My thirteen-year-old niece Bella, 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 Bella’s jokes and more to Bella’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.
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.)
For the previous chapters of the Lynde Saga, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and (drumroll please) here. (These two sentences don’t count toward the hundred-word total.)
The day Paul Lynde died, my stepfather Curt and my Aunt Inez ran off together. I wasn’t surprised; she had always shown so much (unusual) affection toward Curt that I’d joked about her “schoolgirl crush” with the guys in my latest band, Nipple Clamp.
Anyway, Mom had turned into a blubbering wreck after her first marriage had collapsed, but now she led me in twirling, Fred-and-Ginger-style dance moves in our kitchen. I wouldn’t find out about Lynde’s death until twenty years later, by which time I’d started genuinely liking movie musicals, even the Auto-Tuned ones, though Mom still hates those.
Age 13, year 2000, my sister Jenna loved that boy band 98°. She imagined she’d marry the lead singer, Nick Lachey, even filling up whole pages of her junior-high social studies notebook with “Mrs. Jenna Lachey” written over and over in red marker in her bubbly handwriting, complete with hearts filled with smiley faces. 9 years later, long after she’d lost interest in that band, she did get married, to her lacrosse-player college boyfriend Curtis. They divorced after less than a year. Today, Curtis has a husband, Jenna has several guypals, and I have 6 cats and a not-bad 401(k).
When I drive past those townhomes called Caymus Estates, I think they’re Camus Estates. Then I think about the only Camus book I’ve read, one I read in college, The Stranger, about this white guy who kills an Arab in French Algiers for no reason, gets arrested and shows no remorse, and goes to the guillotine. Okay, first, the killer would’ve actually received a medal, everyone was so racist back then. And second, I received a D for the book report I wrote, souring me on litrachur. Eh, the book types bug me anyway—too aware. Only the clueless survive.
You know that 1966 song “96 Tears” by Question Mark and the Mysterians? Its writer, Question Mark himself, changed it from “69 Tears” because no radio station would play it otherwise. When I first heard that story as a college freshman in 1998, I laughed, since one of that year’s most popular songs, “Too Close” by Next, dealt in its entirety with some guy getting a boner while dancing close to his girl. Both hits from one-hit wonders who didn’t know about my virginity, now my forever virginity. Not that I expected them to, I guess. You can’t know everything.
I hated Windows 95 ’cause every time it crashed at work, that meant the computer guy would visit. “I have no problems with Windows,” he’d tell us haughtily. Then he’d stare at my breasts. Finally, one time, he did more than stare; he “tripped,” fell toward me, and grabbed a handful. “Oops,” he said.
I kicked him in the crotch. “Oops,” I said. The boss—an overgrown fratboy who’d stare at my ass—fired me. It took me forever to lose the lawsuit I filed. Now, twenty-five years later, I really hate Windows 95 ’cause it’s gained nostalgic hipster cachet.