* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where helping two beautiful people fall in love is our whole reason for being. That and making sure the lawyers on either side get paid. Say hello to the latest from the cynical yet beautiful mind of Barton Aronson.

(The Terms and Conditions Of) Our Beautiful Relationship

By: Barton Aronson

Dear Mr. Stone:

I am writing to inform you that my client, Madison Jane Terwilliger (a/k/a “Maddie”), has reviewed all of the materials you submitted. We had difficulty getting the hologram to work, but Maddie has decided she that has enough information to proceed. While candor requires us to inform you that she received offers which exceed yours in various particulars, we found your proposed relationship package highly competitive, with the greatest overall potential for enhancing Maddie’s personal, professional, and spiritual well-being.

Accordingly, Maddie tentatively accepts your client’s offer to be his bae for a period of eighteen (18) months, as well as his offer of the Mercedes-Maybach as a “go public” gift. We look forward to working with you.

As we’ve discussed, Maddie is bound to remain with her current boyfriend through awards season. Be assured that statements from Maddie’s camp to the effect that her current boyfriend is still rocking her world are issued solely to comply with current contractual obligations and will not affect our arrangement. If it is a matter of concern, however, we are prepared to offer an anonymous leak to an outlet of your choice to the effect that Maddie was totally macking on your client at the Billboard Music Awards after-party.

Additional terms and conditions are attached hereto as Schedule A.


Phyllis Rogers


Dear Ms. Rogers:

On behalf of my client, Francis Leslie Forsythe (a/k/a “Show Stoppa”) (a/k/a “Tha Stoppa”), thank you for your response. We are excited to work with you. We want you to know that our entire team of lawyers, accountants, therapists, stylists, web designers, photographers, personal trainers, spiritual advisers, transportation professionals, chefs, publicists, security personnel and professional entourage members are here to support your client and ours, twenty-four hours a day.

We must inform you that the video for Tha Stoppa’s recent single, “Harder They Come,” has been banned in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, and his tour dates there have been canceled. The resulting cash crunch requires that Tha Stoppa substitute a set of quality steak knives for the Maybach. We regret the change.

Once the relationship is public, my client agrees to participate in up to three couple’s profiles, provided they do not involve outlets with which he is in litigation. Unfortunately, we’re unable to accommodate Maddie’s request regarding Miss Fuzzy Paws — recently surfaced video of Tha Stoppa’s participation in his high school choir has adversely affected his street cred, and as a result, he simply cannot be photographed with a domestic housecat at this time. We can offer a photograph with a (humanely sedated) Bengal tiger as an alternative.

Finally, we wish to assure you that Tha Stoppa has the greatest admiration for Maddie’s music as well as her booty. Unfortunately, the settlement terms of a previous relationship prevent him from tweeting favorably about either for the next three months. We regret the inconvenience.


Benjamin Stone


Dear Mr. Stone:

We are disappointed that Tha Stoppa is requesting permission for twelve out-of-relationship intimate encounters during the period in which Maddie will be his bae. We are prepared to consent to six, which we view as the industry standard, provided none involve the women listed below in Column A (friends of Maddie’s) or Column B (known skanks). Please forward results of his monthly STD test results directly to me.

Photos of Maddie appearing in your client’s Instagram feed must be reviewed for compliance with her endorsement contracts before posting. In addition, Maddie’s devotion to a vegan lifestyle requires that tweets by Tha Stoppa mentioning her name not include the bacon, hamburger, hot dog, steak, turkey wing or spare rib emojis.

Your proposals regarding Maddie’s domestic travel are non-starters. Please confirm your client is prepared to provide Maddie unlimited use of his Falcon G-6 or equivalent. For international travel, first class on commercial airlines is acceptable, but see below for a list of carriers from which Maddie’s mother is currently banned.

We wish your client success with his new venture in sports management. However, polling of 7-10 year old girls — currently 37% of Maddie’s fan base — reveal either extreme anxiety over or outright revulsion at combat sports. Accordingly, Maddie will be unable to accompany Tha Stoppa to UFC matches.

We have reviewed your itemized list of proposed acts of physical intimacy. Items 1-9 and 14 are acceptable in principle, but see below for our counterproposal regarding frequency. Maddie does not engage in items 10-13 without a prenuptial agreement. We are unfamiliar with items 15-26.

Thank you for sending along the photo of Tha Stoppa’s cousin. There are no openings in Maddie’s squad at this time, but we will keep it on file.


Phyllis Rogers


Dear Ms. Rogers:

There appear to be only a few minor matters to be resolved. Tha Stoppa agrees to accompany Maddie to Fashion Week in the cities you list, except for Sydney, as he is currently barred from entering Australia.

Tha Stoppa consents to appear, without compensation, in the video for Maddie’s single “Thigh High,” provided his abdominal muscles are featured prominently (75% of the frame or more) for no less than nine seconds.

Our client is amenable to the requested twelve “quiet evenings at home” during the course of the relationship. See below for proposed changes to the definitions of the words “quiet,” “evenings” and “home.”

Please let us know if you have any comments on the letter that we have drafted for Maddie to send to the judge overseeing my client’s probation in Nevada.

Regarding the end of the relationship, Tha Stoppa cannot agree to your proposal that Maddie attribute the breakup to his “lying-ass ways.” We request again that you choose either the “careers going in different directions” or the “never in the same place at the same time” narrative. In either case, Tha Stoppa consents to your request that he cover the lease on Maddie’s Tesla Model X for thirty-six (36) months following the end of the relationship. And on a personal note, Tha Stoppa has asked me to ask you to convey to your client that, even after their breakup, he will always love her.


Benjamin Stone


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where not every house invasion is a home invasion, if that makes sense. If it doesn't, blame Barton Aronson, whose ability to turn a monologue into a dialogue is unmatched in our view.

Tonight’s Home Invasion

By: Barton Aronson

Honey? Are you awake? Honey? Do you hear that? Do you — really? For ten minutes? Huh. That long? Huh.

It sounds like the door. It sounds like someone’s trying to jimmy the lock. I wonder why they call it that — “jimmy.” We should Google that.

There it is again. No, it’s not your brother. No, he doesn’t have a key. Yes, I know you told me to give him a key. When he returns my skimboard and promises to stop “borrowing” money out of your purse, I will give him a goddamn key. He owes us, like, two hundred dollars.

It doesn’t sound like a key. It keeps going in and out. What do they call that? Got it — burglarious tools. No, I am not making it up. It’s a thing. Burglarious tools. You can Google it. Burglarious tools. Stop what? That’s ridiculous — I’m not repeating it because I like saying “burglarious.” You’re ridiculous.

Christ, I think it’s opening. Where’s the alarm? Why isn’t the alarm going off? Oh, right – we canceled the alarm. Okay, we didn’t pay the alarm bill. Okay, okay, I didn’t pay the alarm bill. Fine! I forgot to pay the alarm bill. There. I took responsibility. Happy now?

Okay, it’s okay – Toby’s going downstairs. Good boy, Toby! Get him, boy! Kill! Get — wait, is that — kibble? Is that the dog we rescued from certain death having a snack? Oh, great. Good to know our man-eating Rottweiler can be bought for a scoop of kibble. Good to know, Toby!

We need to call 911. Where’s my phone? Where’s — oh, right. I forgot. Someone decreed we couldn’t have phones in the bedroom. Someone decided we’d communicate more and sleep better and awaken more refreshed. Great — we’ll be refreshed when we describe our stolen crap to the cops.

Jesus, was that the window? Why break the window if he’s already — never mind. I said never mind. Yes, yes, it’s the wine glasses, not the window. No, I did not load the dishwasher. I said I’d do it in the morning. Yes, I know your folks are coming for brunch. I was going to do it in the morning. I didn’t think I needed to tidy up for tonight’s home invasion.

Okay, enough of this. I’m getting the shotgun. Once this idiot hears me rack that bitch he’s gonna — oh, right. I can’t rack it, because I don’t have it, because the police still haven’t issued me my permit. What? Well, it feels like a pretty high priority right now, doesn’t it? Did I mention how happy I am we moved to Boston for a job you already hate? Cradle of the revolution, my ass.

Honey, where are you going? What’re you — honey, wait. It took me six hours to hang the T.V., you can’t just rip it off the wall! You can’t — WHOA. Okay. Settle down. Honey? Where are you going? Honey?

Jesus Christ that was loud! You had to throw it down the stairs? That thing cost eighteen hundred bucks! You couldn’t just — wave it at him? I don’t know. Wait — is that the door closing? He’s gone? Oh, my God. Thank God. Thank God. Honey, that was awesome. You sounded really scary. I mean, I couldn’t really hear you from under the pillow, but for a second there, I swear — you sounded exactly like your mom.



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we proudly support those who are "in transition." Transition to what? That's a good question, and one that only Barton Aronson can answer.

Georgina’s Transition

By: Barton Aronson

First off, a big “thank you” to everyone who’s been so supportive of Roberta. Her journey to becoming Robert hasn’t been easy, but except for the incident in the third floor men’s room last week, most of you have been really thoughtful. The bathroom, by the way, will be back in service on Wednesday. Robert has recovered from the trauma and will be back tomorrow. And Elliot’s suspension ended this morning — but don’t think we’re not watching you, Elliot.

I also want to let you know that, starting Monday, we’ll be supporting another transition — Georgina is coming back to work. Just last week, her doctor said she’s ready to go, and this morning, her ichthyologist signed off, too. Georgina’s outward self now fully reflects the Metacarcinus Magister she’s always been inside.

Our little Georgina is finally a Dungeness crab.

I don’t want to pretend that this isn’t a big change. It is. But I also want to say that we should keep this in perspective. I don’t know about all of you, but Roberta becoming a boy seems a much bigger deal to me than Georgina becoming a crab.

However you view it, though, you need to take our word for it — Georgina is still a girl. Look, we know there’s no way to tell the difference between male and female crabs without turning them over. But after last week, it should go without saying that picking coworkers up and turning them over to check is not okay. Got that, Elliot? Next time, the suspension will be without pay.

And by the way — Georgina is still “Georgina.” No change there. She has a new crustacean name, of course, but really doesn’t want anyone wasting time trying to master the complex naming conventions of Dungeness crabs. In any case, her ichthyologist tells us that making the necessary sounds is anatomically impossible for us. And no, Elliot, it will not be funny for you to try.

Typical Georgina — she’s told us many times she doesn’t want any special treatment. And there won’t be. Still, we’re going to have to make a few small changes.

Effective immediately, the cafeteria will no longer offer crab cakes during summer. We know, we know — they were great. But if you can imagine yourself in Georgina’s shell for a moment, you’ll understand. We will also be dropping most other members of the Malacostraca Class from the menu. We’ll all miss lobster roll Tuesdays, but frankly, the krill soup was never popular. Most other seafood will remain on the menu, and Georgina says she’s looking forward to Clam Chowder Fridays as much as she ever did. Much more than she ever did, in fact.

Also effective immediately, the use of the word “crabby” to describe Georgina when she’s in one of her moods is prohibited. Simple courtesy, people.

Oh, speaking of “people”: we need to start avoiding that word — and other phylum-specific language — when addressing a group. Everyone did just fine when we had to stop using “guys” last year, and this is really no different. Besides, Legal insists. We’ve been told “Animalia” is fine, and we’re checking on “folks.” HR is now CAR, by the way (Chordata and Anthropoda Resources). New signage will go up next week.

We also need to stop referring to our competitors as “bottom feeders.”

Obviously, Georgina is now considerably closer to the ground than she was before. Everyone should just be mindful of her when moving about the office. And remember – she isn’t avoiding you, she just walks that way.

We also need to inform you that, because Dungeness crabs have their own views on proper hygiene, Georgina might not always use the restroom. You should have no trouble spotting her droppings in the hallways — they are roughly the size, shape, and color of a Tootsie Roll. (Tootsie Rolls will be banned from candy dishes to avoid any confusion.) And apparently, they’re only mildly toxic.

Finally, Georgina — and only Georgina — will be allowed to sit on the table in the conference room. Her eye stalks just aren’t long enough otherwise. And while her ichthyologist assures us she’s the same old sweet Georgina, it’s important to remember that crabs can be a little short tempered, especially when they feel threatened. It’s also important to remember that the crushing power of her larger claw is about 10,000 pounds per square inch. So, Elliot, by all means, feel free to continue telling Georgina that her ideas for holiday parties are stupid. Just remember — when she’s on the table, that claw is pretty much aimed at your nose.



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Or in some cases playas. If you can't tell which is which, ask Barton Aronson.

Announcements For Tonight’s Performance

By: Barton Aronson

Tonight’s performance will begin in a few moments.

In case of an emergency, there are three emergency exits in this theater: the two doors on either side of Row T marked “NO EXIT” and the swinging doors separating the saloon from the barbershop in Act I.

Understudies never substitute for listed players unless a specific announcement is made at the time of the performance. Tonight, the role of the Villain in the Black Hat will be played by its understudy, Benjamin Stone. The role of the Black Hat will be played by its understudy, the White Dinner Jacket.

Please silence your cell phones.

Patrons arriving late will be seated during the general confusion sown by the disappearance of the brothel owner’s parakeet during Act I, Scene 3.

In Act II, the role of manly humility will be played by bitchy self-regard.

In tonight’s audience, the role of Dr. Robert Farnsworth’s elegant wife, ordinarily seated next to him in Row M, Seat 114, is apparently being played by a mysterious young tramp in an inappropriately revealing dress.

In Act III, Scene 2, the role of the deadly exchange of gunfire will be played by a catty exchange of insults.

In tonight’s audience, the role of The Idiot Who Thinks the Cell Phone Announcement Doesn’t Apply to Him is played by the guy in Row B, Seat 5, wearing the ill-advised light wash jeans.

In Act III, Scene 3, the strong, silent type will be played by the endlessly prattling foppish twit.

In tonight’s audience, the role of Dr. Robert Farnsworth, ordinarily seated in Row M, Seat 113, is apparently being played by Dr. Farnsworth’s twin brother, the Right Reverend Barry Farnsworth. The role of the Mysterious Young Tramp in the Inappropriately Revealing Dress in Row M, Seat 114 is being played by Rev. Farnsworth’s lovely daughter Tory. Management regrets the error.

In Act III, Scene 4, the naïve optimism of youth will be played by the bitter wisdom of age.

In Act IV, the vast, empty expanse of the frontier will be played by the soot-choked byways of the industrial metropolis. Patrons suffering from bronchial conditions are cautioned not to sit in the first six rows.

No coughing is permitted during tonight’s performance. Those who require lozenges are requested to unwrap them now. Those who dislike the sticky feeling left by holding unwrapped lozenges are requested to pull their Redi Wipes out of the crinkly plastic package now. Those who dislike the greasy residue left by holding Redi Wipes may wipe their fingers on their crushed velvet seats and dispose of the wipes by chewing them silently before swallowing.

In tonight’s performance, the role of the veteran Broadway producer draped suavely over seats 1A and 1B will be played by the theater novice from Wall Street pacing anxiously in the lobby.

Throughout tonight’s performance, the role of brand-named snack goods available at the first floor concession will be played by no-name generic candies made by a company recently acquired in a private equity deal by the theater’s owners. Management regrets the transaction.

At the conclusion of tonight’s performance, the role of the bang will be played by a whimper.

We hope you enjoy the show.


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where even in the dead of winter we are usually thinking about baseball. Enjoy the spin put on this fast ball by newcomer Barton Aronson.

Thanks For Coaching

By: Barton Aronson

Thanks so much for agreeing to coach the Squirrels for the remainder of the fall season. On behalf of the boys, their parents, and Kenesaw Mountain Little League, LLC, I’m authorized to tell you how much we appreciate it.

Also, thanks for asking about Ted Barrett, your predecessor. His condition continues to improve, and I’ve forwarded your request to “give Ted my best” to our lawyers.

Until your background check is complete, you are prohibited from communicating with any of the players. We know you were planning on having the Goldsteins over for brunch on Sunday; the lawyers will get back to you on that.

And now, meet the team!

Speaking of the Goldsteins, their son David is your starting first baseman. David is unavailable for all of our Saturday games due to his observance of the Jewish Sabbath. He is also unavailable for the last two weeks of September (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), the second week of October (Sukkot), and the fourth week of October (Boca Raton, with his grandparents). In the event you make the playoffs, he’s totally unavailable (Hannukah, early this year).

Bobby Nelson is your second baseman. Bobby does not have his own mitt, so please remember to bring one for him. Bobby cannot actually play baseball. But his mother, Kim, is a total babe. Unless Bobby starts, Kim does not come to the games; unless she comes, you won’t have enough fathers to help out. I encourage you to start Bobby.

Salam Iqbal is your shortstop. As a member of a priestly clan, he is forbidden to lower himself to field ground balls, and it is a violation of his First Amendment rights for you to yell at him about it. Whether you can gently encourage him is an unsettled question we’d rather you didn’t test.

Roseanne Tilkian is your third baseperson. Until we can resolve the Tilkians’ claims against the league, please use gender-neutral language whenever communicating with Roseanne or with the team generally. We’ve been advised that “guys” is not gender-neutral (memo attached).

Sasha Rudovsky is your left fielder. His father, Sergei, likes to watch him play, which explains the helicopter — Sergei is obligated to remain 200 yards away from Sasha and his mother, Ivanka. Ivanka, by the way, is a total babe. I recommend that you not stand next to her if you can hear a helicopter.

Elliot Harris is your center fielder. In the event Elliot’s father comes to the game (please study his photograph, attached), act naturally, like nothing is wrong. When he’s not looking, text “Wayne Harris” to the warrant squad (number attached) and seek cover.

Your right fielder is Benny White. Please cooperate with probation services when they drop him off. Under the terms of his probation, Benny is not allowed to steal second. His P.O., Sondra, usually comes to the games, which is great — Sondra is a total babe.

Cecil Dannon is your starting pitcher. He’s the complete package — a terrific pitcher and a great hitter. We’ve obtained an injunction requiring opposing teams to accept Cecil’s Nigerian birth certificate (attached), which proves conclusively that he is thirteen. In the event the injunction is vacated at any point, please present Cecil’s Panamanian birth certificate (attached), which proves conclusively that he is thirteen.

Your catcher is Manny Cedric, Jr. Yes, that Manny Cedric. His father’s promotional agreement with the league stipulates that he serve as third base coach when Manny Jr. bats; otherwise, it’s not usually necessary or productive to speak to Manny Sr. If you can remember to bring a stuffed animal and tissues for Junior, it would be a nice gesture. Manny Jr.’s mother, Felicia, never comes to games, but Google her — she is a total babe.

Finally, Joey Tarkington is your pinch hitter. In the event his father appears at the game, you have a grant of immunity if you want to shoot him. If you do, it’s important not to miss, as the unfortunate events involving Ted Barrett demonstrate. Even if you don’t want to shoot, it would be great if you could come heavy and provide backup to Cindy, Joey’s mother. Cindy is the complete package — a real sweetheart, a dead shot, and a total babe. Please don’t forget to address her as “Judge.”

And again – thanks so much for taking over the Squirrels!