Thursday, April 30, 2009

Seeking a Grant

Wild raspberry juice in my vodka is providing me with the most inspiring shade of red. I’m living comfortably towards my next paycheck and I’m sitting here looking to mess it all up. Somehow, I strongly desire messing it all up. Wouldn’t that be great? I’ve cleaned up my act and all I want to do is mess it all up again. Don’t you ever just get sick of your own skin? Don’t you ever just want to mess it all up and start all over again? Wipe it all away with one manic swipe of the hand and start over? I just want to contribute to the growing pile of frustration that is collecting in the corner of my living room. Can’t I just get paid for that? What price is a continued pattern of frustration worth? What if I was willing to explore a lifetime’s worth of frustration? Just for the sake of knowing? Wouldn’t that be an incredibly worthwhile document to own? I am willing to be a growing pile of frustration in the corner of my own living room for the duration of my lifetime and I can’t get anyone to fund that kind of endeavor. Couldn’t some rich guy smugly claim with pride that he was funding some nutsack (me) to sit at home and capture a continued pattern of frustration at his own expense? Isn’t there some valuable peace of mind found within such an investment? He could then say, “Yeah, I’m never frustrated by anything because I’m paying this poor bastard to burden any and all frustrations for me. I mean, there I was, about to have a frustrating experience when I realized, ‘Hey, that’s what I pay Greg for.’” (Excerpted and abridged from my next next book, The Idiot Parade.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Alphabet People - Letter F

I’ve, unfortunately, crossed paths with many Fs. And by “Fs” I mean fuckers. We all have, they’re abundant and unavoidable. F is that guy who stands too close to you in the grocery store checkout line. F has no understanding of a respectable distance and constantly invades your personal space. F is that really tall guy who stands right in front of you at a rock concert. F cuts you off on the highway and flips you off for good measure, as if the act of cutting you off isn’t aggressive enough, he has to punctuate it with a fist shake and a middle finger. F is that baseball fan who purposely bought a front row seat beyond the left field fence when the Giants were in town so he could yell really smart shit at Barry Bonds every time he took the field. “Hey Barry, you need another needle?” and “Hey Barry, you’re a bum!” and “Hey Barry, your career’s going to be one big ass-trick!” F is incapable of pronouncing the word “asterisk.” That same F is also a face painter when it’s football season. But not all Fs are male, some Fs can be female. F is that shopper at the front of the line on Black Friday right before they open the doors and thinks that any trampled casualties on that day are just “collateral damage.” F thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to be a bitch to anyone and everyone because it is her (sweet sixteen party) (birthday) (wedding day) (bad hair day) (Monday). F is that drunk chick who’s trying to dance, but instead elbows you incessantly with her flailing. F answers her cell phone when she’s at the pharmacy window being attended to by the pharmacist, even though there are a dozen of us waiting in line behind her.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Alphabet People - Letter E

“E” was my first crush. I was twelve. She was in my class and we rode the same bus. She had a bright smile, full cheeks, and feathered hair. It was the 80s after all. Everyone’s hair had a slightly feathered style, guys included. E and I were boyfriend and girlfriend for one day and held hands for the duration of one bus ride. The next day, she sat next to someone else and I guess we were over. That’s all I remember. I wonder what she looks like now. Where is she? What does she do? How many people have passed through your life that still pop into your mind from time to time? For me, E is just another funny story that happened in my life. It’s funny because I remember thinking she was cute and how nice it would be if she was my girlfriend and we might have even shared a peck that one day we were together. For me, E will never age past that day. I could strain myself trying to imagine what she went on to do, who she went on to become, or what she went on to look like, but why bother? What would be the point? Maybe she’s a pediatrician now who ends each visit with a lollipop reward and she’s married to a nice handsome doctor herself and she lives in a suburban home with a Golden Retriever named Max and she still styles her hair with a feathery flair and still has cheeks you want to pinch and vacations in France. Or maybe she’s a shut-in who’s ballooned to eight hundred pounds and surrounds herself with 37 cats with names like Tabby and Bean Dip and her favorite color is Blueberry Slurpee. But, back in 1982, she was my girlfriend for one day only and we held hands on the bus the whole ride home.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Have You Ever Seen The Rain?

I was driving me and my girl home from somewhere and it was really late (or really early) and she was asleep beside me and it was pouring rain. The weatherman would have described the rain as “torrential” which I always thought was a lame word choice, but then there I was driving in it and it was torrential. As I passed beneath a bridge, the most amazing thing presented itself to me. The rain was coming down so vertically that beneath the bridge was pure calm. The difference was so extreme that it demanded all of my senses. If I had been in a sedentary driving trance before that, I was suddenly very alert and aware. I pulled a U-turn just to experience it again. Pure downpour, then pure calm, and then pure downpour again. After I confirmed my senses, I pulled another U-turn and headed back again. This time though, while under the bridge, I stopped just short of the wall of rain, parked, and stepped out of my car. I walked up to it. It was the kind of straight down rain that you could stand right up against and not get wet. You could run your hand across the face of it. It occurred to me that she had to experience this too. I went back to the car and woke her up. She protested, but then she saw. There we were, standing there alone, side by side, facing this tremendous wall of rain, experiencing it, and filling our every sense with it. There was no noise except the furious rain smacking the street. No cars went by while we waited for something greater to come swooping down to claim us. It was like we were obeying something larger than ourselves. Like we were one with it. I closed my eyes, reached over for her hand, and she took it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Eating Cheer Laundry Detergent

When does the stress end? The stress I don’t want. The stress I don’t need. My own mind tries to kill me on a daily basis. It plots to give my body ailments. It is trying to talk my body into dying, begging it to quit, to just expire. I just want to die. I don’t want to wait for the inevitable diagnoses of ulcers and heart problems and cysts and sickness. Somebody, please, just kill me now. I grow careless in my present existence. I beg a group of people to kick my ass, but they’re confused by my request. “Come on! Kick my ass! I know that’s what you want. Just kick my ass!” They’re disconcerted by my desire for a beating. They look for asses to kick and create situations that will result in ass-kicking, but they’re unaccustomed to having the ass handed to them. “Kick my ass! Please!” They are bored with my offering, too easy. They leave. And I am left alone, still begging for someone to crush me. I watch as detergent commercials beat the dirt from the fibers and I get an idea: I am looking for something to purge my blackness, so I start eating detergent. The smell attracts me to it and draws me in. I have acquired a taste for several different brands now. I like the way it feels as I choke the grains down and they scrape their way down my throat. The stress keeps piling up though. I think my fish feels it too. I caught him trying to jump out of his bowl as he was picking up on all my negative energy. I stared at him as he made an attempt to leap out of his bowl and end his life, but I knocked him back in and told him that he was in it for the duration with me. (Excerpted and abridged from my next book, Piss Artist.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Harte Spam Emails, Part 2

The internet is very disappointed with my penis. It’s a relentless assault on the poor guy. I receive at least twenty emails a day about how he could be so much bigger, or performing at a higher level, or even hipper, or drive the ladies more wild. I’m quite pleased with him myself, but it’s hard to ignore the consistent feedback from all the critics. They are brutal in their assessment, but explain that they are just trying to help. I’ve decided to take their advice. How could so many people be wrong? Since the volume of emails I receive is so overwhelming on the subject, I’ve decided that the email with the most thoughtful and inspired subject line probably also offers the best solution. That seems right, doesn’t it? If the subject line is good, the solution must be good. The ones that rhyme don’t appeal to me. “You will be mega cool if you get a bigger tool.” “Give her double portion with your new proportion.” “Women will flow like a tide just to view your biggie pride.” “It will be hard to hide your bulgy male pride.” These immediately get deleted, I’m not impressed. Then there are those that just don’t ring true to my ear. “Add more meat for better taste.” “The power in your pants will be really breath-taking.” “With such a developed huge monster in your pants you can catch a real gold fish.” A real gold fish? Really? These get tossed aside as well. I read others with really strong action verbs like “hoist your lover” and “heave your darling” but I can’t imagine any woman who’s interested in being hoisted or heaved. (If you are though, please leave a comment below.) The winner is still to be decided…

Friday, April 24, 2009

Alphabet People - Letter D

“D” was my first French kiss. D was in 7th grade, I was in 8th. It happened at her birthday party and resulted from a game of spin the bottle. It seemed the whole objective of the game was to get me and D alone and, eventually, there we were locked in the laundry room and it was dark. I didn’t know what to do, so I sat on the dryer and tried to sound cool, “Well, I guess they expect us to kiss or something.” She surprised me when she moved in close, placed her hands on my legs, and said, “Yep, I guess so,” and proceeded to French kiss me. And I liked it. I had never French kissed before, much less kissed at all, and there we were, her hands rubbing back and forth on my legs and she had her tongue in my mouth and it was phenomenal. We eventually emerged and I went and told my friend Vince that we kissed, and not only did we kiss, but that we French kissed, and that was my first French kiss. He was so amazed and shocked by this fact that he decided to announce it to the rest of the party, “Hey everyone, that was Greg’s first French kiss!” I was so embarrassed by the silence that followed. D spoke up and said, “Oh really, I didn’t even notice.” And I decided that I really, really liked this girl. I felt proud. We went out for awhile, but she was much more experienced than me. I was pretty intimidated. We would be sitting watching TV, she would be lying in my lap with only a pillow between her head and me. She’d take my hands and place them on her chest and I didn’t know what to do next. So, there were my hands doing nothing else but just lying there, desperately wanting to know what the next move was.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Alphabet People - Letter C

“C” and I had a class together in college called “The Modern Novel” with coursework slanted by our lesbian instructor. I didn’t mind, I was introduced to Jeanette Winterson whose work I still love, but the overall homoeroticism in the air was charged and pervasive. The class brimmed with gay men and gay women, and me. I sat in back as if banished from the circle by my straightness. I remember seeing C, in front, sitting next to a guy who was always flirting with me relentlessly. I tried to ignore his looks and stares. I knew he was trying to hook up. By association, I assumed C was a lesbian. I ended up getting a C in that class (no joke). Fast forward to summer and I was working as a concierge at an upscale mall. I wore suits and had to know things. I was chummy with the security guards. We acted like we owned the place, walking around with our chests puffed out, acting superior. It was fun. One day, I was on break and chatting with Chick (that was his nickname) when I noticed C working at the costume jewelry store. They specialized in high-end jewelry reproductions. Still do. I spun back around to Chick and said, “Holy crap, I know that girl. We had a class together. She’s so beautiful. But I think she’s a lesbian.” Chick said, “No way. C? A lesbian? Really?” My break ended and I returned to my desk. A few minutes later, Chick came running up to me, laughing hysterically, “Yo man, I was just talking with C. She said she remembered you from that class too. And she thought you were gay!” C and I went out for three years after that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Harte Spam Emails

Can you think back to your first spam email? You wondered, “How was it that ‘Trixie’ got my email address?” And you became excited because she wanted to connect with you and have a good time. Now, admit it, how many of you responded feeling hopeful? One of the first spam emails I received read like this, “Hello, do you remember me? I’m Abdul Washington from NY. Remember we spoke about a problem of short penis? I have found at last a good product which is capable to correct this problem!!! My power and pleasure has trippled, my wife can hardly keep up, my penis has grown 3.5 inches to just over 6 and is still growing! Try it necessarily!!!” And just as I was straining to remember if I had ever met an Abdul Washington from NY who I just happened to have a discussion with about the problem of short penis, I received the exact same email from John Crews, Jeff Patterson, Coleman Belanger, Lance Pollard, Carlton Khan, Dirk Fitzpatrick, and Morris Lamb, all from NY. At the time, I was thinking that the inclusion of a person’s actual last name somehow gave it validity. I was then trying to remember any occasion where I had an open conversation with a whole group of people from NY about the problem of short penis. Even the misspelling of the word “trippled” seemed to lend to the enthusiasm and credibility of the email, as if the typist was so excited by the ongoing growth of their own penis that the extra “p” was intentional for emphasis, or it was Freudian because they were thinking about nipples. But, I figured it out with “Try it necessarily!!!” The word “necessarily” just didn’t sit right.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Alphabet People - Letter B

“B” was my best friend in high school. B and I met after a girl lured me into joining the drama club. I had no idea what I was doing. When girls pointed, I pretty much followed. I couldn’t act or sing, so I was drawn to the crew. B, who was also a junior like me, was the guy working the sound board and lights from a booth built above and behind the audience. We’d hang out up there, do some work, but mostly we checked out girls. One day, when there was a lull in the action, we snuck off to 7-Eleven and bought a pack of Swisher Sweets Cigars. Even now, I can close my eyes and taste those cigars. We returned, climbed up through the ceiling, and onto the theater’s roof. We then smoked through that entire pack of Swisher Sweets. I lacked any sense of moderation and kept lighting up one after another. I’m not sure precisely what happens physiologically when two teens smoke through an entire pack of Swisher Sweets in a short period of time, but it made us wired. We started running sprints back and forth across the roof like we were experiencing wind for the first time. Meanwhile, our drama instructor Mr. B (no relation to B), who was leading rehearsal, started waving his arms and shushing everyone to be quiet. He then turned his head and listened as we ran back and forth above him. We were oblivious to the din we were making. Only when Mr. B’s bald head breached the same opening we had climbed through did we realize we were busted. He gave us a “What are you morons doing?” look and made us get down.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Alphabet People - Letter A

“A” broke my heart. I met A through a married friend of mine. The married friend wanted to get with me, but I didn’t want to be “that guy” again. She hooked me up with her cousin, A. I was immediately attracted. A had naturally curly blonde hair, was tall and slender, and wore smart glasses. She also possessed a sarcastic wit and was flirty as hell. We met and had dinner and then she took me back to her place. I think I fell in love while we did a crossword puzzle at her dining room table. I know, it’s not the most stirring of romantic activities, nor was it a dirty dance mating ritual, but it worked. There was something about the proximity of our bodies, the leaning into each other, the banter, the teasing, and the thrill of getting the words right. I caught scents of her and I wanted to plunge into her neck. And then finally, we kissed. It started in the kitchen, rolled into the living room, and went on for hours. When we finally came up for air, the sun was rising. I had to leave. For the other coast. We attempted long distance, but it was tough. When I returned months later, she had already started a relationship with another, but she neglected to inform me of this. We spent an evening together where there was no kissing, which made no sense to me. “I want us to be friends,” A said. “I want to pick up where we left off,” I replied. She said, “We should work on being good friends first and have a good base.” I was dumbfounded, “That foundation was laid months ago. You were at the groundbreaking. Don’t you remember?”

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Miss USA

She had little talent, but scored high on originality. The other contestants were threatened by her long, perfect legs and sought ways to eliminate any chance she had of winning. They rifled through her luggage and discovered Polaroid pictures of her and her boyfriend naked and engaging in sexual acts. They took the photos directly to the judges. Most of the judges were disappointed that she didn’t emulate the wholesome Miss USA image. Others were disappointed that the talent portion of the competition didn’t include the kinds of acts she clearly had a knack for as illustrated in the photos, but kept that disappointment to themselves. The judges pulled her aside and explained that she could continue competing, but that she would not be winning for obvious reasons. She was upset, but understood. In the final competition, during the interview portion, she was asked, “During these stark times of economic downturn, wars, and future uncertainty, what has you scared the most?” To which she replied, first remembering what her coach told her to repeat the question before answering it, “The thing that has me the most scared is green Jell-O. I can’t stand to even look at green Jell-O, it makes me want to cry, I don’t know why. Especially if the green Jell-O has shredded carrots in it. That is the worst! It terrifies me!” She, of course, didn’t win. The pictures were leaked and she became an instant celebrity. She went on to a lucrative career in soft porn as the Near Miss USA and bought a big house in the hills with a pool.