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Very Real Things a 20-Something Girl Beside Me at the Nail Salon Said Out Loud to Her Friends

1. Sometimes Instagram is just too much. Like, I get it. You’re into tulle right now. You don’t need to remind me with ten straight pictures. 

2. You know what I just learned? On my iPhone? I can name my folders using emoji. So, like, all my food delivery services and stuff are now marked with the little box of French fries.  

3 You know what I’m craving sooooo bad right now? Ezekiel bread! Like, I want that right this second, like, an open-face on Ezekiel with just, like, some cucumber slices or something. Ezekiel is the shit. 

4. My iPhone wallpaper is so boring. It’s just a Pantone color that I’ll totally end up changing to another Pantone color later. 

5. Let’s go to the hat store and try on some hats! I really want to try on hats, you guys! My boyfriend totally hates me but, you know, we’ve hooked up for a year and it’s not like Loving Hats is something new. 

6. I need to go to the gym tonight but the only people who are there on Friday night are those Weird Gym People, you know, the ones who are like crawling up and down the Stairmaster and sweating all over. I don’t trust people who enjoy their own sweat. 

7. Yeah, this is my L.A.M.B. jacket. Do you know what L.A.M.B. means? It’s Love, Angel, Music and Babies. I get the first part but I’m not sure about the Babies. That doesn’t seem to fit with, like, the aesthetic but I guess Gwen does have, like, three or four kids, so maybe that’s it. 

8. [Her friend tries to get her attention by saying ‘Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret.’] YES! I remember reading that in middle school. All the girls read that book and all the guys had to read something else about Boy Puberty. 

9. [‘Such Great Heights’ by the Postal Service comes on] I. LOVE. THIS. SONG. It’s so middle school, right? This was every single relationship, this and that Beatles song about being two lost souls in a fishbowl or whatever. 

10. I’m terrified that there’s a vault somewhere with everyone’s Snapchat pictures. And, like, they’re all alphabetized or something. A friend of a friend knows that guy, the Snapchat guy, and she says he’s a total brat. 

I don’t typically park in the spaces marked Overly Earnest but last night I was leaving the Drive-By Truckers gig that is captured in the blurry Instagram above and realized that there really aren’t many things that feel better than the cool outside air as soon as you step out of a packed concert onto the sidewalk, that mercifully wide open sidewalk. You’ve just spent the past two or three hours pressed shoulder to shoulder to shoulder with strangers, sweating and shouting somebody else’s sentences with more confidence and less fear than you’ve ever spoken any words of your own. Chances are, the music made you feel alive. Feeling that first blast of cool air just confirms it.

I don’t typically park in the spaces marked Overly Earnest but last night I was leaving the Drive-By Truckers gig that is captured in the blurry Instagram above and realized that there really aren’t many things that feel better than the cool outside air as soon as you step out of a packed concert onto the sidewalk, that mercifully wide open sidewalk. You’ve just spent the past two or three hours pressed shoulder to shoulder to shoulder with strangers, sweating and shouting somebody else’s sentences with more confidence and less fear than you’ve ever spoken any words of your own. Chances are, the music made you feel alive. Feeling that first blast of cool air just confirms it.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll click over to Hulu and throw on an episode of Dragnet, staring at the screen while I repeatedly say “dun-dun-dun-dah” out loud. (Yes, I’m going to die alone, thank you for asking.) Anyway, it now views like one of the most dated shows ever, and not just because of the over-saturated colors of the Southern California landscapes that open each episode. It’s completely straight, straighter than the part in Sgt. Joe Friday’s Army-short haircut. There are no nods or winks to the audience, no jokes or ironic asides. (Creator, director, producer and star Jack Webb was apparently aiming for something realistic, which makes me think that his own reality was the kind of boring that would involuntarily glaze your eyes.)
This version of the series originally aired during the late 1960s and early 1970s—during one of the most interesting periods of American history—and instead of embracing it, the writers tend to flat out fear it. Based on the way the counterculture was portrayed, the show seems to have been targeted at fiftysomethings who sat beneath their framed portraits of the Eisenhower family, shaking their heads at news stories about Kids Today while they clipped recipes for something involving lard and a Jello mold and reluctantly agreed to have missionary-style sex later. (With the lights out, obviously.) 
The total lack of humor is unintentionally hilarious. More than once, I’ve laughed while Sgt. Friday pulled his slacks up past his collarbone before giving an intense twenty-five sentence lecture to a protester, a casual drug user, or anyone wearing a fringed vest. 
Webb-as-Friday (and Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon) seem to totally believe that—despite the slogans those long-haired hippies painted on their filthy signs—love isn’t free. Not then, not ever. It comes with a price tag that can only be paid off by spending Sundays at your sister-in-law’s, by reading the real estate listings for homes you can’t afford and forcing a smile through another bite of your wife’s overcooked roast beef. 
Maybe this is why Sgt. Friday was a lifelong bachelor.
Or maybe it was just because of those pants. 

Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll click over to Hulu and throw on an episode of Dragnet, staring at the screen while I repeatedly say “dun-dun-dun-dah” out loud. (Yes, I’m going to die alone, thank you for asking.) Anyway, it now views like one of the most dated shows ever, and not just because of the over-saturated colors of the Southern California landscapes that open each episode. It’s completely straight, straighter than the part in Sgt. Joe Friday’s Army-short haircut. There are no nods or winks to the audience, no jokes or ironic asides. (Creator, director, producer and star Jack Webb was apparently aiming for something realistic, which makes me think that his own reality was the kind of boring that would involuntarily glaze your eyes.)

This version of the series originally aired during the late 1960s and early 1970s—during one of the most interesting periods of American history—and instead of embracing it, the writers tend to flat out fear it. Based on the way the counterculture was portrayed, the show seems to have been targeted at fiftysomethings who sat beneath their framed portraits of the Eisenhower family, shaking their heads at news stories about Kids Today while they clipped recipes for something involving lard and a Jello mold and reluctantly agreed to have missionary-style sex later. (With the lights out, obviously.) 

The total lack of humor is unintentionally hilarious. More than once, I’ve laughed while Sgt. Friday pulled his slacks up past his collarbone before giving an intense twenty-five sentence lecture to a protester, a casual drug user, or anyone wearing a fringed vest. 

Webb-as-Friday (and Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon) seem to totally believe that—despite the slogans those long-haired hippies painted on their filthy signs—love isn’t free. Not then, not ever. It comes with a price tag that can only be paid off by spending Sundays at your sister-in-law’s, by reading the real estate listings for homes you can’t afford and forcing a smile through another bite of your wife’s overcooked roast beef. 

Maybe this is why Sgt. Friday was a lifelong bachelor.

Or maybe it was just because of those pants. 

I tried to find a place to dump myself on the 6 Train and the only visible slot of faded purple plastic was beside a hard-looking teenager who was sprawled all over the seat. She had to be in high school, her schedule filled with AP classes in Scowl Cultivation and Piercings That Don’t Require a Permission Slip. She had totally mastered the ability to appear bigger than she was, bulked up in a black puffer jacket and her legs—splayed as wide as the human pelvis will allow—were loosely draped in enough denim to cover both beds and the sofa in an executive suite at Hampton Inn. 
As soon as I dropped down beside her, she locked eyes with me and tried to look tough, or as tough as she possibly could while listening to that Jack Johnson record about Curious George. She tapped her iPhone against her thigh, stopping only when she got a text from someone named Chelsea. 
It was a smiley face. The standard one. No teeth, no bulging eyes, no sunglasses: the plain hamburger on the emoji menu. Her first reaction was to respond with the poop symbol, which was—maybe unsurprisingly—the first item in her Recently Used pile. She paused. Erased it. She selected the gun next, her finger hovering over the screen while Jack strummed some harmless metaphor about recycling (aren’t all of his songs harmless metaphors about recycling?). She deleted that one too. She returned to the poop, pressed its tiny dilated pupils and put a second pile beside it.
She added a period—it’s a complete sentence now—and pressed send. 
Seven stops came and went before she stood up and shoved her way toward the door just as aggressively as you’d expect. Or maybe hope. 
Chelsea never replied. 

I tried to find a place to dump myself on the 6 Train and the only visible slot of faded purple plastic was beside a hard-looking teenager who was sprawled all over the seat. She had to be in high school, her schedule filled with AP classes in Scowl Cultivation and Piercings That Don’t Require a Permission Slip. She had totally mastered the ability to appear bigger than she was, bulked up in a black puffer jacket and her legs—splayed as wide as the human pelvis will allow—were loosely draped in enough denim to cover both beds and the sofa in an executive suite at Hampton Inn. 

As soon as I dropped down beside her, she locked eyes with me and tried to look tough, or as tough as she possibly could while listening to that Jack Johnson record about Curious George. She tapped her iPhone against her thigh, stopping only when she got a text from someone named Chelsea. 

It was a smiley face. The standard one. No teeth, no bulging eyes, no sunglasses: the plain hamburger on the emoji menu. Her first reaction was to respond with the poop symbol, which was—maybe unsurprisingly—the first item in her Recently Used pile. She paused. Erased it. She selected the gun next, her finger hovering over the screen while Jack strummed some harmless metaphor about recycling (aren’t all of his songs harmless metaphors about recycling?). She deleted that one too. She returned to the poop, pressed its tiny dilated pupils and put a second pile beside it.

She added a period—it’s a complete sentence now—and pressed send. 

Seven stops came and went before she stood up and shoved her way toward the door just as aggressively as you’d expect. Or maybe hope. 

Chelsea never replied. 

1. I’m sort of disappointed in Maggie May or whatever her actual name was. Because no matter how hot a young Rod Stewart was (sorry, Martin Quittenton), there’s no way I’d sit around telling jokes and trying to entertain him after he told me how awful and old I look in natural light. 
2. I’m pretty sure I’m older right now than Maggie was when she dragged Rod through her sheets, which makes me feel slightly depressed. OK, more than slightly depressed. If anyone needs me, I’l be buying a new moisturizer and taking it to the nearest open bar where—if the ‘tender knows what’s good for him—he’ll card me. REPEATEDLY. 
3. The only reason I started thinking about this is because I realized that I looked borderline Ptolemaic in the sunlight this morning. Where’s MY song, Rod? 

1. I’m sort of disappointed in Maggie May or whatever her actual name was. Because no matter how hot a young Rod Stewart was (sorry, Martin Quittenton), there’s no way I’d sit around telling jokes and trying to entertain him after he told me how awful and old I look in natural light. 

2. I’m pretty sure I’m older right now than Maggie was when she dragged Rod through her sheets, which makes me feel slightly depressed. OK, more than slightly depressed. If anyone needs me, I’l be buying a new moisturizer and taking it to the nearest open bar where—if the ‘tender knows what’s good for him—he’ll card me. REPEATEDLY. 

3. The only reason I started thinking about this is because I realized that I looked borderline Ptolemaic in the sunlight this morning. Where’s MY song, Rod? 

"I was just assigned a feature story," the girl in front of me at the coffee shop just told the barista, rubbing the ends of her perfect hair between two of her equally perfect fingers. "And I just counted: I’m working on seven books right now!" If I had one wish at this moment, it’s that I could telekinetically send her flying through the front window backwards, hard enough that she skidded to a stop against the curb on the other side of Bedford Avenue. That would give me time to grab her portfolio and sprint at least three blocks before she even noticed what had happened.

"I was just assigned a feature story," the girl in front of me at the coffee shop just told the barista, rubbing the ends of her perfect hair between two of her equally perfect fingers. "And I just counted: I’m working on seven books right now!" 

If I had one wish at this moment, it’s that I could telekinetically send her flying through the front window backwards, hard enough that she skidded to a stop against the curb on the other side of Bedford Avenue. That would give me time to grab her portfolio and sprint at least three blocks before she even noticed what had happened.

"I don’t experience life as a story and when I do, I feel very queasy about it. My life does not have a narrative arc. Things happen and you respond to them, but I don’t experience life as a story." 
"I’m an experimental artist because I like that thrill of ‘This has never happened before.’" 
"I’m drawn to revolution because people work with each other in different ways. I would rather be part of a revolution than in a party." 
"When you’re stuck [creatively], just try to do the worst thing you could possibly do. Write the worst story, paint the worst picture. It’ll have a lot of energy in it […] and you’re not worried about it." 
Laurie Anderson Strand Bookstore 6 March 2014

"I don’t experience life as a story and when I do, I feel very queasy about it. My life does not have a narrative arc. Things happen and you respond to them, but I don’t experience life as a story." 

"I’m an experimental artist because I like that thrill of ‘This has never happened before.’" 

"I’m drawn to revolution because people work with each other in different ways. I would rather be part of a revolution than in a party." 

"When you’re stuck [creatively], just try to do the worst thing you could possibly do. Write the worst story, paint the worst picture. It’ll have a lot of energy in it […] and you’re not worried about it." 

Laurie Anderson
Strand Bookstore
6 March 2014