What's the Deal with Seashells?

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And Other Questions I Have About Seashells

I mean, seriously, seashells. What's the deal? Okay, you're a crab's house. You're a mollusk's skin. You're a mermaid's brassiere. You're walrus currency. But what ARE you really? Are you more like a fingernail or more like a bone? Are you alive? Do you start small and then grow bigger and bigger until you need to be filed down so you don't rupture your own brain, like a hamster's tooth can? I know that hippies and date rapists wear you as a necklace—does that ever bother you? (By "that" I mean either the exploitation of your body for bad human fashion or the cultural connotations implicit in necklaces made of you.) Do you get cold? Do you get bored? How do your hinges work? That squishy stuff inside you—is that a part of you, or are you like its landlord? Or are you the apartment, the squishy stuff is the tenant, and Poseidon is the landlord? Do you just fucking hate seagulls? I do. One time I was at the beach and this seagull took a shit (did you know bird poop is also bird pee? You might not know about air things, seeing as you live underwater) and it landed on my face, and my "friend" was all, "Don't try to wipe it off, just let it dry there and it'll crumble off on its own." So I walked around for hours with this bird shit on my eye, just waiting for it to dry. And guess what? It didn't dry. It just got kind of sticky and then my eyelid was stuck shut with feces-glue—and when I pried it open, some of the feces fell in my bag. Then I got pinkeye and I had to wear an eye patch and everyone at school called me "That Bitch with the Eye Patch" (not totally sure it was related, but I'll never live it down!). It's okay—later that winter I got back at my "friend" by telling everyone about her abortion. Ha-ha! Come to think of it, that bird shit was probably made out of some digested mollusk that the seagull dug out of a seashell. Maybe you guys even knew each other! Maybe his name was Mike. Mike the Mollusk. Ha-ha. Rest in peace, Mike. Did I just totally bum you out? Hey, have you ever been to Atlantis? Do they have


The Different Kinds of Bears That There Are

Panda Bears

These dudes are vegan and come from China. There are only like three left. A lot of people think panda bears are the best, but I think panda bears are boring and they have a bad attitude. Have you ever gone to look at a panda bear in a zoo? First of all, all they do is sit around NOT making baby pandas, even though baby pandas are pretty much the only redeeming export of panda society. Secondly, they don't even care when their fur gets all yellow around their pee holes. Thirdly, see number two. Gross!

Grizzly Bears

This subspecies of brown bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) inhabits Alaska, western Canada, and parts of the northern continental United States. Grizzly bears are omnivorous, feeding on large mammals, fish such as salmon and trout, carrion, bark, tubers, grubs, blackberries, huckleberries, pic-a-nic baskets, and the sweet flesh of unsuspecting pleasure-seekers. Their conservation status is classified as of "Least Concern" because these bitches can't STOP getting pregnant.

Polar Bears

Science fact: Polar bears are just grizzly bears that haven't lost their virginity yet. After their first time, they turn a deep, slutty shade of brown.

Honey Bears

Not really a thing.

Chicago Bears

This elusive nocturnal subspecies of the American black bear (Ursus americanus) roams the streets of Chicago wearing a bowler hat, sunglasses, and a long coat. Its diet consists of deep-dish pizza and bugs.

Gummi Bears

A medieval race of subterranean gelatin-based ursine life forms with a severe congenital drinking problem. Entire culture is based on the manufacture and consumption of "Gummijuice." Bear code for "watermelon- flavored industrial solvent." Extinct.

Bear Stearns


Invisible Bears

In your apartment. Right now.




Brief Encounters with Famous People

Fred Durst, Virgin Megastore, Los Angeles, 2002

Support The Stranger

My first celebrity sighting ever. He was shorter than me. He looked like Fred Durst. He was wearing a hat.

Sharon Stone, Los Angeles, 2003

Eating brunch at some horrible place on the westside. She was wearing clothes too expensive for me to understand.

Joel Schumacher, Heathrow Airport, London, 2006-ish

He was standing in line to board a flight to Los Angeles. Flush with Bat-nipple cash, he would be flying first class. His lank gray hair caressed his shoulders. Puka-shell necklace, I think.

Patton Oswalt, M Bar, Los Angeles, 2004

Him: "Oh, I love Seattle! What's the name of that movie theater—the one by the college?" Me: "Ummm, the Neptune?" Him: "No, that's not the one." Me: "Oh, that other one, right. I can't remember what it's called." Him: "Me neither! Will you e-mail me the name of it if you remember?" Me: "Sure."

Zooey Deschanel, Cafe Presse, Seattle, 2010

Very small, she was there with Ben Gibbard (regular sized) and two smallish older people who I believe were her parents. She ordered "olives."

Bill Nye the Science Guy, O'Hare Airport, Chicago, 2007

He looked like a man who just lost his entire family in some sort of industrial deep-frying accident. He flew coach. It was depressing.

The Guy Who Played Mr. Katimski on My So-Called Life, flight to Los Angeles, the sky, 2004

He sat across the aisle from me. He had been in Seattle performing the lead role in William Saroyan's The Time of Your Life at the Rep. I knew because my parents had seen it just a few nights before and declared it "good." He helped an old lady with her bag. I didn't talk to him.

Duff McKagan, City People's Mercantile, Seattle, 2002

I was the cashier. He was buying deck stain. I don't remember the specific shade.

Dabney Coleman, Dabney Coleman's 100th birthday party, El Cid, Los Angeles, 2005

Thought he was Gerald McRaney the entire time. Almost asked him about The Neverending Story. His wife fell down.

The Guy Who Plays the Guy Who Turns Into a Dog on HBO's True Blood, 12th and Madison, on the corner right by Pony, Seattle, 2008

He was using his human form. I didn't talk to him.

Meg Ryan, the Viper Room, Los Angeles, 2003

Her mouth was wider than her face. I didn't talk to it.

Kato Kaelin, Pinkberry, Koreatown, Los Angeles, 2007



My Dinner with Andres

A Thought Experiment

A quiet, upscale New York restaurant at dusk. Andre Agassi sits alone at a small table, staring listlessly into the middle distance. His eyes are open, but they do not comprehend. Agassi is in another place, an internal world. In his hand, a folded newspaper. The door opens with a whirl of snow. Andre 3000 enters, wearing a hat made out of a living eagle.

3000: Cheerio, Andre! Why the long face?

AGASSI: Oh, hey, Andre. I don't know. I was just sitting here thinking that we're living in a fantasy world of our own making. You know?

3000: Negative. You using that newspaper?

AGASSI: I guess not. Why?

3000: I'm going to make it into a pair of gentleman's bloomers for my footman's livery.

AGASSI: I don't think that's an actual garment.

3000: Indeed! They are extremely comfortable and smell of ink and testes!

AGASSI: I like to be comfortable, too, Andre, but I've always said that comfort can lull you into a dangerous tranquility.

Suddenly, the restaurant's door is torn off its hinges. A giant enters.

AGASSI: What the—

3000: Who the—

THE GIANT: Bonjour! Eet eez mee, Andre ze Giant! I am 'ere to eat—how do you say?—un petit dîner avec mes collègues Andres!

3000: Mr. The Giant! So delighted you could join us.

THE GIANT: [Gesturing to Agassi] What eez wrong with zees guy?

AGASSI: It's like I'm both guard and prisoner in a prison of my own making—

3000: Hey, Giant, do you like my toga? It's actually an electric blanket dipped in lard and crushed-up lightbulbs.


THE GIANT: Monsieur Agassi, I theenk you are confuzeeng your own characteur weeth Monsieur John McEnroe!

AGASSI: What's the difference?

3000: You're the one with the mullet who used to bang Brooke Shields; he's the angry one from the cereal commercials.

AGASSI: Not anymore, I'm bald now!


[All laugh.] recommended