Aug 23 2005


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Uncle Bob put his hand on Greg’s shoulder in a way that was clearly intended to build companionship. “Greg,” he said. “Greg, Greg, Greg. Greg.”

“Uncle Bob,” Greg replied. “Uncle Bob, Uncle Bob, Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob.”

“When your parents came to me and asked me to be your godfather, it meant the world to me,” said Uncle Bob. “I would have done anything for them, you know, anything. Truly. And I like to think they’d have done the same for me.”

“I’m sure you would!”

“And it was your mother’s dream that someday I would get in to a really good university, and make something of myself. Now, it’s taken me a long time to get around to it, I know, but I am finally ready to make her dreams a reality. But I need your help, son! Are you going to stand between me and the culmination of your late mother’s fondest wish?”

“It’s not like that at all,” Greg said. “Really, I’d love to help you, but what am I supposed to do? Scholarship boards and admissions people generally want undergrads to be fresh-faced up-and-comers … particularly undergrads who have in their heads to study law. They don’t want them to be pudgy old reprobates who got a straight ‘D’ average before dropping out of school to take up a not-so-lucrative-as-they-thought career in supplying narcotics to flower children.”

“I’m not a reprobate!” said Uncle Bob. “And who supplied narcotics? I was a drummer, I’ve told you a hundred times.”

“That’s not what mother said.”

“Your mother was teasing you, boy. Anyway, it’s perfectly obvious what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it? Write to them, and plead my case! They’re intellectuals, and you’re a writer! You’ll make an impression on them.”

“Make an impression on them? Who do you think I am, John Berendt? Florence King, perhaps? Maybe I look like Rebecca Wells or Salman Rushdie to you. I have one little book, Retrograde Maneuvers, and a moderately-successful light comedy is hardly going to impress them, Uncle Bob.”

“Well, you must being doing all right, you’re making ends meet, aren’t you?”

“I’m living off the trust fund, Uncle Bob, you know that. Certainly I have high hopes that once I get a few more books out there that I’ll be making a living wage from them, but at the moment I make just enough on my writing to pay for my morning latté and cheese danish.”

“Hmm,” said Uncle Bob. “The trust fund. That was your father’s doing.”

“And hooray for pop,” Greg said. “I don’t have much of a head for numbers, but even I can do the relatively simple math it takes to sit on a pile of money and make sure that it remains a pile of money. Once you’ve got it squirreled away into the right places, the only trick is not to spend any of it, and I learned that skill in college.”

“So I’ve gathered,” grumbled Uncle Bob. “You’re certainly good at saying ‘no,’ that’s for sure.”

Greg frowned. “If you’re referring to the two dozen get-rich-at-home cons I wouldn’t give you money from the trust fund to buy into, well, we both have our own ways of honoring mom. Yours way may be this quixotic fever-dream of getting into one of the most exclusive colleges in the land, and I applaud it. But my way is by making sure that the life’s savings that she and dad had worked so hard to build precisely against the sort of tragedy that struck them, don’t get absconded with to Aculpulco. Call me crazy, but I just feel like it would be a pretty shabby way to show my gratitude.”

Uncle Bob peered up at Greg through one narrowed eye. “You don’t look it,” he said, “and you don’t sound it. But you’re a hard man, my boy.”

“Well, the credit for that one goes to my roommate. Being in close association with Brigid for as long as I have, you either develop a thick skin, or go mad. So far I’ve survived by dipping into both techniques as the moment required.”

-The Gneech

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Aug 21 2005


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“Oh dear,” said Greg.

“Oh dear?” said Brigid, pausing over her slice of pizza.

“Yes, ‘oh dear.’ I said ‘oh dear’ and I stand by it. If you like, I could add ‘oh bother’ in deference to your fondness for Winnie the Pooh.”

“What’s oh bothering you?”

“That girl’s sacral dimples,” said Greg, nodding towards a cluster of teenagers near the cash register.

Brigid blinked. “Her Sacramento?”

“Sacral dimples,” Greg repeated.

Feeling she probably didn’t really want to know, Brigid said, “What’s a sacral dimple?”

“Oh, you know, those two indentations near the base of your spine, so lovingly detailed by sculptors. Where your back muscles connect with your sacrum. As in sacroiliac.”

“Oh!” said Brigid, comprehending. The cluster of teenagers, Brigid now noted, was characterized by very low-riding pants and skirts, the fashion of the day, and short, midsection-revealing tops among the girls. One of the girls happened to be facing away from Brigid and Greg’s table, and her sacral dimples were indeed striking. Her skirt was also extremely short. “Those!” she said. “What about them?”

“Well,” Greg said, as if confused by the question, “just that they’re there, I guess. This low-cut fad has got to go. I don’t want to have squadrons of teenage girls flashing their sacral dimples at me 24/7!”

Brigid chuckled. “What is this, a reprise of the ‘boobs’ conversation?”

“Don’t start on me, smarty-panties,” he retorted. “Speaking of which, I wonder how she managed to fit underwear under that narrow strip of cloth. Or even if she did at all.”

Brigid shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Honestly, you’re such a prude.”

“I am not!” Greg snapped back. “I am definitely and decidedly a very not-prude, and it’s pure ignorance that makes you say that I am! Just because I prefer girls, no matter how attractive they may or may not be, to pull their skirts up to a proper length, does not a prude make. I am an aesthete. The viewing of a person’s sacral dimples, or indeed any other of the major erogenous zones, should be a moment of exquisite intimacy, achieved after a great deal of wooing and preferably an expensive dinner or even better a series of expensive dinners. It cheapens and demeans both this girl and me that I know sundry details about the layout of her anatomy, without so much as knowing her name.”

“All right, all right,” said Brigid, holding up her fork as if to defend herself from a charging rhino. “Don’t freak out, jeepers!”

“Harumph,” said Greg.

“For what it’s worth,” she added, “I pretty much agree with you. I’d be half-tempted to go over there and forcibly pull the skirt up myself, but the girl’s skirt is so short that pulling it up wouldn’t help … particularly if she didn’t manage to fit underwear under it. Yoink! That’d get people’s attention!”

Greg’s eyebrows shot ceilingwards at the idea. “Good lord!” he said. “She’d go from unpleasant to illegal in one swift move!”

-The Gneech

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Aug 16 2005


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Greg stepped out of his car and waved amiably to the groundskeeper, a diminutive hispanic woman who, if she stood next to Greg, would come about to the top of his stomach. They had never spoken beyond the occasional awkward ‘hello’ or ‘pardon me,’ but he made a point to wave and smile at her when he saw her, and for her part she would always stop whatever she was doing and wave back in a kind of matronly-yet-servile benevolence.

It was the servile part that bothered Greg; while he was hardly rich, he was a well-educated and erudite white male of the type that, should he apply his efforts in that direction, could more or less have the world at his door. In terms of the social construct, while he didn’t exactly have a royal flush, he could easily be said to be holding a full house. The groundskeeper, on the other hand, was probably an immigrant with a shaky grasp at best on English, who spent her days clipping hedges, sweeping sidewalks, and cleaning up litter and bits of passing road debris in order to feed what Greg assumed was probably a goodish number of children.

Sometimes, he wondered what she thought about him. His liberal-with-a-hint-of-Protestantism upbringing suggested that she should regard him as a lout and a layabout who didn’t do proper work and deserved a good old-fashioned smite for having the gall to live an easy life. However, as far as he could tell, her attitude was anything but. She seemed to regard him as a particularly nice man and as far as he could tell hoped that he would marry an equally nice young woman and generally go on having the world served to him on a platter. “Couldn’t happen to a nicer boy,” seemed to sum up her attitude, for which he was grateful, though it still left him feeling awkward and without any real notion as to how he should act around her.

But this wasn’t what was on Greg’s mind today. As he smiled his usual awkward smile and waved his usual awkward wave, staring down at her from a dizzying six-feet-plus, he found himself wondering if she was one of the wee folk, or if he was the giant.

-The Gneech

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Aug 10 2005


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“Actually,” said Brigid, “they’re looking for a writer-editor on the next proposal. Interested in some freelance?”

Greg gave a rapid-fire snort of a laugh. “Me? No, my writing’s totally unsuited for the job I’m afraid.”

“Too fatuous, eh?” she said with a sly grin.

“Exactly so!” he replied, apparently taking no offense at the remark. “Really, can you see me writing corporate blather and buzzword bingo? You know what I’m like. Retrograde Maneuvers was supposed to be a gripping drama when I started it, for crying out loud. I can just imagine the agony of trying to keep a straight face on a proposal.” He affected a mock-heavy tone and read from an imaginary sheet of paper: “‘Amalgatronix International has an outstanding reputation in the industry, for being, well, very large — and generally suing the pants off of anyone who annoys us. Call us today, our legion of lawyers are ready to snap into action!'”

“Hmm, you’ve got a point,” Brigid admitted.

“Now, if they were looking for a freelancer to write and edit silly vignettes, I’d be all over that like kudzu on a Louisiana freeway. But in this day and age, that pretty much leaves me qualified to write television commercials.” He shuddered from head to toe and back again. “The horror! The horror!”

Brigid tsked sympathetically. “Too bad Vaudeville’s dead,” she said, the sly grin returning.

“You laugh,” he said. “I’ve felt that way for years!”

-The Gneech

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Aug 02 2005


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“Brigid, could I have a word with you?” asked Treville.

“Yes,” Brigid replied. “And that word is ‘goodbye.'” She immediately began walking away.

“Hold on, hold on,” said Treville, jogging a bit to keep up. “You don’t know what I want to say!”

“I don’t care what you want to say, either, you gruesome little toad. Now get away from me before I set your hair on fire.”

“Look, I realize that I probably rubbed you the wrong way the other night–”

“If you’d rubbed me at all you’d have pulled back bloody stumps.”

“–but the point is, I’d like to just let bygones be bygones, y’know? Bury the hatchet.”

Brigid stopped and turned on him. “No,” she said. “Do you get that? No! You can’t just act like a prick and then come back later and ask for a do-over. You haven’t done anything to make up for it, you haven’t done anything to earn another chance, you haven’t paid for your mistakes, and I see no reason to think that in ten minutes time you won’t just act like a prick again. Maybe you’re just hard-wired to be a prick, or maybe you’re a prick by choice, I don’t care. The point is, I’ve got better things to do with my time than to put up with you. Now buzz off!”

“Geeze, you don’t have to be a bitch about it,” Treville said.

Brigid pulled out her lucky Zippo lighter and flipped the top open. “Lean down here so I can reach your hair,” she said.

“Okay, I’m going!” said Treville, backing away hastily.

-The Gneech

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