Trump Advises Girl Scouts “Always Get a Pre-Nup”

NASHUA, New Hampshire.  Seeking to soften his image after revelations from his divorce papers hurt his image among female voters, presidential candidate Donald Trump today visited the second-largest city in this state where a first-in-the-nation primary outweighs its small size and population.

“What does S.O.B. stand for Mr. Trump?”

“I have always been for women, especially bodacious women,” Trump tells reporters as he exits his black livery vehicle and enters Robert Frost Consolidated Elementary School, where Girl Scout Troop 10947 is gathered to hear a new, focus-group-tested version of his standard stump speech designed to reverse the free-fall in his polling numbers among women.

“Hey everybody!” Trump said as he descends the steps into the school’s basement, where the girls have been meeting on a weekly basis during the summer months to keep their scouting skills sharp before they leave for Camp Winnipesaukee next Saturday.

“Good morning Mr. Trump,” the girls announce chorus-style, having been trained by Scout Mistress Evelyn Deneen to be polite to all guest speakers, even former reality TV-show hosts.

“What are you all working on?” Trump asks with apparently sincere interest as he gathers around the worktables where the girls are learning boating safety, knot-tying, and boy-ignoring skills.

“Whadda ya want?  A merit badge, or a chest to pin it on?”

“I’m building a log cabin,” says Emily Switzerlin, showing the real estate developer and hotel magnate her handiwork.

Trump sizes up the humble structure, then gives the little girl the sort of hard-nosed business advice that he normally dispenses only upon payment of $1,495 for one of his seminars.

“You need to build in a lot of penthouses and corner units,” he says, looking at the square, boxy design.  “People will pay through the nose for luxury.”

“It’s just a mommy and a baby and a daddy,” the little girl says, but the mogul who uses Chapter 11 to stiff his creditors is having none of it.

“You don’t want to rent to families.  They ruin the carpets, make a lotta noise in the hall and cram the elevators with their stupid strollers,” he says before excusing himself to deliver his prepared remarks.

“Now that’s more like it!”

“Girls,” Scout Mistress Dineen says, and the chatter that had filled the low-ceilinged room just a moment before ends as the girls form a circle at her feet.  “Today we have a very special guest speaker, Mr. Donald Trump, who has come here all the way from the Mexican border where he was busy creating an international incident.”

Emmy Carroll, the daughter of a local insurance agent, raises her hand.

“Yes Emmy?” Dineen asks.

“Why didn’t you go to the Canadian border to offend people?  It’s closer,” she asks.

“Excellent question,” Trump replies.  “I went to the Mexican border because the Canadian people are our friends.  They don’t come to America and open Canadian restaurants that give us gas like the Mexicans.”

The girls giggle at Trump’s campfire humor, but the Scout Mistress restores order.  “Girls, Mr. Trump is a very busy man, so let’s let him give his speech so he can get back in his limousine and get to his next meeting with the ordinary Americans who love him so much.”

“Thank you, Scout Mistress Dineen, and thank you girls, for allowing me to spend some time with you today.”

A hush falls over the room as the girls settle down, prepared to give the man with the coif that has inspired millions their undivided attention.

“You know, when I was a boy, America was a great nation.  And America was great because it was big, and tough, and didn’t take any . . .”–here Trump struggles to find a suitable word to replace the vulgarity he had in mind–“guff from anybody.”

“Thanks Mr. Trump.  That talk was a bargain at only $1,495!”

“What’s guff?” an olive-eyed girl with dark hair asks quietly.

“It’s–backtalk.  None of you gets ‘flip’ or ‘smart’ with your parents, do you?”

The girls giggle, and some hide their faces in embarrassment.

“What I’m saying is–America can’t let other countries push us around.  So I’m going to give you Trump’s Rules, the three principles I live by, the ones that should guide us as a nation even though they’re not in the constitution.”

“Are they in the Declaration of Independence?” a red-headed girl with pigtails asks.

“Nope, they’re in the course materials for my seminars, which people like your parents and grandparents max out their 401k’s and spend their life savings on.  But I’m going to give them to you girls for free, just because you’re so freaking cute!”

“Did I tell you to waste your time on some stupid knot-tying merit badge?”

The girls squeal with delight, and Trump launches into the peroration that has brought crowds of middle-managers and independent contractors to their feet across the country when he delivers it as the last five minutes of a three-day seminar at which attendees were promised his personal attention.

“Rule No. 1–always go first class.”

“Like how?” the pig-tailed girl asks.

“Like your Thin Mint Cookies.  They’re the best cookies in the world.  Whadda you think about somebody who’d try to save a buck buying Keebler Grasshopper Fudge Mint Cookies?”

A chorus of “boo!” goes up from the audience, and Trump resumes.

“Rule No. 2,” he continues in a slow, serious tone.  “If somebody bleeps you, you bleep them back.  Hard!”

The girls look confused, and Emmy Carroll raises her hand.  “What does ‘bleep’ mean, Mr. Trump?”

“Ask your big brother, he’s probably watching adult movies on his laptop right now.  Finally, and most importantly . . .”  Here Trump pauses for effect.

“Yes?” the girls say when it becomes clear that Trump is deliberately delaying his final words to build suspense.

“Always get a pre-nup!  Thanks–you’ve been a great audience, be sure and check out my audiotapes at the sales table when you leave!”

Walk for Self-Pity Falls Short of Its Goals

BOSTON.  Lyman Sturgis is standing at the finish line of the Walk for the Cure for Self-Pity, looking down at a clipboard, and from his expression you can tell that something isn’t right.  “It’s funny,” he says as the last straggler completes the 5-mile course.  “We had 532 people sign up, but only 286 finished.”

“I know I’m not going to make it.”

A short walk down Commonwealth Avenue is all it takes to get to the bottom of the mystery, however, as one encounters walkers of all stripes who gave up not far from the finish line, convinced that the obstacles ahead of them were insurmountable.

“These shoes suck,” says Kris Mufano, an actuarial accountant who was encouraged to participate by his wife Leanne.

“They’re just as good as everybody else’s,” she says as she drains the last of the water from the commemorative bottle she received for participating.

“Not everybody else’s,” her husband says bitterly as he sees an elderly man in soft leather sneakers that appear from a distance to be the ultimate in pedestrian comfort.

Built for comfort.


Self-pity is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Whiney Disorders as a state of mind in which an individual perceives generally applicable conditions as affecting him or her to a greater degree than others.  People who suffer from the ailment consequently believe they are deserving of sympathy and are a gigantic pain in the keister.

For Normand Oliver III, a fifth-generation Bostonian who has never traveled south of New York City, the affliction manifests itself in the form of a excessive sensitivity to heat.  “Global warming is killing me!” he says as he takes a seat on a bench next to a statue of the ur-WASP historian Samuel Eliot Morison on the Commonwealth Mall.

Morison:  “Get off your duff and get moving!”


“It’s the same temperature for everybody,” says his father, who traveled the South to oversee the family’s investments in cotton mills before he retired.  “Down in Atlanta they’d consider this cold weather,” he adds, referring to the pleasantly-cool seventy-degree temperature.

“I don’t care, I say it’s hot and I’m not walking another step,” says his son as he folds his arms across his chest like a stubborn toddler twenty years younger.

Back at the finish line Sturgis says the failure of so many walkers to complete the course may cause his organization, the New England Self-Pity Foundation, to miss its fund-raising goal.  “You sign up pledges, and if you don’t follow-through with your commitment they may back out,” he says ruefully.  “That can happen to any charity, but still I ask myself–why me?”

Don’t Come Home From Book Group With Lovin’ On Your Mind


(with apologies to Loretta Lynn)

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Well you thought I’d be waitin’ up when you came home last night
You’d been out with all the girls and you ended up half tight.
But books and chardonnay don’t mix, leave a bottle or me behind
And don’t come home from book group with lovin’ on your mind.

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No don’t come from book group with lovin’ on your mind.
Keep talkin’ about your novel and suckin’ down your wine.
When you gals read that chick lit it don’t improve your minds,
So don’t come home from book group with lovin’ on your mind.

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You’re never home, you’re always gone, readin’ bodice rippers.
Many’s the night I’ve laid awake, yearnin’ for your nippers.
But you come in too drunk for love, it happens every time
No don’t come home from book group—with lovin’ on your mind.

Synchronized Swimmer Persevered When Others Said He Was All Wet

CALUMET, Indiana. As the sun rises over a bank of clouds to shine down on this midwestern city of 127,000, Calvin Houston flashes a smile that’s almost as bright as the luminous celestial body in the sky. “It’s a great day for ‘synch,’” he says, using the insider’s slang term for synchronized swimming. “Let’s swim two,” he adds with a laugh, echoing the enthusiasm of his childhood hero, Ernie Banks of the hapless Chicago Cubs of the 50s and 60s.

Ernie Banks: “Let’s lose two!”

Houston is a pioneering “two-fer” in this sport traditionally dominated by ditzy white females with artificial smiles: He’s male, and he’s black.

“I can’t talk right now, okay?”

“Believe me, it wasn’t easy being both the Jackie Robinson and the Billie Jean King of the sport,” he says after a fast-paced workout in which he parlays a series of “eggbeater” kicks into a flamingo position. “None of the owners in the NSSA (National Sychronized Swimming Association) was willing to take a chance on me.”

So Houston took a page from Abe Saperstein’s playbook; before blacks broke the color bar in the National Basketball Association, Saperstein formed the Harlem Globetrotters, a touring team that combined top-flite hoop skills with comic routines. Houston took that inspiration and formed the Harlem Poolhoppers, the only all-black, all-male synchronized swimming group, which has become a big draw on the highly unlucrative hotel and country club summer swimming exhibition circuit.

“You’re off the team!”

“People laughed at us at first, so we just played along with it,” he says. He needed a foil comparable to Washington Generals, the hapless, predominantly white team that the Globetrotters beats night in and night out around the world, so he rounded up a motley band of rejects from midwestern sychronized swimming powerhouses such as Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and Denison University in Granville, Ohio to form the Washington Bureaucrats, who serve as straight men to the Poolhoppers antics.

Practicing a tricky routine

“They’re a great bunch of guys,” says the Poolhoppers designated lifter, Maurice Newbill. “They know we’re going to win every night and they’re good sports about it, although some of them hit the amaretto pretty hard in the hotel bars afterwards.”

The Bureaucrats work on a difficult double-grimace move.

As hard as it was to overcome the racial barrier, Houston says the gender bar was worse. “We’d try to go into the women’s changing room and the girls would say ‘You don’t belong here!’” he recalls bitterly. “Finally, I’d had enough. I told them ‘We’re just like you–our suits have sequins too!’”

The Poolhoppers are clearly comfortable in their collective skin as they run through their musical intro, a tight routine choreographed to Sly and the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” that echoes the Globetrotter’s “Sweet Georgia Brown.” “This is America,” Houston says through a mouth that is frequently half-filled with water, “and ebberyglubby otta glee able to blee what he wants.”

Karaoke Cure Brings Tough Calls for Stroke Victims’ Loved Ones

STONEHAM, Mass.  Until January of last year, Tom Filipado was a regular at Karaoke Night every Sunday at the Cock ‘n Bull, a local pub here.  “His specialty was a medley of hits by Morris Albert,” according to his friend Mike Adamlik.  “Since Albert was a one-hit wonder, he’d sing ‘Feelings’ three times.”

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But all that changed one night when Filipado felt a tingling along his left arm, then a numbness.  “My whole world crumbled in an instant,” he says, referring to the stroke that left him unable to walk or–more importantly in his case–sing a note.

But thanks to research breakthroughs by doctors at the Massachusetts Neurological Institute in Boston, who developed an experimental drug cocktail that has yet to receive FDA approval, Filipado is again able to walk and sing, with dramatic results that friends and family witnessed last week as he took the stage for the first time in over a year.

“He launched right into Prince’s ‘Kiss’ and he really nailed it,” says his sister Eileen, who admits she attended the comeback performance only with trepidation, whatever that is.  “It was the tricky ‘Ain’t-no-particular-sign-I’m-more-compatible-with’ part I was worried about,” she says.  “I was afraid he’d get tongue-tied, but he did fine.”

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“I really missed you guys when I was in the hospital.  Did you miss me?  Is this mic on?”

“Karaoke” is a Japanese compound term made up of the words “kara” and “okesutora” which can be loosely translated as “bad singing.”  It is a form of interactive entertainment in which people get drunk and sing publicly in a manner they would otherwise limit to the privacy of their showers.

But with Filipado’s recovery comes a difficult medical decision for his family and friends.  “The drugs aren’t expensive, because the doctors at Mass Neurological basically made them in a Crock-Pot,” says his sister.  “It was more a quality of life decision.  Did we all want to suffer from the side effects?”

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“Add a dash of ibuprofen, one bay leaf, and simmer until you receive venture capital funding.”

And so Filipado’s parents obtained a court order allowing them to take him off the experimental drugs in a case that recalled the Karen Ann Quinlan and Terri Schiavo controversies.  “It was for the best, even if Tom didn’t realize it at the time,” says his mother Dianne Filipado.  Thanks to physical therapy her son can walk and lead a substantially normal life.

The one exception to his otherwise standard array of cognitive and motor skills became apparent as he took the stage at the Cock ‘n Bull last night and typed in the number for the Joe Cocker hit “You Are So Beautiful.”  Electronic strings swelled from the speakers and Filipado attempted to give voice in Cocker’s strangle-toned style but out came–nothing.

“I . . . can’t sing,” he said with a look of puzzlement on his face–and the audience broke out in a standing ovation.

Jack Never Wants to Dance

Jack claimed to know karate, but I doubted it.  I’d heard he got in a fight with Roger, a black belt who had to register his hands as lethal weapons at the police station, and Roger nearly killed him.  Jack would give you the evil eye and make some chops through the air, but I never believed he was any good at it.

Still, he could be intimidating.  He was the best-looking guy in town, that was for sure.  Better looking than a lot of movie stars, but Jack wasn’t an actor.  That wasn’t the kind of thing he’d go in for.  He was only an actor in real life, putting people on all the time.  He went out to California one summer but was probably too stoned to try to get on as an extra at a studio.  He coulda done it if he’d tried, but Jack never worked hard at anything except chasing women.

The woman he ended up with much to everybody’s surprise was Cynthia, a real nice girl.  Jack would do that some times, get tired of the girls from his side of the tracks and try to score with a daughter of the country club set.  If the parents were too naïve to know about Jack they were usually set straight as soon as one of their friends who was in the know clued them in.

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I think Cynthia’s parents knew something about Jack from the start, since she had an older sister, but maybe not.  Jack could make himself very presentable—he always looked good in a tie, and his hair was always combed—and he could probably shoot the breeze with the old man of the family.  Anybody who took the trouble to read the police blotter regularly would know that he was in and out of trouble for one thing or another all the time.  Maybe Cynthia’s dad was too busy with golf and his insurance business.

Anyway, if you wanted to be where the action was, you hung around Jack.  He was always the life of the party, but then he was 21 or 22 and still in town, unlike other guys his age who’d gone off to school or had regular jobs so they had to get some sleep at night.  Jack would buy the booze, we’d go out to the quarry or a country road with a low-water bridge and that would be the entertainment for the night.

Eventually he moved out of his mom’s house because she wanted the place for herself and her various boyfriends, and he rented a place on the southeast side of town.  It was one of the tract houses going up out there that the owner would rent until he could sell.  It had two bedrooms for Jack and Chuck, who was gone a lot.  There was a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom.  The living room had a couch—I don’t know where they got it.  The living room always smelled like beer but when you were drinking you didn’t notice it because you were tasting it at the same time.

One night we were at the drive-in and Jack started making a spectacle of himself, playing “auto-skeet” with Roger, who he was friendly with again.  They’d sit in Jack’s black Barracuda or Roger’s yellow GTO and, as cars came in the driveway, they’d pop the clutch and lunge out at them.  They never hit anybody, but they made a lot of people mad.  Nobody ever complained to the owner, though, because Roger had that black belt.

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Everybody was sitting in their cars including Cynthia, who was in the Barracuda drinking a soda and eating French fries while Jack worked the lot, going from car to car, yukking it up.  Cynthia was sitting on the passenger side of her car, right next to me, and she said hi.  We knew each other from the country club but just barely; she was a year behind me and I’d never paid any attention to her.  Her big sister was taller and had been homecoming queen, but Cynthia was short and cute like her mom.  I didn’t see why Jack would be attracted to her except that she was forbidden fruit.

“How’re you doing?” she asked with a big smile on her face.  I could tell that Jack had bought her something to put in that soda—Jack Daniels green label or rum—because her eyes didn’t focus too well and her speech was kinda slurred.

“Pretty good, how’re you?”

“I’m fine—every night’s an adventure with Jack,” she said, then sucked on her straw.  I couldn’t tell whether she was being facetious or not; compared to what she’d be doing sitting at home with her parents I’m sure it was exciting, even if tonight she was just by herself watching cars go by and getting drunk.

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“Who’s that with you?” she said, leaning forward to see around me.

“It’s me,” said Bill.  He was about as low-key as you could get; he’d usually just come along for the laughs, not drink anything, then have me drop him off at home before we headed out of town for the party.  “I’ve got to go pay a call on old lady hand and her five daughters,” he’d say.  “Much more pleasant than leaning against a car on a country road drinking beer.”

Jack headed back to his car, laughing, and got in.  “We’re going over to my place,” he said looking over at me.  I don’t know why I was in his good graces, sometimes he’d be real condescending to me, but it was all right with me since he had the booze.

“Mind if we come over?” I asked, trying not to be presumptuous.  Jack would get really mad at you if you just assumed you were invited to come along all the time.

“Mind if we come over?” Jack repeated in a sarcastic tone.  “It ain’t a ladies’ luncheon at the country club.”

“Okay, we’ll head on over,” I said.

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I waited for Jack to pull out—you never knew if he was going to pop his clutch and make his car lunge at you.

“You can take me home,” Bill said as he emptied his cup in one gulp.  “I don’t want to dilute the excitement for everybody else.”

“Suit yourself,” I said.

I dropped Bill off on 18th street, then headed east on 24th.  By the time I got to Jack’s there were two cars in the driveway, Jack’s and Chuck’s, and Roger’s in the street.  I thought maybe there’d be more people, but it was a Sunday night.

I went inside where there was music playing on a stereo on the floor and Chuck sitting on the couch.  They’d rigged up some kind of light with a revolving color wheel that shined red, blue, green and yellow in turns against the wall over the couch.

“Hey,” Chuck said.  I knew his younger brother better than him.  “What are you doin’ out on a school night?” he asked.

“It’s spring—I’m just coasting ‘til graduation.”

He snorted and smiled and shook his head.  “That high school must be going to pot if the Student Council-types are partyin’ on Sundays.”

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“Yeah, well, we learned from you guys,” I said, trying to butter him up a bit.

“Everybody’s in the kitchen.  I think Jack got some beer.”

I went in and nodded to Jack and Roger, who were involved in some kind of intense discussion.  It was about the atom bomb.  Jack said we should take the Russians out first, Roger said they had the ability to destroy America if we attacked them so it would be suicide if we did.

“It’d be like Russian roulette,” Roger said, “except there’d be a bullet in every chamber.”

“Then what the hell do we have NORAD for?” Jack said.  He liked to argue with Roger, get him riled up, then walk away right at the point where Roger looked like he was about to hit him.  Then he’d switch to lover from fighter, make the rounds of a party and flirt with the ladies, which Roger wasn’t as good at.  He was good looking, he just didn’t have Jack’s charm.

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I took a beer out of the refrigerator and went back into the living room.  It wasn’t going to be much of a party from the looks of it—just Chuck on the couch smoking a joint.  He didn’t offer me any and I didn’t ask.  Later he’d want to play chess, and would try to goad me into a game.  I had to go to school the next day, and playing chess with somebody who’s high takes forever.

Cynthia came inside smoking a cigarette.  She’d been out talking to some of her friends in a car at the curb, but they took off.

“Who was that?” I asked.

“Lisa and Theresa,” she said.

“Oh.”  Lisa and I were always breaking up, and last time I thought would be the one that finally stuck.

“Kind of a sore subject?” she said, looking at me with a grin.

“Nope, we’re friends,” I said shaking my head and trying to keep any feeling out of my face, one way or the other.

The record changed, and Cynthia started to swing back and forth, dancing with her eyes closed.

“You wanna dance?” she said with a big smile.

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I glanced over at Chuck, who wasn’t paying attention, then took a look towards the kitchen.

“Jack never wants to dance,” she said, still swinging.  “He thinks he’s too cool.”

“Oh yeah?” I said.  I could feel that I was sweating.

“Yeah—I suppose if you can get girls without dancing, you look down on guys who do.”

She was moving her arms now, and she put them on my shoulders.  “C’mon,” she said.

I couldn’t just move away, so I sorta moved back and forth with her.  She closed her eyes like it was the goddamn junior prom or something.  I could hear Jack and Roger arguing louder in the kitchen.

“Put your beer down and dance,” she said.  It was pretty much empty and I felt stupid with one hand out in the air, so I put the can down on an end table with a lamp on it.

“Hey!” Chuck yelled, and I jumped.

“What?” Cynthia said.

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“That’s an antique—use a goddamn coaster, would you?”

I looked at the table—it didn’t look like an antique unless you considered K-Mart ancient history.

“Sorry,” I said, and put the can on the floor.

“My mom gave that to me,” Chuck said, and went back to reading a magazine.

Cynthia rearranged herself with her arms on me from where she’d jumped when Chuck yelled, and we started swaying again.  Jack and Roger came around the corner, still talking heatedly, and walked right past without looking at us.  I guess Jack didn’t care that we were dancing together.

“The longer we wait, the messier it’s gonna be,” Jack was saying.  “We got the bombs, we might as well use them.”

“If we fire ‘em off, this little piece of shit town’s gonna be one of the first places they attack because of the missiles we got in the silos.”

It was about at the point where Jack would shrug his shoulders as if to say there was no point in arguing with a lunk like Roger, which always made Roger mad.  Jack looked at me for support.

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“Whatta you say, Mr. Honor Roll?” he said.

“I don’t know.  I think maybe we should use spies to bring ‘em down from within.”

Jack looked at me like I was crazy.  “Spies?  Shit, the Russians have more spies in Washington than we have in the whole world.”  I couldn’t argue with him when he got that way.  He had no problem making stuff up, and if whatever he said was true he never said where he read it.

I shrugged my shoulders, hoping this would put me on his good side again, like I was siding with him over Roger. 

“Do you have any food in the house, Jack?” Cynthia said.  She acted like she was tired and hungry, and leaned her head on my shoulder.

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I didn’t know how Jack would take that, so I stepped back thinking maybe we’d go to the kitchen.

“Don’t stop dancin’ ‘cause of me,” Jack said, as if he was the host with the most or something.  “You all looked like you were having a real good time.”

Roger had sat down next to Chuck on the couch.  “Yeah—I like to watch people dance while I sit on my ass,” he said.

“I’m tired and hungry, Jack.  If there’s nothing to eat here let’s go back to the drive-in, or else take me home.”

Jack looked at me with an expression of defeat.  “I can’t win, I tell ya.  I take a girl out for a nice night on the town, and she wants to go home to mommy.”

“There’s nothing to do here.  Let’s go back to the drive-in,” Cynthia said.

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“I think we all want to watch you two dance,” Nick said.  He had that look on his face he’d get when he put you in check.  Sometimes he knew it was checkmate, but he’d make you sit there trying to find out for awhile before you conceded.

“I’m kinda hungry too.  I think I’m going to go home,” I said as I took a step back and knocked over my can. 

“Shit,” Nick said.  I figured he was the one who kept the place as clean as it was, which wasn’t very.

“It’s all right, it was empty,” I said.  “Thanks for the beer, Jack.  I’ll be seeing you guys.”

“Pussy,” Jack said.  “What kind of pussy leaves a party at ten o’clock?”

“What can I say—I’m not a free man like you guys.”  I smiled my best smile and started towards the kitchen to throw my beer can away.

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“Are you going to take me to get something to eat?” Cynthia said when I was in the kitchen.

“I want to smoke some weed,” Jack said.  When I came around the corner he was sitting on the couch, one arm thrown over the back, Nick passing him the joint.

“Great,” Cynthia said.  “In ten minutes you’ll be so stoned it would take a tow truck to get you off that couch.”

“A man’s home is his castle,” Jack said as he inhaled.

I went straight to the door and turned to say good-bye.  “See you guys around,” I said.

“If you’re not going to take me to the drive-in I’m going with him,” Cynthia said to Jack.  “Is that all right with you?” she asked me.

“Sure,” I said, screwing up my mouth to show it didn’t matter to me.

Cynthia looked down at Jack, who looked straight ahead and said nothing.  I stood there for a minute, waiting.  “Going off with a high school boy, huh?” Jack said.

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“I’m just going home because I’m hungry,” Cynthia said.

She looked down at Jack.  It was his turn for a hit, and he inhaled and held it, exhaled, then handed the joint back to Chuck.  He looked up at her in silence as if there was a question in his mind he was sending to her by telepathy.

“What?” she said after a moment.

He continued to stare at her, she stared back, her arms crossed in front.  I stood there with the door half open, where I’d been frozen for a while.  I didn’t want to leave Cynthia there, but I sure as hell didn’t want to interfere.

Cynthia looked up at the ceiling and began to tap her foot impatiently.  Jack figured he’d won I guess, because he turned and took the joint that was Chuck was holding out.

“Go on, I don’t care,” Jack said.  “Get the hell out of here, both of you.”

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Cynthia looked down at him and cocked her head.  “There’s no need to be that way, Jack.”

Nick continued to flip through his magazine when he wasn’t smoking, while Roger was taking it all in, comfortable in his chair, as if he was watching a TV show.

I started out and Cynthia turned and stepped outside as I held the door.

We walked down the sidewalk to where my car was parked and got in.

“You okay?” I asked before I started the car.

“Yes,” she said.  I figured she’d be crying but she wasn’t.

I started the engine and put the car in gear, then eased it around Roger’s car parked in front of us.  As we pulled into the street Jack stepped out on the porch and yelled “Fucking CUNT!”—loud enough so that a man came to his screen door down the block, and watched us drive away.


As Anti-Clutter Movement Spreads, Some Bemoan De-Tchotchkification of America

WELLESLEY, Mass.  Marci Everberg is down-sizing now that her two children are on their own, and she’s finding the process of “de-possessioning”–as she jokingly refers to throwing or giving things away–to be unexpectedly liberating.  “There was a period in my life when buying something from McKenzie-Childs was the solution to a bad day,” she says as she looks at a table covered with knick-knacks.  “I must have had a lot of bad days,” she adds as wraps tissue paper around one particularly gaudy item that she plans to give to a homeless shelter that crushes preppy gew-gaws into fine dust to be used as stuffing for sleeping bags.

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MacKenzie-Childs furnishings: Home decorating on acid.

But others aren’t so sanguine about the future of a nation without tchotchkes, a Yiddish term that originally meant any small bauble or miscellaneous item but has come to refer more specifically to tacky or cloying articles used to enhance a home decorating scheme.

“Tchotchkes are the canaries in the coal mine of interior decoration,” says Tina Miniscola, a licensed interior decorator who bristles at the notion that the purchases she advised her client Everberg to make over the years–and on which she received a commission–were ill-advised.  “They’re also like the buffalo–once they’re gone forever, we as a nation will realize just what we have lost.”
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Must-have items.

Tchotchkes are under assault from the so-called “anti-clutter” movement, which views the endearing little objets d’tacky as soul-sucking products of an out-of-control consumer culture.  “I hate to accuse people of running amok,” says Kevin Studen of The De-Tchotchkifiers, an in-home clutter removal company, “but a mok can be a very dangerous thing in the hands of someone who isn’t a trained mok-runner.”

Environmentalists say the nation’s landfills aren’t equipped to handle a wholesale de-tchotchkification of America’s suburban homes as “baby boomers” who have become “empty nesters” move to smaller residences to enjoy their “golden years” in neighborhoods with fewer quotation marks.  “If present rates of consumption continue there will be over 40 million Hummel figurines in solid waste disposal facilities by 2020,” says Newton Mineau, Jr., executive director of the Green Conservancy.  “I can’t say they don’t belong there.”


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