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The Very Idea
By Despard Murgatroyd

Shaking myself out of the penis-removal penny-arcade-nightmare, I briefly fantasize that the only reason the mystery bride has clamored to the second floor of Borders is to be closer to me. She doesn't care two hells about foreign language books. She hates foreigners. She does not, however, hate me. (Yet.) Right now, she wants it. Right. Now. She came for me. To check me out. To get a better view of the mystery husband. And why not? My shoes are shined. I have a gold (faux) watch chain. I am tall. My skin is clear. I have a job. I have no ring. No, no ring. Silently, I go monologue on her ass. My unadorned finger calls out,

"I am not married, mystery bride! I am single. Alone. Single. My ex-girlfriend broke up with me a month ago. She has been hurtful to me since. Deliberate. Reckless. Cruel. Loud. She has done harm to me. I have done likewise to her, and I hate myself. Alone. I was not enough for her, but I would be enough for you-too much maybe! Yes, for you I could be too much, because you look delicate. But I, too, am delicate. We could be delicate together. And go to physical therapy. And have sex. And give our humpback children moderately extravagant Bar Mitzvahs. And buy them the right sneakers. Adidas! New Balance! Whatever! Yes, kids will still make fun of them, for something else, but I will go to parent/teacher conferences. I will kick ass at parent/teacher conferences. I will be parent and teacher. I will be DAD. I will work hard and be frivolous with money only where you are concerned-and not too frivolous-not poorhouse frivolous. I will dress well when we go out in public. I will dress well when we stay in the house. I will use the right fork. I will walk our DOG and have sex with you. I will not read Henry Rollins. I will start each evening by slowly taking off your- Oh, Goddamnit! HENRY ROLLINS?!!!"

I snap the fuck out of it and look down. I am standing there reading a book by Henry Rollins! Well, I am not actually reading it, but it is glaringly there, right there, in my guilty, felonious dirty little palms. That's just beautiful. Henry Rollins is a musician/spoken-word artist/author who is fond of using phrases like "go fuck your sister" and "ropey jets of jism" in his prose. I like Henry Rollins. The mystery bride does not like Henry Rollins. I mean, yes, sure, I don't know that; but I know that. Suddenly I am Lady MacBeth. Will these hands never be clean?

Hastily I throw the offending "literature" down and my eyes frantically scan the shelves for more appropriate, point-winning material. I am as good as illiterate-or as bad as. I know nothing. I do know that, if I pick up some random book I have never heard of, it will wind up being some sort of sexual perversion nightmare novel about the clergy and boy-touching that will at first seem innocuous to me but be instantly recognizable to her because of something she read in some magazine -- damn! -- periodical that literate people read and she will cautiously back away from me and whisper to the frumpy Borders employee at the Information Desk, "as casually as possible," to call the police. I quickly decide to pick the first book I see that I know well, to avoid this regrettable scenario. However, this course of action, while seemingly making sense, presents its own problems, principle among them: I don't know of that many books. It is a depressing fact, one that shames me with a disconcerting regularity. I do not often read books. Apparently, I especially do not often read books written by authors whose last names begin with the letters "M" through "T" as I cannot seem to find one single, recognizable, goddamn book. Ah! Got it! Mr. Salinger kindly extends his literary floatation device. Holden Caulfield, my boy, you've saved my ass one more… wait a minute. Catcher in the Rye? Misogyny, angst, depression, fear, anxiety, swearing, bad attitudes, failures, drifting, listlessness…. Are these really the qualities that I want this -- oh, what the hell? Why fight it? I grab it. It is familiar and comfortable in my hands. I start reading a random page. Boy. Holden sure says "bastard" a lot.

You know what happens. You knew before I did. The mystery-bride leaves Borders and I will most definitely never see her again. This is probably a good thing. I am alone tonight writing this, and that is probably a good thing too. I don't particularly know what reading it is doing for you, but writing it is making me feel better, on some microcosmic level. Maybe I'm underestimating. Maybe it's actually more mediocosmic and I just don't know it yet. Interesting. When I wrote the word "mediocosmic," Microsoft Word (which is smarter than I am) immediately flagged me, underlining "mediocosmic" in red. This was done to alert me to the already-known fact that I had, once again, made up a word. Genius. For the hell of it, I right-click on "mediocosmic" and Microsoft generously suggests the word "seriocomic" as a more appropriate replacement. And people say that computers are just hunks of junk. I'll bet that's something my mystery bride would say. She doesn't like technology, you know.

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