DOUG: [On phone] Can I get an order for pick-up?
JANET: [Separated by a wall; on phone] Go ahead?
DOUG: I’d like a salted pumice sheath, eight crabtree and evelyns, and a dickless massage?
JANET: [Writing it down] One sheath… crabtree and evelyn, and… We don’t have dickless massages today.
DOUG: OK… do you have steamed BBQ pork buns?
JANET: Yes. Are you vegetarian?
DOUG: [ashamed] Yeah….
JANET: [Laughing; she is perfect] That’s OK, I’m joking, we have them.
DOUG: Thank you.
JANET: OK, that’s gonna be… $42.36. Pork is expensive.
DOUG: I understand. Thank you.
JANET: OK, ten minutes, bye bye!!!!
In his affectionate profile of the great English novelist Ian McEwan (“The Background Hum,” 2/23/09), Daniel Zalewski writes that McEwan “is surely the only novelist who owns a tie patterned with images of a craniotome — a tool for drilling holes in the skull.”
In fact, my second daughter, Bethany, a practicing neuropathologist (Harvard ’99), gave me just such a tie as a gift on the occasion of my fifty-eighth birthday, in April 1996 — the same month, I should add, that saw the publication of my fourth novel, The Black Bridesmaid. With all due respect to the New Yorker‘s factchecking staff, a correction is in order.
Zalewski goes on to report that McEwan, “at sixty, has probably rambled more miles than any English writer since Coleridge.” I acknowledge the difficulty one may have in determining what precisely constitutes a ramble; it must be stated, however, that I, too, am an English writer (born and raised in Thrussex Grambles, East Pouncey), and, with notably few exceptions, I’ve rambled every day of my life since puberty. In good weather, I often ramble twice a day, and, during my most active years (1973–1990), I rambled for weeks at a time. Each of my individual ramble-sessions covers between ten and fifteen miles; I rarely ramble fewer than six. Surely Ian McEwan has not rambled quite so much as that.
Sometimes Animal Collective comes on any of the forty internet/college/freeform radio stations I listen to all day at work and I’m kind of like, Really? You’re playing Animal Collective again? Then I look down and see a white apron, white shirt, black slacks, all covering a super-ripped gym-toned body, and I’m like, Whoa! I’ve fallen through a wormhole! Now I’m a male model, living in NYC, working part-time as a waiter at a fancy restaurant in the meatpacking district! No time to think more about how this happened! I better check on table six!
ME: How is everything?
JEFFREY KATZENBERG: We’re terrific. Actually, can we get another bottle of this Malbec?
DAVID GEFFEN: If I drink another glass of Malbec I’ll queef. Weren’t we eyeing that Ribera del Duero?
KATZENBERG: Bitch, the only thing I was eyeing was… your face.
[The joke, such as it is, falls flat. Everyone lapses into an uncomfortable silence. A BlackBerry begins vibrating and flashing, and does a weird sideways dance across the tablecloth. I’ve got to say something! I’m going to break the ice!]
ME: You know, we actually just got a very few bottles of a Gran Tinto, from Peru. Our buyer tried to keep it all for him and his boyfriend. Then our owner tried to do the same thing, something about his wife’s birthday. It was actually our pastry chef, Bianca, who’s a fiery young lesbian with a shock of canary-yellow hair floating atop an otherwise bright-red rat’s nest of a coiffure–who convinced everyone to leave at least a few bottles for our most preferred and celebrated customers.
DAVID GEFFEN: I’m willing to risk it.
KATZENBERG: Sure, me too. Why not. We’ll try a bottle.
ME: No, I said our most preferred customers.
[A terrifying microsecond elapses, and then I waggle my eyebrows with almost infinitesimal subtlety. The table roars with laughter and approval. I have succeeded again!!]
[Laughter gradually subsides. The assistants look at each other. They are so fucking hot!!! They’re wearing polka-dots and are seriously the hottest people you’ve ever seen. You would murder a puppy just to get close enough to smell their hair. They’re really cruel and selfish, though, so forget about it.]
[The Animal Collective song, which has been playing this whole time, except with a weird string quartet restaurant-wormhole remix thing happening, isn’t this a WEIRD SCENARIO, you guys?, finally ends. I look down and I’m wearing an oversized polar fleece with tahini stains all over it. I am back in my office.
I walk over to the overturned ice-cream truck. Ponder for a moment, then clamber on top. I’m a spazzy, inadept climber, and it almost seems like I’m going to slide off at several key moments. Planted audience members should be gasping with exaggerated faux–fear for my safety. I’m finally on top, where I brush myself off, compose myself, and address the audience.]
ME: I’m judging “Literary Merit” as a part of that “Literary Death Match” thing at the Elbo Room tonight (3/13/09). Starts at 7, costs money. 647 Valencia St @ 17th St. Don’t come. It’s a weird concept this time. Comedians will be reading works from other writers? Like Cheever and Barthelme? And Saunders and Tao Lin??? I don’t really get how I’m supposed to judge (or compare) the literary merit of those writers — normally it’s authors reading their own works…. we’ll see. I’m planning on being drunk and either super-fake antagonistic or super-faux saccharine. Anything but sincere. I have eaten sixteen dinners in the last forty-eight hours.
Instead of replying to an email with a terse “coolio” to confirm that you’ve received and understood the message, why not just perform a lightning-fast google image search for the rapper of the same name, and paste the graphic into your email–with no accompanying clarificatory text?
It’ll make the recipient of your email smile, and get your point across at the same time!
Note: only do this for people who would conceivably know who Coolio is.