Author archive for Tyler Smith

Herman Merman

“Why isn’t she calling?” thought Herman Merman.

His train of thought was interrupted by an actual train passing right outside his four-story window. As the glasses klinked together, the tattered, worn furniture stuttered across the wooden floor, and Herman’s flabby cheeks jiggled to the loud, ongoing vibration, his gaze stayed intently on his rotary phone traveling across his desk. His brow furrowed. His stare grew more intense. His lips tightened. His nostrils flared.

The train eventually passed. The apartment settled. Silence.

It was a hot day in the city. Sunlight filled Herman’s studio apartment, giving everything a white yellow tint. Sweat was sliding down Herman’s clammy, pale face. He had one clump of black hair on the top of his otherwise bald head, and like rain from a leaf, sweat dripped from it onto his nose.

To cope with the heat, Herman wasn’t wearing any pants or briefs. The bare cheeks of his ass were glued to the desk chair by sweat. However, due to his upbringing, Herman couldn’t be completely undressed, so he left on his white, pressed oxford shirt, buttoned to the top; his gray vest, and his black tie, knotted tightly to his neck.

Herman concentrated on the phone even further. In his mind, he pictured traveling through the phone’s receiver, through the cords, surrounded by white sparks of electricity and sounds of crackling. He imagined different conversations as he passed along the phone circuitry. Some of them were conversations of happiness and kindness, with talk of meeting up for dinner, or congratulations for a well-deserved promotion. Others were conversations of sadness and heartbreak; yelling at a spouse for a simple, innocent mistake, or the reporting of a child’s death. He also pictured dark conversations filled with violent sexual fetishes and perversions, and suicidal or murderous intentions.

Herman traveled faster and faster through the cord until these conversations and the crackling of the electricity mixed together to form one hypersonic sound, growing louder and louder, and the white sparks grew brighter and brighter, until his whole field of vision was taken over by an electric white.

Then it stopped.

He was here. He was at her ear.

Sylvia Bell had a beautiful right ear. Herman had studied it several times at her floral shop while pretending to look at lilies. She always placed her hair behind her right ear, putting it on display for all to see, while her left ear always remained covered. Herman loved the right ear, but oddly, when he used his imagination to think of her left ear, he became sexually aroused and grew frustrated that he couldn’t see it. Yet he was grateful that he had the right ear to study.

And now in his mind, at the end of his telephone journey, he had placed himself centimeters away from it. He stared at it with awe. It was perfectly formed. The lobe hung slightly at the bottom. He didn’t like it when the lobe was connected completely to a person’s head. She had the perfect lobe hang. There was no greasiness or crustiness from earwax. It was blemish free. She didn’t even have her ear pierced. He liked that.

“Call me,” he whispered in her ear. “Call me. You said you would call me. Call me!”

Nothing.

He tried again. Nothing. She just stood there, looking at her Vera Bradley catalogue with the phone to her ear.

He tried repeatedly, demanding her to call him, but nothing. Growing frustrated, he decided he had to take drastic measures.

A breath.

Darkness. A clean wetness. Distant echoes, as if a war was being fought miles away. Intimate and vast at the same time.

Herman was now traveling inside Sylvia’s brain. To be inside the head of the woman he adored was a huge turn on for Herman. He felt this was infinitely more private, secretive, and exciting than catching a peek down her blouse, following her home, or trying to look through her apartment window late at night. This is where her thoughts were created and synthesized, where her memories were stored, where every stimuli she experienced were facilitated and interpreted. This was Sylvia. He had penetrated not just her body, but her very being.

And then in the darkness, a giant collection of synapses exploded with white light. Herman was overwhelmed by its beauty. He imagined (and Herman was definitely imagining) that this is what it felt like to experience the sun close up, without being incinerated or blinded. He slowly floated towards the active synapses, put his right cheek against the membrane, and closed his eyes. He felt the energy flowing through him. It was marvelous. Every pain, every moment of sadness Herman had was washed away. He was at peace and he was one with Sylvia.

He started to whisper, “Call me. I am you. You are me. Call me-”

A train barreled by Herman’s apartment again. His concentration broken again.

It was dark outside now. He was still pantsless. Still covered in sweat. And still no phone call. Herman walked over to his bed, fell face down on it, and began to weep.

He had a whispery fart escape his bare ass cheeks.

He slightly turned and screamed in pain as a charlie horse took over his left foot.

Herman Merman then fell into a shallow sleep, a sleep that would have no remembered dreams.

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The Hymn for Beer

According to some vague notion I had and then confirmed by Wikipedia, beer is the oldest alcoholic drink in human history, dating back to 9500 BC.  Wikipedia then told me that according to archaeologists, beer was instrumental in creating civilizations (another vague notion I have is that beer is now instrumental in destroying civilization.  “Thank you beer can for your cold activation scale!  Now I know when you’re cold or super cold! (Actually, that is kind of cool (PEMDAS)))!

This is kind of an intriguing point though.

Beer.  The drink of civilizations.

“Beer!  The Drink of Civilizations!”  pitches the ad man in a well-tailored Tom Ford suit (yeah, I know who he is) to a fat, fifty something, southern CEO in a white Mark Twain suit and a cowboy hat.

“I just don’t get it,” he replies.  “We’ve found that most of our clients like titties.  You got something with titties, son?”

The ad man thinks quickly.  “Um, how about…”Beer!  You’ll get titties in your face!”

“You’ve done it again, Stan!”

“Great,” replies the ad man as his soul flies out the window.

Cut back to Wikipedia, laying more knowledge eggs in my brain nest;  “Some of the earliest Sumerian writings found in the region contain references to a type of beer; one such example, a prayer to the goddess Ninkasi [the Mesopotamian goddess of beer], known as ‘The Hymn to Ninkasi’, served as both a prayer as well as a method of remembering the recipe for beer.”

A goddess for beer? A prayer for beer?  Are we talking about the same stuff that is sucked through straws connected to two cans mounted on a guy’s helmet as he watches cars go around in circles?

It’s too long to paste in this blog post, but if you have some time, walk down history lane and read “The Hymn of Ninkasi.” Here’s a selection:

When you pour out the filtered beer
of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
Tigris and Euphrates.
Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the
filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
Tigris and Euphrates.

Now for a real study, read the hymn again, but this time, while you’re reading, have this playing:


Miller Lite Cat Fight

Admittedly, reading through that selected verse, I was reminded of Coors’ slogan “Brewed with Rocky Mountain waters.”  However, this hymn doesn’t have half naked girls and crazy beach parties manipulating my base desires (and believe me my desires are pretty base).  What it does have is respect and gratefulness for the brewing process and for this nurturing drink.  It’s sacred.  It’s a mystery.  This awesome stuff is from the heavens.  Not only was Ninkasi kind enough to give us this great beverage, but she continues to guide us through the process.  And, geez, this stuff has to be good; it’s made by a fucking goddess. So although, this hymn doesn’t give me a penis boner, what it does give me is a heart and brain boner (I think I just negated my point by my diction choice (Hey guys, did you hear that? Dick-tion (PEMDAS))).

I should qualify something though, I don’t think beer is instrumental in the destruction of our civilization.  For the longest time, all my palate was allowed to taste was Natty Light (Natural Light, which is a pretty powerful descriptor for something so shitty) as I chugged it through a beer bong.  Now that I’ve grown a little older and slightly wiser, I’ve discovered that beer is awesome and I am pleasantly surprised by its complexity and goodness every time I try a new artfully made beer.  There are plenty of awesome breweries out there being guided by Ninkasi.

No, my gripe takes us back to that conference room with the Tom Ford-wearing ad man and the money-hungry CEO.  Of course that’s an over-generalized scenario littered with stereotypes, but suffice it to say, that’s where civilization is being ruined.  And I know this is a well-worn argument; the hippy argument that ad execs are soulless minions of the corporate empire, serving the one true god, Money.  Yeah, I won’t deny it.  That’s exactly what I’m griping about.  I’m not saying anything new.

However, when researching for this blog and coming upon “The Hymn of Ninkasi,” it’s right there in your face; we could be better.  Yes, maybe beer helped start civilization, but what kind of a civilization are we running here?  I’m not saying that advertising should be done away with; I’m asking can’t we hold ourselves to a higher standard?  Sure it’s easy to sell a product with cleavage surrounding it, but what does that do to a guy?  He’s then operating on a superficial level.  He’s operating on instinct.  He’s operating on something he can’t control and that’s right where the ad guys want him.

Let’s be better than that.  There are plenty of places to get what the body wants without having to see it in an ad.  Advertisers are the movers and the shakers.  They influence behavior.  They have some power here.  What if they used it for good.  What if advertisers wrote a hymn for modern day?  Of course hindsight is 20/20 and we know Ninkasi isn’t real, but that doesn’t mean we can’t respect and be awed by the miracle of beer:

When you pour out the filtered beer
of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
The Rocky Mountain waters
Humankind
, you are the one who pours out the
filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
The Rocky Mountain waters

“Collector vat” isn’t the most epic term, but overall that’s pretty powerful stuff.  It’s like a mud wrestling pit in my soul.  But it’s that kind of language and respect for quality work that can raise the bar.  I think if we talk the talk, we can walk the walk.

But hell, sometimes you just wanna get drizzunk, son!  Shotgun that shit, Ninkasi!

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The Stoat and The Frog

Stoat and the Frog

Beasley the young stoat kept to himself, only talking to the other stoats when hunting the local rabbit population. He enjoyed swimming in el Llobregat after a spring rain. His musical compositions were rated the highest in the summer Stoat Sun-Down Stand-Out Festival, but he would never accept the awards, as he thought it foolish and indulgent. Beasley despised the Catholic church.

Isabella the Iberian Painted Frog was the most out-going frog in her family. She was able to get all the signatures required to petition el Llobregat Hall to allow for the movement of eight stones from the west bank to the east bank. Most frogs thought this unnecessary, but Isabella thought it progress. She had a twitch in her left leg which psychologists would later attribute to the fact that she saw 78 of her brothers and sisters tragically eaten by a drunk raccoon. Isabella had only seen Flags of Our Fathers once.

Beasley and Isabella fell in love.

Bi-class relationships were not looked kindly on in both the stoat and Iberian Painted Frog species. There had been one instance of Antone the Iberian Painted Frog. After a heavy night of drinking (which oddly enough was the same night of the Drunk Raccoon Massacre), Antone had a one night stand with Maria the Spotted Fire Salamander, a self-proclaimed slut. Antone was given a public ribbit beating. However, the punitive action was more a formality. Everyone loved Antone’s antics and enjoyed any opportunity to gather on the new East Bank Rock Amphitheater (formally the West Bank Rock Amphitheater) for entertainment. And Antone, even in his drunken stupor, had the sense to stay in the Amphibia class.

Shunned from their communities, Beasley and Isabella found themselves running away to the city. To make ends meat, Beasley took up a job as an entry level IT guy at Vitelcom, and would play the night clubs on the weekend to make some extra cash. Isabella got a job at Solidario Cooperación al Desarrollo Global, a nonprofit organization. She made phone calls all day. She found time for a Bikram yoga class once a week.

Even though they were poor, they were happy. They had each other. They made dinner together every night; they watched a Clint Eastwood movie every Friday; they played Cranium with the neighbors every Tuesday; and every night before they fell asleep they whispered to each other “I love you.” Beasley and Isabella went on like this for two years, loving every minute of it.

However, Isabella wasn’t getting any younger and her biological clock was ticking. She wanted a family, and Beasley wanted to oblige her. They got rid of all their contraceptives and pills, and for eight months, every night, they made baby-making love.

By the eighth month, they were discouraged. Isabella wasn’t pregnant. They had tried every position, eaten all the right things; they even performed a sexual ritual on the summer solstice, giving themselves to Eros. But as Isabella saw the negative sign appear on her EPT in that eighth month, tears filled her eyes. She and Beasley realized they needed medical help.

Dr. Phelps sat down with Beasley and Isabella with a worried look on his face, the test results in his hand. He slowly started, “I’m sorry Beasley and Isabella, but I’m afraid you can’t have children.”

Isabella immediately started crying, licking her eyeballs furiously. As Beasley held her, he asked, “What’s the problem, doctor? Is it me? Am I sterile?”

“No. You’re fine. And Isabella is fine too. You’re both very healthy. It’s just that…well…you’re not fine for each other.”

In anger, Isabella slapped Dr. Phelps with her tongue, and Beasley hissed, showing his sharp teeth. “I thought we left narrow minded thinking in the country!” Beasley yelled.

“No! No! No! You don’t understand,” said Dr. Phelps, rubbing his sore cheek. “Your chromosomes don’t match.”

“What?” asked Isabella.

“Your chromosomes don’t match. You’re a frog, Isabella. You have 28 chromosomes. You’re a stoat, Beasley. You have 40 chromosomes. You can’t mate.”

“YOU CAN’T MATE!” screamed Isabella. “Get on, Beasley. We’re leaving!” And with that Isabella hopped out of the doctor’s office with Beasley on her back.

Even though they didn’t want to accept it, they knew it was true. They couldn’t have children. And from that point on, nothing was the same. Beasley had to work later hours at Vitelcom, and he’d often stay out late at the night clubs drinking. Isabella got highly political, putting all her efforts into campaigning for progressive candidate, Antonio Cruz. Shared dinners started slipping away. Their Netflixed “The Bridges of Madison County” was left unopened and unwatched on top of their TV, and the Cranium clay hardened.

One night, Beasley came home late, drunk from the club. Isabella was fast asleep. She had to get up early for a press conference with Antonio. Beasley stood over her as she slept, watching her breathe.

“Hey, get up,” slurred Beasley. “Get up!”

“What is it?” Isabella asked, annoyed.

“Get up. Dance with me.”

“I have to get up early.”

“Dance with me!”

“You’re drunk!”

“You’re delicious.”

And with that, Beasley ate Isabella. Isabella’s last thoughts were of her 78 brothers and sisters.

No one ever saw Beasley again after that night. Some say that once in awhile, while hiking in Galicia, one can hear “Canción de Isabel,” a song Beasley composed and was playing when he and Isabella first met.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Watch “Life” on the Discovery Channel, Sundays, starting at 8pm EST. It’s awesome.

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Valerie Hodgkins

Valerie Hodgkins sat cross legged in her sandbox in the backyard. An overcast sky darkened her tired, emotionless face. She stared straight ahead as wisps of her curly, brown hair were blown across her face by the breeze.

Her mother had laid out that morning a yellow jumper with sunflower buttons, rainbow socks, and ruby glass slippers for Valerie to wear that day. She and her mother had watched The Wizard of Oz a week before, while their father sat in the Other Room, the room with the stain on the carpet, looking out the window, waiting for the neighbor next door to do something stupid.

“Why the ruby glass slippers?” Valerie thought when she woke up that morning to find her mother’s wardrobe surprise. Her mother must have misread Valerie’s interest in the movie. Either that, or her mother is a nosy, forceful Glinda, making things happy when they shouldn’t be. Next time Valerie and her mother watch a movie, Valerie will make sure to laugh, jump up and down, and point at the things she wants; and when something she doesn’t want comes on, she’ll make sure to slap her mother.

Valerie stared at the ruby footwear. The bright morning sun hit the shoes, sending reflections on the walls. Valerie kept staring, unblinking. She was nauseous.

Now Valerie sat in the sandbox. She was wearing a rainbow sock on her left foot, and a diaper. Sand-dirt was smudged all over her body.

Sand. The feeling of sand. Sand sifting between her small, pudgy hands as she clenched it over and over again. She was anxiously waiting. She wanted it to rain soon. “There are clouds. It rains when there are clouds. Where’s the rain?” she questioned as sand emptied from her hand.

At Valerie’s feet lay a small town she spent building that entire morning. This town was full of Mommies, Daddies, Stupid Neighbors, and Ruby Slippers. This town was built at the bottom of the sand mountain, also built by Valerie. It was a most unfortunate place to live, the bottom of the mountain. It was dangerous because when the rains came, the town went.

“They’re so stupid,” Valerie smiled. “Why would you live here? You’re so stupid.”

The only ingredient left was water. She stared at the garden hose. It was tempting, but no, she would wait for nature to wash misery on her creation. “Funny,” she thought. “I created this town only to be destroyed.” She paused. “Who created me?”

Valerie was facing her house. She could see Mommy in the kitchen window, cleaning dishes. It looked like she was singing. “Of course,” Valerie thought.
In the Other Room’s window, she could see the curtains slightly parted. It was Daddy, but he wasn’t looking at her.

Suddenly, Valerie snapped her head to the right.

A crack of thunder.

Terrence Howard.

The wind picked up. Valerie’s little brown locks blew wildly.

Terrence Howard was staring through the picket fence, weeds collecting around it. Valerie could feel her head grow hot with anger. Her lips closed tighter. She just remembered there were Terrence Howards in her sand town.

They stared at each other; he through the pickets, she from her sandbox. Neither one of them made a sound or movement, just blank stares.

A crack of thunder.

Rain, hard-pouring.

Neither one of them moved.

“What are you doing here?” Valerie asked herself.

Crack of thunder. Valerie remembered her town. She turned. It was already destroyed. She had missed it. Her whole morning a waste. She screamed in rage, turning back to Terrence Howard.

He was gone.

Crack of thunder. She looked to her house. Her mother was gone from the window. The curtains were still partially parted in the Other Room.
Her rainbow sock was soaked. Her diaper was soaked. She was soaked.
She looked up to the sky as rain fell on her.

She could hear in the distance a voice. “Hold on. Hold on, Dorothy!”

It was her mother. Valerie continued to look at the sky.

The voice was getting closer. “A twister! A twister! Better get you inside, Dorothy!”

Valerie readied her hand for a slap.

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Late

I’m late.

What’s taking this elevator, so long? Come on. Come on. Come on.

I’m alone. I’m still alone. Good. I want to ride alone.

Ding.

Finally. Eleventh floor. Doors closing.

Ding.

What? Why are the doors opening? No, someone else wants to get on? I was so close.

And who’s it going to be? Okay, I don’t know this person. That’s good. A late middle-aged woman. Smile back. Closed mouth smile. I wonder if it looks like I’m smiling. I want to seem kind. I’m hoping that I’m seeming kind. I think it’s enough of a gesture to show that I acknowledge your existence; I respect you as a human being, but it also communicates don’t talk to me. This smile is the extent of our interaction. Okay, good. She just smiled too. I get in my corner of the elevator; she gets in hers. There are elevator rules. Must maintain equilibrium.

Wow, that’s strong perfume. Middle-aged lady perfume. Why did I think that? It seems types of perfume fragrances denotes a woman’s general age. It seems like they all wear that perfume. It’s so thick. Smells of desperation. “I’m still pretty! I’m still pretty husband! Don’t leave me! Can’t you smell how pretty I am? Don’t use your eyes, use your nose!”

That’s not nice. Why did I think that?

She’s going to the fourth floor. Good. I’ll be able to enjoy 6 floors alone in the elevator.

Wait. There’s someone else. I can see their shadow walking towards the elevator. They’re running.

“Can you hold that?”

No! I don’t want to hold that! Ah! Great. I’m pushing the open door button. I am pushing the open door button! I’m making an effort. I acknowledge your existence; I respect you as a human being. Guilt is stupid.

And who’s it going to be?

No! Not Gary. Co-worker Gary. I don’t know what to say to Gary? We had a conversation once, like three months ago, something about bass fishing in Wisconsin. I say hi to him in the work kitchen every once in awhile, but that’s it.

This is the worst type of acquaintance. I know him well enough to feel obligated to talk to him, but I don’t know him enough to have a smooth, sweat-free, stimulating conversation.

“Hi.” Whispered.

“Hey Gary.” Whispered.

Nod.

Gary takes his place in the elevator to form the expected equilateral triangle. Equal spacing. Must maintain equilibrium.

Doors closing.

Now I am grateful the strongly, scented middle-aged woman is in the elevator. Gary and I don’t have to talk yet. There’s a stranger with us. Gary and I can’t talk in front of a stranger. That would be rude. But now those six floors of solitude I was looking forward to, have turned into a social nightmare.

Floor Two.

I have to look comfortable. I need to make him think it’s okay we’re not talking.

Floor Three.

I’m going to pull my cell phone out. Look like I’m busy. Look at the time. Geez, I’m late. Why couldn’t I get myself out of bed? 5 minutes earlier would have been a world of difference. I could have probably caught the express bus and not the local. And I wouldn’t be riding in this elevator with Fisher McGee and Ms. Potpourri over here. Why did I think that?

Floor Four.

Don’t leave lady. Oh shoot.

Floor Five.

She’s gone. The smell stays. Silence. Gary moves to the corner. Equilibrium. The hum of the elevator. Done looking at my cell phone. Done looking at my fake text messages. Close it.

“This weather, huh?” Not whispered.

Floor Six.

I spoke first! I spoke first. I acknowledge you; I respect you. I’m friendly.

“Yeah.”

Yeah? Is that all, Gary? Now I have to think of something else to say.

Here comes the sweat.

Floor Seven.

“Any trouble getting in today?”

Why did I ask that? I really don’t care about this.

“Not too bad. Roads were pretty clear.”

Floor Eight.

“Cool. Cool.”

Silence. The hum. Damn it.

Floor Nine.

Silence. This hurts.

Floor Ten.

Yes, we’re almost there! I’ll say one more thing. What should I say-

“How about you?”

Oh, thanks Gary, you’ve decided to join the conversation. Thank you.

“Not too bad. I ride the bus. It was kind of slow.”

“Yeah.”

Ding.

The Eleventh Floor.

We made it. We made it, Gary. You and me. We made it. Heck, I’ll let you get off first. Give him the sign, the slight bow with hand outstretched. He nods. We’re civilized. Acknowledgment. Respect.

“Have a good one.” Slightly whispered. I’m back to whispering.

“You too.” Caught in the throat.

I make sure he has about five steps in front of me.

And we’re disconnected. No more pressure. We did our duty. It’s over.

And Gary is off to live another day. A day I will have no knowledge of.

I guess I will live my day too.

Oh no, Mary the Receptionist is at the front desk. She knows I’m late. She has no authority. I hope she doesn’t tell on me or resent me. I resent her. I resent her for my tardiness.

Why did I think that?

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