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Curious Images

Part II
Timothy Ballan
2015
Contents
Acknowledgements............................................................................3

Disclaimer..........................................................................................4

Nonsense Poems................................................................................5

Comical Poems..................................................................................8

Vignettes..........................................................................................26

One Twenty-Four-Hour Gas Station................................................38

Wonderland Number Two Hundred Ninety-Three..........................40

Planning for the Future: A Sadly True Story...................................42

About the Author..............................................................................45


Acknowledgements
I would like to acknowledge my friend Molly Kienzler for helping
proofread this book.

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Disclaimer
I refuse to use quotation marks in such a way that envelopes any
commas or periods not suggested by the quoted material. For
example, quoting a child saying the words "I don't want to go now",
I did not put the comma within the quotation marks, as the comma
is not suggested by the child's words. On the other hand, I will end
this next sentence in a different way. As someone once said, "Use
your head, not your rule book."
With a similar emphasis on clarity over convention, I also
follow dashes with commas at times. Even if preceded by a dash
as I will now demonstrate, I retain commas that retain usefulness.
Beyond just punctuation, though, I'd hope abundant clarity pervades
my writing, from word order, to sentence structure, to overall
presentation of ideas.

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Nonsense Poems
It Never Stops

It never stops because it never ends,


and it never ends because it never stops.

Time Is Going Backwards Now

Time is going backwards now and forever always was before and is
no longer now but always never was and is before and ever going
forward now but backwards.

Water

Water,
and spiders in my shoes.
Nothing is real,
until seven pumpkins.

What If Is Of?

What if life is the end of life?


And the world is the end of the world?
And bumblebees fuck the winters,
And all until we ne'er grow old.

I'd want to see a place of dingers,


a place where'st nada speaks his name,
a place in ding-dong dobby town,
or lace-lock powdy-tam brown.

If who'st in a porbe in quoddy time,


I'd only host a pobble half wocka wost wholst.
Hibby hump hobby lobby hobby,

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ha la fa ka da.

Juicy Slamboats

juicy slamboats
and knotty dot-woods,
we all can harbor
for what is loster.

The Resonance

The resonance of Prebilly hopthorne,


In Nager's way,
a morichodd wonkster,
A tall storch of days.
...
Mankstrilly Monrorst,
A biddly bump-er-ee,
I never thought I'd eat a lady made of kindred breaded bees.

Aves Aves

Aves aves, dail-buoles in the wind,


Grabes grabes, high-forte tron quib.

Fall-thright fall-thright, high have ye bore,


Nalstreem nalstreem, heighst toward lore.

Or-Orr

Or-orr deceptibaa
Or-orr deceptibaa
Or-orr deceptibaa
Or-orr deceptibaa

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The Red Rabbit

The weight of all


rests beneath
three clockets in the wind.

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Comical Poems
Seriously

Seriously, how can you take someone seriously who takes


everything so seriously?

A Collection of Words and Phrases

TRAUMATIC HAM
but
I'M A POPSICLE GIRL
globule
How was your move?
Darcellum
ok! what
A belief where a chicken has an astronaut.
the dinosaur, violent blowfish?
shoe boot.
AUTISTIC HAM
shoes boots.
Uncle Earlobe's octa-octalillian?
obigibney, smerkel
Seven out of five ladies have felt the tail.
MICRO
billy!
AUTOMATIC HAM.

Hello Coagulation

Hello coagulation,

You're not real.


Neither are you...
...Touch.

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Wouldn't a night on the town be lovelya real soire!

Timmy's Gone to Baby Town, He Wants to Wear a Crown,


He Wants to Eat a Balloon
Timmy's Gone to Baby Town, He Wants to Wear a Gown,
He Wants to Eat a Balloon

I almost forgot I was a lizard today... Raise your hands for oats and
barley!

We should probably drill a hole in the floor instead of taking the


stairs, though, in case I suddenly develop a fear of stairs.

Are you ready for Munchkin Soup?


Are you ready for Munchkin Soup?

The sign reads:


"Ask a Christian about this item, ask a Christian.
Tracey Anne Rooster Lynn McGee,
She is part grandpart,
Someone that nobody loves.
She has all sorts of irreversible brain damage,
Always afraid of nonhuman entities."

...Remember when my baby died? Remember when my baby died?


She died away from you. She died because of you, oo.

I am so sad,
combing tears out of my beards.

Teems of tiny unicorns swimming in a bathtub?

No, zebras attacked by limbless rodeo clowns foaming at the mouth.

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All that names the Jemmies.
All their names are Jennifer.

A certain purple amphibian comes to mind...

Might it have been a Cussie?

It is a man running in circles in a dark city park, screaming,


"Does anybody have the time? Does anybody have the time?"

To All My Charah-Lisahs Made of Clay

To all my charah-lisahs made of clay:


Tell my mother that I never meant to eat her father.
Tell my father that I never meant to eat her husband Mary.
And tell my cousins that I never would have *touched* their
windows if I knew them to be cats.

A Self-Described "Self-Taught Onion"

A self-described "self-taught onion", she would ne'er but stand at


the precipice of ghundhardt crowds for whom she would all but
indemnify the enmities of local stomple-guncheroo poo-waggers.

Barbeque Dolls

barbeque dolls,
bear likes honey but he don't care 'bout the bees,
babies in the wind,
Dinker Dinker Dinker Dinker.

Vacuuzum Heart Attack Numbles

I'm so proud of my four (4) forehead-fathers who fapriciously, for


whatever reason, busted the egg-possy rumors just as they

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vacuuzumly, for hopefully or hopefully not both the final and
second-to-last time, busted out their envelope myths concerning
Hellen's love for the Lord of Lords of Son and Suns, cantaloupe
sushi, and.

I Kid You Not

I kid you not,


ALL the babies are CATS,
and NO ONE cares about the filly-blocks.
I am curious as to who's my Dandy Fuck anyway.

But I don't mean only to complain.


And yet the pineapple people won't let me alone,
and wherever I move to sit, there's a sleeping geriatric bunny.

The whisper weeds are so kind, though,


wherever they may grow,
and I don't mind in the end whichever paths we take,
throughout the strands of my heart, hands, and my nose.

Blankets of Different Sizes

Blankets of different sizes


bring the candles of different means

I Can't Do the Tangled Blueberries

I can't do the tangled blueberries


they're all I need!

Double Baby

double baby

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I Am a Cat

I am a cat.
But, I assure you, I am not a cat.
But, I am a cat.

You Will Never Know

you will never know


the degree to which
you are my star

NOT!!!

Prayer 407652

Oh my God!
You're so nice.
Please help me.
Please help me.

Oh honey!
You're awesome.
Please help me.
Please help me.

Dear Lord!
Thank you for being nice.
Please help me.
Please help me.

Wow!
You're really cool.
Please help me.
Please help me.

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Thank you for your time!
I like you!

Amen.

Collugxuous Normytimbs

"The Permutation of Barnaby Podunk",


by Ted Serrell

"The History of Zebinezian Medicine",


by Dr. Phillip Donaldson

"The Ancient Art of Cromble-Bucketeering",


by Amy Winesty

"The Snorble Bunion of Callyswack",


by Anthony Freinhopper

HELLO!

Thank You

Thank you for your heart.

It's Not Just About Love

It's not just about love, you know.

Mama Fucked a Cat

Mama fucked a cat


She didn't know what she got herself into,
Mama fucked a cat

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And she likes eggs;
Mama fucked a cat
She didn't fuck a tambourine,
Mama fucked herself
She didn't know how much it would mean.

Heroin Overdose

I died of a heroin overdose. Thanks a lot. I'm moving to Sudan.

I Don't Really Want You Dead

I don't really want you dead


but I don't really want your mother

Feathers

I only love feathers.

Do You Hate It

Do you hate it when you're afraid?

How Do You Survive

How do you survive?


Through honey.

Hey Marty

Hey Marty!!! Homemade mint juleps on the house in room 203!!


Get over here, Feinstein!!! You too, Cam!! It's a party!!! Bring
any meat cleavers you have!!!

It's a Miracle

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"It's a miracle none of us have died yet."

"What do you mean?"

"."

I Will Do

I will do
what I end up doing.

Ninety-Five Percent

Ninety-five percent of people are dead.

About Every Ten Minutes

About every ten minutes,


there is a group of people who no one ever knew,
whose heads explode into tiny ducks,
and whose arms melt into watermelon seeds and black slime,
then they disappear,
and no one ever knew.

Practice

"Practice,"
she said,
the lady with hair growing on her eyeballs,
drearily finishing the last of her lime and pumpernickel sandwich.

Colored Thumbtacks

I tape colored thumbtacks to my dog's fur

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and bring him to a small hill in the woods
where I play my clarinet.

Just Found Out

Just found out that a very tall, very hairy woman has been living in
our attic for five months,
surviving off of spiderwebs and a leaky pipe.

The Bag

I accidentally put this bag into the bag that I meant to have put into
the bag.

I Needed a Scissors

I needed a scissors
to open a bag of elastics,
to then tie its opening together
with a band inside of it.

But the scissors I had


was still in a package,
and I didn't have another scissors
with which to open it.

I Thought I Hated Snow

I was so mad at snow today. I forgot I had to clean all this snow
and ice off my car, and I was wearing clogs for some reason. And it
took forever, my shoes had snow in them, there was snow
everywhere in my car, my hands were so cold, and I thought that I
hated snow.

And

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I totally just thought of the best movie title:
"And"

What's That Other Thing

What's that other thing I had to worry about?

If "Weren't" Weren't a Word

If "weren't" weren't a word, wouldn't "wasn't" be what wasn't


"wouldn't"?

To Kill a Mockingbird

I used to think the book was called "How to Kill a Mockingbird".

I Miss My Dog Lucy

I miss my dog Lucy. We grew up together. She actually raised me.


She fed me and bathed me, and babysat me as necessary. She lived
to be 400 years old, 800 feet tall, and 9 million tons. Her heart was
twice as big, though. I like to think that she died of an oversized
heart.

A Bumper Sticker

Like "Honk if you love Jesus",


I made a bumper sticker that says
"Don't honk, if you love Satan".

Blind People Suck

I should make a bumper sticker reading, "Blind People Suck"


because they won't be offended,

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unless their driver tactlessly speaks about or repeats it.

A Problematic Facebook Status

After sending off applications for new jobs around the country, I
finally got a call back from a dollar store in Plumpkville, South
Carolina. I know this might be jumping the gun, but I just packed
my car with five shoes, my broken trumpet, and a toy stuffed
rhinoceros named Francis and am on my way down to Plumpkville
to look for a new home! :')

A New Life

I want to buy a parakeet and try to find an elderly lady in central


Nebraska to move in with.
I also want to get a job as a bartender near a zoo for handicapped
animals.
If I have a child, I want them to grow up believing they are a
wizard,
and if I need a doctor, I want to travel somewhere like Pakistan.

Dear All

Just arrived safely in central Greenland, where I'll be volunteering


at a chop suey factory for the next five years while studying the
effects of hopscotch on dead birds. Thank you for all your prayers
and encouragement! There will likely be trying times here, but I'm
certainly looking forward to the experience!

Trumpets for Alaska

Hi, I'm starting up a nonprofit to help benefit the children of Alaska.


The mission is to aid children, and/or the elderly, in learning to play
the trumpet. If you feel led to help, please send me any trumpets
you haveused, new, or toy. If you don't have any trumpets, it is

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fine to send shoes, pictures of shoes, eggs, or pictures of eggs.
Please forward your donations to:

Jumby Bumps
949 800th Avenue
Wellsington, ML 010010100

To reach me by landline or fax, please e-mail me your birth


certificate, at 1-800-9xxx.

Thank you,
Sincerely,
Yours

Sharon is Karen

Thank you for contacting Sharon is Karen Multiple Personality


Disorder Resources Unlimited, how may I help you today?

Japiqua

Have you ever wondered what really makes us bleed? Could it be


our sorrows? Learn all about Japiqua here, the newest, *coolest*,
*QUIRKIEST* religion!

Commercial for Oranges

Oranges
More people are switching from bananas to oranges than ever
before!
They are oranger,
juicier,
rounder,
and softer.
It makes you wonder...

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Why didn't you switch sooner?

In Recent News

Glow-in-the-dark pacifiers do not cause cancer.

House GOP balks at funding sending dead chipmunks to Mars.

Poll: More Asians eating Bibles.

Things Most People Don't Realize are Actually Made out of Glass

-pencils
-apricots
-apples
-standardized tests
-air
-rats
-feathers
-tarot cards
-glass
-oatmeal
-teeth
-human development
-professional development
-antelopes
-socks
-dead skin
-ideas
-nostrils
-almost anything beginning with the letter "z"
-almost anything beginning without a letter
-tuberculosis
-astronauts
-fornication

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-the government
-nothingness
-(you get to decide this one!)
-music
-water
-Rumpelstiltskin
-some people I've never met
-bad things
-goats
-underbellies
-ghosts
-good things
-people who read this
-everyone who dies
-everyone who reads this and dies
-everyone
-death
-some other things

Potential Signatures to Use in Place of One's Name

-Tom and Sara


-Blibo
-Death
-Blessed
-Tuim, Blessed (Kuhn IV)
-Fairy-Jon
-Flarissa Moo'm (Charles' Petersbird!)
-Kot
-Eighty
-Hope your day is done,
Angel/Cackle

Over the Hill

"I guess you're 'over the hill' now, Grandma! Happy 105th

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birthday!

Love,
Ray"

Wipeboard Message to Roommates

Please be careful not to leave the toilet when there's already cat shit
all over the dirt in the yard if bees come around. Plus, someone was
in/eating the garbage bags again while I was on the phone, and ants
were all over me while masturbating. Woke up to a puddle of blood
on the mantle (sp?).

Patience

If you ask me to be patient one more time,


I'm going to rip out your tongue and eat it.

Fuck You

Fuck your mother


Fuck your father
Fuck your baby
Fuck your brother,
And fuck your mom
And fuck your dad
And fuck your friend
And fuck your sad fucking piece of useless trash of fucking life.

I Repeat Everything that I Say

I repeat everything that I say


I repeat everything that I say
I repeat everything that I say
Except for this.

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I repeat everything that I say
I repeat everything that I say
I repeat everything that I say
Except for this.

I repeat everything that I say


I repeat everything that I say
I repeat everything that I say
Except for this, but for real this time.

I repeat everything that I say


I repeat everything that I say
I repeat everything that I say
Except for this.

I repeat everything that I say


I repeat everything that I say
I repeat everything that I say
Except for this.

I repeat everything that I say


I repeat everything that I say
I repeat everything that I say
Except for this, but for real this time.

I repeat everything that I say


I repeat everything that I say
I repeat everything that I say
And now I will kill myself.

A Sidewalk Conversation

Hey! How've you been?

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Good, you?

Are you coming to my suicide party next week?

No, sorry, I can'tI'm too busy with schoolwork. It sucks!

Well, it'll give you a chance to say goodbye to me, it will be fun,
and there will be lots of food and alcohol before the grand finale of
the night...

I know, sorry, I just can't!

Oh, well... I guess I'll see you around though?

Def. But I also have to get going now; I'm on my way to an


appointment.

Oh okay...

All right, see ya!

Bye!

Big Boy Cancer

On the morning of his third birthday,


a mother wakes her dying son by smilingly proclaiming,
"You have big boy cancer now..."

The Best Soup for Children

A mother blends cigarettes, MSG preservatives, and asbestos into a


cream base, microwaves it in a wearable styrofoam bowl, and spoon
feeds it to her children each night before bed.

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A Hospital Story

I once rummaged through some biological waste at a hospital and


found tumors of all sorts.
At first I was surprised,
but soon discovered them to be delicious.

When hospital personnel noticed me eating the tumors,


they were hesitant to let me eat more.
Yet, with extended pleading, they finally agreed,
and I was allowed to return once a week to collect a few days' share.

Even after several weeks, though, the personnel still seemed to feel
somewhat awkward about all of this.

Different Weights of Different Mistakes

"Just because I accidentally scuff up the floor by knocking over that


cart doesn't mean I should get fired."

"Bryan, you weren't fired because of the floor. You're an


obstetrician who knocked over a cart carrying seven newborns, each
of whom died from their injuries."

In the End

In the end, darkness will fill the sky and water will fall and darken
the earth, and the ground will dampen, and the sky will open up as
all will become dry. I.e., it will rain and then everyone will die.
Please forward any questions to God, Inc.

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Vignettes
"Hello, Dr. Pallo's Office, how may I help you?"

"I don't NEED ANYONE'S help. Put the phone down and I'll do it
myself... ...DR. PALLO!!! HELLO?!?!?! CAN YOU HEAR
ME?!?!?!"

"Ma'am, I put the phone down, and I could hear you screaming, but
you could just tell me what you need and I could help you"

"GET OFF THE PHONE!!!"


*
Driving down a rural but relatively wide and relatively high-speed-
limit secondary highway, I read a sign planted next to the road at the
edge of yet another sprawling agricultural field stating
"Unconscious Horses Go Slow". While scoffing at the seeming
absurdity of this sign, I pass a bend in the road hidden by a sudden
cluster of late April's pink, white, and yellow thickly blossoming
trees to find at least thirty horses limply lying against one another,
covering about twenty yards of the road ahead. Violently braking
and swerving onto the road's edge whose grass allows me to come
to a halt only gradually, I seem unable to catch my breath until I
reach a safe, full stop. After taking at least one minute to collect
myself, I continue along on the grass and while gingerly enough to
avoid having my wheels spin as they thankfully have not yet. I pass
about a half football field of horses before I'm finally able to turn
onto clear road again.

Yet, as I pass another bend hidden by trees still cloaking either side
of the road, right as I prepare to reassume a normal relaxed state, I
notice straddling along the highway's center yellow line a clearly
mentally-handicapped thirty-something-year-old woman with a
deformed, shriveled- and shrunken-looking body thrashingly
twisting back and forth on a small pink and white metallic tricycle,

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brutishly shuffling her feet on either side while seemingly
constantly on the verge of tipping the bike over on top of her.
Thankfully, I successfully swerve to avoid her just as with the
horses.

As I continue on, the road returns to its previous straightness and


with mostly treeless fields extending on either side.
*
In front of a lit fireplace in a darkened room, one large and one
small dog sleep cuddled together with a very large tortoise.
*
A young woman walks her quiet and pleasant-seeming dog through
an apparently wealthy residential area as the dog suddenly growls
and lets out a few low-volume barks, sounding threatened and
defensive. The dog seems to be directing his reaction only toward a
papier-mch dollhouse at the edge of a house's lawn.
*
A twenty-something man is visiting his parents. They talk about
how their eighteen-year-old cat could die any day because she
seems slower and confused. Some time goes by and the son sees
out of the corner of his eye his mother grabbing the cat. He turns
his head to a prolonged howl, as the mother saws off the cat's head.
As the cat's body lies twitching and spewing blood, and as the
mother is holding the cat's head, the son exclaims,
"What?! ...WHAT!!?"

The mother replies, "She was gonna die soon anyways. ...Duh."
*
I am walking toward the downtown of a small old New England
city along the sidewalk of a quaint residential street lined with many
old homes. I am on the phone speaking with my second cousin to
thank her for a birthday card; I don't speak with her often, and we
mostly have a somewhat "formal" relationship. As we're talking,
though, I run into my roommate who I didn't recognize at first
because he was hiding his face in his coat to surprise me when he
got up closer to me. Without thinking, while still holding the phone

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close to my face, I say "I thought you were a baby!" After a bit of a
pause, my quite confused-sounding cousin asks in a controlled flat
tone, "What do you mean?"

Later it has begun to rain as I leave a coffee shop downtown. I


follow a heavily disabled thin old man in an electric wheelchair into
a crosswalk, until he slowly comes to a stop halfway through. The
buzzing of the chair has slowed and soon stops, possibly from
overexposure to the rain. He is apparently unable to move without
the electricity, as there are no handles on the chair, and he appears
completely quadriplegic.

As I stop for a moment to think of what I could do, I notice the


clack of a woman's high-heeled shoes quickly approaching from
behind me. The shoes' owner haughtily mutters "excuse me" while
needing to walk out of the crosswalk to avoid me and another
standing still like I am. Once this woman notices the stuck disabled
old man, though, she becomes even more obviously annoyed, and
even angered. The woman then stops to collect her thoughts in an
apparent fury, and while I and the man to my left only continue
standing frozen still, taking all of this in.

As I and the man to my left continue standing frozen still, the


woman to our right deliberately slowly steps around the old man's
chair to lean in front of his face, and scream, "MOVE it!", shoving
his chair off the crosswalk to the right as he glides several yards into
the road before falling over along with the chair. While having
already begun braking, an approaching large truck didn't expect
needing to stop at the point where the driver could have avoided
crushing the old man and sending his chair spinning off the road to
my left. When the chair hits the side of a storefront, though, its
mechanism appears to now have fixed itself enough to spin on its
side and while moving forward along the edge of the store front's
long building at an increasing speed.

The lady who hadn't stopped or even slowed her walking since

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pushing the old man is soon knocked over by his chair and falls to
hit her head, struggling to rise as the chair continues spinning on at
an ever-increasing speed while knocking her back down over and
over. I and the man to my left have remained in the same spot and
fallen further and further into a state of shock, and as our lives are
luckily spared as the truck in front of us skids off the road and
crashes into the edge of the long building in front of us but in such a
way as to soon explode, engulfing the now collapsing building in
flames that soon cover the lady's body also being crushed by much
of the falling building.
*
Alone at a small table in the corner of a coffee shop crowded but for
chairless tables near him, a dirty clearly homeless and clearly
severely mentally ill man sits with no belongings though pretending
to type on a laptop, flip through a notepad, and sip a small cup of
some espresso beverage. A man sitting relatively close by
hesitantly approaches to also hesitantly ask if anyone is using the
chair on the other side of the homeless man's small table.

To this question, the homeless man responds in an angry, wildly


loud and unfocused tone, screaming "How do YOU know that I'm
not expecting EIGHTEEN guests to entertain?!"

With a meanly cold and calm tone, the man replies, "I don't think
anyone could fit eighteen guests at a table for two, so I'm pretty sure
you're not expecting *anyone*, given your words." The man
proceeds to take the chair from the homeless man without a beat, as
the homeless man puts his head down in his arms upon the table to
softly weep.
*
Every week when I go into this diner, I see the same woman who,
upon noticing me, steps back in terror and runs out of the building
screaming, while no one else in the diner seems to pay this any
mind.
*
A normal-weight forty-something woman can be seen walking with

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her family into a brunch-oriented currently-busy restaurant wearing
shorts that expose her normal-looking but bowling-ball-sized
kneecaps.
*
A fat middle-aged near-toothless lady propped upon a heavily
dusted shabby couch amidst trash and other dirty aged furniture
leans back to stretch while angrily yet saddenedly proclaiming, "I
gave birth to an onion!" proceeding to puff out pouting groans in
about half-second intervals.
*
In a dimly-lit nursing home cafeteria, near a corner of the room that
is across from the entrance to the kitchen, a questionably-conscious
extremely elderly woman is slumped in a wheelchair next to one of
ten round tables that mostly fill the room. In the opposite corner of
the room, next to the counter that separates the kitchen from the
cafeteria, a questionably-conscious extremely elderly man is
slumped in a wheelchair a few feet from an old and beat-up piano
pushed into the corner. A heavily made-up but very attractive, late-
twenties- or early-thirties-something slender woman wearing a
sparkling red dress enters through a door opposite from a door next
to the piano. The young woman dramatically swaggeringly
approaches the counter and turns toward the two other people in the
room but speaking with her head thrown toward the ceiling and to
no one in particular, and with an intensified affect of a film star
from the Golden Age of Hollywood: "What does a gal gotta do to
get a decent glass of Chardonnay around here?" Turning over to the
piano bench, as if someone were sitting there, "What do ya have it
Jonny? Play me a tune!" The young woman then exaggeratedly
meanders over to the piano bench and uses it to climb atop the
relatively small piano, attempting to lay out on it in a provocative
position.
*
I walk along downtown and notice a gangly man grinning widely
while slightly hopping in his gait. I think to myself that at least he's
happy, and I smile toward him. As soon as I make eye contact with
him, he screams out half-laughingly "Boston Red Sox!" while

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continuing to walk on with now an even wider grin.

I then notice a very large, doughy effeminate and seemingly aloof


man daintily petting a cat, as a rough-looking, burly bearded old
man sitting in a wheelchair while holding a sign reading "homeless"
comments in a low, booming voice, "You are a gentle soul with that
cat". Sounding distant but pleasant, the large effeminate man
responds slowly, "I think he knows me. ...My mom's on her way..."
*
A little while after settling into a salon chair, a young blonde
woman dressed and otherwise presented well is asked by her older
female hair stylist where she is from. Although proceeding to
answer in a serious and rather dull tone, the woman offers only clear
lies, while seemingly either believing them or not realizing how
strange they sound. She states that "I'm here visiting from
Saskatchewan, where I grew up with some dogs in a water well. ...I
like it here, but I'm used to sailing around the world on my days off
from working on other planets." The hair stylist stops cutting for a
few seconds, waiting for the customer to let out a smile. When
none is offered, though, the stylist continues cutting but asks no
more questions, only wearing an expression of slightly frightened
confusion. The two continue only in silence, and the young woman
retains her proper yet relatively emotionless demeanor all the while.
*
A teenage girl rides silently to the right of a stiff-seeming woman
driving a van. It appears the two have a limited, seemingly formal
relationship. Yet, all of a sudden, the girl begins laughing
hysterically and more and more intensely. Only after about a
minute does her laughing begin to slow. After another minute, she
finally collects herself enough to say what she apparently found so
funny: "Wouldn't it be funny if your med assistant Sharon died?!?!"
The girl once again bubbles into laughter, and a laughter more
intense and uncontrolled than her first bout. The girl's apparent
doctor looks shocked and horrified with wide eyes and an opened
mouth, though keeping her eyes on the road ahead.
*

31
While driving her car, a thin, older but spunky-seeming classily-
dressed woman speaks sincerely but dramatically in a sing-songy
voice with a comically thick stereotypical Brooklyn Jewish accent
while moving her hands and body just as intensely: "In all my years
as a woman in this country, I can tell youoh, can I tell you!it
ain't easy, girl, it *ain't* easy." This all seems directed toward the
male toddler buckled in the passenger seat who appears unfazed,
though he soon forcibly breathes inward while producing a
surprisingly loud and deep gurgling voice, saying "meow!"
*
A late-twenties-something man drives as a woman of similar age
sits in the passenger seat. They are driving on a limited-access
highway and approach a toll booth to receive a highway ticket. As
the driver rolls down his window and is handed the ticket by a
younger early-twenties-something lady working the toll booth, in
the loud and gruff voice of an elderly man, the driver speaks to the
toll worker in a depressed but agitated drawl, saying "It's too late for
me..." Looking flustered, embarrassed, and yet genuinely
concerned, the toll worker waveringly hands the ticket over and, as
the car starts off to leave, she hesitantly but rushedly states, "Uh...
I'm sorry, I hope you have a better day!"
*
A male and female in their mid-twenties driving through a densely-
populated suburban neighborhood illuminated with holiday lights
gaze dazedly toward a house decorated with a relatively unique
arrangement of colored lights. Neither returning their glances
toward the road, though, the male driver misses its curve left and
skids on some roadside ice onto the house's lawn. And, his foot
missing the brake pedal, the car continues in motion, crashing
through a tall and broad window on the side of the house furthest
from the neighboring house already passed. While avoiding harm
by running toward the back of the couch-filled large room, the
home's two adults and three children stare at the car's passengers in
trembling shock, while the passengers show no negative reaction
and the female smilingly comments, "We're so sorry, it's just that we
were distracted by your Christmas lightsthey're so beautiful!"

32
*
While sitting and eating in a booth at a fast food restaurant with my
friend, I notice a timid-looking probably three-year-old small girl in
a dress walking by us. I make a loud, menacing, gurgling noise in
her direction. Unexpectedly, she simply presents a short-lived but
charming smile in my direction while squinting her eyes, wrinkling
her nose, and squeezing her lips together and inwardly.
*
I approach a small young Asian girl sitting alone on a bench at a
mall, probably waiting for her parents that are in a store, and say, "I
was wondering... if you would be my father..."
*
I find a small pink and glittery plastic headband on the ground of a
busily crowded mall and dash to pick it up, saying, "That's mine!"
to some nearby giggles, before deciding to walk over and place it on
the level surface bridging the top of a long circular bench. Upon
spotting on the bench's other side a loose-jawed, large, and
sluggardly-positioned thuggishly-styled young man, however, I
decide to walk over and delicately place it on his head. Even now
the man remains in an unexcited state, only moving his
expressionless eyes to follow my motions.
*
I go up to a hard-edged, gruff-looking man in his forties working
alone in a twenty-four-hour supermarket's aisle early in the
morning. With a slight smile, I ask in a somewhat cheerful voice,
"Have you ever eaten a candle...abra?" In response to this, he
merely softly groans, subtly rolls his eyes, and turns back to his
work. I continue to slightly smile in his direction, though, before
turning to walk away.

Soon after, I approach a tired-looking somewhat elderly woman


slumped in front of the only open cash register. Again with a
somewhat cheerful voice and slight smile, I proclaim, "My name is
Botswana. I just wanted to say I love you." She looks unmoved
except for a faint expression of somehow saddened bewilderment. I
don't wait to see this reaction, however, as I walk past her and out of

33
the store.
*
A young man in about his late twenties approaches the counter of a
dimly-lit mostly wood-paneled and wood-decorated coffee shop
after waiting in a moderately long line. He starts to place his order,
but only lets out low-volume choppy squeals sounding somewhat
like a chipmunk and somewhat like a car's inner mechanism while
its steering wheel is pushed strongly to one side upon taking a slow
tight turn. This continues for several seconds, a chant of "ee-ee oh-
ah ee-ee-oh ah" emanating from tightly maneuvered lips and cheeks
pushed and pulled in exaggerated choppy motions. Everyone
around and behind the counter turns to look in confused silence or
at least stops to listen.
*
A shy-seeming and nerdy-looking boy speaks up to interrupt his
friendly, smily short and semi-stocky Indian physics professor
during a lecture in a small auditorium to say in an animated, very
effeminate and nerdy-sounding voice, "I like your watch!"
proceeding to pleasedly and hummingly giggle. The professor
responds, "Umm... ...Sorry?"
*
Two gay boys of non-stereotypical medium build sit at the security
desk at the entrance to a college dormitory as a girl and boy enter
parting ways but still talking. The girl turns toward the right toward
a hall past the desk while the boy enters an open elevator across
from the desk. As the girl and boy attempt to offer each other some
parting words, one of the gay boyswho has had a long scarf
wrapped around his head like a babushka since the girl and boy
entered the buildingscreams out in a high-pitched and Muppet-
like voice, "Look at the baby! Look at the baby!" referring to
himself. He screams this repeatedly and louder and louder while
the other laughs louder and louder and increasingly uncontrollably.
The girl and boy frustratedly strain their voices to communicate
something they apparently find important and until the elevator
door closes.
*

34
Two laughing friends emerge from a coffee shop and walk down the
sidewalk toward their car. As the shorter male friend offers the
female friend five dollars owed to her, he speaks loudly in an
eastern Asian accent, saying "Sucky sucky five dollah?"
Immediately upon completing this phrase, however, the male friend
notices what probably subconsciously prompted this racist
imitation: two women likely of eastern Asian descent walking
toward the friends on the same sidewalk. Overwhelmingly
embarrassed, the male friend screams "Oh shit!" and bolts away
from his female friend toward their car.

Riding in their car a few minutes later, the friends laugh while the
male friend, who is driving, holds the car horn down for about
forty-five seconds before and while coming to a stop at a busy city
intersection. Suddenly once again embarrassed, however, the male
friend takes an abrupt u-turn away from the heavily confused
drivers all around him.
*
A drowsy-looking young man driving on a near-lightless night
along a large trafficless highway in an unpopulated area abruptly
enlivens and while awakening his just-sleeping female passenger by
screaming out in a horrified voice "Oh my God, there is a dead bird
in my *house*!"
*
Facebook status: "I totally got punched in the face, but I have no
idea who did it, because I'm riding alone in my car to work!"
*
Someone posts on their Facebook wall two weeks after New Year's:
"Worst Fourth of July EVER!"
*
Just recently back from Europe, Karen says, "French people have
the most random senses of humor! They all just used nonsense
words all the time!"
*
Two similar-looking Italian and/or Jewish olive-skinned, well-
groomed college-aged girls share a pink and black umbrella as they

35
walk in the rain across a large college campus. Only a few other
people are around, each also holding an umbrella or at least wearing
a hooded sweatshirt, but each by themselves. The two girls are
speaking English-sounding but unintelligible words and in identical
semi-singsongy tones and timbres.
*
In the midst of unpacking in order to settle into a two-person
college dorm room, one roommate is found by the other asleep upon
a pile of clocks, a scale, shelving parts, and other angular and dense
materials.
*
An unsmiling young man walks into the living area of an apartment
where his apparent housemate sits alone on the couch watching TV.
From a table full of magazines behind him, the unsmiling young
man reaches to take one, while neither turning to choose it nor
looking at it once chosen. After matter-of-factly handing it to his
confused housemate, he begins to walk away. Just before returning
into the hallway from which he entered, though, the unsmiling
young man stops to calmly comment, "I can't tell when you're being
serious".
*
"It's been studied that people shower on average several
nanoseconds shorter than they did the day before."

"Umm... Well, I just took three minutes longer yesterday than the
day before. How do you explain that?"

"Maybe you misunderstood me, but there were *two* oblongs..."

A blank stare meets these words.


*
Talking with one of my housemates in our living area, referring to a
tax form on a center table, I say, "Oh I guess I don't need it after all.
I'll leave it here in case someone else needs it," promptly ripping it
in two before placing it back on the table.
*

36
One man seemingly in his mid-twenties approaches the open door
of a room in an old house where another man seemingly in his mid-
twenties can be seen reading at a desk. The man at the desk lifts his
head as the other comments, "I mean, if you want..." Reacting to
this comment with a puzzled expression, the man at the door shakes
his head quickly while stating, "Oh, sorry, I thought we were in the
middle of a conversation for some reason". As the man at the door
walks away to another area of the house, the man still positioned at
the desk quietly laughs to himself.
*
"What's the likelihood that I'm a cat?" one roommate asks another
in a semi-nasally, relatively child-like voice.
*
My two favorite words recently are "candle" and "baby".
Baby has been for the past few years and candle is more recent.
I use them when I can't think of other words.
...Maybe that's unusual.

37
One Twenty-Four-Hour Gas Station
There is a gas station open twenty-four hours a day solely because,
as the complaining workers explain, management wants business
for women going into labor who predictably stop by in the middle
of the night. The gas station has removed all structures and items
from the floor in order to allow room for several gurneys for women
going into labor, and all items are sold from cash registers behind
counters all around the sides of the rounded store floor.

Above each register is painted an image of a different type of food,


even while the only item that the gas station carries now is iced
coffee, served with either freeze-dried fish skin or freeze-dried frog
esophaguses mixed in. The workers explain that, since most
customerscurrently even throughout the dayare women going
into labor, the store has to cater to their needs, and all that these
women ever want is iced coffee served with these fish or frog parts
mixed in. The store doesn't even sell gas anymore, because hooking
the cash registers back up to the pumps is, to management, a waste
of money, as taking the pumps down would also waste money. The
store acts to save money also by constantly keeping the store lights
dimmed.

One night, three women come in within minutes of each other, each
apparently going into labor. As each walks in screaming, the
workers roll their eyes as if on cue. There is no doctor, so the
women are just directed to a gurney.

As one of the women suddenly discovers that she is not actually


going into labor and leaves, the workers each roll their eyes just as
before. After an hour into the other women's labors, the workers
begin to angrily mumble and loudly and dramatically sigh. One of
the two remaining women experiences a complication where her
baby won't come out all the way. Instead of offering any help,
though, the workers furiously state that the woman is wasting their

38
time and that she needs to walk to a hospital, even though the
woman isn't able to move. Soon after this incident, the other of the
two remaining women discovers that her child is stillborn. Once the
workers discover this, they predictably roll their eyes and then offer
frustrated, scoffing laughs.

39
Wonderland Number
Two Hundred Ninety-Three
In late fall, I was driving by a prep school in northeastern
Connecticut when I decided to sneak into and join a pottery class.
When students complimented my pottery, though, so did the
teacher, who paused and asked what my "ID" number was. After I
admitted that I wasn't a student, she paged and conferenced with the
principal, as I snuck out of the classroom.

I ran away through the woods by a lake on the school property.


Every few minutes, though, I needed to stop to use a toiletmany
being scattered throughout the woods, and each use took an
exceptionally long time. I soon noticed, though, that a team of
people with cartoonish animal characteristics were apparently
dispatched to search for me in some sort of relay fashion. Instead of
continuing to run, however, I decided to hide under an expansive
blue tarp covering many dead plants and brown leaves.

While hiding, I soon began to hear some animal-people very nearby


me. They were discussing how they saw me sitting on a rock by the
lake before, and that I was a turkey-man. Thinking back, I realized
that this was truethat I had taken a break in addition to my toilet
uses, and that I was a turkey man.

Suddenly I noticed a duck-lady coming over to where I was hiding.


She noticed me with a gasp while tears of joy came to her face. I
could tell that she knew she would now be praised by her superiors.
I felt bad and did compliment her on finding me, but I gently
pleaded with her that she not turn me in. While she paused and
looked to be considering her options, I decided to take this
opportunity to simply run further away from the school.

Soon I reached what looked like a carpeted but wall-free hotel lobby
in the middle of the woods. Here, I found a glass elevator

40
decorated with some brassthat I knew could take me to at least
hundreds of different wonderlands like where I currently was.
However, the Queen of Hearts Principal of the prep school ended up
finding me here. She was unable to take me away or hurt me,
though, because of some rule.

41
Planning for the Future:
A Sadly True Story
Sometime during my last year of high school, I created a list of
what I might need in a post-college living situation, with the
intention of freeing my future self from needing to make such a list.
I listed things from silverware to cleaning supplies, trash cans,
towels, floor mats, flashlights, stationery, and cookware. I soon
came to want my future self to be free from even attending to this
list, though. So, I began purchasing all these things even though
still in high school.

Not having much money, I bought the most inexpensive versions of


these items at a local "dollar store". However, I soon found that I
was dissatisfied with many of these purchases. For example, I came
to find the fifteen or so plastic baskets I bought for holding
miscellaneous belongings too small. So, along with these baskets, I
replaced purchases with which I was unhappy. In place of the
fifteen or so baskets, for example, I bought about the same number
of large plastic file cabinets from a large office supply store.

Even after much replacing, though, I continued to buy new types of


things, from shelving to various decorations. Although not planned,
I ended up using all of what I earned from any employment for all
this shopping. And, once I discovered that I could easily open
credit cards, I would always reach and often exceed their credit
limits.

Nonetheless, I soon decided that my future self would prefer items


of higher quality than most of what I had bought by now. While
this motivated another round of replacing much of what I had
purchased, I did not slow in buying new types of things I came to
find someday necessary. So, not only did I replace the fifteen or so
plastic file cabinets with about that many relatively high-quality
woven baskets, for example, I ended up looking for decor that

42
matched their color and stylelike high-quality accent lamps, floor
lamps, coffee tables, and decorative artificial plants.

And yet, this level of preparation brought me to realize that there


were smaller, but still important, parts of my future living situation
that I had been leaving out. I became convinced that I needed to
start purchasing things like first-aid kits for my future office,
bathroom, my future partner's office and car, and even a future
child's bedroom and first car.

But even this level of detail became insufficient; I came to want to


prevent future worry over even aesthetic clashing of possessions.
Upon extended consideration, I formed a standard of "earthiness"
and "rusticness", which included a prescription that all wooden
products be dark, all metal pure-lookingrather than brushed or
tinted, and anything else as of some earth tone (interpreted more
or less stringently based on the situation). In addition to this
standard, I deemed that all belongings of one type should look
identical, to avoid aesthetic clashes within even one product type.

In adopting these aesthetic standards, many belongings of one kind


needed at least some of their number replaced to match the rest,
with preference given to what looked most earthy and/or rustic.
Sometimes, not one of the members of a product type would meet
my standards, though, and the whole set would need to be replaced.
In all this, I couldn't tolerate even potential aesthetic clashes, even
slightly different-looking toothbrushes or wire baskets for holding
toiletries. Neither could I tolerate any disparity between my, my
future partner's, and my future child's belongings of a similar type;
we all had to match. We had to match even in the travel items kept
in matching bags in each of our cars, things possibly needed while
on a car triplike measuring tape, super glue, chapstick, a sewing
kit, condoms, personal lubricant, and various medications.

Partway into this new replacement procedure, though, I realized that


I could not always find enough identical products of one type. This

43
meant long searches through malls or online stores. But it also
meant that, even if I already had multiple identical versions of one
product, and even if I purchased them very recently, I needed to
replace all of these items with a version that I could secure a more
ideal higher total number ofand even if I was short by just one.
Addedly, this already stressful problem was compounded when I
came to believe that I should have backups for things that might
someday be broken, lost, or somehow insufficient in number in a
way unforeseen. Thus, in terms of baskets for holding
miscellaneous belongings, for example, I replaced the fifteen or so
woven baskets I had with twenty-six that I was able to find in a
single shade and style.

Health-related products like medicine became a stumbling block,


though. For instance, I needed these products to match in dosage,
brand name, and packaging design for what ended up filling eleven
bags of "first-aid kit" supplies; plus, I needed backups of these
supplies, and all these supplies needed to match with products of the
same type elsewhere in my future apartment or house, like in the
bathroom or bathrooms and in the area where the backup bathroom
supplies would be held. I had forgotten that medicines and many
other health-related products have a limited shelf life, though. I
knew that many last well beyond their labeled "expiration date", but
this does not include creams that crystalize within just a few years
or condoms that gradually lose their protective strength. It seemed I
should be more flexible in planning for the futureat least in terms
of some health-related products.

44
About the Author
Timothy Ballan is a composer and writer who currently resides in
Western Massachusetts. As a composer, Timothy mostly writes
accessible classical music. As a writer, Timothy mostly writes
plotless stories, atmospheric vignettes, poems, and non-pretentious
philosophy. When not composing or writing, Timothy teaches
private piano lessons and leads several musical groups in urban
schools and youth development programs. In his free time, Timothy
enjoys driving on country roads, hiking, watching scary movies, and
sharing time and an absurd sense of humor with his human and
mint-flavored bobby-pin friends.

45

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