the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: storytelling (Page 2 of 2)



I know I will hear cries of bullshit from the mob, but the name of one of the baristas at my local coffee shop is Scheherazade. She is Persian. When I heard her friends call her by that name, my eyes lit up. Scheherazade is one of my favorite literary characters, the legendary Persian queen and the storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights.

The famous story goes that every day the Persian King would marry a new virgin, and every day he would send yesterday’s wife to be beheaded. This was done in anger, having found out that his first wife was betraying him. He had killed three thousand such women by the time he was introduced to Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter.

According to Wikipedia, Scheherazade was described by in Sir Richard F. Burton’s translation this way:

“[She] had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of by gone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred.”

Against her father’s protestations, Scheherazade volunteered to spend one night with the King. Once in the King’s chambers, she started to tell a story to the King, and The King liked it so much, he asked for another, but Scheherazade said there was not time as dawn was breaking, and much like a network promo, insisted that the next story was even more exciting.

And so the King kept Scheherazade alive as he eagerly anticipated each new story, until, one thousand and one adventurous nights, and three sons later, Scheherazade who became his Queen.

Scheherazade is the ultimate storyteller. Can you imagine how good a blog she would have? There would be no writer’s block for her. She would have to come up with one amazing tale after another, or DIE. Of course, the King HAD to fall in love with her because of her amazing talent. She wouldn’t have time or energy to waste her time on the 140 character Twitter, avoiding the challenge of having to come up with a beginning, middle, and end.

Sometimes people ask me why I started blogging, and I never have a clear answer. I’m not trying to make money, help anyone “learn” anything, or even hone my writing skills. I just have fun writing stories, sometimes stupid and sometimes serious. I like to be honest and I also enjoy stretching my personality so a different part of my id shows up. I love that my mother reads my blog and it makes her laugh. I love the comments of long-time readers who know when I’m lying. I once got an email from a reader who told me she played with herself after reading one of my sexually-oriented posts. I cried after saving that email. That was worth more to me than four years of BlogHer ads. Sure, I want attention, like everyone, but the fact that I am communicating to you with my direct words, saying things that I would not in polite company makes me feel like I am floating in the air while fucking the angels in heaven.

I don’t get that feeling online anywhere else than on my blog.

When I heard the barista’s name called out on that day in the coffee shop, I immediately went up to her and asked excitedly, “Your name is Scheherazade?!”

She was taken aback. She was a pretty girl, no more that twenty-three, and probably got hit on by customers all the time, and I must have seemed like some sleazy guy using some opening line.

“Yes,” she said. Or just “Sherry.”

“Sherry! Oh no, Scheherazade is an amazing name. I’ve never met anyone named it before. You HAVE to use the full name.”

At this point, she looked like she was about to call the manager to tell him to throw me out of the establishment.

“Do you know who Scheherazade was?”

She said that it meant something, like a fruit or flower, in Farsi. Who knows? Maybe it does, but clearly she was ignorant about the important meaning.

“Scheherazade was the beautiful AMAZING woman who told the 1001 Tales in the Arabian Nights!”

“Excuse me,” she said. “I have another customer.”

She dashed away to make a cappuccino, eager to leave the aging pervert with the graying hair. She had no interest at all in me or my story. Or even the story of her own name!

But luckily, YOU do. And I see this as a sign. Even Scheherazade, the ultimate storyteller, is not interesting until there is a story built around her. So I finally dragged myself off Twitter and Facebook because I had to write a story about Scherazarde, the barista in the Redondo Beach Coffee Company.

On, Saturday, July 25, at 3PM — Amy of Doobleh-vah and I will be offering a Room of Your Own at BlogHer called Blogging as Storytelling. It is for those who care about Schehrazade more than giveaways. It will be so good that you will have to return to your hotel room afterwards to play with yourself.

The Easy Chair


Young Renaldo was invisible to his parents.  He sat all day in front of the television and watched cartoons.  He wanted to run away, but where would he go?  It was easier to just turn into an easy chair.  This way, he could sit in the living room forever, and not have to worry about eating, sleeping, or doing any homework.

One night, after dinner, Renaldo’s parents finally noticed that Renaldo was missing.  They asked each other about Renaldo’s whereabouts.  They shrugged.

“Who knows?” said Renaldo’s mother.

Renaldo’s parents instantly forgot about him because they had a more pressing problem.  An easy chair had suddenly appeared in the middle of the living room.  Their apartment was tiny, and the addition of the easy chair made it difficult for the parent’s to pass, en route to the bathroom.  The next day, Renaldo’s father shipped the chair off to the Salvation Army.

The easy chair sat in the city’s Salvation Army store for the next twenty-five years.  Renaldo’s parents died, having forgotten about Renaldo a long time ago.  One day, Sarah, a divorced and anxiety-ridden woman, came into the store.  She had recently moved into a new apartment after being laid off from her job.  She was looking for an easy chair.  She noticed Renaldo, now a thirty-five year old easy chair.  She was not impressed with the chair.  It was dusty.  The attendant at the store, a balding black man with a silver tooth, appeared behind Sarah, eager to finally get rid of this old chair.

“You can have this one at 70% off,” he said.

Sarah figured it was a good deal, and bought the easy chair.  The attendant helped her tie the chair to the roof of her car, and Sarah brought Renaldo back to her small home, in a less-than-fashionable part of town.

Sarah cleaned up the easy chair, vacuuming away the dust, and placed it in front of her TV.  Renaldo was overjoyed.  He had not watched television for twenty-five years, and he sorely missed it.  And there were so many more cable channels now!  Food channels!  Decorating channels!  Cartoon channels!

In the morning, Sarah would turn on the Exercise Channel! — and do her aerobics with a group of health-oriented women on the screen, one of them, the always-smiling instructor, shouting out platitudes like “You go girl!”  Sarah would do her exercising in her panties and bra.  Renaldo was mesmerized by Sarah’s womanly body.  This was so much more interesting than any cartoon!   As Sarah did her “step” routine, Renaldo would watch her round ass move to the musical beat.  Renaldo’s favorite time was at night, during Sarah’s favorite primetime TV shows, “The Bachelor,” “CSI Miami,” and”American Idol,” because she would lean back in the easy chair, relaxed, and Renaldo felt her body next to hers.  He would feel powerful and exciting sensations, and have thoughts and feelings that were dormant for so many years.

One day, Sarah woke up in the easy chair, having spent the night dreaming her night with the shirtless Sawyer on the island of “Lost.”  She stood up from the chair and felt sick.  She threw up.  She went to her doctor.

“You’re pregnant,” he told her.

This was a mind-blowing announcement.  Sarah had not had sex with anyone since she was divorced from Andrew two years ago.  Sarah was a woman of reason, and would not even entertain the thought of some religious experience, or that she was carrying Satan’s baby, like in a movie.  There had to be a logical explanation for her pregnancy.

She gave the issue some thought, and concluded that she felt the most comfortable when she was sitting in the easy chair.  She had spent hours in that chair.  Sometimes, after a hard day at the office, she would just sit there, her eyes closed, and imagined that the easy chair was a handsome man who massaged her breasts and kissed her on the neck and whispered love poems into her ear.

“Are you my lover?” Sarah asked the easy chair, turning to Renaldo.

Her acknowledgement of Renaldo’s existence released Renaldo from the fears and hurts that had plagued him since childhood.  He was finally noticed by someone — a beautiful woman who he loved, a woman who was eager for his touch.

Renaldo suddenly appeared before Sarah as a handsome thirty-five year old man.  He had returned to reality, and he was happy.  And Sarah was happy.  Sarah stopped watching TV, not needing the distraction any more.  Every night, she would come home from work, and she would make passionate love to Renaldo.  Renaldo loved Sarah’s changing body and asked her to marry him.   She said yes.  Several months later, the baby was born, a boy.  They named him Sal, after the Salvation Army where Renaldo and Sarah first met.

Dealing with a baby was difficult for Sarah.  The baby’s crying kept her up at night and her focus revolved around the demanding child.  When she had some free time, Sarah just wanted to escape and watch TV.  Renaldo grew irritable, missing how things used to be with his wife.  Now, everything was about “the baby.”  Sarah had no patience for the nagging Renaldo.  One night, she had a dream that Renaldo transformed back into a comfortable old easy chair. It was so much easier back then.  When she woke up, Renaldo, the man was gone. Just like she hoped, Renaldo had returned to being a thirty-five year old easy chair.  That night, after putting the beautiful baby to bed, Sarah relaxed in the easy chair and watched Sawyer take off his shirt on “Lost.”  She was now happy.

A Lesson in Storytelling

Yesterday, on Citizen of the Month, I talked about the importance of storytelling in blogging, and brought up that idea of a storytelling session at BlogHer. (you can sign up to attend or present during this session over here)

I hope this idea that bloggers are writers doesn’t scare anyone off. There are quite a few bloggers who don’t want to consider themselves writers, because then they will get writer’s block, always comparing their little slices of life to the “bigger, dramatic” stories of literature, stories like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Grapes of Wrath, or Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Having your husband lose the remote control of your Playstation is just not as dramatic as turning into a cockroach or fighting a giant octopus under the sea.

Of course, we all have our dramatic moments to write about. Life-changing moments always happen in our lives — births, deaths, divorces, but not every day, and as writers, we can’t sit around waiting for some big event to occur while we post photos of our cats everyday on our blogs. I mean, we could, and many of you actually do, but it doesn’t make for exciting blog reading, and there is little chance that you will ever end up on Dooce’s blogroll.

The truth is, even a “nothing” story can be improved with story structure. Most of my story ideas usually suck. But if you stick with, a story usually develops. Let’s analyze today’s blog post AS I WRITE IT, hoping that it will be a learning tool.

Now at this point, I have no idea what I am going to write about, but I am hoping some story will come to me from the muses above, which I will then structure into something mildly coherent. It doesn’t always work, so bear with me.

Nothing of interest happened to me today. I’m not just saying that to get your sympathy just in case this post is really bad. I really mean it. It was so hot in my apartment in Queens today. The radiator is blasting, and there is no manual control, so I was even forced to turn on the air conditioning for a half hour! In the winter! The heat makes me groggy. I did a little writing, with the emphasis on the word little, and slept half of the afternoon. I spoke to my mother on the phone. I ate a tomato. That is my day. What the hell kind of story can I write about with that lame material?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Main character:



A little horny. A little frugal. Is that my full character? Of course not! But those two traits will be emphasized today because it will help me create a coherent story.

Beginning of Story:

Earlier today, I did leave the house. I went downstairs to the “compactor room” where we bring our cans and bottles for recycling. It is a no-no to throw these items down the incinerator chute, and the management says so in screaming red fonts on every door to every incinerator chute on every floor. There are even more rules to follow on the door of the compactor room.


A few months ago, down in the lobby, someone started a simple, but brilliant idea in a little alcove across from the compactor room. Rather than throwing away some old books, the tenant left them on one of the several empty shelves in the alcove. Within days, everyone noticed this, and the concept took off. This tiny nook has become the apartment building’s open-access library.


Tenants bring books, tenants take books. There are currently over a hundred books in our make-shift library. A pile of magazines has also developed, as varied as the interests of the building’s tenants, from Glamour to Golf to Jewish Philosophy. Whenever I bring down my recycling, I rifle through the pile of magazines, looking for something interesting to read, say in the bathroom.

(This is where the frugal characteristic comes to play, so my taking of one of the magazines in the story is not just a random act, but a logical extension of the fact that I would never actually buy these magazines)

Today, I found the March 2009 issue of Marie Claire. I don’t know too much about the magazine, but I have heard a couple of mommybloggers saying that it is their favorite women’s magazine. Well, to be more truthful, there were three hot women on the cover, so I figured I would check out the magazine.

(This is where the horniness element comes into play, further pushing the story along)

Middle of Story:

Now that the premise has been set up — Neilochka, a frugal horny guy picks up a free used copy of next month’s Marie Claire, it is time to expand on the theme.

This middle section of the story — the second act in dramatic terms — is the one that always causes writer’s block. What happens now? What does Neilochka do with the magazine? Does he play with himself? Nah, that gimmick is overused on this blog and is too OBVIOUS! Does he get into a fight with the original owner of the magazine who didn’t really leave it for others in the library, but accidentally dropped it on the lobby floor, and now accuses Neilochka of theft, and calls the police on him? That would be an EXCELLENT plot twist, and I might have gone in that direction if I was trying to be fictional, but I’m trying to stick with the real-life facts here to prove a point.

The truth is — nothing really happens in the real life second act of my story, other than me skimming through this very boring magazine, which is mostly filled with advertisements of anorexic young models selling stuff. But do you notice that I am using an old writing trick called “misdirection?” Writers use misdirection when their plot is so THIN, that they have to fill in the space with something unrelated to capture your interest. So, since I didn’t play with myself or get into a fist-fight over the magazine with another tenant, I am just blabbing on and on about anorexic models and other subjects, hoping that you won’t notice that nothing of interest is really going on. Sometimes, you just have to go with the inferior material and push it forward. TV shows do it all the time. That’s why TV shows always have guest stars showing up in their weakest episodes. Whenever a sitcom story is getting boring, some producer will say, “Let’s bring in Drew Carey or Mary Tyler Moore or one of the Jonas Brothers as a guest star so the audience won’t notice that this episode is boring as hell!”

Now that I have wasted some time with misdirection, I revert back to the story. Clever right?

OK, smack in the middle of Marie Claire magazine was an interview with a hip new all-girl rock band currently playing gigs in NY and LA. What caught my eye was that the girls were all wearing short skirts… and their bras. Apparently they are a rock group called The Vassarettes. In the interview, they talk about the importance of rocking the house while just wearing their bras, and being the first “bra band.”


Emily: “It’s totally empowering and liberating being up there onstage with nothing holding us back. It’s girl power times a million.

Kai Elle: “It means girls rule!”

Erin: “It means it’s cool for women to thrash.”

Alexa: “It means giving everything you’ve got and leaving nothing onstage.”

I was pretty impressed with the confidence of these brash young rockers. I also assumed that they were fairly bright and were called the Vassarettes because they met at Vassar College. Did this rock band idea come out of a project they were working on in their Feminist Studies class?

I actually have some good stories to tell about Vassar. There was this one girl… But I will leave this story for another day. Remember this rule! Don’t burn yourself out with each story. When you get a new idea while writing your current post, jot it down and use it on a rainy day!

The End of Story:

Let’s recap.

Beginning of Story – Neilochka, a frugal horny guy picks up a free used copy of next month’s Marie Claire magazine.

Middle of Story — Neilochka is bored by dull magazine until he sees four chicks in their bras and his eyes widen, until The Vassrettes bring up old memories, like a misty fog, as he remembers a smiling buxom young woman from Vassar College, much like the aging King Lear once thought back to his youthful encounters at the end of Shakespeare’s tragedy.

A good finale should always contain a big twist, that thrusts the story into an entirely new direction, creating excitement and drama for the audience. Think of every thriller you have ever seen in the movies. “Oh no, the killer isn’t the drug addict, it is really HIS MORMON SCHOOLTEACHER WIFE!”

A good blog post should have this same type of dramatic twist. In this case, I googled The Vassarettes in order to see the video of them performing their terrible pseudo-Spice Girls song in their bras.

Never in my life have I actually been turned OFF by women in their bras. The whole gimmick was just stupid. This spurred me on to do some more research, and I discovered that this “band” was not formed in the dorms of Vassar, but was created as a promotional gimmick for a brand of bra called “Vassarette.” Apparently this bra company, which is a Vanity Fair brand, is trying to sex up their image to compete with Victoria’s Secret.

This is the surprise twist. OK, it is not the biggest surprise in the world, but remember we are writing a blog post, not Crime and Punishment, so get off my case! I didn’t say this was going to be a GREAT post, just a post from crappy material.

And like in any good story, this twist should have a profound effect on our protagonist, in this case – Neilochka.

Up until now, we have known only two basic things about Neilochka — he is frugal and takes free magazines, and he is horny and likes to look at women in their bras. Now, towards the end of the story, it is time to create a more fully-developed character, showing his arc and character growth. Neilochka is not just frugal and horny. We now discover a new side to his personality. He is also cranky and opinionated, and he especially hates it when marketers and advertisers try to manipulate their consumers with stupid ideas like creating a girl band playing rock music in their bras, and promoting it as “empowerment.”

It is the time for the finale!

Tensions rise as the hero and villain meet on the battlefield. There is Neilochka, the David, with a tiny little blog without ads, and zilch power in society. The villain, the Goliath, is like any bad guy in any James Bond movie, or Madame Defarge in “Tale of Two Cities” a demonic figure, relentless in her goal to dominate the world. The Vassarette Bra company and her henchmen — the Vanity Fair Brand, Style Network, and Marie Claire Magazine — all want to pollute our airwaves with awful girl bands playing shitty rock music in their bras. And only ONE MAN can stop them. Neilochka! But how? With the only true weapon any blogger has at his disposal — sarcasm.

Neilochka would like to introduce you to his own hard rockin’ boy band, direct from JAPAN that perform their totally empowering music while only wearing cock rings, making the Vassarettes look silly in comparison.



(OK, maybe nothing can save this story, but I tried)


Meeting Mother Kramer

Hi, my name is ACG. My blog is Anonymous City Girl. I live in Philadelphia. On Sunday, I had plans to come into New York. I had a brunch date with some guy I met on Jdate. I wanted to make a weekend out of it, but I wasn’t sure where to stay. I certainly didn’t feel comfortable staying over at my date’s place. After all, I’m not that type of girl. Or at least I’m not that type of girl since March.

I was chatting with Neil about my trip, when he said, “If you want, you can stay the night in Queens with us!” I immediately said yes. I figured Neil was safe. After all, he lived with his mother, and I’ve always had questions about his sexual orientation. I’m not even convinced that the “photo” of Sophia on Flickr is really his wife. I’ve seen that same photo in an advertisement for a penile enhancement pill in my brother’s Maxim magazine.

Neil picked me up in Chinatown (I used the Chinatown bus from Philly). We had a great lunch at some cafe in the Village, and then we took the subway into Queens. In Forest Hills, we went to the movies and had some dessert at a bakery. Then it was time to head into Flushing — I was excited to see Neil’s apartment in Flushing. While New York City has many famous sites — the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, I have little interest in visiting those tourist traps. They “mean” nothing to me. But imagine the thrill as I gazed at some of the actual locations that I knew so vividly from reading my favorite blog, Citizen of the Month! There, right in front of me, was the famous supermarket where a car crashed into a window two weeks ago and Neil was there to take eyewitness photos. I saw the pizzeria which has the photo of Fran Drescher. I stood in awe, taking multiple photos, of the ACTUAL McDonald’s where Neil goes in the morning for his cup of coffee! I could almost see him, scribbling away at his latest post on the back of a napkin. And who can ever forget his wondrous stories of this McDonald’s — the customer who called the cashier a “bitch” after she gave him change of a dollar in nickels or the inept franchise manager who is so stingy she only gives one ketchup packet to each customer.

But what most captured my imagination was being able to meet Neil’s mother — in person.

“It feels like I already know her from reading your wonderful blog,” I told Neil as we went up the elevator. “What should I call her? Elaine? Mrs. Kramer.”

“No! Never call her that,” he said sternly. “You must call her Mother Kramer. And you must never look her directly in the eyes when you address her.”

His warning seemed odd, especially after we rang the doorbell, and it was opened by a kind-looking woman with an open face and white curly hair.

“Hello, Mother,” said Neil, meekly, and he hugged his mother. I thought the hug went on a little too long for a mother and son, as Mother Kramer pulled her thin son excessively close to her large bosom. There was an intimacy to the embrace that made me uncomfortable.

Since Neil seemed distracted, I decided to introduce myself.

“Hello, Mother Kramer. My name is ACG.”

She ignored me, and slowly closed the door, locking it with a chain.

The rest of the night went relatively smoothly, mostly because I was left alone in Neil’s old bedroom. I was not offered any food or drink, and I did not see Mother Kramer again. Neil’s room was comfortable, although it seemed strange that so little had changed throughout the years. When I moved out of my childhood room, my parents quickly tossed out my furniture and turned the space into a “entertainment room.” Neil’s mother kept his room looking like a shrine. An old Aerosmith poster sat unevenly on the wall, the edges fraying and the scotch tape yellow. A trophy for “Third Place, Queens County Spelling Bee” sat prominently on the dresser. Hanging from the doorknob was a pair of Neil’s first baby shoes. Every report card from the 1st Grade to 6th Grade was lined up on one of the shelves of the bookcase, stacked like dominos, next to what seems to be every Curious George book ever published. In the corner of the room was Neil’s actual baby crib, displayed like a relic at a museum. As the air-conditioning blew its cold air, the old wood crib would rock slowly, as did the mobile of Muppet characters hanging from the ceiling, which played a Muzak version of “Seasons in the Sun.” I shut the air-conditioning, despite the heat, because the ghostly sounds were freaking me out.

I opened the door to get some fresh air, and I could hear Neil and his mother arguing in the kitchen, or rather Neil being berated by the domineering woman.

“Who is that girl?” she demanded.

“She’s just a friend.”

“They never want to be JUST friends.”

“She’s just a blogger. I don’t even know her that well.”

“That’s exactly what you said about Sophia, and look what happened?! Do your really want another gold-digging floozy sinking her claws into you?”

“But Sophia… and ACG… are not like that!”

“All women are like that. I tried to warn you about Sophia, but you didn’t listen. All women want you, Neil. Don’t you see. You are special. You are very special. You are my one and only. They all want to take you AWAY FROM ME!”

“Mother, I love you. No one can ever…”

“You want me to move to Florida, don’t you? Then you’ll take this apartment and make it your own. Bring in some sleazy hootchie mama to suck you dry. I saw the way you were looking at ACG’s cleavage!”

“Shh, Mother. Keep it quiet. She’ll hear.”

“Did she give birth to you, raise you, wipe your little heinie when you were little? Did she ever make you Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from the box?”


“Of course not. She doesn’t love you. No woman can love you like I do. These sluts just want you for your body. To use you for their sordid, sinful, sexual desires. But only I really care for you. Are you hungry?”

“A little.”

“Sit down, Neil. How would you like me to make you some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese right now? Or some Chunky Soup? Would you like that Neil?”

“Yes, Mother.”

It was at this point that I quietly shut the door and the lights, and tried to go to sleep, unsure how much of the “truth” behind Neilochka I should reveal to his readers.

Truth Quotient: 12% — ACG did stay over Saturday night.  My mother did make me Kraft Macaroni and Cheese last week.   All women do want me.

(sorry, ACG.  But I said I was gonna write it!)

My Fake Memory of Ingrid

I can’t truly explain why some bloggers just capture your imagination.  It’s a little bit like dating, where you are both testing each other, sensing if there is any chemistry.   Ingrid writes “Ice Cream is Nice Cream,” and I think we both are… a little eccentric, so I am intrigued by her.   Her post today was typically oddball:

Post a fictional memory of you and me. Anything you like, but it has to be fake.

I think I have found a soulmate.

My Fake Memory of Ingrid

Ingrid, even though you told me never to tell our story, I’m going to assume that your latest blog post was directed at me — that you finally want me to openly talk about our prior relationship. Surely, you realize that I am referring to that summer in 1987 when we were both talking film classes at the University of London. Those were special days, happy days.  Unlike today, our friendship wasn’t based on superficial twitters or blog comments, but from the real intimacy and physical passion that only comes from young love.

At the time, I thought we could make a “go” of our relationship, and that we would both follow our dream of opening the first “authentic” falafel cafe in Lima, Peru, but alas, it wasn’t to be.

I remember “that night” so clearly; it is as if I can almost touch it with my fingers — August 21, 1987. You went out to buy some chips at the local pub while I relaxed in your flat, watching cricket on the BBC. Little did I know that the pub was burned down that previous night by an angry Irish dentist who lost his lease to his Indian-born landlord, and that you were returning back to your flat earlier than expected.  And then you walked in, that gorgeous smile leading the way, and I saw the shock and dismay on your face.  With Culture Club blasting from the speakers, you stood there, staring at me parading around your flat,  wearing your bra, panties, and those red pumps that you loved so much, the ones that we bought at Harrod’s together during that rainy night, after the Kubrick film festival.

After I returned your underwear and shoes, and dressed into my clothes, you took me aside and said that our relationship could never work. You said that you loved me, but that you wanted a man to care for you, one that you could feel proud to call “your one and only.” And that you could never bring a cross-dresser back to your conservative parents in Ottawa.

That night, I didn’t sleep a wink. The next day, I rushed to class, my eyes bloodshot, my face unshaven, hoping to apologize to you, to fall to my knees and beg you to reconsider.  I even thought up a creative, if desperate, excuse to win you back — I would tell you that my wearing your underwear and f**k me pumps was all an elaborate “art project” for my “performance art” class.

I hoped, I prayed to God, despite my atheism, that you would believe my lie, and that we could one day live one of those Hollywood ending that we loved so much on the silver screen.  But you were nowhere to be found. You had packed and left London. You did not leave an address.

For years, I searched for you. I had no idea that you had moved to Amsterdam, changed you name, and became a stripper in the city’s infamous red light district, even though once, when I was in the city on business in 2001, I received a sleazy flier handed to me at Centraal Station which showed a buxom woman in a bikini, her legs seductively open, who looked very much like you — but I could not believe for a second that you, a product of St. Mary’s Catholic School for Women would ever choose this type of demeaning lifestyle.

I lost touch with you — until last year, when I saw your familiar face on Facebook. I “poked” you. You “poked” me back, poking me in that special way that only you could, and I knew it was you. I looked at your profile photo. The face had aged a little. There were a few wrinkles around the eyes. There was a sadness to your expression, as if you had seen it all, and you probably had, jumping from one lover’s bed to another, sleeping with horny German men just to pay the bills, each one leaving you behind in the same way, your naked body stretched out on the bed, the rumpled, dirty sheets hanging to the dusty floor, like a surrender flag during World War One. But even though you had become a broken woman,  a whore for an American cigarette, the eyes were the same.  The eyes that I had gazed into a long long time ago.  The eyes of the girl from the summer cinema class at the University of London.

Choose Your Own Blogventure

(Note: I’ve always had a thing for librarians, especially when they take off their glasses and let their hair down, transforming themselves into the hottest chicks on the planet. And they like to read. Although, they usually have to put their glasses back on to do that. Nancypearl Wannabe blogs at Musings of a Semi-Coherent Mind. She is also a librarian. I had no choice but to say “yes, ma’am,” when she came up with this idea to create an online “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. The adventure story starts at her blog Friday morning at 10AM– start HERE — and then it is up to YOU to create your own unique version of the tale, depending on the choices you make, and which option you click. You’ll figure it out. There are 26 bloggers working on this story, none knows where the story is heading. Will it be coherent? Will it be a mess? That’s part of the adventure.)

Previous Section of the Story (You came here because you think Emma should ignore the zombie-like figure and continue to the Store 24)

continued —

Emma entered the brightly-colored Store 24 convenience store, grabbed a package of orange Hostess cupcakes, and went to pay the $1.25, all in quarters, tightly gripped in her right hand, just like she always did when she came in to buy her favorite treat. But where was Henri, the smiling French-Canadian owner of this franchise, the happy-go-lucky gentleman with the graying hair, the quick wit, and the polite manners, who would always say to Emma as she walked in, “A beautiful day, isn’t it?” in both English and French, and sometimes, when he was in a extra special good mood, in Ukrainian as well? It wasn’t like the proud and conservative-minded Henri, a man who kept a gun at his side at all times, to leave his store unguarded. Was he in any danger?

Just then, Henri rushed out of the stock room. He was not in any trouble. He was fine. In fact, he appeared quite dapper. He was dressed in a top hat and polished black tap shoes. He was also wheeling a large red Samsonite suitcase.

“Henri! What’s going on?” asked Emma. “Where are you going?”

“I’m done with the convenience store business,” he said, matter-of-factly. “I want to follow my dream – to be a Broadway hoofer! I’m leaving this podunk town and moving to the Big Apple.”

Henri jumped onto the front counter and started to do a little tap dance, right in the empty space near the cash register, between the beef jerky and the TV Guides.

“Gotta dance! Gotta dance!” he sang with gusto.

“But what about the store?” cried Emma, trying to reason with him. “How will it survive?”

“Why don’t YOU take it over,” he said, pointing right at her. “You know more about the products at Store 24 than anyone.”

Emma paused, her head spinning. Had Henri gone crazy from breathing in the fumes from the Orange Slush machine?

“Hey, I have a better idea!” shouted Henri, jumping down from the counter. “Why don’t you come with me to New York, where we can become lovers? We both know that you coming here all the time has nothing to do with orange Hostess cupcakes. You love me! Admit it!”

If you think Emma should go to New York with Henri, click here.

If you think Emma should take over the Store 24 franchise from Henri, click here.

Note: The other participants have terrific “pieces” of the story on their blog. There are so many good writers online. Check them out:

RA from Definitely RA
Chris from Brick Window
Aaron from Funky Carter
Neil from Citizen of the Month

Stefanie from Stefanie Says
Lara David from Life: The Ongoing Education
Srah from Srah Blah Blah
Mickey from The Prettiest Denny’s Waitress
Dutchess of Kickball from Average 20 Something
Jess from Du Wax Loolu

3Carnations from Thinking Some More
Erikka from The_Extra_Ordinary
Elisabeth from Elisabeth Writes
Noelle from The Daily Tannenbaum
Courtney from Malfeasance
Chloe from Groove Is Life

Kirsten from In A Western Place
Michelle from Michelle In The City
Vanessa from Crazy Says What
Jack from Box of Jack
Abbersnail from Bright Yellow World
Lara B. from Red Red Whine

Andrea from Fretting the Small Stuff
Beej from Neuteronomy
Sarah from Constantly Arriving

A Story for My Younger Readers


Once upon a time, there was a boy named Max.  One sunny day, while Max was walking through the park, he met a female Genie who lived in a bottle.  Max and the Genie became friends. 


This female Genie had these two Magic Orbs.  Max learned to love these Magic Orbs more than anything.  He loved to hold them, play with them, and squeeze them for good luck. These Magic Orbs made Max the happiest boy in his little town. 

One night, there was a violent storm and the Genie was blown out of town. 


Max had no Magic Orbs to play with anymore.  Max was very sad.  Max’s father saw that Max was sad.  He told Max about this other toy that he could play with instead. 


For several weeks, Max played with this other toy, sometimes two or three times a day.  Still, Max missed the Genie’s Magic Orbs.  

Max went to the park to find another Genie with Magic Orbs.  


While in the park, he saw many other Genies.  Some had big Magic Orbs.  Some had little Magic Orbs.  Max liked these Magic Orbs, but they were not his to play with and hold. 

Max became sad again.  Suddenly, Max heard a friendly voice.  It was the Good Spirit of the North, who came to help Max. 


“Here is what you must do,” said the Good Spirit, and whispered the secret into Max’s ear.

Max ran home as fast as lightning.  Now he knew what to do.  He would not be sad anymore. 

Max ran upstairs to his computer and wrote a blog post about Magic Orbs, letting the sadness disappear, and then Max played with his other toy until he fell asleep. 

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