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Poetry & Prose | May 1, 2011
By Gideon Jacobs

 

The line lit up and Sally took her first call of the afternoon.
“Hey baby, this is Penelope. What can I call you?”
“Uh, Chaz.”
“Alright, Chaz. Do you wanna play with me, Chaz?”
“Nope.”
“Do you want me to play with myself, Chazzy?”
“Nope. I’d like you to listen. I’m sorry. This is going to sound insane, but are you willing to just listen to me for a second? Or, actually, even answer a few questions? I’m just having a little…uh…trouble here. Really you don’t have to do anything, I just need you to stay on the line and tell me some things. Can you just not hang up for a little bit?”
“Chazzy darling, I can do whatever you want me to do. I would never hang up on you—never, sweetie. This is your party. You’re in charge. You’re a big man and I’ve bet you’ve got a big, fat dick too. In fact, Chazzy, when you order me around I get wet. Do you want to order me around a little? I’ll do anything you want me to do.”
“Woah, woah, oh shit, no, you’re not getting this lady. I can’t believe I just called you lady. But you are a lady.  No, I mean, you’re clearly great at your job, and I appreciate that a lot. But, um, that’s just not what I’m looking for tonight. It’s sort of hard to explain. Please just listen to me, please, just answer some questions and try to understand what I’m saying. Please?” He exhaled.
There was a long silence on the line. Sally looked around at the other girls. She took a deep breath and rubbed her tired eyes. “Of course, Chaz.”
“Great! Ok. All right. Jeez, where do I start? How do I start? What do I do? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. Ok, I’m just going to talk. I really think that’s the best idea. So, my first question is this: say you start doing an activity you’ve done a million times before, like say, eating a bowl of cereal. So, you’re munching down some cereal—“
“What kind of cereal?” Sally waited for a response. “Hello?”
“Lucky Charms.”
“Okay.”
“Okay, so you’re eating some Lucky Charms and suddenly, it becomes this excruciatingly painful act, but not in a way that forces you to immediately stop…you still with me?”
“Yes, Chaz.” The line is quiet. “I’m eating a bowl of Lucky Charms and it starts hurting.”
“Yes. Exactly. Thank you. Okay, so you keep shoveling in spoonfuls of the stuff into your mouth and, all of the sudden you feel this strange, dull pain shooting through your entire body with every crunch. You think about stopping, but you realize that you don’t really need to. The cereal tastes delicious and your stomach is rumbling with hunger. The pain is bad but not so intense that you can’t ignore it, if you want to, in order to get the next spoonful to go down. So, my first question is, how do you know whether there’s something wrong with your tooth, or the cereal or the milk or whatever, or, if it actually has always hurt when you eat cereal, but for some reason, for some strange reason, this time, you noticed the pain. For some reason, this time, you awaken to how excruciatingly painful is has always been to eat cereal.”
Sally started spreading some peanut butter onto a slice of bread while she thought about the question. She was proud that she understood what the guy was asking.
“I’d think if it hurt you to eat cereal you would have noticed it before. I mean, it sort of just sounds like a dental problem to me.”
The voice on the phone suddenly took on a different tone.
“No, no, no, you’re missing the point. My question is, ‘How do you know whether you suddenly have a bad tooth or if you suddenly you have a bad brain?”’
Sally thought about it for a moment. “What’s the difference? If it hurts, it hurts.”
She took a bite of her peanut butter sandwich and waited for a response.
“Wow. Ok. Cool. That’s a good answer. I’m going to ask you some more stuff. Is that all right?”
“It’s your time, Chaz.”