I'm here tonight at my old friend Fred Hardesty's house, and it's a big cocktail party.
I'm alone in a guest bedroom on the second floor. I step out of my shoes — one, two — onto chilly dark carpet. A whiff of must rides the release of the insoles' trapped heat. Spores are everywhere. Can fungus be a gas? I don't mind telling you what kind of shoes I'm wearing, but listen:
I take another slug of sweet Moët. Why settle for one flavor (sour-shoe smell) when you can have two flavors (sour shoes and champagne)? The moon outside looks bigger than I'd paint it at gunpoint. I don't like to paint, but if I'm handed a brush and told I'll be shot if I don't produce an image of the night sky, I'll aim for realism.
I take another Moët sip. One of my thighs prickles under navy sequins. The other thigh is numb, and I pause to consider that it, too, happens to be wrapped in navy sequins. I finish my Moët, toss the empty crystal flute onto a pillow, and sit down on the bed.
The red bedroom door is open wide, but my white legs are crossed as hell. I tighten, loosen, and retighten my legs, enjoying the rhythmic crackle of my pubic hair. I hear the Ass Doctor's penny loafers tapping up the steps down the hall — an eager little jog. It's safe to assume he's coming to me with the usual open heart and mind. His loose tie bounces in the privacy of my imagination like a Labrador's tongue. His voice enters the bedroom before his rectangular body:
The Ass Doctor closes the door on the leak of hallway light. I fart, we laugh, and I apologize. He farts and does not apologize — the privilege of the crude. He's wearing a nice suit that doesn't affect my feelings. The downstairs cocktail-party laughter is muffled. The big moon and the big man in the room with me are brighter than average but, I don't know, they feel like they could be bigger and a lot brighter. Remember: we've all seen what the sun can do when he decides to show up.
"How long have you been feeling hot for me?," the Ass Doctor says, a total nerd in my hard-to-disagree-with opinion.
The Ass Doctor's real name is Rundy Hardesty — the cousin of our party host Fred. Rundy is a full professor now, but Fred and I still call him the Ass Doctor — a joke held over from when Rundy got an associate professor job right after he finished his Ph.D. "Associate Professor" plus "Doctorate" equals "Ass Doctor." The chocolate cake we got Rundy to celebrate said, "NICE WORK ASS DOCTOR" in strawberry-icing script. We didn't have to explain this joke too much — he basically got it, and basically found it funny. The nickname stuck.
"If you have a fever — a fever for sex with me — then let's figure something out," says Rundy the Ass Doctor.
"No. No sex right now. No thanks."
"The door is open. The good-sex door."
"The sex door is closed, Rundy. I'll love you forever, but there are swaths of me — charted regions of my mind and heart, not to mention on my physical body — that I will never let you access. Now are we going to put our heads together and solve this mystery, or what?"
The Ass Doctor and I are amateur sleuths. We trust each other's instincts and intelligence. We have a good time with this hobby, sometimes. Fred and the other partygoers may think we've snuck up here to get frisky—or perhaps nobody's thinking of us at all—but what the Ass Doctor and I are actually doing is attempting to solve a terrible crime.
Whether or not we solve this crime — and I really do hope we crack it, just as I always hope we crack all our cases — one thing is certain: this man cannot earn, will never deserve, and will never receive my sexual attention.
When I was a teenager, I used to watch The Rosie O'Donnell Show several times a month.
I saw this Beck interview in 1997 when it originally aired on the show, and then I never saw the interview again — until today, when I googled "Rosie O'Donnell Beck."
I've always vividly remembered the part where Beck perturbedly tells Rosie that the song "Loser" is his "old jam." After I found this clip today and pressed play, I eagerly awaited that moment (at 2:25) where he gets all pouty on Rosie and says the phrase "old jam."
I'm trying to think of why this TV moment — Beck talking to Rosie O'Donnell about his "old jam" — has remained so personally memorable for so many years. My best guess is it's because this was the first time I'd ever heard anyone refer to a song as a "jam."
I also remember feeling disappointed in Beck when he made Rosie stop playing "Loser." It seemed impolite, to me, for him to do that. ("Who does this guy think he is?," I think I thought.) Whether I was right or wrong to feel disappointed in Beck is another question, and up to you to decide.
My pal SAL caught us a crud we could slaughter together. Here we are now on a sunny evening, a couple of reunited friends. We're two CRUD BUTCHERS. We're two dicing and crud-slicing crud choppers; we're a pair of laughing huggers, a cleaving couple — the Crud Butchers. That's me and Sal tonight, in a local restaurant, sitting next to each other at the unbusy bar....
SAL, CRUD BUTCHER: Being here with you makes me happy.
ME, CRUD BUTCHER: I love you. If there's a way to love you more, I don't know how to do it.
SAL: It's prejudice, the way I feel about you. You are always, to me, the levity generator I've long believed you to be.
ME: It's not a bad prejudice. As far as prejudice—
SAL: In a world of familiar hurts, you remind me of unexpected potential.
ME: Now let's butcher some crud!!!!
SAL: I'm drinking a "Subtle Diagnostics." You?
ME: Make mine a "Hotdog Bun–Borne Mustard-Slathered Wrench."
SAL: Do you mind eating in the restroom?
ME: Don't mind if I do. As a matter of fact, I do mind if we don't.
SAL: [rising with drink in hand; standing; stretching] I figure we can score adjacent johns, unzip these Ziplocs [pat-pat-patting sportcoat chest], and tuck into the salami-on-smashed-wheat sandwiches I made for us yesterday and then left sitting out on the kitchen counter all night. They're body-warm. [making moves toward restroom] Mushrooms OK?
ME: [following Sal to restroom, opening "Gents" door for both] I'm fine with mushrooms. I love being here.
SAL: Me too. With drinks.
ME: You could barf into my mouth tonight and it wouldn't faze me. I'd probably laugh. Imagine the sounds we'd bounce together off the restroom tile. Sometimes you're just happy, you know?
SAL: I know the feeling. I love books, and books make me happy, but happiness of the type you're describing isn't something I learned from books.
ME: I feel you. I fill you.
SAL: To say the least.
ME: How's your wife?
SAL: That's on a need-to-know. She's good. She's for my eyes only.
ME: And the kids?
SAL: They're perfect. Even when it's time to brush teeth and they shout YOU'RE NOT MY DAD ANYMORE, I know they love me. These angry moments come and go. Everyone's very healthy.
ME: I don't know why, but you talking about your kids reminded me of the phrase [making air quotes with pairs of fingers] "...and its frustrations." There was this recent day in the library when I found myself paralyzed, unable to read a full sentence. I had that phrase [air quotes again] "...and its frustrations" stuck in my head all day. It was so bad that I couldn't look at a word in a book without mentally tacking the phrase [air quotes] "...and its frustrations" to the word.
SAL: Weird. Give me an example.
ME: So for example, I'd look at the word DOG and I'd say to myself, in my head, DOG... and its frustrations. Or I'd see the word GRAPE, or BIOGRAPHY. And I'd think GRAPE... and its frustrations or BIOGRAPHY... and its frustrations. It became a frustrating, repetitive, terrible pattern. One had to go have sex with one's hand, if you know what I mean, to relieve the stress. Reset the console.
SAL: Yucky. Get ready for me to barf into your mouth. Ready set?
ME: [opens mouth wide] Ahhhhh.
SAL: [enters toilet stall, closes door] Barfing into your friend's mouth and its frustrations. [sits down, gets comfortable]
ME: [enters adjacent toilet stall, closes door] Frustrations are everywhere. Free dessert and its frustrations. Perfect love and its frustrations. [sits down, gets comfortable] Joy and its frustrations.
SAL: Temple Grandin and its frustrations, or—
ME: Rope fence and its frustrations. Licked bullethole. Shot potato. Semi-broken. Can you still hear me okay?
SAL: Yes. If my youngest was here right now he'd be screaming and crying in your face. I love him but I'm glad he's not here with us. I hate it when my child screams. I hate hearing it.
ME: Me too. Hearing your children scream — any children screaming — is no fun. I'd never enjoy that. The absence of screaming children and its frustrations.
SAL: A really loud scream. Then another. Then another. Then another. The welcome absence of skull-penetrating powerdrill screaming... and its frustrations. The frustrations of a little peace and quiet around here. A little solitude for a change... and its frustrations. Plenty of time to relax and enjoy yourself... and its frustrations. Plenty of money, too... and its frustrations. Being able to stop and think for a minute... and its frustrations.
ME: Nothing is without its frustrations.
SAL: Right, nothing. It's like when every fortune cookie talks about the things that happen in bed. We all go to bed. We're all frustrated. We all know what it's like to go to bed frustrated. We've all experienced fortune cookies. We've all experienced frustration in bed. In the boudoir.
BARTENDER: [enters restroom, whistling]
ME: There's the waiter, I think I hear him whistling at the urinal. I'm ready for another drink. You?
SAL: Yes. [raising voice] Waiter, please make mine a "Guy Lombardo Wikipedia Search."
BARTENDER: Yes sir.
SAL: Is it okay that we're using the restroom as a bar?
BARTENDER: It's fine. Unconventional, sir, but no problem. [suddenly louder] And what about you, sir? Are you ready for another drink?
ME: Yes. Make mine a Burglarita.
BARTENDER: With frozen pork-belly chunk?
ME: Sure. Can I also get it with chocolate smoke?
BARTENDER: Yes. Be right back.
SAL: I've never had a Burglarita.
ME: Bullshit. You order one every time we get together. I'm drinking this one in honor of you.
SAL: If you're doing it for me, I don't know why you want the chocolate smoke. That's what's bullshit.
ME: We're already spending a bunch of money. What's another three dollars.
SAL: I still remember when the cocktail ingredients weren't a la carte. We're getting too old. Hang on a sec. I'm gonna switch stalls. I'd like to shit in a different toilet than the one I'm using for a chair.
In the fictive space of this blog post, Crude Futures is a web-based retail business with around ten employees.
We at Crude Futures are glad to offer holiday shoppers these three great Father's Day 2012 purchasing incentives:
Spend $100 on dad at Crude Futures this Father's Day and we'll mail him a cigar that has been hand-autographed by a CF staff member.
Spend $250 and we'll increase the length of the cigar, triple the number of autographs, and tie a Crude Futures staff member's business card to the cigar with a string. The back of the business card will be embellished with an original handwritten limerick, penned just for your dad by a CF staff member.
$500 scores dad two original business-card limericks and an original knock-knock joke, each of which will be handwritten, tied to the cigar with a separate string, and illustrated. The cigar will be an Arturo Fuente Opus X, autographed by five staff members.
—Think of a dead mouse. The corpse is tucked into a mouse hole in somebody's kitchen. The mouse hole is then barricaded with a jar full of red lentils pulled from the cupboard. The next morning, the jar of lentils is rolled away by several other mice to reveal an empty tomb. The mouse corpse has vanished. Hallelujah: the door is—or was—a jar.
—Hang on, let me turn my phone off.
—Have you ever clothed a door?
—I once put a pair of pants and a T-shirt on a door, yes.
—I've done that. In my case, it was a sweater and a skirt.
—We've both done it, then. I had to carve the door to get the pants to stay on right.
—Have you ever loathed a door?
—Yes, I've hated almost every door I've encountered.
—Is there such a thing as a modest door? Would you agree that doors are immodest?
—I'm not sure. A door wearing pants is no longer naked, but I'm not sure whether every door is immodest. What do you think?
—You're asking me about the anti–drunk driving billboard, right?
—Yes. Did you ever toast a friend?
—We're talking about the billboard where it's a giant photograph of a flaming wrecked car, and the caption asks, "Ever toast a friend?" Meaning: Have you ever gotten drunk, climbed into your car, and smashed into the driver's side of your friend's car, causing his car to burst into flames and burn him to death?
—That's what I'm asking. I'm asking about the billboard we'd occasionally drive past on the outskirts of Sandusky around 1993 or '94.
—No, I've never burned a friend to death by drunkenly smashing into the driver's side of his car. I have never toasted a friend in that way.
—I didn't think you had.
—If I'd done that, you'd know about it.
—I have, however, lifted a glass of alcohol to honor a friend. I've done this many times.
—Everybody does that.
—Not frequently enough, in my opinion.
—When is a door not a door?
—A door is not a door when the door is just a piece of wall that has been painted to look like a door. A trompe l'oeil door is not a door.
—In cartoons it is. In cartoons, a door painted on a wall will sometimes work like a door.
—Right, like when someone is being chased…
—Yes, someone is being chaste, and he paints a door on a wall and then runs right through the painted door. But when the chaste person's lustful pursuer tries to run through the door, the door doesn't work anymore. The pursuer just slams, cockfirst, into the wall.
—So the pursued and the pursuer are now separated by a wall.
—Yes, and the wall enables chastity. By physically separating the characters, the wall frustrates the lustful impulses of the pursuer and the pursued.
—What else do you believe?
—I believe that facts are facts. You can disagree with a fact, but the fact will not care. Facts don't feel. Facts don't care. Facts don't live active lifestyles.
—I disagree. I believe a fact must live an active lifestyle. I believe a fact must work hard to stay in shape. Historians are the personal trainers of facts. Historians do the work of keeping facts on an active workout regimen. They sweat the facts to the oldies in order to keep the facts in shape. The facts must remain as attractive as possible for as long as possible. The facts must always work to attract new suitors.
—I see what you mean.
—Facts must be sexy. Facts will attract suitors, but the suitors will always die. That's why the facts must work very hard to stay in shape: so that they will never stop attracting new suitors. When you tell me you believe that facts are facts, I couldn't disagree more. The one thing you believe most is the one thing I disbelieve most. I cannot overstate how wrong I feel your belief is. Your belief is stupid, I think and I feel.
—You've convinced me that I'm wrong. I now believe nothing. Or not nothing. What I mean to say is, I now believe one less thing.
—That's the spirit.
—What's the spirit?
—When is a door not a door?
—It's a trick question. All I can say right now is that I'm really feeling my mortality.
John Runyon: Last year, we made custom-printed tees with “UNFINISHED BUSINESS” written big on the back. This was after two straight second-place finishes at State. When we won State, someone pulled out a fat black sharpie and everybody crossed out the "UN."
Judith Morning: That's cool. My favorite tee-shirt slogan, for runners, is "Run Like You Stole It."