The Lonely Calculus

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On Thanksgiving Day, I fantasized about calling the suicide prevention hotline. I didn’t really want to kill myself; I just wanted someone to talk to. I thought about that: someone you can just call. I imagined their voice on the other side of the line, a friendly woman’s. Someone robust, grounded, like the mother of a clan of rowdy kids, overweight and earthy. “Hello?” I would say kind of cautiously.

“What’s your name?” the voice would ask, opening up with indestructible, caring warmth.

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Point Conversion

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“The University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill has already been embroiled in a scandal for allowing its athletes to enroll in fake courses for easy credit. Now, the whole controversy has a rather potent visual symbol to go along with it: a 146-word, ungrammatical essay on Rosa Parks that earned an A- for a real intro class.” – Slate, 03/27/2014

“Even as their spending on instruction, research and public service declined or stayed flat, most colleges and universities rapidly increased their spending on sports, according to a report being released Monday” – New York Times, 04/07/2014

The Campus Guide led us down the promenade, the artificially-created pond at the North-most edge of the extended quad glistening a clear, pure shade of whitish blue in the soft sunlight of summer.

“I hear the equipment in your labs is a cut above,” I mentioned to make conversation. “Reg was really excited about being on the cutting edge.”

Reg, a step ahead, looked back at me with unbridled teenage hatred, and I couldn’t help but smile: whether by defense mechanism or natural perversion, my natural reaction over the past 17 years to his enraged bemusement regarding his father’s sense of humor. Of course, Reg was the only one who got it anyway, because no one else on the tour knew his ultimate goal was to become a surgeon.

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English Major RPG

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Welcome to English Major RPG!

Press Enter to begin Level 1

>> [ENTER]

You are in a long corridor. All around you is blackness and a foul-smelling odor. You feel dankness and something sticky on the ground. Ahead is a single white dot of light.

What would you like to do?

>> Walk to LIGHT

The world comes into focus. You are passed out on the quad of STATE SCHOOL, soaked in your own urine. The urge to vomit is coming upon you. URGE TO VOMIT attacks!

>> Use HAND

VOMIT wins, and leaves your hand disabled with its toxin attack! A student passing by is slightly sprayed.

>> Run like a coward

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Like A Boss

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It took me a minute to find him because of all the loud music and the angry hostility with which both men and women glared at me as I pushed through the dance floor to reach the table.

“Casper here is a flight instructor,” Dom introduced me, standing up as I walked over. He looked awkward getting up from the stool, his belly hanging over his dark pants, protruding against the buttons of his suit. It looked like there was sweat gathering at the spindly junctures of his mustache and goatee from the effort. I shook his hand concernedly.

“Ah, another protege?” asked the man sitting with him. “Looking to consistently pull more beautiful women? A new master for our method?” Continue reading

An Unworn Pair

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Franklin was intent on dating someone who offered him no conveniences. He looked down on his friends who dated women that cut their hair very stylishly for free, or cooked gourmet meals. Likewise, he looked down on his friends who dated men that did their oil changes or helped pay their student loans. He wanted no pragmatic advantages. He saw them as sellout compromises, reminiscent of the comforts that keep older unhappy couples from divorcing – once they thought of all the hassle, the little bits of laziness they would surrender. He wanted no ignoble and petty considerations like that in his calculations of freedom or commitment. Continue reading

Keeps No Record of Wrongs: A Valentine’s Day Story

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When Callista started dating Colin Raffaeli, I had to break them up.

You have to understand how terrible Colin Raffaeli is. Imagine Colin Raffaeli pulling up with his friends in his gigantic off-roading pickup with those monster truck tires I’ve never even seen at a dealership (where do you get monster truck tires?), Lil Wayne blaring at that bass level that’s so distorted you hear the car vibrating more than any music.

I didn’t have to imagine because I was watching the driveway from behind the French blinds in the front sitting room by the foyer, under our track lighting. Colin Raffaeli was wearing a big white Abercrombie polo and big khaki cargo shorts and big brown flapping flip-flops. You could almost smell the body-spray on him.

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The People You Meet

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“That’s so true,” she said.

I looked up from my Maki roll. “What is?”

She showed to me her phone, on which was a picture of fuzzy stock-art of two hands clasping over a candle with a quotation in intricate white Gothic-font text on top: “Life Truth #754: When The People Most Important In Your Life Are The Ones You Didn’t Expect.”

I said, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

She looked surprised. “No, it’s not,” she said.

“You’re implying there’s something unusual or special about people you care about – I assume you’re thinking a best friend or a boyfriend – that it’s somehow a unique magical thing that you didn’t expect to meet them or expect them to become important to you?”

“It’s true for me.”

“No, it’s categorically true. That’s why it’s stupid to say. Like if you say, ‘Isn’t it crazy that when I lose something it’s always in the last place I look?’ Because then you didn’t look anymore.”

She had this wide-eyed expression. “Ohhhh-kayyyy,” she said, drawing it out like you would for an accosting hobo. Continue reading