Monday, May 2, 2011

'Ironman' by Lauren Garrett-Joly

This month, the Park Slope B&N group did a character/conflict workshop.

One writer created this character: 
       Male, Age: N/A, Half Robot, likes to listen to metal.

Another devised this conflict: 
       His robot-half is sophisticated, so it looks like a human, and his girlfriend, who doesn’t know his secret, forces him to come to a pool party.

And Lauren Garrett-Joly wrote the following piece: 

“432 please hurry up! We‘re going to be late!” my girlfriend of 1 month, 29 days, 18 hours, 65 minutes and approximately 8.769 seconds, whines.

My timer has been slightly incorrect these days. And it doesn’t even have the decency to display milliseconds. What have I become? Being half-man (I use the term ‘man‘ for all intensive purposes; only referring to gender, since my age is unknown), half-robot, I have always been addressed as 432.

432 is the number printed on the inner most corner of my eyeball, which I always (and slightly annoyingly) see when I use my advanced peripherals. Now the average teenager, like Marla for example, might find this name choice a peculiar one made by my “parents”, who she believes live in a cozy home in Canada and allowed me to move here to Upstate NY alone as both an experimental trip (which isn’t exactly incorrect), and a reward for good behavior. But the name 432, along with the lie about my so-called parents, has ironically instead upped my “cool status” among the human teenagers; because most of my peers apparently think my name is some new-age angst effort to be less of a conformist to modern society and its labels.

I personally see nothing wrong with names, in fact I sometimes rather long for one, but then I become confused by these human emotions and I block them out, literally.

“Marla, could you explain in detail how one could be late to his own party?”

“Ugh, don’t be sarcastic with me, okay? I’m just a little nervous. I mean this is like your coming out party!”

‘Coming out party’. This term does not compute with my system.

“Coming out from where?” I ask.

“Ha-ha. Just hurry up” And with that I hear her expensive Jimmy Choo heels click-clack-click-stomp-lift-swoosh-fly over and into sliding door pool entryway-stomp-click-clack-squish onto slightly wet patio, proceeding to a distance (presumably by the pool) where my highly-sensitive ears can no longer hear.

I take as deep a breath as possible for my body structure, because at this point I feel nervous, which is very new to me. The sensation of nervous feelings suddenly erupting in my brain and stomach (what are these called by humans? Butterflies?) most likely stems from my current predicament. I am completely unsure of how to reveal my true identity: namely my iron-metal hybrid somewhat bullet-proof torso, to all of my high school classmates.

Hmm. No matter. I realize that I will just have to somehow compute a plausible and simple solution in the; as-humans say “heat of the moment."

I put in my ipod device (one of my closest friends), pressing play on the Metal play list I’d created, which was literally recorded sounds of clanking metal and/or iron. As always, this seems to calm me down.

I enter the outside pool quadrant. A flock semi-pubescent teenagers are spread over the lofty terrace and in the pool, some of which turn to look at me. Many hold red plastic cups, most likely filled with variations of expensive vodkas mixed with sugary juice-drinks. I spot and approach Marla, who is standing near some chairs, scantily clad in a paisley string-bikini. Her pale skin glows in the now approaching moonlight. One of her obviously drunk female comrades giggles, burps, and then feels the need to inform me that her “spirit-animal is like totally like, a gay man."


I am wearing an Ed-Hardy t-shirt. Marla, ignoring her babbling friend, smiles at me and says “Hey, 432, about time! I was just about to take a dip. How about you ditch the shirt and join me?” She squeezes my left buttocks, which is much more hard and firm than the average male‘s (of course, since it is a hybrid of iron and fake flesh), a quality she seems to like.

“I can not.“ I reply in a less firm tone of voice than usual.

“Um, why?” says Marla. She too now looks nervous, as well as confused, probably fearing embarrassment.

Oh. No. This is the moment I previously mentioned.

My mouth opens but no sound travels out. Everyone awkwardly blinks at me expectantly. So I abort to Bing mode. Similar to the entertaining commercials (that I actually kind of enjoy, because I can relate to some the fictional characters. You know, the ones who begin to randomly incessantly shout facts and terms?); my brain scans references to the words ‘robot’, ‘iron’, ‘metal’, ‘half man, half-Click. I blink. ‘Ironman; popular action-adventure film starring Robert Downey Jr, based on DC comics, also song by Ozzy Osborne’ reads against my eyelids. Perfect. Once again, in a matter of seconds, my highly skilled mind has solved the problem.

I straighten up, and declare loudly; “I am Ironman."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Chick Chick"

by Oscar Guerrero
I ate some questionable fried chicken from a questionable restaurant, in a questionable street in a questionable area east of LAX. My uncle is a steward at the airport, or something along those lines, so we picked him up from Terminal 20. He greeted us with a "Look how big you've gotten?" and a "Did you lose weight?" and the question we were all waiting for, "Are you hunrgy?"

He stuffed us in the car, took the wheel, and jammed his foot on the pedal until we were going 40 in a 15. "I know a place!"

Before we knew it, it was past nine and we had driven for two hours. "I think we missed it. It was supposed to me fifteen minutes from the airport." We gazed at him but bit our tongues, as we couldn't refuse his hospitality for offering to pay.

Then we spied a place: "Chicky Chicky," with bright flickering neon lights that, as Simon & Garfunkel put it, "split the night."

The menu varied from fried chicked to spicy fried chicken. Everyone ordered the spicy fried chicken but I, being the weakest of stomach of the family, couldn't help but be weak and submissive so as to stand out and get the chicken that was lacking in the spicy area.

So the cashier, this plump Hispanic woman with a Jennifer Aniston haircut and too many rings to count, followed our commands. In a matter of seconds, the food was ready. We had drinks, the chicken of spicy and non-spicy variety, and a little container overflowing with ranch sauce.

I ever-so-cautiously clenched my teeth on the ever-so-salty chicken. I chewed slowly. Save for a few bones it wasn't bad. The feast had officially begun, as everyone was grabbing for a leg, or a nugget, or a wing, and chewing, and savoring, and swallowing, and gulping, and of course digesting.

We finished the meal, payed a surprisingly large bill, and got in the car to say, "This wasn't so bad."

My dad drove tmie, going 25mph under the speed limit. But even at that speed, I felt a pressure in the center of my torso, building up, slowly, but surely.

Then there was rumbling, and sweating, and the next thing I knew, my mouth was erupting white chunks of legs, nuggets, wings and other body parts of the fowl type.

And it was everywhere.

My shoes, my jeans, my Revolver shirt (which I had so carefully and lovingly preserved), and even my mother's dress (which she had carefully and lovingly preserved)... Not to mention two car seats, a bit of the window, and even some of the steering wheel.

Everyone gave me the stare they had previously given my uncle, but they bit their tongues, and kept driving, and driving and driving, and just ignoring the smell.