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by: Max Burbank

Oh, hey, hi, how are you? Did you have good holidays? Oh, yeah, busy, I hear that. Love the holidays, but I love when they're over too, know what I mean? Don't have to worry about anything 'til Valentine's Day, right?

Me? Oh, I'm good, you know, I'm doing okay. I'm hanging in there.

I've been a little under the weather lately, but it's no big deal, I mean, I don't think it's anything serious. I'm not sure what it is, but I think we can rule out the biggies. I had some tests, but I haven't heard back, I mean, I guess they don't take that long, probably the Doc would call right away if it was like, cancer or a tumor or some sort of degenerative nerve thing. I mean the guy had his finger half way to Cleveland, you think he'd call, right? It's just polite. No, I'm sure it's nothing, just a few standard aches and pains, you know, in the joints. My neck is kind of stiff and I've been getting these headaches, and sometimes I sort of pass out a little. Not getting any younger, right? You know how it goes. Hurts some when I pee I guess, but I hear it hurts a lot of people.

Gums bleed like a fuckin' faucet every time I brush. I'm kind of not flossing right now, cause, you know, there's so much damn blood I'm sort of afraid I'll like, carve a tooth right out of my head, know what I mean? So I'm kind of drinking a little more than when I was, you know, on the wagon.

Oh, and I didn't get that promotion, either. I mean, you know, it was a long shot, I didn't really think I had much of a shot at all, just putting in for it to keep my hand in, right? Still. I think it's unprofessional for a manager to laugh during your interview. I mean, it is, right? Known the guy for fourteen years now, it would have been a courtesy not to laugh.

There was this yogurt I found, right, organic, low fat, caramel, right? I was taking it to work for lunch, and it was really working out for me, I was finally starting to lose weight, and I don't know, I think they stopped making it. Anyway, it's not at my supermarket anymore. Or any of the ones I've been too. I asked this stock boy about it, and he start yelling at me, actually yelling about how he makes minimum wage and that isn't enough for him to keep up to date on everybody's favorite yogurt flavor, and then he says "You know I'm retarded, right? You do know that?" And the thing is, I don't think he is. But how do you say that? I mean, can I go to his manager and say "Is that guy over in aisle one retarded? 'Cause if he is, great, good for you guys, good for him, but he told me he was, and seriously he doesn't seem that retarded to me." I mean sure, if he's NOT retarded, score, right? Guy gets in trouble, maybe even fired. But what if he is? What if he's like, high functioning and I'm not only complaining about him, I'm saying I think the poor bastard is the kind of guy who'd lie about being retarded and actually he's just a retarded guy doing the best he can! Then I'm a monster, right? Right? And who wants to know that about themselves? Not me.

So anyway I'm doing those prescription pills again. You know, those ones I used to take for my back that they won't let me take anymore. Found a whole bottle of 'em in the medicine chest at this dinner party we went to, one of those Christmas things, my wife's boss or something. They make me feel better about not getting that yogurt, but they're kind of binding, you know? Everything good comes with a fuckin' punishment, right?

Oh, speaking of my wife? She started buying this new toilet paper? And, it's like, pre Glasnost Easter Block surplus; you know what I'm saying? Like, I wipe myself? And I'm SURE I'm bleeding down there but I can't get myself to look. So I say to her, hey, honey, do you think maybe we could go back to our old brand of toilet paper and she says, "Oh, did your boss change his mind and give you that promotion?"

And I made this New Years resolution that I was going to stop going mental? So I just say "I don't think it's that much of a price difference, and a quality brand of toilet paper is one of the luxuries of life I'm prepared to spend on." And she gives me this look, right, that is totally a reference to the look she gave me this one time when she asked me what color she thought we should paint the living room and I said I could go for Ecru or maybe Wheat and she asked me if I'd ever thought that I was maybe just a little bit of a "fag", and I said "Oh, hah hah" and she said "No, seriously" and then we just looked at each other for a little longer than was comfortable.

So basically, my own wife is telling me it's gay for me to want a soft toilet paper, that caring about whether I scrape my ass raw, is what, unmanly? And she knows, right, she KNOWS my New Years resolution is to not go mental.

I don't know, I thought "Boston Legal" was better last season. I really liked that show and now they're just phoning it in. Fuckin' crime to waste Shatner that way.

My left shoe doesn't fit anymore. Just the left one. What is that? Do you get that? No? Just me?

I don't like gum anymore. I used to. When I was a kid. Right through college. Now I don't. I don't know. It's a loss I guess. It feels like a loss.

My undershorts feel all wrong lately. Like... I don't know... ominous.

I lost my keys. Twice.

Oh, listen, before I forget, I wanted to ask you, do you know anybody who knows anything about Macular Degeneration? I heard it's like glaucoma, right, except they can't treat it at all and you end up going blind. I just need to kind of bone up on what the early symptoms are and I'd look it up on the internet but part of my deal is I can't use the internet pending the trial, which is something I won't burden you with, it's, like, seriously depressing and nothing you want to know about and I'm sure you read about it already. You get the local paper, right? Boy they sure aren't that big on innocent until proven guilty, are they? Oh well. I guess it's not that important. Just, you know, one of the basic underpinnings of society. Oh, and by the way, if anybody asks? I didn't do it. I'm not a saint, lord knows there's all kinds of shit I've done and all kinds of shit I haven't done only on account of the opportunity never having arisen, but the particular deal the D.A. is so hung up on my having done? NOT my cup of tea, and very nearly impossible in any case. Wanna know what I think, I think the D.A. has that shit entirely too much on his mind, but hell, they let HIM use the internet all he wants, so what do I know?

You know that coffee shop? The one on the corner back there? Yeah? Nice place. I go there on my way to the train every morning. Good coffee. Nice guy owns the joint, good kid. There's this girl works there some mornings. And she's, like, beautiful. I mean seriously beautiful, not just that run of the mill shit beautiful you see in magazines and shit, like real, actual person human beautiful. College girl I think. Wears those short cut shirts, right? You know, where the whole midriff is exposed? I'm pretty much against those, I mean, first of all, what are you selling, and second, it looks like shit on pretty much everyone who wears it, it just looks like your shirt doesn't fit, and that's if you're lucky. I mean, I'm not one to judge by appearance, but JESUS, if your stomach looks like a fuckin' tight I-MAX close-up of an albino garden slug, then WHAT THE FUCK, RIGHT? KEEP IT... UNDER... YOUR SHIRT!

But this coffee shop girl? I want to tell her, listen, please, coffee shop girl, do me a favor, please just travel the world dressed exactly as you are right now with a huge fuckin' sign that says "IF YOU WANT TO WEAR A MIDRIFF EXPOSING SHIRT YOU HAVE TO LOOK LIKE ME" and while you do that I'll be on my knees praying God takes a look at you and says "THAT is a good idea" and starts killing every god damn person wearing a midriff exposing shirt who does not look as much like a human miracle work of art as you.

So anyway, the other morning I'm getting my coffee and she smiles at me and says some polite shit and I'm like, Jesus Christ, it's not enough you look like the only just reward for a life well lived, you're reasonably pleasant as well. And I don't think I've ever said so much as hello to her, I sure as hell don't know her damn name, I had no intention of talking to her, I mean, my train is in like ten minutes, and I say to her;

"So, look, listen, hypothetically, right? Suppose there's a guy like me, right, except not married and in considerably better shape, and his gums don't bleed. And he's got a decent job, nothing spectacular, not like, rich, not like a movie star or anything like that, that's not what I'm asking, just a decent looking single guy about my age, but maybe wearing it a little better. Not a problem drinker, not a medicine chest cat burglar... Could you ever be attracted to a guy like that?"

And she goes "No."

So I say "Not for anything long term, not for marriage, I mean, Jesus, you're young, who'd expect you to want to hook up with a guy who could be dead while you still had a good chunk of life ahead of you, but not for some cheap, ugly one night stand either, not even for anything at all necessarily, just, could you secretly find a guy like that attractive and maybe not even have any intention or even desire to do anything about it?"

And she goes "No."

So I start to say "Okay, so suppose the guy is hypnotically good looking and has, like, money literally pouring out of his ass..." and I don't even finish before she's saying "No."

I know what you're thinking. I should not have said "literally" about the ass money. 'Cause while admittedly that would probably be a deal breaker for a good-looking young woman? I only thought that part, she said "No"' before I even got that far, and I don't know, maybe I should have pursued my line of inquiry further, but I was gonna miss my train.

So that's how I'm doing. Thanks. I mean, you know, it's good to know you know someone who when they say, "How are you doing?" they actually wanna know. Mostly, people say that, they don't give a shit. I mean, not in a rude way, just, it's one of those phrases people use that doesn't have any meaning even though the words, right, the sounds, seem like they kind of do, but it's generally mutually assumed they don't. Like when I said it to you.

So anyway, best to the Mrs. right? I'll see you around.

We'll talk.

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