I sometimes wonder what exactly it is that firemen and policemen do all day long. I’m happy we have them when they’re putting out fires and stopping crimes, but today marked the second day in less than a week when I have seen hordes of fire trucks and emergency vehicles and cop cars lined up and down both sides of busy streets downtown, lights flashing, traffic sitting, people boiling in the heat of the sun and the sizzle of their own frustration with the dead traffic. Today every one of them had their lights flashing full on, up and down two entire blocks of Michigan Avenue, which did nothing but whip the shopping tourists into an unholy frenzy. If there are flashing lights and emergency vehicles, of course, it can’t be anything but a terrorist attack. So they figured the best thing to do would be to crowd on the corners and stare, gape-mouthed, at the fire trucks stationed there. The vehicles did seem to be concentrated on one area, and walking by, I figured I would be re-routed to another side of the street. Oh, no, apparently the disaster that was huge enough to stop all downtown movement of non-service vehicles was not necessarily a threat to the sidewalks. The cops and firemen were, of course, standing around, sipping Starbucks frappuccinos, leaning against the doors of shops and chatting with each other.
The other day, I had to take a cab home to make it in time to show my apartment. The Red Line was entirely blocked off at Clark and Division, and three surrounding blocks were lined with emergency vehicles, sirens wailing, lights flashing, police line tied between them blocking off sidewalks, a giant fan attachment sucking black smoke out of the entrance to one of the tunnels. Still, cops stood around and shot the shit with surrounding crowds of crackheads and drug dealers, who seemed to say nothing but “shit, son,” and it seemed like this big futile emergency that everyone forgot to care about.
Both days, I went home and watched the news to see what the hell happened, and both days, the news (online and on the shitbox) said nothing. I thought maybe it was some kind of exercise.
Then maybe I thought the entire city was the cast of extras in this movie that was being filmed, and nobody had told me about it. Everybody was doing their best at acting hot and tired and pissed off and inconvenienced, and the fire trucks and cop cars were just spares, and everyone was in on it but me.
It was creepy.
I have seen this same teacher every week, on the same night, for the past three weeks. I have been forced to listen to her fake fucking high pitched voice boring through the walls each night, giving the EXACT SAME 3 hour long speech ABOUT HERSELF and HER NOVEL to four different groups of students there for four different classes. Somehow, she has managed to do without changing her material once to fit the subject matter.
Fuck her. Fuck her and her goddamn writing grants and her kid and her poet husband, both of whom she cannot stop talking about.
She is horrible. And she has a big, fat ass. And she hates me, I can tell, or is at least wary of me, because I do not talk much in her presence, and when I do, she shoots me down. Tonight, for instance, she was going on and on to her class about how she can’t wait for Lorrie Moore’s new book. So when I finished making copies of Lorrie Moore’s new story in The New Yorker, I handed them to her and said, “Everyone seems pretty excited about Lorrie Moore’s new story.”
What does this fucking cunt say?
“Wellllllll I guess it’s not actually a storyyy? It’s actually an excerpt of her new novel. Sooo.”
Honestly, people don’t know how lucky they are to still have their bitch tongues in their heads.
So I shutup. I’m not going to eat this bitch out. I looked back at my computer screen.
“But yes, I suppose it comes out in, ohhh, September?”
I looked up, smiled, and nodded. As in, That’s great. Go away.
But the second I looked back down at my screen, she fucking says “Do you know? Do you know when it comes out?”
That was a funny question coming from someone who I just overheard, moments before this conversation, when she didn’t know I was listening, telling her students the exact date when the book fucking comes out. And she wants to stand here and play this fucking game with me, dancing around in her superior writer panties, mashing her writing-grant cooch in my face.
So what do I do? Instead of just saying, No, I don’t know…I revert to the third grade tactic of completely bullshitting my way under her skin, and I say “Actually, I think it was delayed until November…Lorrie Moore is so weird!”
She turned on her heel and walked away quickly, threw over her shoulder something about how she never knows “what’s going on in publishing” because it distracts her from “this greater purpose of a body of work.”
Fucking….what? I hate her.
Ugh. I can’t imagine being one of those people who chomps at the bit for certain books to come out. Like Lorrie Moore is a goddamn prophet or something. At this point, I guess she could poop on a fifty cent notebook from Staples and call it her new novel.
Uh huh, uh huh.
I feel like the biggest asshole in the world, because every time he would go on and on about how much he loved Mary Gaitskill, and how she was the best writer everrrr, and how she “really captured the female voice,” and how she was “unafraid to write about the dark side of sex,” I would smile and be like, Yeah, uh huh.
I did that awful thing, AGAIN, that thing you do when you like a boy, so you try to ignore the fact that he’s kind of a dildo in a lot of ways. You suspend your disbelief. You try to appreciate, on some level, all the dildoey things he likes.
I cannot stand Mary Gaitskill.
She’s on the cover of Poets & Writers, staring blankly up and out. She’s an idiot. I’ve never read or seen anything about her wherein she did not mention her time spent as a prostitute, in the most nonchalant, dry way possible. That’s like walking around downtown without pants on and being like, “I don’t know what the big deal is.” That’s like the girl who sat on the picnic tables by the basketball courts at lunch in junior high, wiping her pink sunglasses on her shirt and saying loudly, “Yeah, I mean, I’ve given tons and tons of blowjobs for bags of Funyuns, so what?” pretending not to notice the crowd of pubescent boys gathering, digging in their pockets for a quarter.