Cock and Bull: An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New Republic

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A stakeholder. You finish your drink, savor the olives, and go to the bathroom. When you return, your patron has taken your seat.

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You change course and head for the door, but he spins around on his stool with great ease. Objectively attractive. His large watch, a lattice of silver and gold wrapped around his wrist, is endearingly anachronistic. You believe older men can appreciate beauty in ways that contemporaries cannot. This man is somewhere in between. You feign ignorance. You feel safe and inadequate all at once.

You stare longer than you should. His eyes double in size, leeching the remaining light from an already drab room. You two are slow dancing in a tenebrous and foggy hallucination, like Maria and Tony in West Side Story. You feel pretty. Your ability to be evasive or witty is nowhere to be found. You purse your lips slightly, slide your tongue across your teeth, and squint. A faint, distinct tremble appears. You struggle to remember your husband. He leads the way out of the bar, up a brick stoop, then two doors, then two flights.

His apartment is long, white, and narrow for fourteen steps, then bursting bookshelves, floor to ceiling. Everywhere else, post-modern stacks—more books, some magazines—including a few skyscrapers on the glossy cherry wood floor. One pile reaches your waist.

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You glance at your phone. From behind, his chin finds its way onto your shoulder. A delectable bouquet of cologne and deodorant feeds your senses in ways that a semicolon never could. His lips graze your ear with precision and heat—you wonder what he does for a living.

He picks up the book you were eyeing moments before. Have you read her work? You feel stupid but grateful you erred toward silence moments earlier. His warm lips reappear. He breathes you in deeply, taking with him the space between.


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You bite down on your tongue to quell the chattering. He kisses your neck as his hands travel assuredly across the rest. When he pulls away and disappears, you follow. You need to pull yourself together. A disconsolate brown man in an unabashedly gentrified neighborhood is the beginning of a below-the-fold news piece. You take a deep breath, look out at the pink-orange sky, and scan the park. What have you done?

How could you have stained something so beautiful and immaculate? At your own?

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What would your mother say? It was years before she was comfortable with your relationship, and then you go ahead and queer it up. You have typecast yourself. His T-shirt is cut off at the shoulders; his shorts, just above the knees.

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His skin is brown like yours, but younger and with more sheen. Then you hold up the hand that has the finger with the matted, gold band. The world is much clearer up here, but the line between cause and cure is muddled. Your thigh vibrates.

Southern Frontier Humor: An Anthology

He has already sent two texts. The restaurant is less than a block away. His deep brown eyes teach you the meaning of puppy-dog eyes.

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Triceps, marvelous. Everyone, it seems, has been at the gym for the last twenty years. This encounter is intriguing but also unsettling. Or high? Another time. Your eyes anxiously dart around the perimeter for a bag or jacket, until you remember that you left home with nothing. You remember why you were here in the first place. You turn to face him. He will not follow. You were wrong about him. You nod and cross the street. You know her well.


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Certainly, one of his greatest protagonists. Bottom, powerful. I am a shame-free zone. It was a soapbox for policy debates—about prison privatization, solitary confinement, mental illness—but it was allergic to pedantry. At the fire pit, Kohan said that she was thinking of quitting TV. She might let her hair go gray; she wanted to travel; working on such painful material was depressing.

Worse, her kids were leaving home. This was a month before Rhimes ordered a fresh batch of pies, cutting a major deal with Netflix. But she could define what had driven her this far. Three years ago, Linda Brettler, an architect who is married to Matthew Weiner, began renovations. The result is a spectacular set of offices, with one floor for production and two for post-production.

Kohan is thinking of turning the old auditorium into a venue for performances, like the L. The new neighborhood was an adjustment. They stole the mezuzah! We just keep cleaning it up.

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Plot points for Season 6 were scribbled all over the walls. Kohan oversees each script, but her co-producer, Tara Herrmann, often runs the room. Although Kohan has never been given a diagnosis of A. Almost all the writers are new. Last season, Kohan and Herrmann acknowledge, went somewhat pear-shaped. Season 4 had ended on a heartbreaking note: a key character, the black lesbian Poussey Washington, a gentle iconoclast with prospects for a life after prison, was killed by an inexperienced white guard.

Jenji Kohan’s Hot Provocations

A riot broke out. Kohan and Herrmann described the problem in similar terms. It was just a new dynamic—people were attached to the characters as viewers, not as creators. After Season 5, only two writers were rehired. Many of the writers had crazy interview stories: Kohan is infamous for asking inappropriate questions. There were no straight white men. Kohan is resistant to all such accounting; she refuses to cheerlead for numerical diversity.

Writing, she argues, is an occult skill, a gift of invention and empathy, which few people possess and which can be nurtured but not taught. Kohan bristles at such debates. But, in the end, I just want talent.

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