Dresden, Germany (by StafbulCZ)
Dresden, Germany (by StafbulCZ)
Issue No. 81
On the outside edge of Gen X and the beginning of the Millennial Generation dwells an undefined group in their twenties and thirties—the kind that have culture pieces written about our quarter-life crises, our late-blooming, our lack of motivation.
If Rebecca Schiff were in charge of naming this generational subset (which, to my mind, she should be), she’d name us for the things we tell ourselves, the rules we make up and repeat, over and over.
“It Doesn’t Have to Be a Big Deal” is both the title of this sharp, discerning story, and the narrator’s mantra—a phrase born out of equating disaffection with ease, inconsequence with fun. “Was it fun?” the narrator asks of her relationship with a broke pot grower. She has flown across the country to visit him and since arriving, has footed every bill. “But we had to do things,” she reasons. “Otherwise, it wasn’t an experience. It was just sitting in his house.”
Their relationship has all the trappings of fun—youth, impermanence, caprice. Yet the narrator finds herself dispirited by the grower’s attempts at affection. He props her with pillows, he packs her a fresh bowl, he asks her to be patient.
In part, “It Doesn’t Have to Be a Big Deal” is about dating. And what dating is about, as Rebecca reveals with her knockout wit and acerbic prose, is regulating intimacy. Let a little in, keep a little out. “This was what it was for, dating,” she writes. “Wet hugs. Jesus jokes. I needed this. I would get high and have this.” Small pleasures, such as those found on a day trip to the hot springs, are permissible. But the narrator’s ultimate goal is to avoid the Big Deals: relationships and choices of untold consequence, the kind of experiences that become unmanageable once set in motion.
Co-Editor, Electric Literature
Support Recommended Reading
By Rebecca Schiff
Recommended by Electric Literature
The pot grower was broke. I paid for everything. We went to a restaurant that served only the kind of food you’d eat when you had the munchies—hamburgers wrapped in mango, zucchini pop tarts. It was hard to date a grower without money. Something had happened to his crop, something dumb. It had to do with his ex-girlfriend, an older woman who threw eggs at his car while we were eating in the munchie restaurant. When we came out, the car said “Faggot” in ChapStick and he was like, “I’m surprised she would write that. She has so many gay friends.”
The car also said “Douche bag.”
I had never really dated anyone. Sometimes I wondered if a pot grower was the place to start. A lot of his sentences began, “When I had money,” and ended with guitars I’d never heard of. We drove back to his grow house with egg dripping off the side of the car, then fucked in an Aeron chair he’d bought when he had money.
Afterwards he disappeared behind a duct-taped curtain to tend the plants that would make new guitars possible. I walked around his block, which looked like suburbia as imagined by stoners who had dropped out of college. It was. They had. The college was in the center of town and the dropouts thrived around it, growing richer than if they had finished. My dropout had become an exception to this rule. The growers grew vegetables, too—rhubarb, kale. I looked for the ex-girlfriend’s house. She could be anywhere, seething with misplaced homophobia, cradling intact eggs.
The whole town smelled like pot. Why was he broke? There was weed in his freezer. There was weed in ceramic frogs on his desk. When I tried to smoke a bowl with even a tiny bit of ash in it, he would refill the bowl immediately.
“I want you to smoke fresh,” he said.
He propped up my neck with pillows when my neck hurt. He propped up my crotch with pillows to enter me at pillow-propped angles. He seemed neither faggot nor douche bag, but more like a man with a lot of pillows.
The ChapStick wouldn’t come off the windshield. The grower scrubbed and scrubbed. We were taking a road trip to a naked hot spring, but he kept pulling over at gas stations and using the squeegee on “Faggot.” I blamed his Catholicism, the pope, his parents. Hippies always had parents.
“It’s off, for Christ’s sake,” I said. I hoped Christ would help. “How much is the gas?”
I wasn’t from California, so a lot of this was new to me, the pot culture, the nudity without shame. I liked being stoned and naked with this man, but being sober and clothed was more challenging. We had met the previous summer, felt each other up during a sing-along, and decided through emoticon-heavy negotiations that I would fly across the country so we could spend a week together. I sent pictures of myself in a bikini, chaste for our era, but I had a thing about keeping my actual boobs a surprise. He sent pictures of himself playing mandolin in a new band, chubbier than I remembered, his hair in pigtail buns then braids, hair I willed myself to overlook in order to like him.
“It doesn’t have to be a big deal,” was my mantra, or what my friends gave me as a mantra, or what the culture gave us as a mantra, the culture of managing your mantras.
i just want a television show where a male character says “you’re not like other girls” and the female character is like “what the fuck is wrong with other girls”
Turner prize wining artist Laure Prouvost graduated with a Fine Art degree from renowned British art college Central Saint Martins in 2001.
’Signs’ was shown at EASTinternational 2009 for which Prouvost won the EAST award. In 2011 she was awarded the Max Mara Art Prize for Women.
The Emperor’s New Groove + funny scenes
Key and Peele: Black Ice [http://youtu.be/efiW2K8gASM]
Birth control is basic health care for millions of women—and your access to basic health care shouldn’t be up to your boss.
Next time a white person accuses you of #reverseracism, ask them if they have two and a half minutes to watch this