I hate that I have different moods. I just want one.
I don't care what mood it is as long as it remains constant. I hate that "tired" is a mood for me. When I'm tired, everything about me feels different. I don't talk the same, I don't look the same. I taste sour and my back stiffens.
Same with hunger. "Hungry" is a mood for me. When I want food but don't have food, my arms fall to the floor. My English worsens and so does my personality. I lean into depression and my grasp on gratitude fades. I wander but cannot move, so I sink into the ground and wish this was every day of my life.
Some moods are good.
Sometimes I find myself overly excited for no known reason. The smile on my face walks all the way to the back of my head. I try walking to the grocery store, but I end up dancing instead. And when I arrive, my dance moves become even more elaborate and energetic. I like like a psychopath and feel like one too. I sing. I can't sing, and yet in this mood I sing and somehow it sounds kind of good.
Sometimes I feel like everyone is dead. I won't be tired, but I'll feel like there's no point in everything. And then the dark clouds go away and the sun comes out and somehow I find myself laughing in the sunshine again. I wish it were always that way.
The second I turned off my alarm, I turned on the news. In ten minutes, the sun was going to explode. I had gotten in a good habit of reading for ten minutes every morning when I wake up, but I didn't want to die in the middle of a sentence of Crime and Punishment. Then I thought I should finally sit down to watch Jaws because people always get angry when I say I haven't seen it. But if the first ten minutes isn't very good, then that would be a huge bummer. ACHOO! I sneezed. I was going to go get a tissue, but I realized there was no time for that. I wiped my snout on my sleeve. It was a black t-shirt that said "The Kinks" on the front of it. I felt like it would be an incredibly lame shirt to die in, so I took it off and threw it on the floor. I only know two songs by them anyways. Next to my shirt on the ground, I saw some tape that was stuck to the floor. I picked at it for a while, and it wouldn't come off. It stuck to the floor real well. Quality stuff, I guess. Then I smacked myself on the face because I didn't want to die trying to get tape off my floor. I was getting super duper cold, so I went into the laundry room where the thermostat resides. I went to go turn it up, but then I remembered I don't have time to worry about the temperature. I jogged back to my room, but I stubbed my toe somehow and fell down on the floor. What an idiot, I thought. I tripped on the floor. I don't even know how that's possible. And boy, does my big toe hurt. You never stub any other toe. If you stub a toe, it's always the big toe. That's so obnoxious. The other toes don't deserve any better. The big toe works just as hard as all the others. As I was thinking about this, I started to think this would be a dumb thing to think about if -- -- --
Dr. Seuss - "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."
Me - "Get mad because you weren't even invited."
Oscar Wilde - "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."
Me - What about cloning?"
Mark Twain - "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
Me - "Lying is pretty convenient."
Andy Warhol - "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."
Me - "Actually 7 seconds."
William Shakespeare - "We know what we are, but know not what we may be."
Me - "I don't even know your real name Mr. Shakes."
Buddah - "I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done."
Me - "Try to enjoy the moment why don't ya?"
Dalai Lama - "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
Me - "Actually, it's Buddhism.
Charles Barkley - "The main thing to do is relax and let your talent do the work."
Me - "I think you're a little too relaxed these days. Go for a run."
Don’t do it. Don’t you dare do it. Do not waste you love, on some asshole who doesn’t value it. Doesn’t care for it. Doesn’t yearn for it. Because your love…it’s special. Its not just a part of who you are, it is you. Your love is you, and you are your love.
But what is love?…I’ll explain with a brief story.
You see, my late husband, he’s not dead, he’s just always frickin' late! I won’t dare say his name, but that’s because I love him. I get worked up by his flaws sometimes, but hey-that’s love. Anywhom, my husband and I went for a walk one night. You could say it was brisk out. A little chilly, sure. But nothing serious. I was wearing a windbreaker, and that was fine. But my husband. My beautiful little…husband. He was wearing a t-shirt cuz he’s from California, and he’s cool and relaxed and doesn’t need a jacket when he can just wear a stupid pink shirt and a pair of crocs!
So it started to get windy. And he got cold. Fine. That’s fair. We don’t always prepare well. But let’s dig into this preparation, okay? In order to prepare, you gotta listen. You gotta pay attention. To details. So when I offered to go for a walk, and he said yes, I told him, its probably going to be a little brisk outside. So he said okay. And I said you might want, I don’t know just freeballing here, um a windbreaker? And he told me he’s from California…I know he’s from California. We’ve been married 9 years I know where the man is from. And I also know where the man resides. With me. In Canada! And you know what? It gets cold from time to time and that’s just the way it is. And it don’t matter if your from California or frickin Arkansas, because sometimes it just gets cold.
So were walking and he’s cold and he asks me for my windbreaker. And I say no. I prepared. And he demands I give him my windbreaker, and I say no. I prepared. And then he grabs my windbreaker and tries to take it off of me, and I say hey. This relationship is not abusive. No. No. No. This relationship. It’s love.
Now, if you still don’t know what love is, you may want to look inside yourself. What’s inside? Huh? Is it cozy or is it a mess? Is it bright or is it dimly lit? I don’t know. I’m not you. So look inside. And maybe you’ll find love. But if you look inside, and you search and search and all you find is a windbreaker. You better throw your damn crocs away and zip up that jacket.
Life is full of twists. Stay flexible. Take a yoga class.
There’s no receipt for your time. But if you get one, ask for the itemized receipt.
You always have more to gain when taking risks. But if a friend dares you to jump off a bridge, you probably have more to lose.
Stop eating cookies, fat ass.
Today, you will find love in an unexpected place. Tomorrow, you will get caught cheating.
Life is about balance. Try surfing.
Generosity is contagious. So is strep throat and AIDS.
Yesterday is two days before tomorrow.
Don’t say anything to that girl. She doesn’t like you like that.
Love can last a lifetime. Energy lasts forever. If you’re in a relationship, take Adderall. If you’re single, rest up.
Please, recycle me.
Thank you so much for letting us stay in your MANSION. God, it is gorgeous. The back yard, the front yard, that little side garden yard, where do I begin?? But the interior decoration in your home is truly phenomenal. We threw a party the first night we got here, as well as a few others, and all our friends loved it. Strangers loved it too. The chandelier is no longer there, but boy, we put that thing to good use. We also took down a few paintings to use as place mats because you did not seem to have any. For future guests, that would be my main recommendation – invest in some place mats. The paintings were okay, but we still stained some of the tables.
So we enjoyed our stay, but I have to say, the home was not left in a very good state. All the tables were broken and had food remains all over them. There was a shattered chandelier in the downstairs bathroom. The place could use a good cleaning. That said, it was very spacious. We appreciated having access to everything. Even though some rooms we deemed uninhabitable, there were plenty of rooms left over for my wife, kids, and I to sleep. Thank you for making our vacation possible.
Bros, this house was wildin. Me and my buddies were nervous this was gonna be a super fancy home with some stuck up snobs as owners, but the second we saw the shattered chandelier, we knew this was our kinda place. For a frat bro spring break, this was the best option for sure. Who needs an Airbnb when you got the chillest family friends! The painted place mats worked great as a beer pong table, and those old dinner tables were so much fun to just wreck. To celebrate our win, my pong team and I got a sledgehammer and started smashing the tables. It was wild. Also, some of the bros left their swim trunks and a few pairs of undies. Those are all hanging on the roof. Oh, and I think we left the big couch is up there too. Thanks so much yo.
Y'all are legendary. I was walking in the street when I saw a party going on over here, so I decided to come by. Wow. I did not know your family was into such outrageous and frankly inappropriate things, but I was down to partake. I hadn't seen a bong in twenty five years, so I enjoyed taking a hit from that. But seriously, we should hang soon. Maybe grab lunch. I feel like I haven't seen you since Christmas.
-Your neighbor, Alex
I really want to say thank you. I do. Welcoming a family into one’s home is a very kind and wholesome thing to do. But. I must say. This place smells horrific. There are pieces of moldy food all over the place. Empty beer cans have flooded the downstairs bedrooms. I really hope this splotch on the dining room table is soup, but I am almost certain it is barf. If so, that is simply disgusting. Normally, I would clean it up, but due to the present circumstances, I feel it is more than unnecessary for me to clean the mess that is your home. Had I known the interior of your home would be a complete disaster, I would not have paid such an enormous amount of money for me and my husband’s honeymoon. That said, I am an optimist. I had a good time. My husband and I did enjoy some nice evenings on the porch, even though the rocking chairs were broken. We had a great time lying in the sun on the roof despite the display of swimsuits and underwear. I will say, the couch on the roof was a nice touch.
-Carla and Wilson Funderburke
Wow. You’ve changed the place since we last visited three years ago. We visited in the winter so maybe the summer décor is just different? I like what you did with it, but I suppose I’m just not big into the new modern design people are into these days. I have to say, Arnold, you really keep your brother on his toes. I know we haven’t talked in awhile, but I always appreciate you letting me stay in your second home. And I’m glad you treat it a little worse than you’ve treated me over the years. I felt I should add to the mess, so I made sure to leave all the food sitting out. I also shattered the framed picture of you and your wife - you know you stole her from me. Thanks again.
-Your brother, Jasper
A penny for your thoughts – your thoughts are pretty much worthless
God bless you – gross, cover your mouth
Put a sock in it – when you ask what else you should put in your stuffed suitcase
A picture is worth a thousand words – unless it’s a blurry picture
Friendly fire – when you’re roasting S’mores, and the fire is just that perfect temperature, putting a smile on your face and treating you right
Nose to the grindstone- a dog sniffing the ground
Needless to say – When you decide to talk, but acknowledge yourself that there is really no need to
Em and I went on a trip to Boise, Idaho. The only thing I knew about Idaho was that they have the best potatoes in the world, but I went to visit a cousin in Wisconsin one year, and the baked potato he bought me from Sam’s Deli and Craft Supplies was the best thing I've ever consumed. It was kind of fruity. That’s not to say the Boise potatoes weren’t good, but when you’re a state and you’re known for a food, it better be the best hands down.
I was recently fired from my job as a rock-climbing instructor, so it was nice to spend some time in Idaho with a good pal. Apparently to hold down this job, people really care that you know how to rock climb. And they tell you this after you lie your way through the interview. America is full of morons.
We stood in line at airport security to head back home to Mississippi, and I was sad our trip was coming to an end. Em got pulled over for having too many snacks in her bag. She had almonds, walnuts, dried mangoes. She preferred to snack over eating meals. I got pulled over because they thought my cantaloupe was a bomb. “It’s just a cantaloupe,” I said. “We’re gonna have to pat it down,” they told me. “He won’t let you until he gets his lawyer,” I said. No one laughed.
Once we got through, Em was up in boarding group 1, while I was back in boarding group 5. It’s a terrible system. Makes me feel like a feudal serf. As I waited alone, anxious to get on this plane to Mississippi, I started counting one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi… as I was taught to in the fourth grade. Why do I have to be reminded of my horrible home every time I wait in lines? I just want to pass the time, not remember that family dinner when I found my cousin Earl and my other cousin Janis hooking up in the bathtub.
When I finally got to the front of the line, the lady told me the plane had just been filled, and there were no seats left. “Not with that attitude,” mumbled the man behind me. I turned around. It was Benjamin Franklin.
I couldn’t quite understand why Benjamin Franklin was boarding a plane to Mississippi. I also couldn’t understand why he was currently in Boise, Idaho. Maybe he wanted to try the potatoes. I wonder how he liked them. But there was no time to think about any of this.
Benji grabbed me by the arm, and told the lady, “Wait here.” As we power-walked, arms linked, he told me that we were never going to have to see that lady again. He didn’t look me in the eyes either. This man was on a mission.
“Benji, there’s one problem,” I said.
“There’s never a problem that can’t be fixed.” Benjamin Franklin was a true optimist.
“Well, my friend is on that plane.”
“Er, oof,” said Benji. He looked down at his shoes then spat on the airport floor. He rubbed his foot in the spit, making a squeaking sound. He ruminated hard. He then looked up at the ceiling and made an obnoxiously loud yawn. It looked like he hadn’t brushed his teeth in ages. “Alright, so we won’t find another flight. We’ll move to plan B.”
It’s never very reassuring to move to plan B when you came up with plan A five seconds before. Especially when it’s really plan C, because the original plan A was to just board the plane. Either way, I had heard a lot about this guy, so I felt comfortable trusting him.
He started emptying his backpack furiously. He took out a kite, a chess board, and a pros and cons list of staying with his wife, Deborah Read. That marriage must not be going too well. I saw something that said ‘affair with Jane Austen’ but I wasn’t quite sure. When he felt satisfied, he looked over at me and said, “Sometimes you just gotta lighten the load.” It sounded a little like a proverb, but it also sounded like what annoying people say when they feel like you can’t have silence in a conversation.
We returned to the front desk lady, and she looked no happier than before. One could say less happier as a matter of fact. But Benji made his case. If he had the time to become a lawyer, I swear he’d be a great one.
He threw his backpack on the front desk. An orange fell out and the lady grabbed it and took a bite out of it as if it were an apple. Juice squirted in my eyes. It stung like when you get shampoo in your eyes, but there was no shower to wash my eyes out. I groaned, and Benji slapped me on the back of the head. He later said that was a secret to curing stinging eyes, but that’s a load of bull.
While he explained why we needed to get on the flight, I stood there in pain. But I also started craving an orange. As I was about to go find an orange to buy, I heard Benji yell, “one Mississippi, two Mississippi…” God, I hate that.
The next thing I know, he leapt over the front desk screaming, so I followed suit. I felt bad for the lady though because we were really causing a ruckus, so I opened my bag and gave her the cantaloupe I had bought in Boise. I figured it was a nice gesture.
Benji and I sprinted down the jet bridge to board the plane, but when we got to the edge, there was no plane. The plane was gone. This was not good. There was rain and thunder, so it was difficult to see anything at all. I knew Em was probably worried about me, but she was also going to be pissed because I had her chickpeas in my fanny pack. If there’s anything better than a Wisconsin potato, it’s a Mississippi chickpea. And nobody knows that more than Em.
I started to panic, but Benji remained steadfast. He was a resilient man. Gears in full motion in his brain, I could feel him coming up with a plan. I thought about mentioning I had rock-climbing skills on my resume, but I remained silent because that was technically a lie. Grabbing his kite, he put it in his mouth as he continued digging through his backpack. A plane rolled by right next to us, and I could see Em, asleep, face pressed against the window. Benji gave me the line, as he held the frame and leapt onto the plane. The way this man was leaping today, you would’ve thought he was an ancient LeBron James. But as he jumped into the air with the kite, lightning struck and electrocuted him. Benjamin Franklin was dead. I’ll never know his thoughts on Idaho potatoes.
Not only did he die, but he discovered electricity too. It was a pretty remarkable feat. The whole fiasco became worldwide news, and it delayed our flight tremendously, but I was still able to get on and get a seat next to Em. She was out cold the whole time, though, so when I tell this story at parties, she insists I made the whole thing up. But I'll never forget the memories I shared with Benji. Every time I turn on the lights I think of his beautiful smile and his uncombed hair. And I wonder if Jane Austen misses him.
I hate my life. I live in the middle of Manhattan: the trashiest, foulest dump in the world with the most pathetic people walking my street every single day. It never lets up. People with skateboards, motorcycles, cars, and even frickin razor scooters. Those are the worst. By far the worst. They think they’re hip or something, but they just look like a 5 year old who never learned how to grow up. They probably go to work and sit in high chairs and spill cheerios all over their ugly faces. It’s only fun when they fall. When they try to look cool and jump over a pothole, but instead they just eat shit. That makes my day.
And it's not just the people that really piss me off. It’s the iHop. It’s the Taco Bell. It’s the giant advertising of nonsense nobody gives a flying fuck about. It’s the guy selling mangoes in plastic bags as if anyone would ever buy that garbage. It’s the old man who plays the same obnoxious beat on his little pots and pans, keeping me up at night. Learn a new beat. Pick up a harmonica. Do anything different. It’s everything about Union Square Park, the lamest park in the city. It's just dirt. And this is my home. And I hate it all.
That’s what’s on my mind.
Oh also, this college scandal is hilarious. Parents bribing colleges to get their kids into their stupid schools. I just like visualizing the phony kids posing for tennis team pictures, and they can't figure out how to hold a racket. And the photographer is just standing there like, "Do these kids really play tennis or are their parents paying millions for them to pretend?"
What thinkers. What scholars. Man, people are great.
By the skin of your teeth – Lips
Drag race – Women and men dressed in drag run a 5k
A fish out of water – When a fish is at a restaurant and asks a waiter to refill her glass
Neither here nor there – nowhere
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – please don’t kill your children
Busy as a bee – when you have to make a lot of honey
That came out of left field – Ted Williams
Everybody keeps telling me temperatures are rising, but nobody knows what they’re talking about. Every adult I meet has an answer. Daddy, Mommy, and even Donalbain, my pet bearded dragon, seem to have all the answers. But they don’t. They can’t predict the future. Nobody can predict the future. Except for me. I may only be eight years old, but trust me I’m psychic.
Ever since I was four years old, I remember hearing about global warming. I didn’t get it. How did me throwing my biscuit wrapper in the wrong bin relate to the earth getting toasty? Nobody gave me a good explanation. Mommy just yells at me and Daddy never recycles. He told me that farts from cows are the reason for global warming. But if I were a cow, I would fart as much as I wanted because sometimes, it’s just fun. Like when I’m in my bed and everybody else is asleep. And I don’t think daddy should say anything because he drives a 2002 Ford F-150, and it smells like a skunk’s butt.
But like I said, I can predict the future pretty goodly. When mommy threw a vase at daddy, I predicted that they wouldn’t be living together for much longer. I was right. When my school teacher tripped and fell in class, I predicted that Ronnie would laugh and get in trouble. I was right. Ronnie was taken to the principal’s office. If you don’t believe me, you can ask anybody who knows me because they would tell you that I’m smart. They would tell you I am psychic.
When mommy first told me that I was causing greenhouse gasses, I told her she was wrong. She told me I better watch my mouth, and I told her that it is hard to watch my mouth if I don’t have a mirror in front of me. She took away my video game privileges and told me to go outside. So I went in the backyard and pretended to be a cow. I farted all over the place.
Eventually, mommy came outside and tried to apologize, but she is never really good with that sort of thing. I ignored her failed apology, and I told her why she was wrong. I told her that she is a large woman and I am a small boy, so when she breathes, she emits large amounts of CO2. I only emit small amounts. I also told her that I planted three saucer magnolia trees in my school yard, and I’ve never seen her plant anything. I also said she was silly because she always brags about her electric car, but she takes long cruises every few months. Cruises make me seasick. They also emit more CO2 than I ever will.
But the thing that really makes me mad lately, is that mommy and daddy keep talking about what will happen in the year 2050. I keep saying that they’ll both be dead by then, but I whisper that to myself so they don’t hear me. I don’t think warmer temperatures will make me dead in 2050. That’s what Jeremy talks about at school, and it makes me scared just thinking about it. I don’t like him. He’s always angry about something. In 2050, I think we’ll all be sweating too much. That’s my prediction. Nobody’s talking about it, but we’re all going to stink. Every one of us. We’ll walk outside, and it will be so toasty we will just start sweating. You’ll go try to have a play-date with a friend, but you’ll get tired too fast and will have to go inside. And then you will have to crank up the a/c, and that will just use more energy from burning something, which will lead to greenhouse gasses. It will get so toasty that you won’t want to bike or walk to school anymore. You’ll be so fed up with sweating all the time, you’ll hop back in your 2002 Ford F-150 and speed right down the road without a care in the world. That’s what will happen in 2050. And I don’t like it.
I still think it’s funny, though, because nobody explains anything. For the past year, I’ve been throwing away my banana peels in the blue recycle bin. But I just found out that our recycling company can only recycle paper. Banana peels are not paper.
I also used to throw away whole chunks of broccoli in the blue bin. Chunks of broccoli are not like paper at all. But nobody cares to tell you these things when you’re a kid. People just scare me. That’s all they like to do. People like to yell, and they like to scare. When Aunt Tricia died in the Fall, mommy told me that I would end up like her if I didn’t eat my chunks of broccoli. But if I’m going to tell truth, I’ve never seen grandma eat a chunk of broccoli in her whole life and she seems to be doing just fine. Jeremy told me during reading class that I was a stupid person because I sometimes stutter when I talk. You should not say something if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
I may be a very smart eight-year-old, but I do not know everything. I went to feed Donalbain last night. Donalbain is lucky because he will be dead by 2050. Before I fed him his crickets, I looked at him. He was smiling. It was nice. I rarely smile. I don’t like that. I am good to Donalbain, but he lives a really sad life. He has no friends, and he has no family. The crickets are the only people he can talk to, but he has to eat them. He can’t go for long walks, and his only toy is a dirty rock. I give him water, but I sometimes even forget to give him that. And even with all that, he looks at me and smiles.
Donalbain is not like Jeremy. Jeremy is always insulting people. Probably because his parents are always insulting him. But with a haircut like that, he sometimes deserves it.
Donalbain is not like daddy. He doesn’t blame cows for his own responsibilities.
Donalbain is not like mommy. He doesn’t yell at me without knowing what he’s talking about.
Donalbain is not like me. He smiles.
I don’t want to confuse anybody because I don’t like being confused. A smile will not cause 2050 to be a less sweaty year. There may be nothing we can do to stop 2050 from being the sweatiest year of all time. But if people stop yelling at each other, I think it won’t be so bad. I think we should leave the cows alone and let them fart away while we eat salads. I think we should stop fake apologizes and start understanding the blue bins. We should be like Donalbain who never tells a lie. And he never has a frown.
I realize now that I really liked when I said I was psychic. Sadly, that was a lie.
It’s not always fun having insomnia. Actually, it’s never fun. But if your name is Susan B. Anchovy, and you live in an apartment on West Alabama, well then, you really have it bad. Susan was not only a big insomnia gal, but she was also a hard-working bus driver during the daytime hours. Unfortunately, she’s been fired seven times in the past year.
If you think Susan hasn’t tried to cure her disease, think again. She’s seen all the doctors, taken the pills, and even tried some sketchy natural remedies. Nothing worked. She put lavender on her pillow, but to no avail. She popped five Melatonin tablets but still had so much energy that she went for a twelve-mile run at three o’clock in the morning. But when she gets to work, it all hits her. Falling asleep at the wheel is never great, but when you’re a bus driver, it really is a bad look.
One Tuesday morning she fell asleep at a bus stop. The bus was packed with people trying to get to work on time, so a young man named Hans Smirnoff (first week at Wells Fargo), took the wheel and drove everybody to their destination. And boy, did he do a good job. Made every stop, and he still got to his job on time. And nobody knew that Susan had fallen asleep at the wheel. But a video of her sleeping went viral on Twitter later that afternoon, and she was fired.
Susan eventually gave up hope, and you can’t blame her. When all of your pillows are doused with lavender, every book on your bookshelf is about sleeping, and all your music comes from Spotify’s Sweet Dreams playlist, it can be hard to persevere. She lay in bed, head on pillow, eyes wide open, and mumbled, “I give up.”
Now listen closely. This is not a sad story. Most of the time when you hear someone say, “I give up,” you think it’s a bad thing. But not for sweet Susan. She became the most productive girl I’ve ever seen. She started doing research on plant biology, started a business selling nail clippers, and she even wrote a book detailing her whole life. And she did this all during the nighttime hours. Now the only problem was that she would crash for about three hours every day when the sun came up. Since three hours is not enough sleep, her quality of work was somewhat lower than subpar (if you are an avid golfer, please understand that, while your understanding of the word "subpar" connotes an advantageous outcome, within the context of the present story, "subpar" has a negative connotation, being essentially less good than normal).
Her research essay on plant biology was proven to be entirely false. She claimed that through photosynthesis, plants produce the NBA instead of ATP. She also made bold claims, stating strawberries were the superior fruit, and apples should not be considered real food. The business that sold nail clippers- I’ll give her credit it’s impressive she made it happen- but they were driven out of business after three weeks. She sold twelve sets of clippers, which is not bad considering she lives in a town of thirty five residents (also a bit concerning that so many people didn’t own nail clippers).
Now, the novel she wrote. Her autobiography. That was the biggest disaster of them all. She was talking nonsense from page one. She started out talking about dropping out of high school, but didn’t even mention her experiences in adolescence until page 220. And around page 600, there was a four-page essay about why bananas tasted better than mangos. Susan was losing it, but she cared about fruit.
Looking back on it, it sort of was a sad story. Most insomnia stories are. It’s hard to win when you can’t sleep. Just tired all the time, moping around. It’s a struggle. So if you ever see Susan B. Anchovy, send a smile (and maybe a strawberry) her way because she needs it.
The bees knees – A scientist explaining the anatomy of a bee before getting fired
Hit the hay – when a farmer is mad
Cliff-hanger – Your sketchy “friend” who you’re pretty sure hanged his old college roommate, Cliff
Accidents will happen – said by people who are about to cause a problem
Excuse my French – When an idiotic tourist struggles to ask for directions in Paris
Dark horse – sorry, that’s racist
Fast asleep – When a fat guy tries to explain that he goes 7-9 hours without eating every single day
I was tired and confused, and I wished I didn’t have mud all over my face. After falling asleep for the entirety of Abe Lincoln’s remarks in Gettysburg, PA, I woke up annoyed. I lived a few miles down the road, but I really had no intention of attending this lousy event. I had planned to spend the day skipping rocks at the local pond to impress Suzanne (she often visited the pond, so I was pretty sure she would’ve seen me), but instead I had to “listen” to some guy talk.
My friend, well I wouldn’t really call him a friend, Roofus Topper, was the only real reason I showed up. He was all crazy about the war and thought it was just about the neatest thing he ever did see. I really didn’t care. If I don’t have to fight, then I’m not going to pay attention. But when Roofus woke me up, I was laying in the mud, and people were stepping on me as if I were some serf. Roofus started telling me about the speech. He said we were a nation under God, and today marked the birth of a new freedom. I don’t know what it means to be under God, frankly. My family practices Calvinism, but if you ask me, John Calvin was the biggest prick around. I’m supposed to believe that I am destined for Heaven because some fellow named John tells me so. I’m just not sure.
When Roofus saw Abe walking away alone, he pushed me over to run and see him. It was really a dreary day, so I was getting really angry that Roofus made me come to this event in the first place. When he ran back to me, he was holding a piece of paper in his hands. It had a tea stain on it. He kept yelling about how it was the speech Abe had just delivered, but I didn’t care. I was thinking about Suzanne.
When I finally decided to pretend to listen, he gave me the sheet of paper. It was written with a scarlet crayon, which I found off putting. My teachers always tell me to never write in red pen, and I can assure you, Crayon looks even worse. Once I got over the ludicrous color, and the pathetic attempt at cursive, I was able to read most the words. It said something about all men being equal, but based on our bathroom setup at school, I feel like somebody’s being a hypocrite. Then, he brought up the civil war, which I really wished people would just shut up about already. That’s all I hear nowadays. Civil war this, civil war that. Nobody’s taking about this bathroom situation. And nobody’s talking about the fact that our president uses Crayons. Once he started talking about dead people, I realized he gave this speech at a cemetery. That means when I fell asleep in the mud, I was probably sleeping on some fat soldier who couldn’t run away from the guns fast enough. I read a book about guns a few weeks ago, and I'm convinced we should go back to sword fighting. It was more efficient.
Abe later talks about how the world can never forget what the people did here. But I was never told what these dead people did in the first place. He talks about the unfinished work these men fought for, but honestly, I feel like Abe was just rubbing it in. If they’re already dead, you don’t have to emphasize the fact that they didn’t finish their job. He signed his name at the bottom, Abe the babe, which I found childish.
Reading this made me finally snap. I told Roofus to die in a hole, and I think he took the hint. Once he was out of sight, I started walking over to the pond. When I arrived, I started picking up the smoothest rocks I could find. I kept looking around for Suzanne, hoping she would show up and smile in my direction. She never showed. And who am I kidding, I didn’t have a shot with her. I didn’t even know how to skip rocks. I just chunk them at the pond and they fall right in. It’s like throwing a frisbee. I’ve seen other people do it, but when I throw it, it just flies way right, hitting the Johnson’s dog in the face.
I was getting ready to leave when I saw a tall, top hat approaching the pond. It was like seeing a shark fin. It gets your attention, but you only enjoy it from a distance. As it moved closer, I could make out the body underneath it. It was Abe the babe.
He stood across the pond. He smiled at me. It wasn’t a Suzanne smile, but I didn’t care about that dimwit anymore. I’d never seen a smile like this. It just warmed my heart. My heart grew three sizes like the Grinch, and I don’t even know who the Grinch is.
This smile was truly like no other. He had the most beautiful pearly whites in all the land. Toothbrushes aren’t exactly common, but this man had figured something out. They were so clean, I could see my reflection in them all the way across the pond. I could see my ugly smile staring back at me. It made me feel good. Respected. Loved.
Then I realized something.
Those teeth weren’t real.
It was all a scam. He didn’t care about cleaning his teeth. This was no honest Abe that the townspeople made him out to be. This was a man who had no respect for humanity. His smile that once warmed my heart slowly faded. He could see in my eyes that I knew the truth behind his artificial smile. He gave me a head nod, then reached his left hand into his mouth. His hands were massive. This was the first president that had been mistaken for a sasquatch. He reached in his mouth and pulled out his dentures, throwing them into the pond. It was disgusting. He started yelling at me, but he couldn’t speak because he had no teeth. He said something like, “Guary mool yuske ryisk warwar wah,” but one could say that it was more like, “Wulby haj yorfu wicker wam.” To this day, I’m still not sure which one it was. But it was evil.
Spit was flying everywhere, and his body was spazzing out of control. He threw his top hat into the pond, and then shouted “wuffer muffer!” before jumping in after it. His diving form was flawless. He was a pre-modern Greg Louganis. It got quiet for a moment. Dark clouds started to cover the sun. I stood still. Then before you could say “civil war shenanigans,” Abe Lincoln was swimming full speed ahead straight towards me. I didn’t know what to do. This had all happened so fast.
I had to trust my instincts. I threw off my shirt and my burlap sack, and I dove into the pond. I couldn’t see because the pond was disgusting due to pollution (another thing nobody’s talking about), but I kept swimming. I was going as fast as I could until my hand hit a top hat. I started wailing. Fists clenched, I started beating this man. I couldn’t stop myself. We were coming up and out of water, then back down again. I had a remarkable jab to the mouth that would have knocked some teeth out if he had any. That lying bastard. He was getting old, but he put up a good fight. He gained control of the battle when he grabbed my hair and held me underwater. I was fighting ferociously, but he was too strong. I heard a voice call out from above the water. It was Suzanne.
This girl was ready for anything. She jumped into the pond as well, but she had a sledgehammer and was wearing blue and yellow swimming goggles. She knew how to prepare. Abe got scared and started to swim away frantically, but Suzanne was too fast. She caught up to him and knocked him out with one strike. He didn’t die or anything, but he definitely wasn’t organizing any battles that night.
When I finally walked over to the bench near the pond to thank Suzanne, I looked her in the eyes for the first time. Her eyes had this gruesome yellow tinge to them. It was really unsettling. She said not to worry about it then asked me if I wanted to go on a date with her to see her friend play in a rugby game. I told her no because I had to go home to shower.
I was upset with myself, I’m not gonna lie. I had attempted to murder the president because he was a liar, but I was a liar myself. I was able to cope with it. Abe was a lying moron. But in my case, I just can’t look at yellow eyes. It’s gross.
Comments that Guarantee no Second Date
“Would you like to go to Soul Cycle tomorrow?”
“I thought we could start with some icebreakers.”
“Humans do not actually exist.”
“I don’t believe in washing your hands.”
“Who’s Paul McCartney?
“You’re totally a Virgo.”
“Ariana Grande has really brought something new to music.”
“There are certain situations when manslaughter is ok.”
“No spoilers!” (when you mention the film Titanic)
“Add me on Snapchat!"
Comments that Deserve No Response
“Truth or dare!”
“Can I ask you a weird question?"
“You see that girl over there?”
“I think I know you.”
“You look tired.”
"What time is it?"
“I didn’t technically cheat on you.”
“The urinals here are really cool.”
“I don’t think we should talk anymore.”
Just turn and walk away
“I’m pursuing an acting career, and I’d like to tell you about it.”
“I’m traveling around Europe for a few years to find myself.”
“You won’t believe this!”
“I just don’t know if he likes me or not.”
“What do you mean by ‘annoying?’”
“Nice to meet you” (when they have bad breath)
“Dude, I got plastered last night, you won’t believe what happened.”
“I had a ham sandwich for lunch” (when you ask them what they did over the summer)
“You haven’t seen Hamilton on Broadway?!”
“What frat are you in?”
Chick flick – When you flick a young chicken across the room
More bang for your buck – prostitution
Steal my thunder – Zeus would often accuse people of this
Take a back seat – Rosa Parks declined
Better late than never – said the captain of the rescue ship sent to find the Titanic
Cool as a cucumber – When you think you’re cool, but you’re not at all
Chip on your shoulder – When you wake up after a long night of drinking, and you find an old Pringle resting on your shoulder, so it becomes your breakfast
Boy was depressed mainly because his mother and father had decided to name him “Boy.” As a seven year old child, Boy ran away from home, but he only made it to the next door neighbor's front yard. At age nine, he attempted to steal all his parents' savings, but he took all the fake money from the family's Monopoly set. He didn't get very far with that. He was not thrilled with his life, but he was often too dumb to make any changes.
After graduating from Winthrop University in South Carolina, Boy decided to ‘find himself.’ His therapist in college told him it was the right thing to do. He had spent four years at Winthrop completely wasting his time. He received his MBA in Undeclared, and he had a minor in plumbing. He never held a job, never explored internships, and had essentially zero extracurricular activities. He was often seen visiting the campus library, but he is illiterate so no one is quite sure what he was actually doing over there. He made no friends and never talked to his professors. When it comes down to it, all Boy did there was waste his time.
In order to find himself, he decided he needed to go elsewhere. Get out of South Carolina. Get away from Mother, Father, and Cousin. Cousin was Boy’s younger brother and was often a burden on the whole family. Boy decided the best place to find himself would be in Syria. Had Boy not been so illiterate, he probably would have known that Syria is not the best place to visit right now. But once Boy had an idea, he followed through. That was about his only good characteristic.
When he stepped onto Syrian lands for the first time, Boy was mesmerized. He’d never seen anything so beautiful in his entire life. He had a cute girlfriend once, but that didn’t last long.
He flew into the Aleppo International Airport, and he really did enjoy his flight. The only downside of the trip was when he pulled out the Planters Peanuts he had packed in his carry-on bag, the woman next to him swatted it out of his hands due to her apparent peanut allergy, or just plain distaste for Planters Peanuts. The last time he boarded a plane was when he was in Mother’s womb on the family trip to Italy.
Boy was not aware that the majority of people he would come across spoke only Arabic, but he was a very expressive kid, so he got by okay. The nearest Airbnb available was all the way over in Beirut, so he decided to crash with some college kids at the University of Aleppo. They couldn't understand him, but they thought he was funny looking, so they kept him around. Boy often hung out throwing the frisbee and playing bocce ball during the days. On weekends, he would go to the local pool with his new friends. He became close friends with Rasheed, who kindly let Boy sleep on his floor. They had no air mattress, but Boy found it quite comfortable.
Boy and Rasheed were competing to make the best staircase on an Etch A Sketch when Mother called. She said she wanted him to come home immediately because she read the headlines on Al Jazeera and became worried that Syria might actually be dangerous. Boy made the counterargument that nobody in South Carolina had ever wanted to play Etch A Sketch with him, but Mother was not persuaded. Boy put up a good fight while keeping his voice steady. He had a strong thesis and made all his points clear while providing evidence and a conclusion sentence for every point he made. He really did learn something in college after all. But Mother had made up her mind.
"So you can make up your mind, but you can't make your bed like I can," said Boy.
Making his bed was one activity Boy had always been exquisite at. But Mother did not appreciate this comment one bit. She told Boy she was booking him a flight home as they were speaking, but the website of the Aleppo International Airport was in Arabic, a language Mother was not well-versed in. She had intended to figure out the language, but she never did. She was taking basket weaving classes Monday through Friday while raising her youngest son, Cousin, so she was never able to spend the time she needed with Rosetta Stone.
Feeling liberated, Boy was able to clearly make the superior staircase on his Etch A Sketch. Rasheed was a competitive lad, so this grinded his gears. Rasheed told Boy he also sucked at bocce ball, but Boy didn't understand a single word. After slamming his Etch A Sketch on the ground, Rasheed told Boy he could no longer stay in his dorm room. Due to the language barrier, Boy did not receive this message well. He understood Rasheed was angry, but he figured he would patch things up when they returned to the dorm.
That evening, after supper, Boy walked over to Rasheed’s dorm. Hearing the knocking, Rasheed opened up before slamming the door in Boy’s face. Dumbfounded, Boy kept knocking. He knocked and knocked but to no avail. He sluggishly walked out of the dorm and into the streets where he continued to sulk.
What happened to Boy, nobody knows for sure, but chances are he is still sulking in Syria. The last sighting of Boy was on the front page of Al-Thawra, a Syrian newspaper. He had unknowingly been participating in a protest against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president who Boy thought had died years ago.
I saw an ad in the paper for Arnold Jimmers, the man who predicts the past. Looking on Yelp, I read one five-star review after another. The man was loved and was hailed as the greatest palm reader of all time in the Tri-state area. On a Friday night, I made the decision I would give it a shot. I’m a very superstitious person, but I am also very suspicious of these things, especially when they receive auspicious reviews. I set my alarm for five o’clock in the morning so I could guarantee to be the first in line. Dr. Jimmers opens shop at nine o’clock. I pulled my Star Wars sheets over me, and I fell right to sleep.
When an alarm wakes me up, I wake up angry. This morning was no different. I grabbed my alarm clock and hurled it across the room, straight into my lava lamp. Both objects exploded, so I jotted down in my to do list to make a trip to Kmart to replace these items later. I put on my cargo shorts, my loafers, and my bucket hat, and stepped out the door. I was so angry that I forgot to eat breakfast, so when I felt my stomach rumble, I let out a scream on Third Avenue.
When I arrived at Dr Jimmers’ “Predictions for Winners,” I found that I was just slightly too late. I was third in line. The first guy in line was a loser. He was picking his nose, and he wasn’t even doing it right. The woman between us was hideous. She was wearing makeup but it was more like she drew on her face with crayons.
We had to wait for hours before the place opened, but there was no chance I was going to start a conversation with these two dweebs. To pass the time I thought about this Ted Talk I watched the other day on YouTube. I thought about it because I’m pretty sure the man who delivered the speech was also named Arnold. He talked about how you can calm your mind and control it. He said that if you wanted to never feel angry, you don’t have to. You can channel your awareness where you want it. So if you’d rather be happy, switch your mind away from anger to something pleasant. I thought about this for a while, and I thought it made sense. But I like my anger. It gives me something to do. If I didn’t get angry and shatter my alarm clock every morning, then I wouldn’t go to Kmart every day. What would I do with all that time?
When I finally turned around, there were hundreds of people behind me, all lined up to see Dr. Jimmers predict their past. People were wearing pants, dresses, swim trunks, everything you could imagine. All to see what Jimmers had to say.
At 9:15am, it was my turn. I was excited, but I was still suspicious. Jimmers was a slender man, about 6 foot 4. He had a confident look on his face. I think he’s Cuban.
I put out my hand, and he started rubbing it with oils. I could be wrong, but it smelled just like the Aveeno hand lotion I have back home. He coughed four times on my hand, which I felt must be unsanitary, but I went along with it. He then sneezed on my hand, and that’s where I drew the line.
“What was that!” I yelled. I wish I said something better than that.
“It’s part of the process,” Jimmers said. His eyes glimmered, but I really think this was all a hoax.
“You’re a pathetic slime nut!” I really had him there.
“Just ask me a question, son.”
“Fine. Why did Carol leave me?”
He stared at me for a moment.
“You know why.” He had a soft smile, and he motioned for me to leave.
I looked at him for a solid four seconds, and then I walked toward the door. Then, I remembered Carol telling me she was going to leave me if I broke one of her alarm clocks ever again. And boy, did I do just that.
“You really are the real thing Dr. Jimmers,” I said. “You really are.”
You are what you eat – cannibals
Round Robin – Batman sidekick’s nickname in high school when he put on a few pounds
Cold Turkey – A wild turkey who stumbles out of his home into the night, forgetting to put on a fleece
Close, but no cigar – When you vape, thinking it will be as cool as smoking a cigar, but it just isn’t quite there
Double Cross – Jesus in another dimension
All things must pass – a stance on immigration
A dog is a man’s best friend – someone who has no friends
The Mayans often receive credit for inventing the calendar, but credit actually belongs to two farmers Carter and Willis. The two men worked long days but often got distracted. They were supposed to be rending to their wheat fields, but they would get tired and eat the wheat. In the evenings, they would walk to their shed where they worked on their calendar.
“It’s all done,” said Willis.
“Finished,” said Carter.
“What?” asked Willis.
“It’s finished. ‘It’s done’ sounds like it has been cooked” said Carter. They got into useless quarrels over grammar quite often.
They had finally completed their arduous task, but Willis felt like something was missing.
“I feel like something is missing,” said Willis.
“We should include pictures for all the blank pages, so if people hang up their calendar, they can also look at a different picture for every month.”
Carter shook his head. “What pictures would we put in?
Willis thought long and hard, which was the only way people thought back then.
“Dogs. Cats. Cartoons. Maybe women in swimsuits.”
“Hmm. Those all sound intriguing to me.”
And they really were intrigued, so they wound up doing it. They didn’t know any women who would model for them. And dogs weren’t domesticated yet. So they just drew stick figure swimsuit models petting dogs. Every month had a very similar drawing. But this was 45 BCE and people weren’t very creative yet.
“It looks fantastic,” said Willis as he admired their now official final product.
Carter nodded his head in agreement.
A mosquito with a broken wing flew by and landed on Carter’s nose. Willis thought about telling him a mosquito was on his nose, but then he started scratching his own nose and forgot about Carter.
“So what day is today?” asked Willis.
“Well…It’s day one. So it should be January first.”
“That’s no fun.”
“I like it.”
“We should make today the last day. So we can celebrate the new year tomorrow.”
“Oh. That sounds like fun.”
Carter said it sounded like fun, but there was really no reason to think this meaningless celebration would be any fun at all.
“Why would we celebrate the new year?” Carter asked. “It’s just a useless system we made up.”
“That’s why it would be fun” Willis said. Willis was always looking for fun.
“Well it’s getting close to midnight,” Carter said.
They stood quiet for a while. They realized they needed to figure out how to celebrate this day, and they needed to decide quick. Time wasn’t ticking (clocks were not yet invented), but time was definitely moving.
“Happy new year.” Willis said.
Willis stared into Carter’s eyes. It was a new year, and they still hadn’t celebrated. All of a sudden, Willis leans in to Carter and plants a fat kiss on his lips.
“Sorry,” said Willis.
“What was that for?” asked Carter.
“I’m not sure. I just thought…Well, it was a new year and all so…I thought I needed a kiss to start the new…I don’t know…I just…”
Willis couldn’t explain himself. Traditions start in weird ways like this sometimes. Carter stood still. He was confused, but he didn’t seem to mind the kiss. After an awkward silence, Carter spoke up.
“Next year, we should do something else. Maybe fireworks. Or just drop a ball.
For Christmas this year, there are a few things I would like:
dear santa, i changed my mind about pete. so i could just use some advice this year
“If he doesn’t choke to death right here right now, I’m gonna kill him myself.” This is what my friend Charlie said as Mr. Shrewer choked on a fried brussels sprout. But before I resolve this, I must give some back story.
If you didn’t know Jeremy Shrewer, you should be thankful. Shrewer was the most distinguished poet of his time, and he knew it. He let everybody know it. Walking down the streets of London, he would shout things like “I’m a poet and I know it” or “I’m a poet and my sister is dead.” He often wrote about his dead sister.
Shrewer once said in an interview with Ira Glass that “poems don’t have to rhyme.” What a pretentious poet thing to say. He acted like he was deep and knowledgeable, but he really didn’t know much at all. In an interview with David Letterman, Shrewer stated, “All my poems reveal a secretive truth about the world. They all have an underlying message.” Again, he talks as if he knows what he is talking about, but if you ignore his Nobel Peace Prizes and his Pulitzer Prizes, you’d realize he really is an idiot. He wrote one poem that went like this:
A dog waits for his food.
A man refuses to give him food.
The dog barks. He is mad.
Never be forgetful.
Maya Angelou said this was the most powerful poem she had ever read, but I’m pretty sure she was high when she said that.
Anyway, Shrewer spent his days writing in the mountains. He eventually relocated to Geneva, but I have been told that was only because he wanted to go straight to the source of Evian water.
My friend Charlie and I were meeting up for a quick lunch break. We always had the same lunch break on Wednesdays, so it became our thing. Charlie suggested we meet at Chez Marino because he told me, “Oh, Alfonso. The casual Italian dining room is to die for. Just wait until you see the terrace.” Sometimes Charlie made me wish I had other friends. But I met him still, and I stood outside waiting for him. As I waited, my mind was blown. The great Jeremy Shrewer passed by me and entered the restaurant. I’m pretty sure he mumbled something like “A poem a day keeps the doctor away,” but I can’t say for sure. And the fat liar clearly doesn’t write all day if he takes lunch breaks in casual Italian dining rooms.
Soon after, Charlie showed up. He was too excited about the terrace, he wasn’t even listening to what I was saying, but that all stopped when he saw Shrewer’s calves. “I’d recognize those droopy calves a mile away,” he said. He was a bad friend, but he had excellent vision.
We were seated at a table adjacent to Shrewer. Captivated by the man before us, we had lost our appetite and told the waiter to stop bothering us. We were fixed on the man. The legend. The pathetic poet. We eavesdropped carefully as he ordered a margherita pizza like we knew he would. He’s written hundreds of poems about margherita pizzas. His most famous was a haiku.
I like my pizza
Warm and fuzzy, oh yes
The pizza is mine
This one had nothing to do with the Margherita itself, but it was entitled “Ode to Margherita Pizzas.”
As Shrewer anxiously awaited his pizza, a waiter brought out some fried brussels sprouts. This was some depressing Italian dining. I expect some warm bread and oil, not fried brussels sprouts. But Shrewer ate his sprouts, and he chewed like an animal. He’s a poet, so he’s not the most coordinated person. He missed the sprout a couple times and bit his lip instead. This caused him to let out some winces of pain. As he got to the final sprout, he plopped that ball into his mouth so fast, it went straight down his esophagus. Finally, some action. He seized up and grabbed the edge of the table hard with his right hand. His veins were popping out of his forearm, but I could tell he didn’t go to the gym very often. His rapid breathing through his nose caused an annoying whistle sound, but otherwise he wasn’t able to make much noise. All of a sudden, he stood up. Mouth hanging open, he continued to nose whistle. It was almost to the tune of “Piano Man” except that the pitch was off, and it sounded more like a hippopotamus taking a bath. As he stood there, choking, his eyes were bulging, trying to find something or someone to put an end to his pain. Charlie and I sat there and watched. Shrewer wasn’t looking his best.
Charlie became impatient and told me he was going to put a quick end to this mess, but a waiter burst into the scene. Except the waiter didn’t notice the scene at all. He just adjusted the position of chairs and put some forks on a couple tables. Meanwhile Shrewer was getting purple in the face, like a plumb or a really rotten tomato. He started doing squats, and with the combination of his nose whistle it looked like a bizarre mating call. Drool slowly spilled out of his mouth like honey falls out of a jar. Flying through the air, Shrewer jumped onto the table. This got the clueless waiter’s attention. But instead of running over to do CPR, the waiter ran off to call the police because Shrewer looked like a madman causing a disturbance. The truth is he was a madman causing a disturbance. I wanted to enjoy a nice Italian lunch, not watch a madman choke on a table.
When the door to the kitchen opened again, three policemen stormed in. One was short and stubby, the second was blond like a surfer, and the third looked like Robert Frost. Shrewer had slipped and fallen hard onto the table, his head crushing a glass. He lay there with some blood on his head, still wheezing, trying to rid the brussels sprout. Stubby handcuffed him as Surfer lifted Shrewer off the table to take him away. Robert Frost spat on the ground then followed his coworkers out of the fine Italian dining room.
Shrewer died that day. There were no more poems about Margherita Pizzas, and no more poems about Evian water. And as much as I’m thankful for that day, I wish Charlie was dead too.
Snow falling on the glass window
Strong winds blow
She sleeps, she wakes, she sleeps again
Turning and tossing each night
Graceful sleep, eyes closed
She yearns for love
Arms bent, body curled
She dreams of love
Shooting stars play in her mind
As the time slowly drifts by
Her head on my stomach, I breathe
She awaits her inevitable cry
In and out the breath goes
She shakes and twitches
Mouth closed, she uses her nose
She wants to sleep at night
Golden hair, pink shirt
Lying still on the couch
No pain, no one’s hurt
Relaxed, with sleep tonight
I turn the page quietly
I am conscious of my breath
She begins to twitch again
I am conscious of my breath
Dreaming aimlessly, deep in thought
A stress-free world seems real
All the duties are forgotten
And we’re on the beach for real
The waves crash, dolphins jump
Into the sky they soar
Sand in her toes, she flexes her feet
She walks into the water's roar
The dolphin stops to say hello
Her feet are clenching sand
The dolphin stares into her eyes
The girl lends out a hand
She takes her in, she feels so free
A rush of blood to the head
Crystal clear water shines
I hope this day won’t end
Heart beats fast
Breath slows down
Have faith within
Asleep under the sea
Fish surround her
With friendly smiles
Happy to see her stand
The dolphin stares into her eyes
Oh boy, this day is grand
She approaches the surface
Her heart is racing
She wants the people she knows
Her breath slows, her head rises
Above the surface water
Water drips from golden hair
Golden droplets hit the sea
She lies awake, she lies free
Only now is she able to see
Reality approaches like a sudden intruder
She looks to the sky for hope
Her mind distracted, she turns to see
The dolphin say goodbye
Her mouth was open but now is closed
Her lips shield her teeth
She makes a smile and all the while
Has the feeling underneath
Joyfulness hides in every day
Behind roads, trees, and under the water
You seek you find, if you want
To talk to the dolphin today
Miss the water, miss the joy
Every day is a gift
Miss the dolphin, miss the sand
We miss the beach and its mist
She sleeps now and soon will wake
But the dolphin always stays
The smile can sometimes fade away
But the dolphin always stays.
“I love you.”
Abigail stared at me for too many seconds.
“I love you.”
She didn’t mean that.
“You don’t mean that.”
“I do. I just wasn’t expecting it.”
I sat down, and I looked down. Everything about me felt down.
“Reve, I just don’t know how I feel.”
I looked up, but I still felt down.
“I fall in love too easily. And I don’t want it to happen again."
“You don’t want to fall in love with me.”
Abigail moved her eyebrows around in a way I didn’t like.
“I don’t like that word.”
She nodded her head, and I looked back down. She kept talking.
“I love pancakes, I love my life, I love this weather, I love my shoes, I love The Sun Also Rises, I love kissing you, and I love you. I say that stupid word all the time, and it doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
“I know it doesn’t mean anything, but I still feel it.” Not the smartest thing I could have said.
“How do you know you feel it then?”
My head was still down. I wanted to sink into the floor and be sunken away forever. But I am also an optimist, so I was still hopeful this conversation would go somewhere that I wanted it to go.
“I don’t think love is special –
“Can we stop saying that word?”
I looked up. And I looked into her eyes. People often romanticize eyes, but they’re just eyes. I did like her eyes, though.
“I care about you more than anything. Is that not love?”
Abigail wasn’t looking down or up. She was pacing around with a stern look.
“How would you define love?”
Before I could answer, she continued.
“Love doesn’t mean anything until it does.”
I must have looked confused. She went on.
“When my dad had a heart attack, I had a panic attack, and I thought I had lost him. And I was depressed because I never told him I loved him. And now I tell him ‘I love you’ every time I see him because now it means something. It doesn’t mean anything until it does. I always cared for him and felt the same as I do now, but there was no point in saying the phrase. And now there is. But I don’t tell my mom the phrase. And I feel guilty about that sometimes, but that’s the way it is.”
She took a deep breath then continued speaking.
“I don’t think I’ll ever tell the person I marry that I love them. If something happens like a heart attack, then maybe I will. Or maybe something I can’t even fathom will happen, and I will say it all the time. But for the most part, it’s a meaningless phrase.”
She paused and stood still.
“You told me love was joy.”
I was watching her eyes, so it was difficult for me to listen at the same time.
“Do you remember that? Do you remember saying that to me?”
"Well if love is joy, what’s joy?”
I squinted my eyes and watched her feet walk around the fuzzy carpet. It felt good to walk on that carpet.
I don’t think anybody knows what joy really is, but I spend some time almost every day thinking about it. This is why I despise the English language sometimes. You can’t describe anything. You can’t understand anything. Nothing really means what you want it to mean. And you can’t articulate what you want to say because everyone feels the same way. I like speaking Spanish because they have words for everything. Like the word sobremesa. It’s the word that means the conversation you have after you finish dinner, and are still seated at the table, talking. That’s a real word. That saves time. That makes sense.
But I thought a lot about what joy means, so I felt I might as well say something.
“It’s something more.”
“Something more than what, Reve? Something more than what exactly? More than happiness? More than fun?” She always has a specific intention when she raises her voice.
“Well it lasts longer than happiness. And it lasts longer than fun.”
“So it’s permanent. That’s what you’re saying. Joy is permanent. So love is permanent. So you and I are going to get married and have kids and will always be in love. That’s what you’re saying.”
“I hope so.”
Her jaw dropped, but she wasn’t amazed or anything like that. More dumbfounded than anything.
“I hope so? That’s about the worst answer you could come up with.”
I feel the need to say that we might sound drunk, but we were both sober. Abigail has never even had a sip of alcohol. But I lie about things, so she may have lied to me as well.
“Joy is laughter,” I said. Another incredibly broad, meaningless statement. “Joy is the feeling you have when you smile for no reason. It’s the feeling I get when I sit alone at home during winter, and I stare at my Christmas tree. I sit on the floor alone and stare at the tree for hours. And I smile. And it shows on my face, and I feel it in my bones. It’s also the feeling I get when I run in the street. A rush of joy comes over me when I realize how incredible it is to be alive. So I run in the street and yell, maybe sing, and I feel joy. And it’s also the feeling I get when I’m with you. When I see you smile, I have joy. But it’s weird because when I see you cry, I have the same feeling, but it doesn’t show on my face. I just hold you tight and we cry together. That’s joy.”
Abigail stopped pacing as she listened to all this. She really did listen. She came and sat down next to me, but not too close. When she started to speak, her voice sounded different. She was trying to whisper but was not successful. It just made her sound nervous.
“But does it go away?”
I didn’t speak for a few seconds, but I wasn’t thinking about anything at all.
“And yet you yelled at me yesterday morning. And you punched a hole in the wall a couple months ago because you were so mad at me for no good reason. And last Tuesday you didn’t even speak to me, and you never told me why. So how can you say you have joy?”
“I blocked it out.”
“You blocked it out.”
“Yes. I have it. Everyone has joy, which we can agree now is a synonym for love, yes?”
When we first started going out I thought “sure” was a negative word, but she taught me that it really just means yes. I still don’t believe her sometimes.
“Okay. So everyone is born with love and joy, and you can always have it and give it, but sometimes it’s really hard to do that.“
"But why is it hard?”
I didn’t have an answer. But she did, so she continued talking.
“I think it’s difficult because people want to be sad. I’d go as far to say that people seek out being depressed. I don’t even think it’s an attention thing, but that might be part of it. Just think about all the people you know who say things like ‘man, I’m gonna kill myself.’ I don’t even care that it might be insensitive. I’m not offended. Say whatever you want. But that sort of thing doesn’t make sense to me. People enjoy feeling bad. People want to be near death, they want to curl up in a ball and cry, and they want people to know about it. They want the world to know how sad their life is. But people aren’t special. I hate when people think they’re special. I hate it. When people think they’re special, they isolate themselves and live in their head and feel superior but also feel miserable, and it’s this whole cycle that doesn’t make any sense. Everybody has terrible stuff happen to them, everybody has strange thoughts, and everybody has emotions. And sure, I think you’re right, everybody has love and joy, and people just don’t want to use it. They’re afraid because of their past or because of a lack of trust or something beyond my knowledge.”
Her knowledge is vast.
“I don’t care,” she continued. I really just don’t care.”
“You do care.”
“How do you know.”
“Because you think about it.”
“I don’t care about everything I think about.”
“Really? What are the things you think about the most?”
She shifted her position. She bent her knees and put her shirt over her knees and legs like little kids do sometimes.
“I think about food pretty constantly. I think about you a lot. I think about sex. I think about my future, like, stressing about what I have to do for the day…I think about Jamie.”
“And you care about everything you just said. All of that is meaningful to you in some way or another.”
She rocked back and forth.
“I suppose so.”
Both of us looked down at the fuzzy carpet. It needed to be vacuumed, but it wasn’t gross.
We stayed quiet until Abigail spoke again.
“I don’t love Jamie.”
I looked up at Abigail looking down at the fuzzy carpet. I couldn’t think of something to say, so I didn’t say anything.
“But I don’t love you either.”
For some reason this didn’t make me mad or sad.
“I know. Even though I don’t know what it means.”
“I don’t think it matters. But I do think there’s some truth to what you said about always having love. I think it also applies to loving people. I think there’s one person you meet in your life who you truly love. And maybe you marry the person or don’t speak too much to them, and either way maybe you don’t realize it, but it’s there and it’s there with that one person.”
“That’s a pretty dumb thing to say.”
I knew she wouldn’t like hearing me say that, but she always listens, so I continued.
“Love is a choice. You can love multiple people, and love fades away sometimes, and that’s just that. But don’t tell me everybody has one person. You know that’s ridiculous. You know love is a choice.”
“Love is a choice, sure. But I don’t want to choose you just like I didn’t want to choose Jamie. I’m going to choose the one person who I truly love.”
"How will you find that guy? How do you know I’m not that guy? How do you know it’s not Jamie?"
She pulled her legs out of her shirt and stood up. She swung her hair in my face, but she didn’t mean to.
“The guy will bring me joy.” She looked at me when she said this, which I didn’t particularly like.
“Do I not bring you joy?”
“You have it, you just don’t give it.”
I wish I spoke better Spanish. I want to move to Spain. I want to live in Madrid and live in one of those beautiful houses that look like a castle. And I want to be retired and just paint. I want to paint all day, and explore the world all night. And joy will always be rushing over me and inside me and I’d be spreading it around to all the lovely people I meet. I wouldn’t have a bad day. On the last Tuesday of December, I’d walk out of my beautiful home at night to start my usual exploration. And as I’d walk past La Rosaleda, I’d see a pretty girl, painting. And I’d know she was special because I am a painter and saw that she painted, but she didn’t know I painted so she wouldn’t realize anything yet. Then I’d tap her on the left shoulder because the right side of my face is my good side, and I’d say, “Eres mi persona especial a quien amo.” And she’d have the prettiest eyes in the world and they would glimmer with the reflection of the water and she’d say, “Ya lo sé.”