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In the course of my work, I listen to the dictated reports of a Chicago lawyer whose face I have never seen and to whom I have never actually spoken. Whenever he stumbles over a word, he chortles. Sometimes he repeats the word incorrectly as if to amuse himself with his own mistake, and chuckles in what I interpret as mild embarrassment before pronouncing the word again, this time correctly and with slight emphasis. I pause the dictation for a moment to swoon, sigh, and imagine, again, what he looks like. (Google reveals nothing.) He is always Stephen Colbert. Always.
For his main profile picture on the dating website that's sure to score him some major pussy, 69njboy4u's uses the one photo that doesn't make him look like the complete tool his last girlfriend and all of her girlfriends and even some of his own friends know him to be. Who cares if it's a photo she took of the two of them at his best buddy's engagement party where she was sure he was going to make sure they were next? He's cropped the bitch out as much as he could without compromising the view of his right bicep!
If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around, and it lies there on its back staring up at the sky, trying with little success to remember all the different types of clouds, not only unable to lift itself up due to bark-searing pain the location of which it can't quite pinpoint but also unwilling to even try for fear that something (limbs?) might be broken, does it silently lament the absence of assistance, or does it make a sound, loudly damning everyone else for having other plans and leaving it all alone to fend for itself?
Whenever the world's oldest person dies, I never think, well, at least he/she lived a long life. Instead I think, yeah, well, it's sad, but really, who wants to live that long, anyway? The world's oldest person always looks like the world's oldest person, no matter how "good" people say he or she looks. Living to be 115 only means you get all the worst years extended. If the extra years could somehow be added to the middle, if we could have the "bulge" in years around the life span's waist, I'd say sign me up. But otherwise? No thanks.
On the way to Candle 79, one of the city's best vegan restaurants, we pass by one of the countless non-descript pizza places that's remembered more by location than name. We murmur, "Mmm, pizza," and I secretly want to cancel our reservations and slip inside for cheesy goodness.
At dinner, we indulge in the civility of seitan this and that, tofu whatnot, and non-dairy whatthefuck. We have no room for anything else, except somehow we both saved perfect wedge-shaped spaces in our stomachs.
"Pizza for dessert?" we say.
I feel like a Jew who drives on Saturday.
Oh. Um. Wait.
Oh, Alice's Tea Cup, it's a shame your whimsy is so self-conscious and contrived, because you have the potential to be really "cute". If you were genuine in your cuteness, you wouldn't feel the need to latch onto our ankles like a particularly well-trained attack dog and insist we notice. You would just BE.
Whimsy shouldn't come with so many rules, either. Demanding a minimum order of $10 per person on weekends, and admonishing that the "nibbler" plate for $23 serves one person only with no sharing, makes us want to flee. So we do.
Your loss is Aroma's gain.
In order to curb Shana's penchant for over-meowing at times when I don't have patience or time to listen to a thousand-word manifesto, I bought a water gun to give her a brief squirt. I figured I'd outsmart her with a bit of avoidance conditioning.
Shana, not thrilled with the two occasions when the water landed squarely on her flank, has taken to meowing only when perched in front of a cherished watercolor painted by my great-great-grandfather, the original Declaration of Independence, and the remains of a "soap woman" that rest atop my coffee table.
Well played, cat. Well played.
I cannot stand zippers on boots that lace up the front. I know it's more "practical" to include a zipper to aid in the putting on and taking off of the boots, but is it really that difficult to lace and unlace them? Isn't the appeal more than just decorative? Doesn't the appeal lie in the notion that the foot and leg are held captive behind the bindings? Isn't the reality of having to exert a bit of effort to not only free the foot but to trap it in the first place much more alluring than a mere illusion?
Just because she fantasizes about how it'd be if she snipped off the tips of her cat's ears with cuticle scissors while he's sleeping doesn't mean she's going to do it. Just like she's not really going to bite off the tiny pink toes of the newborn she admires at the adjoining table at Starbucks. And she's not going to gut her mom with a bread knife. Or whack her boss across the left temple with an aluminum baseball bat. They're just fantasies. She would no sooner act them out than she would that one about the enemas. So relax.
I'm pretending to mind my own business, doing dual-arm bicep curls on an incline bench, admiring my reflection like a good narcissist. I close my eyes for a moment, and when I open them, three tank-topped gayboys are within spitting distance, two standing and one sitting, all doing some variety of biceps curl too. I grin and raise an eyebrow internally, simultaneously thinking, "What the fuck?" and imagining we're all parts of a fabulous man-powered generator. It takes me five seconds to realize why they've been magnetically drawn to me: they could sense I've been listening to Liza and Queen!
I love the notion of "the eyes, they follow you", secret rooms hidden behind revolving armoires, a long box of money stashed under a floorboard, safes carved into books, sliding panels that lead to a maze of underground tunnels. I love the idea of mirrors whose reflections do not match what stands before them, clocks that stop at the moment someone dies, and of putting a key from the 1920s in my front door and, upon entering, finding the place exactly as it would've looked then. In reality, these things would freak me out. But the notions, oh so thrilling!
The three local hot-to-trotters at the adjacent counter of the bar, decked out in spangly Spiegel, arms as bulbous as boiled sausage and just as pink, cheeks as shiny as Delicious apples but surely not as tasty, sneer from beneath their bangs and beers in the direction of me and my friend G and our Tanqueray and tonics. They guffaw at the meager attention afforded them by a guy who's drinking alone, wondering which of them'll be lucky enough to see he doesn't stay that way tonight. I'm grateful for lush hair, muscular arms, and attention from my handsome boyfriend.
Ralph is back from the dead, surprisingly dry given his drowning, accompanied by his son who's still 13 despite the 11 years that've passed since he tried to save his dad from the fierce undertow of the Atlantic Ocean. The camera of my dream zooms in on my face, as wet with tears of joyful disbelief as they once were with those of disbelieving grief.
"I've been watching you all these years," Ralph says, not discerning whether from heaven or hell or a telescope on Broadway. "Your last haircut was cute, but sometimes it looked a little goofy."
Although I'm quite amused that upon placing a single Zotz (grape) in my mouth and sucking on it slightly to release the fizz, I'm instantly zapped back to middle school, 1975, I'm not too thrilled that I've landed in the locker room after gym class, where I'm trying, on one nail-bitten hand, to sneak peeks at tits, and, on the other, to change out of my one-piece blue and white gymsuit under half a dozen way-too-small dry white towels (they don't get wet if you don't shower). Next up: I chain-smoke three milk chocolate cigarettes and pray for third grade.
Today at the gym I saw a girl I hadn't seen around for a couple weeks because she was busy having a baby. I congratulated her (I always feel false when offering these congratulations) and then asked the expected, "What did you have?" immediately followed by "A boy or a girl?" Yeah, I had to, you know, give her those options, because otherwise she would not have known I was referring to the baby, and said, "Eggplant parmigiana with linguini and garlic bread, and my husband had the shrimp scampi. We also had a salad with the house dressing." Yeah.
Candida doesn't like having a name associated with venereal disease, but hey, there you have it. She tries to "sweeten" the deal by using the nickname "Candi", but someone always asks, "Is that short for something?" and she will confess, not quite up to being able to lie and just say, "Yes. Candice." Invariably, she's compelled to explain that she doesn't think her parents had known the VD association when naming her, and almost as often, the person to whom she's explaining this doesn't even know what "candida" is anyway, thus forcing her to define it. She just can't win.
I don't remember my dad hoisting me onto his shoulders and taking me for a ride. I don't remember feeling like I'm that tall, seeing things from a perspective only short giraffes, basketball players, or other little kids perched upon dad-shoulders shoulders saw, sharing the special hand signal or wink I'm sure they shared to acknowledge that yeah, we've got the good dads.
I don't remember because it never happened. My dad would've accused me of sitting the wrong way, of being a literal pain in the neck, never realizing it was his responsibility to not be a figurative one.
Several years ago, haiku was all the rage in the so-called "blogosphere", and everyone and his mother and his mother's dentist's daughter's gynecologist's chimneysweep were slapping 17 syllables together and posting the result for all the world to see. I did not participate. Now that it has fallen a bit from fashion, the time is safe to dip my toe into the water (I won't go so far as to get my hair wet, though, don't worry).
Here is my maiden offering for the season:
Well, now! Haiku is almost as much fun as Sudoku!
Shana, we need to talk.
Can you tell me why you just made such a big production out of availing yourself of your litterbox when apparently, while I was out this morning, you deemed the bed a rather adequate alternative?
As dumfounded as I was to witness the dramatic display, I applaud you for combining style with substance, taking special care, during your precise Riverdance-like footwork, to ensure that the fruits of your labor were covered. Stunning flourish upon exiting the box, too.
The next time you have a grievance, though, a simple picket with a well-lettered sign will suffice.
Dear Blondish Gym Guy Who I Thought Was Kinda Cute in a Blond Way Even Though I Don't Like Blonds (Yes, You in the Frequently Green Shirt):
I already have a boyfriend. I wasn't looking at you that way. I'm sure you think I was, because you keep looking over at me the way guys do when they think you're looking at them that way.
I was just thinking -- those really retarded arm-circle things you do in front of the mirror that they used to force us do in gym class circa 1971. That, and the incessant gum-chewing? Deal-breakers!
You may not be able to teach an old dog tricks, but you can certainly teach him how to be a snappier dresser. Most dogs, if left to their own devices, see nothing wrong with leaving the house in too-short pants made even shorter by hiking them way too high, a braided belt, a too-tight Qiana shirt from a thrift store grab bag, an oversized pinstriped vest, triple-striped tube socks, and tasseled loafers. We owe it to our dogs to supervise their choices, to intervene, and offer gentle alternatives for their unacceptable attire. That's what best friends are for, right?
Lisa is jealous of Mindy Stark-Levin's Facebook profile picture. She was happy with her own, of her and her best friend Becky on lawn chairs enjoying their first cherry Slurpees of the season, until she saw Mindy Stark-Levin, her hair in twin pigtails, doing a cartwheel in lime green sneakers in front of an Egyptian pyramid. Never mind that she doesn't even know Mindy Stark-Levin. Or that this is the only photo of hundreds that Mindy Stark-Levin's husband took of her on their vacation where she wasn't snarling. Or that they filed for divorce the day after it was shot.
My friend M and his sister L proceed, faces motionless, down the aisle of the church, carrying, waist-high, the remains of their father, who died last week, and mother, who passed on Mother's Day, in plain light wooden boxes on which the outlines of praying hands look like they've been drawn with a black Sharpie and a stencil, along with the parents' names and years of birth and death in simple script. To keep from crying, I think, "So, this is what it comes to, right? You live so long only to wind up in someone's seventh-grade wood shop project?"
My boyfriend and I are at Dairy Queen somewhere in New Jersey. We ordered Blizzards inside and are eating them on a bench outside. I have his favorite variety, Heath Bar, and he's trying something exceedingly chocolate with brownie chunks.
After the first few exclamatory spoonsful, I marvel to myself silently that I can't believe I haven't had more than maybe two Blizzards in my lifetime. By the time I'm done, I remember why.
This is not the start of a new tradition for me. As it is, I feel as if I'm piggybacking on someone else's nostalgia, and failing.
The black-clad wine-sippers, berets both imaginary and real, read deep meaning into the artist's representation of footless subjects. A bathrobe-clad hausfrau, feet submerged in mud. An old man in a three-piece suit, rooted in the ocean. Three red-faced kids, all six feet buried in snow. A military man and his bayonet, ankle-deep in freshly-killed enemies.
"No, what he's saying is we're paralyzed by situations of our own creation," a man in a white scarf says in a monotone to his companion.
"No, what I'm saying is I can't draw feet," the artist, perched by the cheese, whispers to the Camembert.
Heading east on Ninth Street from tourist-heavy Veselka on the way home, my boyfriend says, "You're going to die," and indicates there's a puppy up ahead. I brace myself as we approach the flop of velvety ears (one up, one down), the black German Shepherd fuzz, the enormous flailing paws.
He's Otis, I'm told by a dad-and-toddler-son duo simultaneously. He'll be nine weeks old next week, the mom calls out from the car.
"He's going to get older," the boy says.
I lie down in a plain pine box already set up at the curb, and await my final breaths.
He looks like the sort of guy who would've tried everything once, some things several times, and a lot of stuff lots of times. He's got just enough of that just-rolled-out-of-bed, multi-tattoo'd thing going on to look hip 'n' sexy without dipping into slobbitude, a vaguely Asian-Indian-Eastern-European odd-pretty wife-girlfriend-person whose hair looks like it's come undone from yesterday's twin braids, and one of those cool gender-neutral babies that looks content to just hang out at the Ethiopian place too.
"The beets were the scariest part of the whole thing," the guy says. "But I loved them!"
Yeah, he's so edgy!
Although my boyfriend is 40, his brother 35-ish, and his sister near 30, their mother insists that they sit for professional sibling portraits as well as individual ones. The last time they did it was maybe 12 years ago, and even then they were too old for it.
Anyway, the results are unintentionally hilarious, especially one of my boyfriend that he thinks (rightly so) looks like a soap opera headshot for a character named "Chance Helping". Where he came up with that name I don't know, but it makes me grin stupidly every time I think of it.
As if it weren't hilarious enough in the regular 5x7 format he gave me, sometimes propped up by my bed to peer at me when he couldn't be with me in three dimensions, sometimes displayed on my desk to distract me from the glamour of neurological disorders, he had the shot cropped from the neck up and transferred onto a heart-shaped mouse pad that he presented to me several months ago. It's very Davy Jones/Tiger Beat.
"Oh god, it's so disgusting!" I said, guffawing.
"EXACTLY the reaction I was going for," he said.
Yeah, my fella's a keeper!
Sometimes she forgets it's there
Dementia? Or bitch?
Jodi, it's Shana
You've forgotten I can read?
Now who's the bitch, bitch?
Shana, forgive me
Please accept mahi-mahi
Don't pee on the bed
Whoops, sorry. Too late.
I'll still accept the fish, though
In a crystal dish
Meow meow meow meow meow
Meow meow meow meow meow meow
Meow meow meow meow meow
Mocking me so soon?
Have you not learned your lesson?
Litterbox? What's that?
This is an actual transcript. It just so happens to be in haiku. We didn't plan it. It just came out that way.
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