Nuts to You!
Paperback: 91 pp.
In Nuts to You!, L. D. Brodsky's sixth book of short fictions, the reader is dealt a hand of wild cards depicting, among others, an office worker who notices the stairs to the basement vending machines diminishing every day and another who bolts from work, stays away for weeks, and finds himself not missed, upon his return; an art lover who is seduced by a lifelike statue; a media victim who hears voices, even from freshly baked pies; a college student who relocates his dorm room to the bathroom; an avid jogger who braves below-zero weather, in T-shirt and shorts; a desperate poet who advertises his services in the Yellow Pages; a Starbucks patron who actually tries to grasp the Zen-like profundities on the napkins; a sports-bar lizard who thrives on bad wine; and an ape who fears he'll evolve into a man. Of course, Brodsky's malapropistic working stiff takes center stage in five of the stories as well, reveling in his hometown's celebrity, fueled by "Big Mac Mike McGwire"'s record-breaking duel with "Sammy Salsa" and the pope's "pastural pilgrinage."
The Starbucks Experience
Usually, Sunday mornings don't bum him out, but this one was a humdinger.
He should have suspected as much when, unable to locate a space on the street adjacent to the newly opened Starbucks, he was forced to park a block away and freeze his ass off. Worse, on getting out of his car, still bleary from an abbreviated night of sleep, he stepped into reasonably fresh dog shit — a fecal land mine obviously planted by an enemy of the state, not man's best friend. His white Nikes became zebras of a different stripe.
Once inside, he couldn't find an atoll of quiet in the archipelago of tiny round tables littered with youthful coffee klatschers rehashing, in highly charged rhetoric competing against spasms of gut-busting hilarity, the week's impeachment debacle in Washington, the prospect of the president losing his pants.
Moreover, the air conditioning was cranked up, no matter it was thirty degrees outside. He never took off his navy pea jacket, as he sipped the tart decaf, which he assumed must be the best in the world, from all he'd heard about Starbucks, and gnawed on a bagel, which they couldn't toast.
He sat as still as possible, hoping that by lowering his metabolism,
the political cant, babies' cries, and raucous jazz might leave him for
dead. To accomplish this, he tried to hypnotize himself by focusing on
his green-and-black-printed tan napkin, but
The disclaimer on the back could have been a plank in Ralph Nader's Green Party platform: "Made from 100% recycled fibers. Minimum 30% post-consumer material. No bleach was used to make this napkin."
The term "post-consumer" confused him not a little. Could this simple napery, in a former incarnation, possibly have been a piece of toilet paper? Intriguing! Provocative! Perhaps not. Perhaps! After all, who can argue with the success of Starbucks?
Next, he focused on the logo, on the front: an image of a crowned mermaid, bearing an eerie resemblance to Munch's The Scream.
Finally, with all his powers of imagination and logic working to drown out the clatter, he concentrated on the Zen-minimal typography harnessing words that could have been borrowed from Rabindranath Tagore or a bowl of alphabet soup, doubtless epitomizing the gospel according to Starbucks — wisdom esoteric, arcane (he was in the dark): "I will embrace it roasting"/"bring me a perfect warm." For the life of him, he couldn't fathom word one of those probably profound psychic soundings.
Suddenly satori! He wadded the napkin, along with others, and wiped the dog shit from his Nikes.