The Yuki-Onna is Not Ready For A Relationship

Sup guys

thanks for sticking with me while I told you stuff about my life for a bit
probably it will happen again at some point
but I can tell y’all’s interest is starting to flag
and a true storyteller
(which is exactly what the fuck I am)
always gives the audience what it wants
and right now
my storyteller sense is telling me
that what you want is a tale about frozen boobs
(recommended by my pal Ilsa: SHE WOLF OF THE INTERNET)

So there’s these two woodcutters
a young dude named Minokichi
and his dad
whose name doesn’t matter because he’s gonna die in the next paragraph
(oh, uh, spoilers.)
and they are terrible woodcutters
because they are out cutting wood IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING WINTER
when all sensible people are either inside or in cancun
and thus nobody is surprised when these two dimwits end up trapped in a snow storm
and have to spend the night in an abandoned hut

Now, normally this would just mean a very uncomfortable night
but this is a folktale
so both these dudes are basically fucked
word to the wise:
you do not spend the night in an abandoned shack if you are in a folktale
you go outside and you deal with the storm and get rescued by wizards or glowing deer or something
because see, here’s what happens to Minokuchi and his red-shirt dad:
dad falls asleep
but Minokuchi stays up because winter
and then at like midnight
this heart-stoppingly gorgeous babe creeps in
I say heart-stoppingly
because she walks up to the dad and straight stops his heart
although i guess she doesn’t do it with her hotness
she actually does it with her COLDNESS
because this chick is MADE OF ICE
she is in fact the YUKI-ONNA
AKA: SNOW WOMAN
sweet, the old guy is dead
now i can end this paragraph.

So Minokuchi is watching this snow lady rub her frost-bitey bod on his dad
and she catches him looking
and she’s like whoa
kid
I’m kinda killing your dad right now
could you give us some privacy?
when we’re done I’ll totally kill you too, I promise.
But then she feels bad
because Minokuchi is really young and also kind of sexy
so she’s like I’ll tell you what
I’ll let you live
but you can never tell ANYBODY about this
because it would totally ruin my cred
and then I will kill you
so Minokuchi is like GREAT. SOUNDS AWESOME. WE HAVE A DEAL.

so Minokuchi’s dad freezes to death
but Minokuchi gets to keep living
with a whole buttload of survivor’s guilt
until one day he’s walking through the forest again
and he runs into this HEART-STOPPINGLY GORGEOUS LADY
her skin is so unnaturally pale
it is like THE SNOW ITSELF
(yeah this is what the ancient japanese thought was attractive
although to me it sounds uncomfortably close to necrophilia)
oh also her name is O-yuki
which in Kanji is basically just Yuki-Ono backwards
just thought I’d draw your attention to that subtle bit of foreshadowing

so Minokuchi (being just over eighteen) immediately starts struggling with a massive erection
only he’s not struggling very hard
(hehe hard)
because he is super duper into this chick
I guess because he has a thing for women who look exactly like the one who murdered his father?
is there a name for that fetish?
like I know an Oedipus complex is when you want to kill your dad and sex your mom
but what if you want to sex the person who killed your dad?
it’s like one-stop shopping! so efficient!
leave it to the japanese to streamline a classic sexual disfunction

so obviously Minokuchi uses the suavest pickup line in his arsenal:
hey girl
are you uh
are you married?
and she’s like NO U?
and he’s like nope!
so they go home and get married
because dating will not be invented for another several decades

and all goes well for many years
this mystery snow woman bears ten children
because contracteption also will not be invented for several decades
and then one night, being the idiot that he is
Minokuchi is like you know who you really remind me of?
this snow spirit who killed my dad and made me promise never to tell
in fact you know what, you look exactly like her
how did I never notice this before
and O-Yuki
who – GASP – was actually Yuki-Ono THIS ENTIRE TIME
is like I HAVE NO IDEA
IT SEEMED PRETTY OBVIOUS TO ME
JUST LIKE IT SEEMED PRETTY OBVIOUS TO ME THAT YOU PROMISED NEVER TO TELL ANYONE
AND EVEN EVIL SNOW SPIRITS COUNT AS SOMEONE
YOU RACIST

so Minokuchi is like shit
so i guess you’re gonna kill me now
and Yuki-Ono is like nah
just gonna make you raise my kids for me
peace
then she disappears in a cloud of snow
leaving no forwarding address
Minokuchi never sees a CENT of child support

so the moral of the story
is you should not marry a snow wizard
because they are all terrified of commitment
and will latch onto any technicality they can find
just to avoid raising a family

I hope that helps

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How I Met Cuba

Hey so it’s Saturday, and Saturday is the day I go visit my friend Cuba in his house in the park. You may remember Cuba as the dude whose house I was at when the police showed up for unrelated reasons. I’ve been paying weekly visits to Cuba for about five months now, and today is the day I tell you how that all started.

So as I may have told you before, I went to art school. I went for a Master’s degree in writing, which meant two things:

1) Upon graduation, no one would be allowed to correct my grammar EVER AGAIN

2) Before graduation, I had to submit a thesis.

But, this being art school, my thesis could be whatever the hell I wanted. It could be a paper airplane, or a pile of dead leaves, or – in my case – a pair of gloves that allowed the wearer to type by pressing the fingers to the palms in combination, similar to chording a guitar. As part of my project, I attached the gloves and a webcam to a beat up old laptop, wrote a program to superimpose any text I typed over the webcam video, and went walking around my neighborhood. After twelve hours of this, I ended up with about an hour of useful footage and a pile of molten slag where the laptop used to be. Luckily, it wasn’t my laptop.

camera-head

This is what I looked like.

Most of the usable footage wasn’t any good , but I did find something interesting in the course of my journey. When I sat down to rest on a bench in the park, I looked out across the pond and saw what appeared to be a little grey shack.

It was built on a tiny peninsula that stuck out into the pond, and it would have been hidden by a weeping willow if the trees had had any leaves. As I came closer, filming all the time, I saw that the shack was made of what appeared to be grey carpet samples, tied together at the edges with the plastic twine sometimes used to tie up newspapers. I stood in front of the shack, typing to myself, when I heard a sudden movement inside.

“Oh shit,” I typed, and ran. I didn’t know who was inside the shack, but I figured they wouldn’t respond well to a twitchy cyborg hovering outside their door. Then I chased a goose for a while, and more or less forgot about the shack.

But every time I walked through that park (and I walked through it a lot, to get to the restaurant where I worked) I would find myself peering over my shoulder at the mysterious shack. Month after month, it stayed standing. Occasionally I would see a dumpy white woman in a red sweatshirt standing outside, smoking. One day she came into my restaurant to use the bathroom. I didn’t think to ask her about her shack until she was already gone.

I worked at that restaurant all summer, and the whole time I worked there I never had the courage to approach the shack. As the weather warmed up, I started seeing more and more people gathered around the place. I assumed the woman in red was the primary occupant, but maybe I was wrong. Finally, on the day I put in notice at the restaurant (because fuck restaurants) I mustered up the gumption to go say hi.

There was a muddy path worn into the grass where it passed through the willow tree. I emerged, still in my all-black server clothes, in front of two people squatting on milk crates. One was the woman in red, her eyes cloudy and her jaw drooping malevolently. The other was a straight-backed man with a bushy white beard, a grey t-shirt and a castro cap.

“Who the fuck are you?” said the woman.

“I’m … I’m [Publius Ovidius Naso], and I just see you guys over here all the time and I wanted to know what was going on.”

“Why the fuck is it any of your business?” she spat.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I’ll go away if you want me to. I was just curious.”

“Come here asking all these questions,” she said, “You’re a cop, huh?”

“Nope,” I said, “Not a cop.”

“Ey, papi!” said the man with the beard. “Come on, sit down.”

“Are you crazy, Cuba?” said the woman, “He could be a cop!”

“Ee not a cop, papi, come on. Sit down right here, papi. You no listen to her. This my house.” He patted a broken milk crate next to him, and I sat.

“Fuckin’ stupid,” said the woman, “He could be a cop and you let him sit right here.”

“Shaddap!” yelled Cuba, waving her away like a cloud of flies, “Shaddap! Ee not a cop! This my house!”

The woman left us alone, grumbling the whole time, and Cuba turned to me.

“Dey call me Cuba,” he said, “Because I from Cuba. Whatchoo name, papi?”

And then we were friends. I sat on that milk crate for two hours, listening to the story of Cuba’s life. He’d come from his home country on an inflatable raft twenty years before, and worked his way from Florida to Chicago, where a forklift accident damaged his spinal cord and paralyzed him. After submitting to an experimental surgery that left a scar on his back the whole length of his spine, he could walk again, but he couldn’t work. He’d never been much of a drinker before, but now he drank a 40 a day to keep the pain at bay.

As for heroin, the drug of choice in that park, he’d never touched it. That, and the fact that he was the only person with a house in the park, made him a sort of father figure to all the junkies in the area, black and white alike. His little clearing was and is probably the least segregated area of Chicago. The junkies brought him change to buy cigarillos and 40s, and he kept a few ampules of Narcan in a repurposed baby-wipe box in his hut, in case any of them overdosed. My first day there, I watched one of them hide in his house to shoot up. Cuba waited until the guy was done, then kicked him in the leg until he sat up and gave Cuba back his headlamp.

The animals in the park saw Cuba the same way as the junkies did. The rats and squirrels showed up daily for scraps, choosing to converge when most of the other humans were gone. Cuba had raised two of the squirrels himself after their mother was killed by a hawk the previous winter. And there was the rooster.

Garfield – named for the park where he lived – was the king of the camp. Everybody who came by brought him an offering. He pecked at everything he was given, until a little before sunset when he retired to the branches above Cuba’s shack. Cuba had found him abandoned in the park when he was just a baby (there are a lot of wannabe urban farmers in the neighborhood) and the two had been fast friends ever since. From my perch on the milk crate, I watched Cuba lovingly stroke Garfield’s comb. I couldn’t believe any of this shit.

By the time I left, he had decided that I was his honorary son. He had a few of those, but I was the only one who wasn’t on dope. He told me to come back any time, and to tell anybody who gave me trouble that Cuba was my father.

When I came back the next week, I didn’t see Cuba anywhere. But there was a skinny black guy with white powder smeared across his face, and eyes rolled back in his head. He smiled when he saw me, and shook my hand.

“Hey man!” he said, “Good to see you! Where’s that ten bucks you owe me?”

“I don’t owe any money,” I said, “I’m here to see Cuba.”

“Nah man, you remember. We went in on a bag together. You still owe me ten bucks.”

“No,” I said, “I really don’t.”

“You a good swimmer?” He asked me, smiling.

“I’m alright,” I said.

Without warning, he grabbed me by the shoulders and made to toss me in the pond. But as soon as he laid hands on me, Cuba was on him, tackling him into the pond. He spent the next ten minutes chasing the poor guy from bank to bank, waving a kitchen knife. No one ever fucked with me after that.

I could go on and on about Cuba, and the relationship we’ve developed over the last few months. But let me just say this: I’ve always believed that the money I give any beggar on the street is worth it if I’m repayed with a story. But I learned from Cuba that the relationship doesn’t have to be transactional. He told me today that me and Garfield are the only friends he has here. He doesn’t have family. And I’ve spent enough time begging for rides to know how lonely you can get when everyone knows you need something from them. So I guess my point is, every once in a while when you see someone on the street, try giving them a couple words, even if you don’t have a dollar to trade for a story. A lot of homeless people are assholes, for sure, and I’ve met most of them, but there are guys like Cuba, too, begging downtown with his rooster in tow. And if you don’t start a conversation, how are you gonna know who’s who?

Well, I mean, I guess you could look for the rooster…

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Best Birthday (Part 2!)

Yeah I know it’s Sunday and not Saturday. I spent Saturday getting laid, so y’all can just forgive me or whatever.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, gypsies.

So already my birthday was off to a good start. I had half a bottle of coke, a map, and a hat. And it was daytime, so I suspected it might be easier to find a ride to Dover with one of the truckers at the stop. The gypsies all cheerfully wished me luck, and I went over to the parking lot to ask around.

It turned out that gypsy luck is actually total bullshit, though, because once again none of the trucks in the lot were going my way. Still, I had the whole day to find a ride, so I went over to the edge of the lot to wait. There was another guy standing there already, wearing a backpack. I assumed he was another hitch-hiker in the same situation, and figured we could at least pass the time commiserating.

Except, this guy didn’t speak much English. For being in England, I seemed to be running into an awful lot of people who didn’t speak much English. After we established our various language proficiencies, I finally asked,

“You hitch-hiker?”

“No!” he said, “I truck-driver!”

“Where’s your truck?” I asked.

He looked around the sparsely populated lot. “Oh, is coming.” he said confidently.

Not a reassuring answer, but I pressed on. “Are you going to Dover?”

“Yes!”

“Can I ride with you?”

“Yes!”

“Well … okay then!”

And with that, we settled down to wait for my new friend’s truck to arrive. Between awkward attempts at conversation, I juggled and watched as one of the girls from the gypsy camp went from truck driver to truck driver, the same way I had. Finally, she came up to us. She gave me a slight nod, and then turned to my companion, producing a gold ring from her sleeve.

“Ten euro,” she said.

My new friend responded in the only sensible way, which was to produce an identical gold ring from his pocket, and raise the bidding.

“Twelve euro,” he said.

“Where are you from?” asked the gypsy.

“I American!” he said, winking at me.

“Nineteen euro,” said the gypsy.

“Five,” said my friend. I couldn’t decide whether he was attempting to sell his ring or buy hers. This continued for a minute or two, until the gypsy girl finally upped the ante. She reached into her sleeve and produced a gold medallion on a gold chain.

“Thirty euro,” she said triumphantly.

At which point my truck-driver friend reached into his pocket and produced AN IDENTICAL GOLD MEDALLION.

“Fifty euro,” he said.

“You Polish?”  said the gypsy.

“No,” he said, “Croatian.”

She nodded at that, put away her wares, and returned to her camp. I turned to the truck-driver, bewildered, and asked him where he’d come by a full set of gypsy gold, and – more importantly – what the fuck had just happened. To his credit, he really did try to explain, but the most I understood was that the story involved a woman. Then the truck arrived.

It was a barely functional, right-hand-drive cement truck, which my friend had apparently been contracted to drive to Turkey. It had been driven to us by a weathered old cockney who stayed in the drivers’ seat as the two of us piled in. He didn’t seem to mind the extra passenger. As the truck shambled down the motorway towards Dover, I asked the Croatian whether he could drop me off in Amsterdam.

“Amsterdam, sure!” he said, “But why go to Amsterdam? Come to Croatia! Is beautiful! Have family in Croatia, you can stay with!”

“You would take me to Croatia?” I asked.

“Sure!” he said, “I drive to Turkey!”

“And … and you can find me a place to stay?”

“I call and ask,” he said. He called, and asked. “He say sure!” he said.

“Well …” I said, visions of hookers and weed dancing in my head. “Okay.”

“Okay!” he cried, “Yes! We take you to Croatia!”

In Dover, my new friend switched into the driver’s seat, and smuggled me onto a ferry without buying me a fare. He bought me dinner in the trucker’s lounge, and nightfall found us in Belgium, where he bought me a plastic package of Belgian waffles, and a bag of caramel candies named after Napoleon, if memory serves. We drove through the night, speaking pidgin English through a cloud of tobacco smoke. That night ended the best birthday of my life, and began the longest ride I ever hitched.

whereiwent

To this day, I have never been to Amsterdam. I can’t say I really regret that. Everybody’s got Amsterdam stories, but I’m the only one with a cement-truck-to-Croatia story. Conventional wisdom tells us that man plans while God laughs. That makes God out to be a real dickhead, though. I think man plans, and God racks his brain to come up with a counteroffer. Sometimes the counteroffer makes about as much sense as a duplicate gold medallion in a Croatian’s breast pocket. But just because an offer doesn’t make sense, doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering. In fact, those are usually the best ones.

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The Best Birthday (Part 1)

So like most of you, I have birthdays. Generally about one per year. Most of these birthdays have been pleasant, but fairly unremarkable. A couple of them have been truly special. One of them had pirates. But amongst the numerous anniversaries of my nativity, there is one that I fear will never be topped. It involved a cement truck.

I was at a truck stop in southern Britain, trying to hitch-hike to Dover, and from Dover to Amsterdam, because, like, where else do you go in Europe as an 18-year-old boy? How I got to the truck stop is a whole other story, a story that is the rough British equivalent of “The Hills Have Eyes.” Let’s focus on one thing at a time, though. I know you are a product of the internet generation, but calm the fuck down.

So it was night time, and this truck stop was dead. Nobody was going the way I wanted to go, and hardly anybody was there at all. I was exhausted, and a little demoralized. Tomorrow was my birthday, and I was going to spend it miles from anybody who gave a shit if I lived or died. But at least I was on an adventure. Anyway, there was no time to mope. It was starting to rain, and I needed a place to sleep. There was a hotel, but I was being willfully poor and so didn’t have money for a room. What I did have was a tent. As rain began to fall, I searched for a plot of grass to pitch my tent on.

I found the perfect place – an out-of-the-way little plot under some trees. But apparently someone else had had the same idea as me. As I approached, I saw six tents already pitched on the grass, and a couple of men standing amongst them, smoking. I approached them to see what was up. When they saw me, they smiled.

“Romani?” said one, hopefully.

I shook my head, confused.

“Parlez vous Frances?” he said.

I shook my head.

“Italiano?”

“No,” I said.

He sighed, “English?”

“English,” I agreed.

He nodded gamely and rubbed his head, trying to get his English thoughts in order.

“We … gypsies,” he said.

“Gypsies?” I said, “Actual gypsies?”

“Gypsies! Yes! Gypsies! From Romania! You?”

“American”

“Ha HA! American! Why you here?”

“Uhh … Hitch-hiking.”

“Ehh…?”

“Auto-stop. To Dover. Can I pitch my tent here?”

“Ha HA! Autostop!” He motioned to the others in the camp, and a whole family began to gather around me.

“Can I … can I camp? With you?” I tried again.

“Yes! Yes! Camp here with us! Where in America you live?”

“California,” I said.

“California!” he said, “They let you camp in California? In a car?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “Maybe. Probably.”

“How much the food?” he said.

“About like here,” I said.

“Lemme see you passport,” he said. I was now surrounded by ten or twelve gypsies, all following the conversation as best they could. The oldest of them was probably in his seventies. The youngest couldn’t have been older than five or six.

“My passport?” I said, suddenly suspicious.

“Passport! Yes! We trade. I show you Romania passport, you show me America passport.”

This seemed like a reasonable deal, so I dug out my passport and exchanged it for his. I immediately realized I’d gotten the short end of the stick. Picture an American driver’s license, but printed on cheap cardstock using a terminally ill printer and then laminated by a half-blind chimpanzee. Meanwhile, the gypsy family was oohing and awing over my embarassingly ostentatious passport, with its amber waves of grain and its purple mountain majesties and its inspirational quotes from American culture heroes. Each page they turned sent them into fits of laughter. Finally, they arrived at the page with my name and picture on it.

“Hey!” said the leader, “Hey! Hey! Your birthday tomorrow!”

“Yeah,” I said, handing back his passport. He gave me mine.

“Happy birthday!” he said. “You want wine? food?”

I wasn’t sure he would understand “Hell yes,” so I just nodded super hard.

What followed was a god-damn feast. Chicken cooked on a grill in the back of one of their piled-high sedans, a soup that was approximately 50% rosemary, bread to soak it up, and as much wine as I could drink. I juggled for the amusement of the children, and when I finally set up my tent, the oldest member of the caravan tried to trade me a gold ring for it. I respectfully declined.

It rained like a shower of dead birds all night, and in the morning I awoke to the leader slapping the side of my tent.

“Hey, hey, get up!” he yelled.

I crawled out of my tent and was greeted by the beaming leader, holding out a glass bottle of Coca Cola.

“Here! Happy birthday!” he said. I took it and drank, to much rejoicing all around.

“Here,” he said, giving me a battered map of the United Kingdom. “Here,” he said, giving me a woolen cap with ear-flaps. “Happy birthday! Happy birthday!”

Breakfast was the same as dinner: chicken, soup, and bread. The children ran circles around me, all smiles, while the adults packed their belongings tetris-style into their cars. The leader wished me good luck, and I marched across the truck stop to the parking lot, to see what Gypsy luck really was.

The Coke was half empty when they gave it to me. The map was practically confetti, and I was on my way to the Netherlands. The hat served me well, but itched terribly and vanished overnight a month later under mysterious circumstances. It was, after all, a gypsy hat. But I had spent the night with a family that was willing to adopt me for a few hours – to show me that, even though I was alone on the road, there were other people alone with me. My dad used to say that whether you celebrate your birthday doesn’t matter. What matters is that you pay attention to what you do on your birthday, and use that as a representative sample of what your life is like at that point. Judging by my 19th birthday, my life was a fucking fairytale.

Oh, what’s that you say? I never mentioned any cement truck? Well I suppose you’ll have to come back next week to hear about that bit, as well as the strangest transaction I’ve ever witnessed.

Safe travels.

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