Sunday, August 30, 2015

We walked around the Notting Hill Carnival this morning, with Richard and Katie. The shops were boarded up behind graffiti’d plywood, their names juxtaposed with tags, making them seem to participate in the festivities just as they withdrew from them. The grill smoke was punctuated here and there by sweet, little clouds of marijuana. Dancehall blared, one sound system competing with the next. As you walked past the cacophony would phase and shift, the rhythms setting and then canceling each other out. But there was always someone right there who knew how to dance.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

During the rare intervals when the English summer sun shines unobstructed it has a venomous ferocity, as though angry at having been veiled so long by clouds. I rolled up the collar of my jacket as I sat in the Hyde Park playground, hoping I wouldn’t get burned. Jackie played on a large swing with a family that I guessed was Iranian. I wondered whether they were very rich or very poor. Probably very rich.
The day before, we went to the London Eye. We had a dreary, sodden lunch, seated around a trash-strewn table by a tree, with rain falling through the branches and the leaves. I ate a tomato and mozzarella Panini that had the peculiar blandness of international tourist trap snack-stand food. Water pounded our Ferris wheel car, forming rivulets that blurred the views of Big Ben and MI6. There was Coca-Cola everywhere, in refrigerated cases along the queue to get in, at the snack bar outside, in the gift shop at the exit.

When we returned to Eddie’s house rain had leaked through a fissure in the ceiling and was dripping on the shag carpeting. We placed a bowl on the floor and suddenly the water went plunk, plunk, plunk. Greeting cards on a side table were soaked, including one of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus that played “Silent Night” when you opened it.

Friday, August 21, 2015


And hey, with the rover righted, I got to use the bedroom again!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


"Look kiddo, if you can't do this you can't do it. But I think it might be good for you."

Monday, August 17, 2015


The boy stumbled back from me, alarmed. "You lay a hand on me, I'll tell my daddy."

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Go Back School

One guy followed another onto the train. The first guy was a normal-looking, pudgy office worker–type, thirtysomething. The other guy was an old man with teeth missing, a dirty T-shirt, ratty sandals and socks that said “USA.”

“Why you say fuck?!” the old man demanded. “Go back school! Go back school! Go back school! Uh, uh, uh, uh! Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!”

I tried to discern whether the first man was reacting or responding at all. He had one of his earbuds in his hand, up near his head, indicating that he was trying to listen but maybe not for long. He muttered a few words of protest, or incomprehension.

“You dumb?! You dumb?! You go back school, eh! Go back school, go back school, go back school. Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, you say. What is this fuck?”

Another man on the train tried to intercede, asking the old man to chill out. I wondered if that would set him off in an explosive rage. In fact he quieted down a little.

“You say fuck, you say fuck. Fuck, fuck fuck” he muttered.

At the next stop the other man got off. Might not have been his stop, but he’d had a long enough ride.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Enterprise - 51

After work one night Sean told me a story.

“Hands down, the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me happened to me today.”

“Really?” I asked, a little worried.

“Hands down!”


“This new girl in the office, hot girl. She came over to my desk because I was supposed to show her something, a fucking presentation I was working on for Artie. So she was looking at my computer and I was looking for the thing and I clicked on my browser by mistake and there was that shit play site I told you about. Front and center.”

“The shit play site,” I repeated numbly.

“I died of embarrassment, man. I died. I said, ‘You probably weren’t supposed to see that.’” Sean cringed as though it were happening all over again. “Probably?!” he yelped.

“What was specifically on the site? On your screen?”

Sean composed himself and said: “It was a picture of a woman taking a shit into a dude’s mouth.”

I nodded solemnly, trying to get a full grasp of the situation.

“How did she react?”

“It was weird. She didn’t really do anything. She just stood there. Over my shoulder”

“Pretended it wasn’t happening?”

“I guess.”

“Good fucking Christ.”

“The worst thing was, now I had to show her the fucking PowerPoint I was supposed to be showing her. I had to act like I was OK. My heart was pounding. My hands were literally shaking.”

“And there she is, standing there,” I remarked. “After seeing a photograph of a man eat shit.”

“Right out of a woman’s ass. Squatting. Squatting over his face.”

I felt a shiver, a faint echo of the mortification he must have felt. The difference between looking over a ledge and being plunged into the void.

“That’s horrible,” I declared, shaking my head. “I’m sorry, man, that’s just…”

He looked at me and gave a little guffaw. He actually seemed OK. How odd that one could experience—cause, in fact—such an extreme breach of decorum and then continue with one’s life: to chew gum, read the paper. Order pork fried rice. Whatever life consists of. But how could life ever be the same? Still, I supposed it could have been worse.

“At least you didn’t have your cock in your hand,” I pointed out.

“To the shit play? I wouldn’t. I do not find it sexually stimulating.”

“Right, right.”

“I find it completely fascinating. But not erotic.”

It was funny he said he wouldn’t take out his cock and jerk it because it didn’t turn him on. Instead of: because he was at work. Still, I understood.

“It’s less embarrassing that way, right? It’d be worse if it was just some normal porn and she thought you might be jerking yourself off under your fucking desk.”

“Yes,” Sean agreed. “Exactly. At least this way it was revolting and bizarre. That’s better than sexy.”

“Revolting, bizarre, horrifying, unconscionable. This is all fine compared to like, a pair of titties.”

He nodded. “If you have boner in the office,” he declared with a wave of his hand, “you’re sunk.”

I sat back and reflected on all this. I was happy I wasn’t him. Sure. Then again, I took certain precautions to not be him. I did not view pornography nor extreme grotesquerie on my workstation. Then I wondered: Do I take too many precautions? Am I too afraid? Sometimes I’m embarrassed when I walk out the elevator door. Sometimes I can’t look a coworker in the eye when we’re discussing where to go to lunch. The thought of his experience made me dizzy. Would I die, would I have a heart attack and collapse? If an attractive coworker scrutinized a shit-eating scene on my desktop?

I suspected that I would not. Maybe that’s what I needed. I always tried so hard to say the right thing, seem the right way. To sit at the conference table in a posture of relaxed alertness. Of course the more I thought about it the harder it was to pull off. Did I seem to others like some crazy automaton? I could only be a freak, really. Sean’s experience was the expression of a truth I felt about myself somehow. It was almost heroic, making something like that happen, enduring the consequences, and telling the story.

Right: Telling the story.

Might it not be liberating to do something perfectly humiliating, and to survive? Because you do survive. There’s always another breath to take.


Almost immediately, Tomlin realized staying on the call had been a mistake.

American English is the Language of Tattoos

Saw a couple of French girls on the West 4th platform —hell, I'm looking at them now. I could only hear them, behind me, as I walked down the stairs. Had my usual sad fantasy that they'd talk about me mockingly, that I'd turn around and say something back, that they'd gasp and apologize, I'd roll my eyes, etcetera, etcetera, a vain and pitiful train of thought if there ever was one, and of course they didn't say anything and why should they give a fuck and who really does anyway.

I let them pass me and had a look at them. Young. Attractive. One had a scribbly little tattoo on the back of her thigh, right below her short shorts. For a moment I wondered what the hell it could possibly say in French there, right by her ass, and immediately I realized: of course it's not French. It can't be French. It's English. American English.

Because American English is the language of tattoos.

I got up close enough to read it and here's what it said:

If you stand for nothing
You'll fall for anything

Monday, August 03, 2015


Finding that homosexuals didn't like me was harder to bear