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A certain person would like you to know he is tired of writing about himself. He is tired of finding new ways to say "Look at me! I'm
In an attempt to submit something that will be less like hot garbage than the last three things he's submitted, he's going to do his best to avoid writing about himself altogether. It's a challenge. He wanted me to tell you this. (The person I'm talking about is
, and he knows he isn't fooling anyone. He asks you kindly not to point out that he's already failed.)
Allen is a scientist, but he isn't a jerk about it. Sometimes I buy him lunch in exchange for asking dumb questions, like "what would happen if I inhaled a bean," and he does his best to answer them. We both usually learn something from the discussion, and only rarely does he ask what the hell is wrong with me for coming up with such a weird idea.
Sometimes you'll find Allen smoking a cigar. The ones he smokes actually smell sort of nice. He has a dog named Puppy Boy, and they live together in a tiny studio apartment.
Britt is wearing sunglasses in the rear seat of a London black cab with his guitar. He's singing a song about missing someone while the cab moves through traffic, and sometimes the cabbie enjoys the private concert so much that he forgets to drive.
It's a great moment, and curious people on the street look into the window with no idea what they're missing. Thanks to the Internet, though, we can all sing along with the strange and provocative words Britt has written.
After seeing this video I ran to my guitar to learn the song.
Catherine is extra wry. When she sees something she doesn't like, she says, "Oh yes, that's
," and when she sees someone wearing something unattractive, she says, "I have
to get myself one of
Before you say, "Wow, she sounds terrible and annoying," I should say... no!
She said she wouldn't eat my cookies because I probably had put lettuce in them. I said I hadn't, and she said "lettuce
, then." Then, very seriously, she specifically encouraged Amy to have one because they were "
." We all had a good chuckle!
Dave was our school's "gentle giant," our only protection from Jon Desrochers, our school's "violent giant." (Jon was French-Canadian, and a first-rate son of a bitch.)
Dave's mere presence was usually enough to suppress Jon's natural tendency to choke people and punch their kidneys, but Dave was forced to fight him several times.
Jon eventually moved away (he had a rough life, and we were better able to sympathize with him after he was gone), but Dave was always first in our hearts as the brave and quiet soul who had kept us alive through those difficult times.
The year after Emmet was born a television special would be released which would cause
to associate the name 'Emmet' with a charming jug-band otter. Emmet's parents had no way of knowing this when they named him, of course. It was never their intention to cause him pain.
A week after meeting him, trying to be funny, I growled "
look at the birds... up in the trees...
" at him. He looked away sadly. He had been hoping to some day make a friend who
growl that at him, and clearly I was not to be the one.
Frank died last month. He was my best barber. He was very,
He kept some dog-eared comic books on the back shelf in case any kids came in, which they never did. Apparently children didn't think an ancient wheezy guy could give cool haircuts, but I can tell you he
While I'm sure he was a fine human being, I will miss him for his barbering. He was mostly deaf, so he didn't try to make small talk. You could have your hair cut and think about life in silence for a while. That was nice.
I never really knew Gemma, but I don't think I'll ever forget her because of a comment she made in a meeting at my old job.
"When I lived in the dorm, everyone was everyone else's friend. If you needed
you could ask someone you'd never met for it and they'd help you, just because you lived in the same dorm.
"We work for the same company; we see each other every day, and most of us are strangers to each other. I want to know who you guys
It was one of those
"dumb but profound"
One afternoon Heather showed up with two hours before her next class, so I made her a cup of tea and a sandwich. Out of nowhere she decided to show me her bicep. It was
. She didn't even have to work out, she said, she just came from "good farming stock."
As a joke she asked if I wanted to arm wrestle her and I declined, saying she was a delicate lady and I didn't want to hurt her. Heather understood the fragility of the male ego, and instead of kicking my ass she just said "
Ian's parents are both attractive geniuses, so he came into this world as a double-handsome super genius. His parents taught him at home in their spare time, and although we're the same age he was always at least three grades ahead of me.
Because he was taught at home, though, he never developed certain social skills which you and I take for granted. I think that's why he and I get along.
Ian's favorite food is
, which he discovered only last year. He is a very good clarinet player. He bows slightly when saying hello or goodbye.
Once I believed in fate because I met Julia at a
. After that, I bumped into her
two more times
before we started dating. What are the odds? It seemed we were being pushed together, and I was not about to complain.
Thinking about Julia usually makes me feel terrible because she was perfect, and after more than two years I was the one who stopped returning her calls. I haven't seen her since.
Right now it seems as if going through the alphabet was a stupid idea, and I should have done a whole month of 'J'.
Kevin was an eight-year-old control freak. He was the only kid on our block with a pool, so we competed for his summer friendship.
He made us act out adventures in which he played the hero and we were the pool-less villains. Kevin told us where to stand and what to say:
"Now say, 'Amazing! He disappeared into thin air!'"
had to comply
if you wanted to stay in the pool.
He'd usually invite one person over at a time, since larger groups tended to rebel against his regime in favor of unstructured splashing around.
Laura was sitting in the cafeteria with some poor bastard I'd never seen before. She had her head on his shoulder, and he was stroking her hair and making a sympathetic noise, like "
When she felt bad about herself she'd follow a nice guy around and flirt and make up pet names for him until he became infatuated with her. She'd get as much emotional support from him as she could, and then dump him when he tried to kiss her.
I was never sure whether it was the support or the dumping that she found therapeutic.
Mary was a second-grade teacher from Julia's school district. We met at a party.
Thinking about psychopaths like Jon Desrochers, I asked her whether she could tell at that tender age which of her students were destined for jail. I had no idea the kids in Mary's school were mostly black. In that context, considering the disproportionate percentage of black men in prison, my question had made me sound like a horrible old racist.
I'll remember Mary because she did the stand-up thing and
Julia about me.
Julia's response: "Oh, no, he's an
, not a racist."
Montezuma has declared war on me
At his direction, large numbers of jaguar warriors are streaming over my borders and pillaging my farms.
This is just how Montezuma says hello. He declares war on every civilization he meets, so I would have felt slighted if he
threatened to bury me.
Meanwhile, Alexander pops up, desperate to unload some of his surplus cotton on me. Not now, Alexander, I'll deal with you presently. Right now I need to focus my attention on Montezuma, this lovable warmongering psychopath.
(I don't like most video games, but
is pretty fun.)
Nora recently graduated from college, and she is working in a job she doesn't enjoy. She has requested we keep the pressure-inducing advice to a minimum. I can totally understand that.
If I were allowed to tell her something, though, it would be that she's doing exactly the right thing. When she least expects it she'll get an idea or an opportunity which will lead her to something better, but for now she is definitely not wasting her time. The experiences she's collected and the things she's learned will actually be useful later, even if that seems ridiculous now.
Olly is the co-host of a late-night home shopping network, and he has more money than he can spend by himself. There's a constant flow of odd characters through his place at all hours of the day and night. He always keeps a tray of fresh crescent rolls out for guests to enjoy.
Olly favors silver and black sweaters, and is prone to violent outbursts. We suspect his best friend is dating his mother.
In his free time, the man is an
. He's interested in stark landscapes. Olly wants to leave a gender-bending aftertaste on society.
Patricia saw the way I dragged myself to my desk this morning, and she asked me if I'd eaten breakfast. I tell her yes,
. She notices my coffee mug.
" she spits. "Coffee is not good
In addition to coffee, Patricia disapproves of cold cereal for breakfast, which she says is the worst thing to eat on an empty stomach. She disapproves of office parties, "eye-talian pizza pies," and computers.
Patricia approves of accurate weather reports, clipping newspaper articles, and aggressively informing others of their faults. Here's the thing:
I genuinely love Patricia
Quanita would be a sophomore in the fall, which meant she'd already experienced a year of high school. She planned to spend the summer hanging out with us, she said, because we lived on her block, while her
friends lived on the other side of town.
Somehow her laziness and apathy made her seem like a free spirit. Everything she did and said was fascinating. We hoped she would buy us beer and teach us to smoke.
Our parents all disapproved of her because she sat around watching MTV, and because she painted her nails
: a dangerous character.
Reba is good for my health in some ways. One time when I was sick she sent me a video of kittens goofing around in a tissue box. It did make me feel better.
However, she bears much of the responsibility for my recent Smarties overdose, in that she told me
where to find them. (I did the rest.)
Reba is the source of a
healthy competition, made more urgent because she is such a worthy adversary. Just for that I can forgive her candy binge enabling, her self-deprecation, and that little incident with the "vegetable mannequin."
Samuel's namesake is an important Old Testament prophet and judge.
He's my most conservative friend, and we're constantly surprised at how much we have in common. For different reasons we both dislike the hedonistic lifestyle valued by the modern jerkbag, and we're both freaked out by the
of films in which people spend two hours getting tortured by a psychopath.
Samuel and I have taken two completely different paths and more or less arrived in the same place. We're all just looking for love and peace, man. Everything else is gravy. (Samuel would agree, but he'd phrase it differently.)
Not everyone would be brave enough to leave it all behind and take up the pastoral life at the urging of a late-night alpaca informercial. Upon being asked to spend the rest of their days shaving fuzzy goofballs with weird teeth, most people would simply
spit in your face
. Terry isn't your average person, though. Terry's risks have been rewarded with wild and wooly success.
There's an alpaca sweater waiting just for you. Come on down to the farm!
(Much to my disappointment alpacas do not want to be cuddled, and will
spit in your face
if you approach.)
Ulyana knows she's hot. She knows she isn't supposed to walk off with those reference materials, but she also knows that if she waggles her eyelashes at me
, she'll get them for as long as she needs.
She doesn't abuse her bewitching powers
much, but I do think she enjoys knowing that if she asked me to get down and lick her boot I probably wouldn't say no. That would be an ego boost for anyone.
If you see her in the hallway, she will pretend she doesn't see you. What man could thaw her icy heart?
My status as an ex-boyfriend does not entitle me to approve or deny Violeta's romantic prospects. I do it anyway, because she's one of my best friends.
I gave my explicit approval of her new suitor yesterday. He's a really nice guy, the two of them have the same hobbies, and he seems to have placed her happiness at least
in his top-ten list. Possibly near the top. Violeta tells me this is a rare quality in a man.
(You probably think I'm just calling her 'Violeta" to fill the 'V' slot, but that's her real name!)
Wanda was one of my students. She came to our school in the middle of the semester; a difficult time to make new friends.
Wanda sat quietly in her chair with a perpetually confused look on her face which we all found endearing. I found myself shouting "
" when she walked into the room. Soon her classmates were tripping over each other to buy her lunch.
Wanda was not especially pretty or smart or funny. She seemed average in all respects. What was the source of her magnetism? What did Wanda have that most of us don't? It's a mystery.
OK fellas, for our road trip I've taken a loaf of bread, made a stack of sandwiches, and put them them back in the bread bag.
I had an odd number of slices, though, so one of us is going to reach in and pull out a single slice of bread. That guy? Maybe we'll sacrifice that guy to
X'NA-KEY THE SNAKE GOD
I can see from your expressions you do not like that idea. I'm just thinking out loud here, fellas.
Maybe we'll just feed the slice of bread to a duck?
BY X'NA-KEY'S SCALES, THE MOTION IS CARRIED
Yancy was a law school classmate of one of my friends. I begged him to bring Yancy to Albany so I could meet him, but it never happened. Here are some favorite Yancy facts:
According to my friend's impression, Yancy laughs like Mickey Mouse.
One time they were hiking and came upon a steep hill. Yancy said "
" and scrambled up in seconds, waiting thirty minutes for my friend to reach the top.
Yancy does not wear anything with zippers. Yancy wears a hat, and observes proper hat etiquette.
Is Yancy real? Was my friend making it all up?
My first kiss was with Zoe, and of course it was amazing. After a half hour of that, we decided to go to the zoo.
Colors seemed more vivid, and the world was a good and kind place. Zoe wanted to
about it. What was there to say? She had lots of questions.
She wanted my impression of the
of a kiss. We had been eating peanut butter. I struggled to figure out what she wanted to hear.
"Oh, you know..." I said, "it's, um... sweet."
I kissed her again, right in front of the endangered golden monkeys.
*I do not know twenty-six people, so many of these are made up. I "cheated" and used one musician, one TV character, and one video game Aztec, though.
*I've found it's impossible for me not to write about myself. Even when I write about other people, I write about them as they relate to me.
*Did I do 'M' twice? Most awesome people have names beginning with 'M' so I guess I got carried away.
" is pronounced "snakey."
is not a real cosmic horror of the old times. Do not worship or make offerings to
I have a lot invested in the idea that I'm not the same person I was yesterday or five minutes ago or last year. Time and experience change us, and there is no fundamental unity which binds one moment to the next.
If I've said anything unfair or unkind about any of these fine friends, they should know I believe they are different people now. My potentially libelous remarks* should not be taken personally, even if we just had lunch together yesterday.
It's just a bunch of stuff that happened.
*(Time will tell whether this belief reduces legal liability.)
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