a sample column i submitted to mcsweeny's that i think is okay to post now since the deadline has passed.


Gwyneth Paltrow

It is 1999. Gwyneth Paltrow is unemployed. She sits at a coffee shop drinking a latte and smoking a cigarette. ‘Balls’ she says to herself ‘sweet magnificent balls’ and takes a twelve-second drag from her cigarette. ‘You can’t smoke here miss’ says a barista who apparently approached her to resolve some issue or another. ‘What?’ says Gwyneth Paltrow. ‘You can’t...’ the barista begins. ‘I fucking heard what you said’ Gwyneth Paltrow retorts with a sort of coarse sympathy ‘I am just so goddamn happy. I am celebrating with a goddamn cigarette. Can’t you see the facts? One of them is that you are clearly an abnormally attractive coffee shop employee’ she demands, and makes sad eye signals in the barista’s general direction while maintaining stellar, nearly majestic posture. She is a starlet. She is a goddess. She takes another drag from her cigarette. This one is fifteen seconds long. ‘I am sorry miss, but you can’t smoke in here. There are laws’ the barista says melodramatically, yet with gusto. He bursts forth from his youthful shroud and unleashes a sea of miserly apathy that crumbles into jest. ‘Get the fuck out’ he says. Gwyneth Paltrow pretends to ignore him for a moment, takes a final drag from what is basically a burning filter and coughs involuntarily into the face of the patron sitting adjacent her, the last hack of which emits as one part utterance, another part emphysemic bark, from which the words ‘ball sack’ can be inferred. ‘I am stealing your ceramic mug though. Call me some time’ and she is gone.

Carson Daly

Late that evening Carson Daly sits cross-legged on his couch, watches television, sips chamomile tea and reminisces on past successful relationships as well as a long string of paternal letdowns that he retrospectively misconstrues as up to around 38% more intentional than they actually were. He suddenly notices that an infomercial advertising electronically heated socks is being broadcast. ‘Jesus Christ’ he says to his television ‘People are such ass-to-the-sky morons’ and takes a sip from his mug, noticing for the first time the words ‘Beans Before Brew/Coffee Galleria’ set beneath a logo vaguely resembling a coffee bean printed across the front of the mug. ‘Oh’ he says, then adds ‘Where did I put my robot?’ He stands quickly and places the mug on a coaster on the coffee table and looks around, nearly frantic. ‘Honey, have you seen my robot?’ he yells in the direction of the bathroom. ‘What?’ his girlfriend says loudly. She is bowing before the vanity attempting, for the sixth time, to properly apply a new brand of blush she stole from her coworker’s desk. ‘I said...’ Carson Daly begins, but is shocked into silence by the unbearably cold hardwood floor beneath his feet. He is wearing a pair of thermal socks. He suddenly feels severely nauseated and vomits violently onto the floor. Included in the hydrochloric soup burning through the mahogany are chomps of carrots, chomps of lettuce, chomps of organic chocolate chip cookie dough and an intact miniature robot. ‘There it is’ he says ‘Never mind!’ He picks up the little android and begins typing a series of numbers into the keypad on its back, but is suddenly overcome by a demonic Gobbling Spirit and unconsciously tosses the robot into his now supernaturally wide mouth. During its descent the robot encounters a tumor along the lining of his esophagus, that subsequently presses the ‘7’ button on the robot’s back, and, thereby, completes the code initiating the robot’s self-destruct sequence. This remains entirely unbeknown to the once again docile Carson Daly, who changes the channel on the television to Nickelodeon. He smiles haphazardly because a favorite rerun of ‘The Forbidden Temple’ is on.

And Jared Leto

The next morning Jared Leto talks somberly to his friend Andrew, a sea turtle, at a café in Malibu about his infertility problem. ‘I just want babies. All I can think about is babies. Babies babies babies. What do you think, man?’ ‘I-D-K bro’ Andrew replies ‘Don’t have that problemo brother broheme. Seems like I’ve got tons of babies everywhere. Doesn’t seem like an issue to me. Brooo’ Andrew dastardly eyefucks a girl in a bikini two sizes too small as she struts past their table and claps his beak at her twice. She glances back at him with a sly ambivalence and masterful grin. ‘She’s a looker, bro’ he says ‘She is sweet seaweed for the eyes.’ Jared Leto continues ‘I expect you to sympathize with my desire for babies, Andrew. I need you acknowledging that babies are central to a person’s wellbeing. Validation is what I’m looking for here. Just tell me, what kind of fertility specialist did you and Marcy see?’ ‘A good one bro. The best’ Andrew says. ‘Well then as my friend and as someone who is supposed to be inherently sympathetic, recommend this specialist to me, man. Recommend them to me. Is it a male or a female?’ ‘Jesus, bro. You seem stressed or something.’ ‘I am not stressed’ Jared Leto says, losing his somberness and putting on an air of frustration ‘Babies, man. Babies. I just want babies. Is that a lot to ask for? Is that too much to inquire to Jesus Fucking God for? Babies? I just want them, man.’ Jared Leto shifts in his seat so that his face is to the sunset. Very dramatic. ‘You seem like the kind of bro who could go for a nice cold glass of beer’ Andrew says consolingly and signals their waiter ‘Get this bro a nice cold glass of beer.’ ‘What kind?’ the waiter inquires ‘We have seven different kinds on tap.’ ‘I don’t need a goddamned beer’ Jared Leto interjects ‘What I need is validation. I need sympathy. I need to not be alienated by people with babies. I need to get in good with some really fucking high-up people who can get me what I need.’ ‘What do you need?’ the waiter says, oblivious. ‘Babies.’