I’ve been at the newspaper only a matter of days, but I’ve already noticed the guy sitting across from me participating in some peculiar phone conversations. The calls always end the same: he’s cut off midsentence and carefully sets the receiver down, sometimes deflated but other times more carefree, like getting hung up on happens so often it has lost its sting.
1. IT’S LIKE COMPARING APPLES AND ORANGES.
The difference between apples and oranges used to be so stark that to compare them would have been, well, fruitless. But thanks to the triumphs of agriculture and biotechnology, soon we’ll have apples that are oranges. No word yet on whether they’ll keep the doctor away. Update: It’s like comparing apples to genetically modified apples.
Imagine a bird, something exotic and frightening, blackish purple from afar and oily iridescent up close. The bird is deviant and mercurial and elusive. You might see it, but never for long. Sometimes you’ll happen upon it by accident, you on a dumb stroll, the bird caught by surprise in a bush. The bird flutters away, its wings maniacally percussive. You were so close but the look you got was not good. It never is. Which is why we need our Vonneguts, their humor in particular.
Of all the dogs that appear in the collection—and there are many—this is Singleton’s perfect dog, the dog that the narrator Bobbobby trades for (yes, trades for) in the story “Humans Being.” The dogs that Singleton’s characters cherish are good ole down home dogs, loyal and trusting, former strays, as mongrel as an AKC toy poodle is pure. A good dog in Singleton’s world rides around the county on the bench seat of a pickup, sitting upright, staring out straight alongside its master.
Doug's house looks the same as Bob's house. Bob lives next to Doug. On the ground surrounding their houses they have planted blades of vegetation. Thousands of them; millions perhaps. They call this vegetation grass. In Bob and Doug's neighborhood, the more of this vegetation you have surrounding your house, the better people will think of you.
This isn’t some world where you can goof off for four years guzzling beer and stuffing your face with pizza. Because when you order pizza in the real world, you’ll find that the deliveryman has rigged a shotgun to fire when the pizza box is opened. And, as you bleed from the abdomen, you’ll hear the deliveryman say, “Welcome to the real world.”
You have two laughs: Your real one and your fake one. These are indistinguishable to both your real friends and your fake friends, all who know one another, getting together and laughing it up at your expense when you excuse yourself to the bathroom to snoop through the medicine cabinet. While snooping you say “Hey, this is my medicine cabinet; no need to feel guilty. But whose herpes medication is that?”