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Say there's this girl, and you invite her to your apartment several times a week. As soon as you open the door for her she grabs your carving knife and starts
and swinging it at you.
She chases you around the couch, around and around, and sometimes you're too slow or she makes a really impressive lunge and she manages to slice you up pretty badly.
You're probably saying you wouldn't involve yourself with such a girl, but let's say her hair is
pretty, and something about her says "potential soul mate," and you just can't help yourself.
None of this is news to you. I spent many of my early 100words batches describing this very situation.
Here's where it gets more interesting: two or three years after you realize you don't have to keep inviting her over, a sadness creeps up on you. Your stab wounds and lacerations have healed, but she left something inside of you and you realize you miss her.
You start to think... well, at least it was
. It gave you something to
, you know?
Maybe she was just bad at showing affection, or maybe she thought she was being funny.
STEAMED DUMPLING'S 100words TIPS
If you're anything like me, sometimes you find your entries at an inconvenient 108 words, and you struggle to edit them down to size before submission. You
to. If you're not going to take this seriously, you might as well just take up needlepoint or, X'na-kei forbid,
In situations like this, I check the end for phrases like:
"...and fuck you if you don't like it,"
"...yes that was a true story, you dickweed."
This is called the "
dangling abusive clause
," and it is safe to remove. Just go ahead and remove it.
I cashed a check for $1.03 today. It was a sign of hard times, and a chance to reflect on the unnecessary things I've bought recently, like coffee and a very tasty can of pears.
More than five years into the execution of my grand plan, I am still struggling with the first phase of simple self-sufficiency. My personal austerity budget is keeping me afloat, but how long can I keep this up? At some point a guy decides he's had enough oatmeal, his resolve breaks, and he puts $600 worth of booze and cookies on his credit card.
"Hey, so... I was wondering if you'd mind if I asked her out."
"You don't have to ask my permission, you know. That's between you and her. But since you ask,
nobody else is allowed to date her, no."
"But... I thought
"It's complicated. Look, if you so much as talk to her, I will hate you forever. Maybe you two are meant to be together. The fact that I will go to bed every night praying for you to get hit by a bus is a small price to pay for true love, right?"
Most people don't bother telling stories to their dogs these days. What they don't realize is that dogs have an extremely strong sense of narrative, it's just that they're bored with exposition.
Most human stories start off gradually with dialogue and setting, and you might as well ask your dog to do your taxes for all the excitement that will give him.
consider your audience
. A dog wants
from beginning to end. See, a dog is much more interested in the resolution of a conflict than in its origin, and the noisier the resolution the better.
exclusive excerpt from
Steamed Dumpling's Tales for Dogs:
15 Exciting Dog Stories
With Performance Notes
(expected publication 2013, Steamham Press)
The guy in the red shirt stepped on the pedal and his car went really fast!
jump up and down, go "vrooom!"
The other guy did the same and followed him, turning around a corner!
drop to the floor and roll around
Gunfight! BANG BANG BANG!
get back up and jump, throw arms in air, play the fool
[Your dog will pick up on the finer points of the plot from the context. I guarantee he will love this one.]
I'm looking out my window, watching the rain. It's a good thing to do. I like the sound, the smell, and the way the drops sparkle when they hit the ground.
There's a guy standing in the courtyard now, and he keeps looking up at me. I think he thinks I'm looking at him, but I'm
He's getting agitated now. He's looking up at me every five seconds. I imagine if he came up and demanded to know what I was doing, he's the kind of guy who would find "looking at the rain" a weird and unacceptable answer.
I was invited to take part in a panel discussion called "What's To Be Done About Modernity? - Navigating Contending Modernities After the Death of Postmodernism."
The people at this discussion were nervous. They'd painted themselves into a corner with "modernism," delayed the inevitable with "postmodernism," and were now forced to come up with something new to describe our "modern" era. It's kind of like the Y2K bug for the tweed jacket set.
(The one guy who had the balls to propose "post-postmodernism" was asked to leave, which he did after spitefully stuffing his pockets with the complementary garlic bread.)
Thanks to the Internet, I am a creator of what the panelists loosely and generously term "texts," and this disturbed them all. The content of my texts were, as one panel member observed, "exceptionally banal," but were a good representation of the kind of material being pushed onto an unwitting public at an alarming rate.
"Under postmodernism, the problem was establishing and
reality and meaning. Our main problem now is that EVERYONE IS SHOUTING ALL THE TIME ALWAYS. The panel aims to answer two questions: first, what's to be done, and second, what shall we call our new framework?"
We didn't accomplish much. The panel called on guys like me to raise the level of discourse beyond all-caps YouTube comments and blogs about my lunch.
In addition to free food, we all hoped to get something out of the conference, and mostly we got it. The younger academics need to attend these snoozefests and then write about them to get tenure. The emeritus professors just enjoy standing at a podium. I hoped to pick up some impressive notes about postmodernism and then try to impress chicks by repeating them. (Don't be fooled, ladies,
knows what it is.)
The web site of our local newspaper had a headline along the lines of
John Doeson 'Dead'
What does that mean? Is he dead? Not quite dead? If I were a friend or relative getting this news for the first time, those quotes would mean the difference between anguish and relief.
I imagined going to the newspaper office and asking for the copy editor. I would advise him never to put the word 'dead' in quotes when writing a headline. Then I would punch him repeatedly in the face.
ACTION PUNCTUATION CATCHPHRASE:
I'm gonna beat you to "death," you turkey.
I'm actually glad I don't get any vacation days. First of all, where would I go? I'd probably never leave my apartment. At least when I'm at work I get
to be bored.
Second, I have delusions of indispensability. I like to imagine that without my guidance, my coworkers would spend the day bumping into walls and trying to make copies with the stapler. The guilt would be intense, and I'd never be able to relax.
I need a "fun coach" in my life. I need to be told what to do in order to have a nice time.
My friend and I were convinced the NSA's compu-beast was monitoring every phone call, so we stupidly decided to shout out trigger words to annoy them.
We were both members of the ACLU, and these kind of shenanigans felt like "sticking it to the man."
The safest possible scenario would be for Homeland Security to handcuff every man, woman, and child to a radiator inside their homes. Select Halliburton Freedom Guardians will be around shortly to feed you and change the channel if needed. Welcome to my far-left news network; let's talk about quinoa recipes.
Red bug, don't land on me,
Red bug, don't land on me,
Red ol' bug, git ye gone,
Don'tcha fly 'round here no more.
Red bug, get off my wall,
Red bug, get off my wall,
Red bug, you're not welcome at all,
Red bug git on home.
That's a little song I sang to Red Bug. He lives with me now. I think he wants to eat the little crumb on my plate. This is the obligatory bug post. You were probably wondering when it would come. I just want to befriend all the bugs, even the bitey ones.
For the second or third time this year I've read an article about the "brutalization" of sex in our culture. This last article was specifically about
, and how men speak about sex in violent terms I won't repeat here, except to say that the mildest of them follow the form "X-ing the Y out of someone."
Near the end, the author reveals that she picked up this language at a college sports bar. Well,
, that is where the dude-bros congregate. If your entire sample is made up of dude-bros, you will certainly get some unpleasantness.
Another more scientific study measured a huge spike in men's objectification of women. Then we learn that her sample was taken from a college Communication 101 class.
dude-bros take Communication 101 to meet girls, and nice guys take Psychology 101 to plumb the depths of the human mind (and to find out why the girls in Communication 101 won't date them).
What I'm saying is that dude-bro culture is not the dominant American culture, and we should look at these discussions with some skepticism. (I took Sociology 101. Welcome to my Terrible Armchair Sociology Network.)
In college I knew a guy who asked "Why?" a lot. I don't know if he was just dumb or what.
For example, he'd find me lying on the couch.
"What are you doing?" he'd ask.
"Just lying on the couch," I'd say.
What an outrageous question!
Lying on the couch is an end in itself. It's a natural part of life.
Usually I'd say something sarcastic to him. I can be mean sometimes, and I was often mean to him especially. I would have given him a serious answer if I'd been able to come up with one.
I do not own a pair of short pants, which are only appropriate for young boys. I realize this view may make me old-fashioned (like,
old-fashioned) but when I see a grown man in short pants I shake my head. Unless you're Tom Selleck, you probably can't pull them off.
Sometimes when I go out on a hot day people ask about my long linen pants. I explain my views. Perhaps if I tell enough people, we as a society will have a "
Good lord, we look
" moment, and short pants for men will disappear forever.
FAKE INTERVIEW WITH GEORGE SUGARMAN
Q: Every day I walk past
, your sculpture on the Empire State Plaza. The hordes of children on Albany field trips seem drawn to this piece. They interpret its playfulness as an invitation to swing from it and cover it in scuff marks. I wonder whether this makes you turn over in your grave.
A: It might, or I might look down from heaven and smile. Also, I might still be alive. You should have done some basic research before this interview.
Kids can swing from paintings, too. Kids are gonna swing from things.
AS OVERHEARD IN THE HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT
"Okay, are you single, married, or divorced/separated?"
dating this guy, but only
"Okay, so I'll mark you as 'single' then."
"Yeah, but I don't consider myself 'single', even if
"The point is that you're not
, so I'll just mark you as 'single' and we'll move on to the next section. This is just for financial purposes."
"Fine, put me down as 'single' until I can find a guy who would rather spend time with me than play video games with his friends."
I was accidentally looking at a girl in the coffee shop today. I was standing in line, thinking harmless coffee thoughts. She was sitting at a table by herself, eating a sandwich and reading. She had short dark shiny hair.
When I stare off into space, I tend to look slightly down and to the right. That's just where she happened to be. The fact that she was very pretty wasn't a factor. Nobody will believe me, of course. I really don't expect you to. Yes, now I am "creepy coffee guy," and I can never go back there again.
The list of places I can no longer visit is always growing. My favorite coffee shop is now on the list, along with the following:
* The convenience store closest to my office. I didn't know the guy behind the counter was blind. He asked me what I was buying, and I just said "oh, just
," holding up my bag of almonds for him to see. Repeat four times.
* The falafel shop on Lark Street. I stopped going there for a few weeks in February. How can I explain the embarrassing break in my patronage? I can never return.
* The liquor store on Central Avenue, where the guy doubted the validity of my photo ID. I was 17 in that photo, man. Now every time I go in there I'm going to get the stink-eye.
* The Roxy, where I used to go with Julia. Now if I try to go by myself, the bartender asks "Hey, where's that pretty lady?" and I don't want to deal with it. Also, I kept playing old music on the jukebox and pissing off the kids. "Time Won't Let Me" is an awesome song,
and fuck you if you don't like it
* Curry House, where a friend and I stumbled in and may have loudly questioned the quality of their fare.
* Any of the grocery stores on Central Ave, because a girl I used to know works nearby, and I don't want to bump into her.
* Laundry Room "B", where one of my neighbors caught me on a summer Saturday night waiting for my clothes to come out of the dryer. Worse, I was singing
Saturday night's alright for laundry,
Get a little laundry in!
Alright, alright! Ooooo-ooh!
As you can see, I'll need to move to another city soon enough.
Meetings are fun to me because we don't have them very often. You get to sit around a big table in a cushy chair and goof around with your work-friends.
Today we went around the table and discussed favorite warm-weather activities, then our department head provided us with a slide show of "Summer Fun Safety Tips" on the big screen.
My presentation about our new database was not very fun by comparison, but it was informative. I think people were expecting me to tell jokes. My boss said, "Not fun, but informative... well, that's us in a nutshell."
When I use my dryer I see the note which says "
risque de choc electrique
," and a little picture of a guy getting electrocuted. Rather than triggering the alarm center of my brain, "
" makes me happy, because I think chocolate will somehow be involved if I touch the plug, and anyway '
' sounds so much less threatening than 'shock'. Maybe that little guy in the picture is just quivering with happiness because he knows this dryer dispenses delicious chocolate treats out of the lint tray. I'm just going to write about laundry for the rest of the month.
Some day I'm afraid I'll lose the ability to laugh. Right now I can laugh at almost anything: missing the bus, seeing a squirrel, making a mistake, however serious. Being able to laugh so easily is probably what keeps me from going crazy.
I can imagine a scenario in which something happens that is so bad, not only will I not be able to laugh at it, I won't be able to laugh at
. What will I do then? I'll have lost all of my resilience. If that ever happens, I'll be in real trouble. I worry about it.
A few years ago a friend and I had lunch, and over the course of the afternoon I think we both realized we didn't really like each other that much. There was no argument, no unpleasantness, just a dull series of reminders that we had nothing in common and no enjoyment in each other's company.
I had just loaned him a book. I thought about asking him to give it back. Some social code prevented me from pointing out the fact that we probably wouldn't see each other again, though, and as far as I know he still has it.
I counted the number of bedrooms I've had on my fingers. As far as I can remember, I've had seven. I mean actual bedrooms that at one time I could have called mine. I don't know whether that's above or below the average.
Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I imagine those other bedrooms, and I try to figure out how my day would go if I were in them instead of this one. Where I would eat breakfast and with whom; those are the things I think about, and sometimes I don't want to open my eyes.
Maybe we shouldn't spend our summers mulling over old stuff with a deep feeling of loss and nostalgia. You don't need to stay indoors and perfect your wall stare, and it isn't the time to practice having the bottom of your stomach fall out when you accidentally think about the wrong thing. Those are classic winter-time activities. I reckon if you spend your summer doing them as well you've got a problem.
Let's take a break from writing, with its emphasis on indoorness and rumination, and replace it with (let's be realistic) a reasonably fine time in the sunshine.
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