REPORT A PROBLEM
Ask 16 of Vicki's closest friends, and each one will tell you, without hesitation:
It's sooooo Ben's loss. He doesn't realize what a great girl Vicki is. She's too good for him, anyway. He'll be sorry. Watch. Just wait and see.
It's the 17th who's the hold-out. She alone tells the others the truth:
Vicki's not that great. She's boring. She's never been worth Ben's attention. Frankly, he's the one who can do better!
The 16 accuse the hold-out of disloyalty. But secretly, when they lay in bed at night, they confess to themselves in whispers that they're disloyal too.
Does my new apartment have a toilet, sink, and tub? I don't know. I didn't check the bathroom the two times I saw the place before lease-signing. I didn't feel comfortable doing so with the current tenant there, hanging out in his plaid loungey pants, waiting for me to leave so he could continue eating little pastries.
Perhaps the bathroom isn't fully equipped, and the barbecue on the patio has to serve as toilet, sink, and tub. I suppose visitors will have to wait until their burgers are done grilling before I allow them to use this very special outhouse.
"Wow, that's some veggie-burger," he says, as our polo-shirted, scrub-faced waiter places the plate before me.
It's a cocksucking Gardenburger,
I want to say. It hardly warrants a "wow", especially when eaten away from home. Especially when barely cooked, served unadorned on a white-bread bun, with iceberg lettuce and pallid sliced tomatoes on the side.
So this is the country club, eh? This is the place he raves about? This is where he wastes time wearing golf shirts and lying to himself that he enjoys the game?
Eight fucking dollars for a Gardenburger, and we're not even in New York.
Juliet watches in dismay as Greg shovels forkful after forkful of chicken with broccoli into his impatient maw. Neither his fork nor his mouth have stopped moving in ten minutes. She's barely finished half her scallion pancake appetizer, and here this schlub's only 30 seconds from finishing his entree.
Greg's dish never varies. He'll order chicken with broccoli "off the menu" if he doesn't see it listed. Juliet, on the other hand, always tries one of the specials -- the more exotic the better.
She chews even more slowly, dreading the usual five minutes of closed-eyed, lights-out, missionary-position, Saturday night sex.
He's written a TV show, he says in a text message. "I think it will sell," he boasts. I can't imagine someone who says he doesn't read actually writing something. Then again, it's for TV, which lowers the so-called bar. Still, I'm envious.
A few weeks later he's in "Vegas" for some meeting about this supposed show. I ask what the show's about. "It's sort of like American Idol," he texts, unflinching.
Any envy I may have had over his completion of a script instantly vanishes. Leave it to this schmuck to want to contribute to the ever-expanding schlock heap.
When you call to tell me you have nothing to say, don't be surprised that I'm not thrilled with the call. Don't be shocked that I won't want to talk. Don't act offended when irritation creeps into my voice. You've interrupted me for no reason. The call is pointless.
Even if I'm not busy, I'll reply to your vapid, "Are you busy?" with a vehement affirmation. Because even if I'm not, I have no time to talk to someone who tells me she has nothing to say, especially when she didn't know if I was busy in the first place.
Laura didn't get the job, but she's determined.
"They start at 9. I'll arrive early. Wait outside to check out the new girl. Return at 1:00, when she's done, and kill her. They'll replace her with their second choice. I'll do the same to her. I'll do this until finally they hire me. Even if I find out I was their eighth choice, at least I'll have the job."
Won't they be suspicious, I ask, when she's the sole survivor?
"I've figured it out," she says. She plans to rush back into the office at 1:05 with self-inflicted stab wounds.
Here's a suggestion: It might be a wise idea if, before I return home from a weekend away, you cleared the Downloads from the computer we share, so I won't be privy to what you've been doing in my absence. Do I really need to see countless Windows Media Player files with names like "tranny_blowjob6" and "bigcockupass_shemale" mixed in among the various very proper work-related Word documents? The answer is no. No, my friend, I don't. I don't need to envision you taking a break from the tedium of contracts and agreements, unzipping your pants, and fiddling with your faddle.
"Come on," he says. "You can't tell me you love every dog in the world."
"Yes, I can," I say. "And I do."
"But you don't even know every dog in the world," he says.
"That doesn't matter. I love every dog. The ones I know. The ones I don't. Unconditionally. Guaranteed."
"Even the ugly dogs? Even the - "
"There's no such thing," I say.
"Not even the ones - "
"There are no ugly dogs. They're all beautiful to me. Big, small, fat, scrawny. Silky purebreed, mangy mutt. Old, young. I am in love with every dog, no matter what."
You know how people say they see faces in clouds? Well, my patient Heather insists she's seen 28 of the 50 States in rain puddles. Every week she spends the first ten minutes of our session detailing which State she saw since we last met. If it didn't rain, she rhapsodizes about mashed potatoes.
Her greatest achivement has been spotting North and South Carolina on the same stretch of sidewalk, positioned just like on a map. "I couldn't believe my good fortune!" she said.
She salivates as she says, "I can't wait to find Hawaii. All 19 islands and atolls."
I place one thumb on either side of my cat's face, just below her ears, and pull the skin and fur back and up gently. I don't think she minds, but then -
"What the fuck do mew think mew're doing?" she says, her green eyes narrowing to slits.
"Oh, I was just seeing what you'd look like with a face lift," I say.
"No. Mew're seeing what I'd look like with an EYE lift," she says, swatting at me with a paw.
"You'd have cat eyes," I say.
"I'm a cat," she says. "Of course I'd have cat eyes. Idiot."
"My wife thinks it's disgusting and told me I have to stop doing it," Bertram says with a shrug and a floppy wave of his hand. "I don't know why. I think it's pretty efficient. Just think about it, Doc."
I don't want to think about it, but now I'm compelled to do so. I picture Bertram - lumpy, hairy-shouldered, squat-legged Bertram - on the toilet, his huge trousers (too enormous to be classified as "pants") bunched around his edematous ankles, gulping coffee and eating the biggest piece of cake in all of Manhattan.
"It's one-stop shopping," he says with a wink.
When they finally arrive, the coughs, wet and rough, tear through my throat, and rattle out my mouth, a cacophony of rat-a-tat ricochet. I'm thrilled: They validate my decision to stay away from the gym this morning. When the cough was just a threat, a memory from yesterday that left my throat a bit raw, I felt guilty staying home.
I will encourage raucous coughs throughout the day. The worse, the better. At some point, I want to cough non-stop for at least a full minute, so viciously that I'm rewarded with blood. I really need to solidify the validation.
"I knew I shouldn't've read Gee-Pa's journal," Gloria says. "Ignorance is bliss!"
Gloria honestly believed her grandfather when he assured her she was being silly for thinking he regarded her sister as The Pretty One.
"You're both as pretty as angels from the Good Lord's heaven above!" he'd say.
Gloria also believed him when he denied her claims that he gave Linda extra money when Gloria wasn't looking.
Now he's dead, and in his journal, open in her palms, she sees the truth in spiky handwriting: Gee-Pa thought she was "ugly as sin" and always gave Linda an extra dollar!
It's got to be a dream, right? Because in waking real life I would never kill a spider. Or a roach. Or any "creepy crawly" sort of thing, for that matter. But here they are, fighting furiously for their lives in the rapidly filling bathtub. Their many, many legs scrambling to take hold of a non-solid, ever-changing surface. As the tub fills, their bodies absorb water like sponges, and then, fully bloated, turn into a sweetly rounded cartoon-like donkey-ish and dog-ish thing, small and embryonic and close-eyed. It has to be a dream, right? Even when awake, I'm still confused.
The Serbian movers have not yet broken the glass top of my desk. I still regard them as good-looking and charming, especially the dark-haired one that I originally mistook, inexplicably, for Argentinian and then, later, not inexplicably, for Russian. Twenty minutes from now, I'll be glaring at the two fair-haired ones and avoiding eye contact with the dark one. But for now I'm meeting the latter's gaze, trying to pretend I don't notice he's flirting with me. Pretending I'm not envisioning his long, lean body pressed up against a brick wall, his full lips whispering something utterly disgusting in Serbian.
"You purposely give bad advice," Mona says, "so I'll fuck up. Because if I fuck up, you know I'll still come to you every Wednesday for these stupid sessions. To get advice on how to unfuck-up the fuck-ups."
"Ahhh, 'tis a vicious cycle, isn't it, Madame," I want to say. I envision reclining in my desk chair and putting my feet up. In my fantasy, I'm wearing sturdy, hand-tooled, classic men's brogues in oxblood.
Instead I flex my bare feet under my desk and doodle the word "fuck-up" in bubble letters on my tablet. And tell Mona she's being unreasonable.
"Doc, I get the feeling you think my problems are petty," Ronald says after he's just wasted the first 20 minutes of his twice-monthly session detailing the way his wife has screwed up the preparation of every breakfast he's had at home since our last meeting.
"No, not at all," I say. "Please. Continue. You were just telling me how Sharon overboiled your hardboiled egg on Monday morning. And how you were devastated that she presented it to you already cracked."
"She should know better by now, right?" he says. "All those wasted eggs! Can you believe she's so wasteful?"
I reserve a special variety of loathing for dimwits who sign their email with "Cheers" or "Peace" or "Ciao". Unless you're British in the first instance, the Dali Lama in the second, or Sophia Loren in the third, you should never use any of these closings. A simple "See you later" or "Talk to you soon" will do quite nicely.
It's bad enough most email is composed with all the literary panache of remedial first-graders, with a hideous lack of capitalization and a blatant disregard for proper punctuation. Now we've got to be captive to this sort of pretense too?
I open my eyes and see the flesh of his inner thighs, a few inches from my face, flapping slightly. He's not fat - far from it - but he doesn't work out and he's not exactly 30 years old, so the skin is a bit slack. Loose enough to make me gasp - if only my mouth weren't full of the other part of his body that is, thankfully, a lot firmer than his thighs.
I should've kept my eyes closed. Now when I see him, face to face, all I can think about is when I was faced with those thighs.
Sure, I eat tofu. And sure, I enjoy it. I also enjoy everything else that's part of my usual food routine. Sweet potatoes, tempeh, rice crackers, hummus. Grapes, cherries, oranges. Mixed greens, edamame, and so many other foods that are oh so nauseatingly "good for you". But that doesn't mean I don't still drool over mashed potatoes with thick gravy, breaded and deep-fried anything, french fries, and sometimes think I would actually kill someone for an enormous Sicilian pizza with extra cheese and spicy sauce. Anyone who tells you they never want the truly good stuff is a fucking liar.
Congratulations on discovering the thesaurus! So now instead of sounding like a simple imbecile, you present yourself like a pretentious poseur. How grand!
You no longer read; you peruse. You no longer see; you spy. You don't talk; you communicate. You don't eat and drink; you consume and imbibe. Do you fornicate instead of fuck?
Your attempts to sound informed and intelligent ("erudite!") make you sound even more moronic than we both know you are.
You've turned into everything we both used to deride. You're the joke we always found unfunny - the punchline to a riddle not even worth asking.
Come on. Does he really have no idea his arms are too short for his body? A body that, stubby as it is, still deserves arms that at least reach past his hipbones? Apparently not. Because there he stands, waiting for the light to change, in a green and yellow rugby shirt at least one size too small, exposing a one-inch sliver of somewhat hairy gut, and he doesn't even flinch when his hands can't reach far to tug at the hem of the shirt to cover that gut. Yeah, this one's a real stud, all right. Short-armed, striped-shirt mutant.
How delightful! How charming! You and your mini-khaki'd kindergarten Einstein are indulging in a loud, endless, rousing round of "I Spy" on the M5 this morning! You spy a green car and a red car. He spies a black dog. You spy yellow flowers. He spies a pigeon. You spy a big tree. He spies a big tree, too!
I want you to ask what I spy. I pray you do. I'll tell you I spy an overbearing, nasal-voiced, crooked-toed, flabby-assed, monster-faced Upper West Side matron overindulging her dimwit, cross-eyed five-year-old who already looks and sounds like an irritating nebbish.
Just standing on the street in front of this nauseatingly trendy hotel is enough to make me want to stab myself in the eyes with a fountain pen. Every girl thinks she's on "Sex and the City". Every guy thinks he's best friends with "The Fab Five". They're all so relentlessly shiny. And I'm resolutely matte.
My friend arrives, and I accompany him to the rooftop lounge so he can drop something off to his agent. I steel myself against the onslaught of plastic and teeth and tans and babydoll tops, wondering if the disgust is apparent on my face.
"It hurts, but it was worth it," Rita says. "Wanna see?"
She sticks her tongue out farther than I would have thought humanly possible. I suppress a gag and raise one eyebrow at her, silently saying, "What the fuck, Rita?"
Three round Band-Aids dot her tongue. I wonder how she got them to stick, but because I don't want a 20-minute explanation, I don't ask.
But she tells me. She tripped and dropped a bowl of pudding, and it broke into "millions" of pieces. "I hate to waste food," she says, and mimes how she licked each ceramic shard.
To all the "friends" I lost when the going got a little tough:
Fuck the fuck off. Fuck the fucking fuck off. I know it's rough for you to reconfigure your tiny minds to accept the changes in my life. I know it would've pained you to have to hear a different answer if you'd asked, "Hey, how's it going?" I know it shatters your souls to have to comprehend that this new version of me is a huge improvement over the old one.
Thanks for revealing yourselves to be bigger jackasses than I ever thought possible. Love ya lots!
Is it a statement on the state of my life right now that I'm excited that in a few days I'll have a new phone number? I've actually found myself daydreaming - yes, that's right , daydreaming - about what the digit configuration will be. Will it be a 212 area code? (Cross my fingers! Hold my breath!) Will the ten numbers spell out a word or phrase? Or will a zero or one in the middle of the line-up spoil the fun for the rest of the crew? The possibilities are endless!
Sure, "little things mean a lot" -- but this? It's ridiculous.
When we met a few weeks ago, he and I agreed that nothing would happen between us. It wouldn't be right. We'd be fine with just being friends. Fine. Friends.
Still, I know when I see him again, all I'll do is imagine him kissing me. Imagine his face two inches from mine on a pillow next to mine, both of us wrapped in a blanket, him keeping me warm from the air-conditioning that's keeping the room cool. Imagine my hands holding his. Our voices whispers.
Sure. We'll just be friends. Just friends. It's possible, isn't it?
Hello! I am breaking the "fourth wall"!
Welcome to my 100 Words! I hope you enjoyed your visit. If you're aching for more of my words, you will be delighted to learn that I've been doing this since December 2002. This means that you can spend several days going through my submissions!
Please feel free to drop me a line. It pleases me to hear from the outside world.
If you do write to me, however, please note that my attention span is limited to 100 words, and take that into account when crafting your correspondence.
All my love,
The Tip Jar