Nonfiction

“Dear Armpit Picker,” by Ragna (Ronia) Smits

Jan 11th, 2017 | By

Dear Armpit Picker,

Ignoring the “ick” factor, I am astounded, if not awed, by your devotion to personal grooming: shared so generously with everyone in the compartment (bar those glued to their iPhones). Let me applaud you. While your three female companions, shrieking gleefully like starving coyotes over a kill, chose to disregard the no eating or drinking signs posted above them, by cramming their faces with burgers, fries and noisy slurps of bucket-size soda, you remained the outsider, the iconoclast, quietly picking away at your armpit, save for the occasional “shit,” “fuck,” and intensive “motherfucker.” Eyes straining, nay, bulging, tongue hanging out in deep concentration like a thirsty bloodhound. Yours was a very long tongue! I mean, for God’s sake, woman, have you no shame, taking it out in public? Anyway, I jest—and forgive the canine comparison. Undoubtedly, like a bloodhound (and under more auspicious circumstances), you are kind, patient, noble, mild-mannered and lovable. You are certainly persistent!



“The Truth About Farts and People,” by Amrita Chanda

Dec 14th, 2016 | By

Farts are underrated. There! Somebody had to say it out loud and I, for one, have decided that I want to hold it in no more. I don’t know about you, but modern day farting has left me fairly dissatisfied and as a fellow fartsman, roughly discriminated too—the guilt, the secrecy, the cover ups and the denial! Ugh, denial’s the worst… it’s all very exhausting, to say the least. Like everything else in this world, I bet things weren’t this complicated back in the day. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they celebrated farts just as everything else but we don’t hear the history books talk about those, now do we? See? Discrimination.



“The Circumcision,” by Ali Kashkouli

Nov 2nd, 2016 | By

Shiraz, Iran: November 1, 1978. The day I was born. I’d like to say it was a Wednesday, but who the hell knows, I’m not Rainman. And even if I did have a talent for counting errant toothpicks, wrapping one’s mind around temporal exactitude once the International Date Line has been crossed is nearly impossible.

I was a child born into a time of revolution and flux. Iran had only recently deposed their Shah and the first day of the hostage crisis was almost exactly one year away. The world watched with concern as Iran’s 2500 year old monarchal tradition dissolved in a fantastic heap of religious fundamentalism.



“Full Pharma Ahead!” by Herbert H. Hoffman

Oct 12th, 2016 | By

He could not remember that he ever had been well, completely well. But he had faith. Always ready to try something new, he reached for the bottle of “Dopymilstonal, 85MG, Take one or two tablets a day as needed, with or without food”. Those labels are so helpful, so encouraging. One feels better right away because one has hope again. Till next day when the side effects kick in. For some inscrutable reason he tended to be one of those “in rare cases” patients. Sure enough, next morning he felt dizzy and passed a bucket full of pink urine, just as it said in the accompanying little brochure printed on very thin paper in a microscopically small type size. Well, what else is new, he thought, and went to get himself a snack. At night he took another tablet because he felt that it was needed.



“David Strathairn: I Want to See You Lose Your Shit,” by Michael Rodman

Oct 5th, 2016 | By

I’m not exactly sure of the right way to go about this, David Strathairn, so I’m just going to come right out and say it. I would really like to see you, David Strathairn, lose your shit. There. It feels good to finally get it off my chest. I know what you must be thinking: Who the fuck is this guy, a guy who, out of the blue, wants to see me, David Strathairn, lose my shit? Wait—is “fuck” a word that you, David Strathairn, would use? Or even think? Not, I imagine, unless you lost your shit. Which is the whole point. So here we are.



“An Open Letter to My College Student Frantically Trying to Complete Last Week’s Homework During Class,” Anita Gill

Sep 7th, 2016 | By

Dear Student,

I regret to inform you I cannot accept your homework. I am aware it is due today, but I don’t think you clearly grasp the purpose of homework. Allow me to explain it more fully to you.

Homework is defined as a set of tasks or assignments that are to be completed outside of class. Pay attention to the phrases outside of class and the word home in homework.



“A Guide to Attending Your Twenty-Year Elementary School Reunion Like the Single, Childfree, Badass Bitch that You Are,” by Christina Berchini

Aug 24th, 2016 | By

Breathe. You’ve been jolted. Your heart palpitations and sudden flashbacks to the worst six years of your life are perfectly appropriate responses. After all, you’ve just received a class reunion invitation from a peer whose personality rivaled that of the clown called ‘It.’

Step away from the e-vite. Whether or not this is the first recorded attempt at an elementary school reunion since the founding of the Boston Latin School is irrelevant.



“Sinking Relationship,” by John Branning

Jul 13th, 2016 | By

My wife Carol said something really sweet and profound to me the other day. I wish I’d muted the TV long enough to catch it all.

Carol starts every day by saying, “I love you.” I respond by asking her who she’s on the phone with.



“Open Letter to Proponents of Open Offices,” by Jia Din

Jul 6th, 2016 | By

Give me a wall. Three walls as it were. (I’d rather have four, quite honestly. Four with a door: an office really). But clearly we cannot all have offices. If I do get an office, please make sure it is four walls and not three walls and one glass window. I do not need to see anyone for the type of administrative office work I do (or for most types of office work for that matter).



“How To Tell If You’re A Lady In A 1950s Melodrama,” by Joy Lanzendorfer

May 11th, 2016 | By

Everything is your fault. If you were a good girl, you wouldn’t have gotten into that car accident.

You’re life is accompanied by a swelling musical score that sounds like classical music, but it’s not. It’s really, really not.