my secret away is irrelevant.  J. K. Rowling is still under the impression that the Harry Potter-reading audience would instantly throw up on their shoes and fed-ex their books right back to amazon.com if they found out her top secret gender. 

            So now I am left with an audience who knows I’m not even of the right gender or sex or persuasion or phylum to write like Robert Benchley.  All I can promise is that he and every other author (even the vegetarians – there are salads now), in a moment of literary frustration, abandoned their computer screens, typewriters, stone tablets with ball point chisels, etc. to go to McDonald’s[2] and enjoy a Big Mac, which is what I plan to do right now.  Perhaps this can help me to channel Benchley’s genius.  If nothing else, I can finally replace the Goldfish bag with a fry container.

[1] Name has been changed to protect the author and her desire to comply with contest rules that state that she must not include her name anywhere in this essay or else be harassed nonstop by telemarketers and friends throwing Mary Kay parties for ten years or 100,000 miles, (whichever comes first), license plate and title fees extra.

[2] Archaeologists have found traces of special sauce in the grooves of the Rosetta Stone.  A skeleton found nearby bore DNA that is strikingly similar in structure to that of the modern day Hamburgler.