January 26, 2012


There was once a man who went on a long flight into space. He had no reason for doing this other than that he was bored, and sadly he was even more bored in space, which consisted, in the main, of nothing.

One day he noticed a nice little planet and decided to get out and stretch his legs. A group of half-naked human-like creatures ran through the fields eating nuts and berries and cavorting like they were at a sixties rock festival.

Some of the women were cute, and he figured he might see some action, given that he was an interstellar traveler with a slick-looking space ship. However, as he approached the group, he noticed that the women all smelled like tofu buried for months in the back of a refrigerator.

January 17, 2012

Last Request

For several months I’ve been badgering K about something I need her to do when I’m dead. It’s my last request — my only request, post-death — and it’s simple: If there’s a memorial for me, I want everyone who speaks to mention at least one significant thing they couldn’t stand about me. (I actually wrote about this nine and half years ago.)

I’ve been hounding K about this because I’m certain that if she doesn’t enforce the rule, my friends will either ignore it or turn it into a running gag, as if to collectively say, “Screw him, he’s dead and he was a controlling fucker anyway.”

Each time I bring it up K claims that she won’t let this happen, except she says it in the sort of voice one uses with an impossible child, someone to whom you’ll say anything to get him to leave you alone.

For a time I did leave her alone, but then we spent New Year’s weekend in Connecticut with three close friends, and over breakfast on the last day I described the problem to the group. In short order my request was cast as an attempt to control what gets said at an event which, while it would be about me, wouldn’t actually be for me since I would be dead. K nodded the whole time.

I chose to mention it at this breakfast in large part because Andrew was there, and I long ago pegged him as a likely saboteur. However he surprised me by responding in a way that only someone who knows my heart ever could.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s a minimal ask that challenges folks to skip the bullshit. Michael is asking to be remembered.”

It was Lucy, though, who had the best line: “Can we start now?”

January 15, 2012


There once was a helicopter who was different from all the other helicopters. Unlike the others, he wasn’t conscious when he was on.

The moment the other helicopters were turned on, it was as though they would wake from hibernation, from oblivion. Then when they were turned off, they would enter a state of zero consciousness, as though they had died.

But this particular helicopter had no awareness of being turned on, of his propellers spinning, of rising through the air and flying over the city. Instead he would come to life the moment he was turned off.

So he would be, say, on top of some building, doing nothing, just sitting there, and then someone would climb inside him and suddenly everything would go blank, and then, in what seemed like the next moment, he would be in a completely different place, with no idea how he had gotten there. Because of course he had no way of knowing that he was a helicopter and that he could fly and that he did fly, and that this was how he had come to be wherever he would find himself.

January 3, 2012


There was once a man who signed up for Facebook. He kept hearing about it, particularly at work but also in the news and in magazines, and so one day he went to the website and filled out the form. Unfortunately he didn’t know anyone to invite to be his Facebook friend. He was friendly with some people at work, but they weren’t really his friends, and anyway he had no way of knowing for sure if they had Facebook accounts, and he didn’t feel comfortable asking.

So each day, although he had no Facebook friends, he would fill in the text box where you’re supposed to write what’s on your mind. The first time he did this he was excited to see his thoughts appear on the page, but soon the excitement wore off and he was left with a feeling of emptiness — or really, a feeling of no feeling in particular. Still he returned each day and wrote whatever he was thinking at that moment, up to a maximum of four-hundred and twenty characters, which was the most the text box could hold.

In time he came to think of the text box as a journal that could only hold one entry at a time, like a journal written on an Etch-A-Sketch. This appealed to him for reasons he never understood, although he had many theories about it. Each time he thought of a new theory, he would write it in the text box.

The end.

K: Is this true?

M: What do you mean is it true?

K: Is it a true story? Is it you?

M: [Laughter].