GIRLS ARE PRETTY

Your Old Friend Alice’s Funeral Day!

You’re 70 and your friend Alice was 70 when she died and you used to be best pals. You showed up wondering what happened to you two, then you find out when her family tells you they don’t want you to speak at the funeral because they felt like she put more value in her friendship with you than in her relationship with her husband and kids.

“That why she moved away and stopped taking my calls?” you ask her daughters.

They nod. “We told our mom that unless she cut ties with you we would stop loving her. We told her she had to sacrifice a cherished friendship in order to keep us as daughters.”

“You’re shitty daughters,” you tell them.

They shrug. “Deal with it. You’re not speaking at that funeral.”

You keep quiet at the service but at the burial a plane flies by with a banner tailing behind it that reads, “Alice is dead, and she loved her best friend more than her own horrible kids. I loved you back just as much, Alice. Sorry your kids sucked. Sorry and Goodbye. Catch Jason Mraz at Foxwoods Thur-Mon.” 

You got a discount by tacking on an ad that the pilot already got paid to run. Doesn’t matter, the kids are looking up at the sky and crying as you walk away from Alice’s grave, knowing full well you had a friend for life.

Happy Your Old Friend Alice’s Funeral Day!

Pam Can’t Drink Day!

You ended it with Pam because she can’t drink.

“It’s because I have to take all this medication for anxiety,” she said. “Alcohol contraindicates.”

That’s all well and good but you told Pam from the get-go that she better be able to keep up with you or you’d be hightailing it to someone who could. Someone like Martha.

“Let’s get started,” Martha likes to say at around 4:30 PM when she pulls the top from the bottle of gin. “Don’t dawdle.”

Martha drinks way better than Pam, and the two of you have a lot of fun getting plastered each night and then spending the next morning helping each other piece together why you have so many bruises on your bodies. But you can’t get over the feeling that maybe you should have found some way to make it work with Pam. No matter how well you and Martha drink together, she’s no Pam.

“Why are you Googling herbal remedies for anxiety?” Martha asks one drunken night after going through your search history. “It’s that Pam, isn’t it? You’re looking for a way to get her to take different meds so she can drink with you.”

You try to lie but Martha’s too blitzed to listen. She throws your laptop at your head, knocking you unconscious. Martha runs to your aid but she slips and cracks her head open on the floor. 

When you wake up, the police are hovering over you, having been called by the neighbors. With Martha dead and signs of a domestic dispute all over the apartment, no one buys that Martha did all the disputing. You’re jailed for manslaughter, sentenced to six years of longing for the one that got away because you never thought to convince her to try herbal anxiety remedies that wouldn’t have been contraindicated by alcohol. 

Happy Pam Can’t Drink Day!

You Know Anyone Your Mom Might Hit It Off With Day!

Your mom writes love songs but her career’s been in a slump ever since she fell out of love with your dad. House payments need to be made and you’re going to have to go to college somehow.

“Any of those teachers at your school single?” your dad asks you. “Anyone you think your mom might hit it off with?”

You tell your dad you don’t feel comfortable being put in this position. That you think your mom should cheat on him of her own volition, that it should happen naturally.

“Yeah, yeah,” your dad says. “But love sometimes needs a nudge. She wrote dozens of songs about me, but I ain’t doing it for her anymore, and they’re about to cut off our electric.”

On Parent-Teacher night you make sure to introduce your mom to your social studies teacher, Mr. Lawson.

“You two both enjoy things,” you say to them, trying to get some kind of connection to happen. 

“Hello,” Mr. Lawson says.

“I hope I never hear you say goodbye,” your mom says. Then she rifles through her bag for a notebook.

Meanwhile, your dad is at home sitting on the back step of the house, staring at a tree he and your mom planted when they first moved in. That tree never stopped growing. Maybe if he tends to his marriage the way he did that tree, your mom will find it in her heart to love him again. He makes a silent promise to try as soon as she gets home, not knowing it’s already too late. She’s found a new song.

Happy You Know Anyone Your Mom Might Hit It Off With Day!

True Romance Day!

DEPARTURE

You ask to be excused from the table and your dad grunts so you head upstairs where your duffle bag is packed and you flash your flashlight three times out the window. He responds with three flashes from a flashlight of his own.

JOURNEY

You board the bus and you kiss for three hundred miles until someone complains to the driver who comes back to ask the two of you to stop kissing. You hold off for fifteen miles before the other passengers complain that your kisses were the only thing keeping them going on this bus ride. 

“It’s nice to be around people who are hopeful!” a man with an open face wound shouts.

“The sound of their lips keeps me from hearing the echoes if what my sister said to me when we last saw each other in ’83,” a lady trying to pick the lock on a handcuff concurs.

“Lift the ban!” the other passengers shout. “Lift the ban!”

“Fine.” The bus driver buckles. “Ban lifted.” So you kiss for the next 1100 miles and everyone on the bus is grateful.

EXCITEMENT

Ten miles from your destination you pull out your guns and rob everyone on the bus. Someone tries to be a hero so you shoot him in the heart.

MALAISE

Hiding up in the mountains wears on you after twenty-six months. You try to remember the day you met, just another gray November day of senior year turned suddenly to the brightest springtime morn when you saw his face.

“He’s a transfer,” your best friend whispered into your ear when she spotted you drooling.

But a cold mountain wind blows and the memory scatters with the gust. He comes back to the cabin with not enough meat. You can feel the baby kick.

JOY

The three of you head down the other side of the mountain, to a valley town in a whole other state and no one looks at you twice when you enroll to get your GED. You’ll make a life for your baby, a better one than you made for yourself.

STRIFE 

You’re driving home from school when you spot the flashing lights of three squad cars forming a roadblock at the end of your street. You stop in time to see him run down in the middle of the road, pinned to the concrete with the knees of police. They lift him up and you think he can see you. The rest of your life you’ll hope he could see the two of you, that he could see you mouth the word “goodbye.”

MEMORY

You tuck her in and you pretend you’re reading a storybook as you tell her the tale of the boy and the girl who ran off to find out what their love might do to the world. And when she asks if it did anything bad you say yes. And when she asks if it did anything good you kiss her on the forehead and you say yes.

Happy True Romance Day!

Found A Guy Stranded On A Desert Island

He’s been there for ten years, which means I have to devote half my day to catching him up on stuff.

“This is an iPhone,” I say, holding up my pink 5C. “You should get one if your ex-wife gives you any of her money.”

“Ex-wife?” he asks.

“It’s been ten years,” I say. “Think she waited?”

We then start watching the pilot of ‘Breaking Bad’.

“You need to know watch the whole thing,” I say. “Before you can have conversations. Remember 9/11?”

He says of course he does. 9/11 happened three years before he was stranded.

“Jeez, okay. I was just going to remind you if you forgot.”

Then I go through the list. Britney. Lindsay. Who the Kardashians are. We have a black president but we’re kind of over it. Katrina. 

“Watch these ‘Shit Girls Say’ parodies,” I say, handing him my iPad as I step out into the hallway for a second to talk to Rothschild.

“How is he, doc?”

“The usual,” Dr. Rothschild says. “Skinny. Really wants water and beef. Doesn’t even know that there’ve been two followup sequels to Before Sunrise.”

I ask Rothschild if there’s any chance this guy might die and he shakes his head no, bumming me out.

“I’d better catch him up to speed on Casey Anthony,” I say. 

Back in the examination room he’s laughing his butt off at Shit Guys Say To Girls Who Make Shit Girls Say Videos.

“Yeah, it was a simpler time,” I say. “By the way, what’s your name?”

He murmurs something in between guffaws at the video. I know what I think I heard, and I tell him to repeat himself.

“Matteo LaFourge,” he says again.

I suck in a breath, grip the edge of the examination table to steady myself. I brush his hair to the side and get a good look at his eyes. They’re the same eyes as mine.

“The last time I talked to my father, he told me about you,” I say. “I always wondered if I’d ever get the chance to meet my brother.”

From Hateboat3000.

HateBoat3000

This summer I’ll be posting a serialized story on Medium called “HateBoat3000” about Captain Heather T. LaFourge, the captain of a commercial cruise ship. You can find that here.

Latest chapter is posted below…

+++

Watching The People Splash In The Lido Deck Pool Pavilion

So many wet families.

They’re swimming and frolicking and cannonballing. Smiling and reapplying sunscreen. Are they happy? Or are they merely amused?

Their joy is my responsibility. I’m not just the captain of a small floating city. I am steering the American family on a course for intimacy.

Those families took this vacation together not just for the food or the sun or the PG-rated live entertainment nightly, but to have a family trip they will remember forever, to have an adventure they’ll be talking about for the rest of their lives, the excursion that practically defines their family unit.

That’s why I’m going to shut down all the bathrooms for 36 hours 

***

It’s what has to be done when it seems like the passengers are just going through the motions. Those cruise liners that turned into massive, stranded toilets, they were no accident. It’s captain’s orders, always, to shut it all down when it seems like the people need a little nudge toward each other, when they need to be reminded just how much they count on each other.

Walking along the lower deck, I see them, families huddled together in the open air, as far away from their stinking rooms and as far away from the scalding hot sun as they can get. I see them resting in embrace, consoling and reassuring each other.

“It’s like camping,” a mother tells her sons.

“We’ve never gone camping before!” they respond excitedly, their faces and hands filthy from the lack of wash water and chapped from the constant barrage of salty sea air.

We give them heaven on the ocean and they don’t respond. So we turn it into a floating, excrement-sloshing hell. That sends them into each other’s arms, camped out on the decks under the stars where the air is still breathable. That’s when they remember what holds them together. They are each other’s comfort in a sea of adversity. For the next 36 hours, they’ll discover they might not have toilets, but at least they have each other.

Or not.

Some families are turning on each other. Their true colors are coming out. As I walk past I hear a little girl confronting her Dad about his secret stash of toilet paper and saltines that he’s not sharing with the rest of the family.

“You were my hero until today!” she declares.

Further down, closer to the bow, I pass a teenage boy seated alone, staring off into the distance.

“Shouldn’t you be with your family?” I suggest to him.

“No, ma’am,” he says. “I overheard them saying they’d never have come on this trip if they weren’t trying to save their marriage, and they’d never have tried to save their marriage if I hadn’t been born. So I prefer to be by myself for a while.”

I toss him a Capri Sun and keep walking.

This is what a cruise is for, to get away from the trappings of dry land and shine the hot light of sunshine on the truth of your family unit. These people will uncover secrets and reveal animosities they might otherwise have taken to the grave had they not booked passage on my vessel. It’s easy for them to be distracted by the buffets and the water volleyball. It’s easy for them to just pass the time. When I see that happening, I make the choice to act.

I’m their captain. Sometimes, when they aren’t feeling it, I have to do what I can.

I must keep it to 36 hours, though, in order to not attract attention. This happens often enough now that CNN won’t bother covering a broken down ship until it’s been a sewer for at least three days.

They Call You Couch Maureen Day!

Your dad ran a moving company and he was killed by a couch. It was being raised up to the third floor to try and get it through the window of an apartment because it couldn’t fit through the door. The cord snapped and the couch dropped right on your dad’s head, snapping his neck. 

“He left the business to me,” you’re telling a customer. “And I’ve built it into a small local empire. I did it with hatred in my heart.”

The logo on your trucks reads “Your Furniture Killed My Daddy, And I Will Never Let Your Furniture Get The Upper Hand Again.” As Couch Maureen, you promise that you will be in control at every point in the move. No one will ever see you or your team members hesitating or guessing at an angle or a width for getting a couch or an armoire through a doorway. You’re always ten steps ahead of your furniture. You’ve already carried their couch up the steps and around the corners and through the vestibule and into the living room before your customers have even finished packing. 

“It’s about not letting the furniture get the jump on me,” you’re telling your customer. “Like my dad did.”

You turn to the portrait of your father.

“You were sloppy daddy,” you say.

The customers are getting uncomfortable.

“SLOPPY!” you scream. “YOU WERE SLOPPY DADDY!”

You’re crying now. Spit is coming out of your mouth as you scream.

“HOW COULD YOU, DADDY! HOW COULD YOU LET A COUCH TAKE YOU AWAY FROM ME?! HOW? DID YOU WANT IT TO TAKE YOU AWAY? DID YOU NOT WANT TO BE WITH ME AND MOMMY ANY MORE?”

The customers are moved to tears with you. You barely even know they’re there anymore.

“WHYYYYYYY DADDY? WHYYYYYY?”

Getting a grip on yourself you turn back to the customers and slam your fist on their moving contract. 

“As God is my witness,” you growl. “I will tame your furniture. I will be its master during the entire course of your move. Your furniture wants to be damaged to prove that it cannot be subjugated to human will. I will make very clear to your furniture that on this matter, it is very mistaken.”

Your customers sign their contract, and then the three of you hug and cry together.

“Fuck your furniture,” you say, waving goodbye as they leave. “Fuck it straight to hell.”

They wave back as they step through the door, confident that their move is in good hands.

Happy They Call You Couch Maureen Day!

Tanning Bed Day!

You’re unlocking the door to your apartment, thinking, “Maybe she’ll be different. Maybe she’ll see there’s still some potential in me.”

You kiss her once more before you push the door open.

“I’m really glad we met tonight,” you say, hoping to win her over before the big letdown.

“Me too,” she says.

You lead her inside your one-room studio, trying to get her into the kitchen before she looks around. Trying to get one more drink in her before she starts asking questions.

“How about a cocktail?” you say, walking backwards, trying to hold her eyes.

She looks in the corner.

“Is that a tanning bed?” she asks.

Here we go.

“It is,” you say, surrendering to the way things always play out. “But it’s more than that. It’s the last remnant of a dream.”

You tell her that you used to run a tanning salon and it was very profitable but your ex-wife was stealing from the company and one day she emptied the bank account and ran off with one of your best customers.

“I don’t blame her,” you say. “He had one hell of a shade.”

You had to liquidate the company, and sell all your furniture, making a point of keeping just one last tanning bed as a memory of what you had, and what you lost.

“I sleep on it,” you say. “And we’ll have to have sex on it if you still want to do that. Unless you wanted to have sex on the floor. Or like, against a wall or something.”

She hesitates, staring at the tanning bed.

“But I guess you probably don’t want to do that anymore,” you say. “They usually don’t.”

She walks across the room and takes your hand.

“Let’s go,” she says.

“Where?” you ask.

“Come with me,” she says.

You get in her car and she drives you across town to her apartment.

“I didn’t want you to see this,” she says, unlocking her door.

Inside the small studio apartment is nothing but a massage table with a blanket and a pillow, some tear-stained tissues crumpled up on the floor around it.

“We called it Couple’s Massage,” she said. “My husband and I worked together, massaging couples on side-by-side tables. He eventually entered a polyamorous relationship with a husband and wife we massaged regularly. I tried to keep up the business but all our clients were couples. It was too much for one person. I got carpal tunnel and sold everything. Except my table.”

You make love on that table. Then you go back to your apartment and make love on your tanning bed. In a few months you open Deep Tan Deep Tissue, the only tanning salon slash massage parlor in town. People will come knowing that they’ll get a tan and a massage as deep and transformative as the love you found the night when you were both at your lowest.

Happy Tanning Bed Day!

The Last Prom Day!

Your school is the first doomsday school in the nation and your curriculum is built on the belief that the world is going to be destroyed within four months’ time, so you being president of the prom committee puts a lot of pressure on you since this will be the last prom ever.

“All in favor of ‘Time Of My Life’,” you say, asking for a show of hands. You’re trying to settle on a prom theme and theme song, and it’s been tough to get a quorum.

Only about six hands are raised.

“Okay, far from a majority,” you say. “All in favor of ‘We Are Young.’ Show of hands.”

Hardly anyone raises their hand. 

The doors to the study quarters open and a girl with a guitar stands in the entrance. It’s Betty. The new girl. You saw her in the office on her first day last week and you’ve been wondering if she might end up in one of your classes. She’s walking down the aisle now in between the rows of chairs, and you can’t take your eyes off of her.

“I have a song,” she says. 

You look out to the rest of the committee members. They shrug.

“Be my guest,” you say.

She pulls a chair from one of the rows and sits down with the guitar on her knee. She strums something slow and sleepy, but her voice is wide awake. 

We won’t be growing old

No time to waste on that

Got only a few minutes to spare

So don’t say anything that ain’t worth saying

Don’t do anything that ain’t worth doing

Don’t kiss anyone ain’t worth kissing

And everyone here’s worth a kiss

.

So let’s show them all

We used to be the future

But there’s no future

There’s no future anymore

.

So let’s show them all

What we could have been

Show every single one of them

What we would have been

.

[She screams this line]

What we should have been

.

[quiet again]

We won’t be growing old

But we will grow as old as old can be

Let’s grow old together

Let’s grow old and die together

Let’s grow old and die.

.

No one’s sure she stopped playing for a few seconds. The room’s still. It’s pin-drop silent. Then the applause starts rolling through the rows. The new girl smiles and you’re in love in an instant. After a quick, unanimous vote, ‘Let’s Grow Old And Die’ is officially chosen as the theme for the very last prom in the world.

Happy The Last Prom Day!

On Vacation With Your Girlfriend’s Parents Day!

You and your girlfriend’s mom and dad are out in the rowboat in the middle of the night looking at the moon when your girlfriend walks out to the edge of the lake and starts calling for you.

“The cabin’s scary when I’m all alone!” she shouts.

You and your girlfriend’s parents laugh at what a fraidy-cat your girlfriend is.

“We’ll be in in a minute!” you shout.

“Just try and get back to sleep,” her mom shouts.

Your girlfriend hears a noise coming from the woods. She asks if you guys heard it.

“She always craved attention,” her dad tells you.

Your girlfriend shouts that the noise is getting louder. 

“You guys, just come back to shore!” she pleads.

You don’t want to go. You’ve had the most delightful night with your girlfriend’s parents, rowing about the lake and enjoying the silence together. You love your girlfriend, but you know you’ll rarely get to enjoy time alone with her parents like this, and you don’t want it to end.

When you finally return to shore you find your girlfriend kissing another boy. You pull him away from her and fistfight. You win.

At the end of the fistfight the boy says that he was bored because his parents went on a moonlight hike with his girlfriend, leaving him all alone.

“It’s vacation code, bro,” he tells you. “If you go off with your babe’s parents, she gets a free pass. Don’t you know about vacation code?”

You didn’t know about vacation code.

“My parents were poor, all right?” you shout. “You happy? You happy you made me say it?”

Everyone feels bad for you and the rest of the vacation is ruined because your girlfriend’s parents just worry that you’re going to steal stuff now that they know you’re poor.

Happy On Vacation With Your Girlfriend’s Parents Day!

Doghouse Day!

"Guess I’m still in the doghouse with your mom."

"You’re not in the doghouse!" your girlfriend’s daughter says.

"Oh I sure am," you tell her. "You wouldn’t understand. It’s a grown-up thing."

"You’re not in the doghouse! My mom left you two years ago. She left both of us."

"She’s just taking some time to blow off steam," you explain. "It’s a grown- up thing. Hope when she gets back I’ll get out of the doghouse."

"You’re not in the doghouse," she says. "And I am a grown-up. I turned 18 three months ago and I got a lawyer that says I can evict you from my mom’s house."

She hands you papers.

"But you’re all I have left of your mom," tell her. "And I’m all you have left of her."

"Move on," she says. "I have."

You fold up the papers and pack your things.

Happy Doghouse Day!

The Fuck Happy World Of Brad Day!

You’re the main character in a porno movie called The Fuck Happy World Of Brad. That’s why you feel so fuck happy and you keep having sex during what should be routine situations. Like when you bump into your neighbor by the mailboxes and the two of you have sex in the lobby and the doorman joins in. Or when you’re bartending and that woman comes in looking for a job and you tell her you’ll put in a good word so the two of you have sex.

"I just want to go back to my day," you think while having sex. "I want to just be."

You don’t know you’re a character in a porno so to you this is madness. If you were told you were a character in a porno you might experience a brief moment of relief (porn ends) but then someone else would push play and you’d get back to it. There is no escape. There is no end. The Fuck Happy World Of Brad is both finite and eternal, and it is all you’ll never know.

Happy The Fuck Happy World Of Brad Day!

Domino Doreen Day!

Doreen is making your pizza. It says so on the tracker. It says your pizza is being made, and for the seven minutes it takes before it says your pizza is out for delivery, you can stare at your computer screen and envision your best friend Doreen making you dinner. She’s applying the toppings and fluffing the crust and putting it in the oven with care.

“You put in the order yet?” Sam asks. Sam’s your boyfriend. He used to go out with Doreen.

You don’t answer Sam. You just watch the pizza tracker. You ordered the pizza with a fake name so Doreen wouldn’t know it’s you she’s cooking for. She doesn’t know where you and Sam moved to (he had to move out of his apartment with Doreen) so she won’t recognize the address either. She has no idea she’s making a dinner for her former best friend. She has no idea how much her former best friend is savoring watching the little bar on the tracker. Doreen has no idea how much you miss her.

Your pizza is out for delivery.

You go downstairs with Sam and wait for it to arrive, trying to focus on you and him, trying to convince yourself he was worth it. But it’s no use. All you can do is listen for the car outside, search the air for the scent of pepperoni, anticipate the moment when a little bit of your best friend is delivered back into your life.

Happy Domino Doreen Day!

You Don’t Really Care About The Environment Day!

You don’t really care about the environment but you tell people you do because you want people to think you’re cool.

“No way would I ever litter,” you tell people at coke parties and while trying to get into clubs. “CFCs piss me off. Damn straight.”

At work when the cool guy at work who wears his tie as a bandana during happy hour tells you that you should turn off your monitor when you leave for the day to conserve electricity, you say, “You’re damn skippy I should!” Though you really couldn’t give a crap.

Problem is, you’ve fallen in love with a girl. And you’re afraid that if you let on that you don’t really care about the environment as much as you’ve pretended to during the courtship, the relationship will end.

“What do I do?” you ask your butch best friend, Slats.

“Be honest!” Slats will say. Slats is your best friend but she secretly loves you and she hopes being honest will end it with this dumb, rich, environmentalist girl you’ve been seeing. “If she can’t handle the real you, she doesn’t deserve to be with you. Now practice kissing on me so you won’t blow it when you kiss her later tonight.”

You practice kissing on Slats, then you go out on your date with your girlfriend. Midway through dinner you tell her you don’t really care about the environment.

“That’s really upsetting,” she says. “I don’t think we can go on.”

“But Slats told me to be honest!”

Your girlfriend says, “I think Slats is the one you should really be with.”

You leave the restaurant and run out into the street and you find Slats walking down the middle of the street with tears in her eyes.

“When we were practicing kissing together earlier,” you tell her. “It shouldn’t have been practice. It should have been just kissing.”

You and Slats kiss.

“You’re the only one who’s cool with me not giving a shit about Global Warming and all that other crap,” tell her.

“I am,” she’ll say. Then she’ll kiss you some more. Then the two of you will go home, have sex, and not recycle stuff.

Happy You Don’t Really Care About The Environment Day!