From The Casebook Of Dreadlock Holmes

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At the foot of the portico at Dunbroke-on-the-Wye, I was left dumbstruck by countenance: darker than a Moor’s, and framed by thick cascading ropes of benighted locks I can only liken to Medusa’s, extending far past the point of any notion of propriety I had yet brought it upon myself to consider after fifteen years among the trollops, scalawags and ne’er-do-wells that any Scotland Yard inspector engages while navigating the multifarious skullduggeries of our calling.

After our exchange of salutations, he said not a word all the way through the wisteria to the portcullis. I would not venture to say he was taciturn, but rather unprepossessingly inquisitive, pausing to stare at the ironwork, the knockers and the doorknob. The furrowed brow fairly froze upon his visage as we moved through the manor into the study, where Crumwall Thurton, Esq. had been found slain not two days before. He ran his hands slowly across the wainscoting, and then swerved suddenly to the desk, producing an immaculate kerchief to draw up the slender vial containing a tincture of laudanum that lay beside Crumwall Thurton, Esq.’s manteau.

Yet there was something malodorous about him. Not his character (at the time, I had nothing upon which to base any supposition), but rather his person. Despite his startling appearance, I had no reason to doubt his ablutions, and would have settled without hesitation upon the notion that they were beyond reproach, save for the mysterious treacly pungency that wafted in the ether wherever he stood, a mixture that whispered of incense and shouted some herbal concoction I had not yet encountered, one foreign to the opium dens I had frequented during other investigations, but perhaps not distant cousins from the same. His studious carriage was further undermined by his bloodshot eyes, an unsettling affliction palpable even at a distance.

Then, too, this: he dropped to the floor suddenly, indiscriminately on all fours, to examine the single peculiarity that had all but announced itself among the particulars of Crumwall Thurton, Esq.’s study, namely the heretofore inexplicable, small, circular creosote stain upon the oriental rug to the left of the base of the desk. And then, moments later, with equal alacrity, Dreadlock Holmes leapt up again and spoke.

“De man you seek is a left-handed man, not tall, yah, wit’ a cane or somet’ing he’ll be leanin’ on, paaaale and stuttering as the day he was born.”

My mind reeled at the rapidity of his assertions. “But…how can…are you certain?” I gasped.

“Inspectah Frampton, dis I know, as I know de one who is God and God alone witout apollo-gee, Jah Rastafari Haile Selassie-aye, has not yet been born upon dis eart’.”

“But,” I ejaculated.

“Inspectah Frampton, dere is not time for aaall dese tribula-tions,” he said. “We must return witout delayin’ to Londontown and find my asso-ciates, Jimmy, Peeet-ah and Bob.”

*****

Apace we caught the ten-past to London. During our trip, I took it upon myself to commence my inquiries as to the origin and delineation of the singular deductive methods of Dreadlock Holmes. He spoke calmly and freely, but in an accent I had never crossed in all my years of investigation, and though it was not for lack of wanting on behalf of both parties, our initial forays into the forest of his methodology proved less than fruitful. I asked him what in the arrangement of the elements and sundries of the study conspired to bring forth his assertions regarding the telltale characteristics of the perpetrator of the foul deed visited upon Crumwall Thurton, Esq., a query met with the following response:

“All praise to Him Alone Most High Haile Selassie-aye, de mighty, mighty lion of our redemption who has not yet come to greet us.”

And as I ventured ever backward during our trip, seeking only the most rudimentary encapsulation of his methodology, he spoke of all things flowing from Jah Rastafari, brought forth in radiance from the Kingdom through the line of Solomon. In truth, the only sliver of light shed upon my bewilderment came forth when I asked Mr. Holmes what, in his estimable opinion, was the central necessity of fundamentally sound investigative endeavors.

“De vibe,” he said. “Most definitely de vibe is aaall sal-vaation, witout hesi-taation.”

The vibe; a term whose meaning I did not and could not hope to grasp at its broaching, but came to know as our evening wore on.

Arriving at his flat in Camden Town, I was taken aback to be greeted by a thick obscuring haze the moment we opened the door, and equally surprised by Dreadlock Holmes’ lack of affect upon its apprehension. He merely welcomed me to his abode and escorted me into the living room, where we were met with another peculiar tableau: three somnambulant gentlemen strewn in haphazard fashion upon a plush divan bedecked in verdant fabric, half buried amidst a lavish pile of gold and vermilion pillows, and all enshrouded in smoke.

“Inspectah Frampton, may I present, left-right, my humble assoo-ciates, Jimmy, Peeet-ah and Bob.”

With that prompt, from letheward Jimmy returned, sluggishly lifting his hand to greet me.

“Bob, Bob and Peeet-ah, Dread is back, mon. He come wit’ a friend. Lively up, Peeet-ah,” he said.

And slowly the other two rose.

Like Dreadlock, this shambolic triumvirate bore the same stolid expression, the same Moorish complexion, and the same extravagances of hair. And like Dreadlock, this soporific trio had long since acclimated to the haze; indeed, it appeared to be their quotidian atmosphere, the result of the butts of several curiously outsized cigars burned to their end and now resting upon a table before the divan, adjacent to a small lacquered vase holding several burning sticks of a beguiling incense, contesting the acrid smoke of the long-spent rivals. The bittersweet, malodorous mixture was familiar to me upon first sensing it at the door: that it was the source of Holmes’ distinctive pungency was beyond conjecture.

“Bobby. Pee-tah, Jimmy, you know what?” said Holmes. “De game is afoot, mon.”

And with that the threesome slowly stood up, mumbled “De game is afoot, always de game is afoot,” shuffled toward the door, and presently disappeared from the room. As we sat on the divan, Holmes produced two cigars the likes of which I had not seen before, identical in their prodigious circumference to the remainders on the table, and daunting in length.

“Inspectah Frampton, togethah we must contemplate de perfidiousness of our villain, yah,” said Holmes, lighting the cigars. “One for you, an’ one for me.”

I fumbled at first, but when I took to the instruction of Holmes as to the proper method for drawing in the smoke, I was soon overtaken by a series of sensations to which I can do no justice by resorting to the weak verisimilitude of words.

Time slowed, rushed and slowed again. Contrary to Holmes’ exhortation, I soon found myself unable to concentrate for any length of time on the matter at hand, and found respite only when Jimmy, Peter and Bob rejoined us with musical instruments. As Bob strummed a guitar gently and slowly to the syncopation of Peter’s patient but unerring drum, Jimmy used his hands to pluck a cello, producing sonorous and pleasingly fathomless bass rhythms. In time, Dreadlock rose to attend to a simple melody on his spinet by the window, and as the room began to stretch and whirl, the merry foursome sang a sweetly plaintive tune whose refrain I ascertained and participated in after only a few repetends from my befogged colleagues.

No woman no cry. No woman no cry…

I felt the heady sensation normally associated with an evening spent in the company of strong libations, coupled with an incessant urge to touch my nose, a pleasing inclination towards easy laughter, and a sudden, unaccountable zeal for biscuits, which Jimmy presented in abundance upon my mentioning.

Cigars, music, biscuits and eventually claret engulfed the evening, and at some moment I cannot honestly pinpoint, all faded blissfully into oblivion.

*****

I found myself prostrate on the divan in that same living room under a diminished cloud the very next morning, drawn from a cave of pillows and deep slumbers by the welcome scent of bangers and mash, prepared expertly by Bob and placed on the table before me.

“And where is Mr. Holmes?” I asked.

“Jimmy an’ Peeet-ah went wit’ Dread,” said Bob. “To appre-hend de man who done dat nice gentleman wrong.”

I could hardly believe my ears.

“What? Where did they go? How did — what man?”

To which Bob smiled with this rejoinder, “De vibe, mon, de vibe.”

It had come to Dreadlock Holmes in a reverie during the night: our nefarious quarry was none other than the diminutive Sir Clive Bloodnought Redrumming, notorious for his bilious temperament, his club-footed gait, his unbesmirched alabaster complexion, and his unbounded hatred for Crumwall Thurton, Esq., who had outwitted him in business matters, building a thriving establishment specializing in chimney construction, the very trade in which Redrumming had failed.

By a miracle of Providence and the grace of London traffic and all its vicissitudes, I rushed and caught up with Jimmy, Peter and Dreadlock in their pursuit. Met with our formidable bill of accusation, Sir Clive briefly attempted defiance, stuttering vociferously and waiving his creosote-stained cane with his left hand, but the weight of evidence, the burden of his own madness, the plangent insistence of his revivified conscience, the specter of Scotland Yard, and the spectacle of Dreadlock Holmes and his redolent, wild-haired assistants was too much for his protestations, and he desisted soon after.

Brimming with the ebullience befitting a job well done, we returned to Holmes’ abode to celebrate much as we had contemplated our criminal conundrum the night previous. And within the year, our intrepid magistrates saw to it that the murderous Sir Clive would answer for his transgressions.

And to you dear readers, I must now confess that which I have not yet divulged; even in those first few hours, my brief encounter with the peculiar and perspicacious methods of Dreadlock Holmes had forever changed me. For I no longer ask as to the origin of his gifts; indeed, a steady cadence of relaxation had by then already gripped my constitution, wrought from the enchanting power of the indigenous cigars an infectious rhythms of Dread, Peter, Jimmy and Bob. And here I can only relay in the briefest of terms that in future cases and further collaborations, I became further acquainted with the uncanny ability of Dreadlock Holmes to delve into the salutary revelations and secret truths that can only be derived from a resolute communion with that which I now know to be none other than de vibe.

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The Crunked and Slammin’ Sonnets of Rocker Tommy Lee

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Sure, you know and love him as the aging bad-boy drummer of Motley Crue, the on-again off-again hubby of Pamela Anderson, and the almost-every-week defendant on Celebrity Justice, but the oft-tattooed rocker Tommy Lee is so much more — he’s a poet, too.

So without further ado, the bodacious words of Tommy Lee…

Molten Metal Sonnet

Again I’ve gone and wrecked the Escalade;

both bags deployed to stop my drug-drenched dreams

of Inspiration, that muse whose bangin’ bod

evades my famous grasp. Despite the reams

of righteous loot from multirecord deals,

prodigious backstage lines of pulchritude

bedecked in next to nothing, gold and squeals

of adulation, something’s missing, dude.

If I could truly rock through words alone

like Auden, Keats, Metallica or Korn,

I’d fly my jet to Monaco and hone

my craft, with breaks for baccarat and porn.

Alas, I lie beneath the teeming stars

and call my agent, crashing words like cars.

Vampire Sorority Girl

It’s not the way you rushed that freshman boy

and ripped his heart out (although GOD, that ruled),

or how you shocked the Theta Chi’s and spoiled

their bakesale fun (of course, you did the school

a favor). Deans will never understand

precisely why you tear them limb from limb,

but I do. Let me hold your icy hand

as we depart this bloody awful gym,

forget the pep squad sucked, and concentrate

on why you slay me. Deathly hot and sleek,

your evil schoolgirl skirts eviscerate

my will to live, your pallor makes me weak.

How this sophomore longs to feel your heart

not beating. Bite me now, and never part.

(Editor’s note: This next work features a brief but daring departure from self-absorption by Lee, as he dons the guise of an astrophysicist — several, actually — and then carries them into familiar territory, a strip club. And so we rock onward.)

Super String Theory!

We’re only telling you because we’re ripped

and also, Amber, when you dance, we feel

the thrilling vagaries of space are stripped

of mystery. Clad in curves and time, you steal

the hearts of Nobel astrophysicists

like us, the lonely nine who know the math

behind a theory panting fortune kissed

and wed too soon. Forget the garden path —

the bottom line? We made it up, us guys

around this table. Superstrings confound

all proof, dimensions tease and feign surprise;

our figures envy yours, so smoothly sound.

The universe is kind — unless we’re wrong

about our guess, you’re on for one more song?

Rebel Nonsonnet 27:

My Hot Erotica

Your rack’s a rockin’ revelation, causing heart attacks,

your can’s a planet of its own, the epi-tome of back,

your gams are slammin’ slender missiles blowing up those sandals,

your hips and curves have dips that pervs in dreams could never handle,

your midriff rips my brain in two, your arms destroy the rest,

your neck alone could launch the ships to crush that Helen test,

your eyes make supermodels cry, your nose blows waifs away,

your ears are sexy satellites, your mouth’s a passion play —

so lose the tube top, Daisy Dukes and discount Sauvignon,

and smack those lips with Bonne Bell. C’mon, let’s git it on.

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Travis Longworth, Pioneer Insurance Salesman

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…and then the Northern Spirit turned to the penguin and said, “What? No pemmican?”

Hahahaha okay I see you’re not much of a talker, but I still think it’s great you agreed to have a sitdown with me, Sitting Bull.

This is strictly a get-to-know, so no pressure, but Sitting Bull, I think you’ll find that we at Pioneer Insurance have products uniquely tailored to your leadership needs.

You can do an a la carte — we’ve done a lot of that with, wow, just a whole bunch of tribes in Sioux Nation, but I wonder if you’ve heard about our Hunkpapa Comprehensive Plan? No? No, okay, well, that’s a one-stop shop approach. One monthly premium and that covers life, health, property and horses. And that’s unlimited horses. What? No — that just covers you. But we do offer a fee-based add-on per son, so they can ride too.

And FYI think if you check around, you’ll see other companies jack up the premium during hunting season. We don’t. Which is just one of the advantages of —

What? Okay, a la carte, a la carte it is…there’s term life. One lump sum payment, and that covers you for thirteen moons. Advantage: heap big savings. Which goes over big with the squaws, if you know what I’m saying, am I right?

Okay, no. So, anyhoo, you’re still young and active, so let’s talk disability. There’s our Earth n’ Sky package, so your spouse gets a perpetuity every season in case of debilitating injury or death. And that’s forever. I know, I know, God forbid and fingers crossed, but we’re talking another arrow in your quiver, am I right? Am I right?

Alright, my bad. Apologies. What about college savings? I saw a bunch of youngsters outside the tent. Yours? Cute little devils. They grow up fast, don’t they? And who can say what the winters will bring? Once the buffalo were many. Now? Hey, I’m feeling it too — lots of tents folded last year, but look who I’m talking to. So whaaat about your kids? The future, talking leaves, education…kids need options now. That takes wampum. We have tax-deductible annuities through Fort La —

What? Shaking head? Okay, I’m feeling you. Look, honesty time — if I may, it’s the Cheyenne thing, right? Okay yes, yes, we did business with Crazy Horse. But that was on the investment side, it was a total one-off, and I can assure you —

Oh, you’re good with the Cheyenne now? Hey, that’s terrific. That Crazy Horse is great. Nuts, but a super guy. So it’s the Other Thing…you’ve been burned by contracts before, right? Right? I hear you, padre. What I’m saying to you is One, who hasn’t? And B, that’s not how we do at Pioneer, straight up, and Finally, here’s the deal — you can cancel at any time. No obligations. None. How’s that for peace of mind?

I swore I wasn’t going to do this today, but just between you, me and the peace pipe, we just sold Red Cloud the Hunkpapa Comp Plan. But he paid retail. Now from what I understand, Red is pretty much Sioux Nation second banana to you, so…for you — and this is good only for today — 25% off the first two months. For the exact same plan. I’m just sayin —

What’s that?

You will? Right now? Don’t be jerkin’ me, Sitting Bull.

Well, well, that’s, that’s just supertastic. You bet I’m jazzed. Hunkpapa Comp it is!

Whew. You had me going there. Hahahaha. Tell you what — right after this I’m done for the week — yeah, yeah, a little R&R with some buddies. Hey, we all need a break sometimes, right? Okey dokey, the way this works is, you sign here and here — an X will doo ya — and then we do the sweat lodge, but ONLY if you want to. No? Okay, no. Hey, it’s all good.

Okay…X aaaannd X. We’re in business, my friend!

What am I doing? Oh, you mean with my friends? Yes? Yes? Oh, well, it’s nothing much — I’m going tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow. Just a buncha guys, shootin’ the breeze, couple drinks, couple jokes —

Where? Little Big Horn. You know it?

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Tonight on Charlie Rose:
Kipling Czszyszwicz,
Famous Monosyllabist

By:

CHARLIE ROSE (STARES AT CAMERA): It’s been said that the moment you say you’re monosyllabic, you no longer are. For centuries they’ve been called snippies, creeps, and really bad spouses, but today’s monosyllabic individuals — or “M’s,” — are a force to be reckoned with, thanks to the Union for the Health and Humane Management of Monosyllabism. You may have never heard of UHHMM, and its members can’t say what the initials stand for, but that hasn’t stopped it from permeating every crack in the American sociopolitical sidewalk, and tonight at this table, it’s UHHMM’s Executive Director — or Chief, as he calls himself — Kipling Czszyszwicz, here to discuss politics, culture, and the ever-growing power of really small words.

CR: (TURNS TO GUEST) Welcome to the broadcast.

KIPLING CZSZYSZWICZ: Thanks. Call me Kip.

CR: You’re a monosyllabist. You’re monosyllabic. This means what?

KC: I can’t say big words.

CR: And this is something you were born with — it’s a medical condition.

KC: Yes.

CR: You can’t say your last name.

KC: Nope. Can you?

CR (LEANS TOO CLOSE TO GUEST): There’s been some — it’s been said that — there’s research out there that says monosyllabism — that this is, this is a highly treatable psychosomatic condition, but you yourself — even though (SLAPS TABLE), even though multisyllabism enables communication to move beyond quasi-verisimilitude towards a more fluid, integrated hypercontextuality within the signal/signifier construct, you yourself haven’t — you have not — sought treatment. Why not?

KC: Chicks dig it.

CR: Fair enough. I just finished reading your autobiography, Hey. Just a great read. A quick read.

KC: Thanks.

CR: Walk me through the chronology. You take over UHHMM in the eighties, it’s a struggling nonprofit, and you realize, you realize there’s money to be made. You begin consulting. In politics…

(AWKWARD SILENCE)

KC: Yes.

CR: In Hollywood…

KC: Yes.

CR: Arnold Schwarzenegger…

KC: “I’ll be back” — that was us. He still says it. We still get a fee.

CR: Walter Mondale. “Where’s the beef…”

KC: That had legs. For a while.

CR: George Herbert Walker Bush…

KC: “Line in the sand”…”Read my lips”…”This will not stand”…All ours. Good times.

CR: Nike…”Just Do It”…a moment in the culture, the epitome, the apogee, a zenith, an epiphany — who you are, what you’re about, a symbiosis, a convergence of — what?

KC: (NODS) Yes.

CR: (SHAKES HEAD) Yes?

KC: (NODS) Yes.

CR: Tom Cruise…

KC: (SMILES) Top Gun.

CR: Groundbreaking cinema…

KC: (SMILES) Great flick.

CR: The nineties…Jennifer Lopez. Makes the leap…J. Lo…what did that do?

KC: That was all her, but God bless. We sent her a Jag.

CR: (LEANS TOO CLOSE TO GUEST) Keanu Reeves. What happened?

KC: It’s sad. “Whoa” was ours. Now he won’t take our calls. We’re in court.

CR: You did Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels with Guy Ritchie?

KC: No. Just Snatch.

CR: You came up with the title Good Will Hunting

KC: Two thirds of it.

CR: And this past election, you worked with Howard Dean…

KC: Sure. Great guy. We helped with the scream.

CR: And George W. Bush…

KC: Yup. “Stay the course.” We worked with Rove. Love that guy.

CR (LEANS TOO CLOSE TO GUEST): So you’re bipartisan?

KC: We go with the dough.

CR: But you didn’t work with John Kerry.

KC: Good hair, bad vibe. The war thing. Talked too much. And his wife is nuts.

CR: And now here you are — UHHMM is a huge, huge organization. Big names, massive membership, offices in Prague, Minsk, Bern, and Nome, headquarters in Burke, VA, and $200 million in the bank.

KC: We get by.

CR (SMACKS TABLE): Two hundred million? Tom Hanks, Seal and Kate Moss as your spokespersons? C’mon.

KC: What can I say? It’s tight. We’re crunked.

(MUTUAL GUFFAW)

(AWKWARD SILENCE)

CR: And now you’re diversifying into other media…

KC: We have a share of House, The L Word and The Wire, we own part of Elle, Gear, Stuff and O. We’re in talks with E!, and we just signed Air, Cher, Sting, Prince, The Hives, The Strokes, The Doves and Blur. Plus, we do tons with Fox News.

CR: And you’re talking with The Polyphonic Spree, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Deathcab for Cutie.

KC: Um, no. We’re not down with them.

CR: (SMACKS TABLE AND LEANS TOO CLOSE TO GUEST) Look, this is what gets me about your organization — there are people who are monosyllabic by choice. Thousands and thousands of them.

KC: Yes. Lots.

CR: (ADOPTS HUSHED TONE) You have an immersion program for people who want to become monosyllabic.

KC: You bet. Six weeks. Fall term. Pass-fail. Dorms, lunch, meds, the whole thing.

CR: Broadcasters, celebrities, athletes, Dick Cheney — I mean, everywhere you look — monosyllabism is very, very hip.

KC: It helps with sound bites.

CR: But what about this notion — people are saying — UHHMM has been accused of not promoting strict orthodox monosyllabism. You’ve been heard using contractions, hyphens, acronyms, abbreviations, what have you. What about that?

KC: Who says?

CR: Moms Understanding Monosyllabism.

KC: Look, MUM hates us. I mean, I can say the name of my good friend Jay-Z, and they can’t. They should get with the times.

CR: (SMACKS TABLE) But, but the Journal of the American Medical Association has accused you of exploiting a treatable medical pathology for money, power, and cocktails with supermodels. What do you say to the notion that UHHMM is just a moneygrubbing Machiavellian mirage?

KC: Please. I mean, I read that mag, I read and I read, and it’s just lots of big words, and…what? I don’t get it. Do you? I mean, they just had that thing with that pill, right?

CR: (SMACKS TABLE) What — you mean Vioxx? That wasn’t JAMA. That was the FDA and —

KC: — same dif.

CR: (SMACKS TABLE) No, not same dif, Mr. Czszyszwicz. That’s a completely separate issue, one that’s not within the purview of this broadca —

KC: — look, I’ve got drinks with Eve in five, so, womb to tomb, keep it deep, and please, call me Kip. I’m out. Peace.

CR: (FACES CAMERA) Kipling Czszyszwicz, for the hour. Thank you for watching…

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Seven Horrid Valentines

By:

Choo Choo Bear I love you

‘Cause you’re Crumble Bunny Sweet.

Loan me fourteen hundred bucks.

I’ll pay you in a week.

Nutterbutter Puppy Pants,

North Star of my nights:

The pictures in this book can show you

How to do it right.

Still Point in My Rocking World,

McPrecious Pepper Pot,

I really like your family.

Your sister’s smoking hot.

Incandescent Bomb of Love

Who Blows The Rest Away,

You give me hope and courage, babe.

I quit my job today.

Oh lithe and lissome wave of love,

I’ve caught your undertow.

Let’s make some hella bank, Hot Thang —

Let’s shoot a video.

Purest love from passion born,

And virtue from our sin,

Open your heart just one more time,

My cousin’s moving in.

Dolphin Wolphin Tumblebee,

My Bluey Bluest Sky,

I’m on one knee, so marry me.

Then you can’t testify.

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Forgotten Runners Up of History

By:

Tater Teens

Bloody Murray

The Big Whimper

Warm Happy Buns

The Empire Remains Calm

Kool & His Peers

Richard the Puppybreathed

The Scissorless Office

Drizzly of Chincoteague

Baalspell!

867-4309

Bitter Somethings

The Sistine Changing Room

The Atrocious Indoors

Abstinence, Fruit & Doo Wop

Jack The Folder

Laryngrhinootoology

Ripley’s Dismiss It Immediately

Chow Yun Fit

New Tooth Blackening Formula

Captain Canada

Tuna of the Land

CSIdaho

Bob of Assisi

The Kansas Chain Store Brouhaha

The Kansas Chain Store Brouhaha II

The Tunnel of Like

Dial L for Loitering

The Big Fence of Thailand

Fig Einsteins

Han Duo

Wood Phillips

The Shawshank Probation

Mr. Zhivago

Hans Buddhist Andersen

Mack The Fork

Paris and Nicky Econosuites

Knesset-Funkadelic

Agree With The Machine

Assistant Vice President Mao

Buffy the Werewolf Helper

Ivan the Tolerable

The Taco Bell of Amherst

Lysdexia

Lawrence of Albania

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Lard!

Eric the Beige

Dexy’s Lunchtime Strollers

Alaska Four-Nine

Short, Fair and Repellent

It’s Not The Heat, It’s The Specter of Skin Cancer

Helena Bonham Kotter

Tango & Credit

Yan Can’t Teach

Zero Degrees Marvin

The Bridge of Yelps

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Romeo and Juliet Versus Mrs. Jackson’s Seventh-Grade English Class

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Why do they teach Romeo and Juliet in seventh grade? When boys turn 13? When Romeo and Juliet are medieval seventh-graders? When they make love once and kill themselves? What are they thinking?

THE AVERAGE BOY SITTING BEHIND SUZY WARNER IN MRS. JACKSON’S CLASS

One, Suzy Warner is incredibly hot.

Two, no one is hotter than Suzy Warner.

Three, I’m hungry.

Four, last year I was a kickball superstar.

Five, this year I am a virgin.

Six, Suzy Warner is incredibly hot.

Seven, there’s a muffled noise coming from the front of the room.

Eight, the muffled noise is Mrs. Jackson, trying to teach.

Nine, Mrs. Jackson is incredibly hot.

Ten, Suzy Warner beats Juliet

any century, any day of the week.

Eleven, how hot would Suzy Warner look in the 14th century?

Twelve, the correct answer is crazy 14th-century hot.

Thirteen, let’s say I’m Romeo

and Suzy Warner not only does it with me,

but then she tells me she wants to do it AGAIN the next day.

Fourteen, gaphphnuggungh, my brain has imploded.

Fifteen, I didn’t think it was possible to be this hungry.

Sixteen, according to Shakespeare,

the day after I do it with Suzy Warner,

I’m across town lying dead in a crypt.

Seventeen, NO WAY that happens in real life, okay?

Because One, if I’m Romeo,

that means I’m not a virgin anymore,

WHICH IS AWESOME.

And because Two, if Suzy Warner’s in bed with me,

no way I’m leaving the bed, EVER.

I would never get out of bed.

Skittles, skateboarding, food and water –

things of the past, my friend.

Let’s assume for some totally unbelievable hypothetical reason

that I leave Suzy Warner in bed.

Let’s suppose later that day,

one of Suzy Warner’s relatives

kills my best friend Mercutio.

On one hand, I hate that dude.

On the other hand, I know Suzy Warner

WANTS IT AGAIN, FROM ME, TONIGHT.

So let’s review.

Either I avenge my best friend, who is tragically dead.

Or I sleep with Suzy Warner, who is totally hot.

Door number one,

Avenge friend’s death, return to kickball.

Door number two,

SUZY WARNER.

In conclusion, Shakespeare, total idiot.

Class dismissed.

And if I don’t get Cheetos in the next five minutes,

I will pass out and die.

SUZY WARNER, SITTING IN MRS. JACKSON’S CLASS

One, Mrs. Jackson is my favorite teacher and

Romeo and Juliet is not just a great play,

it is also an incredible movie.

Two, in the movie Leonardo DiCaprio played Romeo

and he is an amazing actor.

Three, the only movie I have seen more times than

Romeo and Juliet is Titanic,

starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Four, you should be allowed to drink Diet Coke in English

class.

Five, Leonardo DiCaprio is so amazing in Titanic

that I almost forget the ending every time. I swear.

Six, my other favorite movie

behind Titanic and Romeo and Juliet

is The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Seven, I haven’t seen What’s Eating Gilbert Grape yet,

but I want to.

It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp,

who is also an amazing actor.

Eight, I could not believe how incredibly much

Johnny Depp loved Winona Ryder

in Edward Scissorhands. They were like unicorns.

Nine, if I were Juliet,

that would mean I would be married to Leonardo DiCaprio.

Ten, if I were married to Leonardo DiCaprio

we would have houses in Hollywood and Europe and Florida

that my friends could visit any time

and I would have my own successful business

and I would still write in my journal

when Leonardo is out making movies

and I would decorate on of the houses entirely in kelly green,

which is an amazing color.

Eleven, if I were married to Leonardo DiCaprio

and he was Romeo, and I woke up and I saw that he had killed himself

because he thought I was dead even though I wasn’t,

I would definitely do what Juliet did,

which is incredibly sad, but I definitely would.

Twelve, I would definitely NOT EVER do what Juliet did

for any boy in my class.

NOT IN A BILLION YEARS.

Thirteen, I know Leonardo is fat now, but I don’t care.

In conclusion, Shakespeare is an amazing writer,

and it makes me sad that there are no boys in my class

who are anything like Leonardo DiCaprio.

MRS. JACKSON, TEACHING HER ENGLISH CLASS

One, if Suzy Warner calls Romeo “Leonardo” one more time,

I will kill her and lose my pension.

Two, you should be allowed to drink Diet Coke in English class.

And three, what’s that boy behind Suzy thinking?

He’s not even in this class.

*****

From May Contain Nuts by Michael J. Rosen. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

To order the book, click here: May Contain Nuts at Amazon.com

To learn more about the Mirth of a Nation anthologies, click here: Mirth of a Nation

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