Aug 29 2007


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The man was on the shortish side, with dark hair, bushy eyebrows, and dusky complexion; he was also wearing a suit, which at a bookstore surprised Greg a little. “I know this book,” he said, picking up a copy of Retrograde Maneuvers from the unsigned stack. “You wrote this book?” Italian accent? French? Slavic? Greg couldn’t quite place it.

“Yes,” he said, smiling. “You read it?”

“This is a very dull book,” the man said.

“Oh,” said Greg. “Sorry…”

“Very dull,” the man repeated. “A sex scene went by and I didn’t even notice it, that’s how dull it was.”

“Um,” said Greg.

“You should write more exciting books. They would sell better.” The man casually tossed the copy of Retrograde Maneuvers back in the general direction of where he’d picked it up, and walked away without another word.

“Next time I’ll add some tigers, shall I?” Greg said to the empty space where the man had been.

-The Gneech

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Aug 21 2007


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“Hmm,” said Greg.

“Hmm?” said Brigid.

“Yes, hmm,” said Greg. “I said ‘hmm’ and I stand by it.”

“‘Hmm’ what?” said Brigid.

“I’m feeling strangely academic, today,” said Greg, looking out the rain-spattered window.

“And what does that mean, exactly?”

“Well, I’m not entirely sure,” said Greg. “That’s why I said, ‘Hmm.'”



“Well you can give me a rough sketch, can’t you?” said Brigid.

“I suppose I can, at that,” said Greg. “Today, I’m of a mood to sit around an old brownstone building with other members of the honors society, bantering back and forth about the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, that kind of thing.”

“I wouldn’t expect there to be much banter material in the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” said Brigid.

“Are you kidding? All you need is for one banterer — banterista? — to ask what flavor the albatross is, and you’ve launched into a Monty Python routine.”

“Hmm,” said Brigid.

“Hmm,” agreed Greg.

“So that’s feeling academic, is it?”

“Well, how else would you describe it? I’m longing for a type of experience rarely found off the college campus.”

“Maybe you should check Google for the most pretentious local coffee house you can find. That might do the job.”

“Not a bad idea, at that. But who hangs out at pretentious coffeehouses on a rainy Sunday afternoon?”

“People like you, for starters,” said Brigid, and headed for her room.

“Hmm,” said Greg.

-The Gneech

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Aug 07 2007


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“So tell me, Greg, do you have a girlfriend?” Isadora asked, idly going through the contents of the last box he had brought in.

“Afraid not,” Greg replied. “This is quite a lot of rearranging you’re doing,” he added. “Wouldn’t it have been easier to just buy a new house?”

“Well we’re almost done, now. Just bring that chair from the living room, and that will pretty much be it.”

“That chair?”

“The high-backed one. Wicker.”

“Oh!” said Greg. “The Morticia Addams chair!”

“Hey!” she snapped at his retreating back. “Watch your mouth!” A few moments of random bumps and creaking noises later the upper half of her enormous chair entered the room, followed by Greg carrying the lower half. “Right over there,” she indicated, and he nodded. “So why no girlfriend?” she asked. “Just never met the right girl I suppose?”

“I suppose,” he replied, lifting the chair upright. “I’m sure it’s just me, but most of the women I seem to meet … I don’t know … just not a good fit I guess. Not that I’d know a good fit if I met one, probably.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I don’t really know how to relate to women, I guess. At least that’s what Brigid seems to think, and I expect she’s right. For that matter, I don’t really know how to relate to men either. Pretty much all of the human race, with a few exceptions, leave me dazed and confused.”

“Oh, I can’t believe that,” said Isadora. “You’re a writer. You have to know what makes people tick if you’re going to make a convincing story.”

“Have you read any of my writing?” asked Greg. “It’s all set in the world-as-I-want-it-to-be, not the world-as-it-is. Anyway, the characters in my books do what I tell them and behave in ways I can understand. For the most part, anyway. People in real life tend to just point at me and laugh. Brigid says that the romantic bits in my stories are unconvincing and read as if they were written by a teen-aged girl.”

Isadora rose and went to her chair, settling down into it like a queen into her throne. “Well, young Greg, I’ll tell you the secret of romance, at the very least. Just think cats and dogs.”

“Cats and dogs,” Greg said.

“Yes, cats and dogs. Have you ever noticed that women tend to like cats, while men tend to like dogs?”

“I’m very fond of cats,” said Greg.

“I just mean generally,” said Isadora. “Take it from me. Women like cats and men like dogs.”

“Okay,” said Greg. “I’ll take it from you, then.”

“Good boy. Now, what are the key characteristics of a cat’s personality?”

Greg thought for a moment. “Independence, I suppose,” he said finally.

“Exactly. Cats don’t need you. They may be content to let you hang around, they might even feel something like fondness for you, but most of the time they’re pretty aloof. When you get an unequivocal display of affection from a cat, it’s like you’ve won a great prize.”

“Uh huh…” said Greg. “And…?”

“And what’s the key characteristic of a dog’s personality?”

“Loyalty,” said Greg.

“Not just loyalty,” said Isadora. “Unconditional loyalty. Total devotion. Dogs exist only to please their masters!”

“Okay, I guess that’s…”

“Well, there you have it. Women like cats, men like dogs. Don’t you see? It shows you what they want from a companion. It shows you what they want from love! Why do women always go for ‘the bad boy’ who mistreats them? Because they’re so eager to win that rare display of affection from the aloof cat who doesn’t need them. Why do men always try to find a girl who’s just like their mother? Because they’re looking for that unconditional, dependable devotion.”

“These men and women sound like a handful of real basket-cases to me,” said Greg.

“Well that’s just the human condition,” said Isadora. “You find me one human being who isn’t a total neurotic, and I’ll find you somebody who’s just an expert at hiding it.”

“Yes, well,” said Greg. “If that really is why I can’t relate to the human race, then I don’t feel so bad about it, to be completely honest.”

-The Gneech

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