- Super-Condensed Classics
- FAQ: The Never-Say-Ow™ Personal Force Field
- Notes for Mothra’s Memoir-in-Progress
- A Herschel Backpack Changed My Life
- Standup Comedy For New Yorker Subscribers
- Cease And Desist
- Underreported Bermuda Triangle Stories
- Various People From My Past Offer Illustrations To Help Me Comprehend The Trillion Dollar Deficit
- And In This Corner…Values
- Other Things The Mayan Calendar Got Wrong
* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are trying to keep up with the overwhelming demand for parodies of poems by D.H. Lawrence. You may not be aware that Lawrence wrote poems, but he did, and many of them were pretty damn great. Of course the greater the poem, the riper for parody. This week’s bit is to be read only after clicking on the link below and reading what is arguably Lawrence’s poetic masterpiece, “The Ship of Death”:
(With no apologies and a taffy apple to D.H. Lawrence.)
Now it is Fall and the falling fruit
falls on me and sends me on the long journey towards oblivion.
Like swollen balls of dew they fall
down my shirt and briefs and seem to say, “No exit,”
but Jean-Paul Sartre used that already
and what is he but a fallen fruit?
Perhaps it is Springtime instead?
Anyway, it is time to look in the mirror
and wave bye-bye at one’s self. So long!
Have you carved your canoe of death, O tell me have you?
O you must carve your canoe of death,
I insist, really you must,
for they come in ever so handy when you are dead.
I’ve ridden in mine countless times.
But now Suzie Snowflake is nipping at my nose.
Was that thunder I heard, or…No, it was just another
apple that fell on my head. Silly me!
And death is on the air like an old cardigan sweater.
Dear me, can’t you smell that nasty smell?
Someone is burning leaves.
And in the bruised apple, yes, the very same one
I told you about, the little worm is wriggling.
How tiny and cold he is!
There’s a lesson there, don’t you think?
Quiet, please, O I beg you be quiet,
I can’t hear myself think, it’s such a tiny sound
like a dagger bruising a bare bodkin
or a bullet being bitten, O don’t you see?
If you don’t shut up I shall murder you. Ah!
(A minute of silence.)
So build your canoe of death, you’ll need it
where you’re going, bye-bye, far away
where the sugar plums grow and never fall
nasty plop! on your head and make it all sticky
like a slimy nasty old worm. Ugh! O ugh I say!
Already something has soaked my breeches,
the waters of the infinite sea of boredom
are drenching my codpiece.
O carve your canoe of death, you witless twit,
stock it with tuna fish salad and candied apples
and powdered milk and sugarless gum — anything,
just so you go away
and don’t come back.
We are dying, O please let us die dear God,
I won’t forgive you if you don’t
for we are dying bit by bit,
our noses are falling off,
I feel dead already, don’t you?
O say that you do!
(A minute of quiet, bitter sobbing.)
(Several minutes of uncontrolled weeping, followed by
the Author falling to his hands and knees
and banging his head on the floor.)
(The sobbing gradually becomes a violent, hacking cough.)
Let us sail our little canoe through the lagoon of life,
Let’s see if we can sink it, shall we?
O dear God the doctor says I will live after all!
I threw an apple at him and he bruised beautifully.
Then he smiled and sank my boats in the bathtub.
I could have kissed him for joy.
But instead I held him under the suds
and started him on the long journey towards oblivion.
You can bet I have been called out on my plagiarism, not once but many, many times. But I have prospered nonetheless and never considered giving it up. I’ll tell you why.
As early as elementary school I freely appropriated the words of others to bolster my insipid attempts at original essays and theme papers. In the fifth grade, penning a report on my favorite book at the time, Winnie the Pooh, I lifted lines from Jacqueline Susann, whose novel Valley of the Dolls I found on my mother’s bedside stand, and from Vladimir Nabokov, whose Lolita I found on my father’s. My teacher was stunned and thought I had misunderstood the Milne classic. Still I passed, and a light went on in my head.
In grade six, in a theme describing my activities over the summer, this time for a different teacher, I quoted liberally and without attribution Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, and Caitlyn Jenner. My teacher, old Mrs. Slayheath, may have suspected some exaggeration and even fabrication on my part, but she was far too old to penalize me. She merely reminded me, in red pencil, to credit my sources in future. I did not.
In junior high my thievery ran rampant. By that point I was convinced, and I think rightly so, that my plagiarism offered new insights into the real authors’ words and ideas. My pilfered words were actually an improvement on the originals! It was all due to place and timing. In a clever story by author Jorge Luis Borges, a modern writer replicates, through his own inspiration, the exact book Don Quixote. But because he lives in a different place and writes in a different era than Cervantes, it is a completely original work! So this isn’t as stupid as it sounds.
I won’t go so far as to say that my stolen words are pithier or more coherent than the exactly identical originals. After all, they differ from these by not so much as a comma. But in their new place within the dull word salad produced by the floundering and harebrained essayist that is yours truly, these appropriated gems gleam with a fiercer light than perhaps they ever shed before. So how can this still be plagiarism?
Tell me that. Tell Borges that.
Okay, it’s still plagiarism. But plagiarism never sounded so good.
I really came into my own as a word thief in high school. In an essay for American History class, I took a deep breath and passed off as my own a passage beginning “I hold these truths to be self-evident…” Of course I didn’t get away with it, not at first. But before my obviously bogus work dragged my final grade down to a humiliating C, that teacher died. Let me say at once that I had nothing to do with her demise, though I can’t say I grieved much.
For the substitute teacher who took her place, I wrote a putative biographical paper on the young Abe Lincoln, drawing equally from the Bible’s Book of Jonah, Jack London’s Yukon story White Fang, and a speech of Mussolini’s. She recognized the biblical part! The old lady wasn’t as dumb as I thought. But all she did was write a note on my paper that I must acknowlege any quotations. And I got a B+!
On to college, where I determined that the secret to not getting caught was to plunder works far afield from the subject I was writing about. Thus in psych class, my so-called original papers didn’t crib from famous experts like Freud or Jung, but instead I inserted whole paragraphs of Ann Landers, J. Edgar Hoover, and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. For my philosophy essay, I avoided Nietzsche and Marx and inserted a disguised essay by Woody Allen, and once, in a paper called “The Humorous Side of Solipsism,” an entire routine of Rodney Dangerfield’s. For my journalism class, I had the inspired notion of submitting an already plagiarized piece by the recognized plagiarist Jayson Blair. I was really proud of that one. I had other tricks as well. For my creative writing course, I handed in Gogol’s “The Nose”, with this subtle difference: wherever Gogol used the word “nose,” I substituted “elbow.” Consequently my story was called “The Elbow,” but was otherwise the same as his, practically speaking. I also submitted Kafka’s Metamorphosis with Gregor Samsa turning into a deer.
Some of my instructors had their suspicions, of course, but hardly any called me out. Probably they assumed that, like everybody else, I bought my papers for $50 from an essay mill. And why interfere with tradition? Those that did question my authenticity only received another plagiarized effort in exchange for the first, and in the end I always got by, sometimes with praise.
In my current occupation as speechwriter for the mayor of a small Midwestern city, I continue to plagiarize with both hands in the cookie jar. No one cares what a small-town mayor says, not enough to reconstruct its provenance anyway, and so my sticky fingers sift freely. It’s a fun job. Only last week, while the mayor spoke before TV cameras on the need for more diversity at city hall, he had no idea he was quoting Jefferson Davis, Muammar Gaddafi, and the Unabomber. I agree with the positions of none of those folks, let me add, but remember: it’s all about time and place. My time and place.
Congratulations on making it to the second round of the application process! As you know, our client is in need of a part-time life coach, preferably one with a background in psychology. However, spending a few after-college summers as an au pair will suffice.
Our client seeks candidates with a passion for resolving existential crises by providing soothing affirmations that life has meaning despite:
1) The looming environmental catastrophe that scientists believe will end civilization by 2050,
2) Women losing bodily autonomy, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the End of Days, and
3) finding love and a fulfilling career is passé, boring, stale as a cracker at Grocery Outlet.
Note: delivering affirmations in a sing-songy tone will be considered an act of gross condescension and will result in immediate dismissal.
Please take a few minutes to review the following interview questions. Today’s interview panel consists of our client, along with dissociative embodiments of herself at ages 6 and 13 and 24.
- In your professional opinion, can I get pink eye from drying my face with my body towel?
- I’m asking because my bum area never seems to dry after a shower unless I get the towel really up there.
- I mean, my bum area is definitely clean after showering. But what about cross-contamination and micro-germs? Or do I just call them germs? I suppose germs are microscopic…
- TMI? Dang, I always have issues with that! In your experience, how do you know when you’ve gone too far in a conversation?
- Oh! So, you’re saying that this interview is an obvious example of TMI. Would you say TMI is a bad trait? Cause I’ve been told it’s not good.
- But, if you think about the concept of TMI in relation to gender, isn’t it a bit un-feminist of others to ask me to “simmer down” and to speak my mind less often?
- Shhh – hold on! I’m not finished speaking. Here’s my hypothesis: if I’m consistently TMI, does that mean others are just TLI, too little information? Perhaps my intelligence just intimidates most…
- Don’t you start with this “your arrogance is showing” lecture. I wish I was just a pinch arrogant! Do you even want this job?!
- A nap? Why would you suggest a nap?!
15 restful minutes later…
- But seriously, can I get pink eye from using my body towel on my face? I keep waking up with crust in my eyes. Okay, yeah, I could use a separate face towel, but I’m trying to be environmentally friendly. No, I’m not just being lazy! But also, how do you feel about doing my laundry?
We plan on contacting interviewees next Tuesday and will invite the top two candidates for a final interview. The final interview will be a skills lab.
In this skills lab, you and our client will discuss the application of Brené Brown’s work to everyday issues such as online dating and realizing that you might have wasted your youthful potential in a soul-sucking career. Chardonnay, lavender aromatherapy, and weighted blankets will be provided.
Until you hear back from us, please refrain from contacting our client for questions. Our client especially does not want to receive feedback on the structure of today’s interview.
Katherine at ages 6 and 13 and 24, and also a version of herself that recruits for part-time life coaches (and there’s a sixth identity in there somewhere…)
Five years old, her love of eating Polly Pockets is used for material in her new powerful eating disorder memoir, Polly Pocket Eater, This is Me. She’s already won the Glamour Activist Baby of the Year Prize, but the award was taken away from her when she tried to eat it.
Four years old, after two whole years in timeout for an undisclosed crime. Her tell-all has been much awaited and hailed as the new Orange is the New Black for cuter and younger people. Jupiter is the bad girl of the baby literary world and recently got in trouble at a People Magazine shoot for throwing up on her outfit and then saying she’d only pose nude.
Three years old, Daffodil’s famous novelist father encouraged her from a very young age and helped her get her first book of poetry published, My Father Is Famous But What Is Fame? A stirring line from one of her poems, “Roses me likey, Mommy cheat on Daddy,” recently went viral and can be seen on onesies all across Brooklyn. In her spare time, she likes to eat daffodils and cry loudly on the subway.
Five years old, his take on male privilege has set the baby literary world afire! He wrote a four-page waterproof book that you can read while bathing about his journey realizing he was white called, I Am White But Also Ned! The book also contains some fascinating tidbits, like “I like baths! Showers suck! Is race but a construct?”
Two years old, her fashion self-help book was inspired by the unbearable pain she felt when seeing more unfashionable babies at the playground. She is the first baby ever to share her style guidance with others, and her new book Me Cute! is trending in baby communities! Her #1 fashion don’t is “One-year-olds who dress up like bears…Like, they aren’t bears. So stop trying to make it happen…”
Fetus, his scathing tell-all about what it’s really like to live inside his mother will be out as soon as he is!
Recently, doctors discovered a new and terrible condition called sleep apnea. It can cause heart damage, as well as assault the ear canals of any person within 10 miles of your reverberating snores.
Fortunately, a handy device called a CPAP machine was invented to address this pernicious problem. It prevents death by self-suffocation while sleeping by inducing death by sleep deprivation through blasting sudden, strong air puffs up your nose. Doctors have diagnosed millions of people (whom they didn’t like much) who require this ingenious treatment.
While some people complain on the Internet about the usefulness and utility of such a device, this article is not intended to address those concerns. However, the good news is that it is plenty easy to adjust to the CPAP machine by following these 31 easy steps:
- Open the box and marvel at the tangle of tubes, mask, and machinery to be assembled.
- Groan loudly and relinquish the box to verified spouse for assembly.
- Watch as spouse flips through one of many instruction booklets for guidance on proper assembly and cleaning.
- Cry softly to self with anticipated agony when the machine is finally assembled.
- Sit patiently as spouse fits mask over your head and nostrils.
- Start hyperventilating and rip mask off head after spouse turns on machine.
- Waste time flipping through one of many instruction booklets to see if machine can be adjusted to human body (not “Woolly Mammoth” settings).
- Make some other excuse for delaying putting mask back on. (Example: “The dish washer isn’t going to clean itself!”)
- Realize that machine wasn’t working because vice-like mask (think face-hugging alien from Alien movie trilogy) was really not tight enough.
- Put mask on again and have spouse tighten until you scream. (Luckily, screams are muffled by mask.)
- Sit for a few minutes with mask on, but device not turned on.
- Do NOT think about fact that you cannot breathe and face feels like it is wrapped in rubber bands better suited for a sadomasochism orgy. (Note: Better not to mention this thought to spouse.)
- Ask spouse to turn on device.
- Ask spouse to turn off device.
- Ask spouse to turn on device.
- Ask spouse to turn off device.
- Ask spouse to turn on device.
- Realize that you are breathing through your mouth, which defies purpose of device.
- Breathe in through nose and observe musty, plastic smell of mask.
- Ponder risk of someday acquiring nostril cancer from plastic inhalation.
- Breathe out through nose despite blast of cold air shooting up nostrils like an air cannon.
- Try to calm fear of brain exploding due to air pressure.
- Realize this is worse than scuba diving and daydream about being under water (drowning).
- Lie down and pretend to sleep in order to fool spouse.
- Fall asleep despite wind tunnel effect in your nose.
- Wake up to to hurricane-like weather blasting your face.
- Fall back asleep due to exhaustion from sleep deprivation.
- Wake up wondering why a tornado is attacking you.
- Start crying only to realize tears may gather inside mask and suffocate you.
- Realize that you are accepting this scenario.
- Congratulations, you are adjusted!
Dear recent attendees of Becca and Hayley’s Birthday Bash,
Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate Becca and Hayley’s birthday at Club ChaCha this weekend. As the event organizer and Alpha Zappa Pi president, I am reaching out in order to recap the unfortunate events that transpired. A number of you have DM’ed me on Instagram with questions, but I decided it was easier to address all of you at once.
I will start with some of the more mundane announcements, before moving on to the more pressing issues.
First, if you left a teal blue cardigan at the bar, Sarah found it and she has it in her Jeep.
Second, a few of you forgot to refund me for Becca and Hayley’s birthday cake. Please Venmo me the agreed $5 by tomorrow night, (I’m not mad, but buttercream frosting is expensive, and we all agreed to chip in!)
Now, for the more serious announcements.
It goes without saying that Alpha Zappa Pi has been permanently banned from Club ChaCha. Unfortunately, the restaurant across the street also got a whiff of the events throughout the night, and we have been preemptively banned from Giorgio’s Italian Eatery as well.
I am very disappointed in all of you. The events of Saturday night did not represent our chapter in a positive light. Is this what Alpha Zappa Pi stands for? I think not! I organized this event so that we could celebrate the birthdays of our beloved sisters, Becca and Hayley. While we did a lot of celebrating, I think we can all agree that things got out of hand.
The first point that I would like to address is the kidnapping of the bartender and the subsequent selling of his possessions on the black market. Club ChaCha graciously let us reserve a room for Becca and Hayley’s birthday party and kidnapping one of their employees was in poor taste. This night was about celebrating Becca and Hayley, but in your quest to dominate the black market some of you completely forgot about that!!
Second, burning an effigy of the Xeta Bi president on the dance floor was completely inappropriate for this event. Who thought this was a good idea? While Xeta Bi does steal some of our best recruits each year, it is important that we continue to treat them with respect and good will. Club ChaCha follows a strict fire code, and open flames on the dance floor do in fact violate that code.
Third, mixing crystal meth in the Club ChaCha sink was inexcusable. I am pretty sure I know which Chemistry major was behind this (cough, cough, Kelsey!), and I am not impressed. Need I remind you of the Sorority drug policy? While the policy does not explicitly mention mixing crystal meth, I think we can all agree that it is implied.
Fourth, the orgy that occurred in the seating area made the other patrons of Club ChaCha extremely uncomfortable. According to the CDC, public sex with more than eleven participating bodies is highly unhygienic and raises the risk of sexually transmitted diseases or infections. It was too dark for me to tell, but I am fairly certain that not all of the Pheta Xau boys were wearing condoms.
The last point that I would like to address is the exorcism that occurred in the women’s bathroom. The demon that was summoned from the pits of hell ended up swooping around and devouring several people. For future notice, all summoning of demons must occur outside of Alpha Zappa Pi sponsored events.
Finally, if anyone has seen Brittany Pohland, the pledge with the long blonde hair and highlights, she has been missing since Saturday night and was last seen in the clutches of the demon.
That’s all I have for now, but once again,
Happy Birthday Becca and Hayley!!!
Your dutiful Alpha Zappa Pi President,
July 17, 1963
Malley & Torelli
Bill Collection, Private Investigation
2117 E. 58th St.
New York, NY 10138
Mr. Michael Corleone
1 Westshore Drive
Lake Tahoe, NE 80229
In our capacity as representatives for Bellini Bros. Inc., owners and operators of Louie’s Italian American Restaurant, 3179 Bronx Boulevard, New York, NY 10131, we are writing to request payment of an outstanding bill.
On the evening of February 12, 1946, you dined in said restaurant in the company of one Mr. Virgil Sollozzo, self-employed entrepreneur, and Captain Mark McCluskey of the New York City Police Department, both deceased.
The bill for your table shows one small antipasto platter, two orders of mussel soup, three orders of veal picatta (the best in the city), a magnum of Barolo Grigio 1932, two tiramisus and one slice of lemon cake. The total comes to $24.57, including the desserts, which were not served, but as they had already been prepared and entered on the bill are legally inclusive in the liability.
As the only surviving member of your party, we must assume that you were intending to pick up the tab for this meal. We hereby request that you remit payment in full, plus the sums of $37.40 for interest and damages (including the cost of replacing two chairs, one tablecloth, four glasses, the chef’s pacemaker and 24 rolls of paper towels) and $189.95 in collection and processing fees.
The total (see attached itemized list) comes to $251.72, not including the tip for your waiter, although since he died of shock shortly after your departure from the premises, we are willing to forego this customary nicety.
Furthermore, unclaimed property found near your table, in the form of a Smith & Wesson 38 caliber revolver, was auctioned and the value of the weapon allotted to defray collection costs, which otherwise would have been higher.
We realize that $251.72 is a sizeable bill for three partially-consumed, and in the majority of cases undigested, dinners, but you must consider that our agents have been trying to track you down for a number of years.
In the spring of 1947 they had located you in a villa in western Sicily, but they apparently arrived just moments after your departure. In the courtyard they found the burned-out, still smoking wreck of an automobile with a woman’s corpse in the driver’s seat.
Being professional investigators as well as bill collectors, they examined the hulk and determined that the explosion was caused by a leak in the fuel line which was ignited by a spark from the starter.
A local man, apparently a servant of yours, was seen running from the property as our men approached, but he returned in a few minutes, explaining that he had eaten some bad scungilli the previous night and had urgently needed to relieve himself. This person informed our agents of your sudden and inexplicable disappearance.
Several years later two of our agents attempted to serve you with papers concerning this matter by introducing themselves clandestinely onto the grounds of your property in Lake Tahoe during what appeared to be a celebration of some sort.
Since it was impossible to speak to you during the day, they approached your front door that night, intending to hand you the dossier and depart, but they became disoriented in the dark and found themselves in the back of the house, outside your bedroom windows. Shortly thereafter three of your own guards located them and opened fire with machine guns, killing both agents instantly and in the process spraying your house with bullets.
We hope that we will receive payment (certified check or money order only) from you soon so that we may clear this long-standing debt. In anticipation of your cooperation, we remain faithfully yours…
January 14, 1967
National Parks Service
1278 Jefferson Boulevard
Washington, D.C. 10203
Mr. Paul Simon
1759 Central Park West
New York, NY 10012
Dear Mr. Simon,
We have completed our review of the photographic documentation of the event described in your 1966 song “The Sounds of Silence,” and we regret to inform you that the figures cited in your lyrics seem to be grossly exaggerated.
In the third verse you report having seen “ten thousand people, maybe more.” The National Park Service monitored the entire crowd from helicopters and our estimate of the headcount that day is 3,550.
Since you claim to have seen the gathering “in the naked light,” surely you must have realized that there were nowhere near as many participants in this bizarre ritual as you allege.
We trust that you will correct your figures in all future performances of this song.
March 23, 1962
California Highway Patrol
Branch Office 211
433137 Imperial Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 92451
Mr. Brian Wilson
1455 Hedgerow Circle
Hawthorne, CA 92438
Enclosed you will find a citation for a moving violation in the amount of $55.00 imputed to a vehicle registered in your name. This vehicle was recorded on traffic surveillance cameras engaged in what appears to be a “drag race” on Waterfront Strip, Long Beach, CA, on the evening of March 4.
The incident began at 9:27 pm in the 1800 block, where the road changes from four lanes to six. You have been identified as the driver of a silver Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Yours and another vehicle, namely a blue Dodge 413, were photographed standing side by side at a red light with large quantities of exhaust emanating from the tailpipes. Of course our visual evidence is not a film with soundtrack, but one can only conclude that it must have sounded real mean.
In the next photo, the light had turned green and both vehicles apparently accelerated to a high rate of speed. You and the Dodge were then captured in time-stamped photos by cameras in subsequent blocks, which prove that you continued to exceed the speed limit for slightly more than one-quarter of a mile.
It appears that the Dodge, which given its rapid acceleration must have been equipped with dual quad ram induction, really “dug in,” so to speak, and gained an early lead in your little informal competition. Black streak marks in your lane indicate that your rear tires must have spun considerably at the outset (you might want to check the tread — just a suggestion). But given the fact that both vehicles arrived nearly simultaneously at the 2600 block, we have been led to understand that you have a fuel-injected engine sitting under your hood.
In case you, or millions of fans, might be interested, the end of the race was exceedingly close and only our final photographs show incontrovertibly who won. But we are not legally authorized to divulge that information.
October 12, 1964
Here’s your ring back, you spineless scumbag. I never want to see it or you again. Look, if you didn’t have the guts to break up with me in person you could have at least called. But no, instead you act all lovey-dovey and all “I just have to work for three hours this afternoon and then I’m taking you out to dinner,” and then you vanish for five weeks without so much as a postcard.
Five weeks! It’s like you got blown away!
Okay, so I just want to know one thing: who is she? Some rich bitch you met on one of your “luxury” tours who wanted a little hanky-panky with a mighty sailin’ man like you?
Or did you just decide to dump me in the wild hope of realizing your ludicrous fantasy of meeting some movie star and going off to a secluded island with her? As if! It doesn’t take a college professor to calculate the odds on that ever happening!
So let me know who it is — you owe me that much — and then you’re out of my life forever, you cowardly loser.
And don’t try to weasel out of telling me either — I know you’re still around because every time I drive by the marina I see your car sitting there, right in its usual spot.
It could really use a wash, by the way.
She walked in front of him out of deference. But if it was deference, he thought, shouldn’t she walk to his rear? Show that she was his follower? After all, she was the producer of his cooking show, not the star herself. No one would tune in to watch Nikko gut a trout or wrestle an anemone or lick squid ink from her fingers. She remained in the background on his set at all times unless, in an emergency, he needed someone to pound his nori. His seaweed wrap was famous for its texture, and she had the touch.
And yet, as they walked to the studio past the gardens on Main Street, for assuredly there was a Main Street in Tokyo as there is in every city, and one lined with flowers at that, her lead position still somehow showed deference, even subservience. There is a saying: The upkeep of the blossoms at Mount Myogi will be added to your water bill. One thing was certain, her hoop earrings carried a lot of whoa babe. He had once heard an American use this term to describe an attractive woman in Kyoto, and although Americans were blunt you could say this about them: they also had other qualities. The term seemed to fit Nikko to a T. And her stylish earrings were the merest fraction of her appeal. She had whoa babe to spare, just dripped the stuff all over the street.
Two years ago they had been lovers, but no longer whispered to each other the tender words cameltoe and creampie. She, a native of the Kansai district, spoke with a Liverpool accent, a sign of her devotion to the Beatles throughout her youth. He, born and raised in Ashiya, sounded like a native New Yorker, due to his lifelong devotion to the Ramones. But he thought the Beatles were cool too, as long as Paul wasn’t singing. Though they no longer entangled themselves in knots of damp armpits and heaving thighs, they sometimes left together work together in the evening, hopped aboard the bullet train to a remote suburb, and cut a rug at a festive club. But they only did that after first gorging themselves on his culinary creations back at the studio.
And oh those tasty creations! Who but he could concoct a pickled rose that tasted like a McD’s cheeseburger? A sea urchin that conjured up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Or tuna sushi that was finger licking good, like KFC? This was his success and the theme of his show: how to take rarified, costly ingredients and make them taste like junk or fast food. For mysterious reasons, it was a huge hit throughout Japan and in some former Soviet Bloc countries.
As always, her body segued seamlessly from watusi to masked potato as the music in the club washed over her. Was it his habit of losing the tempo and crushing her foot beneath his own that had led to their end of their romance? Very likely that was a contributing factor. But there was also professional jealousy, stemming from the fact that he possessed double the usual number of taste buds. This fortuitous birth defect, or perhaps birth advantage was the truer term, was the result of his being born with a forked tongue. No, not quite rattle-snake forked, and not a cleft palate either, but a split tongue that gave him double buds for tasting, and even provided the name of his hit show: Double Buds. How could she, a serious chef herself and his classmate in culinary arts at Waseda University, compete with Mister Double Buds? Life was so unfair when you had to compete with gifted genetic freaks like that banjo player in Deliverance who had like, what, 20 fingers?
She wanted to scrape those double buds off his tongue with a Ginsu knife and slather them in cheap tomato sauce.
After a single date with her when they both still attended culinary school, he felt her unease and competitive edge. Further meetings with her were disappointments, like opening the door to an empty room when you expected to find your drunken uncle inside. He liked Uncle Kato, no matter what the rest of the family said. Kato always had a snack of dried eel for him. And he wore Blue Cheer Hearing Aids, the loudest made, and could tell what song a rock band was playing 60 miles away. There is a saying: When a man is lazy enough, his spine will grow a chair.
And so she had changed her major from culinary arts to TV production. There double buds would not best her, there double buds would offer no advantage. No longer needing those damned double buds with her new major, she could come out first in her class, as she did. The downside to her success in TV was, they were split apart. Even working together on Double Budscould not reunite them, not wholly. It was all so sad, so infinitely sad. Sad, it was. He carried that sadness all the way to the bank, singing “All You Need is Love,” his favorite Beatles song even if Paul sang on it.
There is a saying: Love is a wonderful thing, but nothing beats double buds.