Remove from My Haught / the Shiv

January 31, 2013

[Roberta’s has been packed most nights since the two-star Times review, and now when you wait in line you can often hear people talking about the review and what a shame it is that it's so crowded.]

Person in Front of Us: Yeah, OK fine, it’s great that it’s getting so much business, hooray money, but what about the people who like ate there for a year before anyone knew about it and made it what it is? Thanks for treating us like shit, Roberta’s. There the… you know, a band… what band would work? The U2 of restaurants. Or like the Goo Goo Dolls of restaurants. I used to come here every weekend for brunch, but am I going to wait an hour to eat food I could make myself if I weren’t so effing lazy? Fuck no. No thank you. I’ll stay at home and starve. And then get food delivered when I’m done starving.

[It’s Ann, Z, and me, and we’re four people from the door. Z says, It’s retarded how cold it is. I feel a tap on my shoulder. I look back to see the Professor and Bill Murray. The Professor says “Hi kids!” and Bill Murray says:]

Bill Murray: Cold hands, hot pizza! Pizza pie, hot food! I’ma eat all the pies tonight.

Me: Nice to see you, too, Bill.

Bill Murray: Feel my hands. They’re frozen. Don’t squeeze those paws too hard, they’ll shatter. Ice cube paws! Here’s what’s going to happen: I’m going to get inside ASAP. I’m going to sit down. I’m going order two hot boozey drinks. One Irish coffee for me; one hot toddy for this hot slut Professor. If they don’t have booze, I’ll get a coffee and fill it with hooch from my flask. [he shows us his flask] No one talk to me when I drink! I need to warm up in silence before I talk to anyone. When the girl comes to take our order, I’ll say, Whatever the chef recommends. I want the best pie and the best meat. I’m the best boy tonight. Two pizza pies, two ducks, one beefy whatever and a sausage calzone. And two beers. And two more beers for my hot slut girlfriend. That’s my order. Aw shit, it’ll be good. Shit! That’s right! After I eat I will fill the toilet with so much hot shit that Roberta’s will stop being famous for its food and start being famous for the biblical pile of shit I left there. They’ll try to flush it down, but they won’t be able to. It’ll be too much. Too much for the fire department! It will be like a nursery rhyme: They tried and tried / to flush the shit down / but Bill Murray’s brown / was too much for Brooklyntown. / They called in the cops / they called in the priest / but no man could deal / with this poopy beast. / Children came to gawk / all work in Brooklyn stopped. / The Empire State’s hue / was changed to one that looked like poo. So, brown, I suppose / to commemorate all the food / that he pooed / the tale of Bill’s shit / will soon be a hit. Who’s writing this down? Professor, pen and paper immediately!

The Professor: He’s such a talent. This is why I’m with him. For the poo poems. The man jumps into verse any time he goes to the toilet. Let another one rip, Bill.

Bill Murray: Tonight I ate duck / and then had a fuck. / After I fucked her / I was all tuckered / Out. And then to the can I ran / for the urge to purge / was a sudden one / it’s never any fun / to shit on the run / but after lots of duck / and a multi-posish fuck / I find myself under the gun. / All that fucking / will move that duckling / down to your guts / and out it will put putt / from your butt.

The Professor: He’s amazing. Now my ex… that man could not a make rhyme. That’s why it didn’t work out. I need a rhymer.

Bill Murray: She needs a rhymer / I need a rimmer / I need a woman / who’s a little bit slimmer / she needs a grinner / I need a sinner / who will rim me after dinner / she needs a bear / I need a cold stare / and a lick right there / in my derriere! Bingo, bango, print it! Next poem!

The Professor: He’s a genius!

Bill Murray: Genius Bill / never got his fill / of pills / and girls from the Hills / so he drove to Mulholland in his DeVille / and wrangled an old starlet who was planting flowers / outside her bungalow and / drove her to the Roosevelt Hotel and got a room, 503 it was, we ordered room service, whiskey and an omelet / she took lots of painkillers / she was at least 60 and had been in a movie with Bob Hope, and then we humped while The Price Is Right played on the TV. / She couldn’t do any cool posishes because of her bad back. / But believe me, she was a wild little bitch. / She bites, she fights, and keeps it tight from never having kids, / and her mouth was so big she could have fit three of my cocks in there, plus six balls / she gave me her number and said call me, I need you in my life right now. / I’m very lonely. / Old childless actresses are the loneliest West Coast birds.

The Professor: And did you call her?

Bill Murray: Six times.

The Professor: That’s a surprise. I’m proud of you.

Bill Murray: Each time I said something like: Two tickets to bonetown / old ladies on the bus! / old ladies gussy up your sad old rumps! / Bill’s here with his hump bus / what’s with all the fuss? / Why spend all night trying to suss / this out. It’s not rocket surgery / Get on the bus, you lout. / And don’t pout, it makes you look older. “Hump Bus”! That’s a poem.

The Professor: Your best ever!

Bill Murray: Wrong. My best ever is about you. The one that compares you to that ratty old director’s chair I used on the set of Caddyshack. Remember? I emailed it to you two years ago from Hawaii. Frayed, she stayed / I paid, I lied / she sighed / Of all the chairs on this set / you’re the one I get? / I deserve to stand / like a gaffer / I received a beautiful seat / I will cherish my seat foriv / As long as I live / please give / me another shot / remove from my haught / the shiv.

The Professor: Oh William!

Bill Murray: Let’s eat, you hot slut.

[A girl from Roberta’s comes out and pulls Bill Murray and the Professor inside.]

Ann: They can go in? I work here!

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Ethics Lesson

January 18, 2013

Me: Here’s an ethics lesson for you: Yesterday before a doctor’s appointment I bought a platter of hot deli food at a grocery on 14th Street: meatballs, a spicy chicken wing, lasagna, and carrots. My appointment wasn’t for another half hour, see, and eating in the doctor’s waiting room is impolite because everyone else has to smell it. So I needed a place to eat this food. Waiting until later and re-heating the food was not an option I was willing to entertain. If I were bring this food home, you and your scavenger mother would be all over it. And I wanted to eat it, it was my food. So I walked down 5th Ave. and entered a different grocery. I went up to the dining area and sat down at a table. What I am saying here son is that I bought deli food at a grocery without tables and chairs and then walked to another grocery with a dining area to eat my food. This second grocery was more like a bodega that happens to have a small dining area than an actual grocery store. I have a feeling not many people choose to eat dinner there. The dining area was empty and quiet; there wasn’t even Muzak playing. I ate while emailing old girlfriends, don’t tell Mom.

As I was finishing dinner, an large bearded man sat down at a nearby table and started eating. He could have passed as a homeless person. I may be eating hot deli food at this bodega, but at least I’m not him, I thought. Could be worse, I could be this guy. But here’s the thing: I could imagine him responding, “At least I’m eating food I bought here. I didn’t transport hot deli food across the street and eat it at a separate bodega, a bodega I didn’t even buy food at.” His food even looked more appetizing than mine. For a few minutes last night, he was doing better than me.

I have purchased snacks and sandwiches at the second bodega before, OK. If my case were to go before some sort of non-criminal ethics jury, I would hope they would not find me guilty of being unethical. My only crime was being a guy with hot food and nowhere to eat it. What do you think? Was I being unethical?

Little Ann: I don’t care about this.

Me: I’m trying to teach you how the world works. You have to care.

Little Ann: I can’t change how I feel about your shitty story. If you think I can, then you need a lesson about how the world works, Pep.

Me: You might be right, you little orphan asshole. Come here.

[They hug.]

Me: You teach me something everyday.

Little Ann: I wish that man who ate dinner where he bought the food was my dad and I wish you were a homeless guy who always eats dinner at bodegas.

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I Know What’s What on Fourteenth Near Union Square

June 2, 2011

[Another late night at the lima bean cannery. It’s me, Bill Murray and the Professor, and we’re in line for bathroom but the line’s twenty deep so Bill Murray and I leave the Professor to fend for herself and walk outside and piss against a wall. Bill Murray is struggling.]

Bill Murray: Man, I got that salty piss tonight. Thick, orange urine. Burns. It’s so salty it’s scraping my tubes. You ever get that?

Me: Never. And I don’t think that’s salt in your urine. You might have a UTI or an STD or something.

Bill Murray: Nope, it’s a salty pee. I get it all the time. I eat too many pretzels and don’t drink enough water and all this salt builds up in my system and comes out through my dick when I piss. But the piss is so thick with salt that it scrapes against my ‘rethra and burns like a motherfucker, and even when I’m not pissing I can feel a tingle in my tiphole sometimes. It’s all that salty piss. All Murray men get it.

Me: Dude. That’s not true. If you feel a burn when you piss, it’s not a salty build-up. You have a UTI or an STD. Have you asked a doctor?

Bill Murray: Yeah, like I’m gonna walk into a doctor’s office and ask him about the pee burn, a condition I’ve had for ten years, when I know for a fact it’s just salt in my urine. It’d be like going up to my fruit guy and showing him an apple and saying, Hey fruit guy, is this an apple? It is? OK cool, here’s fifty bucks. Like I’m gonna pay a doctor fifty bucks to tell that there’s salt in my piss when I know for a fact there’s salt in my piss. Why would I do that?

Me: Dude. He wouldn’t tell you there’s salt in your piss. He would tell you the Professor gave you the clap or gonorrhea.

Bill Murray: He would tell me that dumb young men who know nothing about STDs or salty piss should not tell wise old men when they have salty piss and when they have an STD. I know when I have an STD. My hands get puffy. When I have salty pee, my pees burn. My dick burns. I can feel the salt scraping against my tube. You don’t get to tell me what my body is telling me. Only I know what my body is telling me. [he puts dick away.] Woops, I thought I was done, but I’m not. [pulls dicks out again and pees again.]

Me: You have a case of the stop-and-starts, too? That is not salty pee.

[Bill Murray pees on my shoe.]

Me: You’re a rude man. A rude man with a sickly penis.

Bill Murray: Enough dick talk. Ladies always say that men are too obsessed with their dicks and we’re playing right into their hand. So let me tell you something: Been hot out lately, hotter than it would be if I were in charge, and I got this problem: I only got thick socks. My sock drawer, it’s all thick socks. No thin ones. Last winter I must have bought fifteen pairs of wool socks, but God knows what happened to my summer socks. I didn’t throw them away. Maybe they’re packed away somewhere. Or maybe the Professor has them. She toys with me, you know. Every once and awhile she’ll take my shit and hide it at her apartment. She does it for attention, and because she wants to be caught and then punished. In bed. Like, I’ll beat the shit out her with a spatula if I find those summer socks in her closet, and she knows that. But if I ask her, Hey you little cunt, have you seen my summer socks? Did you take my summer socks, you cunt? You know what she’ll say? She’ll say, Bill, you’re an asshole, I’ve never taken anything from you. I have better things to do than steal your summer socks. And I know that the next morning I’ll be rummaging around in her bra drawer, that’s one thing I do that makes me happy, I’ll find five pairs of my summer socks. I haven’t asked her about them yet because I don’t want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that she’s bothered me. That’s tonight’s lesson: if a lady is doing something that’s bothering you, don’t even let her know that it’s bothering you and for the love of God, do not mention it to anyone because it will get back to the lady and the lady will know that even though you never told her, she was bothering you and in her own little way, and she’s won.

Me: I might tell the professor about your summer socks.

Bill Murray: Don’t even joke about that. If you tell the professor about my summer socks I will get revenge. I will write, direct and produce a film about how much of a coward faggot you are and I’ll use your real name and every scene will be you prancing around a public place in your underwear asking people for hugs, and I’m calling it I’m a Coward, Give Me Hugs and that Bieber kid’s gonna play you and I’ll play your dad, and the climax is your dad beating you with a hockey stick and it’s broadcast on national television, but as I was saying, my problem was: no summer socks, only thick ones. So yesterday I’m walking back from the Professor’s, she lives on Hudson, and I’m on Fourteenth near Union Square, and I pass that Wendy’s and I’m like, Well, shit, I haven’t had Wendy’s for months. C’mon, Bill, live a little, get some Wendy’s. So I get in line and there’s this pissed off dude in front of me. He’s wearing a Wendy’s hat but civilian clothes. He must work there, but he was off the clock yesterday, and he’s yelling at the dude behind the counter who’s making his iced tea. The dude wasn’t stirring it right, and the dude in the hat was like, Yo brother – he was black, so that’s how he talked – brother, if I was a customer, you would stir that shit better. And the dude making the tea was like, I did stir it, motherfucker. And the dude in the hat said, Not enough. You didn’t stir it enough. A lady employee walks over and whispers something to dude in the hat, probably like, You are making a scene, please settle down. But the dude in the hat didn’t settle down. He said, This nigga isn’t showing me respect. Tell this nigga to show respect. Now, I’m just in line to get a five piece nugget and a Frosty and I hear a dude say motherfucker and nigga, and it was a Wendy’s employee no less. Can you believe it? [he’s singing now:] America, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. For purple mountains –

Me: So what about the socks?

Bill Murray: Right, so I leave Wendy’s. I got the nuggets in one hand and the Frosty in the other. I’m poppin’ nugs, I’m sipping the Frosty. It’s hot out, girls’ legs are out, they’re looking at me, then they look at their friends, and they’re like, O M G, is that Bill Murray eating Wendy’s on Fourteenth Street? As if I’m not allowed to eat Wendy’s wherever the fuck I feel like it. So I’m doing OK, I’m strolling, and I come upon a Nordstrom’s.

Me: There isn’t a Nordstrom’s on Fourteenth Street.

Bill Murray: Yes, there is.

Me: Dude. No there isn’t. You are so wrong about everything tonight.

Bill Murray: Why would I lie to you about there being a Nordstrom’s on Fourteenth Street?

Me: I don’t know, because you’re a drunk asshole.

Bill Murray: I know what’s what on Fourteenth near Union Square. You got the Wendy’s, you got the Guitar Center, you got the Sleepy’s, you got the Salvation Army, you got the ladies-only gym, you got the Levi’s,  you got the Taco Bell, you got the Subway, you got the Whole Foods, and now the shoe stores: you got the Foot Locker, you got the Shoe Mania, you got the other Shoe Mania, you got the DSW, you got the Journey’s, you got a few small shitty ones, and you got the Aerosoles. I might be missing one but I know what’s what on Fourteenth. You got the Best Buy, you got the Amish Market, you got the side entrance to Westside Market, you got the tiny cupcake place, and you got the Quizno’s. And Jack Rabbit. And you got the Nordstrom’s.

Me: But you’re wrong. It’s not a Nordstrom’s. It’s a Nordstrom’s Rack.

Bill Murray: OH FUCK YOU.

Me: It’s different. Nordstrom’s Rack is shitty Nordstrom’s. It’s different.

Bill Murray: ANYWAY. I’m strutting along Fourteenth. I’ve got my nugs and I’ve got my Frosty, and I see the Nordstrom’s RACK, and I get to thinking: I need summer socks. Nordstrom’s Rack sells socks, presumably summer socks. So I pop in there and walk around and, boom, I pick up three pairs of summer socks. Now I’m set for the summer in the socks department.

Me: What if the Professor take them?

Bill Murray: She won’t, because I’m not gonna tell her about them. And you can’t either.

Me: I might.

Bill Murray: Promise me you won’t.

Me: I can’t make any promises. I’m friends with her too. We have our own relationship apart from you.

Bill Murray: Dude. Promise me you won’t tell her. After all we’ve been through tonight, it’s the least you can do. [takes out dick again and pees.] Man that burns. I can feel that salt scraping my tube. It’s scraping so much I can hear it, seriously. Listen.

Me: No way.

Bill Murray: Shut up and listen. You hear that? It sounds like this: Screep. Screep. If we were out in the woods or the desert, you’d be able to hear it scraping my tube.

Me: If you buy my flight, I’ll fly to the desert tonight and listen to your salty piss scrape your tube.

Bill Murray: The human body is mysterious machine.

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Daddy Friend Pretty

March 2, 2011

[Morning sun shoots through the blinds and it isn’t kind to the Little Girl’s face. I see now that her nose is bony, perhaps it’s been broken, and there’s an open zit above her lip. Sunlight hits the red ooze floating on the zit and I swear it twinkles. We slept on the floor, next to the bed where Ann and Little Ann slept. The Little Girl was a squirmer and a squealer: I had to periodically cover her mouth with my hand and whisper, Shut up, stop squirming, but she’d keep squirming anyway. She wore those stolen Keds the whole time and twice I felt the soles rub against my legs. I check my legs: oh perfect: grime from the lima bean cannery floor is smeared on my shin. I try to avoid showering on Sundays but now I’ll have to. It was not the best lay, and it wasn’t cheating because Ann was in the room. That was the agreement. She never said she had to be awake.]

[Little Ann is awake now and he sees us on the floor. He counts the people in the room:]

Little Ann: One. Two. Three. Four. Four people!

Me: Very good. There are four people in the room. Say hi to my friend.

Little Ann: Hi.

Little Girl: Hi there. [She turns to me and says:] Is that your son?

Me: Yeah, kind of. He’s feral.

Little Ann: Four. Four people. Euchre! Time for Euchre.

Little Girl: What’s Euchre?

Me: The best card game in the world. You need four people to play.

Little Girl: I love cards, let’s play.

Me: Our fourth is still asleep.

[With her mouth open wide Ann looks dumb. And with fingers stretched out and those tiny wrists against her chest her hands look like a T Rex's. She's a dumb sleeping T Rex. A pathetic tit droops on a pillow. She looks old. Old and dumb. She’s still pretty Ann, my pretty performance art piece, but she’s also a dumb T Rex. Interesting how the prettiest thing in the world and the one thing in the world you want to smother to death with a pillow can be the same thing.]

Little Girl: Who is that? Are you married? Did I just fuck a married guy on the floor next to his wife and kid?

Me: Shush, keep it down. I’m not married. That’s Ann. Don’t worry about her. Hey, so I’m thinking you should go.

Little Girl: [whispering] I thought we were playing Euchre.

Me: Another time.

Little Girl: But you don’t have my number.

Me: I’ll get it from Z, who will get it from Georgia.

Little Girl: Ugh. Fine. Just tell me this much: you brought me home and slept with me on the floor while your girlfriend and feral kid slept in the bed right next to us?

Me: Something like that happened, yes.

Little Girl: Sweet Jesus, that’s fucked up. I’ve had some weird hook ups, but this.

Me: What? That’s no good for you?

Little Girl: You’re disgusting.

Me: Me? I’m disgusting? You’re the one who wore those gross shoes all night. They rubbed filth all over my legs. Look. Look at these legs. [I show her my filthy legs] This grime is from you. You’re nasty.

Little Girl: Well at least I’m not a cheater. Cheaters should have to spend a night in jail. It should be a law.

Me: I didn’t cheat. I can fuck whomever I want as long as Ann’s in the room. That’s our agreement. It’s like an open relationship, but we have to sleep around in front of each other.

Little Girl: I don’t believe you.

Me: It’s true.

Little Girl: So we could have sex right now. And if she saw us, she wouldn’t care?

Me: Why do you ask? Do you… want to… give it a go? [my hand on her neck now]

[Little Ann stands up on the bed and says:]

Little Ann: Four people, in the barn, what’s trump? [he’s playing with his dick too]

Little Girl: YEAH I’M GOING TO FUCK YOU IN FRONT OF THIS KID.

Me: You did last night, sliz.

[She gathers her clothes from the floor and puts on the Care Bears sweatshirt.]

Little Girl: You’re a sick puppy. And I’m using your toothbrush. [She goes in the bathroom.] Which one is yours?

Me: The blue one. [The blue one is Ann’s.]

[After brushing she leaves without a hug. The door slams shut. Ann wakes up and sits up in bed and puts an arm around Little Ann.]

Ann: Good morning, little man.

Little Ann: Four people, Euchre, in the barn.

Ann: You want to play cards? OK. We need a fourth.

Little Ann: There ARE four people.

Ann: No, there are three people. You, me and daddy. One, two, three. Daddy could call Z and ask if he wants to play. But he’s probably busy humping whatever sad little girl he brought home last night. Honey, do you think Z will ever grow up and actually get a girlfriend, or will he be one of those sad dudes in their mid-thirties hanging around NYU bars telling college girls about the time they studied abroad and ate mushrooms. I’ve heard Z’s mushrooms-in-Berlin story at least five times.

Me: Let Z be Z.

Little Ann: No. Four people. Daddy friend.

Ann: Daddy friend?

Me: Daddy friend?

Little Ann: Daddy friend. Dirty shoes.

Ann: Daddy friend? You had a friend over, daddy? Hey. Hey. Why is a pillow on the floor? Did you sleep on the floor last night?

Me: No.

Little Ann: Daddy friend pretty.

Ann: Daddy friend pretty? Daddy had a pretty friend over last night?

Me: I may have slept on the floor last night.

Little Ann: Daddy friend pretty.

Me: But she was not pretty. And she’s not really a friend. And I didn’t come, and neither did she, if that means anything.

Ann: Oh man, this is gonna make for a great birdhouse. Tell me everything.

Me: OK, so we’re dancing at the lima bean cannery that has parties on the weekends. It’s me, Z, Georgia and a little girl who plays bass with Georgia when she has the time. [And I tell her the story.]

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Sweet, Sweet DayQuil

February 24, 2011

[We’re dancing at the lima bean cannery that that has parties on the weekends. It’s me, Z, Georgia and a little girl who plays bass with Georgia when she has the time. But I hardly ever have time, she says, because I’m so busy with the Crafting Society. She’s wearing a tiny Care Bears sweater and yellow Keds she said she stole from a girl who was real low on an old roommate’s fuck list. So I didn’t feel too bad about stealing them, she says, and I was totally in love with the roommate at the time so I was like, fuck it, fuck this gay earth, I’m stealing this bitch’s Keds. Z and Georgia dance over to a couch and sit down and soon enough they’re all hands-on-thighs and Z is gumming her ear. The little girl says, They are gross like that all the time. Z is gross, and don’t tell him I told you but she only hangs with him because he gives her free oysters from Hey Jealousy. Didn't you used to go out with her? I say, Yeah. Didn't she write that You're Fun song about how you're fun? I say Who knows.]

[No one says anything for a while and it’s weird, and the little girl checks her phone and looks around the cannery for someone else to dance with. A tall dude in a raincoat walks up to her and asks if she was in his painting class at Hunter and she says definitely not. Didn't you go to Hunter? he says. She says, I definitely didn't. He says, Where did you go to college? Do you live around here? I go into “ask lots of stupid questions mode” to keep her attention.]

Me: What’s the Crafting Society?

Little Girl: Oh it’s real cool, all these folks who need space to work get together and make crafts. And we talk about crafts and try to find people to buy our crafts. It’s a great support system for crafters.

Me: That IS cool. What kind of crafts do you make?

Little Girl: It’s funny you ask because I’m actually between projects right now. I used to be into those gummy monster finger puppets. You know, those goblin-monsters that were big in the mid nineties. You’d see them while checking out at the grocery store and beg your mom to buy you one. We’d trade them at recess at school. Well, for my project I put them on big wooden fingers I made out of popsicle sticks and cover the whole thing in shellac. Then I photographed them and uploaded the photos to my ‘puter and silkscreen the images on shirts. And I’d sell the shirts on the street or at the flea or whatever. My friend who used to work for motherfucking GOOGLE was gonna make me a site to sell the shirts but then he went crazy and moved back home and married his high school girlfriend. He’s got a kid now and a Tumblr about mowing his lawn and pulling weeds. It’s like he needs the entire world to know that he takes care of his yard. What is the deal with people?

Me: That’s cool. Where did you get all those finger puppets?

Little Girl: I used to collect them, I started with about fifty, and then I bought more online. There’s an innocence thing there, it’s a theme. And I’m covering it up, I’m hiding my innocence, LITERALLY, with the shellac, and then I’m uploading my youth into the ‘puter, so there’s this digital childhood thing too, and then I’m LITERALLY wearing it on my sleeve, because it’s on a shirt. So it was it a rad idea. But after making three shirts I thought it was pretty busted. Number one bust. It spent a hundred dollars on it, and only made back ten dollars when I guilted a dude I was sleeping with to buy one. So I’m getting into something else now.

Me: And what’s that?

Little Girl: OK. So don’t tell anyone. Promise? I haven’t made any yet and I don’t want someone to steal my idea.

Me: I promise won’t tell anyone.

Little Girl: OK. So you know those cups that are on top of cold medicine bottles? The cold medicine shot glasses?

Me: Yeah.

Little Girl: They are so cool, right? I just love them. I love them so much. See, I used to drink DayQuil. Like, DRINK IT, drink it, not when I was sick. I’d drink it whenever. This is when I was 18, 19. It made doing laundry more exciting, it made The Daily Show funnier. Honestly, everything was a little better when I was Quiling. But it wouldn’t make me freak out like coke or E would, so I convinced myself it was good for me. And it tasted good too. I rocked the orange flavor, always orange. Some nights I’d take a shot of NyQuil to fall asleep, but during the day it was all DayQuil, all day. One day I drank too much and got all hyper and decided it’d be a great idea to buy a kitten, because why not? What college girl living in the dorms shouldn’t have a kitten? I brought her home and named her – what else? – DayQuil. DayQuil was the coolest. Until she got sick. She got sooo sick. She couldn’t keep food down and some mornings she’d curl up with me in bed and I swear she was crying. or maybe I was crying so I thought she was crying too. It was so sad, and I tried to save her, I begged my parents for money so I could take her to the vet, but the vet said they couldn’t do anything. She had feline lymphoma. She was a goner. So they put her down. I only had her for two weeks, but because I was rolling on Quil the whole time those weeks were the best two weeks of my life so far: I had my kitten, I had my Quil, the semester hadn’t started yet so I didn’t have any homework, and I was fucking this rich dude who’d buy me things for no reason and leave them in my room. He bought me a body pillow and snuck it into my dorm room. And he was so well hung, it was inspiring. I was writing short stories about his perfect dick in creative writing class. I’m sorry, I’m talking way too much, it’s the drugs, I’m sorry.

Me: That’s OK. So what’s the project with the DayQuil cups?

Little Girl: I’m doing a series about that time in my life. I’ll take a hundred cups. No, five hundred cups. And the cups will be less than half full with an orange-y liquid, maybe Sunkist, and they’ll be stacked in… wait for it, wait for it… in a pile of cat hair. Z’s friend has a cat and he said I could shave it if I give — nevermind. He said I can shave his cat. The cat hair represents my sweet sweet DayQuil. And I’ll take pictures of it and silkscreen them on shirts and wear the shirts when I go out. The piece will be called All DayQuil. Want to pre-order a shirt?

Me: Yeah maybe later. Do you still drink DayQuil all the time?

Little Girl: No, not really. Only when I’m sick.

Me: That’s good. That stuff is nasty.

Little Girl: BUT I’M SICK ALL THE TIME!

[Little Girl reaches in her purse and produces a bottle of orange DayQuil and twists off the cap and takes a pull. She offers it to me. I shake my head and say no thanks. She pushes the bottle in my face and says Come on. So I take a pull, and it’s nasty. I wash it I down with my warm Schaefer which is also nasty but not as nasty as the DayQuil. She takes my hand and we’re dancing again, and she doesn’t dance like a crafter, not like the crafter I live with. She dances like I’d imagine a Bratz Doll would dance, all nasty, with her finger in my mouth, and she’s wearing fishnets, like a Bratz Doll.]

[I blame this line on the DayQuil:]

ME: You look and dance like a Bratz Doll.

Little Girl: Oh my God, I’ve always wanted to be a Bratz Doll. Those bitches get whatever they want.

Me: I know. And what do you want?

Little Girl: What do YOU want?

Me: I want whatever YOU want. What do YOU want tonight? Just tell me what you want.

Little Girl: I want what YOU want. Tell me what you want.

[The little girl says we should go, but what about Z and Georg? Z and Georgia are still on the couch and Z is doing the thing where he takes a few inches of the girl’s hair between his hands and gnaws on it like it’s corn on the cob. Georgia loves this. She's giving him a wet Willie and he doesn’t seem to mind. The Little Girl says they are so gross, we should leave them. And I’m like, Good plan.]

Little Girl: Where do you live?

Me: A few blocks away. Let’s go. But we can’t wake up my family.

NEXT: Daddy Friend Pretty

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In the Barn

December 14, 2010

Me: When spades is trump, the jack of clubs is the left bauer. And when clubs is trump, the jack of spades is the left bauer. The left bauer is the second-most powerful card after the right bauer. The same goes for red, hearts and diamonds. The jack of hearts is really a diamond when diamonds is trump. The card may have a heart on it, but it’s a diamond. And the jack of diamonds is really a heart when hearts is trump. Why is that so hard for everyone to understand? Little Ann, look alive. We’ve got a long way to go.

[We’re at the kitchen table. It’s almost midnight and we've been drinking. It’s me, Ann, Little Ann and Z. There’s a deck of cards on the table.]

Ann: Why do we HAVE to learn Euchre again?

Me: Because it’s tradition. A Midwestern tradition. And I’m going to keep it alive. It’s like when immigrants came to New York way back when. They kept their heritage alive by eating whatever food they ate back in the old country and wearing big fuzzy hats and speaking their native language. We’re going to keep parts of our Midwestern culture. In may ways we’ve already assimilated, but we’re not going to forget Euchre.

Z: Why do I need to be here? I’m not part of the family, and I’m from LA.

Me: Because we need four people. Now listen up. I’ll start over with the rules because I have a feeling you all weren’t listening before. You only use 24 cards: nines, tens, jacks, queens, kings and aces. The rest can be put aside. Except for two pairs of sixes and fours; you use those for the score cards. The first team to get ten points wins.

Z: How do you get a point?

Me: I’m getting there. Nobody talk for ten minutes, how about that? Z, you’re sitting across from me so you’re on my team. Ann and Little Ann are on the other team.

Ann: But what if I want to be on your team?

Me: You’d have to switch seats with Z. Do you want to be on my team?

Ann: Do you WANT me to be on your team? It doesn’t seem like it. Otherwise you would have sat across from me. Because you knew that whoever you sit across from is on your team and you didn’t sit across from me.

Me: Fine, switch with Z.

Z: But I’d like to be on your team. You’re the best player here.

[Ann stands up.]

Ann: I would like to be on your team. It’d be good for US. This is a new thing in our relationship and it’s be good if we weren’t competing.

Z: Oh God, this is so lame.

Little Ann: More gin.

[I pour him more gin.]

Me: Everyone stay where you are. We can switch teams later if we want.

[Ann sits down.]

Me: OK, so the dealer deals each person five cards. BUT. And this part is important. You don’t deal one card at a time. You deal one person two cards and then the next person three cards and the next person two cards and yourself three cards. Or you start with three cards and then deal two and then three. Or you start with one and then deal four, or you start with four and then deal one. You get it? Each person has to end up with five cards and you have to go around the table twice. Not once, not three times, but twice. Here we go, I’m going to deal them out and we’re going to play a game with the cards showing. That’s the best way to learn. Ordinary you’d breast your cards so no one sees them.

[Little Ann is laughing now.]

Me: What’s funny? Oh. Breast your cards? That’s funny to you? No more gin for you. [I take ways his drink. I deal everyone five cards.] Shit. We forgot to shuffle.

Ann: It doesn’t matter. You’re not cheating. And if you were cheating, well, you’re the only person here who cares about this, so cheat away if that you would make you feel like a big man.

Me: Give me your cards. [They do. I shuffle the cards and then offer them to Ann to cut.]

Ann: What do you want me to do?

Me: Cut the cards, Jesus. [she does, and I deal out five again] After everyone has five cards there will be four cards left over. That’s the kitty. The dealer flips over one of those and lays it on top of the other three. [I flip it over. It’s an ace of clubs.] Now we go around in a circle, starting with Little Ann because he’s to my left, and we decide if we want that suit to be trump. So, if you want clubs to be trump you say, Pick it up. If you don’t want it to be trump you say, Pass.

Ann: Well how do we know if we want it to be trump? You’re going to fast, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Me: I’m getting to that. If you have a good clubs hand, then you’d want to me to pick it up. Oh, right, I should mention that if someone orders up the card, then the dealer picks it up. He adds it to his hand and discards his shittiest card.

Ann: HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE HAVE A GOOD CLUBS HAND?

Me: I’m getting to that, Jesus. So, it’s Little Ann’s turn. He has a nine of hearts, a nine of diamonds, a jack of clubs, a queen of clubs and a ten of clubs. That is a good clubs hand. The jack of the clubs is the right bauer; it’s the most powerful card in this hand, if clubs is trump. Look at my hand. I have the jack of spades. That’s the left bauer. It is actually a club, if clubs is trump. It is not a spade. It has a spade on it, but it is a club. So, Little Ann would say, Pick it up. Can you say that, buddy?

Little Ann: Gin!

Me: You can have more gin if you say pick it up.

Little Ann: Pick it up. [And I pick it up and discard a card and pour my son more gin.]

Me: OK. So it’s settled. Clubs is trump. Little Ann is the to the left of me, so it’s his turn. The goal is to win tricks. A trick is one go-round of each player playing a card. There are five tricks. If you called trump it you have to win three tricks to get a point. If you win all five then you get two points. But if the other team wins three then you are officially Euched and the other teams gets two points. If the team that didn’t call it somehow wins all five tricks, which never happens, then they would get four points. But you’d have to be playing against a monkey to not order it up and win all five tricks.

Z: I have a question. So the ace of clubs is worth less than the jack of hearts? All jacks are better than clubs that aren’t jacks?

Me: NO. NO. NO. The jack of hearts is only a bauer if hearts or diamonds is trump. In this case, clubs is trump so the jack of hearts is just the jack of hearts. The jack of diamonds is just the jack of diamonds. In this hand, the nine of clubs will be more valuable than the ace of hearts and the ace of diamonds. You follow?

Z: Kind of.

Me: OK, so Little Ann is going to lead. Lead, Little Ann.

[Little Ann plays the nine of hearts.]

Me: That’s a bullshit lead, buddy. That’s one of the worst cards in the whole game right now. You could play your right bauer, because you know that no one can beat it and it would flush out the other people’s trump.Rright. I forget to mention this, and it’s really really important: You have to follow suit. So if he leads with clubs, and you have a club, you have to play a club. If he leads with hearts, you have to play a heart. If you don’t have whatever suit he leads with, you can trump it and beat him. If he leads with the ten of hearts and you play the queen of hearts, you’re beating him. If he leads with the jack of spades, which is the left bauer, then you have to play a club. Because that jack is really a club. So in that case the only card that could beat him would be the jack of clubs, the right bauer.

[Little Ann plays the jack of clubs.]

Me: Now it’s Z’s turn. If you have a club, you have to play it. You do have a club. You have the nine of clubs. Play it.

Z: And that’s it. That’s all I do? This game is so boring.

Me: Euchre is not boring. It’s a classic strategy game, it’s a poor man’s bridge. Have some patience, we’re playing this all night. The problem is you: you’re used to playing video games and watching porn and stuff and you can’t do anything that requires a modicum of patience. Now it’s Ann’s turn.

Ann: I don’t have any clubs.

Me: I can see that. That’s OK. It doesn’t matter what you play this time because your partner is definitely going to win it.

Ann: Why’s that?

Me: Because he played the right bauer. It’s unstoppable.

Ann: If he already won, then why are even playing it out? This hand is over. Shouldn’t we re-deal?

Me: He’s only going to win one trick. There are five tricks. Now play a card.

Ann: What card?

Me: Play a shitty card. One you won’t need later.

Ann: How do I know which ones are shitty?

Me: You have the nine of spades. That card’s worthless. So play it. [she does.] Now it’s my turn. I have to play trump so I’m going to play my lowest trump, the king of clubs. [I play it.] Little Ann wins, so he takes the trick. Hey buddy, I’m talking to you here, take the trick. Literally move those four cards over to you. [he does.] There ya go. Now it’s Z’s turn to lead.

Z: What do I lead with?

Me: That’s up to you. That’s where the strategy comes in. You want to play a card you think might go around without being beat. You have the ace of hearts. That’s a good card. [Z plays the ace of hearts.] Now it’s Ann’s turn. Remember, if you have a heart, you have to play it. If not, you can trump his heart with a club.

Ann: I don’t have any clubs. This game sucks.

Me: Are you angry at the game or angry at yourself about something else in your life?

Ann: I’m angry at my husband for forcing his family to play this bullshit. Here we are in Brooklyn – with all its bars and restaurants and galleries and dancing and shit, and we’re at home sitting around the table in a Norman Rockwell painting. Poor Little Ann’s going to tell kids at school that he plays Euchre with his family and the kids are going to laugh at him for being a hayseed. Why don’t you teach him how to skateboard or spray paint a subway car? You can’t raise him like we’re back in the old country.

Me: Like I said, we’re holding onto our roots.

Ann: Your roots. Euchre is YOUR root. Not my son’s root.

Z: I’m going to go.

Me: Please don’t go. We need four people.

Z: Naw, I’m going to go. This is not what I had in mind when you said come over and get drunk.

[Z leaves.]

Me: I’m not even halfway done explaining the rules yet. I haven’t even gotten to the best part: that’s when one team has nine points. They’re said to be In the Barn. It doesn’t really mean anything, only that you’re one point away from winning. So you do a little celebration: one team member puts the two score cards, the six and the four, behind his ears. Then he extends his hands and crosses his fingers and turns his hands upside down. Then he lowers his thumbs, like this. [I do this with my hands.] If you do it right your hands will look like udders. And now you’re a cow. A cow who is in the barn. The cards behind your ears are cow’s ears and your hands are udders. Then your teammate tugs on your thumbs, thus milking you, and you moo like a cow. Moo! Moo! That’s what being In the Barn is. It’s all part of the glorious drunk Midwesterners’ heritage, and there’s so much more to explain, so much more strategy.

Ann: I’m sure you’ll have plenty of fun explaining it to your next girlfriend.

[Little Ann throws a few cards in the air and they fall to the ground.]

Little Ann: Euchre! I’m in the barn.

Me: See, honey. He likes it.

NEXT: Do We Need Cynar? 10

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Large Oats, Tiny Oats, Funny-Looking Oats

October 20, 2010

[Last night was the professor’s book launch party, and things got weird. Here’s what happened: Z and I get to the Princeton club a little after eight. The crowd is mostly older people but there’s a good amount of young ladies there which puts a smile on Z’s face. After getting drinks at the bar Z says, I’m going on a trim hunt, and he was off. Earlier he had said that his strategy was to tell ladies he was an editor at The Economist. It’s perfect, he said, because there’s no masthead. So they can’t look into it.

The professor is near the bar talking to Bill Murray and a young dude who I later found out was the editor of her book, so I’ll call him Editor. Bill Murray is so far gone that he has to lean on the bar to stay on his feet. The professor plays with the hair on the back of his head. She has long arms and long fingers and she’s wearing a backless black dress that most people would say shouldn’t be worn by women her age. Her face looks to be 50 or so but the gin blossoms around her nose add a decade. If I had to guess I’d say she’s 60, but why do I worry so much about women’s ages?

Do I walk over there and introduce myself? She did invite me, but does she remember? Unlikely. Does Bill Murray want to be approached by a young man? Unlikely. But I didn’t come to the party to drink alone. So I walk over. They are talking about Bill Murray’s ex-wife:]

Bill Murray: She was a sex barterer. It was sick, but I have to say, it kept things interesting. She’d say, I’ll make you eggs and bacon but after breakfast we’re going to take a bath during which you’ll pet my hair and rub my feet and then you’ll go down on me for no less than five minutes.

Editor: That sounds tiresome.

Professor: I’ve met this woman. She’s a piece of work. She told me that Bill was passionate lover but a huge baby. And it’s true. He’s a beggar. He begs for affection. But we’re working on that, aren’t we?

Bill Murray: When did she say this?

Professor: At Miriam’s kid’s bat mitzvah. We met each other outside and we had a chat about you. It was nice. Most American women who have been with the same man never get together and talk because they think they’d hate each other, but they really should try it. They are both one guy’s type so they probably have a lot in common. It’s what the French do, you know. In France after an affair the mistress and the wife will often meet for a glass of wine and bitch about the man who promised them both he’d love them forever; the same guy who weeks later leaves them both for a 20-year-old. Dana and I got along very well. She said she called your dick the little ghostbuster. Now THAT’S funny.

Bill Murray: It was never funny. Have you seen her since?

Professor: We met for coffee a week later and hashed out a few things. She says you told her that I was only a vagina to you – something to pound at while you worked things through with her. That wasn’t very nice, Billy.

Bill Murray: I had to say that. It was complicated. Let’s change the subject. [He turns to me.] Who is this kid?

Me: Hi. I met you at the party in Bushwick. You invited me here.

Professor: A party in Bushwick? I don’t go to Bushwick. Do you go to Bushwick, Bill?

Bill Murray: If I’m feeling old I’ll go to a Bushwick party to be around the youngs. But I don’t remember you being there.

Me: You were both there. We met in line for the bathroom. We talked about cocaine, I think.

Bill Murray: Do you have any cocaine?

Professor: If we do coke I’m going to need a pen and a notepad to jot down my ideas. Do you have a notepad?

Me: I don’t have cocaine or a notepad.

Professor: Then you’re useless to me. Who did you come with?

Me: My friend Z. He’s around here somewhere. Put him in a room full of people and he’ll bounce around looking for girls. Tonight he’s saying that he’s an editor at The Economist. Because the magazine doesn’t have a masthead so the girls can’t check up on it.

Editor: That’s not bad. Here’s what I used to do when I was younger and broker: I’d hang out in a rich part of town, like the Upper East Side or whatever, and I’d find an ATM machine. Then I’d look for the nearest trash can. I’d dig around in the trash for an ATM receipt, and maybe I’d find three, but I’d keep the one with the largest balance – anything over fifteen grand in checking would be fine. I’d pocket the receipt and go to a dive bar full and scope for low-hanging fruit. I’d sit next to one who looks like she’s having a bad decade and offer to buy her a drink. We’d chat for a bit, but I wouldn’t try to bring her home; she’s used to that. She has her defenses up. So I’d day, I’d like to see you again. What’s your number? I’m going to give you mine, too. And I’d take out the receipt with twenty grand on it and write my number on the back. She’d look at it and think: This guy is loaded. I’ve hit the jackpot. It’s a perfect plan. They’re not going to be suspicious. They’re not going to say, You must have dug that receipt out of the trash. Because only a lunatic would do that. And I look like a regular guy. But I’m nuts! It’s a shame that doesn’t work anymore. You just exchange numbers on your phone. Cell phones have ruined everything. Think about it: So many classic plot devices don’t work anymore because of cell phones. That’s why the characters always have to lose service for the story to make sense. It’s dumb. I hate my cell phone. It gets terrible service. Do you use Verizon?

Bill Murray: I don’t have a cell phone.

Me: I have Verizon.

Professor: AT&T.

Editor: And how do you like AT&T?

Professor: It’s OK. I’m sorry, but can we not talk about cell phones, please? It’s the new talking about the weather. I can’t stand it. When I hear people talking about cell phones I want to find a drum set and start banging on it to shut them up. Is that so weird? I don’t think so.

Editor: Fair enough.

[I look around for Z. He has two little girls cornered near the bathroom.]

Me: Look. My friend found some friends. I wonder if those girls read The Economist.

Professor: He has his hands full. You should go over there and help him out.

Me: I would, but I’m with someone. We live together.

Bill Murray: That’s sweet. How old are you?

Me: Twenty-three.

[The professor begins to laugh.]

Professor: He’s twenty-three and he lives with his girlfriend. Bill, talk to him. I’ll leave you two alone. Phil, come with me. [She and the editor walk into a welcoming group of friends. She says:] Marshall, come here, you lovely nerd.

Bill Murray: Are you out of your fucking mind? You’re 23 and you’re serious with your girlfriend? You live together? Did you grow up in a foster home or something? What’s wrong with you?

Me: It happened quickly. And now we have a kid. Sort of.

[Bill Murray chokes on an ice cube.]

Bill Murray: You’re a father? At 23? OK. It’s not too late for you. OK. How many women have you slept with? I’m not saying you have to rack up women or anything, but tell me how many.

Me: Two.

Bill Murray: Two. Listen up: I’m not going to tell you how to live. I am in no position to tell anybody how to live. I have lived how I have wanted to live and it’s caused much suffering to other people. I realize this. But if you stay with your girlfriend straight through without fucking around and you guys get married then you will wake up one day in the future, maybe you’ll be forty, maybe you’ll be thirty – you will wake up as self-hating monster and you will regret settling down so early. It will gnaw at you. I have friends who are fifty who have been with the same women since they were twenty. And they love their women more than anything. They would kill themselves if it meant their wife got to live another day. But are they pleased with themselves? No. They are not. Do they think they have lived full lives? They don’t think that. Because they haven’t. If you stay settled with this girl, what’s her name?

Me: Ann.

Bill Murray: If you stay with Ann all through your life you will grow bitter when you’re older. You will see young women on the street and think, I could have talked to them and taken them out when I was 23. I could have danced with them and bought them shit and had a great time. But I didn’t. Because I had a wife and kid. And now that I am old and boring they won’t talk to me, let alone have sex with me. It’s called sowing your wild oats. I don’t want to tell you how to live. But I’m going to anyway: you need to sow your wild oats.

Me: Funny you bring that up because Ann says she wants me to cheat on her. For her art.

Bill Murray: What’s her art?

Me: She makes birdhosues. Shitty birdhouses that nobody buys.

Bill Murray: Are you going to cheat on her?

Me: I haven’t decided yet.

Bill Murray: I’m not going to tell you to cheat on her. But I will say this: The wild oats need to be sown. I’m not saying that sowing wild oats will guarantee happiness later in life. I sowed wild oats from when I was 18 through 30. And then again from 50 to, well, I’m still sowing. And I’m miserable most of the time. But I’d be more miserable if I hadn’t sown wild oats. And boy, did I sow. And you, too, should sow. Sow two oats at once, if you can swing it. Sow large oats, tiny oats, funny-looking oats, oats who cry at the movies, oats who will beat you with a belt, oats who call you papi, oats who know they’re oats.

Me: Is the professor a wild oat?

Bill Murray: She’s a special wild oat. She’s the type of wild oat you hold on to and maybe when you’re done sowing she’ll want to become your … your never-ending whole grain oat. It’s always good to have a whole grain oat in your pocket. You don’t want to finish sowing and have nothing to make a meal out of.

Me: Why do they call it sowing your wild oats?

Bill Murray: It has something to do with a type of oat that farmers didn’t want. They couldn’t use to make food and it was always a pain to separate it from the good oats, but it had to be done. So someone had to go around separating the wild oats. It was a frivolous activity and so it later became associating with dicking around while you’re young. Dicking around with girls, I mean, and not trying to settle down with anyone.

Me: I get it. And it’s also like, wild oat…oat seed… seed…spreading your seed. So it works on that level too. I’m talking about semen.

Bill Murray: Now you’re thinking straight. Now go over near your buddy and sow. SOW!

[I move across the room and stand near Z and his two little girls. Both are short and well-dressed and seem to be reasonably drunk. Z has his arm around the one whom I’ll call No. 1. No. 1 thinks Z looks like the kid from Two and a Half Men. No. 2 and I talk about our hometowns until we decide to make out and then we talk some more. No. 2 is in the professor’s ancient Greek architecture class and she’s having trouble with her Parthenon paper. It’s fun to hear the professor talk about it, she says, but I hate writing about it. She says the college boys she meets don’t know what they’re doing in bed. One of them wouldn’t stop biting her ear and saying I love you. She says that brunch is the best meal and she says it like she’s certain that she's the first person who's ever said it.]

NEXT: A Swamp Inside A Cave

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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

Bits

The Slugman of Herbert Street

Harold and the Purple Women

Video

Dos Factotum

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