One day, as Jessie and I lounged around at home, listening to some news show on the public-radio station, the host said “A warning to our listeners: this story contains graphic descriptions of the physical and sexual abuse of children.”
“Gentlemen, start your boners,” I said.
“YOU SICK BASTARD!” Jessie screamed.
“Come on, they obviously want to attract listeners, or they wouldn’t’ve said that.”
Jessie—not yet my ex-girlfriend—calmed down. You can’t joke about anything nowadays. And since my parents had treated me like dog crap for most of my childhood—ah, who cares? I care more that the news show host looks hot. (I Googled her photo.)
Marrying my longtime girlfriend, Darla the dental hygienist, was the best decision I’ve ever made, despite her attempted micromanagement of my teeth. She does this less often than she used to, but she still does it. Take this morning, for instance. “Oh, Jenna—your mouth guard has turned into a real petri dish,” she told me; she’d convinced me to wear a mouth guard at night to prevent further damage from my occasional bruxism (or tooth-grinding, which I’d apparently started doing years before I’d met her, and which she’d diagnosed soon after we’d started dating). For her, my oral appliance must represent the plastic manifestation of her love.
I’m glad I married Sandra. Though, thing is. she’s a dental hygienist? And she won’t let me forget it? Like, this morning, we’re in the bathroom, getting ready for the day, when she tells me “Oh, Jenna—your mouth guard looks like a real petri dish.” I’d just removed it, the mouth guard? And it looked clean to me. I wear it at night at her suggestion, to protect my enamel. I grind my teeth, which I’d apparently started doing years before I’d met her? And which she’d diagnosed soon after we’d started dating? I guess to her, the mouth guard symbolizes our love, excuse the fancy talk.
My sister Kim has sent me a voicemail barring me from any further contact with her children. “You wanna starve yourself to death? Fine. Just don’t convince them to do it.” Belle, the thirteen-year-old, had viewed the ana lifestyle with that “yeahhh, right” attitude that teenagers have toward everything. However, five-year-old Jasmine had taken me more seriously; she’d reacted with genuine alarm upon hearing that excessive weight can kill you or, worse, make you not fit into your favorite clothes. Perhaps she’ll encounter more thinspiration on the Internet. I know I’ll sound like an old hippie here, but we can’t change society without the younger generation’s help.
First Amendment? What First Amendment? The social media platforms keep banning my blog due to its alleged dangerousness. I guess this crap shouldn’t surprise me, since I live in America, the fattest nation on Earth. Right now I have my blog on Viddy, home for ultra-right-wingers who think Trump will hold his second inauguration in August, less that two months from now. Eh, that could happen, considering the political climate. You know what won’t happen, though? The ana lifestyle receiving any respect from “normal” society. But of course Trump, who subsists on fast food and lots of it, could possibly live forever. Anything can happen, dammit.
My thirteen-year-old niece Belle, who’d recently come out of the closet, told me the following joke: “Why do lesbians travel faster than gay men? Because lesbians can go lickety-split, while gay men are still packing their shit.” Okay, I laughed. Her mother—my sister Kim—had overheard the joke, however, resulting in a scene between them. Kim should pay less attention to Belle’s jokes and more to Belle’s diet; no matter your sexual orientation, you can’t succeed if you’re literally weighted down. Kim should pay more attention to her own diet, too, so she can set a good example for her daughter. That’s good parenting.
“It’s crappy,” my five-year-old niece said to me about the giant donut she’d nearly finished devouring. “It’s delicious, but it’s still crappy.” Yeah, I’ll say. Even looking at that frosted circular pastry (with rainbow sprinkles!) made my stomach bloat past my skinny jeans. She has an average physique, but if her parents don’t start improving her diet soon, she’ll make them look skinny by the time she hits puberty, no offense. Plus every time I visit her at their house, their extremely synthetic décor makes me want to get chemotherapy afterwards as a preventive measure. No one lives forever, but one can live smarter.
To support a wife and six kids, my Uncle Rex, who’d once harbored literary ambitions, wrote dozens of crappy paperback novels under various pseudonyms, with titles like Deathcar or The Terror Hunters or Backdoor Action!, novels you could find for sale sometimes at major department stores. He also sexually abused his youngest child, my mom Brandy, starting on her eighth birthday and ending five years later when he died from a heart attack, sitting at his typewriter, having just written the opening line to his latest book: “Brandi liked her whiskey straight.” No, his opening and closing line. A nice literary touch here.
One day for no reason, Tommy Durbin doused his six-year-old son Jason with gasoline and set him on fire. Jason survived but with third-degree burns over almost all his body. His father hanged himself with a bedsheet in prison while awaiting trial. Today, three decades later, Jason still lives with his mother. They “Amen” like fanatics every Sunday at the Baptist megachurch. He earns minimum wage as a stocker at the hardware store, has never had sex or even held hands with anyone, and for the last five years has considered having his teeth straightened. So even he has cosmetic concerns, buddy.
Five decades ago, after graduating from business school, I worked at a company run by Mr. Jenkins, a sadistic asshole whose office number was 101, reminding me of room one-oh-one from Nineteen Eighty-Four, still one of my favorite novels. That room, a torture chamber, represents female sexuality according to some ultra-Freudian essay I read after starting that job; the number 101 looks like a vagina, don’t you know, plus all men crave women and will go through hell to fuck them. I’m a gay guy, so, yeah, whatever.
Anyway, I hope Jenkins, who died in Nineteen Eighty-Five, had never gotten laid.
1982, art school: Sandra scored two tickets to the sold-out Haircut One Hundred concert, nonchalantly telling her best friend Fern “I blew someone who knew someone.” Seriously? All that mandibular effort for that group? “Practice makes perfect,” Sandra remarked with more nonchalance.
They attended the concert, having what they would later call, with a thermonuclear soupçon of sarcasm, “a rather pleasant time, yes indeed.”
Sandra would end up working as a sales manager at a high-end furniture store. She’d weep on 9/11 upon finding out Fern (a residential property field appraiser) had died that morning (from pancreatic cancer in Tallahassee).
Yo, DVM here. Thank you for tolerating the almost ten-thousand words of flash fiction I’ve written so far. Starting next time, the Flasher format will change. Tell your family and friends and total strangers and random opened energy-drink bottles and random unopened energy-drink bottles. (These four sentences don’t count as part of the above story.)