McSweeney’s



10 REASONS JOHN CHEEVER WOULDN’T LAST 5 MINUTES AS A SINGLE MOM



1. When he and his family were living in Rome for a year, Cheever wrote, “A reception in a palazzo, the quintessence of Roman dreariness. Rooms that were meant to be lit by candles or maybe torches do not seem to lend themselves happily to the kind of indirect lighting that latter-day Romans go for. The upshot is a dimness or dinginess that has an appreciable effect on my spirits. My feet ache from standing, but if I sit down I may get trapped. Butlers pass trays of bad brandy and bonbons.”

You obviously never had to put an Ikea bed together by yourself.


2. “The loud night sounds on the empty terrace outside make me uneasy. But what can I be doing that would trouble the unquiet dead? I sleep and wake at dawn-partly my bladder, partly the vigorous noise of nest-building going on among the birds. They can be heard dragging sticks over the tin gutters. They are all singing loudly.”

I can’t say I’ve been woken up by nest building but I have experienced a blonde homeless meth-head in the alley below my bedroom window moaning up at me, “Mom? Mom is that you? Mom?”


3. “Skating on the K’s pond last night after eating too much ham. Eight-thirty. Many stars. No moon.”

I would have skated on the pond, too, and eaten ham, you bet your ass I would have but I had to go to Target at 9 pm and buy my child an athletic supporter, which by the way now involves a pair of lycra shorts and a molded plastic cup that goes in the shorts. John Cheever, you never had to go to Target.


4. “I walk and walk. I say a prayer on Fifty-third street. I have lunch and see the ballgame. I come home on the train, drink some gin, and study Italian.”

You had lunch in the city, saw a ballgame, went home and hit the gin and then studied Italian? So did I! When I was 22!!!!!


5. “In the morning, I am quite shaky and have a flat tire. A garage mechanic who is even shakier than I struggles to change the tire. It takes him an hour, and he mangles the hubcap. When I see him later in the day he has improved, and I suppose he has a bottle hidden among his tools. I drink Scotch at ten, two Martinis before lunch, and go off to the shrink.”

Chekov of the suburbs, let me ask you this: If someone had a pistol to your head, could you make breakfast and lunch at the same time?


6. “Tonight, dirty movies at the firehouse.”

Let’s stop you right there, you mean to tell me you go the local firehouse to watch porn with brawny, helpful firefighters? Please tell me it’s not your weekend!


7. “Woke up at dawn. Wandered around the lawn in my birthday suit. Enjoyed the pale sky and the monumental elm but I kept thinking. It is better in the mountains; it is better everywhere. I have been here too long.”

OK, it’s 2:00 on a Saturday and you get a text from a mom you know saying, “What’s Billy up to today?” How do you ascertain whether she is looking to unload her kid on you for 4 hours or offering to take your child for the afternoon? In my world I call getting tricked into the former being a “playdate bottom” and should it get around that you are a “playdate bottom” you can kiss your weekends goodbye.


8. “ I call up everyone I know. They are away. I leave messages with maids. I drink a Martini. I wait for the phone to ring. When I’m unlucky I get drunk and go to the movies and return to Bristol.”

John, if I said to you, “I just went to Lice Schmice in Glendale for the third time this year” would you have any idea what I was talking about?


9. “For the record: On Valentine’s day I give Mary a string of pearls; she gives me a dish. I like china but would have preferred a suit of underdrawers with hearts on it.”

The Great Martini, you have never driven your child to a “Magic the Gathering” convention.


10. When he contemplates getting divorced, he wrote, “I am afraid of living in hotels and eating in cafeterias, and this seems to reflect on my courage. I am much too attached to cut flowers, to holding a seashell to my son’s ear to see the intent look on his face, to the smell of peonies (oh, how brief) in the stairwell…”

Make things right with your wife, Mr. Cheever. Because if you can’t live without the smell of peonies in the stairwell, you will not make it as a single mom.

SEXTING WITH A NEW YORKER



WOMAN: Papa biscuit, when are you going to come to the West Indies? I’m here all by my lonesome and I have this present for you…


MAN: West Indies! I’m stuck in the West 40s! I can’t believe this cab driver took Broadway! We r outside the Belasco and John Cameron Mitchell is back in his wig! I’m never getting to this reading downtown at Housing Works!!!


WOMAN: I wish you were in a cab going downtown on me…


MAN: It’d probably be a lot cheaper, I’ll tell you that! This meter has now hit $78 dollars! $78! City’s killing me! My hands bleed when I reach for my wallet in this town!


WOMAN: Why don’t you come here and put your hands on something warm n silky. I’m lying under a baobab tree, eating a Barbados cherry, the sun dapples on my silk robe…


MAN: A homeless guy shit on me today. Was in Bryant Park at lunch sitting on a bench near the Boules game, really warm day. Decided to shut my eyes when suddenly I feel something warm on my leg. It was casual Friday so I had shorts on and a blazer, I was probably asking for it, I know, I deserved it, who wears a blazer with shorts except Tommy Hilfiger models? Anyway, I open my eyes and this guy, wild hair and angry, angry eyes, is straddling my thighs and squatting and grunting, and I scream WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!? but he’s gripping the back of the bench and I can’t move from under him and the crap lands on my thigh. He jumps off and runs away and I’ve got a presentation back at work in 13 minutes!!!!!!!!


WOMAN: That’s terrible! I absolutely hate the idea of you getting shit on! You should call in sick and hop a flight to this hammock. I have this bar of homemade rosewater soap here and the azure water is warm and I could walk you in to the water and soap you up like a baby and wash your hair as you sit at the water’s edge…


MAN: Water’s edge! U just reminded me my car is parked on Water Street and it’s Thursday! I have to move it by 5 or it’s gonna get towed again! Last time it got towed I had to take four trains, a pedi-cab, and charter a helicopter out to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where I had to donate my spleen and four weeks a year at my time share on Jupiter Island plus a $3000 fine to get my car back. Jesus! Thank you for reminding me! I’m out of my mind!! #DeadmanSexting!


WOMAN: Listen, you can park your car wherever you want down here. All night long. Wherever you want…


MAN: You wanna talk all night? I was up all night last night. I didn’t get a wink of sleep. They’re putting a Duane Reed on every floor of my building and the workers go all night! I was on hold with 311 for seven and a half hours!


WOMAN: I’d like to keep you up all nighte.


MAN: That’s an interesting way to spell night. Are you on a beach in the Middle Ages?


WOMAN: Sorry, I was busy opening this milky coconut with my ass. I slowly roll around on it until it loosens up and is almost ready to burst…


MAN: You wanna talk burst? I’m getting out of this cab and getting the train downtown, I’m never gonna make it, and I just got underground and got a text that Con Ed reported a water main break at 14th street. The trains are delayed by 40 minutes!


WOMAN: Rats.


MAN: RAT!!!!!! Oh my god that was the biggest rat I’ve ever seen in 19 years in New York! RAT!!!!! There’s another one. I gotta get out of this town.


WOMAN: I agree. Come see me. Come to Barbados.


MAN: Barbados? Come to Barbados? Do you have any idea how much stress I’m under at work? At home? Awake/asleep/breathing/dead? You think I can just “Come to Barbados?” You’re adorable. Really. And sexy. Really sexy. Do you know what Papa Biscuit wants to do to you right now?


WOMAN: …


MAN: You there? Hello? If I run I can still make this reading downtown… oh my god it just started snowing again! RAT! SNOW! RAT! I can still make it if I run…



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