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Postcards I sent home when we were last on vacation together so that you would have something to look forward to on our return.

1.

Dearest,

I booked this trip with the Endless Travel Agency because you said getting there was half the fun. How much more fun, I thought, when getting there takes so much longer than necessary?

The three hour layover in Zembla alone added two weeks and seven pages to our itinerary, but think of all the culture we’ve absorbed in the airports these last months. Who knew they had Sbarro in Shangri-la?

I’m watching you sleep as I write this. You look beautiful, even though you haven’t bathed since Xanadu.

Tomorrow, you will awaken with a chloroform headache. I’m sorry, My Love, but what’s one more flight delayed?

2.

Darling,

In the Gallery of Redundancies in Wax, we were arrested by the lifelike sculpture of Dirk Diggler embracing the lifelike sculpture of Marky Mark.

“They’re both Marky Mark,” you said.

“No,” I said, “only one of them is Marky Mark.  They’re both characters played by Mark Wahlberg.”

But Punkinhead, what I want to know is, which is more redundant — redundancy or the act of calling something redundant when its redundancy has already been acknowledged?

3.

Cherrypie,

As we laced up our skates to head out on the frozen harbor, you said: “This is so beautiful I want to smash it,” as much to the harbor itself as to me.

It was true. One of the lasting effects of the latest oil spill.

My Patient Etherized Upon a Table, you were so graceful out on that black ice that I wished we had insurance so that I could encourage you to break something substantial — an arm, a leg, your husband.

4.

Private Dancer,

Is it possible my confusion has been semantic all along? That I’d rather see inside you than be inside you?

Today we met the visible man and the visible woman in the ghetto of visible people. After we invited ourselves into their house, we found them standing mere feet from each other in the middle of their living room. The whole time we were there they didn’t argue, didn’t speak, didn’t sweat despite the heat. I think they never do. Their stillness is so complete that they don’t even gather dust.

You said: “They are the happiest couple we know.”

Invisible Woman, if your organs were surrounded by a hard, clear shell, maybe I would stop having the dream where I pry open you ribcage and claw my way through to your intentions. They’re probably nestled somewhere between the warmth of you heart and your spleen.

5.

Sweetpea,

Tonight we attended The International Symposium on Health and Parenting — our excuse for taking this vacation — to support our parents, who were the featured guests, and to witness my high school health teacher, also a speaker, though I never ever supported Mrs. Bourgeois.

“Saran wrap is for keeping food fresh,” said my health teacher.  “That is all it should be used for.”

“Our sex life was great,” said my father.

You tensed, reached for my knee, squeezed it tight.

Your father seemed embarrassed.  My mother wasn’t there because she is dead so get over it.

But Baby, I just couldn’t understand what your mother meant when she said, “If you touch your husband like that at symposia on health and parenting, people will wonder what you do behind closed doors.”

“There are so few uses for Crisco, that to keep it in the house seems an unnecessary temptation,” said my health teacher.

6.

Cutiebooty,

After we worshipped at the Temple of the New Sincerity, we purchased an inflatable monkey and a colorful bandanna from the gift shop, then enjoyed a lunch of macaroni and cheese and jell-o in the cafeteria.

As we were finishing up, you excused yourself, and while you were gone I decided to surprise you by inflating the monkey and wrapping the bandanna around its head.

When you returned, I said: “It just seemed kind of inevitable.”

You didn’t seem to have seen the inevitability.

“We can pretend it’s our child and our child has cancer,” you said.

Carebear, I worried then that you had picked up the sincerity syndrome, and I wanted to carry you out of that place, this city. I wanted to go home. The feeling didn’t pass until I had deflated our child so that it would fit in your bag.

7.

Shorty,

At the Museum of Futile Gestures we pretended to appreciate the retrospective juvenilia of that mid-career artist whose name I can never remember, but whose work we both agree transcends the hype.  We stopped before the installation entitled Do Not Comment on the Size of This Thing.

“She’s really grown as an artist,” I said.

“Will you look at the size of that thing?” you said.

The screen said will you look at the size of that thing.

Love of My Life, for the last time, does it, or does it not, matter?

8.

Sugar,

I’m only noticing now that there’s something strange about the mirror in the bathroom. Either that or my pores will eventually be large enough to create a suction effect between myself — I mean my face — and anything I might bump my face against. A wall, for example.

Ponypants, I worry that you won’t be there to help me disengage myself — I mean my face — from the wall, or whatever I might bump my face against.

Worse, I’m afraid that you might use such an unfortunate situation to make me agree to things I would not otherwise agree to.

9.

Sunshine,

We were both a little tipsy when we got back from the nightclub in the Terrorism District, so I don’t know if you’ll remember how we danced to “Pretty Young Thing.”

The swarthy natives dancing beside us made us nervous, and I tried to break the ice.

“You love the king of pop?” I said.

“We love the king of pop,” they said.

I turned back to you.

“They love the king of pop just like we do,” I said.

“Everybody loves the king of pop,” you said.

Apple of My Eye, if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at your self and make a change.

10.

Boo,

This morning, in our luxury hotel room, in bed, you told me that I had kicked you during the night, in my sleep, and called you Shit Tits.

“It’s Shakespeare,” I said.

“No it’s not,” you said.

“Sonnet 130, Line 3,” I said.  “It’s a paraphrase.”

“His mistress’ breasts are dun.  Dun-nuh-nuh,” you said.  “Not dung.”

Punkymonkey, Boogerbear, Bucket Brimming with Cold, Cold Love, sometimes you are so distant that I’m just a tiny speck, and I am trying not to fail to evoke you before I disappear.

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Christian Tebordo CHRISTIAN TEBORDO has published three novels: The Conviction and Subsequent Life of Savior Neck, Better Ways of Being Dead, and We Go Liquid. His first collection of short fiction, The Awful Possibilities, was released this spring by featherproof books. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Kathryn, a choreographer, and makes his living as a copywriter.

6 Responses to “Perfectly Banal: An excerpt from The Awful Possibilities

  1. Elaine Cramer says:

    Oh, to be called ponypants by my love. Sigh.

  2. Simon Smithson says:

    OK.

    I’m really jealous of this.

    Honestly and truly envious.

  3. christian says:

    elaine, send me your love’s email address and i’ll send him/her a month’s worth of romantic names!

    simon, hey thanks!

  4. Shannon says:

    I really like #4. Good stuff I look forward to reading your book.

  5. Brian Eckert says:

    Interesting and Creative. Bravo.

  6. [...] In Long on June 5, 2010 at 7:35 am Is it possible my confusion has been semantic all along? That I’d rather see inside you than be in… ▶ No Responses /* 0) { jQuery(‘#comments’).show(”, change_location()); [...]

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