64 Thousand Dollar Question [Repost]

Prompt: React

orange is tnb

“Misandry isn’t a ‘thing’,” said August. “It’s a reaction to misogyny.”

Seven women sat in a circle on grey folding chairs for their weekly “Search Inside Myself” session with Dr Whitley, who named the program without much thought to the sense of humour of incarcerated women. Some were there solely because of the name of the group, and had no interest in exploring personal or sexuality issues. Their attendance was noted, and they looked upon Dr Whitley as naive, unintelligent, and laughable. These were incentive enough to encourage their weekly attendance.

“What do you mean, August?” asked Dr Whitley. She wore a cream coloured skirt and a black jacket. She always looked well-pressed. The rest of the women were clad in slightly rumpled charcoal grey two-piece uniforms, stamped with the institution’s initials on the back in sunny yellow, and with their names on badges stuck with velcro to the front of their uniforms.

“There aren’t women who hate men. Women hate what men do sometimes, but not the men.”

“Amen,” said Agnes. She was thinking of her husband, Armand, whom she didn’t realize was cheating on her at that very moment.

Miss Fisher spoke up. “There are women who hate men.” She had lost a few pounds in prison for the multiple murders, but still looked well for a woman of her age, and was far from frail. “For example,” she said, “I feel I am a misandrist. I am afraid, and regretful, that I truly do hate men. I honestly didn’t know there was a word for it until I attended this, um, group meeting.”

Search Inside Myself,” said Bonnie helpfully.

“How could you hate half the population?” August asked. She was approximately half Miss Fisher’s age. “You have reason to hate some men, but not all men.”

“I can because I do,” said Miss Fisher. “I didn’t always feel this way, but circumstances, life experiences, observations, and research have led me to conclude that the world would be a better place without men.”

“Amen,” said Bonnie, who was serving twelve years for poisoning her boyfriend.

“You hate little boys? Toddlers? Gandhi?”

“Of course I don’t hate little boys,” said Miss Fisher, smiling benignly. “But I do hate what they become. I never hated the young men in my classes, and it is tragic that they grew into men.”

“As opposed to what?” August asked.

“Decent people.”

“Many decent people are men.”

“I respectfully and regretfully disagree.”

“Do you,” said Dr Whitley, “regret the murders you committed? Are you sorry for the men you killed, and for their families?”

Miss Fisher paused. “That is the 64 thousand dollar question, isn’t it?” she said amiably. She would hardly confess to any deed or feeling to a prison doctor with both a smart phone and a ballpoint pen, without careful consideration.

“What’s that?” asked Bonnie. “The 64 thousand dollar question?”

“It means a question at the gist of a matter,” said Miss Fisher. “It refers to a game show popular in the 50s, called The 64 Thousand Dollar Question, in which the contestants had the chance to win prize money by answering a series of questions.”

“Before your time, Bonnie,” said Agnes. “It’s like Trivial Pursuit.”

“What’s that?” asked Bonnie.

“Can we please get back to the discussion at hand?” said Dr Whitley in what she perceived was an kindly yet authoritative tone of voice.

“Let’s continue Searching Inside Ourselves,” said a woman named Tricia. Dr Whitley looked at her sharply. She had never spoken in group before.

Miss Fisher smiled.


  • Original Prompt: Frail, July 18, 2016.
  • Image: Orange is the New Black, Netflix.
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And now a request from the audience

Prompt: Brag


Hi Wednesday,

Here I am, laptop in lap, watching Stephen Colbert on TV, wondering why I am so completely and utterly bored by superhero movies, and why Trump doesn’t seem to understand we notice his extreme vanity; i.e. the long ties to make him look taller and less wide, the poofy yellow comb over, the orange tan with reverse raccoon eyes. And more importantly, that he doesn’t seem to know that those vanity strategies don’t actually work for him: we know he’s fat, bald, old, and pasty. None of that would matter a whit if he was a decent and competent man, of course. But that he tries so very hard to be something he is not, and tries so unsuccessfully… well I can’t help but wonder, as I sit here with my laptop.

I don’t have a lot to brag about. I’m aging, I get grey hair, I would like to be less wide and have an impossibly lustrous mane of hair, a dewy youthful complexion. I just never occurred to me to take bad advice about those things. We all see people who have their personal vanities— usually these are harmless and sometimes even endearing. Many women (and men) succumb to inadvisable surgeries and other augmentations. But how many people do you know who go the the transparent and ineffective lengths that the Donald does? Exactly how insecure is he? And should such obvious shallowness, vanity, and cluelessness have alerted voters?

Yes, me and my laptop wonder.

Meanwhile, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is the only one that relates to today’s prompt, “brag”?

cartoon that-s-the-last-time-we-brag-about-our-kids-new-yorker-cartoon_u-l-pgpmlt0

cartoon singer-smashes-banjo-matthew-diffee

cartoon trumps africa


The real prompt was about not being afraid to recognize and appreciate your good qualities, if not brag about them. Let’s do that!

Peace and love,

~~FP

Autobiography

Prompt: Autobiography

clown-on-fence

Ups and downs
Cheese and clowns
A moustache here
An Afro there
Homemade wine
A Bartlett pear
An orange van
A string of lights
Tea-stained days
Neglected nights
The Marseillaise
A drop of sweat
A barren page
A private jet
A vacant stage
A patron saint
To paraphrase:
Fingerpaint.

Anniversary [Repost]

Prompt: Flavor

dining silhouette

The server was very pale, with dark hair and the white shirt, black trousers, and full black apron that all the servers at Le Péché wore. He wasn’t our server— ours was a curly haired blonde, but he tapped me on the shoulder as I was raising a fork of duck confit with vanilla foam to my lips.

“Excuse me madam,” he said discreetly, into my ear, so that even my husband, celebrating with me our tenth anniversary with this ridiculously expensive night out, could not hear. It had been a tempestuous ten years, with ups as high as the stars and downs that took us to fiery depths, and everything in between. It was somewhat of a miracle that we were happily marking our tenth year of survival together. “Would it be terribly inconvenient if we moved your table?” the server asked me.

“What?” I said, “Why?”

In the same low tone, the dark server said, “We’ve had a small complaint. One of our guests does not like having you within their line of sight.”

“What?” I said again, certain I’d misheard, and waved off my husband’s enquiring face and stopped him speaking.

“I’m terribly sorry, madam, but they don’t like the way you look,” said the server. “I assure you we will place you where you will be extremely comfortable.” He nodded towards the corner near the shuttered window, where an intimate table for two, surrounded by tall potted plants, apparently awaited us.

My husband Rob followed the server’s hand and eye, and looked at me with an expression of bewilderment.

“I’m too ugly to sit here,” I told him.

“Madam,” the server said with only the slightest hint of distress. “It is only a matter of ensuring all our guests are comfortable and can enjoy the riches of Le Péché.”

“That is absurd,” said Rob, his voice just loud enough to attract the attention of other discreet diners, at their discreet, comfortable, candle-lit tables.

The server looked around nervously. “Please accept a bottle of champagne, as our guests, when we’ve settled you at your new and very comfortable table.”

I stood up. It was impossible to discern who among the “guests” might have lodged a complaint of this nature, as everyone was a dim, shimmering, discreet shadow. I looked for my friend Matt’s bald pate— he might just pull a stunt like this. No subtle lighting reflected off a shiny head.

Rob told the server we would not be paying, and so the manager appeared, and feigned shock at our situation, before accepting our departure as inevitable and inviting us back for a VIP dining experience.

“At that table?” I asked. “The one in the corner where I would face the wall?”

“Madam,” said the manager, bowing formally. “Our VIP service takes place at a specially set table, in the kitchen, where you have VIP access to all that goes on in a fine kitchen of the highest calibre, and where the chef himself serves each and every course!”

We stormed out.

In the car, as we drove to Wendy’s, I stared at myself in the mirror embedded in the visor. A plain woman with pretty eyelashes and nicely formed brows, stared back at me. “What the fuck,” I said to Rob. “Am I ugly?”

“Darling, don’t be silly,” Rob said. “But hey, that VIP table sounds kind of cool. Should we call them back?”

That’s when I realized there was no such thing as a miracle.


 

New Dread

Prompt: Fear


Hello Wednesday!

I’m shocked to discover it has been over a month since I last posted— the month of December, 2018 does not exist for Fluffy Pool. That was an alarming discovery. If Christmas memories weren’t so vivid, and I wasn’t sitting here inhaling spruce fumes from the most aromatic Christmas tree ever, then I might start to wonder if December ever really existed— or if I existed in December. It’s a little like taking down a favourite photo album of a memorable wedding or holiday, and finding it full of blank pages.

I was not well in the month of December, 2018. I had some disturbing health issues that seemed to throw me into a spiral of depression. Or was it the other way around? In any case, it was a difficult time; and a difficult time to be ill, as there were significant plans made and special people to entertain. There are lots of metaphors for the feelings of depression, sadness, chronic pain: clouds, fog, darkness, quicksand. For me it was something like being blindfolded— think Sandra Bullock in Bird Box*— completely disoriented and lost, but the alternative was somehow, irrationally, more frightening.

On the advice of a friend I am trying now to bring some kind of structure to my life in 2019. I’ve been working on my book— it will be a compilation of many of the stories and characters I’ve introduced here**— and the organizing, filtering, editing, discovery, and new writing so far have been challenging and illuminating. I’m trying to be more active despite, for example, this morning’s layer of ice on the sidewalks and roads. I am moving away from destructive habits. I have plans to reconnect with old, true friends, rekindle old passions, learn new things, be open to new adventures.

I won’t say more, as it sounds a bit like the dreaded New Year’s resolutions which are traditionally doomed to fail. But wearing blindfolds is debilitating, even dangerous— and I need to learn to embrace light and truth instead of fearing them.

“Fear” is the prompt for this Wednesday, so may I present a few of my favourite cartoons related to that theme?

cartoon alternate dickens

cartoon-i-can-t-deal-with-your-fear-and-paranoia-new-yorker-cartoon_a-g-14828399-15519954

And this one is probably too close to truth to be satire!:

cartoon-new-dread-the-magazine-of-undiscovered-fears-new-yorker-cartoon_u-l-pysgez0


Please stay tuned!

Wishing you a year free from fog, darkness, quicksand, blindfolds, and scary tea.

~~FP

 


  • *Bird Box is the much-watched horror-style movie currently on Netflix, a service which I will shortly be cancelling since they suddenly decided to raise the monthly fee by 40%. Grrr.
  • **I will be looking for beta readers for the book, so if you are interested please contact me here.

Still Life with Chocolate Cake

Prompt: Superpower


Hello Wednesday!

I’ve been busy with Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), having completely changed the novel almost half-way in— as if the challenge isn’t daunting enough for me as it is. So I’ve neglected Fluffy Poolity and have some catching up to do!

When I haven’t been also neglecting household duties and ignoring friends and being housebound and opening cans of soup for dinner, I’ve been rigorously trying to go Trump-free since his presidency keeps outstripping every low— subterranean—expectation. When he goes low, he then goes lower. I now talk like a millennial: I just can’t…

So it calms me to think of a world where Trump is no longer in my face. I wish the man no harm; just happily dream about his retirement, which is what I love about the following collection of sketches. Hope you enjoy too.

trump_paintings_USE_this_051917


Peace and love,

~~FP

Perhaps the Room is Too Warm

Prompt: None, it’s NaNoWriMo!

cartton suffer writer


Dear Wednesday,

Here we go on another miserable yet wonderful adventure, also called National Novel Writing Month. I’ve done my 1600 words for the day for a novel tentatively titled Cherity, about something or other I’m not entirely sure of. Anyway, in the first chapter a bomb goes off. Fun!

In keeping with this theme of writing, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, which I did not present yesterday because it was Halloween and ghosts were more important?

cartoon-you-write-to-penny-my-darling-ex-wife-who-nurtured-me-and-suppo-new-yorker-cartoon_a-G-9178976-8419449

cartoon procrastinating-writer-writing-on-paper-about-his-writing-implements-and-h-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9173157-8419447

cartoon-here-it-is-my-novel-i-ll-be-interested-to-hear-your-compliments-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9181104-8419449


The middle cartoon is me around Nano: I prevaricate, procrastinate, delay, clean my keyboard, download writing apps, try to print out worksheets, order printer ink, wonder what else Staples has on sale, brush the dog, and google “What’s a cool injury”? because I am so bereft of ideas.

To any of you also starting your 50,000 word novel draft today (try it!) good luck and happy writing!

~~FP