My brother Kevin had a baby, a beautiful little girl who cries, stress vomits, and has too much gas. I never thought I’d have so much in common with a baby. My brother was prepared for her arrival. He’d been prepared years in advance: wife, house, car, job, money, pets, crib. The last time my girlfriend’s period was late, my life flashed before my eyes like a freight train barreling down on a toothpick castle.
I am a stick person. Kevin is a carrot person. He sees a reward, prepares, does the work, gets it. I see a temptation, run…
I was working as a journalist in Saint Petersburg when the butt pain started. The doctor’s heavy Russian accent made me believe I had “gemroids,” which sounded like asteroids made of gemstones, which seemed a lot better than what I actually had: hemorrhoids. More than a month later, it had all gotten much, much worse.
I sat across from the doctor. He was very Russian. His English wasn’t excellent. He smiled.
“So, you have problem with the anus, yes?”
He gave my midsection a concerned look. “What?”
“Well,” I told him, “it is excruciating in my — well, my…
My date watched me from behind her vegan banh-mi and said, “You look like Bradley Cooper.”
“Thank — “
“But, like Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born. Have you seen it?”
“Yeah — Lady Gaga was great.”
“So, I look like an alcoholic Bradley Cooper?”
She nodded, took a bite, and said, “Don’t watch me chew.”
I waited. She swallowed and said, “Yeah, maybe not alcohol, though.”
“So I look like a heroin-addicted Bradley Cooper?” I joked.
“Yes!” she cried, placing her banh-mi back on her plate.
“But,” she clarified, “not like you’re on heroin, but…
I fit in at the gym about as well as a Disney Princess in a BDSM studio. I don’t get the culture: running, lifting, grunting, groaning, flexing. I’ve never understood the axioms of “power through” or “feel the burn” or “do three more.” The only times that “power through,” “do three more,” or “feel the burn” apply to my life is over a plate of chicken wings. I don’t feel a need to get stronger or run faster. Who do I have to run from? Who is trying to hurt me? …
Cigarettes are my best friend. We live together, work together, look up at the stars, walk along the beach, sit through sunsets, stay up late watching movies, and escape the world when we are alone. When I am sad, cigarettes pick me up. When I am happy, they never harsh my buzz. When things go wrong, they are where I turn first, and they’ve never abandoned me in a time of need. When I need to think, they help me formulate my thoughts. On hard days, no one bothers us if we need to take some time together away from…
My friend bought a couch.
The next time we hung out, he said, “I bought a couch. I feel so adult.”
Then we and my other friend talked about the couches we bought this year. This progressed, as these conversations often do among thirty-year-olds, into a conversation about just how impressively “adult” we’ve all become.
I said, “These days, I spend more money on comfy pillows than beer!” and my friend said, “Yeah, and I drink smoothies now. Not with fruit and sugar either, with veggies.”
We continued on like this, patting ourselves on the back until my girlfriend, bored…
My coworkers and I stepped out of a taxi and walked up to the large white tent they’d set up in the middle of the parking lot. A man in a hazmat suit with a plexiglass face-shield asked us to sanitize our hands and put on gloves before filling out the paperwork. We each filled in our names, numbers, and where we worked. At the bottom, there was a section of boxes to mark your symptoms: cough, fever, loss of smell, etc. I had none of these. Neither had my coworkers. We hadn’t been out with someone who tested positive…
For any guys under the age of eighteen, this piece is not for you. The reason women don’t want to have sex with you is apparent: you are drowning in a sea of acne-puss and hormones. Wait it out. After that, things get more complicated.
Being a dick only gets you laid until you are about twenty-two. Of course, after that, if you’re good looking, you can continue to sleep with people under twenty-two for ten-ish years until you become that creepy old guy in the bar facing rejection after rejection, then stumble home to a dog that hates you…
It’s not that she doesn’t appreciate them. She does. She appreciates them so much that she sends them to me. I’ll wake to a text from my mother. Oh, what’s this? It’s a penis. Wait, and is that an inner-thigh tribal tattoo? Yes. Yes, it is. Before this photo has a chance to burn a hole through my childhood, my phone buzzes again and again. Oh boy, I realize, this is a group chat. Yes, when my mother receives dick pics, it’s a family bonding opportunity.
The thing is, my family, like every non-dick-pic-sending group of folks, finds this phenomenon…
There are some sex rules I never had to learn. Rules like always asking consent and caring about my partner’s pleasure. Even as a kid, if a friend came over to play a game with me, I always wanted to make sure they were having a good time.
“Are you sure you want to play Scrabble, too?”
“I’m having fun. Are you having fun?”
“No? Would it help if I played with your nipples a little bit?”
Then, there are those rules that I never learned — or wasn’t paying attention well enough to learn. It’s kind of like how…