“Icelandic White Trash”
by Gudmunder Vigfussun
“Icelandic White Trash”
by Gudmunder Vigfussun
“Shaun White for Target: The Funeral Collection”
by Isa Hopkins, editor-at-large
The Winter Olympics have always been Summer’s kid brother, nerdier and never quite as noticeable. The Summer Olympics bare sweat and exertion and human flesh in an unceasing two-week parade of triumph and heartbreak but the Winter Olympics seem somehow muffled — too much snow, too much gear, too much figure skating.
That may have changed in 2010, however. The Vancouver Olympics wrought a certain hip cachet, a confluence of Stephen Colbert, Johnny Weir, and a young man known as the “Flying Tomato” coming together to make playing in the snow cool again. Colbert and Weir’s appeal is straightforward: Colbert is Colbert, and Johnny Weir skates a routine to Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface”; they’ve left their mark more on popular culture than on sport. Shaun White is another story.
The fiercely red-headed White, whose ginger mop and whiz-bang aerials have earned him the appellation “Flying Tomato,” is, without a doubt, the greatest snowboarder who has ever yet graced this Earth. To watch him glide across a half-pipe is to forget that gravity exists, to watch a brash California skater dude subjugate the laws of physics in the name of doing something totally sick, man! It can be downright disconcerting for the more hidebound among us, leaving viewers to wonder if there is secretly a wire somewhere, as in the movies.
But there is no wire, and this belays another truth of snowboarding and snow sports in general: while all that snow might seem a gentle buffer between the human body and its own mortality, the Winter Olympics are dangerous. No sprinter or swimmer has yet died in practice sessions at the Summer Olympics, as Russian luger Nodar Kumaritashhvili did this past year in Vancouver. The Winter Olympics might be smaller in scale, but the scope of their injuries is much broader.
Perhaps it’s this exposure to such tragic injury and death that has led Mr. White to reveal a different side of himself. In addition to his legendary prowess on the half-pipe, you see, and in spite of a recent Saturday Night Live sketch caricaturing him as a financial flash in the pan, Mr. White is loaded. He has a lucrative sponsorship from Red Bull, which built him his own training facility, as well as endorsement deals and various lines of skateboarding and snowboarding gear and apparel. Then, too, there is his most recent cash cow: a line of skater-hip clothing at Target, where each item comes with its own cute sticker to affix to your board, marking any aspiring skater a disciple to the sport’s very own miracle worker.
The Target line has sold well, in large part thanks to Mr. White’s broad appeal. He is an athletic phenom with an easy smile and without any apparent problems with drinking, drugs, or women; moms are only too happy to have him as their son’s role model, rather than, say, Ben Roethlisberger or, god help us, Plaxico Burress. But while Mr. White still seems to be avoiding legal entanglements, his line has taken an undeniably darker turn with the debut, this fall, of “Shaun White for Target: the Funeral Collection.”
“It was kinda gnarly,” says Mr. White, who approves all of the designs that bear his name. “Like, the clothes are supposed to be, like, fun, and cool and stuff, but man, funerals are, like, not fun, you know? Not fun at all. So it was like, how do we put those two together? That was hard. That was, like, the Double McTwist of making clothes, right?”
One might wonder why Mr. White even bothered. When pressed, his easy Southern California affability disappears. His brow furrows, and the half-grin that seems permanently etched onto his face fades. “You know, it’s like, there’s a lot of times, young people, you go to maybe your grandma’s funeral or something — and it’s really sad, and you wear a suit and everything, and that’s, like, that’s one thing. But then… it’s like, where it gets really gnarly is like, what if it’s one of your bros, dude? Like, I heard some statistics and stuff where young guys die, like, a lot more than you think. It’s so not cool, but it’s like, you don’t treat your bro the same way you treat your grandma, you know?”
Once his skater-slang has been parsed, it’s reasonable to believe that Shaun White might have discerned an entirely new demographic, one which we as a society are still to ashamed to acknowledge: young people who have lost or are mourning another young person. We tend to regard such incidents as rare and isolated tragedies, treatable with platitudes and maybe some therapy, but “what do I wear to my bro’s funeral?” is a national conversation that’s yet to grace the pages of the New York Times.
“I think it’s wonderful,” says Dr. Jeffrey T. Meltzer, a psychologist who specializes in adolescent grief. “Kids need to have role models. Shaun White feels very approachable, very relatable. The fact that he’s giving these kids permission to grieve in public is a significant step forward. And very unexpected. I give him tremendous credit for it.”
It is decidedly unexpected for a young, upbeat athlete to associate himself with something so dour, although it helps that Shaun White is not merely repackaging traditional funerary wear for the youth set; no, like the sport of snowboarding, he has reinvented it altogether. The plaids in the line are more somber than what the boarders wore in Vancouver, but it is still shocking to see hoodies marketed as funeral-appropriate. The very pairing of Shaun White and funerals provokes a certain amount of chaos and cognitive dissonance, although no more so than Johnny Weir’s scheduled appearance next month at an annual retreat of the Log Cabin Republicans (readers can rest assured, however, that in the face of such unexpected announcements from her fellow Winter Olympic stars, Lindsey Vonn has pledged to remain hot for the foreseeable future).
“Whoa, man. That’s, like, pretty heavy, and stuff,” says Mr. White, informed of Dr. Meltzer’s analysis. “But, you know, right on.”
What prompted the transition?
“Well, it was like, it was actually Red Bull’s idea,” Mr. White admits. “Because, you know, there were those gnarly stories, with, like, Red Bull and vodka? And some people died? So it was, like, corporate synergy and stuff, because then Target sells Red Bull. I think we’re gonna try to, like, market it all together, you know? Like, buy a funeral hoodie, get a free Red Bull. It’s gonna be sick, bro.”
“go milf go”
by David E. Haase
hot milf cold milf
sad milf happy milf
do you like my ass?
no, I do not like your ass
long milf short milf
bulimic milf stiletto milf
do you like my ass?
I harnessed it tighter
than my chest
no, I do not like your ass
tighter harnessed than your chest
milf with early menopause
monster milf cheerleader milf
do you like my ass?
today shaped like a heart
no, I do not like your ass
heart shape ass
stealth milf filth milf
lexus milf quilted milf
O, what a nexus of
for christ’s sake lady
I’m just picking
my kid up from
I will not attend
to your filf party
by David Schwartz
Bev and Jan and Deb
Each and every one of them
Do have a head
There are certain words
I don’t know the meaning of
One is the word love
by Noam D. Plum
The bar-and-grill chef fries the steak.
The charmer serenades the snake.
The boss critiques.
The trucker slaps himself awake.
The dealer buys old junk to make
His fine antiques.
The scientist predicts the quake.
The clam sauce makes your stomach ache.
The burglar sneaks.
The skilled mechanic eyes the brake
And tells you, “This is gonna take
A couple weeks.”
The baby burps. The toilet leaks.
The splatter movie victim shrieks.
The old man stoops.
The meter runs. The tourist seeks
The john. The older brother tweaks.
The neighbor snoops.
The maitre d’ brown noses sheiks.
The rock star screams. The bedspring squeaks.
The drunkard droops.
The wrestler grunts. The dullard speaks
A lot. The starlet’s dresser peeks.
The nincom poops.
The farmer builds his chicken coops.
The Botticelli forger dupes
Us with a fake.
The butler sees. The waitress scoops
Mint ice cream out in tiny goops
On chocolate cake.
The stunt man flies his loop-de-loops.
The jury naps. The fight fan whoops
For Giant Jake.
The soldier out of all the troops
Who guards the big red switch says, “Oops!
Well, my mistake.”
First published in Light Quarterly
“In The Early Nineteen Sixties Wearing A Pink Shirt Was Considered Very Risque – or – Hello Sailor (written in Polari)”
by Ben Nitt
On me todd I trolled down the Dilly,
cackle in the bungery, una, dewey bevvies
before off cottaging for trade being all a bit
nanty dinarly. When in minces a dish
of an omipolone, couldn’t ‘elp but varda
at the nellie clobber, bona corybungus,
bona ecaf cutely framed by oglefakes; dark an’ moody.
Me thinks to meself she’s a riah shusher
or with them thews maybe a chorus line hoofer.
She smiles at me, pots shiny like searchlights
as she twinkles glossie fruit; wouldn’t say no to a bite.
“How bona to varda your dolly old eek” says I,
“care for a bouvare?”
“Egg nog”she grins with a come on glint,
and the sweet chicken and I cants away in the old polari.
But I can’t keep me shrews out of the basket,
well it’s hardly bijou, as she registers my interest
says she; “I would, would you?”
Trollop she be smiles; “let’s be off to the khazi.”
Well not known for being backwards
in the art of coming forwards
I parades the way, she follows,
and no sooner me lallies were round me ankles
and me bingey stands proud; ooh hello sailor,
me thinking this is gonna turn out to be right bona nocky
when out of the blue she pulls out a silver bracelet;
“you’re nicked,” she says, “‘m a charpering omie.”
“Walter’s Big Balls”
by Mike Jackson
To make friends when you get older you need a hook. Almost like when you were a kid and someone in the neighborhood had a pool. Everybody hung out at his house; he never had to work for it. Now, some guys have a 60-inch plasma and the NFL Sunday Ticket, they make the best bbq, they have a country-club membership and get to invite a guest a couple times a month, they have something to catch your attention. Me? I have Walter.
The conversation usually ends up revolved around how I’m going to spend my weekend.
“The usual, have a few beers, watch a couple Cubs games, hang out with Walter.”
“Yeah, my Great Dane. Did I ever tell you about Walter?”
“No, 3 legs or something?”
“Even better, Walter has the biggest balls I have ever seen.”
“Seriously, they’re fucking enormous. Stop by the house Saturday, we’ll have a beer. He won’t mind the staring.”
“I’ll drop by, but I don’t think I’ll stare at the dog’s balls.”
“Oh you will, you will.”
Saturdays come and the scene is always the same. Some guy my wife has never seen rings the door bell, six pack in hand and my wife shakes her head as she opens the door with a smile on her face. She knows why he’s here. He’s another guy I’ve told about Walter. About his huge balls. Later, after my new friend has left, my wife will always tell me, “stop bringing guys over to the house to look at the dog’s balls; it isn’t funny anymore.”
Of course though, it is funny and the new guy stares. And says things like, “Holy Shit” and “I can’t stop staring.” I always reassure them it isn’t them; nobody can stop staring at Walter’s huge balls. They’re like a car wreck that way. But like I said, nobody really has too much time anymore, so even though I’ve made lots of new acquaintances who’ve been nice enough to bring beer over, I have to keep trying to make a new friend, one who has a little more free time. Even better if he has a wife that gets along with mine. Then I won’t have to play golf alone on Sundays and my wife won’t be too upset that I’m missing for a few hours, because she’ll have a new friend too.
All thanks to Walter’s big balls.
“Observations of a Portland People-Watcher”
by Amanda Robinson
Sitting at a table outside my favorite dive bar, a cold can of Pabst in my hand. I flick the ashes from my American Spirit cigarette and watch people walk by,
Track suits, tiny terriers, tangerine tans- trust fund couple.
Burly, bad hygiene, beer belly, bag of empty cans, body odor, beard- bum.
A stray fleck of ash falls onto my meticulously worn-out Converse. I pretend not to care, and order a vegan corndog from the apathetic waitress, who agrees with me that meat is murder.
Glamorous guy, groomed, Gucci shoes- gregarious gay.
Skanky, superficial, short skirts and sandals in September- sorority sisters.
I glance down at the tattoos on my arm as I fiddle with my newest piercing. My adornments make me unique. So what if a vast majority of the population of Portland has tattoos and multiple piercings? Mine are personal and meaningful.
Hemp skirt, hemp necklace, hemp purse, hair in dreadlocks, horn earrings, high as a kite- hippie.
Business suit, briefcase, Bluetooth, bagel-to-go, getting into his black BMW- banker.
These poor, poor clones. I pity them and I judge them for their willingness to conform. Thank goodness I am my own person. No one can define me. I toss back the rest of my Pabst, snub out my cigarette on the underside of the table and check my reflection in the pub window. Yep, I still make this look good.
The guy sitting at the next table is gathering his things and stands up to leave. He has a star tattoo on his forearm, just like me. Same torn black skinny jeans with the patch on the back pocket too. At least my American Apparel t-shirt is the perfect degree of faded, while his still looks brand-new. Well, I’m still unique. No one can label me. But I quickly label him:
Sunglasses, staring at me, scrawling on a napkin- stalker psychopath.
He ignores the napkin which has fluttered to the ground behind him. Not caring to waste the energy to run after him, I condemn him silently for his crime against the environment and toss the offending litter in the nearest recycling bin. Curiosity soon overcomes indifference, and I pluck the napkin from the top of the heap to read what the creepy stranger had to say about me:
“Cigarettes, Converse, conceited, covered in tattoos, can of Pabst, cynical- classic hipster.”
by Aaron Zonka
by Talos Virgin
“I’ma sit here for a minute before I do it. I brought this smoke and left my drink in the car. I really am crazy sometimes- this lighter is broke. I got matches. He said I might need ‘um, that mutha fucka… MMM, I like that match smell- NOW look at
that bitch! Every time you sit down, someone stays and stares at’chu.Tha’s hella crazy every fuckin time some racist ass assume you stealin’ an wanna be a good fucking citizen. It’s like when I startmaking food and someone’ll call and wanna buy. “Come on brotha I needthat fo a lick. HELLO LADY. I need money for food I end up leavecold, when I go make more money. Hmm, I got it though. Shit. I ain’t beggin’-look she movin! She know; but yeah I ain’t beggin, that’s worse, I’m getting mine, bitch. You right to I am stealin’ you fuckin racist bitch, you was right for once in ya life. Look, look, shewalkin on cuz I smiled at her. Fuck you stupid lady. I smile and you loose yo mind, I’ma start pickin this lock, my smoke almost gone, thatlady got me mad. This lock is at the perfect height I can’t believe it-that stupid bitch. I can’t believe she left because I smiled. Fuck you white bitch, poo-putt ass- I see that bitch later I’ma rob ‘er. She don’t like black people ta smile at her. Yeah, I’ma smile all in her face when I got that fuckin money. And she’d be lucky if I rob ‘er to cuz I ain’t one’a them foul niggas that’s gone rape her after. I just want money keep the pussy. I bet she got a TV at her house.
I almost wanna just go follow her and say fuck this. I am about done with this. I betta make sure so I’m not trying to open
it and it gets stuck: I’ll be hella mad, that’s just my luck to ha’dat shit stick. I’ma palm it while I stand, I don’t want people to see I got a pick wit me. Reach in my pocket and switch it with this key so it’s good. Now I’ll just walk through the store, and go out the backdoor, I got the car right there, I’ll grab the sack, get back, HAH, and get the big payback! I’ma get that track from Joe, that James Brown is soul! Joe sister cute too. That girl-she a fine bitch.
Where is this sack shit?! There. Fuck. Now, head back,the door’s still open, cuz it betta be, I still ain’t seen nobody that works here, fuck ‘um anyway. “Hey ya’ll, I’m the coin collector. I came through the store, hell yeah I work here what’chu think foo?” That’s pretty wild that it looks that way. That’s cuz no one knows about this little twist. Unless I hip ‘um to it they won’t ever know that all this money is right here, and they could take it, easy, if they just knew how ta hit it… damn now I kinda want one of those flat pennies, too. Fuck it, after I put this in the sack and tuck it away I’ma get one. Shit, it’s not like I don’t got change. I’ll give one to Joe sister; make her go out wit me. But first, I’ma go catch up to that stupid lady, and get me some date money. Can’t use quarters on a date –know what, fuck that, yes I can, we can go to the arcade … yeah that’s right … Shit, fuck it, I’ma still go get that lady first.”
OH NO! How will our hero get out of this one?
Will Joe be willing to lend his 45 record of James Brown’s hit single “The Big Payback”?
Are flattened pennies and a trip to the arcade enough to capture the heart of the foxy, Joe’s sister, future wife of our hero?
And, will he ever be able to catch up to “The Stupid Lady”?
Join us next time and find OUT, in his next new adventure: Sa La Vie, Creme de la Creme! or, “Stupid is as Stupid Lady Gets Robbed.”
Behind the Scenes
Son: Wow. So those souvenir machines really do flatten the pennies?
Father: Hmm? Yeah, you pay fifty cents and then you turn the crank and
they put Alcatraz or the bridge or, whatever.
Son: No, I just meant I secretly always thought that the pennies where
already flat like, inside the machine, and theyâ€™re making us, pretendweâ€™re cranking it.
Son: Ehr. Where did you get that sack, you just had it?
Son: That you put the money in, that bag.
Father: I just had it in the car.
Son: Is that what you used it for? Was that your “robbin’ sack”?
Father: MMM…yeah I guess so; I mean I never really used to think
about it. I was just running around actin’ wild but…yeah I do think
it was some Robin Hood shit. Huh! I was the poor, and then became the
rich. I was Robin and the poor.
Son: Oh. I didn’t know I meant that. I just thought, like, was that
the bag that you used for all crimes? Like “Hey, I got my bag with the
dollar sign on it. Next to my black and white striped overalls. Time
to go…steal from people I don’t know!” That’s funny though a “Robin
Sack”. Merry Men…
Father:…NAW. I had just picked it up from somewhere, and kept it.
Son: I think I might have been joking.
Son: Um, it’s funny that you thought the lady was stereotyping you and she happened to be right.
Father: Yeah I can’t stand that racist shit.
Son: Well, it wasn’t technically racist, you ASSUMED she thought that.
Father: Huh, yeah whatever.
Son: Yeaaah…well, I’ma go downstairs.
Father: …MMM. Alright, I’ll holla, son.
Son: Right on Pops.
“They Say It’s Your Birthday”
by Keith Buckley
The call came on the night I turned 55. I’d been home the entire day working, of course, (because I haven’t celebrated my birthday in the last 15 years), practicing the oral argument I would be presenting before the Supreme Court the next month in the cause celebre of J.D. Salinger’s 14 pretermitted children and their challenge of his will. Since all of the toddlers had been born to female enemy combatants now housed at Guantanamo, a win in this case would secure for me the goals I’d dreamed of my entire career– a named professorship of probate law at Harvard and a spot on Nancy Grace as an expert commentator. I loved my woman, but, damn, did Nancy’s squirrel cheeks drive me wild!
Anyway, the phone rang at 6:55 p.m.. I checked the caller I.D.. My stomach turned to water as I immediately recognized the number. Matt Fucking Damon. My own private harbinger of doom. Wasn’t his fault, just a series of ugly coincidences. Whenever Matt called me, it was bad news. Often the worst thing you could imagine.
I affected a light touch. “Matt, you son of a bitch! What’s shaking?”
“Oh, geez, Keith, don’t tell me I’m the first again? How does this always happen? Damn it! Damn!”
“Wrong place, wrong time once more, bro?” I attempted to chuckle, though it probably sounded more like a dry heave.
“Keith, I donâ€™t know how else to do this, so I’ll just give it to you straight. She’s gone.”
“Who, Matt?” I nearly shouted. “Your wife? Your mom? For God’s sake, Matt– tell me it’s not … our agent?!”
“It’s Uma, Keith,” he said, his voice cracking. “Turn on your television, dude! Uma’s dead!”
“No no no no!” I shrieked, grabbing blindly for the remote control. Sure enough, right there on E News, in sans serif bigger than J.Lo’s ass: BREAKING NEWS: UMA THURMAN DEAD AT 41 IN L.A. PLASTIC SURGERY CATASTROPHE! “This can’t be happening!” I screamed. “She was just here last night! We were … we were trying for a son!”
“Wow, and with Uma being brought up Tibetan Buddhist, I bet you were doing that lie on your left side and breathe out your right nostril thing,” he sighed.
“Well, yeah, of course,” I said. “That worked both times for you and Luciana, right?”
“All the way, bro, and it’s really a bitch to concentrate and still get your nut off. But that won’t be a problem for you anymore. I was there when it happened, and I can assure you she’s gone.”
“In L.A.,” I muttered. “How? We were banging our brains out until 1 a.m. and I fell asleep …”
“It was a birthday present, Keith. Tarantino had his private jet waiting for her at O’Hare, and Dr. Vogel’s team had been gearing up for a week to turn her around as quickly as possible. Just in time for your birthday.” He choked again, almost completely breaking down. “She was doing the zygomatic process reduction for you, dude. She knew how you felt about Nancy Grace– you talk in your sleep. Plus, well, she overheard you telling DeNiro at the Christmas Party that Uma’s cheekbones were so sharp you were afraid she’d poke out one of your eyes when the two of you were necking.”
“Oh, fuck me,” I moaned. “What have I done?”
“Don’t beat yourself up, man,” he implored me. “You didn’t know she was standing right behind you!”
“Maybe, but I shouldn’t have said anything to anybody about her looks! She’s had body dysmorphic issues since she was a kid!”
“I heard that,” he admitted, “but I could never process it. I mean, she was, like, beautiful to the power of infinity, and she can’t stand the way she looks, while plug-uglies like you and me-”
“Societal pressures, dude. Sex roles and all that shit. It sucks. I glanced up at the television screen. An ocean of reporters and cameramen were swarming around Vogel’s private clinic as the cops escorted the bruised and bleeding plastic surgeon to a waiting police van. THURMAN’S ALLEGED MURDERER SURRENDERS AFTER BRIEF STRUGGLE! “What the hell?!” I shouted into the phone. “Vogel killed her? Matt– what’s-”
“Keith, he went absolutely apeshit, Matt groaned. “Uma’s flight went off without a hitch, limo met her at LAX, and she got to Vogel’s outpatient facility ahead of schedule. We actually checked in together and clowned around filling out our insurance forms.”
“That’s right– you said you were there. What was the fuck is up with that, dude? You swore up and down you’d never have any work done.”
“Awww, this is gonna sound really stupid, man. I can’t. It’s just … too embarrassing.”
“Don’t be an idiot, Matt,” I snarled. “Somebody’s bound to have noticed you were on the scene when Uma died. You need to start getting your story straight no matter what, and I’d better be in on it because the press is going to be in my grille any second! I made every effort to tone down the lecturing but, hell– actors. You could never tell where their heads were sometimes.
“You’re right, Keith,” he said. “You’re always right, you little fucker. I was in to get … a neutical.”
“A neutical. A testicular implant.”
Whoa, dude. TMI. Long pause there. “Oh, okay,” I mumbled. “I, uhhhh, I didn’t know you were, like a uniballer, man. Sorry if I-”
“No, it’s nothing like that,” he quickly interrupted. “I was, well, I was getting a third one installed.”
“Look, you’re not out here, Keith, okay?” he said, now mildly annoyed. “You don’t have to keep up with all the trends. There’s a lot of fucking pressure in the business, you know?”
“Sure, but … three balls?” I wondered aloud.
“Okay, so Clooney got a third ball installed, and Pitt got a third ball installed, and Soderbergh got a third ball installed, so, yeah, you can see where this is going.”
“George, Brad, and Steven?” I asked. “Anyone else?”
“Uhhhh, George said Marty Scorsese and Leo were thinking about it …”
“Jesus, Matt, how many times are you going to fall for this kind of crap?” I said. “First there were the tattoos, then the body piercings, then the anal bleaching, and now this? If Clooney and Pitt decided to get colostomies so they could hang Gucci receiving bags off of their stomas, would you do it too?”
“Dude, that’s gross!” he said, laughing in spite of himself. “Gucci colostomy bags. You’re a dangerously sick shit, you know that?”
“Well, it’s just one step away from a third ball as far as I’m concerned.”
“Hey– fuck you!”
“Fuck you up the ass!”
“Fuck you up the ass with Affleck’s three inch dick!”
He broke down laughing. “Okay, you win. A third ball’s pretty dumb.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere,”I said. “Anyway– so about Vogel?”
“Right, right, right,” he said reluctantly. “Well, dig this. Vogel’s got his team together, Uma’s been all through pre-op, she’s prepped, high as a fucking kite for a few minutes, and then totally out. Wow … “ He pondered that for a moment. “Thank God she decided to do a general. She told me at check-in she was actually thinking about a local just in case she’d conceived … last night …”
I bit down hard on my right thumb, an old habit, to stop myself from flying to pieces. “Get it together, Matt,” I said, coaxing him on. “She was out, so she never knew what happened, which was …?”
“Okay, I’m frosty again, man,” he said. “So the surgery goes exactly according to plans. Vogel makes his incisions at the nasolabial folds, works the bone chisel across both zygomatic bones smooth as Sinatra, and takes his time, y’know, shucking and jiving around all the nerves because, hey, Uma’s facial expressions are an industry standard. That takes almost two hours, and then-”
“Wait a minute, Matt. I understand you were there today, but how do you know so freakin’ much about the procedure? With the technical lingo and everything? You ain’t the one with a medical background.”
He paused again. “This is just between the two of us?”
“You have to ask?” I said not a little too indignantly. “I don’t tell tales, Matt. You know that.”
“You’re true-blue, man,” he agreed. “There’s this nurse, in Vogel’s clinic.”
“Say no more.”
“You get the picture?”
“We are copacetic.”
“Coolio. So the major wetworks are finished, and all Vogel’s got left to do is shoot some collagen into the cheek pads that sit on top of the bone he’s hacked off because Uma doesn’t want to come home looking like a corpse and– Oh, shit! That was pretty fucking thoughtless!”
“Keep it together, dude.”
“Yeah … yeah,” he whispered. “So, he’s got like this pneumatic injector device hooked up to a container of collagen. And all during the surgery, he’s been listening to his favorite tunes on a CD. He’s right in the middle of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which that nurse tells me he really grooves on for the end of a procedure and closing, when all of a sudden, there’s a Captain Beefheart tune playing at full blast!”
“Which one?” I demand.
“Huh? What the fuck does it matter?”
“Which one, Matt?”
“Skeleton Makes Good from Ice Cream For Crow. Why?”
“Later,” I told him. “What happened next?”
“Vogel went fucking nuts, dude! He started screaming and crying and tearing his clothes off. Somewhere along the line, he jammed the, the, whatsit, the spigot down Uma’s throat and pumped over a quart of collagen into her lungs. The whole scene turned to complete shit, Keith! By the time his scrub team could get things under control, Uma had already coded. She was gone, man. There was … nothing … nothing anyone could do.”
I felt like I was looking down a long, narrow tunnel at the pages of notes I’d been taking ever since I’d picked up the phone. The shapes of the construct were forming, clues sliding into place like tumblers in the locks to the vault at Fort Knox.
“Keith? Keith?” Matt said. “You still there? You okay, man?”
“One more piece of the puzzle,” I murmured. “Did your, ummm, nurse, have any idea why the Beefheart song set Vogel off?”
“Hell, dude– Vogel told the cops himself. Vogel’s dad used to beat the crap out of him, and he was a huge Beefheart fan. He’d put on Troutmask Replica whenever Vogel brought home anything less than an “A” on his report card and wailed away on the poor bastard with a ballbat.
“Matt, get in a safe room ASAP and call Homeland Security!” I barked.
“Do you have a fucking safe room in L.A.?” I yelled.
“Yeah, of course. I’ve got three, but-”
“Get to one of them on the double and contact Homeland Security! This is all a terrorist set-up!”
“Keith, man, I know this is an incredible blow, but-”
“I shit you not, Matt!” I roared. “We are at ground zero for something that’s going to make 9/11 look like Romper Room!”
“Okay, now, Keith, I know how you tend to go to extremes on things-“
“You have no fucking idea of where this is going, Damon! You have got to get to a safe room NOW!”
“That’s it! That’s it!” he shrieked. “I can’t do this anymore!”
“No, man, you don’t get it! It is a set-up, you were right, but-”
Movement in the house. Footsteps on the level above my office. The dogs, prancing all over the place. “Shut the fuck up!” I hissed. “They’re here! They’re after me!”
“Keith, wait a minute-”
“It’s the Salinger case, you idiot!” I tell him. “Those kids and all their al-Qaeda relatives! The CIA’s bringing the hammer down on all of us! Right now! We’re all fucked!”
“No, no, Keith! Stop!”
But it’s too late. They’re here. Swarming my house! How could I have been so stupid? To put Uma, Matt, Dr. Vogel, the son I would never have in harm’s way– all of them sacrificed for my own petty ambitions!
“KEITH! KEITH! You don’t understand!”
I opened the lap drawer of my desk, reached all the way back, and pulled out my grandfather’s Colt M1900.
Footsteps descending the stairs, my private office door opening.
“Keith? Are you in here, baby?” she sang.
Go time. I hurled myself across my desk, ducking down low and brought the Colt up to ready position as I tucked the phone between my left shoulder and ear.
“Matt, these fucking fiends!” I whispered into my phone. “They’ve sent one of Uma’s body doubles after me!”
“NO, KEITH, NOOOOO!”
“I know you hate to celebrate your birthday, sweetie, but I’ve got a card for you!” the counterfeit bitch cooed.
You fucking bastards, I wanted to bellow. Did you honestly think you could catch me off guard while I’m watching a live video feed of my lover’s autopsy?!
“KEEEEEITH! KEEEEEITH!” Matt is jabbering.
“I’ll give you my fuckin’ birthday!” I roared, bringing myself up to my full height.
Without hesitation, I fire all seven rounds into the central approaching mass.
“NOOOOOOOO!” my phone screams.
Even though the cartridge is emptied, I bring the pistol to bear on the prone figure that is twitching, gurgling, spraying blood in every direction. “Why?” the simulacra gasps. “Why?”
“Damon already spilled the beans,’ I triumphantly laugh. ‘Game over, asshole!’
‘Why? Why?’ the pseudo-Uma wheezes and expires.
A voice from the landing.
Matt Damon catatonically repeating ‘This shit cannot be happening … this shit cannot be happening … ‘
The voice, now on the last step, an all-too familiar face leaning into my office. ‘Uhhhh, Keith? It’s Ashton, dude. You’ve been, like, punked.’
Keith Buckley lives in a dimly-lit money pit in Bloomington, Indiana, surrounded by mountains of golden retriever fur, unpublishable pornoviolence, and some of the worst original music ever recorded.
by Charlie Britten
Clare told all her friends at work that she was pregnant. Every coffee-break she bored them with her talk of baby names and at lunch times she dragged some poor childless colleague off to Baby Gap to drool over babygros with Teddy bear motifs.
The only person who didn’t know was her husband.
It was fortunate that Darren never looked under the bed, although sometimes, as he sat on it whilst getting dressed in the morning, his foot touched slippery cellophane packets. Was it his new Jasper Conran shirt? Or a new computer game?
Darren wasn’t ready to be a dad. He was only thirty-five.
by David Woodruff
“The Little Mermaid’s Revenge”
by Emily Leavitt
The Little Mermaid was pissed. She wished she could toot a zillion sulfurous farts in the prince’s face while he slept. How could he have not remembered, in some deep part of himself, the damp chill of her slick webbed hands on his chest when she performed CPR to save his life, a touch unlike any other human’s? How could he have not remembered her stunning lilac eyes, which would later help him recognize her? True, he woke only briefly after that terrifying inhale of air, asked her who she was, then fainted like a deflated rubber chicken; but she was sure it had been a long enough moment for him to register her face in his memory. She felt betrayed.
When first meeting the Other Woman, the Little Mermaid smiled politely and held her tongue, even though it wouldn’t make a difference, her being mute. She went to get some spiked fruit punch and cursed under her breath in guttural Fishish. The Other Woman looked like Aphrodite, seductive in her little black dress. But she probably had no hunting skills, the Little Mermaid told herself, and she probably had zero musical talent. It seemed all she did was look pretty and giggle at the slightest provocation.
The Little Mermaid taught the prince how to blow a conch shell so it produced a clear, full note. The prince taught her how to shoot an arrow so she could kill a deer in one shot. She skinned a hide, made it into a rug, and decorated the edges with an exquisite weaving of cowrie shells. She gave it to him for Christmas. He played her a song on his harp. They played croquet together and the first time she got drunk he held her hair back for her as she vomited into the royal chamber pot.
That winter when he came down with the flu, she cooked him a roast: one of the myriad palace poodles he always complained about; they never stopped yapping! When he asked what type of meat it was, she drew him a picture of venison. He said he knew but didn’t care. She felt embarrassed; he was probably lying so she wouldn’t feel bad. When he said it was delicious, the Little Mermaid sighed in relief. He added that if he could, he would get rid of every palace poodle in this manner, but his queen mother would have a fit. They laughed about the possibility for a long time. They couldn’t help chuckling at the dinner table when the queen asked if anyone had seen Monsieur Fru Fru. The queen’s handmaid ordered a new Fru Fru from the royal dog breeder, and the very next day, an identical Monsieur Fru Fru magically appeared in the garden.
The Little Mermaid thought their time together had meant something to the prince, but perhaps it didn’t mean the same thing to him as it did for her. The prince brought her to the cliff where they sometimes dove into the lake below or watched sunsets while munching on tortilla chips and guacamole.
“We’re getting married,” the prince said with a sparkly smile. She wanted to slap it off his stupid face. She couldn’t stop staring into his eyes as if to say, She doesn’t know you as well as I do. But the prince didn’t recognize this, whether on purpose or because he was blinded by his lusty little crush on The Other Woman.
“Do you like her?” said the prince.
Uh let me think-NO! I want to throw her into a boiling volcano! The Little Mermaid yelled in her mind, but to the prince she simply nodded and gave him a hug. He asked her if she would help design the wedding dress. She thought of ways she could make it as ugly as possible.
The Little Mermaid went back to the beach, that idealized location to get jiggy at, that place where dead bodies of immigrants trying to reach the kingdom sometimes washed up and were hastily collected and burned, that place she had so often dreamed about as an entry point to the enchanting world of humans, with their legs that could run and jump and dance and prance. The Little Mermaid took a conch shell from her satchel and blew into it, a baritone melody to call up the witch from the depths. The witch, always on time for appointments, sent up a fish like a cannon ball: a signal to say she was coming. The Little Mermaid usually threw the fish back into the ocean, but she let this one die. It was just a fish. There were more of them.
While the Little Mermaid waited she examined her legs. They were not unshapely, and pretty tan. She had a bunion on one side of her right foot, but other than that they were small and dainty, with a ballerina’s arch. The Little Mermaid wished her feet were big so she could kick the prince in the stomach, and then the witch. She was planning to attempt such an attack when the witch arrived, but in psychic hindsight the witch sensed the siren’s simmering irritation. Instead of emerging from the surf in a normal fashion, the witch blinked into existence in a grand puff of smoke and a sound that went ping! She even produced little flames that snaked into the air and hissed out.
The Little Mermaid didn’t react. She stared at the ground, scooped up sand and let it run through her hands. Why do you appear like you’re ringing a doorbell to a house that’s on fire? the Little Mermaid thought, This isn’t the cinema. You don’t have to be so dramatic.
The witch plopped down beside the Little Mermaid and picked strings of seaweed from her hair. She laughed, â€œI actually did live in a house that was on fire, once upon a time.
In Hell I suppose? asked the Little Mermaid.
“Yes, I was married to the Devil.”
The Little Mermaid looked at the witch in disbelief. Not many people could say they had been married to the Devil. Are you lying? said the Little Mermaid.
“No,” said the witch, and gazed nostalgically out at the ocean, “No, that was a true love I could never lie about.”
The Devil– the Devil loved you?
“He may have his evil side, but he has his good side, too,” the witch affirmed while magically summoning mussels from the deep and throwing them to gathering sea gulls. “It’s hard to believe, I know, but he can be tender.”
Look what you’ve done, brought all these squawking wretches to our side. Let’s walk. So they got up and started down the beach.
The Little Mermaid didn’t understand how somebody who delighted in disasters and death could be capable of love, but she would understand later on, when she too would do something that she didn’t think she could do.
Did you leave him for the ocean? wondered the Little Mermaid. Do you really like fish or something? I’ll bet Hell was unpleasantly hot.
“No, not really,” the witch shook her head, “Hell is actually great fun. It’s one big party down there. They have casinos and prostitutes galore, just like Las Vegas.”
So, did you leave him for someone else or did he cheat on you? I’ll bet he did.
“Yes,” the witch lamented in a tone mixed with bitterness and sorrow, “He left me for Persephone. It would have been one thing if he had done the deed with her up here and not told me. That way it might not have hurt so much. But he had to bring her back for the winters, just because she ate some goddamn food from the underworld. What petulant attitudes those gods had. I tried to respect their ways, to mind her presence, but it was too much. It was like having a tumor on the side of your face and trying to pretend it’s not there.”
I’m sorry, said the Little Mermaid, I know how you feel.
“No,” said the witch, “I’m sorry. He was supposed to fall in love with you.”
I know, that was our plan. My plan.
They walked on a little father and said nothing before the witch asked, “I’m just curious, why didn’t you try to kick me like you were planning to?”
Because-I realized that not even you can control love, and it’s not your fault he fell in love with someone else.
“Infatuated,” the witch corrected.
Whatever. For me it’s all the same. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to be depressed for the rest of my life.
“Here, here,” said the witch, “This will pass. You have options. You could travel! Where do you want to go?”
I want to return to the sea. I’m tired of the world of humans, their conflicts, their global warming. I just want to wait until the sea rises high enough to swallow the lot of them, and then I’ll have the last laugh.
“You’re just upset with your prince,” said the witch, “Don’t take it out on the whole human race. They may be immature and violent, but they’re not all like that.”
Whatever, said the Little Mermaid, just take me back to the sea.
“I can’t just do it,” said the witch.
What do you mean? You’re like Jesus. You can walk on water, bring on floods.
“You have to pay a price,” smiled the witch.
You’re a bitch, complained the Little Mermaid, but you did make it possible for me to spend valuable time up here. What do you want?
The witch grinned with cunning, and from her robe of overlapping fish nets she removed a rusty dagger with a jeweled handle. She handed it to the Little Mermaid, who didn’t take it.
No thanks, the Little Mermaid replied, I’ll just stay here and watch him get married. I’m not cruel enough to kill anybody.
“I never said you had to kill anyone,” said the witch, “Just nick him on the elbow or something, spill a little bit of his blood on yourself; then go to the sea and as soon as your feet touch the water’s edge, you’ll turn back into a mermaid. But if you want to get revenge, go ahead and kill him. I personally think that would be more fun, but do whatever you want. Then, with a poof and a ping! the witch disappeared, letting the dagger to fall to the sand. The Little Mermaid picked it up and put it in her satchel. She didn’t want to leave it for anyone to find. As she walked back to the castle to mope, she wondered why the witch and her type of folk were obsessed with blood sacrifices. Why doesn’t she want my hair, or my eyes? She already has my voice. I wouldn’t mind being bald or blind down there. It’s not like we can see or hear anything that deep.
And that was why the Little Mermaid had wanted so badly to venture up here, where water did not warp light or sound. Down there, people sat lazily around thermal vents to keep warm, gossiping with the plankton and trying to break the boredom by pulling out the hair-teeth of sperm whales and upsetting them. Besides practicing the art of indolence, what merpeople wanted most was to join the Nirvana of Foam, their mythical source of existence. To achieve this end, folks sat around meditating and consuming silver blobs of mercury that floated through the ocean like wobbly disco balls. They provided light in the dreary, benthos dim. The Little Mermaid had no idea who proclaimed them to be holy, but someone had long ago, and now people sought them for the psychedelic visions they induced. Some people even claimed they could communicate with ancient mergods. The Little Mermaid wouldn’t partake in any of that rubbish.
As a merbaby she would dream that her father had had an affair with a human lady and the Little Mermaid had been born a freak with a fish tail but human qualities. As a mergirl she would claim she had lost her belly button and go looking for it. Adult merpeople would laugh kindly and whisper among themselves, Oh, what an imaginative child! But the Little Mermaid didn’t care a smidge. She just said she lost her belly button as an excuse to wander off and collect human garbage, like plastic bags and soda cans, so she could study human culture. If she had told them the truth, they probably would have deemed her mad and thrown her in the mental institution, which was guarded by butch octopuses that nobody wanted to mess with. They could asphyxiate you in seconds.
As a merlescent, to pass the time the Little Mermaid would hang around Bad Barracuda’s, the local pub, and watch the crackly black-and-white TV that showed old movies and shows from up above. People would gather around the TV for entertainment, but most believed humans had died off a long time ago and that the bartender just had a great collection of ancient human artifacts. Other knick knacks lined the driftwood walls, like a case of un-eaten jello cups, and a phonograph that played wobbly sounding Bach when cranked up.
“They’re real!” the Little Mermaid shouted, jabbing her taxidermic sword fish (which she speared food with) at the television, again and again so that the crowd around it backed away, afraid to get poked. The Little Mermaid turned to face them, their gilled faces cagey around this nutty little merlescent. “They’re not legend. They’re NOT!”
Oskar the Octopus, the pub’s bouncer, came over and tried to pacify her. “Sweethaat,” he said, wrapping several arms firmly around her shoulders and with two others removing the weapon from her trembling hands. “Der’s no need to get so excited. It’s just a movie.”
“Yeah, chill out,” said some merdude who thought he was a stud. He had quite a few barnacles stuck to his jaw.
“Hey, crustacean face, when’s the last time you bothered to shave?” snarled the Little Mermaid, baring her shark-tooth braces.
Then, out of the back of the pub, a merhag floated forward, oscillating her ragged fins with a grandmotherly grace. “Ayy,” she said, “Let me take the missy aside. I’ll have a talk with her, put some sense into her poor muddled head.”
“Sense?” the Little Mermaid cried, still restrained by Oskar, “All you people know is nonsense. Don’t talk to me about being rational. You’re all a bunch of dimwits. Don’t you care about what’s out there?”
“Out where?” said the merhag, gently.
“UP!” shrieked the Little Mermaid, “UP! THERE!” Some people looked up at the roof. The Little Mermaid shook her head with a mixture of pity and impatience.
When she seemed to have calmed down, Oskar released his grip and went back to work. People went up to the bar for more ale and mercury. The Little Mermaid stalked off, her fins wagging violently from side to side. The merhag followed her outside.
“What do you want?” said the Little Mermaid.
“I want to help you,” said the merhag.
“Well you can’t. The only help I need is going up there, and nobody believes it exists.”
“I do,” said the merhag, “I know.”
The Little Mermaid stopped waggling off. She swished around in a flutter of bubbles and asked, “Are you crazy like me, or do you really know something I don’t?”
“I know a lot of things you don’t. If you come to my cave I will teach you what you need to know, and I will help you.”
The Little Mermaid squinted at the merhag. “Help me with what? You’re being really vague.”
“I will help you prepare to go up there.”
With the branches twining knotty and the glass drooling soundless raindrops outside her window, the Little Mermaid clutched the dagger to her chest. She took a few deep breaths, then got out of bed and slid across the splintery floor. During midnight outings to the kitchen or the labyrinthine gardens the Little Mermaid had tried to tiptoe, but that made too many creaking noises so she now preferred to coast across the floor until she reached the cold stone halls.
Like a bandit, a flickering shadow she moved, until she reached the prince’s royal chamber. She knew the path well, for many a night she met him to play poker; they gambled cowrie shells and fallen pence they found on the floor of the banquet hall.
She perched herself at the foot of his bed and woke him gently by prodding his foot a few times. He woke and smiled at her. He thought she had come to tell him something in her sign language. She had the knife concealed behind her back. She removed it carefully, and suddenly the prince’s eyes flashed with fear. He would never have imagined that this friend would hold him for ransom, as others had tried to do in the past. He backed up towards the headboard of his bed, and with his hands out in front of him, he tried to appease her.
“Look, however much money you want, I’ll give it to you. Please, just wait until morning when I can go to the royal vault, and I promise you–”
The Little Mermaid shook her head and frowned. She wanted to shout, I love you, dammit. Why did she give the witch her voice? She should have given up her beauty. At least then she wouldn’t have to make do with these awkward nonverbal gestures.
She put the knife in her lap and the prince seemed to relax a bit. “I’m glad you understand–“ he began to say, but the Little Mermaid grabbed the knife again and pointed it at him, level to his forehead. He shrunk back up against the headboard. “Okay, okay,” he gulped, “I’m listening.”
She put the knife down again, pointed to her heart, then pointed to his.
Do you get it now, ignoramus? she wanted to ask.
He had to think about it for a minute.
Then his face lit up all Eureka-like. “OH!” he exclaimed too loudly, but managed to swallow it. “Oh my–”
The Little Mermaid nodded, satisfied but still annoyed. Yep, she thought, Finally. She sighed. See what I mean?
“Look,” said the prince, “I like you, I really do, but I have to marry her. Weâ’ve been betrothed since–”
Since my non-existent mermaid ass, she thought, then chuckled to herself because it was ironic that she actually now did have an ass. She inhaled a pocket of air in one cheek and squelched it out to make a farting noise. This usually signified to the prince that she was trying to be funny, or that everything was okay if they had an argument.
“Well,” the prince said, feeling optimistic, “you do understand, don’t you?”
Um–NO. Do you have any idea what I went through to get here, to get to know you like no one else does?
Of course he didn’t, and she couldn’t blame him for that. But she wasn’t going to let him off so easily for her having become his confidante, his hunting buddy, his poker partner, when all the other dukes in the kingdom just wanted to bench press in his gym for the prestige of being able to say that they had, or when all the dames just wanted to dance with him in the hopes of one day becoming queen and gaining power over the fashion industry.
She gripped the knife in both hands and pointed it at his heart, signaling that she wasn’t afraid to drive it in, even though she knew she could never do that. She’d rather be arrested, but as long as he thought she might go through with it, there was hope. She was almost hyperventilating, and by this point he was too.
“Please, I beseech you,” he said, prostrating himself before her. She couldn’t quite believe it but some part of her liked this power she had over him.
The Little Mermaid got an idea. She took him by the wrist and made him sit up. Okay, I won’t take you hostage, but show me where she is. The Little Mermaid twirled a lock of her hair and giggled like a ditz to imitate the Other Woman. The prince understood. He could save his own life by letting the Little Mermaid take the life of the Other Woman. He would be sad to see the Little Mermaid get arrested, but he had his future to think of, and he could always find another princess after the murder, which he hoped would not include him as a victim.
He led the Little Mermaid through the jowls and veins of the castle until they came to the guest room chambers. He told the Little Mermaid to conceal herself behind a heavy curtain, and he knocked on the door.
“Oh cheesecake, I’ve come to wake you for a midnight tryst,” he called softly.
Cheesecake? thought the Little Mermaid, I could do better.
The door opened slowly, and the thin mousy face of the princess appeared, her body clad in lacy pink lingerie.
I would wear black, the Little Mermaid criticized silently. Black is sexier.
“I’m sorry to have woken you so late–“ the prince began.
“It’s all right, darling,” squeaked the princess, took his hands in hers, and kissed them lightly, “Shall we go get a glass of wine?”
The prince had told the Little Mermaid to wait but she wouldn’t any longer. She busted out from behind the curtain. In under a second she shoved the prince out of the way and had the princess locked under one arm with the dagger not far from her throat.
“Well, that ruined my plans of calling for help,” sighed the prince. The Little Mermaid smiled impishly, pleased that she had the upper hand now. The prince advised the princess not to speak, but to listen to the Little Mermaid, and everything would be okay.
“But what in the world is going on?” cried the princess, and the Little Mermaid brought the dagger under her chin. She shut her mouth immediately.
Awkwardly, the Little Mermaid half-dragged and half-led the princess down to the beach. The prince followed, terrified, promising the Little Mermaid all sorts of riches and royal positions she could have, but she looked straight ahead. The sea oats swished in the salt-scented wind. The darkness wrapped in wraith-like shadows around them, crinkling its many tongues over their unprotected skin. Though it was cold they were all perspiring. The prince and the princess thought this was the end, but the Little Mermaid was going to make it a beginning. What kind of beginning, she wasn’t sure, but she wasn’t afraid to find out.
The Little Mermaid made the princess lie down on the sand and signaled for the prince to pin down her arms. The Little Mermaid sat on top of her, one hand holding the dagger to her neck. With the other hand, the Little Mermaid removed her conch shell from her satchel.
The princess began to cry.
“Please don’t weep darling,” soothed the prince, who started to weep himself, “Everything will be okay, I promise. I’ll think of something.”
“Please do soon,” said the princess, and with an edge of anger in her voice, she said, “How did you meet this chick anyway? She’s crazy! People like you shouldn’t associate with people like her.”
The prince was about to explain when the Little Mermaid hissed at the princess through her teeth to shut her up. She felt a little bad about the prince crying, but once he realized what she was doing, she was sure that in time, he would forgive her. Or so she hoped.
The Little Mermaid skillfully used one hand to steady the conch shell on her knee. She inhaled and blew into it, and the somber melody that summoned the witch resounded several times. The prince looked back towards the castle, wondering if someone heard it.
It wasn’t long before the witch sent a fish shooting out from some mysterious origin. The fish landed at the mermaid’s feet. She picked it up and hurled it into the surf. The slender silhouette of the witch soon emerged from the inky black waves, like the corpse of a long-dead sailor coming home, forgetting he was dead and thinking his family was still waiting for him. The witch strode up to the trio of hostage, helpless prince and hostage-taker. The prince and princess watched in awe of this ghostly creature, and then unadulterated horror broke over their faces as a wash of moonbeam illuminated the witch. Her eyes were a shocking indigo, the pupils Antarctic white. She had no eyelashes or eyebrows, in fact no hair at all. Her nose was proud and stately, her lips were wide and green. Her face, torso and limbs seemed to be just bone covered by a thin, callous, colorless membrane. From the back of her skull trailed a phosphorescent cascade of fish scales. She had gills in her neck like a merperson’s, webbed hands, and flippers instead of feet.
“Oh my God!” shrieked the princess, “They’re going to eat us!”
The witch examined the prince and princess for a moment. She focused on the princess and bent down on her haunches, getting right in the girl’s trembling face. The witch sniffed her golden locks, cupped the princess’s teacup chin in her dry palm, then said, “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t eat you. You’re too clean. I’d have to kill you first and let you rot for a couple of months. I’m not going to waste my time.”
Then she looked at the Little Mermaid. “What did you call me up here for? I gave you the dagger to get revenge. To get justice.”
I want my revenge in a different way.
“How do you mean?” said the witch. “In all of my dealings with your folk, this is the first time a merperson like yourself has not wanted to get revenge by spilling blood. Most of you are quite tribal; I’m surprised. Have the humans rubbed off on you?”
Never mind that, said the Little Mermaid, wanting to get down to business. The princess and the prince looked on, confused at the seemingly one-way conversation; they didn’t realize the Little Mermaid could communicate telepathically with the witch.
Here’s what I want, said the Little Mermaid, I want you to change her into a mermaid, or send her back to where she came from, or erase her memory of the prince, something so that she has a new life, without him.
“Hmm,” said the witch, “Let’s just send her back to her own kingdom. I think sending her down there would be too cruel. Even you didn’t like it. That’s why you came here.”
Okay, good point, the Little Mermaid agreed. Just send her back to her own kingdom.
“Done,” said the witch, and with a snap of her fingers, the princess was gone, poof! The Little Mermaid fell on her butt. The prince glanced at the spot where the princess had been, then lunged at the Little Mermaid. The witch grabbed him by the collar and held him up in the air. He struggled, amazed that this skinny, ugly creature had so much physical strength.
“I’ll have my guards burn you at the stake!” he yelled, “When I get to the bottom of this!”
The witch whispered a spell to paralyze the prince, temporarily, from the neck down. She then placed him gently on the sand.
“Oh my God, I can’t move!” he said, and looked to the Little Mermaid, imploring her with his eyes.
“Don’t worry,” said the witch, “Your princess is safe. She’s back in her own kingdom now, sound asleep, with no memory of you.”
“Who–who are you?” the prince asked of the witch, and turning his face again to the Little Mermaid, he said, “And who are you? You’re not who I thought you were.”
The Little Mermaid hung her head in shame. The witch defended her: “She’s come a long way, and she cares about you.”
“She cares about me?” cried the prince. “She tried to kill me!”
“No,” said the witch, “She didn’t. That was just a ploy to get you to come here.”
“Jesus,” said the prince, “Please just explain to me what’s going on, and I promise I won’t bring any charges against you.”
The witch laughed, “You’d be shark bait before that happens. But listen, and listen closely. I’m going to tell you her story, and you can decide if it weaves into yours…. ”
When he learned of the Little Mermaid’s journey, the witch released the paralysis. The prince got up slowly, rubbed his arms, and shook out his limbs. The Little Mermaid was still looking away from him, unsure of how he would react or if he would forgive her.
“I’ll let you two decide what you’re going to do now,” said the witch.
Can I have my voice back, just for now? said the Little Mermaid.
The witch snapped her fingers and the Little Mermaid felt a jolt in her throat, as if a hand had punched her from the inside, reached up through her esophagus and placed a quiver of sound in her mouth. She couldn’t speak for a few moments. She moved her tongue around in her mouth, flicking it off her front teeth, the roof of her mouth, and all the other places from which people produce speech.
When she could finally speak, she said to the prince, in a shy voice, “I’m sorry.”
The prince, who was so used to her being mute, didn’t say anything for a moment either. Then he said, “I guess you should be. You totally ruined my wedding plans.”
“I–I know. I’m sorry. I know you loved her.”
The prince had to think about that one for a minute. “Mmm… nah.”
“Nah, I didn’t love her. She was a nice girl, but I didn’t love her.”
“So–so do you want to be with me?”
The witch stood silently off to the side. She was having fun observing this exchange of human adolescents. They never ceased to fascinate her.
“Well, I dunno,” said the prince, “I don’t even really wanna get married–”
“Oh, me neither,” the Little Mermaid agreed, “I just meant, do you–”
“Do I love you? I don’t know. I’d have to get to know you better. I know we’ve spent a lot of time together, and that we had a way of communicating, but this is the first time we’ve actually talked! I mean–”
“It’s okay,” said the Little Mermaid, “I can’t force you to love me -”
“No!” the prince interrupted her, “I like you. A lot. But we’re both so young. I’m just not ready, you know?”
The Little Mermaid shook her head as if to clear away dizziness. “Oh,” she said, “Well, that’s okay. I understand. I’m like that too. I just thought that, that getting married was the only way I could be with you.”
“No,” said the prince, “You can be with me anyway. You’re like-you’re the bestest friend I’ve ever had.”
The Little Mermaid blushed and laughed at the prince’s poor grammar. The witch thought Aawww!
“Okay kiddies,” said the witch, “Do you still need my help? I’ve got places to go, people to see.”
The prince and the Little Mermaid looked up. They had almost forgotten the witch was there.
“Well,” said the Little Mermaid, hesitating, “I was thinking … do you want to be a bird?”
“Um–I kind of like being human,” said the prince.
The witch was growing impatient. She had havoc to wreak on other continents.
“If we were birds, we could go anywhere we wanted.”
“Um–if you wanted to try it for like a week, I’d be down with that.”
“Okay,” said the Little Mermaid, and she turned to the witch. “Can you turn us into birds for one week?”
“Uh, sure,” said the witch, “But I must say, that’s an odd request. Most folks would want riches, or fame –”
“Well, I just want freedom,” said the Little Mermaid, “So, make us into–”
“Hawks,” said the prince, “I like hawks.”
“But I like herons.”
“So I’ll make him into a hawk and you into a heron,” said the witch, “Done.” She snapped her fingers three times, and before her stood a small, sprightly hawk and a graceful heron. They checked out each other’s feathers and nodded in approval.
“Okay,” said the witch, “Fly wherever you want, but remember to come back in one week so you don’t drown somewhere out over the ocean. Got it?”
The birds nodded and took off towards the horizon. Dawn was beginning to bleed into the sky, creeks of peach and capillaries of rose streaking out into the expanse, stars turning over and going to sleep. The witch wiped her forehead. Whew! Work done for the day in this dimension, she snapped herself out of existence, off to help other heroines who could barely imagine what was coming. There was one girl waiting in a tower, and another whose fairy godmother was a little too bibbity bobbity in the head. The witch was going to give these girls one of the best tools they would ever own– the power to decide for themselves.
“Dr. Gender Bender”
by John Rachel
Billy was surprised. He assumed there would be a long waiting list for a doctor with such an imposing reputation. But they slotted him in the very next day for what they called an initial screening interview.
Billy left early and got to the Upper Westside address they had given him on the phone, arriving a few minutes before his appointment time. It was 9:53 am, a sunny Tuesday morning with not a cloud in the sky. He felt okay, maybe a little nervous, as he approached the free-standing slate office building.
This must be the place. On a gold address plate to the left of the front door to the office, Billy read the ostentatious inscription . . .
Dr. Malcolm N. Bender, MD
Specializing in Gender Reassignment Surgery
By Appointment Only Please – No Solicitors
The initial interview was rocky, to put it mildly. About halfway through, Billy thought that the word ‘disconnect’ seemed to fit quite well. The good doctor skipped the social niceties and started right in on Billy.
“Mr. Green, why are you here?”
“Everyone . . . well not everyone. My girlfriend seems to think that women are my problem. So I just figured, if you can’t lick ‘em then join ‘em.”
“Your girlfriend won’t let you give her oral sex?”
“I don’t understand. I didn’t say that.”
“You said, if you can’t lick ‘em join ‘em. If you can’t lick ‘em. Those are your words.”
“It’s just a figure of speech.”
“And I was just joking. You don’t seem to be in a very good mood. Are you always this morose, Mr. Green? Not that most men who come in here for gender reassignment counseling are exactly chipper. Most are nervous as hell. And they have issues.”
“Look, I decided I want to be a woman. It’s that simple. I don’t need counseling or advice or anything else. Just get me started.”
“This is not like buying a new shirt, Mr. Green. It’s a long, sometimes distressing process. And it’s just about totally irreversible. I need to establish that you’re serious, that you fully understand the ramifications and risks. I need to be certain that you’re doing this for the right reasons.Anything less would be irresponsible.”
“Yes, I’m serious. What else do you need to know? Or what do I need to know?”
“You might be beaten to death by a mob of maniacal homophobes. Your family and friends might disown you. You’ll have to squat to pee.”
Billy hesitated. Should he just leave? Cut his losses. This guy appeared to be nuts.
“I am missing something here. Are you a real doctor? Do you have a degree?”
“I have several degrees, including a Bachelors in Biological Science, a double Masters in Abnormal Psych and Human Sexuality, an MD degree, and some course work in osteopathy. Of course, I also have advanced specialized training in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Lastly, I am a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist and a Freemason.”
“I think the best way to approach this is to give you a special test I have developed. I call it the BMHGAT, which stands for the Bender Multiphasic and Holistic Gender Affectation Test. It will give me a reliable reading on your readiness for the requested procedure.” He reached across his desk and handed Billy a large pale green envelope with a string tie on the back. “Just bring this back when you have completed it. I’ll take it from there. And Mr. Green?”
“Don’t lick the envelope. Please use the tie string to seal the test questionaire.”
On the way home, Billy pondered his interview with Bender.” Without a doubt, the doctor was a strange duck. Something was not quite right with the man. On the other hand, while Googling him produced a whole range of commentary about his eccentricities and odd manners and mannerisms, no one faulted his performance as a surgeon. There were dozens of examples of his work, pictures which showed the spectacular gender transformations he had performed with his scalpel and exotic program of hormonal dousing. And though it wasn’t a sex change procedure, Bender even claimed on his own website to have liposuctioned to rock star perfection, the unnamed lead singer of a world-renowned boy band. Bender apparently was a genius and had earned the reputation as the master of gender-bending cosmetic surgery.
Billy decided he would stay the course for now, despite the gnawing doubts seeded by their initial meeting. He didn’t have anything to lose at this point, in at least seeing what the doctor might be all about. Of course, when the time came to pull out the surgical gear, it would be a different matter. Then he’d really have to decide if he had sufficient faith in Bender.
When he got home, he immediately took out the BMHGAT and was thrown for another loop. What a total fucking whacko! Billy entertained the idea of suggesting to Bender next time he saw him that he change the name of his clinic to the Twilight Zone Cosmetic Surgery.
There were only nine questions to the test. It took him less than four minutes to complete.
The Bender Multiphasic and Holistic Gender Affectation Test
© 1998 by Dr. Malcolm N. Bender (all rights reserved)
Q.Finish this: A trannie walks into a bar . . .
A. The bartender asks: Is that a tampon in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
Q.Why do flies have wings?
A. They don’t. A fly is a baseball hit high into the air.
Q. How old and who was your youngest sex partner?
A. 13 . . . myself.
Q.What is your favorite cooked food?
A. Marijuana brownies.
Q. Have you ever had sex with an animal?
A. Don’t know. It was late. I was drunk. Do Swarthmore girls have antlers?
Q. Are you an ‘in-ee’ or an ‘out-ee?
A. I pawned my bellybutton and gave the money to my grandmother to support her crack habit.
Q. What problem do 8-year old girls and boys have in common?
A. Their spines break when you butt-fuck them.
Q. Would you have sex with Mick Jagger?
A.If he sang Ruby Tuesday I’d give him a blow job!
Q. You are completely naked in Grand Central Station. What are you feeling?
A. I’m going to have a helluva time getting into my apartment without my keys.
He put the completed form in the green envelope, cut the string off and sealed it by licking it until his mouth was dry. Next day he dropped it off with the receptionist at Bender’s clinic.
A week went by and then the good doctor’s secretary called and set an appointment for them to go over the test results.
When he stepped into Dr. Bender’s office, the surgeon was seated behind his desk, apparently going over Billy’s test questionaire. His face looked more gaunt than last time, his skin more sallow. Though his eyebrows were furrowed, his eyes had a dead impenetrable glaze. He spoke without looking up.
“Please have a seat.”
Billy sat in one of two chairs directly in front of the doctor. Bender had some sort of optical apparatus strapped to his head and was wearing disposable latex gloves. Had he just come out of surgery? Or maybe they were shooting a sequel to Blade Runner and he was an extra.
“Does the sight of blood make you queasy, Mr. Green? It used to make me throw up.”
“On your patients?”
“No. We kept a pail next to the surgical table. The nurses swapped it out as required.”
“Nice. Thanks for sharing that with me.”
“I have your test questionaire, Mr. Green. It is right here in my hands. I am looking at your test questionaire as we speak.”
“Quite honestly, Dr. Bender, it was not what I expected. Kind of . . . unusual. Nice and short though. What exactly are you looking for?”
“Creativity. Confidence. Daring. Indifference or antipathy to convention. Flippancy. The-devil-made-me-do-it irreverance.”
He continued to study the questionaire like it was the court’s final verdict at the Nuremburg trials. Billy couldn’t read him. After an interminable minute or so, Dr. Bender suddenly became animated, almost enthusiastic.
“You passed with flying colors, Mr. Green. I see a strength of character here. Of course, there is an element of subjectivity on my end in interpreting the results. But I have developed a high-level of expertise in this, so the test is almost 100% predictive.”
“That makes sense. It is your test.”
“Exactly. So there is no one better positioned in this matter. You should know, Mr. Green, I have built in some subtle but very revealing contextual tripwires to nail down a person’s true state of mind. These would escape the eye of the most perceptive layman, but they are there. Each question is multi-layered, an epistemological lens into hidden architecture of the mind.”
“Like the bellybutton question. I really wrestled with that one.”
“And the trannie joke. That certainly set a solid tone.Great way to kick off something as important as this.”
“Well then, let’s just cut to the chase. In my professional opinion, you are ready. I think we can and should go forward with this.”
He pulled the lenses of the optical headgear down over his eyes, got out a small note pad from the center drawer of his desk, and started writing furiously.
“These prescriptions are for your hormones. Start taking them immediately. There will be clear instructions on each bottle. Next I want you to see a colleague of mine, as soon as possible. Right off. No point in dragging this out. Sooner the better. Get it done and over with, I say. Her name is Dr. Veronica Hegel. She is a specialist in aesthetic procedures. Some surgical. Some not. Simple stuff. All out-patient. She will start the process of feminizing your face. Obviously, she’ll have a lot to do in that department. You don’t exactly look like Audrey Hepburn.”
He finished writing and handed five Rx sheets to Billy.
“Mr. Green. Have you thought of a name?”
“Unless you’re going to continue to call yourself Billy, which isn’t attractive even as a man’s name, and is truly an insult to the fairer sex as a girl’s name, you might want to be thinking of a new name for yourself. Ursula. Bonnie. Something. And start having your friends call you by that. Immediately. No more Billy. It’ll help you to start thinking of yourself in terms of the female you. I can do the stuff on the outside but you have to do the work on the inside. Not my department.”
“Got it. I’ll get right to work on that.”
“Any other questions? If not, I will see you in three weeks. We’ll do some blood tests to see how the hormones are taking hold, take a look at what sort of miracles Hegel has achieved, give you time to do some shopping, grow your hair, all that girlie girlie stuff that needs to be taken care of.”
“Nicely put. You have a truly sensitive side. I like that.”
The sarcasm was not lost on Bender. Bender’s irritation was not lost on Billy. He got up to leave. At the door, he turned back around. The doctor was still glaring at him.
“By the way, Dr. Bender, I meant to ask what the ‘N’ stands for.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Green. The ‘N’?”
“Yes. The ‘N’. Your middle initial.”
Bender hesitated briefly.
“Go Suck An Egg”
by Elaine Acosta
Sucking the amniotic fluid out of the cracked shell of an unborn duck isn’t as bad as one would think. I remember my dad poking a hole in the top of an eggshell with a flimsy silver fork and urging me to drink from it when I was about five years old. It’s a delicacy, he said. The egg was dyed a bright fuchsia color, making it even more appetizing, Easter-like. Pretty, I thought, like a big Cadbury Mini Egg. I sniffed it and it didn’t have a distinct odor. I shook it, causing some of the precious baby duck juice to spray on my Smurfette pajamas. My dad furrowed his bushy black brows and slapped my hand, almost knocking the slippery jewel colored orb to the ground. Not wanting to disappoint him any further, I slurped up every drop of salty, slimy amniotic fluid. As proud and happy as I wanted to make my father, I’ve never been able to bring myself to eat an actual embryo. The baby duck’s beak was already formed. Its vacant, beady eyes pleaded with me to have mercy.
Balut, the egg of a baby duck, is a savory treat in the Philippines and other parts of Asia. Its been highly regarded as one of the world’s most bizarre foods. TV shows like Fear Factor and Survivor have used eating Balut as a way to separate the men from the boys. Muscular men with unnatural tans cried and projectile vomited before they even brought the egg to their quivering lips. I needed to audition for one of these shows so I could earn some extra money.
As the first generation daughter of parents who emigrated from the Philippines, I was trained to eat anything. It was in my nature. The reason was not because my parents grew up as starving children in the jungle or anything like that. Over the years, Filipinos seem to eat and integrate foods from both the Spanish and the Chinese, or whoever else was visiting or conquering them.
I didn’t realize how strange the food my people ate was until my high school graduation. The celebration started with my dad coming home with a huge, real live pig, with huge, pink pig balls that were the size of Dolly Parton’s mammary glands. He and his compadres somehow slaughtered the pig in our garage after the ceremony for a Filipino, luau-style fiesta. There are still bloodstains on the cement floor.
Why can’t we have a BBQ like normal American families? I thought as my sickly pale Caucasian friends gaped at the carcass. Lechon, the dead pig, was crucified on a makeshift spit with a ruby red apple in its mouth. I took a piece of the grisly and crunchy skin of the pig and dipped it in patis, a pungent fish sauce. Stinky fish sauce dripped from my chin while I cursed my dad for making me feel so ostracized, but I couldn’t stay angry. His satisfied, greasy smile showed that this deceased porker was symbolic. Killing and devouring lechon conveyed how proud he was of me. That and he just liked pork.
The one staple many Asian foods that I can’t stand is rice. It tastes like nothing, and fills me up right away. I feel the same way about noodles and pasta. What a waste of calories these grains and starches are. Whenever I am at an Asian restaurant with friends (white or otherwise), eating sushi or sesame chicken, I completely ignore the fluffy rice side.
“I thought you were Asian!” Someone at would inevitably exclaim.
“I hate rice, I’d rather suck an egg,” was usually my response.
“Being My Best Selves”
by Jennifer Hanna
“I’m so tired I could die.” I say this every morning, and it’s always followed by a period of crying and begging, “Please God help me get through the day.” It’s a bit unusual to do it on a Saturday, but it happens.
Nap time makes me feel lazy since a real writer would spend hours at work. Instead, here I sit, an overheated, sobbing, damp ne’er do well who can barely keep her eyes open.
I was comforted to learn there’s a living person in this world that is even worse than me. Alec Baldwin, according to guilty-pleasure Foxnews.com, only shows up to the set when he has lines to deliver. His back-side shots are done with a stand-in, and while I am disgusted, this gives me some ideas.
As a triplet with twice the amount of body-doubles available to me, I know it would be shameful to squander my sisterly bounty. My plan requires that I first get Clever Sister and Social Sister in my debt. On vacation days from their jobs, we three will head to my office, dressed alike and ready to work. I will handle administrative duties while they greet coworkers and volunteer to take on extra projects. It will seem like the hardest working employee in the department now also enjoys the power of tri-location.
Appointment conflicts become networking opportunities. I can eat lunch separately with a coworker and a friend and still make the meeting.
It would probably be best to set Clever Me’s investigative skills to work on research projects, while Social Me climbs the corporate ladder. Confusion can be explained away without too much trouble.
“You look shorter than you did earlier,” people will say after encountering the stiletto-loving Clever. “I changed into flats.”
“Wow, your hair was perfect this morning, but now, what a nest.”
“Thanks for telling me. I’ll go fix it.”
No doubt there are possibilities and exploitations I haven’t even considered. I might develop the building’s first lending library, or launch an international e-marketing campaign. Me x 3 = Infinity.
I’m still in the planning stages, but how can I not pity the spoiled and short-sighted Alec Baldwin? Combine just a little imagination with his income, talent and knowledge of the industry, and he could triple his productivity. The front-sided-real-him would accept the choicest movie roles, while his back and side views covered the non-speaking scenes. Discretionary distribution of body-doubles, triples or quadruples could free up enough time to do a Broadway play, foreign ad campaign, and a goodwill tour to Iraq. Watch out world, here they come!
If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to give my all (or at least 1/3 of it) to this new project. Too bad Hollywood has crippled Mr. Baldwin’s vision.
“Absurd Mice: A Campus Novel”
by Finnegan Flawnt
It was hot. A sweet stench of rotting meat was discernible one day after Professor Grczmczk had died at his desk.
His colleagues knew that something was decomposing but kept quiet. His next door neighbours, Profs Caligari and Wundersam, entered their offices at 7 a.m. and 7:03 a.m. respectively.
Ettore Caligari, a national authority on ancient history, locked his door, let his pants down, logged into his computer and wanked to a 700 A.D. image of a hunky Apollo fornicating a goat.
Prof Wundersam, sweating profusely after a ten mile bicycle ride, stripped naked and walked across the corridor to the restroom, looking like a fifty-five-year old wrinkled Adam. He splashed water in his face, under his armpits and between his legs. He liked the feeling of liquid running down his skin so he did not dry off but walked back to his office wet, leaving puddles on the floor.
At 8:30 a.m. Priscylla Portos, the Dean’s secretary, slipped and fell shortly after entering the hallway, avoiding damage to her head only because she wore a helmet that day. It was emblazoned with the school’s motto: “Parturient Montes, Nascetur Ridiculus Mickey” — mountains will be in labour, and an absurd mouse will be born.
2. PEER PRESSURE
Meanwhile, in the biology lab, Prof Sisyph McMurray was indeed working his way up a mountain: he was shagging his teaching assistant, Nicola Katzinsky, who had been studying under his turgid tutelage for four years already. Each term, Nicola, who was currently spread-eagled on a shabby dissection table between a freshly cut open headless, twitching frog and a book of early medieval fetishism, asked McMurray when she could graduate. And each term, he found another flaccid excuse to postpone her leaving the institution:
“Darling”, she said, “I think I’m ready to leave school.”
“I’ll say when you’re ready, sweetheart”, he said.
They met every other day before class in the biology lab. The slashed squib and the fetish book were necessary for McMurray, 64, to keep it up for more than two minutes.
“There is still so much you can learn from me,” he whispered while massaging her ponderous breasts thinking of me de pulpa verde dulce.
“Like what”, she groaned and reflected on the professor’s gentle way of lovemaking– shortly before the savage savant pulled out of the race.
Nicola would forever associate frogs and fetishs with fucking, and her future analyst, Morris Goldwater of Brooklyn NY, would get richer during her therapy, while her future husband, the noted Wall Street banker, Gardner Easley Honeywell III, would be surprised at the clever things his wife said all the while on her way to one of those extended massive orgasms that shook the walls of their Fifth Avenue apartement.
All ends well that is well, Nicola thought befuddledly and calmed by a deep inner knowledge of things to come. When her professor had finished but she hadn’t yet, she would have to bring her own bacon home while McMurray fell asleep on top of her.
3. DEALING WITH PEER PRESSURE
At 9 a.m. the classes were filling up and Professor Cricket, Dean of the Law school, arrived in his shoddy clothes. He drove a 1967 Carmanghia which he had named “Carson McCullers.”
When he smelled the rot of the disintegrating corpus, he followed it to Prof Grczmczk’s office, closed the door, opened his briefcase, took a vegetable knife from it and stuck it (smiling) deep between the dead man’s shoulder blades, muttering “abusus non tollit usum”.
Then he left for class with a chapped chortle on his lips, not afraid of murderous cliches, his heart a lonely hunter.
by Michael A. Kechula
“Sister Mary Ellen, how many angels can dance on a table, all at the same time?”
“Such a question, Tommy! Why do you ask?”
“I heard two drunks arguing about the number of angels that could dance on a table that could hold ten pitchers of beer.”
“Drunks? Beer? How shameful! What did they say?”
“One said, ‘Does it matter? I think the question really should be what kind of dance they are doing.’ They got into a fistfight when one said they’d do a ballet. And the other said it would be something lively, like a polka, because angels are always happy.”
“They fought over what kind of dance angels would do on a table?”
“No, it was about whether angels are happy all the time or not.”
“Mercy! Let that be a lesson. Never get drunk. See how it leads to more sin? Fighting and hurting each other like that. Shameful. Their Guardian Angels must be weeping for their souls. They’re obviously not devout believers.”
“They ain’t. My mom said they’re devout alcoholics.”
“Well, to answer your question, I suspect that several million can dance on a table all at the same time. Of course they wouldn’t dance on any table holding beer. Heavens! Now, given that at least one angel–let’s settle on one for the moment-can dance on the head of a pin, all we have to do is figure how many pin heads can fit within the area of a table.”
“Any table.” Do you remember the formula for calculating the area of a square or rectangle?”
“Length times width equals area. But what if it’s a round table?”
“Use the formula for calculating the area of a circle. We’ll be discussing that in class, next week. Now, once we have the area of the table, and figure how many pinheads would fit in that area, we must take into account that pinheads are round. So, there may be some space between angels when they’re standing elbow to elbow. I don’t recall seeing any formula for that. Hmmm. Might have something to do with Celestial Mechanics. Well, that’s a good homework project for you for tonight. Now run along. Recess is almost over.”
“Yes, Sister Mary Ellen. Oh, what kind of dance do you think they’d do on top of a table?”
“Whatever works best with Gregorian Chant.”
“RE: Gorgeous grrl lking for smthing casual”
by Jeremy Clymer
Sent: Monday, March 29, 2010 8:59 PM
Subject: RE: Gorgeous grrl lking for smthing casual
Hi! U sound totally hot LOL. If u want 2 see more of me check out my pics on my hot new website: [redacted].
Sent: Monday, March 29, 2010 8:57 PM
Subject: RE: Gorgeous grrl lking for smthing casual
I am writing in response to your Internet personal ad, “Gorgeous grrl lking for smthing casual.” There are several things that caught my eye about that ad besides the colorful play on spelling in the title. First was the alliteration in both the title of the ad and in your nom de plume. This gives me the impression that perhaps you are literary-minded like myself. I imagine an attractive, older woman reclining on a lounge chair on her patio, reading the works of Byron, Keats or Whitman. I find this very alluring.
I hope you don’t take my use of the word “older” the wrong way. I simply mean older than myself. You see, I was born in the year of our Lord 1979 and I imagine by your pseudonym that your arrival date on the planet Earth was on some day roughly one year prior to my own. I ve always had a thing for older women, though, so that does not put me off in the least. In fact, it only increases my desire to connect with you.
I was being light-hearted in my use of the phrase â”in the year of our Lord.” I mean, I’m not a religious fanatic or anything of the sort. I am a Lutheran and, yes, I make a habit of attending the local church on a somewhat regular basis (although I’m sure not nearly regular enough for my dear mother, for whom piety is a full-time occupation). However, I consider myself a fairly open-minded individual and I’m certainly not averse to having a relationship with someone of differing religious beliefs. I even briefly dated a Catholic in the reckless years of my youth. Mother did not approve of that relationship, I can assure you. I’ve always been my own man, though, even when I was mostly still a boy.
It was refreshing to come across someone looking for a “casual relationship.” Too many these days are so rigidly formal in nature. They all seem to follow the same blueprint: first come the early, uncomfortable days in coffee shops, restaurants, movie theaters, etc. Then maybe after a few months you start introducing each other to your friends and family. Now you’re calling each other at odd times of day, like a phone call on your lunch break just to say “hi.” Perhaps the man stops in unexpectedly at his female companion’s place of work with flowers for no reason other than to win her continued favor. They do picnics in the park, graduate from movies to the symphony, and have made their first forays into physical contact past the obligatory polite kiss goodnight at the end of a date.
I can’t say that any of my own relationships ever got much further than that, but one can predict the steps that follow: some combination of moving in together, getting married, having two and a half kids. The exact sequence of these events used to be set in stone, but times have certainly changed. Who knows WHAT may come first now. At any rate, these stages in a relationship have so far been out of my reach. I wonder, if I may be so bold, what manner of relationships you have experienced having had ten more years than I in which to do so. Have truly long-term and meaningful relationships been elusive to you as well, or have you perhaps been married but since divorced? Please know that I would not judge you for it were that the case. I daresay it might even be beneficial to the chances of a lasting relationship for one of us to have had that sort of prior experience. What better way to know how to avoid future mistakes that could lead to a similar dissolution of relations?
Did you know the ancient Greeks considered love a physical malady, like a head cold or stomach virus? I wonder: if that were the case, could you build up an immunity to its ill effects? In other words, if you’ve previously contracted the love virus would you exhibit milder symptoms the next time you come into contact with it? Symptoms like jealousy, distrust, suspicion- would they be diminished? That is a pleasant thought. Perhaps there would be hope for an inoculation against such things. Of course, we would have to be careful not to inoculate against the more beneficial symptoms of love- passion, altruism, interpersonal bonding. Can you have the good without the bad? Perhaps that is a tall order.
But I digress! I apologize if the wanderings of my mind have led to too much wandering of my words. I find it hard not to wax philosophical about the nature of love, because in the end what could be more important? Perhaps this is all a bit much to include in an introductory email but I feel it’s important to present as much of one’s self up front as possible. Why hide who you are? It only leads to surprises later on, and oftentimes those surprises can be quite unpleasant.
Take, for instance, the brief dalliance I once had with a fellow student at the small, liberal arts college where I obtained my undergraduate degree. Her name was Lisa and she was a computer science major with a fondness for role-playing games. We bonded over a game of Dungeons & Dragons; it was my first time playing but she had been doing it since high school. She may not have been conventionally pretty in the blond-haired, blue-eyed cheerleader sense, but she had a bookish charm to her that I quite liked. I remember she wore these glasses that made her eyes look gigantic, like some girl in a Japanese cartoon. It was quite adorable. Anyway, I was still rather inexperienced when she and I started dating and based on her timid mannerisms I assumed she was, too. We dated for roughly two months with little physical contact save for the occasional hug or light peck on the lips, so it caught me quite off guard the night she let it be known that she wished to engage in intercourse with me. To use a well-worn analogy: we had not yet been so far as second base and she was proposing to hit one out of the park.
I am not ashamed to say I did not turn her down. Sure we were unmarried but does anyone really still cling to the antiquated notion that one should wait until after marriage to consummate a relationship? Not being Catholic, I have no moral qualms with contraceptive devices; so, I went to the local pharmacy to buy the very best in protection, arranged for my roommate to be gone the next night, and invited Lisa over.
When she arrived at my dorm room the next day, Lisa was wearing an outfit I had not seen her in before. She was dressed in a leather skirt so short it barely covered her pubic area and a shirt tight enough to surprise me with the revelation of how ample her breasts were compared to how I had previously pictured them (for men are visual creatures and I had been visualizing that part of Lisa’s anatomy since we first met). She had snuck in a bottle of peach Schnapps that had been purchased for her by an older friend, and although the school’s zero tolerance policy toward underage drinking concerned me I agreed to partake of the beverage with Lisa so that we could both, as she put it, “loosen up a bit” (that phrase seems a little ominous in retrospect).
My memory starts getting a bit fuzzy after that, no doubt due to the influence of the alcohol, but at some point after listening to some favorite rock band of hers on my stereo system we began to kiss. Things escalated from there as I rounded all the bases, to return to our previous baseball metaphor. I recall fumbling a bit with the removal of clothes, both mine and hers. Then, when all seemed to be going remarkably in my favor, she whispered a rather lurid request in my ear.
Now I think that I’ve shown with my retelling of this episode from my past that I am no prude. A man has to draw the line somewhere, though, and I firmly believed (and still do) that making love to a woman in her posterior is just plan unhygienic. Keep in mind I’m not talking about merely engaging in “doggy style” coitus, to borrow a popular slang term. No, Lisa’s intention was for me to penetrate her rectal orifice.
I apologize if the mere mention of this makes you blush or causes offense. I can assure you I have the same reaction. I feel the need to relate this story to you, however, both as an illustration of the sort of surprises one ought not to find in a relationship and as fair warning that I am not into that sort of devious behavior. It’s not my wish to condemn those that are. “Laissez faire,” I say. But that does not intend to make myself a part of it.
So there you have it, Ms. Lusciouslady69: a little bit about myself. I would love to learn more about you, too. Perhaps when you are confident enough that I am a trustworthy individual we can meet for tea and coffee somewhere and get to know each other outside the confines of these zeroes and ones.
Funguy79 (A.K.A. Richard)
by Scott Erickson
by Louisa Casanave
For anyone who’s ever cried during the end of a Gene Kelly musical, Brigadoon specifically, who’s ever walked into a hair salon, slapped double the going rate on the cashier’s table and asked for something intentional, no questions asked, who’s bubbies had gas at the Basquiat exhibition at a modern art museum, and when the spectators asked their dates “Who IS that woman?” You dead-paned “my grandmother” with squinty eyes for those women who have ever put out a bonfire by peeing on it, those women who have ever had a noticeable orgasm in public because they were looking at an un-requited love for those men who have told a friend or relative of mine in strict confidence about a lump on their balls, who I somehow know about for Nicole Kidman’s nose, for that security officer at the New Orleans Airport four years ago, the one with the mullet, who confiscated my four bottles varied hot sauce in my carry-on because I didn’t have the necessary Ziploc bag, who saw my newly purchased Jolly Pecker (a plastic incarnation of the head of a Caucasian penis that stands on two little red feet and, when wound up, hops on those little red feet) and thought it was a dildo, for anyone who has ever had an uncontrollable fear or fetish for feet, asking their roommates or lovers to please remove their socks or put them on for Christ’s sake, for any one who, as a child, ever smuggled a chocolate bar in their pants, only to forget about it, and who got made fun of for years, as the “poopie-pants-poopie-eater,” for my relatives, my great, great uncle, the antique collector, who’s rooster-lamp became my favorite story when I was young, for my great, great, great grandfather, who DID NOT win his wife a card game, for whoever sold my brother-in-law-to-be that anime, telling him it was a customer favorite, because he gave them to me as a graduation present, and when I watched it, it became clear to me, six minutes and 43 seconds in, that it was, indeed, hentai, for those that I have mentioned, thank you.
Korea News Service announced Kim Jong-Il has plans to reunite North and South Korea in order to add yet another distinctive title to the dictator for life’s large collection. In addition to Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and Dear Leader, he also wishes to be known as the “Godfather of Seoul.”
by Mark McCann
by David Martin
10,000 Year Old Lizard found In Australia Turns out to Be Vacationing Larry King
by Paul Lander
Adelaide, Australia: Australian scientists admitted what had been reported as the discovery of a believed to be extinct 10,000 Year Old Lizard turned out to be a vacationing Larry King. The team of scientists apologized to the famed CNN Talk Show host for dropping a net over him and putting him in a large glass enclosure at the Adelaide Zoological Institute. They also apologized to the many frightened children who passed by to view the hissing Mr. King. Dr. Bruno Lucia tried to explain: “Mates, you have to admit he looks like dandy of a Lizard. And with the camouflage Speedos he was sporting, it was a natural mistake.”
Paul Lander is a partner in the website iJoke.com.
New Study Finds: Date Rape = whatever
by James Fluty
According to recent findings from Michigan State University, date rape is “not really rape” and “chicks should probably stop whining about it.” The study is said to prove that every case of date rape was in fact completely fabricated (either intentionally or not) by the victim. Probably the most interesting aspect about this study was that it was conducted not by the psychology or science department, but rather by Michigan State’s football team.
“We just really wanted to put this whole date rape myth to rest,” says linebacker Chad Upson. “We felt a lot of good people were suffering from the misinformation out there, bra.”
According to the three month study, all women who report being date-raped fall into three categories: those who asked for it, those who made it up, and those who lie about it just to be a bitch.
“The first category is probably the most tricky,” says quarterback Bret Broman. “Many women are asking to be forced into sex without realizing they’re asking for it. They show cleavage or a lot of leg or they leave their drinks unattended, and that’s a huge way of saying yes, without actually saying yes. Scientifically speaking.”
Though the study hasn’t been officially released yet, Chad assures “It’s very extensive. We’ve interviewed everyone from football players to basketball players. We’ve really left no stone unturned, yo.”
When asked if the football team planned on performing similar studies in the future, fullback Reg Hellaton stated, “We’ve all been interested in creating an official guideline, one that could be recognized by all nations, that illustrates which activities are gay. Too often we find ourselves wondering, is that gay?” The teammates who were sitting around him during the interview all shook their heads and murmured in agreement before Reg continued. “For example, if you want to have sex with Kristin Chenoweth, that’s very awesome.”
“Findings reveal that she’s got hella big tits,” added Chad.
“But if you want to fuck her because of her extensive work in musical theatre –” Reg shook his head and shrugged his shoulders before continuing. “You see the complexity of this issue.”
When asked about the study, Dean Oldamnton replied, “The football program here certainly brings in a lot of money for the school.” Then he began to softly weep.
“Blonde Like Me”
by Kelly Anneken, managing editor
I think it’s awfully stereotypical of you, ISA, to force me to write this thing about the theme of the goddamn magazine at gunpoint instead of letting me write about flamingos like I freaking wanted. I don’t care if it was only a hot glue gun. Go suck a fuck.
So. Stereotypes. “Commonly held public beliefs about specific social groups, or types of individuals,” if you want to be a know-it-all Dickipedia about it. I really didn’t think I was qualified to write about this subject, being blonde-haired, blue-eyed and practically perfect in every way, until I hit the Google and learned that there are a lot of negative stereotypes about blondes, including the supposed existence of something called “blonde privilege,” defined by Let’s Talk About Race blogger Angela Dion as “a special identity for women with fair skin and long hair.” Blonde privilege is the compensation we flaxen-haired fillies receive for being generally thought of, or “stereotyped” as vapid, bubble-headed penis repositories
I know what you’re thinking. “Kelly! Surely a self-respecting girl such as yourself is familiar with the works of Ann M. Martin, specifically the Babysitters Club Super Special #5: California Girls, in which Mallory Pike, the group’s token ginger, explores the issue of blonde privilege ad nauseum! Haven’t you ever seen those grammatically incorrect t-shirts that say “Life is better blonde?”
Yes, reader, I am familiar with a variety of schlocky YA series, as well as the apparel selection at www.miztees.com. What you must understand is that all my life, I have incorrectly self-identified as a brunette. I chalk this up to a selective form of colorblindness, my desperate desire to be an oppressed minority and negative cultural attitudes regarding blondes. After all, brown-haired girls on television are always plucky and resourceful, while their tow-headed counterparts are slutty and devoid of intellect. They couldn’t put it on television if it wasn’t true. I obviously fall into the first category, so by the transitive axiom, I am a brunette. QED.
Such was my pride in my brunette identity that in elementary school, I co-founded an exclusive club–“The Brunette Sisters.” You see, my tiny parochial school boasted a population of only five girls in a class of fifteen students. Two of those girls were very, very blonde, while we remaining three had hair the color of dirt. We three non-blondes formed “The Brunette Sisters” as a way of fighting back against corporate male pressure to be blonde and the fact that all the first-grade boys liked the blondes better than us. Being the nascent Mean Girls we were, we felt it was our solemn duty to support one another and exclude the blondes from our awesome slumber parties.
During my formative years, only my father dared insist that I was a blonde, though the term he used was “dishwater blonde,” as if my hair could remove even the toughest grease and cooked-on food. I didn’t believe him anyway, since Dad had long since revealed himself as an unreliable source on the subject of me–he could never remember my date of birth or current age. I casually opted out of the blonde debate during an extended period of collegiate hair-color experimentation, but in recent years, I got tired of massaging lye or rat poison or whatever the hell makes hair dye smell like that into my scalp and my hair reverted to its natural shade of brownish, which I eventually understood and accepted to be part of the blonde spectrum.
So I’m a blonde. Cool, whatevs, that’s totes fine with me. I mean, the Brunette Sisters have disbanded for all practical purposes (though our slumber parties are still kickass), so it’s not like I need to impress anybody with my brunetteness anymore. My problem lies in the fact that I’m not getting- and have never gotten- any of this blonde privilege. Evidently, I screwed myself out of all kinds of special treatment and free shit for years because I was operating under the delusion that I was a brunette. Don’t worry, I have since modified my behavior to be more blonde-compliant and filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of myself and the other Brunette Sisters. If all goes well, we will receive “Rapunzel reparations” from the US government for the rest of our natural lives.
However, there are those who believe that we blondes are unfairly rewarded for the accident of our hair color. Check out what Robin Givhan has to say about blondes in her December 2009 Washington Post article about Michelle Salahi, that dizzy bitch who crashed President Obama’s first state dinner: “She is the archetype for so many of the cultural touchstones of male-female interactions. The damsel in distress is not typically depicted as a dark-haired, middle-aged woman, after all. The Bergdorf blonde — that high-maintenance prima donna — still wins the wealthy prince. Why? Because even with her demanding, narcissistic ways, she’s still the epitome of the trophy wife. He who has her wins.” The aforementioned Angela Dion goes on to assert that “[blondes] get what they want without even asking and men fall over themselves to cater to their every need.”
Oh, puh-lease, ladies. What fantasy world do you live in? Look here, when I got married at the tender age of 23- a time when most of my friends couldn’t even convince a guy to stick around for longer than one drunken night, regardless of hair color, I might add–I had to ask my future husband to buy me a rare and difficult-to-find trilliant-cut diamond engagement ring, so I guess that shoots all to hell Ms. Dion’s claim that we blondes get what we want without even asking. We’re blonde, not freaking psychic.
And, hey, Robin Givhan, if I’m such the fairy-tale damsel in distress, why is that bitch Kate Whatsername the one engaged to Prince William, not me? Why am I not living in a castle with turrets and a moat and a handmaiden named Hildegarde, who I call “Hildy” for short? Why, if I’m so high-maintenance and narcissistic, did I pledge to stop throwing my spike heels at my husband when he brings me the wrong brand of bottled water or forgets to have my fainting couch steam-cleaned every other week? I mean, I’m still doing that, but I think the fact that I’ve admitted the problem is a very positive first step. And if I’m such a prima donna, then why hasn’t an eccentric millionaire built me an opera house yet?
I believe I’ve made my point. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it next time you make me write something for this stupid magazine, ISA, you inferior brown-haired Cuban whore.
I think I’m finally getting the hang of this blonde thing.
Dear Hobo Pancakes,
There are no words to express the meaning of love. However, should you ever find that you must face the wind, fear not. The key to everything is locked away safe, and your mission, should you choose to accept, is to find that key of keys and open that fucking lock for within you will find your ego: the true; what they’ve named it since the prophecy was fulfilled. Soon you’ll hear the eternal tune and your ears will fill with earwax and you will say to yourself, “I’m deaf,” but I will say “Fear not my child, for you have been chosen as the head of the righteous beast.” And at that moment you will weep, because at that moment you will understand, for the heavens shall surely part and the gentle lightning doth grace your temple, will at last brand your soul courageous.
Your sister in Christ,
Dear Karla Lozano,
Sounds pretty badass.
-The Hobo Pancakes Team
Are you guys able to do italics in stuff on your website?
-The Hobo Pancakes Team
How are you? My parents are from online/anywhere too!
Positive you want to sell your
online humor journal accepting submissions?
Take 3 minutes for this newspaper article I was given the other day that I hope will give you hope in your position.
I hope this is of some help.
– Liliana Tseng –
We are well, thank you for inquiring. How ironic that both of us, with parents from online/anywhere, should find each other through the vast medium of the Internet! We didn’t actually click on that link, because we’re pretty sure it will set our computers on fire and steal our identities, but to answer your question, well, if you’re offering to buy our online humor journal accepting submissions, that would be pretty cool, because we haven’t made any money from it yet. Someday soon, though, right? Thanks so much for your hopeful and helpful attitude! It’s downright inspiring!
-The Hobo Pancakes Team
Dear Hobo Pancakes,
Two 24 ounce cans of Bud light then boom: I’m having awesome sex or masturbating, or my pen hits the notepad like nobody’s business. In this case it’s the latter of those three. Sheeeeeit. I tell you what–creativity flourishes when it’s got an alcohol crutch. Just a crutch, though. Not too much, not too little, but just right. I just wrote a letter to a national news network (yup, of the major ones). Here it is:
Hi, Jason Henry McCormick here. I think (name removed) is the next Edna Buchanan. I’m sure you guys get all kinds of emails from all kinds of people, weirdoes and stuff like that, but I’m a normal person. I really am. I study philosophy at a California State University and I write fiction and my name is all over the internet, too. Most of my stuff on the internet sucks, though. Actually, most of my stuff sucks.
Anyway, does (name removed) have a website or a blog or something? I want to be able to brag about how I knew how awesome she was before she saved the world. Well, maybe she won’t save the world. But if the world needs saving then my money will be on her.
I’ve always loved you, (national news network). My day used to work for you but that’s a different email. Stay up.
Jason Henry McCormick.
And now I’m writing a letter to Hobo Pancakes. Sheeeeeit. I love you guys, too. My dad never worked for you and I haven’t always loved you guys, but I think I love you now. Even Oakland, too. Besides, guess what? BEER TIME! After my third tall boy it’ll at least feel like I’m having awesome sex. And if it’s with a girl then does it really matter how old she is? Age is only a number. Holler.
-Jason Henry McCormick
Dear Jason Henry McCormick,
You should love Oakland, because it is awesome. Almost as great as your brain droppings, really. Can you believe you’re going to have a whole weekly column all to yourself when the Hobo Pancakes community space launches later this summer? I know, we must be insane to give you that kind of power. But that’s just how we roll here in O-town. Holler.
-The Hobo Pancakes Team