Awkward Press

Independent publishers of imaginative fiction and daily meditations on the ridiculousness of the universe.

Archive for ‘stories’

My bin Laden Orgasm by Lou Perez

June 14, 2011 By: Category: stories

Not Lou Perez.

Lou Perez is a funny sumunnabitch. I first met him years and years ago when he responded to a random Craig’s List ad to be an “intern” for my old publishing company, Contemporary Press. It wasn’t just my publishing company … there were seven of us. Our status as a legitimate organization was highly questionable; we conducted all of our business at a bar on Wednesday nights.

It was pretty apparent upon meeting us that we were a very ramshackle company and that interning for us would probably not get one any closer to working in the actual publishing industry than interning at McDonalds. But Lou was kind enough to pretend we were worth his time, hanging out with us for a semester and continuing to show up to our events, long past the days when we were not paying him to do work for us. And then he went all fancy and started an amazing sketch group and began doing stand-up and now I can shed a tear of pride as I present to you his hilarious and somehow poignant piece of fiction, “My bin Laden Orgasm.” (Note: this piece first appeared on his website,

It has been over a month since it was announced that U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, but my Brooklyn neighborhood—like all other cities and towns in the United States—is still abuzz with bin Laden conversation.

Today at the supermarket I was waiting on the checkout line when an elderly woman, whom I recognized from the soup aisle, approached me. Although I was looking right at her, she reached out to touch my elbow. (more…)

New Year’s Resolution

January 01, 2011 By: Category: stories

A few days ago, Sarah and I were sitting around with our baby, as we are wont to do nowadays. We had had enough of television after trying to muddle through an awful but supposedly underrated movie called In Her Shoes. It was directed by Curtis Hanson who also directed L.A. Confidential, which is one of my favorite films. This was not one of my favorite films. There was a period of my life in which I refused to leave a movie unfinished; if I started a movie, I would watch it until the bitter end, regardless of how much I was enjoying the experience. Those days are long gone. In the age of Netflix and babies, if a movie hasn’t captured my attention within fifteen minutes, I’m done.

Having failed in our movie-watching attempt, Sarah requested that I read her and Hazel a story. I love to hear the sound of my own voice, so I obliged. My book of choice for this assignment was Richard Brautigan’s Revenge of the Lawn. Brautigan’s stories are short and strange and wonderful and they sounded really nice when being read aloud to my wife and child on a rainy night in Los Angeles.

Brautigan’s stories got me thinking that a nice experiment for the New Year would be to write some kind of story every day. It wouldn’t need to be the best story I’ve ever written. It most probably would not be, on account of the limitations that arise from trying to crank out a new one every day. But as long as there is some kind of thing that happens, it counts. For example, my story for today is about how I was inspired by Richard Brautigan to write a story every day for my New Year’s Resolution. And now the story has been told and we can officially mark this first day of the project a success.

I will be posting these stories on our tumblr account – If you would like to join me in this project, I’d love to have you. Please create a tumblr or posterous in which to tell your stories and send me the URL; I will gladly link to you. If enough people join the experiment, maybe we can do something in published form at the end of 2011. I know a guy.

Let the tales begin! And Happy New Year!

Hey There, Starbucks Guy!

October 12, 2010 By: Category: Opinions, stories

Guy at Starbucks (in mirror this morning): All right. Got my Thrasher trucker cap perched delicately on top of my hair. Sleeves rolled up so people can admire the fading tattoos blanketing every inch of my arms. Chain wallet with 10 inch long puffy raccoon tail hanging off the end, like seriously so long and unwieldy that it would tickle my knees if I wasn’t wearing these badass capris? Check .

(Claps his hands.) All right! Coffee time! Let’s do this shit!

Me at Starbucks (in line behind him): You look great!

In Praise of Victoria Howard

May 23, 2010 By: Category: stories

A few days ago, I posted a mysterious email I received from the Cultural Affairs desk about Victoria Howards’ retirement. At first I thought this might have something to do with my application for the U.S. Special Teams (Price Fixing and Water Slides Division), but after talking to my sponsor, P. Howard (head of the U.S. Commission on Sauce-Related Injuries), I discovered that no one named Victoria Howard has ever worked for the Special Teams, and the Cultural Affairs desk is nothing but a telephone in a houseless closet buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on Culpepper Island.

But then, to my surprise, a story arrived courtesy of uber-talented F.o.A. (Friend of Awkward) and Awkward Two author Heather Clitheroe that clears the whole mess up. I particularly like the image of Ms. Howard “oozing herself between bar stools.” And so we begin.

Victoria Howard’s Retirement Card

by Heather Clitheroe

The email arrives in your inbox around nine thirty, give or take, sent from the Cultural Affairs account. Nancy wrote it; she typed it out, clicked send, and went back to work. Hello! Most of you have probably heard that Victoria Howard will be retiring from the city soon. We invite you to sign her “retirement card”. It’s located under the front counter in the main office and will be available through June 3. Thanks! Nancy. Several hours later, Nancy will send out the invitation to a small reception in the office for Victoria Howard, to take place at 2:30 on June 2, two days before Victoria Howard will be gone. (more…)

Military ID

September 22, 2009 By: Category: Greatest Hits, stories

The saddest place on Earth.

The saddest place on Earth.

Sarah and I went to Macy’s over the weekend. Ever since we moved in together, we’ve hated our towels. Even though we have pretty nice towels, our towel of choice is still the ratty old giant blue thing I’ve been using since college. Here’s the problem with towels: the fancier they are, the heavier they get. Heavy towels are the worst. They make you not even want to take a shower.

We went to Macy’s because we had returned a wedding present there a few years ago and we had a bunch of free money to spend. Macy’s has really gone downhill. When I was a kid, I remember it being one notch below Bloomingdales. Now it’s a sad collection of unfashionable, overpriced merchandise that is about on par with TJ Maxx. Although TJ Maxx is way better because it’s at least super cheap.

It doesn’t help that Macy’s is in the saddest mall in the world, the Eagle Rock Plaza. The Eagle Rock Plaza looks like it was made for a movie in which none of the stores were allowed to have real brand names. Some of the highlights include “Anna’s Linens,” “Dress Town,” “Fashion City,” and “MasterCuts.” It is both the saddest mall in the world and the best place I’ve ever been. This weekend they were piping karaoke renditions of popular songs through the mall, coming from some unseen location. I heard two different people sing Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” which I never realized was such a popular karaoke choice.

We managed to find our towels, or at least a reasonable approximation of what we were looking for, and I got in line. The short, fiftysomethingish woman with meticulously painted nails and giant sunglasses in line in front of me had written a check, and she was searching desperately for her license. I stood behind her patiently for about 5 minutes while she searched through every pocket and crevice she could find. “Do I need a license?” she finally asked. “Yes,” the woman behind the desk said. The woman behind the desk did not appear to be in any particular rush, either.

“I can’t find my license,” the fiftysomethingish woman said.

“Well, I have to put a number into the computer,” said the woman behind the desk. “I need an ID.”

The fiftysomethingish woman continued to look. Sarah whispered across the store, “why is this taking so long?” I shushed her because sometimes she says rude things a little too loudly and I get embarrassed, even though they’re usually things I’m thinking, too. Finally, the woman managed to exhaust every pocket she had.

“I can’t find my license,” she said. “Can I give you anything else?”

“ID, passport,” the woman behind the counter said, “military ID …”

“Oh, I have a military ID,” the fiftysomethingish woman said, immediately pulling a military ID out of her wallet.

I admit, I didn’t see that one coming.

The Art of Library Science

September 03, 2009 By: Category: Friends, stories

From Matt:

Conversation just now at the library:

Matt: I’m looking for Anne Frank’s Diary.
Librarian: Is that the title of the book?
Matt: It’s actually called “Diary of a Girl.”
Librarian: And who is the author?
Matt: Um, Anne Frank.
Librarian: Is it a children’s book?
Matt: … Are you fucking with me?


A True Starbucks Adventure

August 04, 2009 By: Category: stories

This morning I was at Starbucks waiting for my Venti coffee and breakfast sandwich. (This will give you an immediate idea of how desperately sad my morning has been.) As I was leaning against the wall of shame, drifting off into space, a man walked up and began staring at my chest. I had my headphones on, listening to a podcast of On the Media because Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone are str8-up hustlaz who got tha inna scoop on media tomfoolery 4 realz.

Yes, this is all true, and I’m not proud. I was in Starbucks ordering a Venti coffee and listening to a freaking RECORDING … not even live radio, but a RECORDING that I had SPECIFICALLY SOUGHT OUT … of an NPR podcast on my, yes, I admit it, my IPHONE. My god. I think I’m the enemy! And yet every time I see the display of Starbucks CDs I scoff and say, “what kind of poser would buy a CD at Starbucks?” Sigh. Yuppie ain’t nothing but a number, though, right?

Anyhoo, at the Starbucks, listening to On the Media, dude walks up and stares intently at my chest. At first I thought he was maybe going to punch me, because that happens a lot, but then I realized that I was wearing this t-shirt:

Meat Is Murder

Meat Is Murder

He said something that I didn’t hear because I was totally rocking out to media analysis. I slipped my headphones off and said, “What’s that?” which is what I always say, because for some reason it’s a much nicer thing to say than just, “What?”

“That’s a cool shirt,” he said.

“Thanks,” I said. “It’s handy if you need to butcher a cow on the spur of the moment.”

“We’ve all been there,” he said, knowingly. And something in his eyes told me he meant it.

A Word Gift

July 21, 2009 By: Category: Story-starters

This morning, on the way to the office, a phrase of dialogue suddenly leapt out of the cosmos and planted itself in my brain. This line of dialogue is:

“There are Cheetos all over my inseam.”

That one’s a freebie. Go forth and create greatness.


You’re Doing Great!

July 18, 2009 By: Category: Greatest Hits, stories


You’re doing great. We’re really proud of you. That thing you’re doing? It’s great. Everyone here agrees. We don’t want you to ever stop.

You are a team player. It’s not just about you anymore. You have a responsibility to the team. Don’t you get it? You are a role model. The team needs you. There’s nothing stopping you now! You’re on the path to success! Some of us are uncertain about you, but most of us aren’t. Some of us have doubts, but those people are in the minority. Of course they are! You’re doing great! We all agree. Most of us. Some of us. Most of us.