Of course Ben is first in line. He always is, no matter what. Last month it was for an iPhone 18 in the
year 2028, last year it was for a cronut, on Tuesday it was for free coffee at
a new Dunkin' Donuts, and today it's the emergency room because on his way to be
first in line to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, he paced on the subway platform,
fell onto the tracks, and was sliced in half by the train. "I'm Number 1!" his upper body
shouts on the gurney. "And Number
2!" shouts his lower body.
"You can't get on the bus like that," the bus driver
"Like what?" Sam says. "Like this?" and hops up the steps
on one leg.
The driver has turned to face forward and looks at Sam out
of the corner of his eye.
"Or like this?" Sam says, in his best worst
British accent, doffing an imaginary cap.
Sam dips his Metrocard into the slot and says,
"Bloop!" when it registers his payment.
The driver turns to face him again.
"You have to put on pants, sir. I know you're a baked potato, but still. Pants or no ride."
Before I have a chance to come up with a way to use his last
name to hilarious effort, Roy Bumcheck beats me to the punch. Within seconds he's rattling off nonsense about
checking my bum, checking his bum, rum and Coke, checks and balances,
bumblebees, giving someone the bum's rush, Czechoslovakia, and so on. I mumble something about Dagwood Bumstead and
wanting a huge sandwich.
Roy looks at me like he has no idea what I'm talking
about. I explain about the Blondie comic
from years ago. I mutter, "Bumcheck
is a dumb fuck," but he doesn't hear me.
"You can't name your baby Bea Arthur," they say.
"Oh, yes we can," Tex says.
"Just watch us," Mex says.
"Fine. Be that
way," they say.
The clump of naysayers shuffles off to a potluck in a huff.
Tex and Mex look down at their two-day-old gray-haired infant
in the black old-fashioned pram that Mex's grandmother used to be a baby in and
"I mean, are we really expected to name her Ashleigh?"
"Or Kaytlqyn with two Ys and a silent Q?" Tex says
"Or Betty White?" the baby says after a slurp of celebratory
"Is it helping at all?" I ask.
"No. Not at
all," he says.
"Listen, it's been a half hour since we started,"
I say with an impatient sigh. "I
think it's safe to say this is utter nonsense."
"But people on Facebook say it works," he says.
I tell him they probably mean he should be eating the
pudding, not having me apply it to his forehead with a rubber spatula, but he
"Another five minutes," he says.
By minute 34, we have success! I lick the pudding off his now-relaxed brow
and tell him to rest in peace.
Your husbands are cheating on you with me. One comes over on his way to work for
gluten-full bagels, often accompanied by a glass of orange juice from
concentrate. One stops by, lifts up his
pant legs, and shows me he's wearing tube socks with dress shoes. One, of course, watches porn that doesn't pretend
to have a story. Another sits on the
sofa and watches a Judd Apatow movie and guffaws. Another eats peanuts. One quietly sits on the bed and deletes your
selfies from his phone. One tries to
kiss me when leaving and is banned from returning.
If one does not already exist, there needs to be a German
word -- one of those delightful mouthfuls crammed with consonants and umlauts
and German chocolate cake -- for the way I feel when someone does or says or
writes something that he* should be mortified to have done, said, or written
yet that person seems to be wholly unaware that he has made me cringe so hard
my bones are threatening to splinter and my mind does the equivalent of
touching its tongue to the toothache. Is
there such a word?
*or she (that should be a given)
Klever Kleaver? Huh?
You had none of these nicknames when we were hanging out. All I ever heard was an abbreviated version
of your first name, which I didn't use, but which didn't make me roll my eyes
and grimace the way this new crop of nicknames is making me do when I see them
on Instagram, in comments from a bunch of people I have a feeling you've never
met face to face.
What did they do to earn that privilege and why have I
fallen out of favor? Feh.
This isn't what they expected. Some of them gasp. Some of them mutter expletives. One even cries.
Dr. Samovar is the first to speak.
"Well, now," he says.
A nurse has already placed a stainless steel container by
the body's head to collect the gush.
When Dr. Samovar removed the skull, he thought he'd be using
tweezers to remove a desiccated nugget from the cavity. After all, the deceased was known as the most
boring person in town. And in a town
called "Shhh," that's saying something.
The pan by her head now overflows with colors to disgrace a rainbow.
Greg Grugenheim tells me he is the heir to the museum that
bears his name on Fifth Avenue.
"That part of Fifth Avenue is called the Museum
Mile," he says, adjusting his burgundy ascot, and then licking from his shaky
fingers a bit of yellow mustard that had been lingering on the polyester.
I want to tell him I know this but that no one I know calls
it that, but I refrain.
I do, however, tell him that the museum is called the Guggenheim. "Without an R," I say.
"Oh, that's odd," he says. "When did they change it?"
BRILLIANT notion that just came to me during chat with one
of my favorite people!
If you block someone on FaceyB, she (or he, natch!) cannot
be seen in "real life". If
you're, say, sashaying down Ninth and you see that person, well, you actually
will NOT see her because she's blocked from registering on any of your senses
This could work wonders vis-à-vis tourists, but it would
require learning their names first so you could find their Facebook pages and
Yes, there are obstacles to be worked on, but gosh, I sense a Kickstarter
"You're not getting any younger," he says.
"Then how do you explain this?" I say.
"What, that you're drinking apple juice from a sippy
cup?" he says. "You've always
"Duh," I say.
"No. I mean this."
"Oh my god, what the flibber-flabber?" he says.
"Baby teeth. Overnight."
"Is this like a Tom Hanks in 'Big' thing?" he
"I don't know," I say. "I wanted to Google it this morning but discovered
I don't know how to spell anymore."
"What's next?" he says.
I look down at my pants and grimace.
"Good god no," he says.
"So in the end, Kerri the Kitten went on to become an
astronaut anyway despite being over the weight limit for cats in space, despite
the mean girls saying her whiskers were too short for her to do anything good
in the world, and despite the Internet telling her she should be learning how
to cook for one and finding a better solution for storing unused kale than
putting it in quart-sized bags that don't keep the freezer burn out
anyway. THE END."
Marla is finally asleep.
Or so I think.
"Are my whiskers too short?" she whispers.
Found on Microfiche:
"Of the six women who lived long enough to transition from can-can girl into
pilot of one of the world's first airplanes, Jane Kirkland may not have been
the most coordinated in her first field or the safest in her second, but she
was certainly the prettiest and pluckiest, which historians unanimously attribute
to her unparalleled popularity in both endeavors. Indeed, the woman known as her arch rival, one
Tilly Sinclair-Booth, who danced circles around Ms. Kirkland and never flew a bi-plane
into a major landmark, was "ugly as sin", and hence no one remembers
My cat is on the desk, blocking me from the work on my
screen. She looks at me like she knows
exactly what she's doing and isn't even going to pretend otherwise. I get a little mad and then think I'm a jerk
for getting mad at something so cute and look her in the only eye she's got, an
enormous green orb that, as she faces me, is on the side of my heart.
"What?" I say.
"You like being a cat, don't you?" I say. "Because I like you being a cat."
Does she ever blink?
Really, your video clip of a grain of sand on a white table on
Instagram is so deep. When a gust of wind
blows it away and you are heard weeping in the background and then turn the iPhone
onto your sobbing face in Blair Witch fashion and you choke out, "Hashtag
crying, hashtag heartbroken, hashtag sand, hashtag wind," I want to hold
you close and tell you, gosh, the world is such a scary, scary place for a super
special snowflake like you but you'll get through this, really you will,
hashtag crybaby, hashtag enough already, hashtag just kidding.
I started to type something about the process of drawing and
instantly bored myself to tears. Like almost
real tears. And I thought, man, if I'm
boring myself with it so soon, how will my millions of fans on 100 Words fare
when faced with this unsolicited claptrap?
So I did the humane thing and spared you. You're welcome.
Meanwhile, I stood with paintbrush in hand today and all I
could think to paint was the most rudimentary of leaves that even a
kindergartener would scoff at, and I wanted to punch a wall.
I need a vacation from myself.
He tells me he's a "compendium of whatnot". I ask him if he's got room in that compendium
for some whozit and tell him I've got a gazoodle of it in my Studebaker. He looks at me like I've grown another
head. And I have. But he doesn't look fazed in the least.
"I don't get it," he says.
I tell him that for someone who's a compendium of whatnot,
he doesn't seem to know much. I ask what
kind of whatnot he's accumulated.
He tells me he has a nice recipe for fishsticks. I shake my heads and leave.
Tom Kreikenship is trying to dip Sandra Kinney's braid into
a jar of peanut butter. She yelps and he
tugs harder. She spins around and tries
to punch him in the kisser.
"Knock it off, weirdo!" she shouts.
"Back off, bruiser!" he shouts.
Miss O'Halloran turns from the blackboard, where she's using
a chalk holder to prepare for a cursive lesson, strides to her desk, slides
open the top drawer, removes a small glass inkwell filled with black ink, and
holds it up.
"I should fail you for not knowing the proper vessel in
which to do that," she says.
Perhaps, yes, scholars and/or psychologists and/or armchair
geniuses, it's psychosomatic, but I've discovered that if I spend more than one
minute looking at other people's stuff on Instagram, I experience such
incredible waves of nausea that I may as well be reading a book in a car on a
trip that includes endless hairpin turns.
It's an odd vertigo, maybe as much for the "psyche" as for the
body, and I have to remember this as I'm scrolling through people's stuff, much
of it from people I don't know, and gaining absolutely nothing from it except
this gut-wrenching nonsense. Enough.
"They call me Goulie," he says, extending his
hand. His handshake is firm, not
crushing. His hand isn't damp or
clammy. It's not hot or sweaty. I want to tell him he has the
"Goulie-dilocks of handshakes", but we've just met and I don't know
if he'll get it. But I realize this
opportunity will never come again for the wordplay to have the Goldilocks amount
"It's short for 'goulash'. I've always loved the stuff," he says.
"Some people just call them rubbers," I say
He says, "Um," drops my hand, and chats up a
When Jared finally meets TeddyBearHugz at Starbucks after three
weeks of messages on OKCupid, she gives him a big hug.
"Oh, I can see why you use TeddyBearHugz on the
site," he says.
"Actually, no," she says. "My name is Cammy Cutie Cuddlebear!"
"I'm glad you went with TeddyBearHugz," he
says. "That other thing you just
said is pretty gross."
"Well, It's my real name," she says. "You'll see when they call our name for
Ruxpin Cupcake?" someone calls out.
They sit in awkward silence.
"That's us," he says.
In the video, he's laughing about the new drink we've
discovered somewhere in Chinatown. Neither
of us really knows what it is, but of course that's part of the fun. We know it's plant-based, though, so we don't
have to worry that it's Peking duck juice or something. Getting the lid off the bottle is proving
difficult and we're giddy over that. I'm
giggling like a dope off-camera.
I wish I had a video of him yelling at me on the phone that
I don't bowl correctly or that I don't play miniature golf right, to neutralize
the other one.
One day I will be able to write about how it felt to kiss
her forehead, how it felt to see the nail polish on her cold, hard hands, how
it felt to stand before her, thinking the cliché about how she looks like she's
sleeping. One day I will be able to put
into words how it felt to see my very first lifeless person, how hard it was to
keep it together, how much I kept thinking, no, this is not happening, how is
my best friend whose daughter this is still able to stand? But not yet.
The people behind the Facebook page for my new favorite
hummus are going to be so delighted with my comments. They'll be enchanted by my whimsy, titillated
by my wit, and so overcome with joy at the way I sing the praises of their
incredibly tasty product, that they're all going to look up from their laptops
in the conference room where they brainstorm new varieties or packaging, catch
each other's bespectacled eyes above their groovy beards (hopefully only the
men), and say, in unison, "We've gotta bring this Jodi chick onboard like
NOW. And she paints. Guys.
Cheryl calls in tears the night before her wedding. It's off!
"When you first met Grant, you said he was a bag of celery,"
she says, "but I didn't listen. I
thought you meant you thought he was dumb.
Like a box of hair."
"No," I say.
"I thought he was quiet but nice.
I thought you knew he was a bag of celery from Whole Foods. And who am I to get in the way of true
She asks if she can call me back. She has to find Grant fast and apologize
profusely for being so dumb.
I don't want to belittle him by calling him "just"
a splinter, so I tell Todd he's a piece of a tree. He's not just a sliver the size of an eyelash
that got lodged under my fingernail when I was scrubbing the wood floors like
Cinderella; no, he's a mighty oak or something.
I'm not really in the mood to be trying to boost the ego of
a sensitive shard of wood, but when I tell Todd he hurts like a motherfucker
and hold up my damaged finger, which just so happens to be the middle one, he's
Mid-laugh, my face feels like it's splashed with warm
water. I touch it, and when my hand
retreats. It comes back the color as one
of my new watercolor paints. It won't
stop. I collapse like a sand castle, my
white dress now bright dark red, and reach out my arms for someone, anyone, to
help me. This is the end of my life and
I leave it, arms outstretched, unable to speak.
When I awaken, I think, "Wait. I'm still here. When you dream that, doesn't that mean
..." followed by, "Really? A
white dress?" and "Alizarin crimson is gorgeous."
Jury duty didn't go beyond sitting on burgundy pleather
chairs (or blue in the smaller offshoot rooms) from 9:00 to 4:30. Lunch was from 12:30 to 2:15, because sitting
in silence works up an appetite, which I indulged at a Buddha Bodai on Mott
Street. When the lady in charge of the
room dismissed us and told us we didn't have to return the next day, I felt
like weeping with joy, but then thought, "Oh no. i wanted to go back to for dim sum." Like I can't go there on my own without the
"benefit" of jury duty?
Nighttime toothbrushing time and I'm on my back on the bed
so the toothpaste won't run down my chin from the vibration of the battery-operated
toothbrush. I think this is simultaneously
slightly clever and incredibly lazy, and even more so, with a bigger emphasis
on lazy, when I decide to hold my arm in place and move my head instead because
moving my arm is just too much work. My oscillating
head thinks, "What am I, chopped liver?" I conjure up my two longstanding "They'd
never be this fucking lazy" go-getters, Steven Spielberg and Jane
Gooddall, and am moderately ashamed.
I've been drawn again into the miasma of desperate self-aggrandizement
and attention-seeking puffery known as Facebook. Up before dawn, as always, riveted to the
screen, perusing the pages of people I couldn't give less of a damn about in
real life if I tried and in whom I have no true interest at all in virtual
life. Scanning the pages of people I do
know, and knowing that what they're posting is only the cream when there's so
much hidden spoiled milk. I want to take
a black Sharpie, circle it in its entirety, and scrawl, "GET ME OUTTA HERE."