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They're at the point in their just-like-a-movie romance where something's gotta give. Something horrific has to happen. She has to get cancer and become tragically beautiful. He has to die in a fiery airplane crash.
Because, really, things can't be this good.
He finds out she's the one who had him fired. She learns he's the guy whose drunk driving caused her mother's paralysis.
(Where did she come from?)
(Knock wood, knock wood.)
His test comes back positive -- and they both have three months to live.
Because, really, things can't be this good. They just can't.
(But they are.)
I once met someone who lived in an "exclusive" neighborhood that required its residents to leave only a certain color (white?) trashbag on the curb. Use of any other color was subject to a fine.
I also had friends whose townhouse development restricted window treatments to those whose outside face was white.
If I were the people in the first instance, I'd do as required but paint my house green and purple. I'd also comply in the second, but leave the shades up around the clock and fornicate non-stop in plain sight with Benetton ad models.
Way to go, homogenizers!
Illusionists effectuate "sleight of hand" by diverting attention from what they're really doing.
Look! In my hand is a puppy! I will make her disappear!
Everyone watches the puppy and hand involved -- and those slysters who know to look elsewhere still can't figure it out.
See, the illusionist knows this, so he creates even more diversion. And what we don't see is that in the hand not involved with the puppy is a jetpack into which he straps the puppy with lightning speed and fires it off to a town two kilometers away, for retrieval après-show.
It's that simple!
Onstage, under bright light, he's trying with all his might to be funny. Offstage, under cover of darkness, I'm cringing, embarrassed for him. And, for some reason, myself. I want him to off the stage so I can stop wanting him to get off the stage. Someone else, please, replace him. Please make us all forget the strain of his desperate
Oddly enough, he doesn't appear embarrassed, although everyone in the audience is thinking he should be. I don't know what's worse -- that he doesn't know how terrible he is or that he thinks he's doing really well.
I want you to want to run through museums with me and scribble a Sharpie smile on The Scream. And a cock near the Mona Lisa's mouth, like movie posters on the subway platform. I want you to ogle David's ass and giggle at his cock. I want you to want to lick his thighs. I want you to comment on how salacious Baby Jesus looks in way too many heavy oil paintings, leering up at his famous virgin mom's tit. I want you to say Monet belongs only in your mom's powder room. I want you to mock Rothko.
It's April, 1972, and the three of us can't play with the tape recorder my sister has just received for her birthday fast enough. The coveted "Li'l Chick" bike will have to wait.
We record a duet of me and my brother -- "Billy Boy" on piano and guitar, respectively. On playback, the guitar, the louder of the two, is twangy, and the piano sounds tinny. We suck, and we know it. Still, we feel accomplished.
Years later I listen to the recording and mourn the years of torment that I had no idea, then, would follow that blissful night.
Another black and white extreme closeup of your left eye drooling mascara and thick black eyeliner, accompanied by a caption like "you did this to me". That's what we're going to see on Flickr today, isn't it. That, or a shot of a dark, broken, rusty weather vane in sharp contrast against a stark, white sky. On a slight angle. With the succinct caption: "forecast". And a variety of tags, most of which will serve more as descriptions than a form of classification. Your stock commenters will praise your "art", thus paving the way for more of the same tomorrow.
Peeing is relieving!
What a delight it is, too, isn't it. Come on. Admit it. There's nothing quite like finally peeing after you've "held it" for so long that you feared it was going to say, "Oh, to hell with it!" and start oozing out of your pores like sweat or dripping from your eyes like tears or simply running down your leg like, well, pee. Nothing quite like the first shy, musical trickle, a harbinger of that first burst that leaves you wanting to shout out, "Yes!" and laugh with gusto. And which, when alone, you may actually do.
Another forwarded JDate notification from W. I know before scrolling down to the guy's photo that he's going to either be wearing large glasses, balding, shirtless, and/or over 45. I know because this is the only kind of guy that contacts her. Because these are the guys she doesn't want contacting her. They're not her "type". But it's enough already. I get it.
I write: "How would you like if some schmuck forwarded
friends your photo and made fun of it?" I think of photos where her grin is particularly "gummy".
She writes: "Point taken."
But is it, really?
We've just eaten some of the best vegan food we've ever had together. Two each of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Tea for two, too. Yet we're ogling the entrees just placed in front of the couple seated two feet away on my left. We talk to them about their food. (I love meeting strangers.)
"We should leave and come back in again for more food, wearing fake mustaches," I say to my boyfriend.
He guffaws. Eyes twinkling, a combination of candlelight and glee. He can't stop laughing.
And I can't stop wanting him right then and there, because of it.
"At catered parties," Carl says, "I always wind up in the kitchen with the help, rather than with the guests. Pretentious fuckers. Shirts, ties. Dresses. Sipping sparkling water from stemmed glasses. And there I am, in the kitchen with the help, drinking tap water in a jelly glass. My shirt's all, like this" -- he pulls the tails of his button-down out from his pants -- "and my tie's undone. Y'know?"
Yeah, I know. And you eat the crusts of the bread the help has cut off the sandwiches. And speak your high-school Spanish to the help. What a guy.
His wife is bedridden for the remaining four months of her pregnancy (their second kid). I suppose I should care, but I don't.
"But it's K," a friend says, referencing our mutual friend of ten years, thinking I don't care because it's K's wife, whom I don't like.
"Still," I say. "I don't care."
And I don't care that I don't care. And I don't care that I don't care that I don't care. And so on. Like one of those images of a man painting a picture of a man painting a picture of a man painting a picture.
Please remove me from your mass e-mail list. I'm not interested in 20 hilarious ways that men and women differ or photos showing What The World Would Look Like If Women Ruled. I don't need a pastel teddy-bear sending internet hugs or to know that Jesus loves me or a list of quotes by precocious pre-schoolers. I need nothing involving an animated gif. The only forwards I want are those that include animal photos, including, but not limited to, puppies, but excluding human infants, 9 out of 10 of whom interest me less than animated gifs.
For years now, online, you've been bragging about your expertise with tying maraschino cherry stems with your tongue. Just whom are you trying to impress with this unimpressive nonsense? Is everyone supposed to think, "Ohhh, that must mean the little vixen gives awesome blowjobs!"?
What it means, you self-aggrandizing little twerp, is that you can tie maraschino cherry stems with your tongue. Which is a pretty handy skill to have, I'm sure, when you're trying to convince your eventual ex-husband to stay married to such a trite poseur.
Tie a noose around your neck instead, freak. That'll impress me more.
"See that window up there?" he says, pointing with the index finger of his other hand, the one that's not holding mine.
I look where his finger leads. My eyes land on a darkened square where I'm sure a window is visible in daylight.
This window is Any Window. It could be in Boston. Des Moines. Madrid. Tonight it's in Philadelphia.
"I was fucked by a transvestite there," my date says.
His Colombian accent makes it sound so pretty.
Dealbreaker? Hardly. In fact, it's a deal MAKER. Even though, of course, the deal had been "sealed" a few times already.
Within seconds, Yvonne tears off the wrapping paper it took me ten minutes to make pretty. She doesn't notice the ribbon is magenta, our mutual favorite color.
"Wow!" she says, the bulk of the Science Kit solid in both eight-year-old hands, her eyes larger than ever behind her glasses.
All around us, the other kids are squealing with delight over their pollyanna treasures.
I'm still unwrapping her gift to me. The paper says HAPPY BIRTHDAY, even though mine passed two months ago. I almost miss the flimsy earrings lying loose inside, their enamel chipped.
I don't even have pierced ears.
Ten minutes separate us from Indian food with a friend. A jaunt around the block would fill the gap, but we've been walking all afternoon, and, although not tired, don't want to do more of it.
A small Vietnamese café several doors down offers vegetarian meatballs on baguettes. "I've always wanted to eat here!" I say. "We'll have to come back another time!" I secretly want a sandwich NOW.
"I'll split one with you?" he says, smiling.
Seconds later, we're seated across from each other, grinning like we're sneaking cookies before dinner. I couldn't adore him more if I tried.
She's won't stop meowing or slinking between my calves. Every time I get up, she races toward the kitchen.
I yell at her to shut up, to knock it off, to STOP it already. I don't want to trip over her, because I may be tempted to kick her into the kitchen to save her the trouble of running there.
Of course I would never do it. I'm the girl who literally can't harm a fly. Who transports cockroaches outside in cups.
There's a reason my mom will have no grandchildren from me. I think I might shake a baby.
Claire collects tears in a mason jar that she keeps on the windowsill by the vase she always used for the white flowers he'd bring her on Monday mornings on his way to work. "To start the week off right," he'd say. "So no matter what else happens, at least you have this."
The same dozen white tulips have bowed their heads for 40 weeks. Their leaves sag like forgotten shawls. Their posture is that of mourning.
In 12 weeks, on the anniversary of his death, she will sprinkle them with the saved tears, hoping they'll revive symbolically.
"I'd like to return something," Melissa says, reaching into a small shopping bag crooked on her arm and placing three words on the counter. "I'm sorry, but I don't have a receipt. My boyfriend gave them to me."
"Would you like to exchange them for something else?" the salesgirl asks, tossing FUN, NICE, and FINE into an overflowing white plastic bin behind her.
"Yes," Melissa says. "May I see the GLORIOUS in the display case, please?"
"Fantastic choice. And an even exchange. Five other women bought this today."
"But no guys, right?" Melissa says.
"Of course not," the salesgirl says.
It's one of the first nights we're together. He hands the Midtown West street vendor five dollars for a souvenir I'd cornily coveted earlier that night: a rectangular glass block inside of which are engraved (?) various monuments of our city and the city's name itself, which lights up a variety of flashing colors when a button on the black stand on which it rests is pushed. I lament, silently, that I'd better appreciate the sweetness and spontaneity now, while I can, because it just won't last. There's no way.
Seven months later, and he continues to prove me wrong.
Even though my patients are adults, I still have toys for them to play with, just in case. Most choose to hug a pillow or swing Barbie by her hair (she's now got a permanent case of bedhead), and some, while intrigued by the toys, won't touch them.
"You're eyeing the Play Doh," I say to Paul. "Go for it!"
"No-o-o. It reminds me of that extruder thing I had when I was four and already a sick fuck. I'd hold the star-shaped hole up to my butt and --"
"Say no more," I say.
But he does anyway.
The pockets of his pleated khakis are bulging with the letters of his go-to words. The jumble of Fs, Us, Ns, Is, Cs, and Es jangles against spare change and an errant mint, the end of a forgotten roll of Certs. The key to her apartment jabs his fingers.
"Take your 'go-to' words and go to hell!" she'd written in response to his bland email. She could tolerate and accept sparseness if the few words were more substantial.
His words were beige and mauve, on sale at the local Gap. She wanted fuchsia and purple, imported from an artisan boutique.
Carl turns from the window, red-faced. At long last, after four months and no significant progress -- a breakthrough. I envision him in a party hat and me blowing a noise-maker.
"I'm sick of chocolate-and-bologna sandwiches," he says.
That's it? But -- oh, wait. What? Chocolate and bologna?
"I only eat them because I want people to consider me the kind of quirky guy who eats weird food. Meanwhile, I dislike chocolate. But I like gummy-bears. And bologna's gross. I like boiled ham."
He whispers, like a confession. I want to tell him that wasting my time is a sin.
"He's so sweet," she says. "Last week, when I had trouble breathing, he bought me a humidifier!"
How thoughtful, I say, while gloating inside. Where's the jewelry you really want? Two years of dating, and not a simple pair of earrings?
"It took a year for him to say he loved me, so eventually I think he'll get to the jewelry." (Mind-reader!)
And maybe one day he'll pay attention to more of your body than just your snatch, I want to say.
My boyfriend does all the things hers never will. And yes, I do enjoy being smug about it.
Just because you're in a wheelchair, Madame, doesn't mean you have to wear hideous shoes that no one in her right mind would be caught dead walking in. Even if you DID wear "comfort" shoes pre-wheelchair, what's the point now? Now is the time for you to wear red patent leather stilettos with a heel so high that walking in them would guarantee double ankle-twistings. But you don't have to worry now, do you. Now you could be sitting pretty.
If I ever find myself in a wheelchair (knockwoodknockwood), you'd better believe I'm wearing the sluttiest shoes I can find.
Ron has been staring at the patterns the sweat has made on Lydia's workout top for way longer than she thinks he has to. What's the deal? Sure, it's hot that she's so hot, but come on already. Enough is enough.
"It's like a Rorschach test," he says. "And I don't want to fail."
"You can't 'fail' a Rorschach test," she says.
"It's intriguing," he says. "I see two overweight women fighting over a Liz Claiborne cardigan on the third floor of Loehmann's," he says. "Or is it two snarling Fox Terriers gnawing opposite ends of a particularly large pickle?"
I enter the single-room gym bathroom and instantly notice that someone has just done something there that they should've done at home. Within seconds, my nose is besieged by a reek that contains elements of wet newspapers, rotten meat, and burnt coffee. I wonder what someone had eaten to produce such a revolting result. I wonder who that someone was. And if that person knows what his or her behind left behind.
I dash out of the room immediately, just so anyone else wanting to use the room doesn't think it was I who was responsible for this ghastly stink-ghost.
As soon as the actor opens his mouth and chews his lines, I know I'm in for a night of particularly bad "theater". But maybe it's just me? Maybe he doesn't suck as much as seems obvious. Maybe I'm just a "harsh critic" (I prefer "discriminating").
As much as I cringe over this display, I cringe even more at the prospect that my boyfriend might not agree with my assessment.
Then this: in profile, his right eye smirks at me. He leans toward me and whispers, "I want him to die, for real, up there tonight."
Bravo, my love. Bravo!
Carla wants men to feel like they can't curse in her presence. That, if they do, they should rush to genuinely apologize. The last thing they should or would want to do is offend her. Surely they should be trying to impress her, because she is, after all, a lady.
Then, after they apologize for what they considered an offense, she wants to let them know they never offended her in the first place. That she, herself, uses language just as salty as, if not more than, theirs. That, fuck no, she's not uptight. This will impress them even more.
Seventeen years ago we buried my grandmother, in a dress I cannot even remember. I don't know if I ever even knew which dress my mom had picked out. Or if I even asked. And I don't know if I wanted to know.
Because if I knew, I know that I would always picture it inside a coffin, its fabric lasting longer than my grandmother's skin, clinging to withering, decaying flesh, and finally just resting atop a pile of small bones.
My grandmother's eyes will have been long gone, devoured by maggots, but whatever dress she wore would still exist.
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