Tag Archives: humor

Remember the milk-man of old,
Stoic, trudging, rough and bearded, whipping a half-starved beast,
Ass, Cow, or Horse, plodding along,
Rusted bell dully clapping out his coming and going,
Or white-suited, black-tied, Rockwell iconic,
a bottle a day, stocks are up!, bone for the dog,

so steady-on and dogged, standing for us all
travails the noble stooping frame of our overlooked street-corner hero

O Hot Dog Man!

His steel conveyance rattling wheel for replaced-and-uneven wheel
over cracked and root-ruptured pavement,
unwashed metal box atop fitful frankenstein heating element,
torn stickers and loose hinges, the royal carriage of
countless wieners
stacked and iced, ready for a hot pilfered steel tray
and a tight wrap and roll through
thin bandages of pink and white festive pigflesh
sauteed among smoking wheels of pepper and onion
pops and sizzles, unsanitized
crackles, but does not fully cook
embraced by a flaccid
sweaty bun
of enriched white bread.

I see you, Hot Dog Man,
Not in your mustard, but in you I trust.
Your relish worries me, but I relish you.
The ketchup is brown and crusty, but I’ll catch up
to you
any day.

Wheel thy noisy fucking cart
transmit thy frozen wieners
from the depths of unwashed box
to hot pan perched on stolen shopping cart
thou unwashed wiener man!
Lay down my sausage, pork it up in ribbons,
flip it around ‘twixt savory raw bulbs and rich tomati
that it may gain the smoke of those elusive vegetants.

A pickle is arrogant
Affront me not with a pickle
I don’t want a fucking pickle

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Hard to Express

(Lights up on a bus stop. A bench sits center. HALEY, a woman in her twenties, sits at the bench’s stage left end. She is writing on a small notepad. Enter ALEC, a man near Haley’s age, carrying a boom box in one hand. He approaches the bench.)

ALEC
(Indicating the right side of the bench)
Is this seat taken?

HALEY
No.

ALEC
Oh, great. Thanks.

(Alec sits and sets his boom box down. He presses “play” and nods his head along to the song for a few beats, then gets more into it, making small dance-like motions with his shoulders and arms.)

HALEY
Excuse me—excuse me? Would you mind turning that off? It’s a little distracting.

ALEC
Great song.

HALEY
Uh, yeah, it’s super. But I’d like to get my work done.

(Alec shuts off the boom box)

ALEC
Right. You got it.

(Pause)

I love you.

HALEY
Sorry?

ALEC
Said I love you.

HALEY
…Oh. Thanks?

(She goes back to her work. Alec finds another track on his CD and presses “play” again. A soft love song plays.)

ALEC
That’s not the kind of thing I normally say unless I mean it. I believe in meaning what you say. I’m pretty sure I mean it, so I thought I’d just throw it out there so we can work on it together. …Sweetie?

HALEY
I’m really flattered, but I can’t deal with crazy bus stop people today, thanks.

ALEC
That’s the thing: I’m not crazy!

HALEY
God, make the crazy man leave me alone–

ALEC
I am not crazy!

HALEY
–And may the crazy man let me finish my notes—

ALEC
I swear to you–

–And not have to deal with the morning office troll, amen.

ALEC
…All right, so I’m a little crazy.

HALEY
Really? You had me fooled!

ALEC
Crazy for you!

HALEY
Cute.

(She returns to her notes. Alec skips to another CD track. He presses “play”—it is of Tchaikovsky’s first concerto for piano.)

…That’s Tchaikovsky. I love Tchaikovsky.

ALEC
I know!

HALEY
What?

ALEC
I follow you to the library!

(She stands to leave)

HALEY
I think I’ll call a taxi.

ALEC
No, wait!

HALEY
Yeah, I don’t think so.

ALEC
Wait, please! Can I just ask for one thing?

HALEY
Sure. One thing.

ALEC
I need… a piece of paper.

(Haley gives Alec a piece of paper from her notepad. He turns and quickly folds the paper, then turns back and holds it out for Haley to take.)

A poem for my love!

HALEY
…This is blank.

ALEC
Because… because your beauty cannot be expressed in words!

HALEY
(Drops the “poem” back onto the bench)
This is possibly the worst attempt at a pickup ever.

ALEC
I know.

HALEY
I feel a little sorry for you.

ALEC
Sorry enough to stay?

HALEY
…What time does the express—the thirty-seven? Is it coming soon?

ALEC
You can’t ride the thirty-seven.

HALEY
Mm-hm, and why’s that?

ALEC
You don’t have the fare.

(She looks into her purse, flips through her wallet)

HALEY
I don’t even want to know how you knew that.

ALEC
I’ve got some change!

HALEY
Well, I definitely don’t have enough for a taxi…

ALEC
So you’ll stay!

HALEY
Only for the fare.

ALEC
That’s fine.

HALEY
And the music.

ALEC
Sure.

HALEY
I carry mace.

ALEC
I know.

HALEY
That’s really creepy.

ALEC
Yeah… So! What’s your name?

HALEY
What?

ALEC
Your name! I’m Alec.

(He holds out his hand to shake.)

HALEY
You follow me around like some stalker and you don’t know my name?

ALEC
I wanted to wait. Until I could hear it from you.

HALEY
Oh. That’s… sort of sweet in a weird way.

(She takes his hand and shakes)

Haley.

ALEC
How do you spell that?

HALEY
H-A-L-E–Why do you need the spelling?

ALEC
To write that poem!

HALEY
Oh, so now my beauty can be expressed in words!

ALEC
I’ll keep writing it until I have enough words to express it.

HALEY
And how long is that going to take?

ALEC
I think a very long time.

HALEY
Oh.

(The Tchaikovsky track cuts off. Alec shuts off the boom box and begins to write.)

ALEC
…Not much that rhymes with “Haley”.

HALEY
Bailey, Daily, Failey…

ALEC
I’m pretty sure Failey isn’t a word.

HALEY
Oh.

ALEC
But we could make it one!

HALEY
What sort of word would “Failey” be?

ALEC
“Failey”: description meaning one who often fails.

HALEY
Too depressing.

ALEC
“Failey”: Of or relating to… a person named Faye?

HALEY
Too specific.

ALEC
“Failey”: …nonsense word! Rhymes with Haley.

HALEY
Perfect.
(Alec writes for another moment. Haley stands and looks down the street.)
I need that fare please… Alec.

ALEC
Oh. That was fast.

HALEY
Yeah. What a pity. So, some change, please?

ALEC
You’re going to go?

HALEY
I have to.

ALEC
I don’t have any money.

HALEY
What.

ALEC
But there’s a five-dollar bill in your right back pocket!

(Haley finds the bill and stands staring at Alec.)

I love you!

HALEY
Yeah… I know.

ALEC
So.

HALEY
So.

(They stand and shake hands, then Alec picks up his boom box and skips to a track of violins playing mournfully. He makes some parting gesture, and then turns and walks away off-left.

Haley watches after, then looks to the coming bus and stands. She begins to walk off-right, then quickly returns to the bench and picks up the blank “poem”.

Alec stands, moves to the bus route map, checks his watch.)

ALEC
“Haley”… Route thirty-seven, express. Southbound. Stops: Central Avenue, five-fifteen PM.

(He takes a seat at the bench, smiling.)

ALEC
I’ll be seeing you.

LIGHTS OUT

THE END

(c) 2009

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An Anecdote

Okay. So.

The party was, I think, that May. The time had blurred into early hours–two, three, four in the morning. I think. Time to sleep, and wait out our hangovers. The bedrooms were taken. They always were. Well, maybe they weren’t, but the doors were closed and we’d heard whispered stories of the times when people opened them to check for vacancy. The last two parties, I’d gotten lucky enough to stretch out on a couch with other early sleepers, not giving so much as an inch for any drunken bodies wandering, searching.

None of those times were worth writing about, though. This time I was with the people who stayed up late, skittering from room to room chatting, searching for a social sanctuary, holding fingers to our lips for fear of waking prone victims of vodka and gin. We ended up in the den. Or parlor. Or whatever you call it. Whatever they, I mean the people that lived there, called it, we were in there, and that’s where we eventually slept.

I’d guess it was an hour later that we snapped out of warm alchohol slumber to a battle cry from the next room, something triumphant and defiant, like the belting of Rossini’s barber. A moment later it was a song, ringing loud throughout the first floor. The next moment it became definite: two voices passionately joined in the first verse of “I, Don Quixote”. The voice of the knight errant sallied quickly in our direction.

Through the bathroom, the TV room, and around through the kitchen and dining room came Patrick and Patrick, our Men of La Mancha, nude and grinning. They finished the first chorus in the den and moved on.

That morning we had breakfast at the Mini-Gourmet. I had a cigarette-smelling five dollar bill; it bought me a plate of hash browns and eight cups of coffee, each with the same definite, unfortunate bottom. They told me it was one bottomless cup, but I had my doubts. The Metro found its way to the table. We took turns reading ‘Something Wild’: eccentric personal ads, hidden in the paper’s back section after pages of rent-a-girls. A man headlined his ad “SLIPPERY RECTAL EXAM”. I don’t remember it all, but I’ll summarize: “SWM seeks anything with an asshole. Cargo room preferred.” The real ad was juicier. Maybe that’s a bad word to use in the context.

Since I left them, I’ve picked up the Metro once or twice and flipped to the back. “Something Wild” is gone, but the girls are still around. One of them’s been in there for a year or more now. Patrick had a collection of “Vixen Fyre”’s ads on his fridge, last time I saw him. Every month, Vixen got a new face, a different neck, smaller or larger eyes, a change in ethnicity, but always kept her hair colored and ironed. She sometimes wore glasses to hide bloodshot or blackened eyes.

Someone suggested when we were out once that Vixen was a metaphor for something. I said she was really just a whore, that’s all.

(c)2006

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Fifteen or Less

A sign hangs like a man convicted by two weak chains over a butcherblock counter.  Its intent is to inform the ignorant, and its design is cleanly processed to attract the eyes of those unaware: bright red friendly letters across a gently curved white fiberglass frame, partnered with medium-gray drop-shadows and gradient speed-lines that lend the clean art-deco motif of late-nineties service.  The Safeway is a museum to that decade of mediocrity, a surgically clean factory of consumer ecstasy, and I’m waiting for my turn to crank the gears of the All-American Everyday.  My gaze wanders briefly over the last-minute snack stand.  Visual and salivary impulses all question whether an airtight package of five minutes’ indulgence is a fair reward for joining the shuffling ranks of patriotically obese, for whom the nearby automatic doors are more revolving than sliding.  The overhead sign is a symbol of their coming epitaphs, a summary of the lives of shoppers in the express lane.  It mocks the accomplishments of the ceaseless and faceless passers-under: “FIFTEEN ITEMS”, it commands.  The “nevermore” of a plastic raven.  In subtitle, a smaller sign hangs by smaller chains beneath, adding in machine-perfect cursive script, “…or less!”  The sign’s squandered fast-food aesthetic doesn’t bring much comfort, but it’s all I have right now, and I need it.

Because in front of me is a dick.

I don’t mean my dick.  I mean, that’s always there, and I try not to pay attention to it when I’m at the Safeway.  The dick in front of me is a man, and this man embodies all of the negative implications of the word “dick”.  This man wears a too-small button-down Hawaiian shirt, and is thin enough that at a certain angle you can make out the recess between his sternum and his gut from four wasted years in an ancient time serving body-shots to girls whose affection ran out just before the parking meter.  He’s bald, except where jagged black sideburns shaved into lightning bolts cling for dear life, desperately trying not to run down into the frat goatee he never shaved.

The problem, though, is this: in front of me, directly below the damning sign, is this asshole’s shopping cart.  In his shopping cart are twenty-seven Butterball and four Foster Farms frozen chickens.  The drooling checker sees nothing at all unusual about this, seizing one shrink-wrapped corpse after another, slamming them down on the barcode scanner with a dead thud, and shuffling each in succession with the sad wet gurgle of settling preservative juices toward the bagger.  The checker’s fiberglass smile faded after the first hour of wage-slavery.  She’s on hour four. Now she’s a part of the machine: conveyor, scanner, register and girl in one convenient unit.  And she keeps slamming chickens, one and another and another and another and another.

I wait until fifteen chickens pass to tighten my fists.  The conveyor moves in jerks and false starts, spastically closing the gaps between each pair of dead birds.  Behind them all, and behind a filthy plastic separator bar advertising a dead dental firm, is my purchase: caffeine in five forms, liquid and solid.  It keeps me from the nerves.  At first I falter when I notice the potential dragon’s hoard of birdmeat in the cart ahead, wondering if the world has gone mad enough to accept this affront to grocery etiquette.  But it’s been at least eight minutes, and four shoppers have come and gone in line before this monstrosity of chicken wheeled up.  I’ve come far in this line, and the only block to the killing satisfaction of my caffeine is this test.  It’s a test of myself, my spirit, my patience, my inner strength and a thousand identical bullshit concepts that boil down to how patient I can be before I seize a chicken and club anyone in arm’s reach into bloody unconsciousness.

It’s probably better for my criminal record if I pass this test.

So I stare at the sign. “FIFTEEN ITEMS…or less”, the irony hangs in the air over the frozen meatstash like a guillotine.  It’s remarkable how your imagination runs when your mind needs the preoccupation.  The blade of a guillotine is hanging over the balding motherfucker in front of me, its informational decree a conviction of his crime.  I imagine the chains cut, and the blade neatly tracing its grooves straight into the folded neck of the express lane convict.  A satisfying rushing sound; air and metal.  He splits right down the middle, like a cartoon.  I step over the halves and sweep away the remaining chickens to present my addictives.

What’s even more remarkable than the imagination is the way reality seems to look to it for the occasional cue.  I’m pulled back to attention as a rusted link in the real chain gives up its struggle.  It happens.  The smaller sign, that addendum, snaps from its links and falls.  It turns on its end in the air just before the delinquent shopper’s skull breaks its descent.  My heart jumps, a little in delight at the coincidence, a little in disappointment: he doesn’t split in two.  But there is a neat knocking sound, like an axe into wood, as plastic wedges into bone and the man crumples like an abandoned marionette.

With a sweep of my arm, I bury the fallen in what remains of his bounty.  A pile of meat falls onto a pile of meat.  With a patronizing smile, I push my items to the checker.  She takes them, and, machine of her motions moving ever forward, slides them on to the bagger.  She never flinches at the fall of an overeager consumer.  Why would she?  The girl has seen death before–frozen food section, aisle twelve.  She punches the keys in a steady rhythm to ring me up.  I hold up a finger to stop her: the process pauses while I find my discount card.

(c) 2009

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