Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: John's asked to talk someone’s husband into practicing the route to the hospital for when she gives birth

"Hey, there's an eight pound tumor shooting out of ____'s crotch. Do you really want to rely on a satellite telling you to turn left, or do you want check the drive once or twice? Because that's the situation, and the stakes are as steep as a placenta splattering off your windshield."

 (Actual names withheld because I don't want them to kill me)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: In Sheep's Clothing Redux

Lobo stalked the herd for two hours. They were lazy things, like bleating clouds drifting across the field. He salivated, but couldn’t give in. If he attacked too soon, they’d scatter and he’d only get one of them. If he was smart, he could knick sheep from the periphery of the flock for days. Forget his pack and their rules. The life of a lone wolf was sexy.

He kept his muzzle down, hiding in the willows. One gamy sheep straggled from its herd, its dim face nuzzling the grass. Lobo panted. It was far from the most tempting of the flock, but Lobo was good for any meat.

It strayed further and further, almost straight to his hiding spot. Its head bobbed around, mouth never opening for a bite of grass. Lobo wondered if it was developmentally challenged. Then its head flopped back. Lobo stared in horror as the top of its head came to rest against its spine, as though a convulsion had broken its neck.

That wasn’t it. Instead, jutting from beneath the sheepskin, a grey wolf’s muzzle protruded. The sheep head and hide were a disguise, draped over a she-wolf. She bared her fangs at Lobo’s brush.

She growled at him. "You look like a bottle cap."


"Screw off."

Lobo remained down. The she-wolf in sheep’s clothing padded up to his willows. He felt foolish now, seeing her shapely wolf’s legs protruding out from under the sheep hide.

“I see you, moron. This is my flock. Get out of here.”

“No way,” Lobo whispered. “You get out of here. You’ll spoil everything.”

She threatened, “I’ll cry wolf.”

“So you’ll be busted.”

“I’ll just put the mask back on. They’re not very bright.”

Lobo rubbed his nose in the dirt. He wasn’t good with inter-wolf conflict. It’s why he was trying the loner deal. “We can share. There’s enough sheep for both of us.”

“They’re not for eating.”

Lobo looked at the pudgy critters. Two of them ambled into each other and their fat deposits jiggled. “They look like they’re for eating.”

“Listen, once upon a time I thought that way. I dressed up like them to get in. But they’re really nice. They play games. We jump over fences to make kids fall asleep. Plus, sheep fur is harder to digest than you think.”

Lobo growled as low as possible, wanting to threaten her but not alert the others. The she-wolf was unmoved.

“Last warning,” she said. She jerked her head forward and the sheep mask fell back over her face. Its eyes were actually pebbles. Lobo couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed it before. “Get out of here before I tell my friends on you.”

“Just you try it. Some day I’m going to eat you by accident.”

The she-wolf turned tail and ambled back into the fold. Sheep-walking didn’t look so hard, Lobo thought. All you needed was a costume and to trot around like you were drunk. After a moment, Lobo couldn’t even tell which was her. Wolves weren’t much brighter than sheep.

A particularly mouthwatering sheep emerged from the herd. He was bursting with meat, at least twenty times the size of his friends. Lobo had to bite his paw to prevent himself from pouncing the husky thing.

It ambled towards Lobo’s brush. The ground shook under its weight. Slowly, Lobo’s feast-enthusiasm turned to anxiety. There was something wrong with the giant sheep. Its legs were tree-stump thick and grey. Its hide was messy, almost like a patchwork of dozens of sheep-sheddings.

Lobo squinted. He wasn’t much of a thinker, but there was something off about the giant sheep’s head. It drooped straight down like there was no skull under it. Plus, he didn’t think there was a nose or mouth. If he didn’t know better, he’d think it was a sheet of paper with the word “FACE” written on it.

The giant sheep paused before Lobo’s brush. Lobo looked up and saw under the paper. Two massive nostrils glared back down at him, exhaling a gust of wind. The hippo in sheep’s clothing grunted.


“Are… are you kidding me?”

“I’m a vegetarian, but I have a four foot mouth. You want to try this?”

Lobo whined up at the massive nostrils. He wormed away on the ground, head bowed, never getting back up to his paws. There had to be easier meals out there. Maybe he could eat the willows.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Nice Life, Ugly Poem

Life’s a character study,
full of short stories,
little of it novel,
all of it poetry (though poetry’s unpopular).

A genetic serial,
a historical fiction,
the unauthorized true story,
its binding invisible,
pages dog-eared only when lived by a dog.

Some editions issued in audio,
available in green paperback,
and quotable spare change;
the e-book’s cheaper, but it’s not the same as going outside.

If living the biography’s overwhelming,
crib notes will be made available via headstone.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: When You Lose

“Kid, you’re in your first year, and he’s had eight decisions in his last nine matches. He’s taller by two inches and heavier by twenty-five pounds if he skipped breakfast. He’s never been choked out, and he’s only submitted once, and that was to the current champion. I don’t mean to douse your spirits when I say you’ll lose. You’ll lose. But you’re faster than him, and he leads with his right because his left elbow has bothered him in the last two matches. It won’t save you. Tonight, I’ll probably be taping ice packs to various parts of your body. But you can go out there and make a spectacle. Make people look at you. If you do something ludicrous, you’ll be replayed across Youtube and TV. It doesn’t matter if he shrugs off your spinning kung fu kick – in fact, if he knocks you out right after it, you’ll be a sensation. You never should have been put in this fight, but you can make sure everyone remembers you after it, and that’ll mean you keep your career.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Vampire Mirror

"Not polished silver and glass; this model features a liquid crystal screen with twelve discretely embedded micro-cameras registering heat, air patterns and ambient coloration. If you have crumbs in your beard or your mascara is running, all the better, for these are tangible and scannable clues as to how you look. Using processors that would make Steve Jobs blush and software typically reserved to FBI suspect sketching technology, it auto-fills details of the human body based on what’s most likely to be there. Is it real time? Not yet, for now it’s surreal time, but even our first-generation technology is sensitive enough for Dracula to floss using its reflection."

Monday, April 2, 2012

“Would you drink apple juice if you knew a sterilized cockroach had touched it?” –Everyone, paraphrasing Jonathan Haidt

One of the questions Jonathan Haidt asked people for his book, The Righteous Mind, was if they would drink a glass of apple juice if a sterilized cockroach had been dipped into it. Haidt explains that the cockroach has absolutely no disease or hazardous particles on it; it does not affect the juice in any tangible way. So would you sip?

The press’s response has largely been that this question belongs at a slumber party, not academic work, but it got me thinking. My snap reaction is that I wouldn’t, because that’s gross. As an adult I’m supposed to pretend I have deliberated responses, but I know and want to out snap-reaction thinking.

A few seconds later I thought about sitting at a table with some squeamish friends. I envisioned that all of these friends (not naming names) would refuse and squirm in their chairs. And my contrarian nature would seize on the harmlessness of the juice, compelling me to drink it just to tease them. Removed from the circumstances, I realize I’d gleefully haze my friends for the same inhibition that I’d otherwise have.

Then I thought of those times when I couldn’t afford food. Would I drink it then? You bet your food stamps I would.

Right now I have food in my house, but no fruit or juice. Might I supplement my vitamin intake tonight with this cockroach-touched juice? It’s quite possible, especially if it wasn’t apple juice. I don’t like apple juice.

Or if I’ve just read one of those reports about how juice is sugar-heavy without the digestible fiber to offset it? I’m a sucker for those, affecting my drinking choices for short periods of time afterward.

And what am I getting out of the deal? Does a doctor offer me five bucks to drink a glass of sterile-cockroach-touched juice? In that instance I think I wouldn’t, believing there’s no way a doctor would pay me money for something that didn’t have a secretly questionable chemical in it.

But if the doctors swore upon pain of litigation that the juice was clean? Then I’d probably take the fiver.

What about days when I’m feeling sicker, when the syndrome is heavier, and my thinking slows and I get generally cranky? I’d be much less receptive to the roach-juice, just as I’m less receptive to trying anything new in those periods.

Never mind the setting, circumstances or who made the offer (if Dick Cheney dipped it, you’re looking at a different outcome than if my germophobe sister did). I couldn’t help thinking about personal circumstances, things like mood or recent personal issues that could sway me in that case, and that do routinely sway my behavior. Had I not been in a receptive mood when I first heard about Haidt’s book, I probably wouldn’t have looked it up and have added it to my next buying list. I believe most human beings are arbitrary like me in these regards. We’re not randomly capricious, but we bring more into situations than absolutist answers account for.

You, dear reader, have factors that would influence how you’d respond to this post today as opposed to next week, and next month, and while you have the worst flu of your life, and right after you get the best hummer of your life. What mood are you in?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Miss Anthrope

They had the top half of a centaur, but fewer and clumsier legs. They were slower than sauropods, and kept getting trampled under them. They had neither the artistic nor scientific know-how of gremlins; the few golems they built were uninventive knock-offs. They had the sex drives of imps, without their carnal creativity. Their offerings in entertainment were few.

They were susceptible to influenza, tentacalia or vampirism. And they made woefully generic vampires, the only new trait being that some of the young ones sparkled. There was nothing special about their immune systems. Succubae and incubae could eat them by the bed-load. At best, they were junk food.

In many ways it was a two-eyed cyclops, lacking their size and strength, but including their gluttony and cruelty, and thereby leaving them socially unappealing.
Really, they were generous to let the humans live. It’s sheer luck they took over the world.
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