Monday, March 13, 2006


The Age of Dissonance?

Did anyone else read "The Rudeness of Strangers" in the Sunday Times?

On a recent holiday I was dining with my partner, Ira, at a romantic restaurant on the rugged east coast of Barbados. At one table, a stunning older woman — tan and with fine blond hair catching the Atlantic breeze — was eating alone. Was she an actress? An aristocrat? Lonely? In the name of international cordiality, I wanted to relieve her of her solitude and invite her to our table to share the evening. But how to do it?

Ira, who is socially adept, walked over to ask if she'd join us for dessert.

"Try the apple pie," she said, slowly, twice and in a Scandinavian accent. "It is better than the coconut." Befuddled, he retreated.

Clearly her English wasn't good. But as we sat, flummoxed, I wondered if we'd broken protocol. Had I been presumptuous thinking she'd appreciate our invitation?

Yes, presumptuous is indeed what you had been, Mr. Morris. Actually, while we're being presumptuous, why don't I just call you Bob, Bob?

Why is it that I've often seen men eat alone, peacefully, without bother, but we have to devote so much time and discussion to the woman who eats alone? The whole of this essay is: I spy a woman eating alone in a restaurant: what should I do? How about NOTHING?


From McSweeney's


Hey, baby! Do fries come with that shake?

Actually, with this shake, you get a choice of sides. You can have regular or curly fries, jalapeño poppers, or a side salad.

What kinds of dressing do you have?

You can get ranch, honey-mustard, or lite Italian.

What about onion rings?

They're a dollar extra.

Can I get this to go?

Yes! And you can also shove it up your ass, you fucking idiot.

- - - -

Pardon me, miss. I seem to have lost my phone number. Could I borrow yours?

Do you mean that you forgot it, or that you actually misplaced it?

It's weird, but I actually misplaced it.

But that's impossible. A number is abstract. How could you misplace it?

I'm not supposed to say this, but I work for the government, and time and space are collapsing. Abstract concepts have acquired actual mass, and can now be misplaced.

So, do you think you might lose your chauvinism? And your lack of respect for other people?

I hope not. That's kind of what I'm about.

- - - -

Hey, can I get in your pants?

I think they might be too small for you.

All right, then. Can I get in your shirt?

But I'm wearing a floral blouse. Aren't you worried that these guys you're hanging out on the porch with will laugh at you or call you names if you wear a blouse?

Well, if they do that, I guess they're not really my friends.

Wow, you're a lot more secure than I would have expected. And deeper.

Yeah, it's weird. I woke up this morning and my low self-esteem had vanished.

That's probably because time and space are collapsing, and abstract concepts have acquired physical form, meaning that we can lose them.

So, do you think you'll lose that chip on your shoulder?

God, I hope not. It's kind of what I'm about.

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