“Life in Funtown”

            “I’m gonna punch that blue fuzzdick right in his jiggling eyes!!” Everyone shrinks. For a piece of a second I wonder if their fear was worth getting so worked up over the issue. Then I remember our advertisers.

            Melznick’s pasty-ass face is the first to breach whatever forcefield around me is pushing the rest of these sycophants back. “An- a-absolutely justified. We think that disciplinary action would be prudent-“

“Prudent is what they’ll call the dent I put in his head, after they take note of the pitchfork up his ass.

“-and we have already sent out inquiries for a replacement, should it come to that.”

“You can’t-“ My snort of frustration turns into a moan. I really shouldn’t be the smartest person in this room. My hands, clenching the lacquered table edge to make sure nobody gets strangled, drift up to massage my temples. I address my lap.

“It’s not as simple as that,” I imagine Melznick’s eyes go wide at the knowledge I’m dropping on his pasty-ass face, “because if we replace the man in the costume, we might as well be replacing Jeffrey Dahmer’s skeleton and saying he’s reformed from eating people. There’s no difference to the audience, and especially not the core motherfucking demographic.”

“I don’t think-“ Nailed it that time, pasty-ass, but I’m still not going to so much as glance your way.

“They can’t tell a grape juicebox from an apple juicebox, yes we’ve done studies on this, so how do you think they’ll grasp this concept?”

“Hilary, you’re blowing this a little bit out of proportion— am I right?”

My head drifts back up, careful not to offer too much. Jackson leans back in his black leather chair like it’s a luxury not afforded for the rest of us. Fingers crossed. Eyes staring just slightly over my head. I wonder where he read that power technique. I may not be the CEO of fucking Funtown Inc., but I’ll be damned if this rat-bastard production exec talks down to me. He continues in spite of the hatred rattling in the cage behind my eyes.

“Maybe this can be a Munsy for a new age! In-your-face, not gonna back down from the powers that be. We can rope in some tweens, treat this as a transition period, and teach kids something about … I dunno, fighting authority or some bullshit.”

I let that hang. Maybe I’m considering it. Maybe I’m focusing on my breathing. Maybe I’m indulging in a sexual fantasy. I give a purposeful cough and meet Jackson’s waiting eyes.

“Oh, are you finished? Sorry, sometimes with diarrhea you never can tell.”

“Get off your high horse, he flipped the bird at a kid-“

“I know you like making obscene gestures at children, Jackson-“

“-a kid who had already ripped the costume seams yanking the tail, there’s a cost there-“

“A biracial kid! Brought in special because we were teaching tolerance! Season 17, Episode 8: Biracial motherfucking Tolerance.

I thought that would slow down the river of shit Jackson was pouring my way, but the bastard pressed on, god bless him. “Just because he’s biracial means he can’t be a dick?”

I take a sip of coffee from my Munsy brand thermos. Had it for twenty two years now. I’m probably the only person in the world who has ulcers because of this baby blue bundle of love and learning.

Melznick, Jackson, Rutledge, Rogers … Even that runty thing over there, intern boy. They don’t know what I’ve seen. I headed up the entire marketing blast of ’94. Lunchboxes, pogs, yo-yos, cookies and cereals. Before I even knew where I fit in at Funtown, Munsy was always watching, never changing. I take care of him, and he takes care of me. So much money from my baby blue fuzzball. I look at all the pasty-ass faces leering at me from their black leather safety pods, and I almost crack a smile.

“Here’s what you don’t get, Jackson: Munsy is an institution. Munsy is Munsy. And every single kid out there is a dick.”

“Gucci Mane Lemons” by my pal from way back, Mike N. Click the photo to see his fledgling illustration blog. As I told him earlier, he has a way of making the cute into something slightly unnerving, but it never stops feeling fun. Oh, and stay iced up, burr.

THE WØRD: Happy Endings

I feel like nobody in pop culture was talking about this sort of optimistic nihilism until the past five years. Or maybe they were and I was still a child? I don’t know, but it’s great to read something as centering and reflective as this coming from an incredibly popular and, in his own way, legitimate source.

I’ll drop some more tomorrow, I’ve been meaning to get the less-marketable fruits of my labor onto tumblr to at least prove to y’all (and again, myself) that I actually write things

“Walker”

            Jeeeeesus,” I hummed through gritted teeth, already pocketed by the other patrons. Stairways should be wider than two abreast. To be trapped behind these meandering nobodies, swaying like they lift their legs using the opposite shoulder, feels like an attack on my own freedom; life, liberty, and pursuit of walking at a comfortable clip. One step. Two step.

            I had to run for the C train. We both arrived at my home stop at the same time, but it pulls down the platform because the train is too short to fill it all. Three step. Four step.

            It meant that I was not in optimal exit position when the train got to Spring, and could only outpace about half of the passengers on their way to my surface stairs. Five step. Six step.

            Out from the subway overhang, the rain tapped on my face to remind me that I had no room to open my umbrella. I could be opening it into one of these suckers, and as thrilling a moment that’d be, some red-nosed depressed dad taking out his extra coffee energy on a shouting match with me would only break pace.

            I was just a couple blocks away thanks to long strides through the rain and down the near-greasy sidewalk, but I had ended up behind a grandma who had seemingly lost all will to live. Why even walk at all at this point? I hadn’t noticed how quickly I was gaining on her, but that’s to be expected when she’s doing the mummy shamble, and now there were two even streams of clueless dipwads in the oncoming direction, cutting around the crone and giving me no room to even dart off the sidewalk. Each time I tried, I got caught up in an oncomer’s eye contact, and my leg moved outwards for escape but my foot twisted inward at the last second to stop myself from possibly bumping him. A collision would leave me looking no better than the crone.

            “C’mon c’mon c’mon…” I might as well have tapped it out in Morse Code with my teeth.

            I practically vaulted off the sidewalk. If she’s going to “fucking comandeer the sidewalk, then,” (said to myself as I vaulted) then I’ll take my efforts to the other side. Smooth sailing.

            As I stepped into Roots Cafe, shaking off my umbrella, my rustling seemed louder than the entire body of patrons. Typing away, fingers flying, safe in their etiquette-constructed cubicles, and I whipped off my hoodie, aware of the sweat on my forehead and pinpricking on the front of my thighs. Wet from rain, wet from effort, disgusting. Once my breathing slowed, I whipped out my cellphone from my front jeans pocket. 11:55 AM.

            I would have preferred to be two minutes later, but maybe I could delay my coffee order until Sal arrived.