Okay, okay, I heard you the first time. I’ll buy it after the game ends….No, they’ll still be open….Of course I’m sure. They have extended hours on Fridays, everyone wanting to stock up for the weekend. You of all people should know that….Yes, I have to watch this. Do you have to watch your fucking shows?…Well, too bad. Maybe you shouldn’t be a pothead then…Yeah, yeah, I’m a boozer….Okay, fine, I’ll go. But you gotta give me a blowjob first. Just don’t block the screen….Well, fuck you too….Bye, pothead……..When’ll they have real audiences at these games again? Fucking COVID.
The one argument too many, the death knell for all marriages regardless of the spouses or the American presidential administration, has arrived, caused by his, for the umpteenth time, having clipped his toenails several feet away from the wastebasket, keratinous crescents lying on the bedroom carpet, her usual annoyance over his thoughtlessness exacerbated by his refusal to apologize; instead, sitting in the living-room recliner, watching Eighties rockabilly videos on his phone, he chuckles deprecatingly at her, welcoming what follows as validation for his having mentally (and secretly) divorced her ass months earlier. Plus, bonus points, she can’t fucking stand rockabilly.
Another morning, another commute. Sitting in his car, stuck in traffic, he wonders if he should move to the city so he could live closer to the office, partake of high culture, and have his pick of fine ladies. But he realizes that even if he could afford moving, preferably to a gentrified area—low crime, unthreatening minorities—well, not minorities, you call them POCs, persons of color, now—well, eventually, the economy would contract, and that gentrified area would go to hell. Everything in the city goes to hell eventually. But suburbia endures. White bread’s packed with preservatives. Yum.
The Nineties, the Nineteen-Freaking-Nineties, started with that recession where I lost the clerical job I’d had for fifteen years. Buh-bye health coverage. And hello breast cancer. One lumpectomy later (including radiation therapy and reconstruction), and I had to go bankrupt. Then I started drinking. Then I got involved with a bigger drunk, a guy who liked beating me even when sober. Then the breast cancer returned and—not even that Seinfeld episode about Elaine’s nipple could salvage that decade. Plus I still miss the building where I’d had my clerical job. That place lacked so much character, it had character.
Alone in her dorm room at two AM, pounding away at her laptop, almost somewhat close to finishing that report due in seven hours, jacked up on energy drinks, Morgan speculates for some reason that her mother’s yoga instructor’s unmarried, childless, middle-aged, rabidly-Catholic, permanently pursed-lipped cousin, Bonnie Gurman, is probably either a virgin or a closet lesbian or both. For a few seconds, Morgan thinks she herself—a nonvirginal pansexual—should beneficently have sex with Bonnie.
Nah, not my type, Morgan decides. I like tawny skin. And big boobs. Does that sound shallow? Sorry, Bonnie. Hee hee. Why the hee-heeing?
When I was five, my mother decided I should learn piano, so I’d get cultured. This lady named Mrs. Birchak would visit for an hour every week, teaching me pieces such as “Tumbling Puppy” and “Ode to a Dumpling.” I grew to enjoy playing that instrument. But after a month, she told me at the beginning of class, “Well, dear, maybe you consider doing something else.” And she left. I never saw her again. Or played any instrument again. Seventy years later, I’ve started making colored sand bottles at the senior center. That counts as doing something else, I guess.
One night at the hospital, during the height of the pandemic, during her fourteenth straight hour on shift, after watching yet another patient die from COVID, a nurse’s aide named Carly, still wearing her PPE complete with mask and face shield, shuffled out of the ward, through the halls crowded with patients, and through the front exit. She got into her Kia and sat there, mulling over her options. Did she even have options?
Yes. She could terminate her selflessness. She could vacuum her car’s interior. She could check on that emergency intubation. She could pump air into her tires.
Almost a year into my pandemic-imposed layoff, hermitting inside my sublet, constantly wearing an effluvious white terrycloth bathrobe, I received an e-mail from the HR factotum in which she, quote, “regretfully,” unquote, announced that our employer, the publishing house where I myself had factotummed (as an editor, proofreader, and content provider) for half a decade would not rehire me, da da da, “good luck” thrown in as lagniappe that simultaneously increased my desultoriness and my inclination toward continuing to download Australian (I like kangaroos) metaphysics PDFs, the more abstruse the better, as a looming challenge to start reading and/or deleting.
Modern lesbianism: one day at Whole Foods, Meghan—that cute cashier with the pierced cheeks—flirtatiously invited me to her art opening. So the next night, I stopped by the Transmission Gallery (a former auto repair shop), where I stared at her sculptures, which resembled giant chthonic hairballs: fuzzy, tentacled, and seeping imitation blood. “Whadjoo think?” she asked, wearing a COVID mask and a flapper dress, both the same faded turquoise.
“TrèsDisney Channel,” I replied through my beige-and-beiger-checked mask. She giggled. And walked away. Oh well. I drove home alone, vowing to continue looking for affordable, non-crummy health insurance.
For the previous chapters of the Lynde Saga, see here, here, here, here, here, annnnnd here. (These two sentences don’t count toward the hundred-word total.)
At eight PM, the time this TV special started airing, my band The Splats stepped onstage at Guralski’s Bar to open for Highlife. Someone in the audience immediately shouted “Faggot!” and threw a beer bottle at me. It whizzed an inch past my head.
I got M-A-A-A-AD. I charged toward him.
A minute later, I lay on the floor, hearing Guralski himself tell my bandmates “No fuckin’ way I’m payin’ you for this. Now get the fuck outta here.”
“Awww,” I said with a mouthful of blood. “Can’t we see fuckin’ Highlife at least?”