Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just give in already

You and dream man, now, over fried rice and noodles in one of those no-nonsense Southeast Asian joints with the fluorescent lighting and the thousand-item menus. You look around at all the hipster couples with leather jackets and tousled hair, sharing dishes, awkward with chopsticks. You look back at dream man. His name is Owen. He’s funny and tall and Midwestern. He has a career, a dog, an apartment you’ve never seen. He has all the things that have been out of your reach until now.

“Man, are you a great kisser,” he tells you later, as you sit on your stoop.

“So are you,” you say.

“Thanks, I practice on grapefruits,” he says. “But you’re much less tart.”

“You shouldn’t say I’m a tart,” you scold, only half-kidding, because you want to believe you’ve grown, that this is a man you could grow with. He just moves in again, his eyes closed, chin jutting forward.

Closing your eyes, connected to his lips, his hands roaming all over your body, you lose focus on his physical features. The dream man is short. No, the dream man is tall. He lives alone. He lives behind a curtain in a converted loft in Williamsburg. No he lives with six roommates in a two-bedroom on the northern tip of Manhattan, but it’s a really great deal. The dream man doesn’t know if he’s ready to be in a relationship right now, he can’t return calls, he’s confused, he really really likes you and everything, but…

You think the way it starts each time is a surprise. Just like magic. He almost hits me on his bike. He comes up to me at a party. I see him onstage, I see him leaning against the doors where there’s a sign that says: “Don’t lean against the doors.”

If you don’t give in now there’s no way he will call. If you do give in now, he won’t call. There’s no way to win. So why not just give in?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Make up rituals

A friend confides that her mind is filled with thoughts of where she’s gone wrong. It is often impossible to stop thinking about him. This is why I tell my friend that she must take a strategic approach. She must make up rituals if necessary. I tell her to carry a bag around and every time she thinks about him, she should take a rock from the ground, the biggest rock she can find, and put it in. Before long she’ll be stooped over from the effort of dragging a ratty plastic bag full of rocks behind her, and who wants that? “This is essentially what you’re doing to yourself,” I tell her. “You’ll be surprised how anxious you’ll be to unload all that weight.”

I have lots of useful advice like this.

The thing is, the thing is I can hardly invite anyone over anymore because of all these boulders.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Run away from it all

Charlie Pepper had long hated Christmas.

He figured that the unfamiliar city was as good as any place to sweat out the holiday season. Charlie had spent most of his twenties in New York without ever having a reason to go to Philadelphia, but right now, it seemed a safe, manageable entry point back into the States. For one thing, Philadelphia had less obtrusive advertising plastered to poles and affixed to taxicabs than the cities he had spent most of his adult life in. And though plenty of windows there were lit from within with boisterous family gatherings, he could take it all in from a remove. It wasn’t his city—it was a borrowed city.

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Follow the leader

The train lurched to a stop somewhere in Queens at a station I’d never heard of: Kurtz-Marleybone Avenue.

I could just make out in the scratchy announcement that the train was going out of service. Sighing “K” train regulars straggled up the stairs for alternative forms of transportation. I walked past bright orange webbing, following hand-scripted arrows around piles of plywood. If I’m ever able to square away my work on the con men, my next project won’t be suicide clusters, the mass hysteria of undergraduates, but instead will have to do with the way people in the urban environment will blindly follow any disruption in their path, as long as they’re given a semi-legitimate reason to. Duck under this scaffolding, don’t worry, climbing these cinderblocks will only take a minute, just sidestep these piles of broken wood and we’ll have you on your way. We will dutifully weave, crouch and stumble along, as long as arrows mark our passage forward.

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