Archive for October, 2006


A scrim. A veil. Upholstery’s purdah.

And if you don’t trust what you might think I may or may not have been trying to say to you, will you feel the need to look it up in a dictionary?

I love the word antimacassar, even though I have no use for antimacassars themselves. Too fussy, too easily mussed, too many rules . . . a crocheted lace of another person’s compulsions.

But the word antimacassar . . . It smells like the unexpected warm sweet spice of sandalwood when one finds a small teak box in the back of an intriguingly-crowded thrift shop and creaks open the swivel-top lid to peer inside. It’s like the swirled grit of coffee grounds beached against the white porcelain demitasse of bracingly too-strong coffee. It’s like intricate silverwork, poppies, and thimbles filled with marigold-bright saffron.

This, despite the fact that the etymology is disappointingly quotidian: Macassar, the brand name of a hair oil. The word could just as well have been AntiBrylcreem, AntiGrecianFormula, or AntiAlbertoV05.

Are these two sides of the same sheet of paper?

Still, wouldn’t the letters seem beautiful stitched in white puffs of airplane exhaust against all of today’s blue? A-N-T-I-M-A-C-A-S-S-A . . .

(Glaxo . . . Kreemo . . . Toffee . . .)

Underneath the antimacassar a satiny tapestry. Perhaps the fabric-covered buttons are words pinning these slippery sounds and thoughts into a shape, a form?

Can you read the writing on the sky?

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AH: I thought I’d totally shaken it off, but then it came back again. Like a bad case of excema.

SW: You have excema?

AH: No. I’m saying that it came back. You know . . . like excema.

SW: Sweetie, where do you have excema?

AH: I don’t have excema.

SW: You don’t have excema?

AH: No. There’s no excema.

SW: But I thought you said you had a bad case of excema.

AH: No. It’s metaphorical.

SW: Metaphorical?

AH: Yes. [A little too loudly, causing other habitués of the local China Trough to look up from their dinners.] That’s what I’m saying. It’s metaphorical! I have emotional excema!

SW: You have metaphorical emotional excema.

AH: Exactly. Did you know my mother pronounces it egg-zee-ma? So that it sounds like the skanky divorcee of that girly beer drink, Zima? So that it rhymes with that toxic mentholated face wash, Noxema? For the longest time I was convinced that Noxema was an anti-excema topical ointment.

SW: Yikes.

AH: I know! It’s awful. And now I need metaphorical Noxema. For my emotional egg-zee-ma.

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[Upon waking up at 5:00 a.m. this morning with a fever, scrutinized by three frowning cat faces.]

Yuki: Patient presents with inflamed sinus cavities, sore throat, headache, backache, painful joints, and fever. Possibly something viral or bacterial.

Bean: Ooh! I bet it’s meningitis! Let’s do a lumbar puncture!

AH: Damnit. Stop poking me.

Bean: Ooh! And let’s chew her hair to see if she’s a reactive pupil.

Yuki: That’s not a real treatment.

Bean: Is too a real

Nobu: [Interrupting and blurting out.] Ooh! Ooh! It’s Notenoughturkeyforme Disease. I vote for the treatment where the patient has to go to the kitchen and feed us Jennie O until our tummies explode! Kapow!!

Yuki: You don’t get to vote, you puny, fangletty, batty nuisance. And hey! Don’t even think about writing on my white board or I’ll have to smack you into the next zip code.

Nobu: You always bogart the white board. Who died and made you Miss Bossy Pants?

Yuki: Shut up. I’m busy being a Diagnostic Genius. I think it’s cancer of the Pythagoreas Gland.

AH: [Weakly sitting up a little.] Huh?

Yuki: Furthermore, patient is clearly altered. The tumor has caused the body to release Neo-Fatal Spastics.

AH: OMG. You’re so totally making stuff up now. That’s not even right. And of course I’m altered. It’s 5:00 freaking a.m. and I haven’t had any coffee yet.

Bean: Let’s palpate the patient’s bladder to check for paralysis. If she gets up and goes to the bathroom she’s not paralyzed and we can rule out Catastrophic Cataleptic Catatonia.

AH: Oof! Hey . . . !

Yuki: Bean, who gave you a license to pun? Annoying kitten, you go break into patient’s office and check for toxic substances like asbestos or killer pothos plants or whatever. And sorry, we’re all out of hazmat suits, so you’re just going to have to go commando.

Nobu: Um . . . can’t we just eat Jennie O until our tummies explode?

Bean: I like Jennie O.

Yuki: Well, it’s risky, so nobody tell Cuddy. Patient, you need to consent to the Jennie O treatment. Or else we’ll have to intubate.

AH: We are so taking Oz off the Netflix queue.

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