The Breakfast Table

The Accidental Cross-Dresser

Dear Merrill,

Good morning again. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but while I was walking in to work today half asleep, I actually spilled my corner-convenience-store coffee all over myself, the characters in excruciatingly unoriginal sitcoms and lame romantic comedies often do. It was pure, unadulterated bad physical comedy at its finest, complete with pinwheeling, flailing arms, and shouts of “Whooooaaaah!” from yours truly. The only thing dumber would have been if I’d driven a golf cart into a pool. Passing motorists openly mocked me as they sped by. What’s more, after later discovering an unfamiliar set of keys in my pocket, I subsequently realized that apparently, while stumbling around in a stupor after shutting off the alarm clock, I’d put on my girlfriend’s pants by mistake.

So what I want to know is: If time and space are now obsolete (my theory is even more radical, by the way: I think that they always were obsolete) then why do I still have to get up this early to file my copy for Slate!?!?

I saw American Movie last night as promised. What a great, great movie. I guess by this point I shouldn’t have been surprised when the end credits rolled and I found out that Michael Stipe was one of the executive producers. First Happiness, then the going-into-John Malkovich’s-mind movie, and now this: That crazy loontune Stipe is really on a roll. Three of the best movies I’ve seen in recent memory, and they all owe their existence not to Hollywood and the studios but to an arguably psychotic alternative rock star with a heart of gold and the wisdom to put his millions where they can do a lot of good. Stipe ought to be picked up and carried around on the shoulders of a crowd of cheering moviegoers in the streets. (On second thought, let’s can that idea: He’d probably just get depressed over all the attention.)

As regards the daily news: I toweled off my copy of the Times enough to make out this headline on Page A12: “Talks on Paying Nazi-Era Slaves Turn Sour.” This may not be the deepest reaction, but I couldn’t help wondering … at what point exactly do negotiations for reparation payments to concentration-camp forced-labor slaves “turn” sour? You’d think such an interchange would be pretty much non-amiable and non-gregarious pretty much from the word go. Were the Germans and the survivors sipping cocktails on the veranda and enjoying a nice game of croquet in the garden before the polite conversation suddenly came to an awkward halt? Gee, I hope nobody got offended.

Being as I’m still in a bit of a sour mood myself over the coffee incident, I’d better send this off. Trudging home now to change pants …