Michael Reid Busk
To paraphrase Winston Churchill’s words, used in a very different context: No one could ever forecast the actions of Prince; he was a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside a purple velvet enigma. Prince was a sparkly Sphinx, a funk-pop Mozart, a 5’2 totem of talent, a Christian sex god, the world’s most litigious vegan—altogether, one of those rare figures incomprehensible in his totality, a living instantiation of the poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant.”
In the face of myth and paradox, facts can be grounding, and as such, the best way to approach the legend of Prince is to walk a typical day in his (sequined, high-heeled, size-7) shoes.
6:01 a.m. Trained mourning doves coo outside Prince’s open bedroom window, waking him from a dream that prominently featured transcendence, apples, and a silk pillow shaped like a vulva.
6:07 a.m. With kisses on the eyelids, Prince wakes the women slumbering beside him in his enormous Minnesota-shaped bed—red-haired Astrid curled around Bemidji, professional beach volleyball player Kylie stretched across the length of the Boundary Waters, the wily cellist Marta spread-eagled over Minneapolis.
6:14 a.m. Prince reads aloud to the women from Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians. Then they have group sex.
8:23 a.m. Prince emerges from the bedroom in a purple terrycloth bathrobe stitched across the chest with the phrase Aretha is your mother, bitch.
8:29 a.m. In the kitchen, Prince retrieves the drawing pad he keeps in the mango drawer of his fruit fridge, then sketches the vulva pillow of his dream. After a prayer, he decides the world is not ready for an object of such erotic beauty, and he returns the artist pad to the mango drawer.
9:00 a.m. Prince makes pancakes. They are delicious.
9:37 a.m. Prince wonders if, just as there’s always after-afterparty after the after-party, there’s an after-afterlife after the afterlife.
9:46 a.m. Prince writes and records eleven songs. Four of them are terrible. Three are about pancakes and/or Jesus. One is just Prince listing his favorite vegetables, to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” One is mostly a kazoo solo. Two will win Grammys.
11:18 a.m. Prince challenges his 6’3 bodyguard to a game of full-court one-on-one. Prince wins. Prince always wins.
12:53 p.m. Prince takes a bath. The water is scalding. There are no mirrors in the tub room, because Prince finds his nude reflection almost overpoweringly arousing.
1:24 p.m. In the bath, Prince wonders if the earliest humans sang instead of speaking, and if spoken language is a sort of shorthand for our original melodic tongue, and if harmony would reign on earth if we all began singing to each other again.
1:53 p.m. Prince emerges from the tub, dries himself off with a blow dryer, and dresses in a white satin suit with a silk cravat. Prince’s personal assistant Jill knocks on the door of the bedroom to say that a journalist from Rolling Stone is on the line. Prince tells Jill to tell the journalist to call back in twenty-six minutes.
2:19 p.m. The Rolling Stone journalist calls back while Prince is attempting to balance an egg on his marble countertop. Prince tells Jill to have the journalist call back in nineteen minutes.
2:23 p.m. Prince successfully balances the egg on the countertop.
2:25 p.m. Prince calls his lawyer, asking if he could sue the Prince of Wales, the Prince of Monaco, the Prince of Lichtenstein, the Prince of Qatar, and all the Princes of the House of Saud for copyright infringement. Prince’s lawyer says he’ll get back to him.
2:38 p.m. The Rolling Stone journalist calls back, and Prince takes the call on his favorite phone, which looks like a velvet-covered eggplant. The reporter asks him about posing in the nude for his album Lovesexy. Prince says he wanted to give his fans the greatest gift of all, and that gift was his own body. In that regard, Prince muses, he is much like Jesus. The journalist asks Prince what it was like to work with Madonna on “Like a Prayer.” Prince rhapsodizes on the subject of prayer for nearly an hour, comparing it to sex, sleeping, breathing, swimming, flying, bathing, eating, cooking, cleaning, and playing solitaire. The journalist asks Prince who his favorite living musician is. Prince says, “Prince.”
4:53 p.m. Prince has an early dinner of spaghetti and orange juice with Astrid, Kylie, and Marta. Prince quizzes them on Minnesota geography. Astrid does well, Kylie and Marta less so.
6:17 p.m. Prince teaches himself to play the trombone.
6:26 p.m. Prince urinates in his favorite toilet, whose bowl has a purple-and-gold spiral pattern, but opposite the way the water spins, because Prince’s motto is: art is the opposite of what everyone else is doing.
6:48 p.m. Prince wonders why his fans are so much better than everyone else’s fans. Then he thanks Jesus for that.
6:57 p.m. Prince tells his assistant Jill that he wants to make a friendship bracelet for every fan at his next show. Jill tells him his next show is Madison Square Garden. Prince tells her to bring him ten thousand yards of purple thread.
7:14 p.m. Prince makes eighteen thousand friendship bracelets.
8:38 p.m. Prince asks Astrid, Kylie, and Marta to kiss his sore fingers, which turns the women on. Then, as they start taking their clothes off, Prince says, “No hands. Just mouths.” For the next two hours, Prince’s bedroom sounds like the world’s loudest, sexiest Shop-Vac.
11:23 p.m. After the women fall asleep, Prince emerges from the bedroom to clean his moustache with a Polly Pocket hairbrush. He wonders, not for the first time, how a charismatic figure like Jesus managed to live thirty-three years on earth without having sex, and he wonders if this was Jesus’ greatest success, or his greatest failure.
11:31 p.m. Prince conceives of a rock opera about a small androgynous child who is given the gift of melody by the Angel of Funk, and who must journey through a wasteland of large albino trolls who write negative things about him in their troll magazines, but whose beautiful, un-troll-like albino wives throw themselves at the androgynous man-child, who gives the albino wives unimaginable sexual pleasure, and also teaches them about Jesus. Prince returns to the bedroom to write the entire three-act libretto in purple Sharpie on the three naked backs of his three lovers. Prince is so gentle that none of the women wake, although as the marker touches Kylie’s skin, she moans, whimpers, and then seems to come while still sleeping. Prince smiles. Prince loves sex dreams.
12:45 a.m. Prince walks naked to his kitchen and eats a Fruit Roll-up.
12:58 a.m. Prince wonders if the Roman god Mars is named after the candy bar, or vice versa. Then he wonders what a Venus bar would taste like.
1:14 a.m. Prince creates a recipe for a Venus bar, whose ingredients include white chocolate, raspberries, sunshine, and peace, writes the recipe out on the nearest piece of paper, which happens to be his most recent Grammy acceptance speech, and then he wakes up his assistant Jill, who was napping on the sofa, and tells her to overnight it to the U.S. Patent Office. Seeing her boss’ beautiful body naked, the seemingly prim Jill finds herself overwhelmed with desire, and begs him to have sex with her. Prince does, and afterward, as she sobs in his arms, Prince holds her. She tells him, “This is the day my life really began.” Prince responds, “I know.”
1:58 a.m. Prince and Jill retreat to his rather phallic looking purple bounce house behind the pool, and jump inside of it in the nude, laughing like little children.
2:23 a.m. Prince and Jill stargaze naked on the lawn. Prince tells her the names of all the constellations, which are not the actual names of the constellations, but Prince’s names for them are much more creative than their actual names. Jill says she thinks she might be falling in love with him, but Prince presses a finger to her lips and points to the sky. “Shhh,” he whispers. “There’s the Camel Penis.”
3:43 a.m. Jill falls asleep. Prince covers her with a Minnesota Timberwolves blanket, then decides his hedge is too orderly, so he finds pruning shears and trims the hedge into a topiary of the Last Supper, but instead of disciples, there are a dozen beautiful women of various ethnic backgrounds, and instead of Jesus, there’s a diminutive bare-chested musician with well-coifed hair playing a guitar solo. “It is good,” Prince says.
5:11 a.m. When God had completed all he had made, he rested, but Prince does not rest, because resting is like dying, and Prince knows Prince will never die.
Michael Reid Busk is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Literature and Creative Writing PhD program, where he was a Merit Fellow, Feuchtwanger Fellow, and Town and Gown Scholar. His collection 69 Breakups is forthcoming from Lit Fest Press, and his shorter work appears in journals such as Iowa Review, Conjunctions, Gettysburg Review, Fiction International, Witness, Fourth Genre, and Michigan Quarterly Review. He lives with his wife and children in South Bend, perhaps the most Midwestern town of them all, but alas, he does not drive a Studebaker.