by Melissa Chiasson
It’s your first day working an unpaid internship at Metropolis Publishing Corp. You’re well on your way to becoming a novelist who writes about her disillusionment with modern life! Stan, your middle-aged supervisor who smells like hot dogs, introduces himself and asks that you get him coffee. Well, you think, it is my first day; I’m sure Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides did they exact same things when they were interns (they didn’t). You fetch Stan his coffee. He tells you that it’s not warm enough. You return to the kitchen to microwave it, silently pondering if you really went to college for this. When you return with Stan’s coffee, he says it’s still not hot enough. What the fuck? Do you a) throw the steaming cup of coffee in his face and say dramatically, “Is that hot enough for you?” or b) nod your head politely while planning Stan’s doom?
You wake up with a cough. Surely it will go away, you think, no need to involve a doctor, especially since I don’t have health insurance. The next day, you’re coughing up blood. Do you a) go to the ER or b) ignore it? I mean, it couldn’t be tuberculosis, right?
After throwing Stan’s body into the East River, you decide to stop and get a meatball sub before catching the F back to the place you’re squatting in renting. You’re so hungry, you start eating it on the train. After a patch of rough track, a lone meatball falls to the floor of the subway car. Do you a) pick it up and eat it or b) pick it up, dust if off, and eat it?
You see one of your former classmates walking down Fifth Avenue with his cadre of investment banking buddies. Before you can pretend to be really interested in a Duane Reade window display, he calls out to you. “Broseph,” he says to you, as you try to remind him that you are, in fact, female, “Broseph, listen, we should get together sometime, you know, grab a few beers and talk about what we’ve been up to.” Do you a) enthusiastically respond “Sure thing, dude,” knowing full well you will never take him up on this or b) laugh, and while going in for the embrace, whisper into his ear, “I will fucking end you.”
“Yep, that’s classic tuberculosis,” the doctor says, examining the X-ray. “Luckily we caught it early enough so that we—wait a minute, where did you get a meatball sub in the ER?” Do you a) run or b) finishing eating the sub and run?
As part of your court-ordered community service, you have to mentor a group of elementary school kids in the Bronx. One day, when you’re reading Animorphs out loud to them, which, let’s face it, is probably rock bottom for you, one of the kids raises his hand. “Would you ever write a book?” he asks. “Oh, I could write a book,” you say, “I could write a book that would blow your mind.”
“Cool,” he says. “There’s no way it could be better than Animorphs, though.”