NPR has their regular Three-Minute Fiction contests. One month I found out the deadline had already come and gone but wrote a short story anyway based on that round’s topic. They wanted stories written in the form of voice mail messages. I showed a first draft to my then girlfriend who, up until the halfway mark, thought the story was about a teenage boy speaking to his mother. My protagonist started out as an ever-apologetic wimp but that was a fundamental point. I decided to water-down his passive nature with a bit of inconsideration because everyone knows the equation is coward + selfishness = asshole = hero.
Hey, I’ve been all around town with your To Do list but I haven’t been able to accomplish anything.
The cleaners said they needed another day with your blouse so you’ll have to pick it up yourself tomorrow.
The post office wouldn’t ship that playstation in the original packaging, I need to wrap it in a whole other box; don’t worry I won’t put it back in the living room, I’ll stuff it in the downstairs closet.
The wi-fi was spotty everywhere so couldn’t post my playoff ticket online but I shouldn’t have trouble finding a buyer. It’s a shame because I still think I can make it to the game after your cousin’s BBQ.
The supermarket was out of skim milk so I got you 1%; I figure you wouldn’t get upset as long as I didn’t get whole milk like last time. Also I forgot the liquor store closes early on Tuesday so you’ll have to have dinner without a cocktail tonight.
I didn’t bother booking my folks a hotel room for next week; we talked it over and I don’t think they have the energy to travel across the country again to see us this year. I’m just going to fly out and see them next month.
Oh, and Nick called, he really wants me to reconsider taking that opportunity in San Francisco. He said I would be a perfect fit and it would be way more exciting than where I am right now. I know you’re against it but it really is a dream job and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m having a hard time concentrating on this To Do list and the more I look at it, the more I realize I don’t want To Do any of it.
Please believe me, I tried my best. I‘ve been running errands like this since we got married. I’m not happy anymore about the things I’ve had to give up to make it work. I feel guilty I couldn’t cross any items off your list today but continuing on would make me feel worse. At the bottom of the page it says “See You Later.” I’m sorry, I won’t be able to cross that off either.
Some self-help book instructed me to describe my future under ideal conditions. Imagine this as fully as you can with as much detail as possible. Son, this neurotic S.O.B. is gonna give you more than you bargained for.
-I’m writing for a sitcom in NYC, I’ve been a member of the Writer’s Guild for a few years already and I’m seasoned in teleplay writing structure. I’m well liked at work because I always acknowledge good work from others and give due credit. I invite coworkers out for drinks on occasion and since these are low-key events, I even invite the coworkers that have less than desirable personalities. If everyone’s ok with it maybe even invite the boss, the needs of the many outweigh the few (unless I think the boss is super cool then fuck it, they’re invited). I still do standup and support my comic colleagues. The amount of standup I do per week depends on how strongly I feel my voice (an Asian American voice) needs to be heard.
-I live in Brooklyn (close enough to Mom and Dad that I can cab-rush over in emergencies, to shovel snow, etc.). The place is a 1-bedroom, not glamorous but cozy.
-I still see my 3 closest friends Marc, Jason, and John throughout the year. Marc doesn’t get out very often; he’s happily settled in with his wife and kids so I don’t bother him much unless I’m driving up (car rental) to see him, then I make sure to bring his kids toys/gifts. I see Jason for hockey games and we shoot the shit; I worry that he still hasn’t found balance in his life but his friendship still means a great deal to me. I see John whenever I visit Selina and Andy in Philly. I also catch up with Philly-based comics that decided to stay Philly-based. I do a few mics/shows and mentor (give unsolicited advice to) some of the new guys while I’m in town. If anyone I respect/trust has a serious desire to move to New York and write I make an effort to help them. Of course, if they’re just looking for a place to crash on a weekend trip into the city, my couch is open (still a bit of a germaphobe so I ask/check them for bedbugs, etc.).
-I make enough money to not worry about rent or a rainy day. If I ever come across a great idea or company/startup I invest some disposable income (dinosaurs should stop hoarding all the money/resources).
-I still haven’t seen all 50 states but I’m working on it. I can make at least 7 dishes (1 for every day of the week, garlic bread doesn’t count).
-I’m in love with a woman with a full schedule herself so she understands my life and even likes that we’re comfortable not seeing each other all the time. This doesn’t mean we don’t want to see each other; she sleeps over (and vice versa) regularly so even if we don’t talk to each other on a certain day, at least we get to smell each other (not as creepy as it sounds). We discuss how we should move in together, but this is usually when we’re both a little tipsy on craft beer (I don’t drink bourbon anymore unless I’m having a rough day) or when I’m staring into her face in the morning as the budding sunrise illuminates the room. These are the moments I feel the most romantic. Outside of these Prince Charming flashes, we don’t talk about moving in together because frankly, we like our situation (or maybe because I don’t want to scare her off). I don’t have children, I don’t want children of my own (although I think they’re adorable). She also says she doesn’t want children but she’s still young enough to change her mind; maybe that’s why we’re in a (very happy) holding pattern, because I don’t want to ruin her life in case she does flip on the kids thing. Then again I should take her at her word and respect her thoughts and opinions (I still have a problem with that with people in general).
-All in all, I still haven’t discovered the secret to universal laughter but I keep on searching. Plenty of room to go up but I’m not at the bottom.
-Oh and also at some point I learned how to drive a manual transmission.
They say a good speech should be short and simple but let’s give long and complicated a try.
Love. First solve for x, keeping in mind that x equals two x plus y times pi. Pi is represents by poontang… poontang pi. Ohhh, is there pie at this reception? Pumpkin is in season but I guess it always is, thanks NAFTA, you’re great and so is the handsome groom, my buddy John. He has always had his finger on the pulse. There was the one year he showed me that popping my collar was cool. And then the next year, he showed me that it wasn’t cool anymore. It’s been a pleasure watching you grow. It used to be whisky out of a flask, then it was beer out of a glass boot, now you won’t drink anything that isn’t served in a mason jar. Were we in a fraternity together? I honestly can’t remember. Do you have weird symbols on your back too?
In conclusion, I don’t feel like I’m losing a friend, I feel like I’m gaining a friend’s wife. And half-hearted promises to hang out.
The other night, I broke a personal record for the # of hugs given/received. I used a standard technique that you can employ in any social gathering, like a cotillion or a literary death match.
1) size up the person to decide if an upward, downward, or straight ahead hug is appropriate.
2) one arm high, one arm low thus forcing the participants to rest their head in the cradle of each other’s neck.
3) make a sighing noise to let the other person know they feel like home.
4) whisper a short phrase, preferably an inside joke made recently, or a long affirmation of the strength of your friendship even though you don’t know each other that well.
5) release, because a line is forming.
Now go forth and make someone feel special. Or weird, it’s really a crapshoot.