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A couple of weeks ago,

A couple of weeks ago, I paid a young German man named Ibo to clean my apartment. When he found out that I am a graphic designer, he whipped out some tattered pages upon which he had doodled sketches for a logo for his natural cake-baking business. They were not terrible ideas, but they were not the most brilliant designs I had ever seen, either. I asked him a few pointed questions meant to steer his thinking in subtly different directions and then went to the café so he could get to work.

Last night, when I called him to see when he could come back and clean again, he said, “David, you did not like those logos I showed you, right?”

I said, “I thought they were fine; I just had questions about why you did what you did.”

He said that he had met with another designer just that day to discuss possible logos, and that he had been afraid to show the designer the same sketches he had shown me because, after my comments, “all I could think was that they were terrible.” He continued, “And you would know, because you are the expert.”

So my question is, is my mild criticism so easily mistaken for revulsion, or does Ibo just have little faith in his own abilities? I wonder this because I am in the middle of writing a business proposal that raises similar–actually even more substantial–questions about a concept proposed by a client of mine, and I am afraid they will be taken in much the same way.

Perhaps I have little faith in my abilities.

Of course, I am the expert.

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Something is happening, but I

Something is happening, but I do not know what.

If you happen to know what it is, I would be happy to hear from you.

Unless you are evil.

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Rob and I spent the

Rob and I spent the past thirty-six hours in Baltimore, where my father generously purchased tickets for us and every other member of my family to watch the new Cirque du Soliel event, Dralion, which featured all manner of acrobatics and, as Rob put it, “bendy people.” Since we were all together, my brother and sister-in-law announced the impending birth of their first child within unfortunate earshot of a passing clown, who made a tremendous show of helping Katie deliver a bouncing baby rubber chicken.

(Bouncing. Rubber. Get it?)

It was a spectacular show, in any case.

I bought a shirt.

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A couple of days ago,

A couple of days ago, the streets in my neighborhood were lined with trailers for the filming of Spider-Man II. I did not see any actors or, really, anyone other than a lackey who rode up on a bicycle and let himself or herself into one of the trucks.

It is interesting: I have lived in this neighborhood for a year, and it will probably never seem as real to me as when I see Spider-Man swooping through it up on the big screen. (Perhaps Spider-Man can be more accurately described as “swinging” than “swooping,” but I do believe there is an element of swooping to swinging, and, anyway, swooping is rather more dramatic a word.)

I had entertained hopes of walking Goblin through the set so we could be discovered and make our acting debut, but having been snubbed for the role of Mary Jane Watson, she would not dream of accepting a mere walk-on role.

(Meanwhile, I think I am suffering from narcotics withdrawal.)

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Yesterday, I went to see

Yesterday, I went to see my doctor because of my lingering illness, which began over ten days ago in Arizona, and for some part of our appointment, she seemed to be under the impression that I had viral meningitis. Given additional data, the diagnosis became murkier, but it seems I was spared a spinal tap by virtue of only a few anomalous symptoms. Later in the evening, I described my condition to a medical student who sat at my table at Faustus’s cabaret show, and he (the medical student, not Faustus, who was too busy singing) seemed equally concerned about meningitis, although he gleefully described many of the other possibilities (none of which, I am sure, would leave me functional enough to attend a cabaret, but there have been days in the past week where just raising my head off the pillow was a torture).

What is it about meningitis, anyway? When I visited New Zealand a few years ago and came back with a severe case of that year’s Auckland Flu, I was also initially diagnosed with meningitis.

Picture it: Christchurch, New Zealand, August 1999. I got very sick and had to go to the emergency room, twice, when I got back to Baltimore.

A riveting tale, no?

To me, the funniest thing about all of this is how quickly my convictions about Western medicine fly out the window given the impetus of enough pain. Normally, to avoid “polluting my system,” I will not take so much as an aspirin; it drives Rob crazy that I will not even keep it in the apartment. But in the past several days I have downed an entire bottle of Advil, a half bottle of Percocet, and three bottles of cough medicine (one of them containing not a little codeine).

At least it gives me something to write about.

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Today is Rob’s birthday. It

Today is Rob’s birthday. It occurred to me to use this space for a dramatic illustration of how much younger I am than he, but in the name of a harmonious relationship, I thought I would make a list of things he is younger than:

1. The hills (some of them)

2. Bob Hope

3. Um. The universe?

4. ???

Happy birthday, honey. I love you.

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Given my ongoing illness, not

Given my ongoing illness, not much has happened to me over the past few days, other than that I have completely caught up on the TiVo backlog (except for “Trading Spaces,” which I may watch only with Rob present). With so little recent inspiration for this journal, I resort once again to a memoir.

Picture it . . . . . . . . . . . .

Oh dear.

Given my current drug regimen, I cannot seem to remember anything.

I am adrift in the eddies of space and time.

I am hungry for a chocolate chip cookie.

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Today is apparently Easter. I

Today is apparently Easter. I have seen nary a bonnet, although a man on the stoop across from my apartment was mooning passers-by earlier while I was trying to watch television (the resulting shrieks and car horns drowned out the speakers so I had to see what was going on). I do not know if that counts as an Easter festivity.

I am still ill, although my hope is that I am less ill than yesterday. It is difficult to ascertain, as I am comfortably overdosed on narcotics. The astute among you will wonder how that differs from my normal state, but my current feeling of well-being is such that I will not be distracted by technicalities.

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I am ill. Very ill.

I am ill. Very ill.

Two people today jokingly asked if I have SARS.

Ha ha.

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Honestly, I cannot leave you

Honestly, I cannot leave you people for a moment. I take one little trip to Arizona to watch my boyfriend get inducted into his high school’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, and everything goes to pieces.

Here is the sort of thing you were up to while my back was turned:

Dear David,

I must tax you again for your opinion. You see, I wrote Dan Savage ages ago and even asked very nicely a second time, to no avail. I don’t want to plague Dan with some kind of Marathon Man reenactment “Is it safe?…Is it safe?”, so I turn to you for help:

“My friend wants to put me in an empty bathtub and pour bottle after bottle of champagne over me. To which I would happily consent, but I fear injury to my tender bits when sitting in all that alcohol. And though I hate to repeat unsubstantiated lore, I even heard *somewhere* that Natalie Wood ended up in a hospital after springing into just such a cocktail.

So help a young floozy out-is this risky business or can we pop our corks and have at it?”

-lambchop

David responds:
Good lord, I hope my mother is not reading this one.

All right, all right. As you might have suspected, the female anatomy is not something with which I am intimately familiar, so even though I was in the throes of agony recovering from severe dehydration and dashing off my taxes at the last possible moment, I took the time to consult with not one but two physicians on your behalf.

One, a gynecologist, said that nothing should go dramatically wrong, although the alcohol in the champagne might kill some of the beneficial bacteria in your vagina, resulting in a yeast infection. The other doctor said that the bath probably would not cause any harm, but she warns against getting up to any funny business with the bottle, as there have been cases of such things “becoming trapped due to the suction effect.”

So pop your cork, floozy. Christen the ship of love. But if anything unforeseen should occur (Natalie Wood did drown under mysterious circumstances), I trust you will tell the authorities you got this advice from the much put-upon Dan Savage and leave me out of it.

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Yes, I am back from

Yes, I am back from my trip. It was fabulous although, despite what you may have read, not particularly glamorous. Rob and I spent the weekend in various parts of his home state of Arizona, which I had never before visited. I absolutely loved the desert and felt such a mental and spiritual connection with it that I did not want to leave. Unfortunately, my negative physical reaction was equally extreme. Despite drinking gallons of water every day, I became acutely dehydrated and lost my voice on three occasions (a symptom about which Rob did not complain overmuch). I am still not completely recovered and spent most of yesterday in the dark with the humidifier running.

While in Arizona, we attended an awards ceremony in which Rob was inducted into his high school’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, took a tour of Biosphere 2, spent the night in a haunted hotel in a mining ghost town, and visited an experimental urban development called Arcosanti.

On the way home, we were offered the chance to upgrade our tickets to first class, a mode of travel of which I had theretofore taken a dim view. It was actually quite comfortable and afforded me the opportunity to eat the most expensive scoop of macaroni and cheese ever concocted.

I would write more, but it is time for a steamy bath. Hydration is fun.

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David has returned from his

By Joel:

David has returned from his glamorous trip with his glamorous boyfriend, but he is not feeling well, so I’m continuing to guest blog for him until he recovers from his glamorous illness.

There was another point in David’s life at which he was glamorously ill and had an IV in his arm. He noticed an air bubble in the IV and was filled with terror, because he knew that if an air bubble gets into your artery you will have an embolism and die. However, he didn’t want to cause a scene, so he just lay there quietly and didn’t say anything. Finally, when he had about five seconds left to live, he called in the nurse. She told him he was being an idiot, and he lived. But the fact remains that David found it preferable to die of an embolism than to bother somebody and maybe make her annoyed at him.

Thank God somebody in this world besides me has his priorities in the right order.

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David is out of town

By Joel:

David is out of town in glamorous Arizona with his glamorous boyfriend Rob, who is getting a glamorous award. Until he gets back, you are in my hands, which one hopes are at least semi-capable.

Two and a half years ago, I called Rob up on a Friday and said, “Hey, do you want to go to Six Flags tomorrow?” He said, “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.” Six Flags, for those of you who don’t know, is a chain amusement park with perhaps half a dozen sites around the country, including one a 45-minute bus ride from Manhattan.

So Rob and I met up at the Port Authority bus terminal in plenty of time for the 10:00 bus to Six Flags. We had some breakfast, made fun of people we knew, and got on the bus, which took off presently, headed for a day of fun and adventure.

About fifteen minutes into the bus ride, I started talking about what roller coasters I wanted to go on. I said, “Well, I definitely want to go on the Lightning ride, and if they have any kind of Indiana Jones or buried treasure kind of ride, I want to do that too, and-”

“I don’t really like roller coasters,” interrupted Rob.

I looked at him.

“But Six Flags is an amusement park. Why did you say you thought it would be a great idea to go?”

“Well, I thought we could do other things.”

“Other things like what? All they have is roller coasters.”

Silence.

“Oh.”

We ended up eating pounds and pounds of sugar-coated fried dough and going on five rides that were unroller-coaster-like enough for Rob and roller-coaster-like enough for me. Rob won a stuffed animal, which he gave to me to give to my boyfriend, who then broke up with me.

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Last night, I saw a

Last night, I saw a musical about two prim amphibians who do not use contractions when they speak. Because of course they spoke. And sang. And flew kites. And planted seeds. I wish I could discuss the homoerotic subtext, but there was virtually none. Frog and Toad are merely friends and neighbors who enjoy each other’s company and do things to make each other’s lives easier and more fun.

At least Ernie and Bert share a bedroom.

There has been a lot of conflict in my life lately. I have argued with my father about the wisdom of the current war, a debate that will surely be extended since, if you listen closely, you can hear the same devious rhetoric that started the current mess now being applied to Syria and Iran. I am arguing with my client in Chicago about compensation and getting the respect I deserve for my time, work, and energy. As it happens in many relationships, Rob and I seem to have passed through a period of dramatic negotiation. I cannot even impel Goblin to comply with my wishes as we walk down the street.

So it was refreshing to see a play without any conflict more devastating than whether two prim amphibians who do not use contractions should partake excessively of some tasty cookies. (And they do, bless their little hearts.)

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I think there is a

I think there is a conspiracy going on between my bad karma and my apartment’s bad feng shui.

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Last night, I went to

Last night, I went to a cabaret.

Tonight, I am going to a cabaret.

Life is a cabaret, you bum.

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Reports are streaming in that

Reports are streaming in that I am either crazy or too demanding.

My response: why can I not be both at the same time?

Actually, I am both reasonably sane and insanely reasonable.

The cheese stands alone.

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This morning, I had pancakes

This morning, I had pancakes for breakfast.

I had pancakes for breakfast this morning.

I had pancakes this morning for breakfast.

This morning, for breakfast, I had pancakes.

Breakfast: pancakes.

Break. Fast. Pan. Cakes.

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This is my second entry

This is my second entry for the day. Scroll down to read a challenge to my smooch aversion.

Today, I was bored, so I decided to walk up the street to hang out at the cafe. Coming the other direction was a bedraggled homeless man who yelled over and over again, “Bryant Gumbel! Bryant Gumbel!”

Bryant Gumbel, however, did not heed the call.

V. perplexing.

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Dear David, I confess, I

Dear David,

I confess, I was stumped by the fact that many of the statements in your April Fool list smacked of duplicity. But I wonder at the truth of “smooch” being your least favorite word! Do you prefer “osculations”? I like to throw “smooch” around when I don’t really want to offer or imply something so sublime as “Kiss”. Please explain your anti-smooch stance.

-lambchop

David responds:
My dear, it is not the concept I oppose, it is the word itself. To me, smooch is oily, falling in the same category as ooze and schmooze. It is dishonest and terribly, terribly wrong. For the act itself, I prefer kiss with a lesser inflection; even buss and peck have their charms. I stand my by aversion.

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And now, the moment you

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for. Just when I had given up the idea that someone might catch on to my little April Fool’s prank, the winning email arrived this morning from Elizabeth. As a lawyer, she is no doubt accustomed to tricky word play: Elizabeth was the only one to suggest that the incorrect statement I had in mind was “One of these statements is incorrect.” In fact, not including that one, three of the statements were lies.

Numerous people suggested that the last statement (that if I did not already have a boyfriend, I would want Brendon Fraser to be my boyfriend) was untrue. It is. If I did not already have Rob as a boyfriend, I would want Rob to be my boyfriend; next on the list is Matt Damon, who has been interested in me for some time. (Matt, if you are reading this . . . honestly! Are seven calls per day not a tad excessive?)

The next most popular guess was that the first statement (that I have had my body pierced eight times) was untrue. One person wrote: “I don’t think you’re the body piercing type.” Someone else said: “I’m going to guess it’s the being pierced eight times thing. At first I was going to say the being held at gunpoint by the Mexican army thing but that sounds far too likely given your nefarious proclivities.”

Wrong, my little chickadees: I had my ears pierced six times, and my eyebrow twice. And incidentally, the Mexican army incident did indeed happen. Erich and I were driving across a Oaxacan desert when we were stopped at an army checkpoint. While my boyfriend waited in the car, the soldiers had me open the trunk so they could go through our luggage, searching for drugs or anything they could steal. I lived in Chicago at the time, and when they learned this, they began to make lecherous noises about how beautiful the women were in “Chi-ca-go, Illy-noise,” and did I have a girlfriend? It was a pointed question, and I do not merely refer to the machine gun pointed in my direction, which inspired me to invent a buxom mate on the spot. Once they were satisfied with my description, they allowed us to drive on.

Another lie also received some attention. I was not, in fact, born in a taxicab. One snarky correspondent had this to say: “I believe #2, ‘I was born in a taxicab as it rushed my mother to the hospital,’ is the false statement. My reasoning is that I’ve always suspected you have no natural parents and are actually a manifestation of the dark side of the Force, hence your personal admiration for the Emperor. And your wicked eyebrows!”

So now I have wicked eyebrows, do I! Well just for that, I shall blast your planet out of orbit, you–

*ahem*

And one reader tried to cover all of the bases by sending in ten emails, one in response to each of my ten statements. All of them featured episodes from his own life but not a single guess as to which of mine were fabricated. Excessive messages, no matter how fascinating, do not a winner make. (I hope you are paying attention to this, Matt Damon. For the last time, I am not going to move into your Hollywood love nest no matter how many emails you send me!)

No one guessed that the last lie was Goblin’s “discovery” by a pet food talent scout. Even though she struts through Central Park every day in sunglasses, a feather boa, and enough eyeshadow to paint a billboard, she has yet to have her big break.

So congratulations, Elizabeth! Your surprise will be arriving soon. And to those others who might argue that the contest was unfair, that their guesses were accurate because they might have stumbled upon one of the lesser lies, I have only this to say: APRIL FOOL!

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I was going to post

I was going to post the answer to my April Fool’s challenge today, but I would rather wait until a few more people write in and see what their answers might be. Those I have already received provide much illumination of the image I project into the world.

One of the people who responded was Mark, my former college roommate, with whom I have not spoken in ten years and who found everybody’s favorite Upside-down Hippopotamus through the blog of one of my dearest friends. That must have been a startling discovery. He himself has a blog, which has linked to mine for months; I did not know it was his when I returned the favor (his is the one titled something about Patsy Stone, whoever that is). Mark was my roommate in Baltimore when I dated Bill and Jim, and I was living with him when I met Erich. He had a melodramatic and inexplicable crush on a frat boy named Jake.

I have the memory of a gnat, but there are some things that stand out in my mind about living with Mark. The first is that he frequently came home and discussed the number of rats’ heads he chopped off that day. He was a boy genius who finished Hopkins in three years with both a BA and an MA, and part of his job was to measure chemical changes in the brains of rodents.

(Don’t worry, Goblin: Gladys, Louise, and Pashmina are safe and plotting extraordinary revenge.)

The second is that he was a big “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fan, and many was the time I heard him shriek in horror or delight over what was occurring in the current episode. As I recall, his favorite moment was when a woman with an English accent pronounced “tsetse fly.” (It had not begun to air then, but everybody now knows that “Voyager” was the best Star Trek series.)

The third is that he was just about the filthiest person I have ever encountered, leaving dishes in the sink until they sprouted new life forms, and leaving me to pick up after him in general if I did not want to live in the Death Star trash compactor. In this capacity, he also pulled the dirtiest trick to which I have ever been subjected. When our apartment lease was up, I found a new place to live, but he made a separate arrangement with our landlady to stay on an extra month. On the day he was to move to North Carolina, I was going to go to the beach with my friends, but I had arranged to go by the apartment in the morning to say goodbye and make sure it was clean enough to pass security deposit muster. (I had cleaned my part when I left, but I suspected he was not to be trusted in this regard.)

To my everlasting horror, I found he had hit the road before I arrived, leaving piles of garbage everywhere, and the kitchen and bathroom and all of the wood floors smeared with unmentionable gook. It took eight hours of intense scrubbing and hauling his accumulated trash outside before the place even approached inhabitability for the next tenants; needless to say, my beach vacation had to be cancelled. My one smidgeon of sweet revenge was that the telephone service was still connected in his name, and I used it to call my friends in Europe for an extended chat at the end of that miserable day.

Yesterday, I mentioned to Mark that I would blog about him this week, and he said that was fine as long as I was “nice.”

He will have to settle for the variation of “nice” that means “characterized by great accuracy.” Now, after a decade of silence, my tale is told!

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One of these statements is

One of these statements is incorrect. Can you spot the April Fool?

1. I have had my body pierced eight times.

2. I was born in a taxicab as it rushed my mother to the hospital.

3. Last week, at the gym, a man in the steam room touched me inappropriately.

4. I have been to the world’s northernmost and southernmost capital cities.

5. Today, in the park, a pet talent scout offered Goblin an audition for a dog food commercial.

6. I briefly dated a porn star.

7. My favorite word is monster; my least favorite word is smooch.

8. I have been held at gunpoint by the Mexican army.

9. A giraffe licked me in the Guadalajara zoo.

10. If I did not already have a boyfriend, I would want my boyfriend to be Brendon Fraser.

Did you spot it? The first person who uses the link below to email me the best answer wins a surprise.