Prepping for Y2K

y2k


The End of Days 

Christianity has always been oriented toward the apocalyptic. Everything is suffused with a longing for the otherworldly, the end of days, the second coming of Christ, with its attending triumph for the chosen ones and torment for unbelievers. Growing up in a very fundamentalist church (which I often refer to as a sort of cult), I was pretty afraid of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, with its fantastic and dark imagery of torment for those who weren’t a part of God’s elect. I suspected I very well might have been with that lot or had the potential to be. I was a sinful and pessimistic child.

Our cult didn’t really have particular views on eschatology; we only thought about it in vague, broad strokes. And even if we ever did have concrete views, they would shift with the whims of our in-house prophet and de facto leader, Bonnie. According to her, the last days sure as hell weren’t going to look the way it they were depicted in the “Left Behind” series of films, which dramatized the end times in Hollywood blockbuster style. To this day, I don’t know exactly why Bonnie forbade us to watch those films, but few things were ever clear in the cult.

I do know that we believed in the rapture: the idea that God’s elect would one day and unexpectedly be spirited into the sky to meet Jesus upon his second coming. (But don’t call it a comeback—Christ’s been here for years, within our hearts. #Blessed.) Bonnie was fond of saying goodbye to fellow believers by exclaiming, “See you soon, or in the air!” That scared me. I wanted to live my life, to have a family, a career, to partake in the temporal pleasures afforded on this earth. Heaven didn’t seem too exciting anyway, not to a kid.

Y2K

Our bent toward the apocalyptic and otherworldly manifested in real and material ways. As with many cults in the 1990s, ours became obsessed with the new millennium. Something about the shifting from one epoch to another really excites the religious mind. Also, this idea of a millennium (spoiler alert) is kind of important in the book of Revelation. Millennialism is the name  we use for a belief, derived from a passage in Revelation, that Christ and those who were martyred during the last days will rule the world for 1,000 years while Satan is locked up in a special prison—a bottomless pit. I think he gets out at some point before he’s defeated for good, but that’s for another day. The leaders of our cult were often very much convinced that Christ would return very soon and cautioned us to “stay right” with the Lord lest he arrive when we weren’t holy enough or something and we be left behind. While it’s mum on the exact day of Christ’s return (not even Jesus is privy to the info; only his father knows), the Bible lists a few signs, which I remember as being kind of vague (e.g. “wars and rumors of wars,” famines, earthquakes, basically stuff that happens all the time, and then shit will get a lot worse from there. [Upon further research, I’m vastly oversimplifying this and there is much on the internet if you’re interested. Some see specific events, like formation of the European Union and the State of Israel, as signs predicted in the Bible.]). Enter the Y2K bug scare, something that had all of the elements needed to inspire those obsessed with the end of days: a failure of man-made technology, an association with entering a new epoch, an event that had the potential to trigger wars, famines, etc.

In the late ‘90s, there was real concern among the authorities and news media about the so-called Y2K bug, which, in broad strokes, was a worry that computer systems would not be able to handle the changeover from 1999 to 2000. This was supposed by some to lead to massive failures of these computer systems, which would trigger a series of unfortunate events, cascading further and further into world chaos: the loss of social order, food and fuel shortages, citizens running riot; you know, the kind of ideas that appeal to those who believe the end is nigh / those who listen to conservative talk radio. Evangelical leaders, like Pat Robertson and James Dobson, warned Christendom that bad stuff might go down, so be ready. They really played up these fears. If if this wasn’t the Second Coming, it would be something like it, a black swan event, and the world wouldn’t necessarily be ready. In their minds, ancient apocalyptic predictions and anxieties were now bleeding into mainstream news stories about failing technology.

In maybe 1998 or 1999, our church held an emergency night meeting to discuss what we could do about Y2K. From the pulpit our pastor asked whether anyone had any ideas. I was too shy to pipe up during the meeting, but afterward I told my parents and then the pastor that I had an idea to build a hydroelectric generator on the river in our town. “I’m not sure, but I don’t think the river freezes in winter, so we could use it year round,” I told Pastor Chet. I was proud of this idea. Chet said he liked it, too, but wasn’t sure how feasible it would be. We left it open-ended.

For the next year or two, dread and worry about Y2K loomed like something out of a DeLillo novel. And in the waning months of 1999, we began preparations. My parents purchased cans and cans and boxes and boxes of food. We bought sterno stoves for cooking. Gallons and gallons of water sat in our pantry. Some were purchased and others were gleaned from the tap and sanitized with a dollop of bleach. We talked about chaos in the streets. I worried that others would want our stores of food and water. We weren’t even sure anything would happen, but we weren’t about to be caught unprepared.

I noticed though that the rest of the world didn’t seem to be as worried about Y2K as we were. Surely we knew something they didn’t. Surely we were wiser.It was like story of Joseph in Genesis, the first book of the Bible and a narrative about the beginning of days, who had the foresight to store Egyptian grain surplus during seven abundant years in preparation for seven years of famine. He arrived at this information after interpreting the pharaoh’s dreams, and Egypt was the only nation in the region that was prepared for the lean years.

New Year’s Eve

We filled with water our tubs  at home the night of December 31st and watched the countdown in Times Square on TV. I was a little anxious, but I was more excited. At 12, I could have used a little excitement in my life. I mean, we’re talking about the same kid who would later save reams and reams of newspapers from the disputed presidential election of 2000 for posterity’s sake, and thought that was awesome. This had to be good.

At midnight, nothing happened. No power outages. No looting. Nothing. Water still came out of our faucets; our neighbors were still abiding by the law. I was a little disappointed, maybe even a little chagrined. It was an anticlimax.

Now we had an almost unlimited supply of tasty dry foods, like sugary cereals, but we also had a lot of canned beans and canned veggies, which we ate for months afterward. I felt a little silly. Christians were supposed to be privy to God’s wisdom, a higher wisdom than “worldly” wisdom. We looked foolish, and I think it stung every time I looked at our overstocked pantry or ate canned beans for the umpteenth time.

 

 

Scranton Nostalgia

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Next month will mark a year since I departed the 570, which is now weirdly also the 272. NEPA will always loom large in my memory. As a philosopher once put it, always we exist stretched between the future and the past. Nearly my whole past resides within NEPA, though each day I’m away that part recedes  a little. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and it can be deceptive, but I don’t believe my happiest memories of Scranton are illusions.

When I began attending college, I was excited to go to Scranton, the big city. As a child, I loved going to there. It was where there was a restaurant in the shape of a ship. It was where the trains were. It was where I went to pick up new siblings.

Perhaps my earliest memory of Scranton was going there to pick up Michael and my mother from the hospital after he was born. Our family had one car, an ‘80s Toyota Tercel, and (I’m not making this up) when my parents secured all of us in our car-seats and shut the door, the door on the other side flew open, as if we were part of some giant Newton’s cradle.

During our freshman year at the U, Alisa and I spent hours exploring the city, and we were delighted to discover places like Northern Lights, Zummo’s,  Marquis Art and Framing, and Anthology Bookstore. Though the city’s coal age luster had almost completely wore off by the time we got there, the place retained some of its former splendor, and still does. You just have to seek it out.

On an SD card somewhere I have photos from one of our excursions downtown that year. We joked that that we wanted to  be “artsy,” so we donned scarves and drank “artisanal” coffee at N. Lights before exploring Scranton with our matching point-and-shoot cameras, looking to make details of the urban landscape. I submitted a few of those prints to “Esprit.” None of them made the cut.

That year was one of the happiest and most exciting times of my life. Scranton was an escape from our humdrum Olyphant existence, comprised mostly of our 13 years at a crappy school district and our entire lives in a spiritually abusive church. The world was widening, and our dreams came in the shape of the electric city.

If you can play Scranton, you can play anywhere.


An American in Olyphant

Olyphant's faux train station, built in the '90s and but one example in a town where many things are not as they appear.
Olyphant’s faux train station, built in the ’90s for a town with no access to passenger rail service, is one of many things in the borough that are not as they appear. (This photo is way too nice to have been taken by the author.)

I’ve spent a lot of time in my hometown, Olyphant, Pa. And I’m still here. I used to think of Olyphant as the nonpareil among Lackawanna County municipalities—until about seven years ago when I read in the paper that police had ferreted out a crack house a few blocks from my home (at least we never had a meth lab like our neighbor to the south, Throop).

Still, Olyphant is a pretty special place. When I took my friend Ed to see the town, he observed with excitement that it had a main street. He had never seen a town with a main street before, he told me. How quaint.  Ed’s hometown of Laurel, Md., was just “suburban sprawl,” he told me, dotted with housing developments and shopping centers amid undeveloped land—clusters of buildings connected by a network of winding roads.

Indeed Olyphant has a main street. And we have two pizza shops, an art studio, a first-rate music store, a flower shop, a factory, a bank and a copper bust of a beleaguered coal miner. We also have what I like to call the “traffic lights to nowhere.” (More on that in a another blog or Facebook post.)

Olyphant is also known for its heavy artillery. The borough of roughly 5,000 has a WWII-era cannon in one of its parks, and there’s a decommissioned tank, which looks like it was from Desert Storm, on the side of one of the roads. (Ed tells me it’s pretty alarming when you go around a bend and spot a tank on the side of the road. For my part, I’m inured to the sight of heavy artillery alongside busy thoroughfares. It’s normal, a fact of everyday life.)

We also have a large number of churches and bars, with a church-to-bar ratio that suggests we’re perhaps more plastered than pious.

Oh! I almost forgot: Olyphant is also, putatively, the center of the universe. You, the reader, may not be aware of it. This may be your first time learning this secret. I envy you.

Yes, Olyphant is the seat of power in our vast, unfathomable world. Olyphant is everywhere (and nowhere?). The universe is replete with Olyphant, shot through with Olyphant. Olyphant is being. Being is Olyphant. Or Olyphant is nothing? I’m veering off into terra incognita. Sorry. This sort of stuff is not in my baileywick.

This sort of speculation is, however, the province of people like John Peruka, who claims to have unearthed aboriginal secrets about the town and its centrality within the cosmos. The town is saturated in occult symbolism, he claims. His theory involves ancient Egyptians and aliens. In short, this man was an ancient alien theorist before it was cool.

In a YouTube video I discovered today, Peruka debates Justin Vacula, of the NEPA Freethought Society, and Kenny Luck, author of the book “Nepatized,” about the origins of the universe and the definition of matter—lofty questions for the local big box bookstore, Books-a-Million.

Peruka contends that matter is constituted by “pyramids of light.” But don’t take his word for it. “It’s on the Internet” is Peruka’s constant refrain (I think, however, that he put it there, so maybe there’s some circularity in his argument). I do enjoy that in the video he’s dismissive of the mere “earthlings”—Vacula and his ilk—who can’t grasp his theories. And I do like his populist leanings when it comes to scientific fact: If a large number of people believe a notion, it is ipso facto true, he asserts. Although, I must admit, he is a bit equivocal on this matter: He possesses the secret knowledge, the gnosis, because he was preordained by God to do so, but the veracity of his ideas is born out by the large number of hits he gets on his website (truth by democracy). The scientific establishment, on the other hand, has ignored Peruka’s claims, he says. I must admit, this man’s arguments are often hard to parse.

He and Vacula talk past each other for the most part, probably because their views are incommensurable, coming from two diametrically opposed standpoints.

I do agree with Peruka about one thing: The perimeter of Olyphant, when traced out, resembles a sphinx. My father and I were aghast when we discovered this one day at the University of Scranton Library. He was right, we exclaimed.

The sphinx in Olyphant is Olyphant, he says in the video. This idea strikes me as akin to one of Borges’ ideas about the relation between map and territory. Borges argues that the most accurate and detailed map of a territory is the territory itself. The signifier and the signified are one and the same. Mind blown.

Peruka might be more interesting if he wrote fiction rather than peddled his ideas as fact. I am impressed that among the legions of people proffering these so-called crazy ideas, his ideas get a lot of traction. Why? My theory is that he’s a relentless marketer. I’ve heard so many anecdotes from people who have been accosted by a man who wants to talk about the mystery of Olyphant. If you Google, “mystery of Olyphant,” your search will return a surprisingly large number of results relating to Peruka’s theories. Even the borough’s website has a page devoted to the mystery.

The beauty of ideas like his is that they’re not falsifiable, which means we can’t disprove them—despite the vigorous efforts of those indomitable NEPA freethinkers and their counterparts around the world. These people think they can use science as a bludgeon and beat competing metaphysical theories into submission. Well, they can’t—because Peruka’s claims are not within science’s purview, so science cannot prove or, more importantly, disprove them.

John Peruka 1. NEPA Freethinkers 0.

‘She was unstoppable’

30th Street Station platform, Philadelphia, Pa. Clarks Green woman was a globetrotter who never forgot her hometown.

By Gerard Nolan

Phyllis Dietrich left an indelible mark, not only in the Abingtons, but in places as far-flung as the North African nation of Morocco.

Described by family and friends as outgoing, energetic, generous and courageous, Dietrich, who died May 24, crammed what seemed like several lifetimes into her 85 years.

A resident of Clarks Green since the 1950s, Dietrich engaged with the local community, volunteering with several church and civic organizations. She didn’t stop there, though.

Her travels spanned a large swath of the globe to places such as China, the Amazon jungle, Russia, Peru, Israel, Egypt and a flight over the Arctic Circle. She visited 6 out of 7 continents, every U.S. state and just about every nation in Europe.

“Take the whole map and photocopy it and there you go,” her son Richard Dietrich, the youngest of Dietrich’s five children, said of his mother’s travels. “She started out small, but it just grew,” he said.

Domestically, she preferred to travel by car when she could, taking road trips throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“That’s the way to do things,” he said, explaining that taking in the breathtaking vistas through a car window was essential for his mother.

With each state or nation that she visited, Dietrich would try to find a decorative bell to take back with her. The bells decorated her home, testaments to her widespread journeys.

During her travels, she negotiated the rapids of the Colorado River, trekked through the Amazon rainforest and rode elephants and camels.

Dietrich’s friend and neighbor Martha McAndrew was always impressed with her friend’s fearlessness.

She relayed a story about the time Dietrich’s children took away her ladder, afraid that she might fall and become injured. Undeterred, Dietrich climbed onto her roof to string up the lights.

“You just couldn’t stop her,” McAndrew said. “She was unstoppable. She had total energy at all times.”

McAndrew recounted numerous other times when Dietrich would display the boldness that became one of her trademarks.

She wasn’t afraid of bears, for example. One morning she saw a brown bear lumbering through her neighborhood. She went inside to grab a camera, but the bear moved on before she could snap a photo.

A few years later, a pit bull attacked a neighbor and Dietrich rushed to the neighbor’s aid while the attack was in progress. And a few weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks, Dietrich didn’t let fear of terrorism thwart her plans to visit China.

“There’s loads of guys that would not do half of what she did,” McAndrew said. “She was adventurous, she’d do anything.”

Dietrich had her first experience with airplanes when she was five and flew in a plane, McAndrew said, noting that that was in the 1930s, when air travel was still in its infancy. Flying as a child sparked a lifelong fascination.

During WWII, she wanted to join the civil air patrol, the civilian arm of the U.S. Air Force, so she could deliver warplanes after they were manufactured. She was rejected because of less than perfect vision. At 70, she skydived out of an airplane for the first time, the culmination of a lifelong dream.

Perhaps one of her bravest moments was when she joined the Peace Corps at 59 and moved to the North African country of Morocco for two years to assist in the development of a sign language system for the children there. The project lasted two years, but she forged a lifelong bond with the nation and its people. Each summer she would visit and return home with a group of Moroccan children in tow.

“She took them all over the place, I didn’t realize this,” her youngest son said.

She took the children to various points of interest in America, including Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, he added.

Her globetrotting to remote destinations tells only part of her story. She never lost sight of her hometown, Clarks Green, and the region at large.

She raised five children, daughters Diane, Donna and Carol; and sons, Robert and Richard. At 36 she attended college at Marywood University, then Marywood College, and graduated with a degree in special education with an emphasis on helping speech and hearing-impaired students. She began her teaching career at 42, working for NEIU as a special education teacher. Each summer she attended camps for hearing-impaired children.

Dietrich taught Sunday school at Clarks Green United Methodist Church for 55 years. And she volunteered at several nursing homes, as well as the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, where she adopted all of her pets. She also worked with the animal shelter to bring animals to local nursing homes for pet therapy.

She helped organize a bake sale for a church she did not attend, the United Methodist Church in Chinchilla, because her own church did not sponsor a bake sale.

“She’d haul all the supplies and bake all of the cookies and sell them for the benefit of another church,” McAndrew said.

She was also a member of Colonial Dames of the XVII Century, a group of women who trace their lineage back to the American colonists. She was a founding member of a Clarks Green neighborhood group called Friends Interested in the Neighborhood Environment, F.I.N.E., which works to promote relations among neighbors and hosts an annual picnic.

Dietrich put a premium on education, attending The University of Scranton for a master’s degree after she retired. She was always marshaling people in the neighborhood to attend classes and educational seminars, McAndrew said. And she was the first to welcome a new neighbor to the neighborhood.

She was very outgoing and people loved her, her son said.

“She was always welcomed wherever she went.”

This article originally appeared July 25 in The Abington Journal. Original post: http://theabingtonjournal.com/stories/She-was-unstoppable,180733

Missing Linc

My dog, Lincoln, shown here posing in my front yard, has a past enshrouded in mystery.
My dog, Lincoln, shown here posing in my front yard, has put on a lot of weight since this photo.

By Gerard Nolan

Lincoln, my muse for this essay, reposes on the couch, staring at me as I sit at the computer. I’m trying to come up with an angle for what I hope will become an essay about the part of his life I know nothing about—his time on the lam before he was caught and placed in an animal shelter. But his current sedentary state isn’t providing much inspiration.

A car stops at the stop sign in front of my house. In retaliation, Lincoln pops up from the couch and charges the front window, emitting several ear-splitting barks in rapid succession, his hackles raised a full 90 degrees. He will repeat this ritual several times as the day wears on. And again tomorrow. I am fairly sure I have hearing damage.

***

Lincoln’s past is encircled in mystery. I happened upon him one afternoon when my dad and I were visiting an animal shelter to get our “dog fix”—shorthand for “we’re looking for a dog but don’t want to admit it.” I wanted a Labrador retriever. Our first dog, Beauty, was half Lab and in our estimation the best dog of all time. Lincoln, who was named Georgie in those days, had the face of a Lab. But he had the body of a refugee from a nation embroiled in an internecine conflict. He ribs protruded from his abdomen. His hair was mottled with brown patches. He was wasting away.

We took him for a walk in the expansive green space that surrounds the shelter. He didn’t pull the leash like other dogs, and he seemed more interested in interacting with my father and me than the grass or the trees. This was a good sign. He even met the most important criterion I use when picking out a dog: I was able to induce him to lie on his back without any resistance, which I’m told is a sign of docile, pliant dog.

When I returned him to his enclosure, the most curious thing occurred  It was one of those flashbulb moments I’ll remember vividly for life. As I attempted to close the gate, he stretched out his body on the ground and wrapped his front legs around my left leg in a very tight, unrelenting embrace.

***

This essay was supposed to be a musing on a multitude of things, from philosophy to science to my imaginings of the inner workings of a dog’s mind. I wanted to lay bare the canine soul through several exclusive interviews with my dog, but he’s lying on the couch again. Sleepy. I suppose I could seek inspiration by describing him.

Lincoln’s an enigmatic creature. He is by turns brilliant, stupid, neurotic, playful, pensive, and lethargic. Mostly lethargic. Unless a car trundles by. Then he’s a roaring beast. The letter carrier is terrified of him. I tried to allay her fears this morning by telling her he’s really a kind animal who loves everyone. But I can’t blame her for trusting her first-hand experience of a ferocious dog lunging at the  front window over my unconvincing attempts at reassurance.

Let’s see. Lincoln, like most dogs, is an outsize puppy. He enjoys eating snow—a new preoccupation of his—and he loves sprinting in the snow. He has a wonderfully symmetrical face. Iridescent brown eyes. Wispy whiskers. A deep chest. A glistening black nose. Lustrous black fur with a brown undercoat.

***

A few weeks later, after our application was approved, we took Lincoln home and later that day installed him as the official dog of the Nolan household. That night, however, his health began to deteriorate rapidly. By morning he lay, enervated by dehydration, on the floor of the a vet’s examination room.

To be continued…

The Cocktail Party

bicycle for two

At Rise: MATT and LISA are at a cocktail party on Valentine’s day in someone’s house. They each have a glass of wine in their hands. MATT is wearing a fancy tuxedo. LISA is wearing a costume shaped like a heart with fancy embroidery on it.

MATT

You’re dressed as a heart.

LISA

Oh? Yes. I am — a heart.

Matt

The embroidery is superb.

LISA

Oh? … Thank you… I guess.

MATT

I don’t mean to sound creepy, I am an embroidery enthusiast.

LISA

What’s that?

MATT

Exactly what it sounds like.

LISA

I still don’t know what being an embroidery enthusiast entails. Do you attend craft shows? Embroider pillows every night before bed?

MATT

Not often. Usually I attend embroidery battles.

LISA

Battles?

MATT

Yes. Embroidery battles. Two people, needle and yarn in hand, go head to head, feverishly embroidering a 12 by 12 piece of fabric. The person with the more intricate and accurate rendering of the design — say, a heart — wins the battle.

LISA

You do this?

MATT

No. No. I don’t compete. I merely watch from the sidelines.

LISA

Oh — well it’d be more impressive if you competed.

MATT

I’ve tried. Couldn’t hack it. Not enough fast twitch in my fingers.

LISA

Pity.

MATT

Yeah…but I live vicariously through the real athletes!

LISA

Who are these people?

MATT

Just everyday people. People who are excited about embroidery — and have a lot of fast twitch muscles. It takes the whole body working together to win a contest like that.

LISA

Why don’t I believe you?

MATT

What’s so hard to believe?

LISA

You don’t look like you’d be into embroidery.

MATT

Do my fingers not look very nimble or something? I assure you, it’s true, I love embroidery — What are you into?

LISA

Definitely not needlework… Hmmm. Well…I taste wine…

MATT

You do? Really?

LISA

Yes. I just started last year.

MATT

What do you think of this wine?

LISA

The wine here is so-so. It has a lot of complexity but lacks character.

MATT

I hear wine tasters can get intoxicated even if they don’t swallow the wine. Goes in through the lining of their mouths.

LISA

That’s true. It can happen — but we’re careful. I’ve never seen it.

MATT

I also think I may be a little intoxicated – though I wasn’t tasting the wine. Just drinking it. I usually don’t care what it tastes like. By the way, why exactly are you wearing a heart costume?

LISA

Yeah. It’s sort of embarrassing. I thought this was a costume party.

MATT

So did I!

LISA

That’s so funny!

MATT

I know! … Is there anyone else dressed oddly?

LISA

I looked before. Saw no one. I was going to leave. But I thought I’d mingle and hope my big heart wasn’t too obtrusive.

MATT

There’s a joke in there somewhere.

LISA

For some reason I thought my friend Julie said to come to her costume party. Maybe she said cocktail party? That doesn’t make sense.

MATT

You know Julie?

LISA

Yeah. She and I have been friends since the eighth grade. How do you know her?

MATT

We work together at Ron’s Rentals.

LISA

The tuxedo.

MATT

Exactly… But I didn’t actually think it was a costume party. I just thought it’d be ironic to celebrate singles awareness day by wearing a wedding tux.

LISA

Singles awareness day?

MATT

Yes. Today is not Valentine’s Day for me. People need to be painfully aware of the number of hurting people afflicted with singleness. Single people have been cast off by a society indifferent to their troubles. All we hear about is gay marriage or civil unions or the defense of traditional marriage. Etc. Etc — What about single people? Valentine’s Day is just a symptom of a society bent on celebrating marriage and relationships and forgetting the single person. So I choose to celebrate Singles Awareness Day.

LISA

That’s actually kind of sad.

MATT

Happy sad!

LISA

I think people can find fulfillment outside of being single. You don’t need another to be happy.

MATT

You’re right… I don’t. I have embroidery.

LISA

Yes but do you find that kind of hobby satisfying?… As satisfying as a woman? … Or a man, if you’re so inclined…

MATT

Why do people always think I’m gay? …I like to embroider. It has little to do with my sexuality.

LISA

Little?

MATT

I meant it has nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. Don’t connect the two.

LISA

Hey — you like to embroider. You even say you used to want to embroider competitively. I wondered.

MATT

There you go again! Don’t evaluate people using your preconceived ideas about the sexual preferences of a male embroidery enthusiast. I like women and embroidery but find embroidery more satisfying.

LISA

What about embroidery on a woman?

MATT

Heavenly. But without the embroidery? Commonplace. Old hat.

LISA

Women are old hat? You sure you’re not gay? And you want to remain single? Supposing that you are.

MATT

Yes, yes, and yes.

LISA

What about your support for singles awareness and how painful it is to be single?

MATT

Easy. I am showing solidarity with my single friends who don’t have fulfillment in their lives. I have fulfillment. There’s a difference.

LISA

I don’t believe you.

MATT

It’s true.

LISA

So you’re only talking to me because you admire my embroidery?

MATT

Yes. It caught my eye. I like embroidery.

LISA

I know.

MATT

Where’d you get it?

LISA

The outfit?

MATT

Yes…Look at that lattice work. Stunninng!

LISA

I’m not sure. I found it lying around the house.

MATT

Yes! I knew it! You can’t buy something with this level of workmanship!

LISA

I had no idea.

MATT

May I feel it?

LISA

I’m sorry?

MATT

May I feel your embroidery?

LISA

What a strange request.

MATT

I just want to feel the intricacies of the stitch.

LISA

Ok. You’re hitting on me.

MATT

No I’m not.

LISA

I’ve been hit on … on several occasions … I know what’s going on … though I’ve never have I had a man come up to me under the pretext of being an embroidery expert.

MATT

No. No. It’s not what you’re thinking. Would you like to get some more wine?

LISA

I think I’ve had enough actually… Name five different kinds of embroidery stitches.

MATT

Ummm….

LISA

You can’t!

MATT

We don’t have to get wine. We can have mixed drinks!

LISA

I refuse to talk about anything else until you name five different stitches.

MATT

There’s even Budlight if you’re so inclined.

LISA

You can’t!

MATT

Can’t what? Basque stitch, feather stitch, cross stitch, buttonhole stitch, and Algerian eye stitch.

LISA

Wow.

MATT

Wine or mixed drinks?

LISA

Yes — I mean more wine.

MATT

Ok. Let’s go.