"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 7 May 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Dear Tiny Little Penis

I'm 30 and I live in New York. I can't find a decent boyfriend to save my life. There just aren't eligible, likable men here. I've dated a few guys, on and off, but no one is remotely interested in being in a serious relationship, let alone settling down. How much longer can I live like this, in a city where you spend about $5 for every block you walk down the street? I mean, what about grass, and doggies?


Dear Sandy,

Ah yes. Grass and doggies. Two of the great joys in life.

I'm not sure if I trust your report on the man shortage in NYC, but you're right about one thing: Smoking grass in NYC is just not what it's cracked up to be. First of all, no one has pot. Second, if they do have pot, it's always that shwaggie brown bullshit that you suspect is oregano, particularly AFTER you smoke it. Let's face it, the grass IS greener elsewhere.

And where's the laughter? Where's the fun? Where's the thrillingly huge appetite? Instead, you feel creepy, then paranoid, and then comatose. Is that fun? Is it fun to be walking around in the seething, stinking, loud city when you feel creepy and paranoid? I think not.

It's also not fun to look for a New York apartment that takes dogs, and when you find one, you'll end up squandering all your disposable income on the preposterously inflated rent, then you'll spend the rest of your childbearing years squatting to scrape dog turds off the sidewalk.

Is it really worth it, just for great bars, great pizza, and sexy neighbors?


Anyway, hang in there. Your prince is right around the corner — he'll show up just as soon as you stop craning your neck to see him. It's not the most attractive look for you, you know.

If you want to get proactive, though, you might start by refusing to date losers. Remember, the right plane can't land when the wrong plane is blocking the runway.

Tiny Little Penis

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Dear MediaMap,

It's a positive reflection of your healthy self-esteem that you feel you have so much to offer professionals from across the country and around the world, and it's good to hear that you're keeping busy with upcoming projects or whatever. The thing that disturbs me the most about your message is the self-denigrating footnote.

Why would you assume that I might never want to hear from you again? And why would you make it so easy for me to cut off all contact with you? When you set yourself up for rejection like that, it really becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It reminds me of the girlfriend I had in college who proclaimed, two weeks into the relationship, that she just KNEW that I'd leave her eventually. At that very moment, I knew it, too.

Don't set yourself up for rejection. Remember, expecting the worst case scenario doesn't just prepare you for the future, it often guarantees that the worst possible future will come to pass.

Best wishes,

Tiny Little Penis

P.S. Never write to me again.

Dear Polly,

I recently read a small list, attributed to you, that gave advice on becoming a writer. Since I am much enamoured of your particular style of writing I paid special notice to it but was rather disturbed when I read it.

1. Get angry
2. Think you're better than other people

I must say I find this very disturbing indeed.

I already have a well developed sense of my own superiority but find it very difficult to get angry about this. Or much else for that matter. My friends attribute it to listening to too many Doobie Brothers songs but frankly if wanting to listen to "Another Lonely Park, Another Sunday" or "Minute By Minute" is somehow wrong then the world just doesn't make sense.

But I digress.

My question is then, how does one develop that sense of anger and indignation that seems to be so pivotal to becoming a modern, popular writer? I have heard that reading Usenet newsgroups may help me become angry and resentful of other. Is this your secret?

Thanks in advance for your time and consideration.


Dear Zac,

I'm not sure why you insist on calling me "Polly", but I've been called far worse in my day, so I'll let it slide.

So. You have trouble getting angry about things. Wow. Well, I have some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is, you're gonna have an easy time in life. The bad news is, you're not going to become a modern, popular writer.

Now, you may wonder why, as you've noted, anger and indignation are pivotal to popularity as a writer. Here's my take: angry people are dysfunctional people. Dysfunctional people are often emotionally damaged individuals who try to control or get a handle on their emotions by intellectualizing and analyzing their emotional experiences. These angry, dysfunctional intellectualizers spend most of their time slicing and dicing their experiences in their minds. Everything that happens to them is transformed almost immediately into a detailed, dramatic story. Every challenge they face has several different interpretations, with a wide range of causes, people to blame, people who don't get it, along with all the reasons and causes surrounding why they don't get it, why shit, in general, happens, and a myriad of metaphors to each and every example, experience, wave of emotion, etc. In other words, these people are writing all the time, in their heads. In other words, these people are insufferable fuckers.

You will recognize the modern, popular writer among your ranks by the slightly distracted look on his face. He talks with either unbearable intensity, or with vague discontent. He listens with an agenda. When he's concentrating, nothing escapes his notice. He's rarely concentrating on the here and now, though. He's almost always analyzing something else in his head. The modern popular writer has insights into everything, opinions on everything, and yet always seems vaguely bored, or patronizing. The modern writer's biggest challenge is to live in the present. The modern writer's second biggest challenge is not to be a completely tedious, self-involved wanker.

The modern writer's anger and indignation did not arise from reading Usenet newsgroups — in fact, the modern writer rarely becomes enraged by things that other people say, discuss, etc. The modern writer did not belong to the debate team as a child — that would require a basic level of respect for other people's ideas and arguments. Instead, the modern writer was in his room, writing bad poetry. The modern writer assumes that his experience is the quintessential experience, and that everyone will understand. The modern writer places himself at the center of the universe.

Right next to me.

You, however, are not an angry person. You're a happy-go-lucky person. You listen to the Doobie Brothers. Therefore, the goal of modern, popular writer is not really attainable for you.

The goal of modern, unpopular writer, however, is well within your reach.

Go get 'em, tiger!

Tiny Little Penis

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