Fly Fishing on Hawthorne

Keep your eyes on the corners at all times. They’ll catch you in an eddy of strolling weekenders, singling you out, because you’re the one who looks people in the eyes.

They pop up out of nowhere. Once they’ve got your attention, you won’t escape without severely disappointing them or feeling guilty to the point of rethinking your reasons for denying them your attention and sympathy.

Some of them ask for your sympathy, or just a minute of your time. Some beg you to rethink, to care, to make judgment about their causes, their problems, their artistic talent.

You’re walking across the street to buy some pens and paper in “Presents of Mind,” a fancy card store next to Starbucks. There aren’t any stationary stores on Hawthorne, just artisanal card stores. They have ballpoint pens with trees and woodpecker designs, and the only plain paper they sell is Mole Skine. Halfway across, you see one standing on the corner outside Starbucks.

The problem is catching their eye. Try not to make eye contact. Make eye contact no more than once. The second glance is the baiter. Third glance, you’re already reeled in and flopping on the deck as they jab at your ears and pound your head to death with their gimmicks and guilt spears. At that point, you have to fight or wait until it’s all over. You’ve listened to their rap CD, signed their petition, written them a check, and put an angry grin on your face.

canvasser

This guy is good. He has such strong hooking skills, he has himself a fish flopping on his deck as soon as an unassuming loner like you walks by. He catches your eye with a wave.

Excuse me!

Sorry! You shake your head.

I just want to ask you a quick question.

Ok.

Can you count to 30 while listening to my rap CD and tell me—

No. I’m really in a rush.

Where are you headed?

I’m sorry, that’s my business. You look him in the eyes like, don’t make me say it out loud because it’s embarrassing, which is true. No one is ever in a rush to shop at “Presents of Mind.”

So you’re not going to give me the time of day?

No.

You walk three steps away and decide not to go into “Presents of Mind” for obvious reasons.

No one is ever in a rush on Hawthorne. That’s why they’re here. It’s a solicitors spawning ground—a canvasser, busker, artisanal card store swamp. You walk around the corner and loop back around to your car or your bike. Your head wades through a muddy puddle of maybe-I-should-have-said and who-does-he-think-he-is and maybe-he-was-right.

You forget to buy a pen, which you still need, which is why you remember this guy from last weekend when you went to Hawthorne to shop for stationary supplies and now you’re back on Hawthorne on a weekday and there aren’t enough people around to get sucked into their nets, so I’m just saying: keep your eyes on the corners. If you see one, let’s cross the street quickly or both receive important phone calls at the same time or start crying.

No second glances. Look away.

cat busker

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Home for the Holidays Checklist

Arrival/Immersion

• Arrive between 12-5pm

• Do not expect to be picked up at airport / train station / harbor

• Do not surprise parents (Dad’s heart condition)

• Bring arrival gifts

• Prepare to cook (daily)

• Prepare to clean (daily)

• Prepare conversations, no awkward silences

• If failing classes: talk about job

• If unemployed: lie about job

• No books: conversation killers

• Do not bring unexpected guest

obama arrival

Supervision

• No friends at home without adult present

• No visit to friend’s without parental supervision

• If parents don’t know friend, they need name, address, phone number (A/S/L)

• If parents feel excluded from social life, parents will demand compensation

• Parents are allowed in bedroom at any time. It’s parents’ exercise room now.

hippie parents

Bedroom

• Keep all personal items in bedroom and keep neat

• Pick up after self: school supplies, clothes, chargers

• No food in bedroom

• Bed must be made by 9 am.

• Do homework in bedroom

• Do homework before any TV

 

Bathroom

• Ten minutes allowed in bathroom in morning

• If need more time, wake up earlier

• Put toilet seat back down (Dad pees sitting down)

• If finish toilet paper, buy more

• Make sure toilet flushes

• If toilet clogged, deal with it and don’t tell Mom

• If plunger missing, lock self in bathroom, go out bathroom window, buy new plunger

• If can’t unclog, lock self in bathroom until figure it out

• Bring own bath towel

• Use own bath towel

• Keep towel on hook in bedroom

squat-toilet

House

• Breakfast before leaving house

• Do own laundry

• Laundry: Whites (Mon/Wed/Fri) Darks (Tues/Thurs/Sat)

• Do laundry between 9am – 5pm.

• Vacuum (Mon/Tues/Fri)

• Mop (Tues/Thurs/Sat)

• Vac + Mop (Sunday)

• Refresh George’s litter box (twice daily)

• Dishwasher load (daily)

• Dishwasher unload (daily)

• Take out trash and recycling (daily)

• Trash and recycling (Friday mornings)

chores

Seasonal

Winter

• Plow driveway

• Shovel sidewalk

• If heavy snow, buy snow blower

Summer

• Mow, trim, weed lawn (daily)

• Vacuum Pool (twice daily)

Fall

• Rake leaves

• Carve (2+) pumpkins

• Buy Candy for trick-or-treaters

 

Transportation

• If need ride, pay for gas

• If use car, fill gas after drive

• Wash car (carwash on 3rd street)

• If going somewhere, bring parents

• If need to leave and not come back, just go

• Don’t come back

Home-For-The-Holidays

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Test Your Literary I.Q.

Why was Donkey Ho Tay also known as the man of la mancha?

a. I never got to that part of the book. It’s super long.

b. He fought for the people of la mancha and in their eyes, he was “the man.”

c. He was a Donkey who then turned into a man who lived in a place called la mancha somewhere in Europe.

d. I never read it.

e. all of the above

 

When does George Orwell’s futurist novel 1984 take place?

a. The future

b. I definitely read that book.

c. 1994

d. 1999

e. None of the above. Didn’t read it.

 

In Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, on whom is the protagonist, Japhy Ryder based?

a. On whom? You sure it’s not who?

b. Raffi Cavoukian

c. Jesus Christ

d. Jerry Snyder

e. Gary Ryder

 

What is Hemingway’s short story Hills Like White Elephants actually about?

a. Divorce

b. A pro-life anti-abortion rally on a hill

c. Adult-onset Separation Anxiety

d. The white cliffs of Dover

e. Albino elephants

 

David Foster Wallace’s essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction predicted:

a. The Internet

b. That U.S. fiction would turn into U.S. television

c. That T.V. would ruin pretty much everything

d. The apocalypse

e. E Uni– what?

 

Tolstoy wrote which of the following:

a. Tolstoy: A Guide for the Perplexed

b. The Declaration of Independence

c. Fiddler on the Roof

d. War and/or Peace

e. None of the above. He was the founder of Marxist Philosophy.

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Love, Cats

If you follow my blog, you might have noticed I am a cat lover. My cat sentiments are not simply an infatuation or an obsession. It is a kind of cycle. It’s a trap.

This cat-loving whirlwind began long ago, when I first examined myself in the mirror. First, I was scared. I tried to fight my image, slapping half-heartedly at the body I saw before me.

In time, I grew out of my self-loathing phase. I grew to love my self-image. I stared at myself all morning and all afternoon.

My parents took care of me and I grew old and fat. My life has been wonderful.

I have loved my self and my life ever since I realized how cute and cuddly I really was all along. How can you deny it? I sure can’t.

Now I am bound by this love, by this beautiful animal staring back at me in the mirror. He is so soft, so furry, and so sly. I love him. I love that he is a cat. I love everything about him. But I worry my love is distracting me from the world around me. If I were not so in love with this cat, I might find time to get rid of my housemate, George.

George is a problem. George hates cats. He hates me. I hate him because I love cats. George is loyal, but he is an idiot. I want George out of my house. I would knock that loyal smirk off his face if I could. That would be awesome.

I would do anything to get rid of George, but alas I am caught in this cycle of self-loving. It would be impossible to motivate myself to do anything about George.

George will have to stay. Maybe I will leave. Maybe later—tomorrow. Maybe not.

I’m in a real bind. Any suggestions?

Love,

Cats

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10 Ways to Make Your Partner More Affectionate

1. Play with your partner on a regular basis. Use different toys to find out what pleases your partner the most.

2. Celebrate your partner. Invite other couples over for play dates.

3. Learn your partner’s likes and dislikes. Cater to your partner’s palate, but always feed your partner at the same time every day.

4. The relationship killer for most couples is poor communication. Talk to your partner for hours. Do not lose your patience if your partner does not choose to respond.

5. Remember your partner will always outrun you. Never chase your partner. Your partner will only become colder toward you if you try to force its affection.

6. Let your partner sit on your lap while you read or watch TV. The couch is a perfect platform for affectionate behavior.

7. Never try to shower with your partner. Your partner hates water.

8. If your partner brings you a present you hate, viz. a dead animal, do not reject your partner’s gift.

9. If you have a yard, let your partner roam around outside while you clean the house. This creates personal space for both of you, and the distance will make your partner crave affection.

10. If nothing else works, try scoring some Nepeta Cataria for your partner. Your partner will instantly desire affection and will really appreciate your scoring the catnip. You can also grow it legally in most states.

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Wanted?

Do you have trouble understanding your partner? Does your partner have communication issues? Do you?

Does your partner ever pretend like you don’t exist? When you call your partner by name, in the sweetest voice you can, does your partner come to you? When you touch your partner, do you expect anything in return? Do you ever get anything in return? Are you still cuddling together, or has most of the intimacy tapered off lately? Is there something you need that your partner seems incapable of giving?

Have you been feeding your partner the same food for the past five years?

Do you often leave your partner at home alone all day? Does your partner ignore you when you come home? When you come home, do you ever find the house in a state of disarray? When you ask your partner what happened, do you get a response? Does your partner just sit there and watch you clean the mess all by yourself? Does that make you angry? Does your partner know you get angry or do you hide your emotions from your partner?

Do you ever feel afraid of your partner? Have you been lying awake at night, trying to sort through the arguments you’ve had with your partner? Do you worry your partner might try to hurt you in your sleep? Have you been sleeping with one eye open? How long has this been going on? Have you been developing a deeply rooted hatred for animals? Do you need a break? Have you ever tried to end things? Do you want help? I can help.

Call my office: 1-800-CAT-CALL

If this is an EMERGENCY, call my Cell: 911-CAT-HELP

Sincerely,

Mittens “Mitt” Roflmao

Professional Cat Whisperer

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Best 50 Books I Read This Year

1. Keeping Secrets from Yourself – Freud

2. Confessions – by Augustine

3. Confessions of a Self-loather – by Mordecai Hussein

4. Schiksa – Woody Allen autobiography

5. The Shining – movie by Stephen King

6. War and Peace – by Russia

7. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man – back cover

8. Ulysses – first and second pages

9. “Motherhood for Men” – article in Men’s Health

10. “A Brief Analysis of your Urethra” – UTI pamphlet

11. “How to Fight a UTI” – WebMD

12. “The Death of Postmodernism: We Found God in a Tunnel” – CERN blog post

13. “Doomsday: Actually, We’re All Gonna Die” – editorial Christian Science Review

14. “Teaching Your Teen Abstinence” – Dr. Phil

15. “Teaching Your Teen Hygiene” – Dr. Phil

16. Teenagers on My Mind – novel by Dr. Phil

17. Infinite Jest – parodic blog

18. “Buy More! Now!” – billboard

19. “Barn Party and Coke” – Coca Cola ad

20. “Coke Party in a Barn” – same ad ten minutes later

21. Lost – all 5 seasons in order of disappointment

22. “Avert Your Eyes” – interview with Pam Anderson

23. “Avert Your Eyes Pt. II: Look Away, I’m Hideous” – ibid.

24. The Art of Balding – essay by Larry David

25. To Bald or Not to Bald: No Choice – essay by Larry David

26. Insomnia – memoir by Eli Wiesel

27. Fear of Failure – non-fiction novel I’m working on right now

28. Fear of Flying –Philosophical Review

29. Fear of Germophobia – Kosher Psychology Quarterly

30. Agoraphobia: Adventures in Central Park – manuscript found in trash can on 72nd and Central Park West

31. Nichomachean Ethics – by Aristotle (Ch. 1)

32. Nichomachean Ethics – (Ch. 1 again)

33. Nichomachean Ethics – (Ch. 1 halfway through, eventually abandoned)

34. Discipline and Punish – Foucault

35. Discipline and Punish Me – Dr. Phil

36. Discipline and Germophobia – Heiddeger

37. Women Love Nice Men – Steinbeck (actually read in 6th grade)

38. Chicks Dig Me – Hemingway

39. Chicks Like to Travel with Me – Hemingway (bought but didn’t read)

40. Traveling with Chicks Kills My Buzz – essay by Hemingway

41. Changed My Mind: Chicks Are Life – short story by Hemingway

40. Traveling Gutter Punks – Kerouac

41. Sound and the Fury – Faulkner

42. Sound and the Fury – plotsummary.com

43. A Fiction Writer’s Guide to Lying – James Frey

44. @DollyParton – following on twitter

45. @AshtonKutcher – the twittiest tweeter on twitter

46. Politics and the Secret Language – CIA pamphlet found in my mailbox

47. Putin’ the ‘Mafia’ in ‘Russian Mafia’ – Putin’s self-censored autobiography

48. Billion’s Not Enough – memoir by David Koch

49. How to Secretly Control Everything – Koch Industries for Dummies

50. We Run This B*tch – manifesto co-written by Charles and David Koch

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Deference

I need you to leave.

Why?

I’m going to hurt you.

How?

You don’t need to find out.

Where shall I go?

Anywhere but here.

What if I get lost?

You won’t get lost. There’s a fence.

This place is huge.

I’ll find you.

What should I do?

I don’t know.

When do you want me back?

Take your time.

Did I do something wrong?

Not really.

Are you sure?

You’re stifling me.

What do you mean?

I can’t get through a single page when you’re looking over my shoulder.

But I want to watch and serve and please you.

I’ve had enough.

I’m scared to leave.

I swear, if you don’t leave—

Fine. I’ll leave.

Thank you.

I’m leaving.

Wait—

What?

Turn the page.

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Qualifications

Faster! Faster! Harder!

I’m going!

Go faster!

Where are they?

They’re catching up!

How close?

Only two legs behind. Try hard!

I’m trying!

Try harder!

I can’t…

You can!

They’re going to catch me…

If they catch you, it’s all over!

It’s almost over anyway…

It’s not over yet!

They’re gaining on me…

Push! Push!

It’s over now.

I know.

They beat me.

They almost didn’t.

What a shame.

What a pretty shape…

What?

What—

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Ambition

Dear Woody / To Whom It May Concern:

Is it who or whom? It is I, or is it me? Shall I or will I get the job? These are the things about which I am concerned. I am a perfectionist: I seek out the undotted, uncrossed, uncomma’d, unimportant imperfections that could perfect a manuscript or land a major publisher.

My last job was ghostwriting a ghost story, which truly characterizes my career ambition. I aspire not to be a writer, but a ghostwriter. The fact that my employer, the author of the ghost story, was my father, does not mean I was hired due to nepotism. I did a good job, though the story was never finished.

You consider yourself a comedian, and I agree. You can be very funny, in a way, at times. I have not seen many of your films, but I have heard all about them from my father. Comedy ghostwriting is not my forte, but I am willing to try new things. The idea you have for this particular manuscript needs some tweaking, in my opinion. You have a doctor, a lawyer, and a writer sitting around a table at a kosher diner, sharing their wildest sexcapades, romances and existential crises. My question is, does the diner have to be kosher? You may risk deterring your gentile (myself included) readership.

I want this job, because I love city culture—the food, the smells, the people, the languages. I speak roughly four languages, in other words, I speak four languages very roughly, but if you ever need a letter written in German, I am an experienced Google Translator. I live on Long Island, so I speak Yiddish as well as anybody else would a dying language.

I am very excited to hear back from you. I check my email about fifty times a day. Please don’t leave me hanging.

Sincerely,

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