Monthly Archives: February 2017

Narcissus and the Gaze

He looks at himself in the mirror and he liked what he sees.

Is it his actual looks that grant this confidence, or merely the Power of his Gaze whispering to his eyes that the world is his for the taking?

That if he fails to take it, it is not his fault—it just wasn’t ever even worth the effort.

He walks down the street and what does he see? Objects, his to be used or ignored or discarded. Occasionally an obstacle to be vanquished. The Gaze tells him which is which and if it happens to be wrong, it wasn’t wrong—the object was deliberately disguising its intentions to try to fool him, but he got the better of it in the end!

These are the words that the Gaze puts into his head. But he is not the only one who hears its whispers.

A girl minding her own business sitting on a bench or tending to a shop’s window feels the Gaze on her, and knows not what to do. She knows a man’s Gaze can be an indicator of a great many things and that she might be in danger—but does she dare turn around and meet it? It could just be a simple gaze grazing her but finding her unimportant, inaccessible. Yet if she turns around and introduces his Gaze to her own, it might decide to see her inquisitive challenge as an invitation to violence and worse.

She has known the Gaze all her life—not his, specifically, but it speaks to all men, whether or not they choose to heed it or to act on it. It speaks to women, too, teaching them dependence by rewarding them for using it correctly and abusing them for ignoring its call.

But she doesn’t want a man’s Gaze to define her, to be an object in someone else’s sentence. Which is why she turns her own Gaze to other things, to work and play and family, and away from his play on power—yet always keeps her ears open for the tell-tale whisper of a man’s lesser Gaze.

Odysseus and Aeneas

Troy is burning. Odysseus happens upon Aeneas, who is supporting his elderly father with one arm and cradling his infant son with the other. 

My, my, if it isn’t the great Aeneas. And your father, Anchises, I presume? And who is this little chap? Oh, do not be frightened of me, good fellow. I have done my part in this war, you have nothing to fear. You know, I’ve always admired you. Your quick wit, combined with a wonderful physique–it hardly seems fair, really. Trojans I spoke to–and I have spoken to a great many here–have told me that you are like myself and Achilles combined. Yet here we are. Achilles struck through the heel by a coward’s bow and you, the smartest and strongest, fleeing, defeated. I can think of no more fitting end to this war, son of love, nor one that would make me more hopeful for the future of the human intellect. Therefore, fear me not, for I will let you go your way with your family, and return to mine own. My family, which did not transgress and, hence, is still very much intact.

Odysseus leaves.


Aeneas leaves with his father and son. 


Scene II

Odysseus lies drenched on the shore, panting and sunburned. Aeneas approaches, followed by many men. 

My, my. If it isn’t the son of Aphrodite herself. How’s your father? Did he die a warrior’s death? Or a lover’s?

He died content.

More fortunate he. And this must be–

Don’t tell him your name, son. He can use it against you.

O wicked Hermes with your iron tongue, stainless as steel. You’re a much more sensible man than I am, friend, I’ll grant you that. Would I had kept mine own name such a secret. And now, Aeneas? It’s your turn at dice. How do you roll? What is to be the fate of the wily Odysseus?

I have no desire to kill you. Oh, my men do, make no mistake about that. You killed their wives, smothered their babies, burned their topless towers to the ground and salted the Earth beneath. But I do remember you left me alive.

Yes. I would of course apologize for all that, but uh…

But what?

I just wanted to get back to my family. I never wanted to go to Troy, never wanted to commit such genocide against your people, but… I just wanted… I just wanted to get home to my family.

By destroying ours? Odysseus, my dear, dear mortal enemy. You left your family. You may claim you did not choose, but you swore an oath to defend the honor of the most beautiful woman in the world, a woman you yourself never thought was that honorable. You could have broken that oath. You could have had the sense not to make it in the first place. But you left your home to destroy ours. I hope you reach your homeland, Odysseus, I truly do. But I can promise you this: when you do, it will never be the same. It will never be the way you left it. You will never really find home. And I have to say, I am comfortable with that. Come, Ascanius. We will do this man no harm. We haven’t any need to.

They leave Odysseus alone on the beach. He weeps. 


If I were ever to open up a bookstore, I’d want to call it Satisfiction. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling you get when you curl up with a good book at the end of the day, or when you get to the end of that good book and the ending was even better than you could have imagined.

But that’s all it is.

This feeling is rooted in something that isn’t actually there. How can you invest so much emotion, so much of yourself, in a world you will never be a part of?

How can you not?

We feel for the people who will never really know us, to practice feeling for each other.

But this still isn’t real. That’s why we have to remember, to remind ourselves, that there is an actual world outside, and that it isn’t something we can experience by just reading. We can prepare for it, but nothing can really prepare us for it.

You can’t really achieve true Satisfaction from a story. But maybe, just maybe, a story can help you practice for the real thing.

Gioconda the Hippo

Happy Wiggins was too fat to be a ballerina—at least that’s what all the other girls in her class told her. She didn’t want to believe them, but she left crying the first day and her mom wouldn’t let her go back there. But years later, the part she remembered most about that was the teacher telling her “It doesn’t matter how big you are, as long as you can make the moves.” She was what Happy’s mom liked to call a Skinny White Bitch, but she knew what she was talking about.

Happy’s favorite movie was Fantasia and her favorite part of Fantasia was the part with the dancing Hippos, set to the “Dance of the Hours” from La Gioconda, as she would later come to understand. She watched that scene over and over and over again, meticulously, until she had every move memorized.

“Hippos can’t dance,” her parents would tell her—anyone would tell her, if she talked about it. “Can’t nobody dance like that, girl, it’s a cartoon!”

But she could, and when she was fifteen, she got to prove it to the world. Some Skinny White Bitches from her school followed her home one day thinking they’d play a trick on her. They took a video through the window of her practising in front of the TV. They thought it was funny, right? Fat black Happy pretending she can dance?

Well, the Internet thought differently because it turns out some folks actually know what good dancing looks like. Practically overnight, Happy turned into an Internet sensation. She became iconic, a beacon of hope for girls who looked like her in any way, shape or color. She had managed “in spite” (as the media put it) of her size, to capture all the grace in poise and motion of the greatest ballet dancers of the age.

Vivian Murgatroyd, who had already spent several years distancing herself from her ex-husband in the business, soon snatched up the opportunity to be Happy’s agent-cum-manager.

“We should talk about your name, thought,” she said. “Happy Wiggins sounds like a cartoon character, a Saturday morning sideshow sidekick. We need something bolder.”

Happy wanted to be known as the Hippo.

“First of all,” said Vivian, “you’re not a superhero, but more importantly, Hippos are ridiculous and we want people to take you seriously.”

“Hippos are not ridiculous,” Happy countered. “They’re the most dangerous animals on Earth, and they’re not even predators. I think they’re an awesome symbol.”

But Vivian would not be moved.

“Fine,” said Happy, “then how about Gioconda?”

This gave Vivian pause. “I like it,” she said. “It’s classical, so it’ll play with the fans, but it also sounds black. And if we’re lucky, it’ll even bring in the Latin crowd—done!”

Little did Vivian know or care that Happy was still naming herself after a Hippo.

Happy Wiggins’s rise to fame as Gioconda was as meteoric as it was bends-inducing. Within three years, she had not only gained success and acclaim at the ballet, she had started to bring ballet back into the mainstream. She had fans all over the world, and yet she still felt like her weight was a liability.

She tried everything. She went on diets, hired personal trainers and nutritionists. Doctors all told her there was nothing physically wrong with her, she was just fat. Fat, but also fit. The real problem, though, came when people asked about her weight, specifically.

“I don’t like scales,” she revealed. “I break them.” And while this wasn’t technically accurate, it was her experience. When she’d tried to weigh herself in the past, something always went wrong. She’d take a deep breath, think about her target weight, step on the scale and she would be exactly as heavy as she wanted to be. That would make her smile the first couple of times, being right on track, but after thinking she’d lost a hundred pounds, she’d look in the mirror and say That can’t be right… Because she would always look exactly the same.

This finally came out in an interview with Antoine Lamarr Curtis of Zealot Magazine. “So you would always be exactly the weight you wanted to be?”

“That’s what the scale said.”

“So if you wanted to be 5000 lbs?”

“I have actually physically broken scales before.”

“What if you wanted to be ridiculously light? Say, eighty pounds?”

Gioconda gesticulated to emphasize the ridiculousness.

“But have you ever tried it?”

She hadn’t (yet) but she had “tried” other things. Part of being a ballerina is working with other talent and her most popular co-star, who she usually got along with, was Kurt Antonio. Kurt wasn’t just the skinny ballet dancer you would expect, he was tiny, a good four inches shorter than Happy’s 5’8”. But they did scenes together, and one of their favorite tricks was that impossible over-head lift, the attitude press. You might recognize it from the movie Dirty Dancing. This “press” is impressive enough when you see it with a six-foot guy and a girl who weighs 95 lbs soaking wet like Agnieshka Kosinski, but to see a Hippo like Gioconda held aloft by this ostrich of a man?

They confessed it made both of them nervous when they first tried it out, but world-famous instructor and director Sinovia Bakunin insisted that it was only a matter of leverage and weight distribution.

“And he was right,” said Kurt, “When I do that lift with her, it’s like I’ve got this way of just channeling all of the weight almost like it’s with chi or something, you know? And it’s like I barely even feel her when she’s up there. She actually feels lighter than Agnieshka.”

“And you think that’s because Kurt is doing something with his body?” Curtis prodded at the interview.

“Well, yeah. I mean, not that there’s not technique in it for me, but for me it’s just balance. I do fine with my own weight, but what he does?”

“But you’re the one with a history of confusing scales.”

This was not a connection that Happy had ever made before. To be perfectly honest, it was not one she had ever wanted to make. There was too much that went into it and the consequences were…

“She must have superpowers!” fans insisted when the interview came out. “She must have the ability to change her own weight, to alter the effects of gravity on her physical presence.”

“But it comes with a price,” someone else added, taking a supernatural turn, “because even though she can alter her weight, no matter what she does, she can never do anything about her size.”

“This is bullshit,” she said out loud to the Internet comments. But then she started to think about it and after thinking, she started to experiment. She got on the scale and without getting off, tried to move the numbers. She brought them up as high as they would go, and then brought them back down again, down, down, down. When she’d reached fifty pounds on the scale, she started feeling something odd. It wasn’t a dizziness, it wasn’t something inside herself, it was the way the air around her moved.

“Oh, shit,” she exclaimed when she figured out what it might mean, before she thought about what her momma might have to say about that language.

She tried the experiment in her hotel room, and that turned out to be a mistake. Going down was fine. She brought herself down to a total weight of what she thought felt like less than five pounds, at which point she became lighter than the air around her. She lifted up off the ground and maneuvered around the room by touching the ceiling. She eventually realized that she could kindasorta swim in the air, although it wasn’t anywhere near as efficient as swimming in water, but if she propelled herself off the walls, she could bounce.

Eventually, she would discover that the most efficient way of getting around was to make herself lighter as she propelled herself forward and then heavier coming down, so that she could bounce and ultimately leap great distances, but she wasn’t quite there yet.

It was a lot of fun there in that hotel room, but when she brought her weight back up, she overestimated by a huge margin and ended up breaking the floor of the room.

It hurt, too, but not near as much as she’d’ve thought it would.

It made her think of every fat joke she’d ever heard, which gave her an idea.

The next day, she bought a train ticket. There was a fan who talked to her before she got on, but it didn’t matter. She got on at the caboose and found the place she figured would be most structurally stable and she Increased. When it came time for the train to leave, it groaned mercilessly for several seconds.

“Folks, we seem to be experiencing some technical difficulties here.”

Once she got off the train, her footsteps echoing through the station, those “difficulties” stopped.

It made her wonder what else she could get from listening to fat jokes.

She figured this could be another way, like what she’d done before, to make a difference for girls who looked like her.

But once she started opening up about this ability, things started to get messy.

“I believed in you,” one girl wrote on her fan site. “And believing in you, believing that a girl who looked like you could still be a ballerina, made me believe that I could do it, too. But you’re not like me. You’re a superhero, and how am I supposed to be like that? I don’t have special powers!

“You’re a freak!”

Overnight (once again) she plummeted from being a star on the rise to being a fraud. “You tricked me!” was the general outcry, and all the support from the black community having a new iconic symbol couldn’t drown it out.

“A superhero?” Vivian Murgatroyd exclaimed when Happy finally approached her about it. “I mean, sure, they’re hugely popular, but you’re talking about a major rebranding here and I’m afraid your image is already pretty tarnished. Now, if you’d come to me before going public, maybe I could’ve helped you spin this, but now…

“Besides,” she added, “it isn’t who you are. Look at yourself! You’re a ballerina! What do you know about superheroing?”

That’s when Gioconda, the Hippo, drew herself up. “What do I know? I know that when I was four years old, some skinny white bitches looked just like you told me I couldn’t be a ballerina. That’s what I know.”

The Centaur

It is a good place, a beautiful place, here beyond the wall of human consciousness. It’s a place where I could easily see myself spending eternity, if eternity chose to accept me.

But I’m not there yet.

When I was first approached, I thought myself chosen by some great and perhaps even all-knowing Higher Power for this calling. Hardly anyone, after all, ever even gets to see a Unicorn, let alone approach her, and nowadays there are even taboos about touching one. Thank goodness.

But I was… moved. Incredulous. It wasn’t just emotional, though of course I was overwhelmed, I was ecstatic! But I couldn’t believe it, either. Such things do not exist for us–or, rather, for them–out there in the Supposedly. So I didn’t believe my eyes.

At first, I only wanted to touch the horse, but soon I remembered that I’d seen horses aplenty, even living where I did, and had touched them before. So I looked at the horn, there, springing out of her skull like a fingernail, a misplaced fifth hoof, wreathed in a scabby areola of hardened skin.

But it couldn’t be real. Could it? It had to be, well, a trick. Of some sort. Attached? Adapted? A tumor, perhaps? So I touched it. And, well… the rest is history.

The last thirty years, living on the cusp as I do, being one of the few human beings—if human I can still be called—able to move back and forth from that world into this, from our world—their world—into yours, that’s changed my perception. I can’t pretend anymore that I know what’s real and what isn’t; after all, I touched a Unicorn!

Can you imagine how crazy that sounds out there? I touched a Unicorn and turned into a Centaur. Those are terms you don’t use outside fairly tales and metaphors. Not if you’re human. So it really is like I’m living in a dream. Still. After all this time.

Don’t you understand why I can’t stay? Why I can’t settle for the dream? I touched the horn of a Unicorn and… it wasn’t what I expected. If I go all the way, if I give up my Soul entirely, it won’t just be the end of my world for me, it won’t just be like I’ll die, like I’ll never wake up from this dream.

I will have become the Unicorn, and there’ll be nothing left for me to wonder.

Sportsball 101

CHARLIE: Yes… yes… Yeees! YES! Woo-hoo! High five, man!

JORDAN: Oh. Wow. OK.

CHARLIE: Aw, man, that was a hell of a play.

JORDAN: Oh, it’s a play? I thought it was a game you were watching.

CHARLIE: That’s what I—you’re real funny, you know that?

JORDAN: What game is this again?

CHARLIE: Wh—what game? Are… are you serious?

JORDAN: I mean, I can see that there’s some Sportsball happening, but I don’t know which—

CHARLIE: Football. It’s called football.

JORDAN: Oh! Oh, right! Right. OK. But, liek… why do they keep holding the ball in their hands and running with it? Isn’t that the one where they’re supposed to be kicking?

CHARLIE: No, that’s soccer!

JORDAN: But they always wear shoes.


JORDAN: How can it be “socker” if they’re not all running around in their socks?

CHARLIE: I don’t know—

JORDAN: I just don’t understand how this one could be “football” when it’s the other one where they’re not supposed to use their hands.

CHARLIE: Are you serious?

JORDAN: What are the rules, anyway?

CHARLIE: You don’t know the rules to football?

JORDAN: I’m not what you’d call a “guys’ guy”.

CHARLIE: OK, um… well… so you’re trying to score points, right?


CHARLIE: So you score points by getting the ball back behind the goalpost line.

JORDAN: That’s why they’re always piled up on top of each other?


JORDAN: So then you get the ball behind the line, you get a point.

CHARLIE: You get seven points, actually.

JORDAN: Oh! Oh, wow. OK. So can I just, um, I just need to ask.

CHARLIE: Ask away.

JORDAN: If the goal is just to score points…


JORDAN: Why don’t the two teams work together? I mean, think about it. If you just take turns—look, the ball has to go behind the line, right? There’s only one, you have to treat it as a scarce resource. You both need the ball, why not just share? Right? So I take the ball behind my line—

CHARLIE: You’re not gonna take the ball behind your own line!

JORDAN: Why not?

CHARLIE: ‘Cause then you score for the other team!

JORDAN: So? I bring the ball behind my line to score for them, then I give the ball to them so they can score for me, and we all go out and have drinks together and get laid and stuff.

CHARLIE: But then what’s the point?


CHARLIE: No, but like, who wins?

JORDAN: Everybody!

CHARLIE: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, that’s not the point.

JORDAN: You’re right, it’s seven points, every time, isn’t it!

CHARLIE: No, look—the point is not to score points. The point is to score more points than the other team.

JORDAN: … Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooh…

CHARLIE: Seriously, are you, like, an alien?

JORDAN: Sometimes I wonder.

The Clarence Glendale Experience

There was already an all-girl a capella group on campus. We told ourselves that was the reason for the sausage fest, but really we just didn’t have any girls show up to audition. (Unless you count Rachel, née Roger, which you probably should, but she wasn’t transitioning yet at the time.) Leo was all ready to make fun of us, and himself, for that, but I was like, chicks dig all-male a capella, though, right?


Shut up, we were brilliant.

Of course I got to have the last laugh there, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Anyway, before we even started practicing we wanted to come up with a name. Something catchy, you know? Something that said “We’re here, we’re singing without instruments and we really like puns.” Rockapella was already taken, of course. So were Troubletones and Treblemakers. “What about Basses Are Wild?” said Dan, but we voted it down when Jerry came out with

“The Clarence Glendale Experience.”

We were all a bit confused at first.

Said Tommy, “Dude, what the fuck’s a Clarence Glendale?”

“Isn’t that a town in California?” asked Mike. “Or two?”

“No, it’s brilliant,” Leonard spoke up. “It’s inspired. You know, it gives us a mascot, a front man, but without any of us having to actually be the front-man.”

The irony here was that all of us knew, even then, that Leonard (Leo, never Lenny)  was gonna be the front man, just ‘cause that’s who he was, but Leo had this weird thing where even though he was super charismatic, he was, like, aggressively modest about it.

It could be kind of annoying, actually.

But the point is, about as soon as the words were out of Jerry’s mouth, it was decided. We knew who we were now. It was all good.

The rest, I mean, I don’t really think I need to give a whole lotta detail, it was kind of an eighties training montage for a while there, only in song, as we built our repertoire, Leo quietly making all the decisions and Ryan, the only one of us who was an actual Music Major, making all the arrangements and then running practice and conducting and all that.

We were actually really good friends with the Femi-Naughties, that all-girl a capella group I mentioned before? We had a couple of harmless scrimmages with them, all in good fun, but when we performed the first couple of times, we performed together, with them, even did a couple songs as a unified group.

Before long, though, folks were approaching us to do solo gigs, pro bono at first, ‘cause we were a student organization, but then eventually we were like, well, hey, if it makes us money, right? The Femi-Naughties got pretty upset when we “abandoned” them. Colin and Ada, who’d done all the cutesy duets, even broke up over it. That and Colin turned out to be gay, but whatever.

Roger was the biggest hold-out, though. We didn’t know why at the time ‘cause he wasn’t out yet, but she told us later, it was ‘cause he’d been scared to death we’d kick her out once she started transitioning. But I mean, come on. We’re not those guys.

But I’m really here to talk about the name. I mean, it was a gimmick, it was based on the idea that “Clarence Glendale” was our front man, but he never made it to any of our shows. First thing out of our mouths every night (we kinda took turns making the announcement) was to apologize, Clarence Glendale couldn’t make it tonight, but we’ve got a great show for you anyway! And there’d be giggles and cheers and everyone would be in on it.

Well, that was great as long as everybody really was in on it. But as we got bigger, we started to run into some issues with fans who were maybe too many degrees removed from the action and hadn’t gotten the memo as a result. We tried not to talk about it in public, on talk shows or anything, but if we caught anyone like that in private, we’d kind of quietly take them aside and lay it out for them and usually—not always, but usually—they’d be fine after that.

Then there was this weird thing where it happened on a chatboard, someone brought up how disappointed they were that “he” didn’t show up and then another girl was, like, “You know he’s not real, right?” and there was shock and awe from all corners and then it got ugly and someone brought up Santa Claus and I was like, that’s not cool, man. (I had beers with that guy, by the way, he’s really cool—well, not actual beers ‘caus neither of us like beer, but I had a rum and coke and he had a hot cider—great guy, really.)

I heard the girl who put the revelation on the net like that got fired from her job over it.

“You guys,” said Benny at the next meeting, “I don’t know, guys, this is starting to get real. I think think we should, like, you know.”

But we didn’t know. Not really. We were in too deep and Leo especially was determined to keep up the joke. No matter how many times we told him “Dude, you need to come out as Clarence Glendale; make that, like, your official pseudonym or something,” but that wasn’t gonna happen—Leo was too proud of his modesty. Even Roger couldn’t coax him into it with his feminine wiles.

Finally, there was the Concert. I give it the capital-c treatment ‘cause that’s how we all talked about it. It was our first major gig in a major city none of us had ever been in before, Alex gave the announcement and immediately, we knew something was wrong. There was, like, a hush over the crowd, but too much, you know? We were used to some confusion, but not this. There were too many people there who didn’t know what was really going on and too few who did, and they were too spread out and isolated to support each other. They started ganging up on us. “We want Clarence!” they started chanting, which, if you’ve never heard people chant that phrase, it’s a terrible phrase to chant, all the wrong cadence, but they kept saying it, “We want Clarence!”

So Alex looked at Leo—we all looked at Leo, and I swear, I could see it in his eyes, he was gonna break, he was gonna come out and say it, and that would be the end of it. And I started thinking about what might happen next, right? Would it be on the news? Would there be, like, a public inquiry? Would they decide there had once been a Clarence Glendale and now we were trying to cover it up? Would we all be arrested? Would this be an eighties movie again, like it was with the musical montage?

And that’s when it happened. Just when we thought they were gonna storm the stage and riot, he showed up.

That’s right. Clarence feathermucking Glendale.

Showed up.

And, like, we all knew who he was. We all breathed a sigh of relief when he got there, like we’d been waiting for him, but then we caught ourselves, like, Wait, what? Because none of us had ever seen this guy before, right? We’d even had conversations about what Clarence Glendale would look like if he was real, and we all had different ideas about that. I kinda thought he’d be Asian, but with dreads he’d died hot pink, I don’t know, he was imaginary!

Except now he wasn’t. “Hey, guys,” he called to the audience, “Sorry I’m late.” And they all calmed down and we went on with the show, all of us up here on stage really confused that he knew all the choreography and was able to fit himself in so well with the harmonies that he filled in holes we never even knew were there.

The David

The patient seemed at first to be a rather run-of-the-mill schizophrenic—inasmuch as schizophrenics are ever run-of-the-mill. David Spiegelsen seemed much of the time to be aware of his environment, to be aware that he was in a psychiatric facility, but most of the time he had no idea how he had got here.

He seemed to have no memory of having been found five miles from where his home had just burned down. He wasn’t even sure at the time why he was all the way out there in his pajamas. It was obvious what had happened—there were even witness reports, but he claimed to have no memory of it and every time he was reminded about it, it seemed to hit him like he was hearing about it for the first time.

At first, Dr. Winchell was convinced he was a pathological liar. In the first few sessions, the questions she asked about his family all produced wildly different answers from one day to the next, all of which contrasted starkly with the story his parents, sister and friends presented. Some of these friends he claimed not to even know, and the sister kept getting younger in his versions the first few days, until by the third day, he seemed convinced he didn’t have one.

Most of the other patients she’d had with delusions decided on one and there was some variation to account for their cognitive dissonance, but this was almost like the opposite. In every moment, he had a specific version of his own truth, and regardless of whatever else was going on around him, he clung to it.

And then one day, it all became clear. “How does this keep happening to me?” he asked her. “Why is it always…”

He was aware, then, that his world was topsy-turvy.

“It’s like a parallel universe or something.”

That was when Dr. Winchell remembered an episode she’d seen once of an old sci-fi show on TV where one of the characters kept going from one parallel universe to another.

She read up on quantum physics and the theory of possible worlds, that microscopic changes could create branches in reality, all different universes.

He denied it when she asked him if he’d seen that show or knew of the theory, but that day he happened to be a jock who insisted that even at 120 lbs he was a linebacker, and kept asking about his nine-year-old sister, even though he didn’t have a sister.

It seemed a very convenient delusion to have, infinitely adaptable. His parents insisted he’d never had any particular artistic inclination, but there must have been some tendency towards creativity and imagination.

There must have been something there, wanting to get out and ultimately driving him insane.

A Straight White Guy and a Black Lesbian Walk into a Bar

JORDAN: So, do you ever think that, like, that this, what we got going on here, that this is maybe a bit… you know…

MALLORY: You know I’m gay, right?

JORDAN: No, I know! I know. No, trust me, I know, that’s not what I—no, I mean, like…

MALLORY: Just say it, white boy.

JORDAN: You ever think that, like, maybe our friendship is kind of a joke?

MALLORY: No. But I’m flattered you think so.

JORDAN: No, that’s not what I—dammit. No. Sorry, I’m getting all messed up.

MALLORY: Take your time.

JORDAN: No, what I meant was, it kind of sounds like the set-up for, like, a really bad, like, really offensive joke. You know? I don’t know, maybe I’m just—I don’t know.

MALLORY: Who’s the third person?

JORDAN: Third what now?

MALLORY: If it’s a joke, doesn’t there have to be three? I count one BAMF of a black lesbian, one pasty-white nerd, who’s the third one?

JORDAN: Asian… tr—I don’t know. I don’t know if it works that way.

MALLORY: Not convinced it works at all. What’s the joke?

JORDAN: I don’t know yet. Gimme a second.

MALLORY: … Second’s up.

JORDAN: It’s gotta be about privilege, right? I mean, that’s the joke.

MALLORY: She rich?


MALLORY: Black lesbian. She rich?

JORDAN: Are you rich?

MALLORY: Shit, no, you seen my apartment.

JORDAN: I’ve also seen your car.

MALLORY: Shit—you don’t know cars, white boy.

JORDAN: That is, in fact, the Gods’ Honest Truth. Although I don’t know what that has to do with me being white, or a boy.

MALLORY: Are you rich?

JORDAN: … I mean, maybe? I guess?

MALLORY: I’m just thinking you want some kinda irony, you know? You want the joke to have a point to it.

JORDAN: That’s true. Right, and because we’re the ones writing the joke—

MALLORY: I ain’t writing no joke.

JORDAN: Well, since I’m the one writing the joke, I guess I want to be… “woke”.

MALLORY: You a poet, son, and you goddamn know it.

JORDAN: I swear, that just happened on its own.

MALLORY: Jordan? Here’s my arm. Bite me.

JORDAN: OK, but after I’ve bitten you… What if it’s all based on preconceptions?

MALLORY: Ya think?

JORDAN: No, but like—I mean, yeah, okay, but like, OK… So black lesbian walks into a bar and you think that…


JORDAN: I don’t even know. What do people think when they see a black lesbian walk into a bar?

MALLORY: What do white people think? Or what do guys think?

JORDAN: Touché. (Waay too ché.) OK, so I gotta think audience.

MALLORY: You gotta?

JORDAN: I gotst’a (sp?).

MALLORY: Why are we still talking about this?

JORDAN: ‘Cause I’m on a roll here.

MALLORY: What you doin’ on a roll? Get off that shit, that could be somebody breakfast!

JORDAN: Was that a fucking pun? I adore you.

MALLORY: That is the gayest thing you have said to me in like half an hour.

JORDAN: So a straight white guy and a black lesbian walk into a bar.


JORDAN: Bartender says “What’ll it be?”


JORDAN: White boy say “I’ll have what she’s having.”


JORDAN: What’s she having?

MALLORY: His testicles in a glass?

JORDAN: … No, you can’t make a guy eat his own testicles, that would be weird.

MALLORY: Why is he having what she’s having?

JORDAN: I figure that it’s ‘cause he knows that she is a lot tougher than he is and could totally kick his ass, so he’s, like, wanting to, like, “man up”. Or woman up. Or something. Which is why I’m thinking that maybe, like, the funniest thing for her to do would be to, maybe, like, I don’t know, order just water or something? You know, ‘cause she, like, he’s doing everything for appearances. But she’s, like, huh, pshaw.

MALLORY: No black woman has ever said that word.

JORDAN: What word?


JORDAN: I mean, not literally. Do you get it, though?

MALLORY: No, I see what you did there. It’s not funny, but I see what you did.

JORDAN: Pshaw.

A New Set of Rules

DARRYL: So this is a nice place.

CAITLIN: Yeah, I like the atmosphere.

DARRYL: Not too much argon…

CAITLIN: CO2 balance is just right.

DARRYL: Right?

CAITLIN: You are such a dork. I mean that in the best possible way.

DARRYL: No, I get that. Can I ask you something?


DARRYL: Why’d you ask me out?

CAITLIN: You mean, why did I get you to ask me out?

DARRYL: Semantics.

CAITLIN: Cute guy at a bookstore. What’s not to like?

DARRYL: You’re at that bookstore all the time, though. Was it the selection? It was, wasn’t it? Medieval Persian Romances really get you going, don’t they?

CAITLIN: How do you know I don’t ask out every guy who comes in there?

DARRYL: That sounds exhausting.

CAITLIN: You wanna know what it is?

DARRYL: I think I do, yeah. That’s why I’m bracing myself. I promise that’s the reason.

CAITLIN: You’re dorky. And cute. Kind of a combination. Turnabout’s fair play, though. Why’d you ask me out?

DARRYL: Because you tricked me into it.

CAITLIN: I’m not that good at tricking.

DARRYL: When a beautiful woman wants you to ask her out—

CAITLIN: Oh, I’m beautiful? Is that it? That’s the reason?

DARRYL: Are you really insulted to be called beautiful?

CAITLIN: Just seems kinda shallow.

DARRYL: You’re assuming “beautiful” was the operative word.

CAITLIN: Well, then what was the operative word?

DARRYL: “Wants”. I’m not good at flirting. I’m not good at signals, and I am definitely not good at dating—

CAITLIN: You’re not as bad as you think you are.

DARRYL: My point is, it means a lot to know going into it that… that I have a shot. You know? That I’m not gonna be shot down.

CAITLIN: Why would I shoot you down?

DARRYL: That’s my point, though. You made it very easy.

CAITLIN: Oh, so I’m “easy”, now?

DARRYL: No, come on.

CAITLIN: Isn’t that what you just said?

DARRYL: No, it’s not, actually. I’m not saying you are easy, that would imply you wore an easy mark for a predator—you think I’m a predator?

CAITLIN: That’s not what it—well, yeah, OK.

DARRYL: No, I’m saying you were easy on me. You liked me and you made that clear. I appreciated that. You didn’t play games.

CAITLIN: I still wanted you to make the first move.

DARRYL: And you think I did?

CAITLIN: Well… I don’t know. What counts as a move?

DARRYL: See, that’s what I’m saying.

CAITLIN: So it wasn’t my mind, then? It wasn’t my taste in literature?

DARRYL: Well, see, here’s the thing. Anything that I admired about you, from the shallow really liking your hair and your eyes and your smile and the way you turn on your heel after you put a book on the shelf, to the way you like Fiona Dugnot and keep up on my R.A. Kessler references, all of that, those are things that would have made me like you, but that’s not what you asked. Because none of that would have actually given me the confidence to ask you out. I asked you out ‘cause you wanted me to.

CAITLIN: So… and I don’t like using this term ‘cause I don’t like it, but… you would have let me “friend-zone” you?

DARRYL: Yeah, I don’t like that term, either. I would have let you flirt with me. I don’t think I would’ve wanted to take it past that.

CAITLIN: Guys are supposed to make the first move, though.



DARRYL: It doesn’t make sense, does it? It puts the pressure in all the wrong places. If you want a guy and you ask him out, what are the chances he’ll think you’re a creep? Hell, what are the chances he’ll even say no?

CAITLIN: If we all started doing it that way, though, how long woudl it take for the standards to flip? How long before guys start thinking of girls as creepy?

DARRYL: Two things: first of all, men are typically—typically, mind you—physically stronger than women, and therefore better able to fight them off. That’s not to say that women can’t be creepy, still, but if we’re playing by the numbers? Second, though, you kinda gotta ask yourself, who stands to lose more by having sex? I mean, on the one hand, there’s the social aspect of stigma against sexually active women, and I’m not saying we’re over that, but I think we can agree that it’s mortifyingly old-fashioned.

CAITLIN: Of course.

DARRYL: But from a purely biological perspective, men just don’t get pregnant. So if women have the agency, if women are the ones making the first move, what’s a guy gonna do? Guys are a lot less likely to say no.

CAITLIN: You realize you’re a guy, right?

DARRYL: Last time I checked. Am I doing that thing again? That thing where I talk my way out of… whatever this could have been?

CAITLIN: Maybe. What did you want this to be?

DARRYL: Kinda hoping to get a second date out of this.

CAITLIN: And then?

DARRYL: Maybe a third?

CAITLIN: And then? What’s your endgame?

DARRYL: True love.

CAITLIN: I don’t know a lot of guys would use that word on a first date.

DARRYL: You asked.


DARRYL: Scared you away yet?

CAITLIN: Why would I be scared? I think right there is your answer.

DARRYL: To what?

CAITLIN: Why I asked you out.

DARRYL: I thought I asked you out.

CAITLIN: Semantics. You don’t exactly play by the rules.

DARRYL: You make me sound like such a bad boy.

CAITLIN: Is a second date really all you wanted to get out of this?

DARRYL: The most I’d dared to dream, I’d say.

CAITLIN: Maybe you should aim a little higher.