1. Presented here is a list of all the men in America you have not yet met.
(There are actually very few men in America that have passed you by. You are very popular, and there are only 25 men total in the country, not counting your father or the president. The rest are all changing disguises and running to get back in your field of view. Tall hats, mustaches affixed to their lips with spirit gum, gloves and boots and a thousand different ways to smirk: these are the hallmarks of their manly trade. America is actually composed entirely of women living lonely suburban lives in places like Scottsdale, AZ or Tuscaloosa, AL. 300 million women wiping down counter tops, washing dishes, slumping into a kitchen chair to watch a little bit of Bob Villa (also a woman) on their thirteen-inch counter-top televisions encased in soft white plastic).
Read these passages and answer the questions that follow.
Arnold MacLeaish is brown in the summer, white in the winter, and in the springtime he is pink around the cheeks from a rash he gets when it is too moist for too long.
Talbot Johannsen is from Minnesota, right around where Gatsby was from, except that Talbot is very secure in the fact that he will never be famous.
Dennis Morgan is having an affair with his sister's high-school principal. Dennis is 24 but his sister is only fifteen. The principal is 42, divorced, named Mallory though she goes by the name Mal.
Jason Record flies airplanes.
Drake Leer is not a rich man, which surprises everyone when they first hear his name brought up. In fact, he is a GM employee with two daughters and a manufactured home covered in teal aluminum siding. He loves his daughters. Honestly.
Out west there is a rancher named Bill Thackery. Sheep on two thousand acres in Montana. He has an old Bell helicopter that he got off an Army buddy for cheap in '78 and his real passion is photography. He has rigged up the bottom of the chopper with a series of cameras all linked to a metal panel of switches made from Radio Shack parts and mounted in the cockpit. He takes the chopper up on weekends and flies all around southern Montana and clicks off shots blindly: mountains, fields, lakes, herds of cattle and deer and sheep.
He wanted to be an astronaut when he was seventeen. He went down to the recruiting office to sign up for the air force and took the preliminary eye exam. Near-sighted. He never told his dad, or his buddies on the baseball team or his girlfriend. After five years of imagining EVAs and zero-g spinning and of listening to Hank Williams in the only bubble of air in fifteen million miles and of drifting out to the surface of the moon, he couldn't get past the third lines of E M L O N on the board and that was it. So he enlisted in the Army instead and was stationed in West Germany while all of his friends got baked in the jungle.
No one will ever know what Bill Thackery imagined for himself. All they know is that he takes cryptic, startling, evocative aerial photographs, and that he cries during war movies.
John Brown hates his name. He insists people call him JB, or J or Jackie. His family is from Sierra Leone by way of Georgia, but for some reason he tells people when he firsts meets them that his family was from the Caribbean and that they spent some time as minor landowners in New Orleans. The whole idea of having been enslaved, that his ancestors were owned by his wife's ancestors (or at least people very much like his wife's ancestors)… it bothers John Brown fundamentally. And his name is just a reminder of the whole thing. So call him JB. Make him feel a little better.
Oskar Mendhelson has very soft hands.
Cecil Lillihammer drinks too much coffee when he has a large project due at work.
Brandon Macbeth's grandfather has a cane made of the stretched and dried penis of a bull.
Terrance Smith belches when he is nervous, but he tries to turn that around when he is with his friends so that everyone thinks he is a loud and gaudy man, a kind of Animal House figure, when in fact he merely has a tender sensibility and is easily bothered by the slightest shifts in mood.
When he was very young he cried a lot, which made his father sigh and leave the room. Terrance never knew if that was because his father hated a cry baby, or if his father too wanted to cry at the mere sight of his child's tears. Terrance still doesn't know, even though his father is very much alive and they talk often.
Gregory Minituck has a huge collection of lead soldiers which he makes himself from five different molds. He now has six thousand and has filled an entire room with a fairly accurate representation of the Battle at Gettysburg, complete with the Devil Rocks and men falling away dead up the slope of Little Round Top. His right hand is covered in scars from burning himself with molten lead, and he has developed horrible asthma. He weighs three hundred and eighty two pounds. When he was fourteen he was at a party in a city several hours away and he accidentally on purpose killed a girl who had passed out in the bathroom.
Mason Porter eats peanut butter more than he should, and never cleans his ears.
Stephen Boston doesn't want anything more than what he has. He is unique.
(You may use scratch paper if you need to).
1A) These are all the men?
1B) These can't possibly be all that American manhood has to offer. Where in the hell is John Wayne? Oh, wait, he's dead. But Harrison Ford? Where the hell is he? Don't you even try and tell me he is a fucking woman!
1C) What about cowboys and kung fu pictures and railroad men and cop shows and detectives— Sam Spade and Fletch and Mark Furman— and super-heroes and scientists and football players and light sabers and John Updike and Saturn V rockets? I mean... Jesus Fuck!
1D) And who are you, you pansy? I mean, who the hell are you saying these things?
1E) What are you even trying to say? Where are you from then? Canada?
1F) Wait, are you a chick? Feminist.
1G) It's just because you haven't had a real man. Do you even know what a real man is like? You have no idea, do you?
1H) And if there are only, like, 25 guys in the whole country, then what the fuck does that make me?
1I) And what about astronauts? I forgot about astronauts, but what about them? Is it because they are only men when they are in space? Is that it? Woman.
1J) Go back to fucking Russia you feminist lesbian fascist! I hate that you people are always screwing with the damn world. I hate it. I really really hate it. Damn it.
1K) Where am I supposed to go now? You people have ruined this whole damn country. Ruined.
1L) Do you know, when I was a kid, I always held the door open for ladies. They loved it. I was eight and it was a big deal with me then because they would always smile, especially the old ones, and they smelled like baby powder when they patted my head. I felt good about being a boy. My dad said to me, "You're a good kid, you know that Blake. A good kid." And he smelled like beer and hair... like the barber shop. And when I was young even the high school girls thought it was cute when I would hold the door for them. "Such a gentleman." one of 'em said once. The world was right. And now, Jesus Fuck, you people have blown it all to hell. All of it. Straight to hell. I don't even know where my dick is anymore, turning everything this way and fucking that. I can't compliment a chick anymore, I can't hold the door. I got chicks bossing me around and no one is taking care of the kids anymore neither. No one at all. And now they're all listening to rap music and killing each other and I say no fucking wonder. Do you see this world you people have made? Do you see it?
1M) Only 25 men in the whole country... you got that right. Where have all the men gone? That's what I am asking. Where have all the men gone.
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