The Good Word of Sprout

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Sally spends the morning vacuuming cobwebs and lint from her unfinished basement because yuck, cobwebs and lint do not belong there, and what if Jesus stops by with his white robe and white gloves to check for dust?

She hears the baby cry through the monitor and hauls her wholesome thickness upstairs to attend to that. She lifts him out of the crib and presses her face to his. He smells like powder. Sally smiles and gurgles. "Oh Adam, you look just like hubby," she says.

Adam spits up in her mouth.

She swallows it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


It's a peculiar old lock on this chest, these ribs and skin, these two odd hairy dials, but it must be unlocked to let the emotions out. They exert pressure. If kept inside, they'd rot and stink and turn to tar.

The key to the chest is empathy, which when it resonates at a certain frequency it turns the tumblers and out spills a hot torrent of feelings. These feelings can be strong like booze or certain teas and equally intoxicating and calming as if we were all the same.


Monday, September 21, 2009


Throughout the day, I use the social skills I have to try to make others more comfortable. Come the evening, I need some balance.

I'm sure I could learn to appreciate speed metal, but loud angry noise is simply inconsiderate. Anyone can be inconsiderate. To disturb with psychological nuance, to be artfully antisocial, takes more skill. Ear to the floor, I keep a journal of the downstairs neighbors' conversations, the more mundane the better:

6:14 P.M.

"What do you want for dinner, honey?"
"Meatloaf, kitten."
(me stifling laughter -- kitten meatloaf...)

The next day arrives. I go to work. I come home. I take out the journal, a microphone, and the only musical instrument I own: a triangle. I open the journal and ring the triangle:


It's exactly 6:14 P.M.

"What do you want for dinner honey," I shriek into the microphone.
"Meatloaf, kitten," I bellow.
(me stomping about, giggling uncontrolled)


Wednesday, September 16, 2009


In the elementary schoolyard, sniffing the new girl was an effective way to get a few laughs, force someone else to introduce me (I was shy), and appear crazy enough to deter Timmy the Bully. Now, twenty years later, I wish I could go to therapy to control my hair-sniffing compulsion, but it is my choice to want to sniff hair, and it underscores my virtue when I deny myself. The hilarity is over. Life is to be endured.

Oh, but it's awful on a crowded bus, standing at nose-level with a beautiful head of chestnut hair glimmering in the sunset and just needing to bury my face in it like a cool sweet pillow and just snort the strands into my sinuses and sneeze and sneeze and sneeze on the neck below, the warm neck below, so warm and like a goose...

Instead, as the stops go by, I shake and sweat like I'm holding back an insistent bowel movement. I count backwards from one thousand by sevens. I breathe. I suffer. I vote Republican. If I shan't have pleasure, no one shall.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rodent Gratitude

A black squirrel scratched its way up the window screen. Its belly, gray and fat with dumpster trash, pressed against it, bowing it slightly. I lay mostly unclothed on the bed beside the window, clutching a miniature baseball bat (not a euphemism) and hoping it wouldn't find the squirrel-sized hole (not a euphemism) in the screen just a foot to its left. If it jumped through the hole onto the bed, I would club it to death like the sexy-tailed rat it is.

The breeze felt cool. The squirrel climbed left and poked its head though the hole. Its jaws worked as if chewing. I looked into its black eyes and cocked the bat.

"Gheee-ta-ta-ta-ta," it said, producing a seed pod from somewhere and dropping it on the windowsill.

Was this the same squirrel I braked for this morning? There aren't a whole lot of black squirrels in the city, at least not on the North Side. But squirrels don't remember. They certainly don't know where I live.

"Reee-ta-ta-ta," it said.

"Thank you?" I replied.

It dashed down the screen to the ledge, then onto the tree, and it was gone. I picked up the pod and took a bite. Tasty, nutty. Maybe I should have said "you're welcome." It certainly is welcome.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Problem/Solution/Com- plication

Problem: "Hey," your brother says, "you really need to clean your ears. Looks like you got cheddar in there."

Solution: You buy an ear canal irrigation system. Obviously you're too high-class for Q-tips. The warm water flushes out the wax and suddenly you can understand what people say, and it's not always nice.

Complication: You wake up from a dream about a military march because there's something tickling your ear. Then you remember your brother bragging about inventing the first centipede syringe. At the time, you thought you had misunderstood -- due to the ear wax.

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