Boyfriend’s Lament

Her head is on my chest
I am choking on her hair
Christ, my shoulder hurts

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A Letter to a Girl my Recently Dead Friend Thought was Pretty Cool, but like, Didn’t Love Yet, but Might Have Someday, Maybe

Dear Lois,

I’m not sure if you remember me, but we met briefly at that weird house party on the 4th of July where they had a bunch of old televisions in the backyard playing B-horror movies, and they lit fireworks on top of the televisions and one of them blew up the television and almost killed that one guy with the Abe Lincoln hat.  I wore a blue t-shirt.  Anyway, my friend Tom had brought you along on what I later learned was your guys’ first date.

I’m not sure if you have heard yet, but Tom passed away last week.  There was an incident at the zoo he volunteered at and he was taken away from us in the blink of an eye.  The media is using terms like “Provoked”, “Harassed”, and “Inevitable Outcome”, but I can vouch for Tom in that he never would have deliberately pestered a cage full of birds of prey.  In his defense, the birds seemed extremely irritable before Tom even entered the feeding cage, so when one tried to steal another bird’s dish of dead mice, it only took a little shove from Tom to set off the whole bunch.  You can see it on the video; it’s on YouTube.

Actually, after rewatching it just now, it’s probably best that you don’t watch the video.  While Tom died instantly from the blow from the first bird that hit him right in the temple, they did tear into his body quite severely.  On the bright side, none of the birds were harmed in the incident.

I’m writing to let you know that Tom liked you.  He liked you a lot, really, compared to how long you guys had been seeing each other.  That’s what he said to me, anyway.  He just wanted you to know that he liked how you were soft, and pretty, and how you couldn’t be beat at Trivial Pursuit.  He also liked the sound of your laugh which he described as sounding like a gagging chipmunk.  I don’t think your laugh sounds like a gagging chipmunk, but I’m pretty sure he meant it as a compliment.

He told me that he could have easily seen a future with you, at least of a few years. Maybe even an engagement that would have lasted longer than it should have and probably would have ended in tears because he also said he liked this cute girl that works at the library. I hope you’re okay with that.  You two just didn’t have the time to get to know each other enough to, like, fall in love, ya know? And that’s what saddest for all of us; we just didn’t have enough time with him.  One day you’re seeing a girl you like-but-not-love-yet, and the next they’re beating bloody birds away from what the coroner assures us (from dental records) is your body.

Those birds really did a number on him.

I wish I had more profound words for you now, but life is a crazy place, and who knows what’ll happen next?  We meet people, lose track of people, fall in quasi-love, maybe eat some good food, grow older, start listening to NPR, and watch a man dressed like Abe Lincoln run around on fire while The Blob plays in the background.  But yeah, you were cool.  He just wanted you to know that.

Mark

“Aren’t You Going To Write Your Blog Post For Today,” . . .

. . . my girlfriend asked me as I dished out a small serving of Singapore Noodles onto my plate.  I broke the chopsticks and rubbed away the remaining splinters away with my thumbs and dug into the thin, curry flavored noodles.  I choked slightly as I attempted to chuckle while chewing with my mouth closed.  “Do you not have a topic?”

“You don’t know how blogging works, do you,” I asked as I finally swallowed the noodles in my mouth and then washed it down with some expensive looking cheap beer.

“What do you mean?  I have a blog, too.”

“Topics are for beginners.  A person doesn’t need to worry about theme or topics or plot.  As long as you strike the right tone, readers will think that you’re writing about something even if they don’t know what.”

“What?”

“Why, I could even write this conversation, word for word, and as long as I did it in the right manner, people would enjoy it.  In fact, I’ll do that tonight.”

“But we’re just eating cheap Chinese food.  Nothing’s happening.  There’s nothing interesting about this.”

“I agree,” I said, louder than I had intended, “but the fact remains that an experienced writer, or one who is more lucky than talented, can make the mundane seem important.  And by the time you’re making something seem like something it might as well be something, at least on paper.”

My girlfriend stopped chewing and stared at me.  “That doesn’t make any sense,” she said.

“That is because your mind is too literal to comprehend the basic tenets of deception.  It takes guile to fool someone.”

I was startled, but I can’t say I was surprised, when she threw the noodles that were on her plate on to my head.  A piece of chicken toppled off my nose and I was able to catch it in my mouth before it dropped to the floor.  She poured more noodles on her place and began to eat again.  She wasn’t angry.  I figured she got it all out when she upended her dinner over my hair.  I was happy that was the end of it and there would be no ensuing fight that I would have to work against the rest of the evening, but she had ruined the experiment I had set for myself – to write about nothing and make it seem like it was about something.  My offensive comments and her rash actions had forced a plot into the evening, and now the entire story had a purpose.

But there was still some room for breathing; would it be about my girlfriend’s inability to grasp the bare bones of art as a whole, making something from nothing and fooling the audience?  Or would it be my insensitivity to her view and abilities?  Or would it be how, through all the dumb, careless and petty things we say, the bonds between people will always survive?  I don’t know . . . that will be up for the readers to decide.