For whatever reason, I’m charged with creating woks for some town. The town itself is vaguely post-apocalyptic; entirely underground in the way that subways are but fashioned out of buried, converted double-wides and other modular structures. It’s lit up by fluorescent bulbs which give everything a grey-green mid-80s schoolhouse pallor. Everything seems to be made of reused or recycled goods. There are pictures of Ralph Nader that conjure up images of the Ayhatolla Khomenhi. The mood is downtrodden in the way that only a disappointing post-nuclear-fall-out sort of utopia can be. My werks are manufactured from any scrap metal I can find. This particular wok is frustrating me. It took far too long to scrape the red paint from the STOP sign. I can’t seem to get the fire hot enough to adequately soften the metal and my good hammer is broken. I’m having to beat this one with a rubber mallet. I can’t get the bend of the bowl quite right and though the octagonal shape usually makes it easy to get it round, this one doesn’t sit straight every time I put it down.
Nevertheless, my prowess with the mallet is admired by many. It even attracts the romantic admiration of some of the women-folk of this underground town. They try to ply me with drink but I admit to them that I’m married. One of them is particularly persistent and calls me that night.
The wok takes two days to get it right. Normally I can do two or three in a day.