Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: August 2013

Junior High School Girls Talking about Miley Cyrus

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Tracey and Judy meet outside their junior high school on the first day of school.

Tracey:  “Hi, Jody!”

Jody:  “Hi, Tracey!  How was your summer?”

Tracey:  “It was great.”

Cindy comes over to them, waving hello.

Cindy:  “Hey, guys?  Did you see Miley Cyrus at the VMA awards?  What did you think?”

Tracey:  “Lame.  I didn’t even watch it until later.   I was busy preparing for this year’s algebra class.

Cindy:  “Before school even began?”

Tracey:  “Yeah.  I so want to get into Yale after high school.”

Jody:   “I didn’t watch it at all.  I have no time for mindless fluff.  I spent my summer volunteering at a homeless shelter downtown.”

Cindy:  “I hear you.  The whole show was boring.  I just had it on in the background while reading about Syria in the Sunday Times Week in Review.”

Tracey:   “I don’t get what the whole big deal about that performance was all about.  It’s not like because of some celebrity that I’m suddenly gonna walk around sticking a big finger up my hoo-hah.  I’m not an idiot.”

Jody:  “TV is soooo stupid.”

Tracey:   “I know.  I’m kinda worried about my mom.  She watches TV all the time.  Such crap.  With such bad values.  You ever see any of those Real Housewives shows?”

Jody:  “OMG!  Such bitches.  My mother watches that crap too!   I’m so glad our generation would never act like that.”

Tracey:  “Sometimes I just wish my mother would read a book instead.  By someone good, like Joyce Carol Oates.”

Cindy:  “My mother watches this other TV show.  On cable.  I forget what it’s called.  It’s really disgusting.  About the old days when everyone was really sexist in the advertising business and there were no people of color.   And the main character is a total sleaze and shitty to women, and get this — my mom has the total hots for him.”

Tracey:   “It’s like our parents have no morals anymore.”

Jody:   “You think that’s bad.  My mom’s favorite shows is about a teacher who deals in meth.”

Tracey:  “My mother watches this show where the lead guy is a serial killer!”

Cindy:  “What ever happened to the wholesome shows for adult, like Happy Days and the Love Boat?  What’s wrong with adults today?”

Tracey:  “It’s like so sad.   Adults don’t want to admit to being responsible adults anymore.   I especially hate they they want to listen to our music.   Read books for young adults.”

Jody:  “My parents are totally gross.  One weekend they downloaded this entire show from HBO about these pampered young women in Manhattan — like twenty years younger than them — who just curse and have anal sex.  This is called entertainment?”

Tracey:  “Gross.”

Cindy starts to cry.

Tracey:  “What’s the matter, Cindy?  Are you alright?”

Cindy:   “I don’t want to talk about this topic any more.  It’s too shameful.  I try to be a good person.  To respect my parents.  To look up to them as people I want to emulate.  But how can I ever do that when I see them watching that sick weirdo medieval throne fantasy show every week — the one with so much violence, nudity, and rape.  And they LIKE IT!  I can’t even look at my parents anymore at the breakfast table.  It’s like they’re perverts.”

Jody:   “I know.   I know.  All our parents are like this nowadays.   They’ve lost their way morally.”

Tracey:   “Listen, guys.  We need to stick together.  We need to focus on school, and not let our parents drag us down into their cesspool of perversion.   If they want to watch this junk, we can’t stop them.  But we can be better than they are!”

The Principal walks towards the school.

Cindy:  “Oh, there’s Principal Andrews.  It’s time for another school year!  Thank God we are finally away from our parents.”

Jody moves closer to her two friends, whispering in their ears.

Jody:  “Listen, I don’t know if I should tell you this, but in July I was at the mall and I saw Principal Andrews there with his wife and kids.  And he was dressed very casually, like we never see him at school.  And he was wearing a ratty t-shirt promoting that horrible old rap group N.W.A. from our parent’s day, the one with the repugnant anti-social lyrics!”

Tracey and Cindy:  “Ewwwwww!”

The Golden Era of Advertising

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I didn’t read many blogs when I started Citizen of the Month in March, 2005.  My initial model for my blog was the late Andy Rooney of “60 Minutes.”  Every day I would write a short post based on some personal off-kilter observation such as, “Why do we still lick envelopes in the 20th Century?”  It’s a tried and true comedic technique.

Seven years ago this week, my father died.   I was blogging for a little over a year.  Sophia, my wife at the time, sent a message to my blog readers that I was called back to New York.  There was no Twitter or Facebook at the time, so I used my blog as my diary, writing about my emotional state at the time, detailing all the chaos, the sadness, and even the frequent bittersweet humor of dealing with a parent’s death.

My father’s passing completely transformed my view of blogging.  Writing a personal blog was not the same as writing a short story or a magazine article.  It certainly was not like Andy Rooney doing his shtick on “60 Minutes.”  For one thing, blogs had comments, and the feedback from others were frequently more interesting than the original post.  Readers also CARED about me in a way that I never cared about Andy Rooney.   And I CARED about my readers.  Blogging was something revolutionary — a hybrid of writing, community forum, therapy, and friendship.

Life continued on, as did my blog.  My writing changed in tone to reflect my experiences.    Sophia dealt with breast cancer.  Sophia’s mother passed away.  Sophia’s step-father passed away.  Sophia and I divorced.  I moved back and forth between Los Angeles and New York.  I flew to New Zealand to meet a new woman.  Life.

Last night, I put an advertisement onto the sidebar of my blog, or more accurately,  I installed a Javascript “advertising-tag” into the code which sends you creepy Big Brother-like advertisements tailored JUST for you, based on the cookies in your browser.    At first, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong with the code, because the advertisements didn’t show up in my browser.  I realized that I was using the Chrome Extension, Ad Blocker, to hide YOUR advertisements, so I was blocking my own ads!  I turned off Ad Blocker, and BOOM, it appeared — a 160×600 banner ad for Buick.

I glanced over at my last few posts.  One was a mediation on happiness.   Another was a photo essay.  The third was a conversation with my cock.   I turned to the Flashy Buick ad and… I started to cry.  It wasn’t an unhappy cry.   It wasn’t a happy cry.   It was just an emotional release, of what I can’t tell you.

Placing this advertisement on my blog is a very big deal to me.  It scares me, but it also gives me a slight thrill, like I’m losing my virginity to a prostitute or going bungee jumping.  Will I keep the advertisement on my sidebar?   It depends on how much money I can earn by keeping it there.  If we are talking less than ten bucks a month, it’s not worth it.

I know my eight year obsession over putting advertising on my blog is crazy, and has annoyed the shit out of some of you.   I realize that most of you couldn’t care less what I do.  But I’m pretentious.   It’s one little secret that I try to keep to myself.  My blog is powerful… to me.  It is a reflection of my life, my manhood, my attitudes towards money and ambition, and an expression of sex and desire.   My blog is also about my father, the kind man who died seven years ago this week.   And my father would never put advertising on his blog.   So, it’s a big change.

Happiness and Gumballs

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It was the day before the annual BlogHer conference in Chicago.   JC and I made plans to stroll down Michigan Avenue and explore the city.  If you don’t know JC Little (The Animated Woman), take a look at her delightful and somewhat repulsive presentation about pinworms at the Voices of the Year ceremony.  She’s my kind of person.

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During our walk, we found ourselves in the architecturally-interesting Chicago Cultural Center, and noticed that there was an art show on the fourth floor gallery.  It was titled “The Happy Show” and the installation was by Stefan Sagmeister, a prominent designer from New York.

The Happy Show offers visitors the experience of walking into the designer’s mind as he attempts to increase his happiness via meditation, cognitive therapy and mood-altering pharmaceuticals. “I am usually rather bored with definitions,” Sagmeister says. “Happiness, however, is just such a big subject that it might be worth a try to pin it down.” Centered around the designer’s ten-year exploration of happiness, this exhibition presents typographic investigations of a series of maxims, or rules to live by, originally culled from Sagmeister’s diary, manifested in a variety of imaginative and interactive forms.  — from the city of Chicago website.

The exhibit was fantastic, and we spent over an hour enjoying the unique infographics and interactive displays, all relating the concept of happiness.

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The most provocative art piece was Sagmeister’s attempt to show a graphical representation  of the happiness of the visitors to the show.  He did this based on the amount of gumballs that were taken from a row of ten old-fashioned gumball machines standing against the wall, numbered from 1-10, each machine signifying one higher level of individual happiness.

I thought about my level of personal happiness before I approached the gumball machines. I decided that I was relatively happy.  Even with some bumps in the proverbial road, I had my health, good friends, my hair, and I wasn’t bored yet with my existence.  I took a gumball from machine #7.  That put me in the top 25% of happiness.

As I put the gumball into my mouth, JC said, “That’s bad for your teeth.”

I laughed.  It’s the little joys of life that enable a person to be happy.

“It’s your turn,” I said, almost a dare.

JC walked to the row of gumball machines and turned the handle of machine #10.  A bright yellow gumball dropped out.

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“#10?” I shouted, rather stunned.

Maybe she was confused by the instructions.  She was Canadian, after all.

“You realize that #10 means #10 in happiness.” I mansplained.

“I know,” she said.

I left it at that, but by the time we were back on the street, at “the Bean” in Grant Park, I couldn’t hold it in any longer.  Her choice had annoyed me.

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“How can you put yourself as #10 in happy?” I pushed again.

“Because I’m happy.”

“That’s great.  I’m glad you’re happy.  But #10 happy?  What about #9 happy?  Then you would have something to look forward to!”

“I think you can be #10 happy all the time, if you are happy at the moment.”

“Are you saying that nothing bad has ever happened to you?  No one you cared about ever got sick or went bankrupt?”

“Of course bad things happen.  I can be upset, but still happy and content.”

“This makes no LOGICAL SENSE.  #10 means the IDEAL.  The Platonic ideal.  Heaven is #10.  No one ever gets to be #10 in this world.  If I thought I was #10 in happiness, I would just kill myself because it’s all downhill.”

“That’s because we have different views of happiness.”

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Two days later, I met JC during one of the keynotes.  It was the day after her presentation at the Voices of the Year.

“You were great last night,” I said.

“Thank you.”

“Anyway, enough about that.  Have you changed your mind about what number happy you are?”

“Are you still obsessing over this?”

“Are you feeling #10 right now?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, let’s make up a hypothetical situation.  Imagine, last night your presentation was a total disaster.  Everything went wrong.”

“Nice.  OK.”

“The microphone didn’t work.  The crowd was booing.  Today, you’re being ostracized by everyone you know.”

“Are they throwing things at me?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

“So, what number happiness are you now?”

“#10.”

“Bullshit!”

“Like I told you ten times before.  I can be upset.  But still happy.  Because I know who I am.”

“OK, what if your pants fell down during your presentation last night, and you weren’t wearing any underwear and everyone saw your privates?  What then?  How would you feel today?”

“That would be quite memorable.  It would probably make me more happy.”

“Aha, GOTCHA!  You are already #10!  You can’t become MORE HAPPY!”

It’s been a month since BlogHer.  Last night, I had a dream.  I was standing in front of the row of gumballs in Chicago, ready to make another choice.  I gazed at the yellow balls of sugary gum enclosed in reflective glass tubes, and then I went for it.  But this time, rather than taking a gumball from machine #7, I turned the lever of machine #6.

Speech Therapy

Thank you to everyone on Facebook who recommended a good therapist in New York. You’re nice people  (and apparently rather troubled).   I promise to look into it this week.

Today I went to my family doctor for a check-up.   After the nurse took my blood, Doctor R enter the examining room and sat across from me.

“I hear you wanted to ask me something, Neil.”

“Yes, I wanted some recommendations on seeing two other professionals.”

“OK.”

“First, I’ve been feeling congested lately and I want to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor.”

“Fine.  Let me send you to Doctor Grossman at NYU.  He’s very good.”

“And then, I was wondering if you know… because I was thinking of going to…. well, like a therapist.”

“Is that rotator cuff still bothering you.  I can send you to that physical therapist in Flushing.”

“No, not a physical therapist.”

I noticed Doctor R checking out my shoulder.  I pointed my finger upwards towards my face to help him understand what type of therapy I was discussing.

“Oh, I know someone very good at Queens College,” said Doctor R.   “She’s the chairman of the speech therapy department.”

“Speech therapy?”

“She’s a speech therapist.”

“Why would you send me to a speech therapist?” I blurted out.

“I thought that’s what you wanted.”

“Is there something wrong with the way I speak?  Jesus, now I’m really paranoid.  No, I’m talking about…”

I pointed my finger upwards again, this time directly at my head, as if I was about to shoot myself with my index finger.   The doctor’s “speech therapy” comment made me so anxious, I couldn’t think straight or come up with the right word.

“…I’m talking about… what do you call it.  I can’t think today.  A head therapist.   A brain therapist.”

“A psychiatrist?” he asked.

“Yes!  Well, no.  A psychiatrist sounds too serious.  I just probably need a regular therapist.  Not anyone with a fancy medical degree.  To talk to about things.  Someone’s who relatively cheap.  But still good.”

“I see.  An inexpensive therapist who’s still good.”

“Yes,” I said.

“I know of one person.   But would you mind seeing a therapist who shares his office with an auto body shop on Queens Boulevard?”

Note:  The previous was mostly true, except for the last line, which was thrown in at the last moment for humorous effect.

She Was Crossing the Street

She was crossing the street. She had short blond hair and was wearing black. She strutted like a hip, confident, young New Yorker that you might see in a magazine. She belonged here. As we passed each other in the crowd, I took a quick photo of her, part of an iconic city street scene, and published it on Instagram.

An hour later, a blogging friend sent me a message.

I know this woman. No shit. She works for me. And I showed her the photo!

My first reaction was one of extreme horror. Ever since I started posting photos on Instagram, the thought of this happening was my biggest nightmare. A stranger would find his own photo. And I would deserve the punishment that fit the crime, like a shoplifter or insider trader deserving time behind bars.

But my tale had a happy ending. The woman LIKED the photo, and we now follow each other on Instagram! Proof that either God is on my side, or that New Yorkers are so narcissistic they will take publicity any way they can get it.

Over the last two years, several of my friends have taken issue with the concept of taking photos of strangers in the street. People are always waiting for me to argue with them, waiting for me to cry, “But it is COMPLETELY LEGAL!,” and disappointed when I don’t take the bait. You see, I KNOW it is WRONG. If anything, you should applaud me for keeping on with it. In the past, my “Citizen of the Month” persona would have kicked in after the first negative comment and I would have stopped, but I’ve pushed on doing it, despite it, finding it possible to live with myself doing something morally ambiguous.

I’ve learned this from you. I’ve been blogging for almost nine years, and I have seen a lot of shit go on — blatant hypocrisy, backstabbing friends, questionable business practices, bullying of others, and snobbism. But after awhile, it all becomes part of the fabric of life. Small moral lapses are forgotten and we all focus on the real meaning of the internet — business, networking, branding, and finding success. Morality might get you into heaven, but it has little to do with business or art. From my experience, the more someone succeeds in any type of business, the more likely they were involved in compromises to their personal moral code.

In the scheme of things wrong, taking photos on the street is small potatoes. Personally, if I never did anything that pushed me into the gray area of my own personal morality, I would never leave my house, or have the nerve to type out the word “fucking” rather than “f***ing.” (see blog posts 2005-2010)

I’m pretty moralistic about most things, and I find it difficult to see myself in a negative light. (note to self: talk about this with therapist, when you find one)

About a month ago, I went to an “Instameet” downtown. An Instameet is like a “Tweet-up,” but involves those heavily into Instagram as a social media tool. I was nervous when I arrived at the agreed on location, because unlike like Blogher, where I am instantly recognized, I didn’t know anyone, or understand the hierarchy. And believe me, there is one — just like in any social gathering.

In attendance were a few “famous” New York Instagram street photographers, some who had thousands of followers and were always being asked by brands to do corporate promotional gigs. I was most excited to meet some guy known as “The King” of New York iPhone street photographers. I was curious to see him at work.

An Instameet is an odd animal. You all walk the street together, like a photo mob, taking shots, but since photography is a solo act, there wasn’t much socializing. From what I learned, that happens later, in a bar. During the walk, everyone is too busy hoping to one up the next guy.

I watched “The King” as he worked his magic with his iPhone, and suddenly — the concept of street photography made me uncomfortable. By watching him, it was like a mirror to my own actions when I shoot with my iPhone, and I wasn’t liking what I was seeing.

I’m a rather lazy street photographer. If I see something or someone interesting in my path, I might attempt a shot. But “The King” was proactive. He didn’t let Fate determine his art. He would eye someone across the street, and follow him. He would even walk around the block, circling back, just to face his subject, inches away. He seemed to enjoy the danger; but to me, it seemed like STALKING! I even hated the way “The King” viewed his subject — not like he was a humanistic individual seeking the personal in others — but as if he was a hunter searching for prey.

“What a jerk,” I thought to myself, annoyed that he was so beloved by the others. “What he’s doing is SO WRONG!”

His iPhoneography work is now showing in a gallery in Soho. Art/Morality? Does it matter?

I enjoyed taking photos of my friends at BlogHer. I wish I had more of an opportunity to do that here in New York. I wish I had a beautiful girlfriend or photogenic kids to take photos of during the weekend. But I don’t. So, I practice my photography by shooting strangers in the street. Maybe there is a bit of loneliness to it. I’d rather see it as a celebration of others. And I do it with a good heart. I try not to be a jerk. I don’t stalk people, even if it means it can get me a better shot. I try to find my own grey area.

You might think this post is about Instagram. But it’s not. I don’t need you to write comments telling me that you like my photos. Thank you if you do. This post is more about fighting the instinct to do everything RIGHT, and being OK being a little WRONG.

Perfect for right before Rosh Hashanah!

I’ll worry about my morality. You can worry about yours.

Note: This post is written for myself. And more dangerous than you think.

Therapy

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Woman: “You really enjoy a woman’s body?”

Neil: “Is there anything better in God’s world?”

Woman: “How do my breasts taste to you?”

Neil: “Like milk and honey. Like the Holy Land described in the Bible. I still remember that from Hebrew School. A land of milk and honey.”

Woman: “Put your fingers inside me again. It felt so good before.”

Neil: “You know, I wonder if all of my problems in life are because my mother never breast-fed me. Maybe all those annoying lactivists online are right. Doctor Spock and Gerber fucked up an entire generation. Every issue with Sophia and Juli all come down to my using baby formula.”

Woman: “I love when you touch my pussy like that.”

Neil: “If you think about, it’s truly amazing that a baby can come out of a woman’s vagina. I never had a child so I’ve never seen a woman give birth. And I usually hide my eyes when they have those scenes in documentaries on PBS.”

Woman: “Oh my god. Harder.”

Neil: “But clearly, the vagina is one the eight wonders of the world! You think my mother still remembers giving birth to me? I owe her a lot, don’t I? She gave birth to me, for godsake! I’m glad I’m going to Paris with her for her birthday.”

Woman: “I want your cock in me now.”

Neil: “Have you ever been to Paris? Maybe you will know the answer. Should we bring Euros with us from the States, or get them over there?”

A VOICE comes from BELOW!

Penis: “Jesus Christ. This dialogue sucks.”

Neil: “Huh? Who said that?”

Penis: “Ha Ha, it’s me, Neil. Sorry to interrupt your little fantasy here, but your dialogue was putting me to sleep faster than when you were taking those 40mg of Prozac.”

Neil: “I’m sorry to disappoint you.”

Penis: “Stop talking to her so much and fuck her already. It’s a fantasy. You don’t have to talk to her so much in your own fantasy.”

Neil: “This is my fantasy, Penis. Not yours.”

Penis: “Who is this fantasy chick in your bed anyway?”

Neil: “It’s none of your business. And we’re not in my bed. We’re on her couch.”

Penis: “Won’t Juli be upset that you’re shagging some other woman in your fantasy?”

Neil: “Can we change the subject, Penis?”

Penis: “OK. So, are you still excited about your trip to Paris… with your mom?”

Neil: “Yes.”

Penis: “Any plans to go to New Zealand?”

Neil: “Not yet. It’s complicated.”

Penis: “I see. Still watching the Sopranos every night… with your mom?”

Neil: “Yes. We’re almost at Season Three. How do you know all this about my life?”

Penis: “I follow you on Facebook.”

Neil: “You’re on Facebook?”

Penis: “Who isn’t on Facebook nowadays? You should “like” my Facebook page.”

Neil: “You have a Facebook page?”

Penis: “Don’t you?”

Neil: “No. And I’m not “liking” the Facebook page of my Penis.”

Penis: “By the way, I saw your last status update. Boo-hoo. Your usual weepy stuff to get the mombloggers to care about you. “I’m thinking of looking for a therapist in NYC…””

Neil: “Stop it. Don’t read it — out loud.”

Penis: ““I’m thinking of looking for a therapist in NYC. Why? Because – well why did I feel the need to tell Facebook that I was thinking of looking for a therapist in NYC? How can I be an open and good friend to you, and listen to your stories, if I’m always so obsessed with my own stuff. I need to find someone who takes my insurance. At the same time, I wonder if therapy is just a waste of time, and I can just work out everything on my own by crowdsourcing my life with you. Veronica, please call me in two weeks and make sure I really put some effort into this. Action over talk.””

Neil: “Jesus.”

Penis: “You start looking for a therapist yet?”

Neil: “Not yet.”

Penis: “Why the need for a therapist — all of a sudden?”

Neil: “You know. Issues.”

Penis: “WAIT A MINUTE. Isn’t there a female therapist in the Sopranos that Tony Soprano goes to? The one with the nice legs and great ass?”

Neil: “Yeah. So what?

Penis: “You start watching this show with your mother… and suddenly you’re thinking about going to a therapist? OH, MAN. Why didn’t I see this at once — that fantasy women you’re fucking on the couch — is your imaginary new therapist?! You haven’t even found one yet, and you’re already doing her in your head — one who looks like Lorraine Bracco!”

Neil: “No, I’m not.”

Penis: “And then while you’re talking about your so-called “issues”, she’ll be sucking me off with her wet therapist’s lips.”

Neil: “That’s disgusting. You’re a male pig! I don’t WANT to know you!”

Penis: You don’t want to know me?

Neil: I read a quote on Pinterest that said “You are only as good as your friends. Embrace positive-oriented friends.” And YOU are never positive-oriented.”

Penis: “I’m a fucking COCK! I’m true to who I am. YOU’RE never positive-oriented. You’re the phony one.”

Neil: “I’m not a phony.”

Penis: “Oh no? And why did you go to BlogHer again this year? How many women did you imagine sucking your cock there?”

Neil: “I went to BlogHer to learn from my peers! To grow as a blogger!”

Penis: “That wasn’t the only thing growing during the fashion show.”

Neil: “Listen. I respect you that you have a point of view. I’m learning to listen to all voices, no matter how diverse. But let’s face it. You’re a Penis. I’m a man. I’m the one with the brain. Do you know what I got on my verbal and math SAT scores? I was in the top 4% of all seniors in the United States of America! I don’t need to listen to you.”

Penis: “You’r afraid. I get it. You’re afraid of real relationships, afraid of intimacy, afraid of everything. So you play it safe. You flirt with married women. You have a relationship with a woman a million miles away. You start fantasizing about shagging some female therapist on her couch rather than going for some real help!”

Neil: “You’re crazy. You’re insane! I won’t stand for this. I’m leaving!”

Penis: “Where are you going to go? Where are you going to hide? I’m always going to be with you?”

Neil: “No, you’re not! Not if I use this new steak knife my mother got at Bed Bath and Beyond with that 20% off coupon!”

Penis: “You want to cut me off? Go for it. Do it! I dare you!”

Neil: “I will! I will! Don’t tempt me!”

Penis: “Listen, you miserable piece of shit. I’m the only one who really knows you. Cares for you. Sympathizes with you. This is real therapy here. Tough love therapy. We’re a team, Neil. If I’m happy, you’re happy. If your happy, I’m happy. I’m tired of getting blowjobs in your imagination. You need to face reality, Neil. That’s your first step in recovery. Admit to me that you were fantasizing about some imaginary female therapist.”

Neil: “I’m not one of those guys.”

Penis: “Yeah, yeah, a progressive liberal white dude who would respect his female therapist, and never think about her naked.”

Neil: “I don’t even have a female therapist. This is all hypothetical.”

Penis: You’re missing HER. Aren’t you?

Neil: Of course I do. I miss our conversations. Our dinners together.

Penis: And what else? Why are you fantasizing about this therapist?

Neil: Shut up.

Penis: “You need to do this, Neil. You are weak, Neil. You are weak. You need to do this for HER. For you mother. For everyone on the internet. Tell me the truth. Tell yourself the truth. Tell me about this imaginary therapist. Tell me you wanted to fuck her. Say it. Say it!

Neil: “Yes, Yes, Yes. I was imagining fucking this imaginary female therapist. She was just so nice and compassionate and listened to me and so smart and she kept one button open on her soft blouse, and I could imagine her breasts in my mouth, and… I’m sick. I’m a sick and terrible person. I am immoral. I am self-absorbed. I am sexist and racist and homophobic and I don’t even like Indian food, even though I always say I love it when I go out to dinner with my college friends from Columbia, just so they can’t accuse me of being overtly Eurocentric. I’m the worst. I’m a shell of a man. God should strike me down with a thunder bolt right now and I will deserve it.”

Penis: “Time’s up. That will be $150.”

Neil: “Do you accept United Healthcare as insurance.”

Penis: “No.”

Truth Quotient: 100% True

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

FRIDAY AFTERNOON
VALENTINO’S PIZZA, QUEENS
CONVERSATION WITH BOBBY

Bobby: “What the hell do you talk about for three hours at a time?”

Neil: “We’re in a long distance relationship. All we have at our disposal is chatting and texting. We’re on the phone every day.”

Bobby: “But three hours a day?!

Neil: “We talk about everything. Our lives, movies, online stuff.

Bobby: “Oh, yeah. I forgot about that imaginary online world you’re in where you have 10,000 friends who don’t know that you really live with your mother.”

Neil: “It’s not all imaginary.”

Bobby: “Let me ask you something. Did you really share a room with two hot chicks at that blogging conference, like in Three’s Company?”

Neil: “Yes. It was exactly like Three’s Company.”

Bobby: “You know, in the real life “Three’s Company,” I bet Jack was banging both of them.”

Neil: “Yeah, probably.”

Bobby: “They just never showed you that on TV because HBO wasn’t invented yet.”

Neil: “Note to self. Pitch “Three’s Company – the Real Story” to HBO.”

Bobby: “So, isn’t your girlfriend — all the way in New Zealand — worried about you sharing a hotel room with two mom-blogging hotties?”

Neil: “Nah. She isn’t like that. She’s pretty sure of herself.”

Bobby: “Good. You don’t need another needy woman in your life.”

Neil: “Well, there is ONE woman who I have to be careful about when I mention her. Some blogger in Massachusetts. Marcia Jenturn.”

Bobby: “Why? You banging her?”

Neil: “No, no. It’s just that I love her writing so much that I’m always talking about her.”

Bobby: “What does she write about? Her sex life?”

Neil: “No, mostly about her feeling depressed.”

Bobby: “She sounds a lot of fun.”

Neil: “Oh, but she writes so beautifully —

Bobby: “It sounds like you have a crush on her. Like you did with yearbook editor in high school.”

Neil: “Judy Weiss. Uh, OK. Maybe a little.”

++++

FRIDAY NIGHT
BEDROOM
TWO HOURS INTO A PHONE CALL WITH NEW ZEALAND

Her: “So, anything else new online? Haven’t had much of a chance today.”

Neil: “Oh, you have to read this incredible new post by… uh…uh…”

Her: “Go ahead. You can say her name.”

Neil: “Marcia Jenturn.”

Her: “Yeah, yeah. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. What did she write about now?”

Neil: “She wrote a beautiful poem about a bird. It was like she WAS the bird.”

Her: “Look, she’s single. Why don’t you ask her out already? You clearly like her.

Neil: “I like her writing.”

Her: “I love you, Neil. But this is never going to work out with us living so far away. I give you my permission to ask her out on a date.”

Neil: “I don’t want to date her.”

Her: “Well, she lives closer to you than I do.”

Neil: “Stop it. You’re being silly. I don’t want to date her. She’s not my type. She’s way more talented than I am. It would make me uncomfortable.”

Her: “Wait a minute. Are you saying you the only woman who IS your type is a woman who is LESS talented than you?”

Neil: “No, of COURSE NOT. I mean, I like you. You are very talented. Super Talented.”

Her: “Super Talented in what?”

Neil: “Well, you are very sexy.”

Her: “I am super talented being sexy?”

Neil: Yes!

Her: What a waste. If I knew that was my main talent, I would have gotten a degree in pole dancing, not English Literature?”

Neil: “No, no. You’re also very smart. And kind. Super kind.”

Her: “And what about MY writing?”

Neil: “Well, you are so busy lately, with school and your son. So you don’t get a chance to write much anymore.”

Her: “What about when I do write on my blog? You’re a writer. You know good writing. Is my writing ever as good as Marcia Jenturn’s?”

Neil: “You know, I don’t want to change the subject, but Marcia Jenturn is our biggest fan. She is always telling me on IM that I should stop being a wimp and move to New Zealand. To “follow my heart,” as she said so poetically. She is so wise.”

Her: “You IM Marcia Jenturn — about us?”

Neil: “She understands LOVE so well. You know, she’s a poet.”

Her: “I see. Can I expect you to soon show up at her house to take Instagram photos of her.”

Neil: “Well, actually, in two weeks, we might go on a Instawalk together. Have you seen her photography? Marcia’s has such an eye for bold colors and light!”

Her: “MARCIA, MARCIA, MARCIA! Why do you want to even be with me?”

Neil: “Because I love you! There is no one else like you in this world!”

Her: “But look at Marcia. She is amazing in everything. You say so herself.”

Neil: “Wait, are you jealous of her? Is that what I’m beginning to hear.”

Her: “Yes, maybe a little.”

Neil: “There’s no reason to be jealous of her. She means nothing to me compared to you. In fact, we OWE her for much of our success.”

Her: “We do?”

Neil: “Yes. If it wasn’t for her, I would have never done that “thing” for you when I was in New Zealand.”

Her: “Huh? What does she have to do with you doing that “thing?”

Neil: “Well, earlier that day, I emailed her and she told me that I definitely should try it out if I wanted to impress you.”

Her: “You emailed Marcia Jenturn for sex advice while you were here?”

Neil: “She’s a poet! She understands this stuff!”

++++

MONDAY AFTERNOON
VALENTINO’S PIZZA, QUEENS
CONVERSATION WITH BOBBY

Bobby: “I can’t believe you didn’t speak to New Zealand all weekend? Did you get into a fight?”

Neil: “No. No. Nothing like that. She was just busy.”

Bobby: “Oh yeah? What was she doing? Playing hard to get?”

Neil: “Nah, she was just online all weekend with… Marcia Jenturn?”

Bobby: “Uh-oh!”

Neil: “No, it’s actually quite funny. It seems that after all that, they found out that they attended the same college together back in the 1980s, so they contacted each other, and spent all night chatting online. Now, they’re best buddies.”

Bobby: “Holy shit! You realize that if they become friends, they’re going to talk about everything. And I mean everything.”

Neil: “They are?”

Bobby: “Women, Neil. Yes.”

Neil: “Shit.”

Bobby: “It’s over, Neil. Your little online literary crush with Marcia Jenturn is dead.”

Neil: “Sigh. I know. I wonder if Judy Weiss is on Facebook.”

Text Messages From a Long-Distance Relationship

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language.  Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest known activities in descriptive linguistics have been attributed to Pāṇini around 500 BCE, with his analysis of Sanskrit in Ashtadhyayi.

Day One – THEY MEET

Him: (typing into iPhone) “I’m sitting here in McDonald’s, thinking of you.”

Her: (typing into laptop, thousands of miles away) “Oh, yeah?”

Him: (typing into iPhone) “I’m thinking of that comment you made on that Huffington Post article about genetic modified foods. That was so intelligently stated. I wish others were as committed as you in wanting to save the planet.”

Her: (typing into laptop, thousands of miles away) “Why, thank you!  That is such an honor, coming from someone I respect so deeply. I love it when a man is confident enough to maintain such a well-regarded Pinterest board on kitchen utensils!”

Him:  “Where do you live again?”

Her:  “”

Him:  “Wow, that’s far away!”

Day Twenty-Six – THEY BOND

Him: (typing into iPhone) “I’m sitting here in McDonald’s, thinking of you.”

Her: (typing into laptop, thousands of miles away) “Oh, yeah?”

Him: “Why are you so far away?”

Her: “I know. I can’t stand it anymore.”

Him: “If you were here now, I would grab you, take you, and f**k you right on the table here in McDonald’s?”

Her: “Ooh, would there be fries with that?”

Him: “Absolutely. We would be f**king while I feed you fries, one at a time?”

Her: “And would there be a chocolate shake with this f**king?”

Him: “Absolutely. F**king with fries, f**king with a chocolate shake, f**king with two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun – everything!”

Her: “Ooh, that is so hot.”

Day One Hundred and One – THEY CARE

Him: (typing into iPhone) “I’m sitting here in McDonald’s, thinking of you.”

Her: (typing into laptop, thousands of miles away) “Oh, yeah? Wait a minute – why are you in McDonald’s again? Maybe you wouldn’t have to take those cholesterol pills your doctor gave you if you didn’t go to McDonald’s everyday!”

Day Two Hundred and Nineteen  – THEY MISCOMMUNICATE

Him: (typing into iPhone) “I’m sitting here in Chipotle, thinking of you.”

Her: (typing into laptop, thousands of miles away) “Oh, yeah?”

Him: “Why are you so far away?”

Her: “I know. I can’t stand it anymore.”

Him: “If you were here now, I would grab you, take you, and uh… MAKE LOVE to you right here on the table here in Chipotle. But first I would clean off the table.”

Her: “Thank you. Maybe next time, you can even bring a nice tablecloth.”

Him: “I did bring a tablecloth. 100% cotton. And I bought a candle too!”

Her: “How romantic!”

Him: “Let’s make love.”

Her: “I love when you say that.”

Him: “Make love?”

Her: “No, LOVE. I love when you say you LOVE me.”

Him: “Well, actually, I said, “MAKE LOVE,” not specifically “LOVE” as a solo word.

Her: “I love you, too. Are you asking me to marry you?”

Him: “Huh? What? Oh no, my battery is running out of my iPhone. I’ll have to speak with you later.”

Day Three Hundred and Twenty Eight – THEY ARE IN TROUBLE

Him: (typing into iPhone) “I’m sitting here in Souplantation, thinking of you.”

Her: (typing into laptop, thousands of miles away) “Oh, yeah?”

Him: “Why are you so far away?”

Her: “I know. I can’t stand it anymore.”

Him: “If you were here now, I would grab you, take you, and uh, uh… MAKE WHOOPIE with you right on the salad bar.”

Her: “Make Whoopie? What are you talking about?”

Him: “Making Whoopie? From the old Newlywed Game. Didn’t you ever see the old Newlywed Game?”

Her: “No.”

Him: “You’ve never seen the Newlywed Game?”

Her: “You’re older than me. That was before my time.”

Him: “I’m sure they show it in repeats, on the Game Show Network.”

Her: “I don’t want to watch the Newlywed Game. It sounds stupid.”

Him: “I loved that show. I used to watch it with my mother.”

Her: “Well, then maybe you should MAKE WHOOPIE with your mother.”

Him: “That’s gross.”

Her: “Besides, I probably wouldn’t even understand a show called the Newlywed Game, since apparently I’m never going to be a newlywed anytime soon.”

Him: “OK, that’s it. I’m making a decision here. No more of this long-distance thing. I’m packing up everything I own, and flying out there to live with you forever. With my mother.“

Her: “Huh? What? Oh no, my battery is running out of my iPhone. I’ll have to speak with you later.”

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