My Tragic Micro Fiction Challenge

Mag Glass
This shit is tiny.

I don’t usually have the attention span or intellect for any of the fiction (or non-fiction, for that matter) in the New Yorker. Plus, I’m threatened by the success of its writers. Plus, I have Netflix. But over the summer I did find this “tragic micro fiction” column quite chuckle-worthy.  Now, I may be too stoopid to understand what the term really means, but I personally interpret “tragic micro fiction” as shrunken stories – written with dramatic flair – about day-to-day annoyances that are minor on the scale of things but can still drive you bat shit crazy. Someone posted about the column this week and reminded me of its greatness. So, unable to think of anything else to write about here, I attempted to craft my own tragic micro fiction, based on “micro tragedies” that have befallen my friends and me over the years. Note: names have been changed to protect the guilty. 

He was very cute and they seemed to hit it off. Then he ordered kale.

Lynn was intrigued to see seven missed calls from the same number. It was a telemarketer.

The injury was too severe; there was nothing more they could do. Nicky Rabbit was going to lose his leg.

A local family reported him missing after he failed to return home. Last seen at show-and-tell, the pink teddy bear’s body was never recovered.

The boots were on sale, but came only in whole sizes.

Was it really melasma, she wondered? Or did she need to start tweezing in better light?

She attempted to show off her Spanish skills by asking the delivery man his name. Pedro was startled to hear her profess her love for him.

Aileen noticed too late that her new glasses were adorned with a tiny Peanuts logo at the left temple.

In reality, only certain LensCrafters could actually custom craft your eyeglasses in about an hour.

It was all starting to make sense: the green jelly bean was spearmint, not lime.

Evidence suggested someone had eaten corn the night before.

Karen couldn’t see out of her left eye, and the stabbing pain was unbearable. The side of her face was covered in a black soot-like substance. If only she hadn’t poked herself with the mascara wand.

The office candy bowl was filled to the top with grape Jolly Ranchers and three fun-sized Twix wrappers.

And Susan knew at that moment she would never eat creamy Italian dressing again.

Melanie asked for a trim. The hairstylist heard “chin-length bob.”

She had wanted her name, in German class, to be “Sabine.” Frau Schickelheimer assigned her “Hildegard.”

For Thanksgiving, Stacey asked her mother to bring cheese and crackers. Later, she wrapped the untouched seven-layer bean dip in tin foil.

Suddenly, she remembered that Chicago was an hour behind New York.

Outerwear was the one category not eligible for free two-day shipping.

Liz smiled at the famous screenwriter who was settling into his airplane seat, then made her way back to the last row in Coach.

Unbeknownst to them, Uber did not serve suburban Trenton.

VIP tickets were still available, but only for American Express cardholders.

Snooping through her boyfriend’s medicine cabinet, Leigh discovered a small bottle of Just for Blondes shampoo. Her hair was brown.

The “special surprise” promised on the children’s menu turned out to be a side of fruit.

One had to be very careful, she reminded herself, to type in the SEARCH field and not the STATUS field when stalking on Facebook.

The lipstick color did not, in fact, look good on everyone.

Some dogs, they learned the hard way, simply could not be trusted on the bed.

Beneath the absurdly cute, fuzzy exterior lurked the dark soul of a canine chew toy serial killer.

But “ankle-length” meant different things to different people.

It became obvious, after a few sips, that this was anything but Diet Coke.

An unsettling crunch in the molar region indicated that the Bit o’Honey was not as fresh as Erica had initially thought.

Perhaps, in the end, she could not do anything she put her mind to.

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My Tragic Micro Fiction Challenge

My Archnemesis

Rocky Horror
Dr. Frank N. Furter wears them well, but I  do not.

I recognize this will come as a huge shock to you, but my personality might lean eeeeeeever so slightly towards the obsessive. Just a teeny bit. Really, it’s sometimes alarming hardly a thing at all.

Over the years, I have oft turned that obsessiveness inward (or outward, as the case may be), honing in on one or more physical attribute and then losing sleep over the flaws I perceived said attribute to possess. (I maintain that I am an excellent assessor of attributes, but others may disagree.) Pre-braces, it was my overbite, which earned me the nickname “Bucky.” Starting in 7th grade and still in certain jeans, it was the pear shape of my short legs and their uncanny resemblance to riding jodhpurs like those pictured here.

In high school, college, my 20s, and still on a humid day, it was my hair, aka “the Jewfro” aka the “Rat’s Nest” aka the “Chia Head” aka “Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich.” Let me assure you: there are few first world problems more agonizing than being a teenager in New Jersey in the 80s and having hair so thick and Brillo-esque that no hairspray known to man could hold or tame it (see The Hand of Oz).

There was also my nose of illusion – round from the front, rhinoplasty-worthy from the side. The mismatched shape of my eyes, which made them looked slightly crossed. The melasma moustache that caused manicurists all over Manhattan to ask if I might also need a lip wax then mutter something in Korean. The list goes on.

Most recently,  it was my eyebrows. I obsessed over their shape (non-existant); the eight different directions in which they grew; their uneven density from 30+ years of overzealous plucking. I tried tweezing in varied lighting. I tried waxing, threading, brow gel, clear mascara, lip balm, and Vaseline. Once, in a weak moment, I tried black pencil. And it turns out I’m pretty good at recreating Tim Curry’s Rocky Horror look.

Then my savvy friend Carrie told me about a mythical figure who runs a “brow bar” near our office. The woman – let’s call her Olga – styles the brows of many a celebrity, exclusively via old school tweezer. She is known for identifying the exact shape your personal brows are meant to have, and for tending to each patron herself.  Granted, there was some risk involved – most notably, ending up with a 1998 micro-brow or, even worse, half a brow. But still, if a pair of wine-lovin’ morning talk show hosts trusted Olga, how bad could she be? Besides, the obsession was starting to become painful. I could no longer sit back (with my magnifying mirror) and do nothing.

And so, I headed cautiously to the “bar,” a bright, appealing, and surprisingly un-menacing studio with a shabby chic feel. Olga was pleasant, with an indeterminate Eastern European accent and pretty damn good brows. Immediately, she identified exactly the problems I listed above, validating my belief that I am in fact an excellent attribute assessor. I felt virtually nothing as she tweezed strategically – no pain, no twitching, nothing. It was quite remarkable actually.

When she was done, I couldn’t believe what I saw in the mirror. I had significantly less cash, but I had an arch, goddamnit! My brows were fabulous!

For about 18 hours.

Olga had neglected to mention that one needed to remain awake for the entire four-to-six weeks between visits, and it had certainly not occurred to me that sleep would undo her masterpiece. But alas, it did. And no matter how I moved the brow brush, tried to flatten my eyebrows into place, or followed the directions in a series of YouTube videos, I could not get them to look even remotely close to how they’d looked the day before.

Le sigh.

So now, on top of having to obsess about my eyebrows themselves, I have to also obsess about how stupid I was to think I could have normal eyebrows. I think it may be time to move on to my bulbous big toes.

 

 

 

My Archnemesis

A Baller New Year’s

FullSizeRender
Hi there, Parachute Jump.

A quote from the comedic goddess Janeane Garofalo: “I prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth.” Preach. That pretty much sums up my view of life in general, but New Year’s Eve in particular.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of New Year’s or its accoutrements. I hate the pressure it brings to do “something” big. I hate most of the options that define “something.” I hate revelers and being reminded of the fact that, due to faulty wiring, I myself am incapable of reveling in anything but my own snark. But most of all, I hate staring time in the face.

Those last 10 seconds of the year – the tortuous downward slide of the crystal ball – kill me. I find it physically and mentally uncomfortable to just stare helplessly as another year disintegrates. For me, it’s like a “my-whole-life-flashed-before-me” experience, and all I want to do is reach into my head, grab a few memories, and make them the now.

What, I ask you, is so mesmerizing about a ginormous crystal-covered sphere that, at any other time, would be mistaken for a light fixture in the kind of uber-tacky suburban wedding venue that advertises on TV? Why is it appealing to watch the present slip away and know you can’t stop it? I can only assume that normal people get caught up in the excitement. That they feel hope for the future and the amazing things it might have in store for them. And I guess I can understand how, if a given year dealt you a particularly shitty hand, you might welcome its demise. But still. I, not being normal, feel dread for the future and the horrible things it might have in store. I feel sadness and loss about all the things I said I would do, didn’t do, and probably never will do. About every New Year’s Eve of yore. About getting older, and getting further away from childhood and the point in life at which there were still good possibilities. For all my failures and weaknesses. For all the things I wish were different but can’t be. The glass is always half empty. Sometimes I’m not even sure there IS a glass. But there’s always a fucking ball. And it’s horrible.

So whenever it’s remotely feasible, I stay home on New Year’s Eve and avert my eyes from the torture of the evil orb. And I do my absolute best to suck in any would-be reveler who’s part of my immediate circle to this December 31st miasma.

But 2015 saw the birth of one of my favorite obsessions (see Angels, Demons and Bloodsuckers): Coney Island, a magical land of benevolent creepiness at the end of the subway line. It is a piece of old New York whose quirky goodness I try to support however I can. A few weeks ago, it came to my attention that an official New Year’s Eve soiree was taking place at the very home of my beloved Circus Sideshow.  Going would mean helping a great cause, and the evening promised performance art, a laser light show, fire-breathing, Mermaid Pilsner a-plenty, relatively clean bathrooms, and a certain destined-for-greatness (and also possibly esophageal rupture) sword swallower. Plus, Marie, a local artist, neighborhood expert, and all-around great person I know from my days as a cub reporter, would be there. But wait! There’s more! There would be NO. BALL. Repeat. There would be NO BALL.

Sword swallower NO BALL, you say? A ball-less New Year’s Eve?! Tell me more, I’m intrigued. The call of the 11224 wild overpowered my hatred of New Year’s Eve and my ridonculously understanding husband obliged. The shows were amazing and exactly the way they should be: packed with F-bombs, lighter fluid, tattoos, 8-pound swords, jokes about dirty underwear and ecstasy, and the perfect amount of camp. Hashtag #creeptastic. The backdrop at midnight was epic – fireworks on one of the world’s most famous boardwalks; the illuminated Parachute Jump, North Star of southern Brooklyn; the smell of popcorn and cold air; the ladies Marie introduced us to so we didn’t look like friendless looz-airs.

Please don’t spread this around. I have a rep to maintain. But I think I accidentally reveled a little bit.

Behind us on the boardwalk were Coney Island’s historic rides, the landmarked Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the iconic wooden roller coaster known to most as the Cyclone and to me as the Certain-Puke-o-Rama. I was 100% confident I would never experience either of them, because I hate roller coasters and rides and pretty much everything. But I said that about New Year’s Eve too, so now … I’m only 90% sure.

 

 

 

A Baller New Year’s