Dissatisfaction, The Biographers, and Imagining Phoebe
By Peter Cherches.
A man who was dissatisfied with his penis went to the movies one sunny day. As it was a sunny day, the movie theater was empty. As the movie theater was empty, the projectionist did not notice that the man who was dissatisfied with his penis was in the audience, so he didn’t run the film. The man who was dissatisfied with his penis was very upset. Not only do I have an unsatisfactory penis, he thought, but I am sitting in a dark, silent movie theater, missing a perfectly beautiful day. At which point he decided to ask for his money back. He went to the ticket booth and said to the girl, “I would like my money back, as they are not showing the film, and I would like to enjoy this nice, sunny day.”
“Very well,” the girl said, “just show me your penis and I’ll be happy to refund your money.”
At which point the man ran off, crying, cursing his penis, ten dollars poorer and unable to enjoy a beautiful day.
At the onset of their careers, two would-be biographers agreed to write each other’s biography, while simultaneously writing their own autobiographies. They were engaged in these interlocking projects for many years, until the two biographers died together in a plane crash. When the four manuscripts were discovered they turned out to be identical, word for word. Other than this curious fact, there was nothing particularly interesting about any of these books, and they were never published.
Lonely, in need of companionship, I considered a dog. But I live in a small apartment, in a big city, not the best place for a dog, I thought, so I made do with an imaginary one. I called her (for I had imagined a female) Phoebe. Why Phoebe? I don’t know, nor do I know why I chose to imagine her a collie–perhaps pleasant memories of Lassie.
Phoebe is with me constantly. Loyal Phoebe. Man’s best friend. I wake up at the crack of dawn, rain or shine, to walk her. I carry a pooper scooper, for form’s sake. I leave two bowls on the kitchen floor, food and water. From a Japanese supplier I purchased some plastic dog food. The natural condensation of water provides a comforting illusion.
Whenever I’m feeling blue, I cuddle up with Phoebe, and that always makes things better. I love my Phoebe. The utter lack of barks and whimpers doesn’t bother me one bit. In fact, my only real disappointment is the dryness of the licking.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Cherches is the author of two volumes of short prose: Condensed Book and Between a Dream and a Cup of Coffee, as well as several limited-edition artist’s books. His work has recently appeared in the anthologies Poetry 180 and Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992. His fiction and short prose work has been featured in a wide range of magazines and journals, including Harper’s, Semiotext(e), Transatlantic Review, Fiction International, and Bomb. Sonorexia, the avant-vaudeville music-performance group he co-led with Elliott Sharp in the 1980s, appeared at such legendary venues as The Mudd Club and CBGB. Cherches is a two-time recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships in creative nonfiction. He blogs about food and travel here.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, February 23rd, 2009.