Thursday, April 26, 2001


Today, in the food court of my favorite urban shopping center (but not my favorite single court of food) I met a beautiful new friend. “Friend” may not be the best terminology here, as she was singularly direct and, as a result, unforgettable. Our relationship began rather brusquely.

“I told you to go ahead and put the chicken in the fridge to thaw”, she said in a manner most uncharacteristic with the fragility of our acquaintance. “Yes, I did…. What? Well, that’s fine, but what are we supposed to eat until then?”

I really didn’t have an answer for her. In my embarrassing density, I had missed the cue outlining my responsibility for our collective nutrition. Not today. Not with such short notice. Before I could suggest she try the Panda Express, (which was, as usual, excellent) she interjected.

“Honey, I told you last week that I would be in a meeting until late. I was hoping to just be able to grab a quick bite and then go.”

I was taken aback. Her frivolous use of the endearing “Honey” was so off-putting (and perfect – why must we always dance with formality when life is so short?) that I was hesitant to remind her that she was mistaken. I didn’t speak to her last week. Did I? She had reason to be a bit terse if I had wiped that encounter from my mind. How could I forget that? I searched frantically for something appropriate to say. Perhaps I could absolve myself gently, so our budding friendship could grow without the tint of such an embarrassing miscommunication. It was too early to throw this away on such pettiness, no?

“Well fine, then. I’ll meet you at John and Martha’s around nine, and we can just leave straight from there. Yeah. YES. I’ll get a snack on my way.”

What in the hell was she talking about? John and Martha? Surely she must remember that Martha moved from Boston last spring. I didn’t even know that Martha had moved back to the city. No one let me know. Must be this John character. If she’s living with him, anyway. I understand. Regardless, I was afraid to ask my new friend about the specifics. I couldn’t. The lines of her face were too soft. Her hair veiled her features like gauze over a painting, her mouth a rumor too vague to address.

As I watched, she raised her left hand and swept her hair behind her ear, revealing a single black earphone. The slithering wire, now exposed, ran unabashedly down the curve of her neck, over her breast, and disappeared from my view around her far side. What music could she be listening to at a time like this? Verdi perhaps - to fit the season. Or Dvorak. She looked more like a Dvorak. Or possibly some jazz. Nothing fancy. Some Coltrane, or Davis. A flitting, framing score to our conversation.

“I’m afraid Martha’s moved away,” I said. Low. Sincere. My voice best suited to signal my sustained interest in her while gently awakening her to her errors in assumption. “I don’t know where Martha lives anymore.”

She smiled at me then. Pristine, like she was seeing me for the first time in that moment. Her left hand pressed again to her ear, directing the sonic assemblage soothing her ear to play a little louder. She understood the emotive qualities of a good soundtrack. I wish I had thought of that before.

“I’m sorry, baby. I lost you there for a second. What was that?”

I cleared my throat gently and spoke again. Stronger. The steadiness of my voice surprised me, given my weakness of stomach. “I believe Martha’s moved away. Perhaps we could just meet at Park Street?”

I couldn’t bring myself to be so bold as to use her terms of endearment. That was it, really. What was so attractive about her. Her directness. She cut to the quick. Elegance. And here I was, floundering in my little pool of ineptitude.

She was shaking her head now, as if watching a metronome. “I’m sorry”, she said laughing a little, “it’s a little loud in here. What? Oh, I’m still at Copley –pause- Yeah. Yeah. I know….”

What? Jeezus. I knew where she was. Did she think I was blind? That would explain her lack of eye contact. Perhaps her sighted eyes couldn’t gaze at the blind, for fear of making them jealous.

I moved my head slightly to the left, hoping something in my gaze could reassure her that I was indeed sighted – that her every move was not wasted in this cacophony of commercial display. I was watching. I was listening. Still, her powers of concentration worried me a bit. Her thoughts wandered. Her speech patterns a bit unusual. I faded in her distance.

“I guess I’ll see you then, hon. Yep. Yeah. Sure. OKAY. Okay, bye.”

Huh. Her speaking style did leave a bit to be desired. No accent though. And she was a good smiler. A minor objection to an otherwise faultless creature. Like eating honey from a wooden spoon - the sweet eased the rough.

She stood. In one motion, she turned full towards me, swinging her bag onto her shoulder. Panic rose sour in my throat. Was she leaving? Our plans were hardly firm.

She looked at me again. A curious smile revealed the pink of her tongue, the wetness there reminding me that I was incredibly thirsty. I cocked my head, squinting my eyes to implore her to say something more. My dry lips parted just enough to begin voicing my concerns. At this, she smiled wider, exposing her teeth. A freshness rose through her cheeks again, as though we had not just met. She turned and slid past my chair into the aisle.

I could smell her shampoo, and suddenly knew what I should have realized many moments before this one.

“Park Street,” I whispered to her back. She turned, almost startled, that blank pristine smile still tied to her cheeks as she disappeared into the melee near the beeper kiosk. Her shoulders told me I was right.

I wouldn’t keep her waiting.

Aaron M

Monday, April 23, 2001


There are trash cans in the hallway at the building where I'm temping, that have handwritten signs on them that say, White Paper Only.

They remind me of the sign, that my father remembers as a boy, above the water fountain, at the gas station where his father was a mechanic (specializing in Fords), that had black smudged finger prints smudged fingerprints that were his father's.

Then I think back to the trash cans, in the building, where I temp, that are for white trash only.

Then I'm remembering my grandfather's funeral last week. Lying in his coffin, comfortable, but two-dimensional, his face was too white. He was neither drunk nor angry.

Then I'm thinking about my Sunday morning's hangover. And wondering what my grandfather's favorite drink was, and hoping it's not mine.

Then I recall the bar-b-qued ribs, green beans, hotdogs, potato salad, one good conversation and two bad conversations of Saturday night's party.

Then I remember that before he was born again my grandfather used to sit in his Ford, outside of The Church of God, until services were over, waiting to pick up my dad and his brothers and sister and their mom, his wife.

And then more bar-b-que (Lexington style), fried chicken, sweet tea,
prayer circle, several bad conversations and a touching moment. This at my grandmother's before the funeral.

And back to the party a friend of mine asks me where I see myself in 20 years. I say With kids, she says She won't be with the guy she's with now.
She wants more out of life and wonders Why presently things aren't so meaningful? I wonder too.

After my grandfather's religious upgrade, he gave the devil and drinking a black eye. I'm not sure if he ever gave my father a black eye.

Remembering again the lunch before the funeral, after the bar-b-que, and after the conversation with an uncle about The new economy that has just changed so much with the integration of new technologies, Everything is done by e mail these days, Yes, my aunt who had been busy making sure everyone was fed, and every paper plate thrown away, stopped me and my sister, and with tears suddenly said, I pray for ya'll everyday on my way to work, I want you to know that I love ya'll.

And now I'm in the building where I'm temping. And thinking about the building where I'm temping and remembering transoms and thresholds.

Aaron L

Friday, April 20, 2001


skeptical of being "part" of a group

weary of stepping out of his "zone of comfort"

too willing to take chances with his body

second guesses every move he makes

won't talk to strangers

concerned with contents of nose

not excited about new spring style

used to joke about re-occurring zit on forehead being entry point for the aliens who make him feel "not like himself"

doesn't joke about alien entry point anymore because starting to believe its true; but doesn't want people to think he's "crazy"

moderately involved in comings and goings of local professional sports team.

mood swings beginning to mirror teams wins and losses.

becomes distraught when team loses

becomes distraught when forgets to listen to team on a.m. radio and game turns out to be one to remember

wants to be a smoker but is mildly allergic to smoke; interrupts nasal passage, promotes increase of contents in nose

believes his cat is sometimes spiteful

wants art to set him free

likes romantic strolls through moonlit parks

believes one's relationship with their cat mirrors one's relationship with world

likes pina coladas and Coolattas; doesn't prefer Dunkaccinos

dreams about a dog that will fetch

likes making love at midnight, preferably in the cool summer rain

has always yearned for acceptance

skeptical of "nice" people

dream job: mailman, reason: uniform

wants life-long love

not sure if life-long love is obtainable goal

sometimes mature, competent, self sufficient, s/w/m, seeking . . . .

seeking . . . .

Aaron L

Monday, April 09, 2001


written by Correspondent Aaron T
no code

COMMON, near the gazebo.

You are standing in the rain on the Common at the beginning of your lunch break. Before you is a large white gazebo. To the west is your office. To the east a grassy hill covered in leaves leads to a statue of mysterious origin. The Common sprawls indiscriminately in all other directions.



You are standing in the middle of the gazebo on Boston Common. There is some graffiti on one of the posts.

>read post

"Geo lived here two years - no one cares in Boston - going south for winter - maybe Califas."

You notice some other graffiti nearby.

>read graffiti

"what about life"

You are hungry.


You are carrying:

a lightweight parka (being worn)
a can of ginger ale
a can of mountain dew
a Drake's Apple pie.

>eat pie.

Are you sure?


You have eaten the pie. You feel slightly better, except for a toothache.

>drink can

You can't do that!

>open can. drink ginger.


>l rain

The rain is wet and falls down like mist on the empty Common.

>l common

You're looking pretty common already!

>l at common

The Common is empty. Even the homeless seem to have largely fled the drizzle. Days like this make you feel as though you are in the world of some text-adventure game, where everything is ancient and beautiful and abandoned. It is a good feeling.


You are no longer hungry or thirsty. You have a small toothache. Your spirit is subdued but pleasant. You are very tired.

Wednesday, April 04, 2001


Aaron M has recently moved his place of residence.

I guess this message deserves some explanation:

This note may be the first many of you have heard from me in a long time, and as far as "long lost salutations" go, a blanket email stating that I have moved is about as personal as, for lack of a better metaphor, a one-size-fits-all donor kidney. (I'm sure that MUCH better metaphors exist. This one doesn't even really make sense, but gets a basic gist across. Please forgive me.)

In an effort to defray your legitimate concerns about my true commitment to our personal friendship, I have devised a plan that shows each and every one of you that I think about you daily, and hold each of you in the highest regard (as individuals, of course, not as some cheap collective) that can possibly be afforded another human being without falling under those hastily labeled categories of "weird" or "unnatural".

Following, you will see a list of statements that are tailored to address you just as privately as a personal email or handwritten letter could have done. For the sake of privacy, of course, I have to leave it up to you to identify your own statement. This should be no problem, as you will see by the incredible tenderness and intimacy of each message. Here goes:

1) My first true love. If it is impossible to duplicate this experience, take comfort in the fact that you and I were lucky to have shared it. Try not to lament the fact that we were silly enough to walk away, looking for something else.

2) Unfortunately, I never loved you. At best, our relationship was a lie based on a myth that we were both as interesting as we were eager.

3) Sorry about your dog. I hope he has kept up his spirits despite the unfortunate lack of balance. He is blessed to have an owner as understanding as you. You are a credit to pet-lovers everywhere.

4) I have been meaning to tell you that your hair has always really looked ridiculous. I'm sorry for letting you out in public like that. It's just that I have a really hard time hurting people's feelings. To their face, anyway. Which reminds me....

5) You ignorant jackass.

6) Congratulations on your discovery. I hope that it all works out with Him. I envy you a little, but not as much as I fear you.

7) I will always be sorry that I missed your wedding. Know that I love you just the same. Forgive me.

8) You already know that I moved, so that makes this whole email redundant. Just like you. Just like you.

9) Sorry I missed you in New York. We would have been great together. Keep trying, as will I.

10) We should have slept together when we had the excuse of circumstance. We still can (and should), it's just difficult to make a special trip.

11) Your quick humor and infectious laugh always erased any bad patches that we may have had. I hope you remember our time together as a good patch. Take care of my Valentine.

12) I owe you a birthday present. Here is it's intended dedication: For my greatest comrade, especially in times like these. Your wit and talent are ever-present. Too bad it never helps.

13) I am not sure about the Army. The Coast Guard either, now that I think about it.

14) I don't know why I am afraid of you. Or Us.

15) My taste for postcards has forever been tainted. I'll never be able to go to the beach again. Oh. I've been meaning to tell you. Pinkerton is now my favorite.

16) I should have stayed, and we should have got that trailer.

17) "Movies" will never work as a substitute for a real relationship. Not that we should stop trying.

18) I barely even know you, and met you only once. I wish that it had worked out better.

19) You should quit school.

20) Someday, we should start a company together.

21) I was always impressed with your confidence and composure. That, and you are one funny motherfucker. (sorry about the language, Mom. I felt it was necessary to convey my level of conviction.)

22) I don't know your email, so you aren't even reading this. Shame, as I am quite impressed with how it is going. You would appreciate this more than most.

23) You are too good for this kind of bullshit.

And finally,

24) No, Mom, I haven't cut my hair.

And for all you Clever-Charlie's out there, I do in fact have more than 23 friends. There are some of you who are confident enough to know that our friendship will always transcend the fickle happenstance of regular communication. I trust you all know who you are.


Aaron M

P.S. (This means all of you) in no way should this message be misconstrued as an invitation to call, write, or - should your sense of decency fail you completely - visit. However, if you owe me money or would like to finally try that thing we could never work up the courage to try, by all means contact me.

Monday, April 02, 2001


It had been four days since my last shave and as I tumbled into bed last night I hoped that sleep would come quickly, so that I would be rid of the itching which had beset me in my last few hours of coffee-swilling, paper-writing, tension-wanking consciousness. I knew that whatever time I rose, and no matter who else needed the bathroom, today I would shave.

Ignoring Philip Larkin’s dictum that all writers ought to shave at the sink, I brought my Sensor Excel II into the shower with me. The blade is newish; this was perhaps my third shave with it:
enough time for me to get used to its efficiency but not enough time for that efficiency to be replaced by familiarity.

I lathered with Lever 2000. The keen observer of my toilet might wonder why I passed up the Tom’s of Maine Gentle Honeysuckle sitting on the shelf—after all, it has moisturizing glycerine. The answer is simple, though perhaps revealing nothing but my own idiosyncracy: for several weeks I have been obsessed with the notion that despite the complete disparity between their labeled contents, my Gentle Honeysuckle Shaving Cream and my Gingermint Toothpaste are in fact identical in makeup.

The first cut was not the deepest, but still a satisfying rake against my imperialist whiskers. I approached the right cheek from the side, to clear room for the downward sweep, and that sweep went smooth as could be. Hair cleaved fell, and thus began the shave. Forgoing the ordeal of wiping off the foggy mirror, a combination of touch and intuition was my guide as I scythed the unwanted fields of manhood.

The rhythmic up-and-downing of the frontal neck –where most of my Semitic roots manifest— progressed as ruthlessly as the right side had, and as the left side would. I left my what we will call my moustache (though it qualifies about as much as it did when I was a swaggering
eighth-grader) for afterward: something about the unseen razor’s proximity to my lips unnerved me.

Concluding my shower after approximately twenty-five minutes, I did in fact use the Tom’s of Maine for the upper lip area, but due to improper lathering I was horrified at its graininess. ( did my best not to ingest any, and largely succeeded.) I remembered to whisk away the errant wisps midway up my neck (a frequent irritant), and a visual check brought me a much-needed dose of morning
pride: as I had hoped, my jowls were clean, and DEVOID OF BLOOD.

The ritual of shaving is a trying one for many a man; it is mornings like this which transcend, and transport.

Correspondent Aaron T.