Performed at Coffeehouse Without Limits in Allentown, PA on June 27, 2018. Sorry for the unstable video. This is all new to me.
(A joke that I wrote and performed for stand-up. It’s okay. I didn’t understand the joke myself.)
So, every time I drive by the mall, I’ve seen a man in a gorilla costume holding a sign for discount haircuts. But the other day, I noticed that he wasn’t in the gorilla costume. So, I asked him what happened to the costume and he tells me that he’s an actual gorilla and it’s a human costume he’s wearing. Then he even takes off the human mask to show me that he’s a gorilla. Then he says, “Don’t worry, they pay me the most you could give a gorilla…100 bananas.” So I ask him, “100 bananas? What’s the minimum wage, a banana smoothie?” And he says, “No, a gorilla costume.”
by Marc Alexander Valle ©2018
“My mom says I gotta separate the laundry before we can play games,” Sal said. “Want to help?”
It was my first sleepover and this was new to me. My mom never let me touch the laundry. I said yes.
“Whites, darks, and lights,” he said. “That’s how you pile them up, Marc.”
I dug into one of the two bins that was closest to me.
This is dark.
This is light.
This is white.
Until all three piles formed into mounds.
“You’re a liar,” he joked. “You’ve done this before.”
“Nah-uh. First time.”
This is dark.
This is light
This is white.
Holy snap! It’s got doo-doo on it!
I backed away from the bin.
“What’s the matter?” Sal said, continuing his work.
“You’re not gonna help?”
“Yeah. I gotta go to the bathroom.”
“Well, can it wait? Just a little more, right?”
That had to be the only dirty underwear in there.
Maybe it was just a one-time thing.
“All right,” I said.
I stared at the bin. Another pair of white underwear stared back.
“It’s just clothes,” he said. “It’s not gonna bite.”
I couldn’t tell if it was soiled. It was too crumpled up. Not enough light.
I’ll grab the elastic. You can’t do boom-boom on the elastic.
“I’m done on my end,” he said. “Anymore?”
Maybe I can pretend I don’t see anything.
“What’s the matter, slowpoke?” he said, laughing.
I kept staring, debating, not wanting him to know that I knew.
Words and image by Marc Alexander Valle.
The boy looked down at the worm, squirming on the backwoods trail. A ray of light illuminated its dark-pink hue and a warm breeze hit his face.
“Eat it,” she said. “I’ll kiss you.”
“No,” he said.
“Then no,” she said.
But he had wanted to kiss her all summer, floating in the deep end of the pool, bumping her hand at the movie theater as he reached for his soda, lying on the grassy field with the late-morning sun warming him enough to feel a sense of bliss.
He looked back down to the trail. The worm kept squirming and picking up dirt.
“It tastes like nothing,” she said. “Go ‘head.”
He thought of candy, then reached down and picked it up. He could feel the worm’s life force as it wiggled and expanded on his palm. “Candy would be pointless,” he thought, “It’s too fleshy.” He imagined roast chicken instead.
“I’ve done it,” she said, “You won’t get sick.”
He popped the worm in his mouth.
He could feel it slither and contract.
The dirt turned to grim.
He attempted to limit the bug’s movement by controlling it with his tongue, the texture feeling like raw salmon, the taste reminding him of runny eggs.
He swallowed it and closed his eye. It slide down his throat quickly. He could feel it move. And like everything else he ate, the feeling disappeared just before reaching his stomach.
He opened his eyes and looked to her.
“Yuck,” she said.
He stepped forward and closed his eyes again.
His lips touched hers. But he felt nothing in return.
He held the kiss and waited for her to reciprocate. But he felt nothing in return.
He stepped forward and moved his face closer to hers. But he felt nothing in return.
He could feel nothing but dead lips, hear nothing but the cicadas and crickets chirping. Just the dead lips and live bugs and the hope of something in return.
She pulled away and jabbed his stomach.
“Gross,” she said, “I’m not kissing bugs.”
As he held onto his gut, crunched over, he could see her walk away down the path and out of sight.
The pain spread across his abdomen and he wasn’t sure if he needed to go to the bathroom. He could hear the birds singing and an animal moving in the brush. Sweat began to break out from his forehead.
He had to go home now. If he was late for dinner one more time, he’d be grounded.
Rays of light disappeared as a cloud rolled in. A cooler breeze hit his face. He inhaled a deep breath then let it out. He stepped forward onto the path.
Then he wondered what boy he’d get to tell first.
“Everything is small,” I said to Mrs. Reed, my second grade teacher.
“What do you mean, hun?” she said.
“Like everything I see is small.”
“What do you mean by small, sweetheart?”
“Like. . .I don’t know…small.”
“Well, does your head hurt?”
“Are you dizzy?”
“Is your belly achy?”
“Do you have to do a number 2?”
“Then I can’t send you to the nurse, hun. Sit down.”
The entire world looked like a miniature model. Whenever I experienced this state of consciousness, I told myself, “I’m really here. I’m really here. I’m really here. I’m really here. . .”Supposedly, the name of this neurological condition is called Alice-in-Wonderland syndrome, or Lilliputian hallucinations. The condition is marked by the feeling that the physical environment around the individual has shrunk. It’s usually experienced in childhood and passes in time as was the case for me.
Scientist are now starting to express the theory that reality is a hologram and that we are not really here. Try telling that to Mrs. Reed. She’ll send you to get a drink of water and sit you out for recess.