Do We Need Cynar? 12

August 28, 2012

Whose mutt was that? Was Z dog-sitting? Was it Z’s idea to have a staff retreat in the Rockaways? And what was I doing there, and where was that old bowl of soup I’m married to? Cooking class sounds right, but why bother even guessing? I was following M as she crawled around the blankets like a puppy, laughing at her jokes, like the one about hosting a wine-and-cheese party in her vagina, what was she even talking about? Does M only filter herself at work and elsewhere will try whatever line no matter how half baked?

Hadn’t she called it off with me a week before and already said she was moving in with the internet guru? Steve, or Sean, who came into the restaurant on a Saturday hours after service had begun and said, Want to know who this guy [pointing thumbs to his chest] is consulting for this week? And M stopped folding napkins and played with her hair all girly and said, Who? And SeanSteve said, The motherfucking city government, Bloomberg, baby, isn’t that sweet? M said yes and kissed him on the cheek and said, Does it pay well? And what did he say? Fuck yeah, it does? Or: Ten grand, but loudly, he’s tacky like that, like, Hey all employees and patrons, listen up, have you heard I’m making ten grand consulting for some government website? How do you feel about this guy using your tax dollars to pay for this lady’s [thumbs pointing to M] birth control? And sho wants to know what SEO is and how I swindle companies into paying me to sprinkle SEO dust on their e-commerce sites? Who wants to have internet chat with Sam the internet guru?

But that mutt: Wasn’t it me, Z, M and the mutt in the backseat on the way home, with Robbie driving? We were sandwiched back there tightly and M’s wet sandy leg was against mine, and if we had still been at it I would  have whispered, Your leg’s giving me full-on bone , and she would have said, Why does it always have to be about your boner? Yeah, why is it always about my boner?

Wasn’t Z smoking out the window with a hand on the mutt’s head and talking about the horse farm on Jamaica Bay was we passed it: Who has enough money to take their kid horseback riding, but not enough money to go somewhere better than Queens? Did he see what M pulled? Was it the mutt’s front paw or back paw? She took a paw and stroked my thigh with it, his nails catching my trunks, slowly up to the waistband, and back down to my bare leg, and back up, and the whole time she was shooting me a pout, like, Take me back, you know I’m just a human, don’t you? Did she stop because I looked at her like, I’m going to murder you someday? Or did she think Z would catch her using the mutt as a torture device? Doesn’t she keep her cruelty discreet?

Wasn’t the mutt smiling and tongue-out panting the whole time? Such a happy weapon, thinking something like, Where am I? Am I a dog or a person like these people? Or are they dogs too? And surely nothing like, I wonder if later tonight this guy will scratch his thigh as he beats off in order the replicate the sensation of my paw being dragged against his leg by this evil woman?

If someone were to do that, it wouldn’t count as masturbating to a dog, would it?

What is M doing right this second? Massaging poor Sven’s shoulders as he clackity clacks on his laptop? Oh Sven, how will tri-state area Cinnabon franchises rank higher in local Google results? What sort of keywords could you load their pages with?

What’s he like in private, with only M around? Does he still bellow like he bellows in my restaurant, like: This guy loves the dinner you made me, baby, or: This guy is ready to watch an old Sopranos and hit the hay?

What is Scotty Boy’s dick like?



Do We Need Cynar 11?

May 20, 2011

-The bar was cheesy. The gays picked it. That Robinson Crusoe-themed bar on Greenwich Street. It was me, M and her two gay friends who could not stop talking about Avenue Q, and throughout the night the tall one must have asked me four times if I had seen it and after the fourth time I gave in and said yes so he’d stop asking and he was like, Isn’t it the best, shouldn’t ALL musicals have puppets? The short one said, Now THAT would fill the seats: all puppets, all day. Memphis would have sucked less with puppets. The tall one got us started on Irish coffees. He spooned whipped cream on M’s nose and told me to lick it off. I said, I’m her boss, man, that’s weird. The short one: You’re not at work now so what does it matter? So I licked it off, and then M put a spoonful on my nose but as she went in for the lick-off, the short one beat her to it and he sucked it off and made a sucking noise. He said: I don’t work for you, I can do whatever I want with you. And didn’t he grab my sack? Fucking gays. When they’re drunk everyone is gay. And at that moment our pirate waitress walked by and asked us if we needed anything else and the tall one said, Four more Irish coffee with extra whipped cream. Which is the last thing we needed and by the end of the bight I had had five. M was in bad shape. She sang songs from Rent and moved her hand like it was moving a puppet’s mouth: Latex rubber rubber. Fire latex rubber latex bummer. And that’s our cue to leave, the tall one said. He told me to walk her home and he nudged me, like, nudge nudge, wink wink. Fuck her in the kitchen, I know that’s your thing, you sick puppy. M must have told them about her blowing me in the kitchen at Hey Jealousy. M said, Nobody’s fucking me in the kitchen tonight. Not you, not this puppet, not Rodgery Crusoe. OK, MAYBE Rodgery. Roger that, Rodgery Crusoe. Roger me. There was diddling in the cab. You have to wonder if cabbies like it. If my job were driving drunk people around all night I wouldn’t mind. M’s roommate was on the couch and he didn’t say anything as I fixed toast with butter and two glasses of water and walked M to her room. So that was the second time. I was so wired I didn’t sleep all night. I was awake when M passed out, clinging to me, her face in my chest, air from her nose blowing my chest hair, and I was awake when she woke up, still clinging to me. Her morning breath was coffee, whiskey and cigarettes but she insisted on kissing anyway. Was I holding you like this all night? she said. You were. Well that’s embarrassing. She was like a…what was she like? A koala? Do koalas sleep in trees?

-I think so.

-She was a koala; I was tree branch. All night. It was like that. It was adorable. From 5 till 10 in the morning she was a koala and I was a tree branch. That’s how she clung to me. In profile, her face looks like a koala sometimes.

-Other animals sleep in trees. Owls.

-But other mammals? I’m not going to compare her to an owl. Who wants to fuck an owl?

-Who wants to fuck a koala?

-If it weren’t taboo, who wouldn’t fuck a koala? I know you would. Therapists are just as sick as their patients. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t fuck a koala if you found a cute one that would let you fuck it, and you know you couldn’t get in trouble.

-They can be ferocious if threatened.

-That’s why you’d need to find one that would let you, one that was raised in captivity who likes humans. A wild koala? Forget it. You’ll walk away from that date bruised and bloody. But a zoo koala whom you feed and pet and get to know and really open up to, like, you tell it about your parent’s divorce and shit, yeah, you could fuck it. But you’d have to do all the work. It’s not going to present itself to you. You’d have to move its limbs and get it in position.  You’d take it from behind, of course. I’m not having eye-contact sex with a koala, I’m not kissing the koala. But you know, from behind it might as well be a furry grey human. A little human girl with a weird hair disease. And you’re doing HER a favor by fucking her. It’s a pity fuck. She’s been in hospitals and labs all her life being researched by scientists writing a book about weird medical problems and all this time she’s been waiting to lose her virginity. She’s a normal girl with desires and hormones; she just happens to be covered in grey fur. She would be grateful.

-You have a great imagination.

-I do. Like, whenever the wife comes to bed and gets under the covers facing away from me and we spoon and nuzzle I imagine it’s M whom I’m spooning and nuzzling. Because I’d much rather be spooning and nuzzling her.

-Sloths sleep in trees. So do leopards.

- Leopards! Yes. But do they cling? I doubt it. They lie there. M was clinging hard, like if she let go something bad would happen, like she was afraid of something in her room but as long as she held on to me she’d be OK. Later on she confessed it had been a while since she’d had a sleepover at her apartment. Or at any apartment. Eight months. That’s why she was clinging. She was happy to have anything there. I might as well have been a body pillow, or a tree branch.

If it were a big owl, and I was drunk, how could I say no?

-OK, it were it a big owl, and I was really drunk, then maybe. I’m not fucking a tiny owl. What are you writing? Are you writing that I would fuck an owl?

-Don’t worry about what I write. Let’s move on. What if M said she wanted you to leave your wife?



Do We Need Cynar? 10

February 18, 2011

Why can’t I forget things M. said to me? Why is she a brainworm that eats new memories? Why have these three lines wormed their way into my brain?

-You’re the Keith Richards of good beer?

-If you don’t see anything wrong with Slinky, then I feel sorry for you.

-Do you have a therapist? Because you should definitely have one.

When the girl at Duane Reade says, Do you need a bag? why do I hear M. say, Do you have a therapist?

Should I call her and say that I don’t think I’m the Keith Richards of good beer? Would she answer the phone? Should I email her and say that I’m sorry I called her Slinky because she looked like a slinky when she hung over the edge of the bed, like a slinky hanging over a step?

Should I have a therapist? Do other restaurant owners have therapists? Has agonizing over Cynar and women put other restaurateurs into therapy? Isn’t therapy exactly what I wanted to avoid when I moved here? Before I moved didn’t Uncle John say, New York, eh? Before long you’ll be chain-smoking and whining to a therapist about the Jewish girls you chased who are too smart for you?

Do I even have time for therapy, and should I tell the wife? Does she need to know? How would she take this: I’m not in therapy because of Us; I’m trying to stop thinking about this 22-year-old I had an affair with? But could a therapist extract the M. brainworm? Isn’t a new brainworm the only cure for an old brainworm? Will telling a therapist all about the brainworm only push the brainworm in deeper? Could he pull it out? Or should he be a she?

How many times a day does someone google “therapist New York”?

Should I have picked one with an office so close to M.’s apartment? Did I do it on purpose? Why has torturing myself in little ways become my favorite hobby? More importantly, what do you wear for your first day of therapy? Does a maroon cardigan say I’m ready to be healed?

-So Richard, I think you’ll discover that therapy is a gift you give yourself. You seem apprehensive about it, and that’s normal. Few people WANT to have a therapist. If our lives are going perfectly well we typically don’t seek therapy.

Her perfume: apricot? Or is it an apricot air freshener? Should I ask?

-Have you been in therapy before?


-OK, before we start I’d like to understand what you want to do in this room every week. What are your thoughts about therapy?

-I’ve never thought about it before, and I’m not sure if I’ll come back, actually. So, consider this is a trial run.

-Fair enough. Tell me about yourself. What is your life like right now?

-I don’t like to talk about myself. I’m from Indianapolis and people from Indianapolis don’t talk about themselves the way people from Boston or Long Island do. We were trained not to.

-Do you really believe that? Or is it just something you like to say now that you live here? Now that you live among people who talk about themselves.

-You might be right. You’re very good.

-Can I ask why you think you need a therapist?

-You can.

-Why do you think you need a therapist?

-Someone said I should have one.

-Who told you you needed one?

-Here we go: The woman I was I have having an affair with. She says she can’t see or talk to me anymore. She was my employee, until she quit. She lives around the corner from here, which I think is why I chose you. I can’t stop thinking about her. She’s a brainworm. There is a hum in my brain and it’s humming her name.

-A brainworm?

-She is a worm. In my brain. I don’t want her in there. But I can’t help it.

-How often do you think about her?

-Unless I am fucking my wife or sleeping, I am thinking about her. No joke. I know, it’s ridiculous, I didn’t think someone could obsess about someone so much, it’s pathetic.

-You think about this person non-stop unless you are having sex with your wife or sleeping? I have a hard time believing that.

-Why would I lie? It’s true. It’s a constant hum. Her name is M., so my brain is constantly humming, like this: Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. As I talk to you right now I can feel the hum in my head. It’s torture. It’s no way to live. She’s not a person anymore, she’s more like my brain’s default setting. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.

-For how long have you had this hum?

-Four months maybe. That’s it, not too long. But it’s on every minute, every day, every night, unless I’m asleep or having sex with my wife. When I’m at work, yelling at my shitty nephew to tuck in his shirt, I can feel the hum. When I take a shit at work, my only moment of peace at the restaurant, there is the hum taking a shit with me. When I ride the train and read my book, the hum is reading over my shoulder and I can’t concentrate. I’ve been reading the same book for three months now because I have to re-read pages because the hum is so distracting. The hum is so strong that the book has become about her. It’s a non-fiction book about the history of paper, a micro-history, and the words on the page are about paper and trees and Chinese people making paper back in 2,000 BC, but it’s really about M, there’s a subtext there that only I know about. As I talk to you right now I can feel the hum in my head, I’m not kidding, it’s there. Sometimes it’s dull, like when I’m talking to a girl I haven’t slept with yet whom I’d like to sleep with. It’s still there, taunting me, saying, Are you going to fuck her, Richard? Are you gonna man up and fuck her? But at least it’s duller than usual. So I’ve been hitting on girls like crazy, like it’s my last day on earth. Complete strangers, friends, employees, doesn’t matter. Waiting for a train, on the train, in line at a bodega: What are you listing to? Take off your headphones. That’s a cool iPod case, where’d you get it? Which Apple Store, Meatpacking, Central Park? I really should get up to Central Park more often. It’s like, you live in the city for ten years and you’ve been up there maybe twice. Ha! I know, right? What do you do for a living? I embarrass myself in front of strangers and desperately hit on these girls, all to dull the hum. And when I come home and my wife asks me how my day was I can’t muster more than OK, fine because the hum prevents me from speaking in-depth about anything other than the hum. These are the most words I’ve spoken in a row in at least a month. I went online and read about how to stop thinking of someone. The article said to write the person a letter but don’t send it so I tried that but the hum was so powerful that I couldn’t get any words down. The page is filled with M’s, M. M. M., as if I were a mad man. So that’s why I’m here. The hum’s driven me mad, and I want you to turn it off. I want you to pull out the brainworm. How many sessions will it take? I don’t have insurance. I own a failing restaurant.

-I don’t pull out brainworms. That isn’t my job. But I can talk you through the process of getting over this person. You say your brain is humming with her name. This is a very intense feeling, and it will take time for you to un-burden yourself of it. Let’s try to lock down a regular time each week.

-This is interesting: You talk like M. talks when she’s being condescending. Will that be a problem?

-Is that really true? Or do all women sound the same to you when they’re telling you something you don’t want to hear?

NEXT: Sweet, Sweet DayQuil



Do We Need Cynar? 9

October 29, 2010

[Hey Jealousy, 4 p.m. The house is empty. Richard and Z sit at the bar. M. hasn't come in yet.]

Did M. quit? Does she want me to call her? Does she want to be pursued even if I’m asking about work and not about sex? Is that the game she”s playing? Should I show up at her apartment with flowers and beg her to come to work? Wasn’t I warned not to dip my pen in company ink and why do I love dipping my pen in company ink? Is it because company ink is always the best ink?  Because you know it’s the sort of ink you shouldn’t be dipping your pen into? Especially when it’s your company?

-Hear me out, Richard. It’s not rocket science. It’s a cheese cave.  I’m not trying to clone sheep in the basement here. I’m just saying it would save money in the long run and it would be great for our image. We’d be the restaurant with the cheese cave. People would be all like, Have you heard of Hey Jealousy? Of course, the place with the cheese cave. It’s great. Their cheese is better than other places’ cheese because they age it themselves in their private cave. That’s how people think. if you make it yourself it’s better. And you and I both know our cheese wouldn’t be any better than it is now. But we could charge more for it. Because we built a fucking cave for it. There’s space in the basement. We’d have to keep the spare beer bottles elsewhere, but we can make room. It only needs to be 10 feet by 10 feet, maybe even smaller. I’ll build it. Well, I’ll supervise the Polish dudes who will build it. I’ve started reading a website that explains what you have to do. It’s easy. You’d think a cheese cave would be a hard to build. But it’s easy. You just have to keep the temperature around 50 degrees. Right now you’re keeping the cheese in a fridge set to 52 degrees. And that’s fine. I’m not saying that it’s a travesty that you use a fridge for the cheese. But it’s not helping bring in new customers. No one who lives in the city goes to Brooklyn to eat cheese that’s been sitting in a fridge all month. But you know what they’ll leave the city for? Cheese that was aged in a cheese cave in our basement. Cheese that was aged right here in Brooklyn. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t build a cheese cave. Say yes, say yes.

-This is not happening. We’re broke. A cheese cave is a 2006 idea. In 2006 we shaved black truffle on our burger because it seemed like a thing we should be doing. And we probably lost money on it but we were making so much on booze at the time that it didn’t matter. Now we can barely pay the cheese guy. We wouldn’t be able to pay the cheese cave guy. I like that you’re a dreamer, but it’s not happening.

-Part of the reason no one’s coming here is because he don’t have a thing, a hook. So many places now have an excellent hook, an elevator pitch – the owner’s dad was an oysterman so they have a direct connection to oystermen in Long Island, or they make their own honey in an apiary on the roof and they put honey in EVERYTHING, or the sausages are handmade and they sell raw sausages on Sunday mornings. I heard that that Ohio-themed restaurant Sloopy’s Hang has a small farm upstate that supplies eggs and milk and lamb and so when you eat there you tell whomever you’re eating with that the eggs come from their farm upstate. It’s a thing people like, and we need a thing like that. The cheese cave would be our thing. We could make so many different types of cheese: Blue cheese, Swiss cheese, brie, cheddar. What else is there? Manchego? Manchego can’t be a hard of a cheese to age. It tastes like it’s easy to make. It’s very…you know, not to loud in your mouth.

-You don’t know anything about cheese, do you? And you expect me to let you supervise a cheese cave.

-I could learn. It can’t be that hard. It’s just cheese. How many different types are there? Thirty? I could learn them in a weekend. Put me in the cave, coach, I’m ready to start aging.

-Learning cheese isn’t like playing guitar. You could learn five chords and be good enough to play in a shitty punk band. But you can’t jump into cheese like that, you can’t be the Joey Ramone of cheese-making. People would get sick.

-Think about it. Hey Jealousy: we have a cheese cave. That’s our new tagline. Think about what they’d say: How was your dinner at Hey Jealousy? Oh, it was divine. They have a cheese cave, and the assistant manager, a handsome boy named Zachary, took me on a tour of it because it was birthday. What a lovely boy, what a lovely cheese cave. I’ll be going back to eat more of their house-aged cheddar. Just think about it, man.

-I will. But I actually won’t.

Is it too soon to fire Z? Would the wife’s family be pissed if he was dismissed for being an idiot? Why can’t he behave like a decent person? Is it an age thing? Can 23-year-olds today not interact with the general public? On his first day why did I think it was a good idea to let him run around the house and help out servers? Why didn’t I keep him in the kitchen? Didn’t one customer say, Can I get A1 for this steak? And didn’t Z say, What is this, Ruby Tuesdays? And didn’t he laugh and say, Yeah we have steak sauce but it’s way better than A1; would you want that? Is he going to cost me customers?

Should I even bother teaching him cocktails? Is he so eager to learn the bar because he actually wants to learn the bar or because he knows he’ll be drinking while he learns the bar?

-What’s this stuff? Ky-naire? See-naire?

-It’s pronounced chee-nar. It’s an artichoke digestivo from Italy. Have you heard of the Harrumph? It’s a popular drink with Cynar in it, along with some other stuff.

-What does it taste like?

-Taste it.

[Z pours a finger of Cynar into a shot glass and sips it.]

-It’s disgusting.

-Well you have to mix it stuff to make it taste good. Here. I’ll add a an orange peel and some Campari and Fernet Branca and some syrup and, hell, egg yolk and cream. [Z watches as he mixes all that together and cracks and separates the egg and mixes it more. He hands it to Z.] Now try it.

-Still disgusting.

-OK. Maybe the egg yolk was too much. How about this: gin, Cynar and soda. Simple. Two parts soda and one part gin and one part Cynar, all over ice with an orange peel. This is a Harrumph. Well, close to it.

[He quickly makes it and Z sips it.]

-Better. But why do we even have Cynar? Do we really need it? You’re the one who’s trying to cut back on expenses and yet here you are buying a fancy artichoke syrup no one’s heard of.

-It seemed like a good idea a while ago. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought so much.

-How much did you buy?

-Twenty bottles.

-How much have we gone through?

[They look at the almost-full bottle of the Cynar on the bar.]

-This is the still first one. But it could catch on. You never know. New Yorkers can be very weird about trends. A thing could be hot for a while and then not so hot but then a year later it has a resurgence and then in a month it’ll die again but a year later people will get into it as a goof, as an ironic thing, and if you’re in the right position you could make a lot of scratch off of the people who aren’t really into it but into it enough to spend money on it. You’ll see. There’s still a chance for Cynar.

-Cynar isn’t a trucker hat. I think you fucked up when you bought all that Cynar. But what do I know?

NEXT: She Said She Was A Virgin Too Kinda



Do We Need Cynar? 8

September 21, 2010

Should I be at Bloomingdale’s? Is Bloomingdale’s where you buy a gift for the mistress? Or should I be at Kiki de Mont-whatever, the store that sells kinky underwear? Would M. wear the kinky stuff? Or would she laugh and say Return it and buy me something at Bloomingdale’s? Isn’t that Kiki place super-expensive? How much do you spend on the mistress if you’re broke and your restaurant is in the shitter? A hundred? Two? What about a Metro Card? A Metro Card she could only use to come to my place? That way it’s romantic; but would she see it that way? Doesn’t M. have a twisted sense of what’s romantic and what’s not? Didn’t she spread Us Weeklys on her bed before seducing me once? And when I asked what the deal was, didn’t she say, It’s just a thing I do, please let me have this? And didn’t I let her have it, risking a paper cut? Was it weird to lock eyes with Kim Kardashian while M. did stuff to me? Why have I never liked Kim Kardashian? Am I threatened by women who are built like battleships? And afterward, while M. was throwing them away, didn’t I ask again: So what’s the deal with the Us Weeklys? And she said: I will answer your question with another question: Why do you have to know why the girl you’re fucking does certain things while she’s fucking you? You can ask your wife why she does things but you can’t ask me, OK?

Will this gift make things right between us or will she take it as an insult?

-What’s in the box?

-A gift.

-For me?

-Yes. Open it.

Why doesn’t she look happy? Why is she opening it so slowly?

-Gee, thanks. I can always use more slutty underwear. In fact, I’ll wear at my next job: being a prostitute. I’ll start right now: I need you to pay me to fuck me from now. I’m broke. And I’m gonna be broker once we go under.

Is she drunk right now? Is it even noon yet?

-We’re not going under. I have great news. The wife’s parents came to the rescue. They’re investing. But there’s a condition: we have a new assistant manager, a kid, the wife’s nephew. And he’s a retard. Don’t have sex with him.

-You are such a prick.

-What? I’m just saying, don’t fuck him. Because I know you may want to. And it would complicate things.

-Get out. This is over. And I quit.


-If you don’t why then you haven’t been paying attention to anything I’ve been saying. Out.

Can you return kinky underwear? Don’t I need the ninety dollars? Couldn’t I buy seven packs of cigarettes with ninety dollars? What if the underwear hasn’t been worn? What if all the tags are still on it? What if it was shoved into your arms in disgust by a woman who never wants to see you again? What if that only made you crazier about her?

-I’d like to return this. It hasn’t been worn.

-Sir. How do we know that?

-The tags are still on it.

-Sir. Given the nature of the item, I’m afraid we can’t do a return, tags or no tags.

-I bought it earlier today. Honestly, it’s never been used. For anything. Smell it. It doesn’t smell like Woman.

-I am not smelling this garment. Do you have the receipt?

-Yes, right here.

-May I ask why you’re returning it?

-Isn’t that a bit personal?

-You just asked me to smell for the scent of a woman on a piece of possibly used lingerie. That was a bit personal. You don’t have to tell me why, and I don’t have to issue a return.

-I bought it for a friend and she didn’t want it.

- I see. We can’t issue a return. Perhaps you should give it to your wife.

What is that guy’s problem? Doesn’t he deal with cheaters all the time? Isn’t it his job to help cheaters cheat? Who shops at Kiki for their wife? Does he enjoy making philanderers feel bad? Is that why he works there? Does he see himself as a romance cop working undercover in the trenches? And why do I bother wearing a ring? Wouldn’t it be nice if I was mugged and he took my ring? Wouldn’t he say, Give me your phone and your wallet, and wouldn’t I say, Don’t you want my ring, too? Take the ring; don’t you want my ring?

-So this is a little silly. But I thought you might like it. Open it.

-What is it? We don’t have money for gifts, Richard.

-Open it.

Why is she unwrapping it so ferociously? Has it been that long since I’ve given her a gift? Has she gift-starved all this time? How can it be that I’m both a terrible husband and a terrible adulterer? Shouldn’t a man be good at marriage or good at affairs, not terrible at both?

-I love it. I’m going to put it on right now. Come here.

Was that the most passionate kiss I’ve ever received? Has she been waiting for an excuse to kiss me so well, and with so much biting? Was the kiss worth seven packs of cigarettes? Should I quit smoking? Will it be harder to snag a new young girl if my clothes reek? Aren’t kids now raised to think that smokers are villains? But don’t some young girls want a villain for a boyfriend? Don’t girls move here from Sheboygan or Tampa or Muncie hoping to meet a nasty married man who will take them out to lunch and fuck them and then hide them in the closet when his kids come home from school? Didn’t M. move here from Lansing without any money or any job prospects? Didn’t she knock on the door of the restaurant an hour before we opened and beg me for a job? Didn’t she say she’d worked at Applebee’s back in Lansing? Why did I think that would be enough experience? Did I only hire her because the wife and I were fighting and I needed to get laid? And later that day after she’d gone down on me in the kitchen didn’t she say that there isn’t an Applebee’s in Lansing and the only job she’s ever had was babysitting her brother? Wasn’t she waiting to say that line the whole time she was blowing me? If she tells the City what happened on her first day could it affect my food-safety grade? Could it knock me down from a B to a C? What if they knew that she kept it in her mouth? Would that help? Would I have to testify in court? Would I become the Bill Clinton of the Brooklyn restaurant scene?

Do people even check those grades? If I had known that White Castle had a D would I have still eaten there regularly after leaving M.’s apartment? Will I ever eat at White Castle again?

NEXT: The Fourth Hang At The Other Laundromat



Do We Need Cynar? 7

August 17, 2010

Why is dancing the thing they always want to do? Do they actually enjoy it or do they just want people to look at them and their man? Are they thinking, “Look at us, we like to do it with our clothes in front of other people”? Do they secretly want to do it in public? Would M. do it in a karaoke bar again or was one time enough for a lifetime?

Why hasn’t the wife asked me to go dancing lately? Has she given up on me? Or is she going dancing with other dudes behind my back? How many times have we gone dancing, ever? Three? And wasn’t only one time fun? Was it at that Spanish restaurant? Argentinean? And wasn’t there a dark room in the back where people were tangoing? Or was it waltzing? And didn’t the women have to wear spikes to go on the dance floor, but the wife didn’t have spikes? And she approached an older lady who was sitting down and smoking and said, “I’m sorry, but I really want to dance and I don’t have the right shoes. What size are you?” And didn’t the women look me up and down approvingly and say, “How about this: I dance with him first and then you borrow my shoes?” And didn’t I say that I don’t know how to tango and didn’t the old lady say, “Do know how to make love? If so, you can tango”? And didn’t the wife say, “ He does sometimes”? And didn’t the old lady want to dance for two songs because, she said, “One song is never enough, is it?” Didn’t she grab my arm like she was trying to hurt me? Like my arm had done something terrible to her? Was she doing that because that’s how she always dances or do some older people live harder because they didn’t live very hard when they were younger? Was she sick or something and had “tango with a young man” on her bucket list? And didn’t she kiss my neck after the second song and wasn’t it kind of awesome? When she took off her shoes and gave them to the wife, weren’t they too big, or too small? And when the wife tried to dance wasn’t she pathetic? Knees buckling, face contorting, all the things tangoers shouldn’t do? But didn’t she say, “We’re going to tango, dammit”? But did we? Is it called tangoing if it’s barely tangoing? A legitimate tangoer wouldn’t call it tangoing, would he? We did whatever we were doing for three songs and then didn’t the wife say something sweet like, “I don’t care if we’re bad at this as long as you’re with me” and didn’t I say something sweet like, “I’d dance a shitty tango with you every night if I could”?

Do you take the mistress dancing? Do you take the employee you’re throwing it to dancing? Does she want to dance for the sake of dancing or does she want to dance to make herself feel better about the whole thing? So she can say to her friends: “Yeah my boss is throwing to me but at least he took me dancing”? Does M. have friends? Is her boss who’s also throwing it to her her only friend?

Will I still throw it to her after Hey Jealousy goes under?

Has the wife called her folks yet? Should I even ask?

-What did they say? Wait. Don’t tell me. I’m in a good mood for once.

-OK. I won’t tell you then.

-So they did say something?


-Good news or bad news?

-It’s definitely news.

-Tell me.

-The answer is: Yes. They’ll help out.

-Oh my god are you serious?

-Yes. They said yes, I can’t believe it. Maybe this will give them something to talk about. After being married for fifty years you only talk about friends who’ve died and what kind of fruit they have at the grocery. Oh. But there are conditions.


-Big conditions. You might not like them.

-They want to change the menu?

-You should change the menu anyway, but that’s not it. It’s my nephew, Zachary. They want him to be assistant manager. It’s kind of ridiculous, but they said they wouldn’t help unless you took him under your wing.

-Have I met him?

-Maybe once, at Don’s birthday two years ago. He’s 25. He goes by Z., which everyone in the family hates. He graduated a while ago and now he’s just floating and Don and Rachel don’t really care and give him money but mom and dad want him to grow up.

-So they’re buying him a job? Because that’s growing up – being told you’re an assistant manager at a dying restaurant? Does he even want to do it?

-Yeah he does. He already has a job, kinda. He makes shirts. But it’s just costing Don money.

-Oh, right right right. Your nephew who makes the shitty shirts. I think he got my email address at Don’s thing and sent me his site. I bought one that said Sorry Is A Word For The Unmindful.

- Sorry is a word for the unmindful?

-Dumb, right? It’s like, you shouldn’t say you’re sorry about stuff because you should be mindful of the fact and self-aware that your words… I don’t even know, it doesn’t matter. But man, that kid is the worst.

-He means well. He had a weird childhood. Effing Don wrote that My Dad Rocks book and it fucked him up. Have you read that?

-Parts, while shitting.

-It’s pretty bad, but he made a fortune off it. Here, I’m gonna go find it. If he’s gonna be your employee maybe you should read the book.

-That makes no sense whatsoever.

-I was kidding.

-I never know with you, and we’ve been married how long?

[The wife is in the bathroom now and can’t hear him. She comes back into the living room carrying a copy of My Dad Rocks.]

-Here you go. Homework.

-I can’t read this, it’s disgusting. It’s got that urine-y film on it from being in the shitter all these years.

-No it doesn’t.

-Yes, feel it. When a book stays in the bathroom for a while it’s gets a film on it. All the piss and shit particles that are released in the air settle on the paper. Here, rub its cover and then smell your hand.

-Fine. [and she does just that.] I don’t smell anything.

-Taste your hand then.


-Just do it.

-Even if the book hadn’t been in the bathroom I wouldn’t touch it and then taste my hand. It’s gross.

-You’re gross.

-You’re gross.

-No you are.

-I wanna make you gross right now.

[And they get gross in the living room.]

NEXT: The Fox In The Garage Part 9: The Ocelot Dress



Do We Need Cynar? 6

July 29, 2010

Are these the softest sheets I’ve ever had sex on? What kind of sheets are these?

- What kind of sheets are these?


-Pee-ma? How do you spell that?

-P. I. M. A. Pima.

-Are they expensive?

-They were a gift.

-From whom?

-An old boyfriend. My old sheets gave him a rash, he said, so he bought me new ones. I don’t think they actually gave him a rash. He probably just wanted an excuse to buy me something nice.

-That’s nice.

-You’ve never bought me anything.

-I buy you your salary.

-A salary is not a gift. You could buy me something once and a while. Something little.

-Like what?

- Something little.

-Like a key chain?

-Fine. A key chain.

-FINE. Fine is not fine. You understand. I’m in a tough spot here. I can’t buy you anything big because someone could notice and a big gift could send the wrong signal: Here is a fancy bracelet, which means I want to leave the wife for you. Or: Here is a necklace, but if someone sees it you have to say it’s from your mother or an ex and you only recently started wearing it for some reason. See what I mean?


-But if I get you a small gift like a key chain, it’d be a joke and you’ll think that I think that our Thing is a joke. And I don’t think that. Honestly, I don’t. Maybe you do.

-I don’t think we’re a joke.

-Good. What about a nice meal? I could cook for you. Pork tenderloin maybe. And a good wine.

-That’s not a gift.

-It’s funny you say that because the other day the wife was saying how much she’d love for me to put together a picnic for her like I used to. Years ago when I gave a shit about shit I’d get some brie and some good bread and a bottle of rosé and maybe some porchetta and put it all in a basket and we’d go to a park and eat and sit for hours and listen to an iPod with one bud in my ear and one in hers. It was all very cute.

-Sounds like it.

-And we’d fool around in the grass. It was like one of those paintings with a satyr and a what’s-it-called? and they’re both drunk and getting frisky in a meadow. Once a month or so we’d do this and sometimes another couple we barely knew would see us, maybe a friend of hers from school, and the dude and I would bullshit about beer or whatever and the girls would talk real estate. I swear I’ve had the same conversation about Dogfish Head IPA and what the difference is between the 60- and 90- and 120-minute and which ones we like more because all these dudes read a few articles on Wikipedia and they start to fashion themselves beer experts so when they get one-on-one with a guy who works in the food industry they get all foodie and try to impress him: I like the hoppier one, which is that, the 120-minute? But that’s just me. They sample a few good beers and now they have a license to bullshit about good beer but really, they don’t know anything, like, absolutely nothing, and before they sample an absurdly wide variety of shit they should keep their mouths shut because they’ll make asses of themselves in front of their girlfriends and the sad part is, their girlfriends don’t even realize what asses they are making of themselves. They think: Oh, that’s my man, talking about beer like he always does. He’s such a wealth of knowledge. Such a well-rounded man of the world. NO, lady, your man doesn’t know anything. He has been on the internet before and he’s had Dogfish Head a few times. That’s it. And in a more honest society I would have said: Listen man, I appreciate your interest in what I do but talking to you about IPAs is like… it’s like… Oh I don’t know, Keith Richards talking about the blues to a deaf baby, you know.

-You’re the Keith Richards of good beer?

-No. But these dudes, they’ve had whatever beer is on tap at those five good bars they go to and all of a sudden they fashion themselves beer experts. And I have to nod and agree and pretend like they have valuable opinions, and I have to educate these idiots instead of saying: This is dumb. This is a waste of time. My wife and I going home to have sex now and it will be much more interesting than talking to you about beer. Why can’t a dude just say that? It’s what we’re thinking anyway. It’s probably what he’s thinking, too. He’s thinking: Alright, we both don’t want to talk to each other but this guy runs a restaurant so he’ll want to talk about beer and I’ll tell him that my bro prefers the 90-minute but I’m hard enough to handle the 120-minute. It’s all a weird sort of round-about foreplay. I’m only talking to this guy for my wife and he’s talking to me for his wife. I’m doing it so she can talk to her kinda-friend about who’s moved to which neighborhood and they can keep their see-ya-once-a-year friendship in tact even though they’re both thinking: There is a reason I see this person once a year: we don’t like talking to each other, but I’m doing it so I’ll come off as social so the next time the couple sees another couple at a thing they ask about us the couple we saw in the park will say: Oh, they’re doing very well. And the dude who’s hosting will tell that other dude the thing that Richard prefers the 90-minute Dogfish Head but man oh man, I just can’t get enough of that 120-minute. Thinking of that hoppy 120-minute IPA makes me so fucking hard and I swear to God I’ll ream anyone who gets between me and my six-pack of Dogfish Head. HEY HONEY. Bring out the 120-minute IPA. Richard just got here and I’m trying to convert him. I’m gonna make him a 120-minute man. Where is it? It’s in the garage? Well I can’t get it. I’m busy talking to the what’s your last name again? I’m one of those people who are SO BAD with names oh Jesus H. we have so much fun at parties. Honey, maybe we should have kids after all so they can run out to the garage and grab the beer while we’re entertaining guests. You want to? Grrreat. Let’s get to the fucking then. Party’s over. Get these assholes out of our house. Or you know what? Let them stay. What 120-minute man doesn’t like to watch his bro fuck? Get the hummus off the table so we can fuck on it.

- Do you have a therapist? Because you should definitely have one.

-What? Am I wrong?

-You’re not wrong, just unoriginal. Do you think you’re the first person to have these types of opinions and feelings?

-Maybe I’m not.

-You’re definitely not. This is all standard-issue shit and frankly, it’s pretty boring and depressing. So. What time is it?

-I should go.

-OK. I’ll be in around three today. Robbie told me we’re probably going under and I’ve already started asking around. Oh, and fuck you for not telling me.

-I was going to.

-Right. So. That was probably the last time.

-What do you mean, the last time?

-The last time we’re going to have sex. I don’t think I can sleep with someone who has such predictable outbursts like that. It’s bad for me for a number of reasons.

-That was a fluke. I’m sorry. What if I bought you earrings?

-Take me dancing and I’ll reconsider.

NEXT: The Story Of Gary And Me So Far



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Published Work

Page 1: The Fox in the Garage

How I Started a Family

Do We Need Cynar?

Gary 1 and Gary 2

I Work at a Fashionable Hotel Called the Hudson

C.O.D.Y. the Robot Who Hangs Out

Ann and Her Birdhouses

Luke and His Bobber

The Fox in the Garage in 3-D

105 Stories About Ohio


The Slugman of Herbert Street

Harold and the Purple Women


Dos Factotum

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