1. Analogies are like lies.
2. The hospital smelled like a sweaty, lost coin. No, like a broth of soggy jigsaw puzzle pieces. No…Oh, fuck it. Someone beeped something. My Nursing Instructor loomed above me. Giant, white crow, wings outstretched, talon pointing to my forehead: “When you give an injection, be absolute certain it’s right med, right dose, right time, right injection site, right patient. It’s like a bullet. You don’t ever get it back once you push the plunger. There is no do over.”
3. James Thurber had a glass eye. (He lost his sight by playing “William Tell” with his brother.) In fact, he had many glass eyes, in a small case in his coat pocket. At cocktail parties, as the evening wore on, as he drank more and more, he would occasionally visit the bathroom and switch out his glass eye with another one more bloodshot.
4. “The order said B.O. but I thought it said B.Q., so I made it barbecue, not black olive.”
My Pizza Hut Instructor’s head was in the shape of a luffa gourd. Long, stringy hair, like something clogged in a drain, etc. His name was Hassan Hassan. He smoked a lot of marijuana. He shrugged. He said, “Fuck it, man. Just eat it for lunch and make a new one.”
5. Just as one is good, another is bad.
6. Thurber would draw on cocktail napkins, to flirt with women. Most of these napkins were wadded up, tossed away.
7. How do you think the backside of a mirror feels? Think about how lonely that is, to be the backside of a mirror. Or maybe not at all. Maybe it’s a relief. It must be such pressure to be the front of a mirror.
8. They pitched watermelons off the truck, big, looping, spinning arcs of watermelon. This was in July, the afternoon sun. Big-ass Memphis sun, humidity all puckering. Sun like a fucking orangutan. It was hot. I was sixteen and very eager. There I am, below the truck. My hands all sweating. My job was to catch all of the watermelons.
“Everyone you drop comes out of your paycheck!” my Produce Store Instructor shouted.
9. Thurber rewrote all of his New Yorker essays (he called them “Casuals”) a minimum of twenty-five drafts. (He eventually lost all his vision, and developed this process: think out the words, dictate them to a secretary, she types them and reads them back, he corrects the text out loud, she reads back his corrections and retypes them and says them aloud, he then…Oh, you get the idea. Maddening for the secretary, I’d bet.)
10. I cannot stand when people say they have no regrets. “I’d do it all the same again…blah, blah, blar.” Well, fuck you.
11. One time, rather hungover, I drove a forklift directly into a chemical containment pond. The forklift weighed 4,000 pounds. It suuunnnnnnkkkkkkk.
My DuPont Instructor said, “Now, how we going to get that forklift out of that pond?”
I said, “I don’t know.”
He smiled the smile of those full-time employees conditioned to working with dumbasses from summer help. “I do. Go and get the bigger forklift.”
So that day I got to forklift out my forklift with another forklift, a thing I enjoyed as meta. (The pond was illegal, so don’t pass on this story to anyone working with OSHA. Thanks.)
12. ‘Nothing in excess,’ professed the ancient Greeks.
13. Thurber would stand in his kitchen and think a moment and then run madly down the road after the retreating postman. Muttering, he’d lift his essay from the mailbag. Muttering all the way home into his study, muttering.
14. “You can’t wall bricks worth a damn!” my Construction Instructor told me. A red-faced man named Chester. (We meanly called him Chester the Molester though we never witnessed him molest anything larger than a half pint bottle.)
“Want me to take them out and do them again?” I asked.
“No, I don’t.” He reached out and took off my hardhat. I felt small without my hardhat. I felt like a chipmunk or a cigarette butt. Something. He pointed a meaty finger at my Woody Allen safety glasses and my naked forehead. “I want you to get the fuck off my worksite. And don’t ever come back. You’re done.”