Tags: 100 words


Irene, 1960s

She was 19. Her baby was one month late. She wasn't worried—-it would come eventually. At least she didn't have to work in the city any more, trudging around in high heels all the way from the ferry to Rector Street. She got pneumonia her first winter as a working girl, but still never missed a day. It was hot that day, and a thunderstorm rolled in at 4, like they often do on early summer afternoons. She went to the hospital in the storm and less than an hour later had a baby, who she thought was too dark.
Frankie as dragon

100 words, M, mid-00s

M was a production VP at a major book publishing house who had only gotten to that position by virtue of being in the right place at the right time. He knew little about publishing anything beyond mass market, and would constantly ask questions like "Why do we need to design that?" He was a schlub in a old sweater who couldn't even be bothered to stand up straight. He also had a photo of himself outside his door of himself, stoned, sometime in the 1970s. The only time he ever spoke to me was about food. He liked food.
Frankie as dragon

100 words, Katie, mid-80s

Kate was a small, lithe woman with the aura of a ballerina, and a voice that sounded like soft wind chimes. When confronted with belligerence, which was pretty common in our office, she would just say "ohhhkaay!" and giggle. She really won me oven when she told me that when she was in college she and her friend had a pact—when going out to expensive restaurants, over-order and bring the leftovers home for the other to share. She called in sick on her first day at work at the sleazy publishing company. Who calls in sick on her first day?

100 words; Harv, mid 80s

Harv was a large, gregarious man with thinning, frizzy gray hair, wild eyebrows, and craggy skin. He was a part time art director for the sleazy publishing company, getting some money in his retirement to fund his vacations. He was a sloppy dresser who smoked stogies, a holdover from the days when designers were just as likely to look like newspaper writers as look like dandies. Harv was a great storyteller, but my favorite was about the time he met Elvis in the bathroom in Vegas. Elvis did not wash his hands. To Harv, that made the handshake more special.

100 words, Bob, mid-80s

Bob was a 45-year-old smoker with a weird speech tic—-he was compelled to make puns out of people's names. There was a woman in the office named Mimmy, and he could not walk by her desk without saying "Mim's the word." He was a voice-over actor also, meaning that these odd phrases were always delivered in an impeccably professional-sounding voice. Sometimes he would be rock DJ, sometimes movie trailer guy. Because he was a telemarketer, he would sometimes tic while trying to sell ad space. "Judge and Judy, Judge and Judy, would you like to buy an 1/8 page ad?"

100 words: Jo, early 80s

Jo was my boyfriend's father's girlfriend, a tall, freckled, auburn-haired woman with a disproportionately large butt and a loud, mannish laugh. She had a propensity for large pieces of jewelry that had ethnic tinges. She worked at a sleazy directory publishing company that always needed summer help, but my boyfriend didn't want to work for her anymore, because he had sex with her. Yes, my boyfriend had sex with his father's girlfriend, and at his father's apartment, but only once. He told me she was as wide as the Holland Tunnel, which is how we describe the whorish in NYC.

100 words: Maureen, mid 80s

I'm trying to get back to these.

Maureen was a chatty little blonde actress from the midwest with a wide friendly face and an infectious and inappropriate giggle. One day she told me this story:

"I was working my weekend job, delivering balloon-a-grams, and you know how I am, I talk to everyone, so there's another person in the back with me with big bunches of balloons and I say, "Hi, I'm Maureen." and he says "Hi, I'm Peter," and I say "What do you do, Peter?" and he says "I'm a musician." And I say, "Have you been in any bands I've ever heard of?" and he said "I kind of produced The Monkees," and I said "OH! Do you know Davy Jones?" and then when he got out of the band I realized he was Peter from the Monkees."

inspired by papajoemambo
Frankie as dragon

100 words: The Ferret Guy

Bill was a famous pioneer video artist who was working on his magnum opus, a film called something like "Night of the Were-weasels." He was obsessed with his pack of mustelidae, so much so that when Ghouliani outlawed ferrets in NYC he high-tailed it to New Jersey. He was shy about his art, but he could go on for hours about his ferrets. I remember when I saw him at a gathering in Williamsburg after 9/11, his girlfriend had two of the weasels in a snuggly. Bill was the sort of guy you just wanted to hang around with, and I stuck with Bill and his girlfriend all night, petting the ferrets.

100 words: Dr. Y, Neurologist

While I was hospitalized, I had to get two biopsies done-- a nerve biopsy, and a muscle biopsy. They always do these at the same time, from the same leg, but they can't do them from the same incision. Dr. Y. was to do my biopsies, and I'd been assured he'd done many of these. I was to be awake for the procedure, but doped up.

I'd been in the hospital for a week, and was on a lot of prednisone. I gained 30 lbs that week. I'm not exaggerating. I went into the hospital at 130, and when I got my biopsy, I was 160. I'm laying on the gurney with my hair in a shower cap, and Dr. Y comes by, looks at my legs and says to his anesthesiologist "She has a lot of adipose tissue." YOU FUCKING BASTARD. I'm right there! I have a neurological disease, I'm not in a coma! But it's best not to start a fight with the dr. before the surgery.

He told me to tell him if something hurt. We went almost all the way through and it hurt but I didn't say anything. Then he did something that really hurt and I said "Ow, that hurt." and he said "It's gonna hurt." So I said, "why did you tell me to tell you if it hurt then?" I was doped up, I couldn't help it.

After the surgery I asked him when I'd get the stitches out. "Oh, these will dissolve," he said. That's weird, I thought. I'm on pred, I don't heal at the same rate. Well, he's done this before.

Two weeks later at physical therapy the therapist says to me, "You need to go to the doctor. Now. Your incisions are opening up." When I got to Dr. Y's office, he was very annoyed. Friday was his day off. "Whatd id you do?" he screamed when he saw the open wounds. "You tell me, you're the one who sewed me up with dissolvable stitches when I was on a high dossage of pred." I have two huge lumpy scars. He never apologized.

100 words: Dr. L, neurologist

When my veins collapsed from plasmapheresis, I thought I was out of options for treating my mysterious neurological illness. Luckily, the father of managing editor at the nature magazine was a neurologist! He didn't specialize in what I had, but Ellen, the ME, asked her father, "Hey, if we had CIDP, who would we see?" And he had an answer immediately--Dr. Lovelace at Columbia Presbyterian. I found him just in time. Dr. Lovelace was exactly the neurologist you'd want if you had CIDP--he was smart, kind, and he listened. He was also The Guy to see for CIDP in the mid 90s. He put _all_ the treatments together and came up with a plan for getting me better.

While I was in the hospital, he brought interns to see me every day. They wanted to treat me as if I was an exotic insect, but Dr. Lovelace always engaged me in conversation, making dehumanization impossible.

When I relapsed a few years later, I was getting treatment as an outpatient. The plasmapheresis resulted in a loss of clotting factor and I ended up back in the hospital. I was immediately admitted, but I had no money on me so I could not pay the $10 to turn on the phone in my room. No one knew where I was, and the phone didn't operate without that $10--you couldn't even make a collect call. The nurses refused to call my mother. It was worse than prison! So I toddled down the hall in my hospital gown to the pay phones. Of course, the hole where the catheter was opened up and I was bleeding all over the hall. While I told my mother I was in the hospital, nurses screamed at me. They made me get off the phone, but by the time Dr. Lovelace showed up I was a mess, crying hysterically because they were being so mean to me. He yelled at them and that made me feel a lot better.