Subject: City of Munks
Date: 23 Oct 1998 00:00:00 GMT
From: email@example.com (Mumthra)
Organization: MotPU: Where Binary Moodswings are ALWAYS on the Menu
Freelance 101 is thus far worth the price, but then it's FREE and I
generally get dinner and a couple of hours of travel time with my mom,
which is a good thing. Now, I would never complain about my mother in
print and that's not just because she willingly buys me dinner and a
subway ticket. The reason I wouldn't complain is simply that a few
hours with my mother is like an anthropological study of an
interplanetary traveler. I suspect that she feels about the same way
about hanging out with me. We are The Women Who Fell to Earth and
Simply finding a place and a method of eating dinner is more
interesting that it ought ever to be. We may wash up in a Shoney's
that offers the worst trough of All You Can Regret You Ate that I have
ever beheld under plexiglass and not breathed upon. Their service is
great, though, and the rice is essentially edible, but the experience
solidifies my suspicion that my mom will eat anything if she's in a
I have begged her repeatedly to let me drive into town, but she is
insistent about using the subway. Each time, we try a different way to
buy fare cards without having to juggle dozens of quarters, and each
time we end up pumping the change back into the machines, imitating a
bad case of slot machine frenzy. "I'm [clink] going [clink] to get
[clink] it right [clink] eventually," she says firmly.
Getting on the train in the 'burbs, we accompany a few other backwards
commuters, but as the trip progresses, with each stop we are gradually
surrounded by flesh. This is the best part, because even though we are
conversationally working over our bitch lists, we're also observing
some truly peculiar, twitching humanity. These observations are filed
for Later. Later we can talk about the guy with the earphones who's
bopping off-rhythym and singing off-key, or the guy who looks so much
like Mike Tyson that nobody will get within arms length, or the woman
with the ferret stashed in her coat.
Most of our train mates are trying to read, and occasionally I wonder
if they listen to any of our chatter. We don't give each other
conversational whiplash, but it's only out of years of practice and
I might say, "Would you say that adultery is always wrong?"
"Absolutely," she would say, "Did I tell you that I had a call from
Betty the other day?"
This does not imply that adultery and Betty have anything in common,
of course. Somehow, the question of adultery or wrongness will spark
her to launch into a tale of her friend's traumatic experience with
butt boils. Eavesdroppers might wait for the payoff, for the way in
which Betty drifted into an adulterous fling with her butt surgeon,
but they'll probably be disappointed. It's all about butts, most
likely. She doesn't always veer into discussions of butts, either.
It's just that there isn't anything that she won't discuss in the
close proximity of strangers.
I look forward to the stories about her job. She's working in a church
office these days, and has begun to discover that it's a fellowship
for universal loons. Most of the members have too much time on their
hands and will call the office several times a day with issues that
they want to discuss. It's generally not clear if they expect action
on these things or if they just want to air their feelings. She's
sympathetic no matter what, but has finally stopped answering the
phones for several hours during the day.
"I cleared out the answering machine yesterday," she says, "There were
three messages from the guy who calls about the gay sermons."
"Gay sermons? Is he gay?"
"Well," she clears her throat to prepare for her penetrating imitation
of an eighty-year-old man. "He said: 'Reeeeverend? Reeeeverend? I want
you to know that I have fucked forty-five women and thirty of 'em
sucked my dick!'"
"I take it that he's opposed to homosexuality?" I manage to ask.
"I should say so."
"You have to write about this stuff," I suggest.
She nods. "I just have to find out if people can sue me, first."
So that's our mission: we are supposed to learn about such things as
liable, taxes, properly propositioning editors and making sure that we
get paid as freelancers. As we near the lecture hall, we begin to talk
about writing more and gossip less. She is one of the very few people
on earth who will listen to me contradict myself in the same little
speech and nod with understanding. I want to submit a story to a
contest, I tell her, but I should concentrate on paying work, even if
I don't have time to actually write anything coherent for money. She
agrees and says she has a good feeling about it. By "it" she means all
of it: writing, not writing, money, no money. She means that whatever
I do, she is sure is the right thing. Mom is a confidence artist, but
a benevolent one. Mostly.
We sit in the back and listen to people who write and edit and
scrutinize contracts. Some of them are funny, and some of them are
ill-prepared and self-conscious and also pretty funny.
The editor, who is the best speaker yet, tells us a story about a
script writing workshop he attended. During the workshop, he asked the
instructor why so many television script writers turn out such
complete crap and manage to pull in huge salaries for producing it. He
pointed out that every person in the workshop could write better
scripts. The instructor agreed with him, he said. Appalled, he asked
the instructor why. The instructor said, "They might not be the best,
and yes, they're getting paid to write crap, but they are out there
doing it because they didn't give up."
Woo doggies! I feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck where
they applaud waving little bitty hankies. I am afire with
determination. In my mind, I stand before the sunset at Tara,
clutching my radish and announcing to the air, "AS GOD IS MY WITNESS,
I WILL WRITE CRAP FOR MONEY!"
It is a good night.
After the lecture, we walk to the subway station and I blather
effusively about various marketing possibilities and tease Mom about
her pet homophobe.
"Thirty of 'em have sucked my dick!" I say.
"Shhh." She says, pointing to a man sleeping on a grate. She doesn't
want me to roust him from his Ripple dreams, I guess.
Just then, what I take to be a very large chipmunk darts across the
sidewalk in front of our advancing feet.
"Honey, that was a RAT," she says, laughing at me. "You've got
chipmunks on the brain. C'mon, Nature Girl, let's get out of town."
Emancipate a comma! Evict mental ergonomics!
Subject: Re: City of Munks
Date: 27 Oct 1998 00:00:00 GMT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dads)
Organization: EarthLink Network, Inc.
In article <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
--> I am afire with
--> determination. In my mind, I stand before the sunset at Tara,
--> clutching my radish and announcing to the air, "AS GOD IS MY WITNESS,
--> I WILL WRITE CRAP FOR MONEY!"
Well, sure, like, I know you're kidding. And yet you're not. This was an
entertaining story. Nothing crappy about it. Except the ending. Then
again, there's never gonna be any money in this sort of thing. Unless it
was published in the NEW YORKER. Don't suppose there's a BALTIMORER
looking for this kind of stuff. As for the Bombeck-Barry thing, I suppose
you could snag yourself a column in the local free shopper's weekly.
Twenty-five bucks a pop. Hardly seems worth it though. Ok, I guess you
could probably write sitcoms. Just watch a few episodes of "Everybody
Loves Raymond," then give it a shot. Nothing to lose. Thousands upon
thousands of dollars an episode to gain. Why not? You've got the talent,
and the chromosomes. But you better hurry up and get started because I
just heard they're not hiring anybody anymore over 40. But why pay
attention to MY free advice?
dad's new slacks
po box 4722 portland me 04112-4722