The $20 Theory of the Universe - “Credit cards, limited by rules and restrictions and creepy fine print, have all the élan of aluminum foil. Personal checks are ugly and static. But a twenty-dollar bill, now, that’s a thing of beauty.”
Halle Berry’s Date with a Perfect Stranger - A writer sat across the table from an actress. She told him most writers screw up the story. He told her writing isn’t easy. She asked to give it a shot. This is what happened.
Learning to Smoke - This story isn’t about quitting smoking. It’s about starting…
The Need- to-Know Basis - “Knowledge is power. Information is gold. Giving away either of them too soon is just plain stupid.”
Haggling for Hot Dogs - “Buying a hot dog is an essential, unquestionable transaction, the lowest common denominator of American commerce. That’s why I wanted a deal.”
Butcher - “They want answers, and they want meat. A butcher has to have a lot of each.”
My Bodyguards - “I would like to know what it’s like to arrive at a curb, have the velvet rope unhooked, be whisked into a club surrounded by two or three large men in mysteriously classy but unobtrusive overcoats.”
On Saying No - “Not “No, thanks.” Not “nope.” Just “no.” clear, unambiguous, empowering “no.” But not in a mean way.”
What Is a Man? - “At a party recently I watched a four-year-old boy drop his pants in a corner of the yard and take a leak. No one blinked…”
The Problem with Boys - “We’ve ignored all the evidence of male achievement and ambition deficits and stood aside as our sons have notched a growing record of failure and disengagement.”
The Art of the Handshake - “A perfunctory gesture? Hardly. It defines the exchange. A hands-on study of a subtle craft.”
The Invisible Grip - “Maintaining eye contact feels awkward, even creepy. At first. Then it just feels powerful.”
When it comes to the language of money, credit cards are nouns. Dull, concrete, limited by rules and restrictions and creepy fine print, credit cards have all the élan of aluminum foil. Personal checks - the coward’s stand-in for cash - are ugly and static pronouns. But a twenty-dollar bill, now, that’s a thing of beauty. Nothing static about a twenty. Used correctly, a twenty is all about movement, access, cachet.
The Art of the Handshake
A perfunctory gesture? Hardly. It defines the exchange. A hands-on study of a subtle craft.
The Invisible Grip
Maintaining eye contact feels awkward, even creepy. At first. Then it just feels powerful.
On Saying No
Not “No, thanks.” Not “nope.” Just “no.” clear, unambiguous, empowering “no.” But not in a mean way.
This story isn’t about quitting smoking. It’s about starting. And starting, for me, included thirty-four different brands of cigarette, eleven lighters, spiritual revelations and moments of clarity, gatherings at alley mouths, unions with strangers on the streets of various cities, huddlings on a ragged porch watching the hand-cupped flare of a match in a snowstorm, a perpetual sore throat, a nagging cough, several puking sessions, a six-day headache, an increased appetite, a bout of vertigo, and a wicked case of what I can only call moral confusion. It also meant joining a kind of club, getting bitch-slapped by hegemony, trying to fit in, and not wanting to fit in.