"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 21 May 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Dear Tiny Little Penis

Dear TLP,

As a substitute for the Los Angeles Unified School District I am sent to elementary schools that house our nation's future. The only problem is, a lot of these budding creatures of intellect do not speak English. True, I am referring to the more primary of elementary grades, but even still.....The kids simply seem annoyed that I am unable to converse in their native tongue. It makes a kindergarten substitute frustrated and at a loss.

Today I am working in a fourth grade class. At present, the class resides behind me as they "silently read". The sheer audacity of these 10 and 11 year olds astounds me. How can I write TLP if they constantly murmur to one another, not reading their Goosebumps and Islands of the Blue Dolphins? Ugh! What is happening to the state of education TLP? How can I audition and teach at the same time? Why can't they leave me alone while I call my agent on my cell phone?

I need some advice, FAST!

Dick the Desperate Sub

Dear Dick,

You're all over the map, man. You actors can be so overdramatic sometimes. Let's try to break this down into parts, shall we?

The first problem you report is that the kids don't speak English. However, the problem here is not that the kids can't talk to you, because what are you gonna teach them, anyway? Styling Products 101? The Spontaneous Studiohead Ass-Kiss? Dialing & Driving: An L.A. Story? Seducing David Geffen for Fun & Profit? No, the problem here is that these kids expect you to speak in their native tongue. Your inability to speak their native language frustrates and confuses them.

Dick, your situation reminds me of a recent first-person narrative by Tommy Lee, published in Rolling Stone magazine. In said narrative, Tommy is recounting some aspects of his formative years that may have led to his inability to "communicate effectively" with his wife, Pamela Anderson. Instead of assuming, like the rest of us do, that this communication is impeded mostly by the fact that Pam's got the comprehensive powers of a gerbil, Tommy Lee tells us how, as a young child, his mother spoke Greek to him, not English. No problem, right? Unfortunately, not only did no one teach young Tommy how to speak Greek, but they also neglected to explain to Tommy why his mother spoke gibberish that everyone else in his family could understand but him. Maybe they didn't even notice that he didn't understand. Can you imagine the isolation and fear that arose in this poor kid, thanks to this absurd situation? I mean, no wonder he's running around beating up defenseless gerbils.

My suggestion is that you stop frustrating and confusing those poor schoolchildren by making it clear to them that you don't speak their language. The most effective way to do this is not by learning the correct translation for "I don't speak Spanish/Mandarin/Swahili", but by demonstrating your total ignorance via a very bad guess, i.e. for Spanish, "No Comprenday Espanola, senor" or "No taco pour teacheringua, por favor!" For Mandarin (this one's hard), try "No speaky Chinese, ok?"For German, you might try, "No sprecha dee doitch!" or "Ich ben stupidnugen!" Not only will your kids get the picture, they'll get a good belly laugh out of the whole dumb episode, and they'll leave you alone while you make those utterly purposeless calls to your agent.

But not only will your kids get a good laugh out of it, they'll go home and tell their parents about their dumbass teacher, and their parents will get a good laugh, and then they'll call the principle, and when you see the vein popping out of his head, you'll get a good laugh, and then you'll be out of work, freeing up your time for more important things, like flipping through Variety, and watching Oprah. You're an actor, you're used to it. Besides, think of all the self-esteem you'll build in those kids, by allowing them to transition smoothly from feeling scared and frustrated, to laughing long and hard at your expense! Like I said, you're an actor. This should be familiar territory.

Finally, Dick, rest assured that not only can you audition and teach at the same time, but each humiliating classroom experience prepares you for the humiliation of the next audition, and vice versa! Auditioning and teaching go together like prostitution and drug abuse!

Onward, classroom soldier!

Tiny Little Penis

Dear Polly,

My friend Tim got a job as Asst. Manager at our small town Dunkin' Do-nuts, which meant he was the guy who had to get there at 4:00 a.m. and make the things. He made doughnuts until about 10:00, most days.

There had been a little local mystery around the store before Tim hired on; the place had been closed for a couple of months, and Tim started two days after it reopened. I dropped by one morning, and he showed me the company correspondence that explained the closing.

It seemed that the previous Asst. Manager, who was young, fat, and fairly stupid, had been breaking up his mornings by calling the teller windows at a local bank, once it opened, and easing into obscene narratives for their delectation. He would keep calling back when a teller hung up, and with every call he got more breathless and explicit, until he reached the point of his tale.

(Way ahead of me here, aren't you?)

The police were brought in, and traced the calls to the D.D. One morning they raided the place when this guy was in mid-story, and, yes, discovered him unzipped and standing over a mixing bowl full of the day's cruller dough. (Company records I saw were specific on the point.) He was fired and jailed and the whole thing was shellacked with ambiguity in the public record to protect the easily nauseated.

But folks at the bank learned the truth, and no doubt felt that special intimacy with the unspeakable which can keep any of us awake nights.

That's the set-up. Here's the story I wanted to tell you. Soon after hiring on, my pal Tim, who always wanted to get ahead and thought he could do it through some grand gesture, prepared to make amends on his employer's behalf. He had an employee come in to cover for him early one Monday morning, and Tim, who was buzzing from his own Coke and doughnut intake since 4:00, put on a fresh, clean D.D. shirt, hat, and apron, arranged two dozen assorted in the big D.D. box, and drove to the bank in time for its opening. He strode to the middle of the lobby and announced loud and clear, "Doughnuts for everyone, from Dunkin' Do-nuts! Let's be friends!"

He was escorted from the building by two guards, and later questioned by the police, who he told me treated him like a complete idiot (!). The District Manager found an excuse to fire him a few weeks later, and, the last I knew, Tim had an enormous wife, four fat children, and was working as a prison guard.

My compliments on your achievement, Polly. And don't worry about your career. There's always someplace to fall.

Randy Ratliff


Polly forwarded your kind note to me, and I meant to publish soon after I received it, but alas, I saved it under the title "Dunkin Donuts — Great!" on my desktop, and then disregarded it, perhaps subconsciously assuming it was a document containing doughnut recommendations.

Anyway, there's something so unsavory about a young, fat, stupid man who, when entrusted with doughnut making (it takes a lot of trust to give someone this exalted role, let's face it), not only disrespects this sacred and honorable job, but does so in such a personal and hideous manner! There's nothing quite as creepy as self-serving sexual terrorism. But beyond eternally besotting the fine Dunkin' Donuts name, think of the dough! Think of how that innocent cruller dough must have felt that afternoon, in the aftermath! Why, I'll bet it scrubbed and scrubbed, but it just couldn't come clean! The vile degradation of its very core, at its most vulnerable moment - waiting, in joyful hope, in the mixing bowl, waiting to take shape! Still unformed, but hopeful! It breaks my heart.

But as much as we immediately loathe this vile overweight doughnut wanker and abhor his creative route to self-gratification, as much as we feel for his undeserving target and resent him for taking the term "Dough Nut" so literally, there is another victim in this picture. Just as we are instinctively suspicious of the creative oppressor, we are also suspicious of those who seek creative redress. Your friend, Tim, was unconventional in his approach to bridge-building, and unfortunately, the conventional are much more effective in this area. Perhaps Tim knew that it would take more than a Hallmark card to heal these wounds. Unfortunately, he underestimated the degree to which many at the bank might have been suffering from some form of post-traumatic stress syndrome, and the degree to which they associated their pain and anguish with... well, doughnuts. The peacemaker can be creative, yes, but he must also be sensitive to the real needs of those wronged. Perhaps those involved misperceived his gesture and felt that he intended to rub salt in open wounds. That's the thing with open wounds — they're very paranoid. You get out the hydrogen peroxide and they assume that it's boric acid. But can you blame them?

Oh, the impossible difficulty of communicating what one intends to communicate, without encountering some fluke of misinterpretation, without taking some tedious and winding detour to misunderstanding!

And yet, my formative years taught me that no matter how daunting the setback, we have to press on, and continue to try to connect with others, even in the face of failure! OK, maybe we don't have to, but...What else is there to do, really?

Best of luck to you and your friend, and thank you for sharing!

Hoping for a soft landing,

Tiny Little Penis

I'm hoping somebody can help me with questions I have about girls.

I'm 38-yrs-old & live at home with my mother. I don't have a car but sometimes she lets me use hers. Do I need a car to get girls?

If I get one in the car, what do I do then about getting their clothes off? Do they do it, or do I just pull them off?

I don't have much experience with girls but I consider myself mature. I like to read Mary Worth in the comics. Actually I get excited when I read the strip. Mary can put her shoes under my bed anytime.

I'd appreciate any other suggestions you might have because my mom is after me to start taking out girls & I'm not real sure where to begin.

Better late than never.


Dear Hopeful,

Given the fact that you took some serious time out of your day to write me a fake letter requesting advice, I'm pretty sure that you're not mature enough to get involved in an intimate relationship with a woman at this time. What's really interesting is that your work of creative fiction reflects more about your true unspoken longings and desires than it would if you wrote a sincere letter that attempted to present your true situation in a direct, logical manner. You have to wonder, don't you, from which dark corner of your psyche the phrase "what do I do then about getting their clothes off" arose? You were surprised and even a little titillated when you wrote those words, weren't you? And then "do I just pull them off"? That gave you a bit of a zing, didn't it?

You may not be 38 or live with your mother, but it's clear that you feel powerless in your interactions with women. You think of women as possessing something precious that they selfishly refuse to share with you, out of raw stubbornness or ill intent. You see women as menacing and cruel.

You don't actually dig Mary Worth, but you did wonder where you got that notion, didn't you? I'm guessing you can only speak comfortably with older women, but they're utterly repugnant to you sexually. This is true because you don't accept that women are human beings who age and die and have weaknesses and faults the way you do. You choose to see women as either magical and out of reach, or punishing and mean, instead of recognizing that they have a wide range of needs and desires and shortcomings just like anyone else.

My suggestion to you is that you attempt to get to know as many women as you can as friends. It may be difficult for you to befriend women who are attractive to you, so start with some women who are involved with other men, or who don't turn you on, and then move slowly toward getting to know the women you're attracted to — as friends, first. Just keep in mind, if you continue to admire women from afar, then approach with some insecure yet overly aggressive move, you'll continue to get shut down.

Just because you're not even close to 38 yet doesn't mean it's not time you grew up.

Better now than never.

Tiny Little Penis

Courtesy of Tiny Little Penis

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