:: Article

Friend Helmet

By Blake Butler, Nicolle Elizabeth & The Life Aquatic.

1. grover was my best friend when i was little | i talked to grover all the time | one time my family and i were going to dinner | i was like 2 | and grover started telling me where we should turn | to go to dinner | and we ended up at some expensive italian restaurant like 15 miles from my house | and we ate there

1. Stacey was my best friend when I was little but first she didn’t like me | she threw sand into my mouth on the playground and I cried | I was like 2 | my grandmother walked with me to her house down the street but her mother said she didn’t want to play with me | me and my grandmother walked up the street and cried | I am Stacey’s bridesmaid this august

1. Excuse me, I’m going to go on an overnight drunk and in ten days find the shark that ate my friend and kill it

2. i like to think of myself as being part of an oil machine | more often i feel fecal | but maybe one day we can run our cars off shit | i imagine someone somewhere has invented the adapter

2. I like to think of myself as being part of an oil machine | I often feel faulty | I will run myself off myself regardless | I imagine someone somewhere has invented the adaptor

2. This is the observation bubble, which I thought up in a dream, actually

3. i don’t know what to think about anything any more | i want to make you happier | that’s all

3. wanna shut up and play basketball?

3. We’re a pack of strays

4. last night | did not warrant you yelling at me for as long as you did

4. I feel bad about what that girl did to you that night

4. No Ned, it’s actually the reflection of the moonlight on their outer membranes

5. i’ve been exhausted all week | today’s the first day i feel back to normal

5. I am always exhausted | I don’t know what normal feels like | who wants a drink?

5. Let me tell you about my boat

6. i open a new package of napkins | and in the middle | are 3 napkins with what looks like splotches of blood | someone in a napkin factory somewhere may be in trouble

6. that one doesn’t move

6. I believe in this boy

7. i just wish i felt like that guy putting his balls in that girl’s ass | 24-7 | all day all night 4ever | just really accomplished and excited about life

7. I just wish you knew what it felt like when you put your balls in my ass | 24-7 | all day all night 4ever

7. “That’s poetry?” “No, it’s a six volume novel”

8. i am going to kiss you tonight | on the neck | and the face

8. I am going to kiss you tomorrow | on the elbow if I am okay

8. You’re taking something out on me

9. you seem to have no conception of yourself sometimes

9. you have no idea

9. Are those assholes talking about me?

10. i don’t like drinking with people because of how i act when i get drunk and i worry about how i affect people a lot | i mean | i’ll still drink a lot | but i may become very quiet | etc

10. I’m a drinker | it annoys people | I talk too much and get very bossy | it might be a Napoleon thing I am very short

10. A relationship subplot

11. i’m not trying to be a jerk | nothing is going right | there is a dumpster on the other side of the pool from us

11. I’m not trying to hear that | stop screwing up | its easy | there is a dumpster on the other side of the pool from us

11. Tell Carl to load my elephant gun with buckshot’s

12. i need to get milk and bananas from the store | if u want you could get them | kisses

12. there is a spot between my lung and my stomach | you can rest here | you can listen to the food there | then we can go to refrigerator and you can have the same food

12. “What’s deep search?” “My submarine”

13. you make me shudder more consistently than anyone i know

13. when you walk into a room the internet stops working

13. Son of a bitch I am sick of these dolphins

14. last night i dreamt that my hair was coming out in chunks | and i asked my friends if they’d still like me if my hair was short | and they said no

14. last night I dreamt my hair looked like a mermaid | I asked my friends if they thought this could happen | they said be a mermaid in your head

14. Shut up before you jinx us, Annemarie

15. rain affects me too much | remind me to take laxative tonight

15. rain affects me too much | I have pneumonia from standing on the roof in it

15. Why don’t you just curse like other people?

16. i don’t know what i feel like doing

16. I always know that I always feel like doing it with you

16. If she wasn’t a bulldyke I think I might have a thing for her

17. starting today with no internet and then walking outside and having an asian woman blow dust in my face with a leafblower | then talking on speaker phone to comcast covered in soap

17. starting today with a dog pooping in the hallway | then a neighbor saying hey is that your dog | I said no mine’s in the shop

17. Sign it now or I’m leaving you out here

18. i made coffee. i had a dream that my mom was a prostitute. i climbed up to the upper windows and fixed the miniblinds | i had another dream that i found out that i was an asian… and adopted by white people | the sun coming in unattenuated ruins my morning dreams. i wish you coulda seen me in my dream when i found out i was asian

18. I made coffee. I had a dream that my roommate was a prostitute. I climbed to the roof to sniff the rain. I had another dream that I was a tunafish and someone tried to eat me | the fog coming in the morning clouds my ceiling. You shoulda seen me as a tunafish

18. Try to think of something else. Another name?

19. i want to be haunted by a 12 year old version of myself | giving me the early version of a look i’ve since perfected

19. I am haunted by the 12 year old version of myself | I have not perfected | she would be very stern with me | she would be surprised I am less of a wise-ass now

19. It’s just kind of an unwritten maritime rule when you’re out to sea

20. These messages were sent while you were offline: ok | I am here

20. these messages were sent via metaphysical connection: ok | I am here

20. Be cool on this shit okay-o, cubby? At least try to show both sides

21. i woulda come already but i thought that u’d be sleeping

21. I would have come, if you were reading I would have come

21. Your engine blew up and your fuel’s been stolen is that correct?

22. my head is so full of snot | and i’ve blown my nose so much | my ears are stuffed | i can’t hear anything

22. my head is so full of French fries | and I’ve blown my nose so much | my ears are stuffed | I can’t hear anything

22. Maybe I’m going to write you a letter now

23. too much coffee today | too much

23. too much coffee today | too much

23. That was all off the record, cubby

24. 2 days ago i was on treadmill | and i thought, i am going to write a salable mystery novel that starts with hidden cameras

24. 2 days ago I was on my bike | and I thought, the fence starts here her neighbor was old they will like it I hope

24. Can I have a word with you privately?

25. its raining a little | men keep walking back and forth in front of the apartment | i exfoliated the hell out of my face

25. its wicked sunny out | men keep walking back and forth in front of my apartment | i couldn’t go out today

25. That’s my research assistant, Javier

26. it’s important to look like you were just born polished

26. it’s impossible to look like those girls I don’t have that kind of money

26. Nevermind how I found out. I’m a scientist

27. i’m convinced that the place is making me ill. the smoke, the heat… i feel like i’m rotting from the inside

27. I’m convinced every time I wake up from that dream I am a little sicker

27. It’s good to see you, Eleanor

28. i don’t think this would make sense to anyone | but i know something is following me around | that’s not paranoia or ‘overgeneralizing’ | something is systematically fucking everything i try to do

28. I woke up and there was a thing in the mailbox

28. My arms are bound

29. i’ve been pissing out my ass 3 mornings in a row now

29. I’ve been shitting out my heart 3 mornings in a row now

29. Fold

30. i think i’d like to see you

30. I think I’d like to see you with your sister | it would tell me something about you more

30. I mis-read you man, I’m gonna have to re-think some shit

31. i got shower curtain and liner | we should clean up tonight and rent some movies, you can pick them | no beer

31. I got a rug | your feet won’t slip when you step out of my shower | we can lay on the floor in towels by the oven, on

31. I suppose we could put an N on the side of that octopus

32. i just got my cat tattooed on my forearm

32. I just got my compass tattooed on my forearm

32. We got attacked by pirates

33. i just want to kiss your dang head | and sit and smile

33. I just want to kiss your dang head | and sit and smile

33. I still wish I could breathe underwater

34. everything is just so depressing lately | no english, 3.45 an hour | i got coffee this morning and a woman was yelling at the worker “i want an early gray tea!” | she just kept saying EARLY GRAY TEA

34. packing sandwiches alone for work is the most depressing thing ever

34. I’m sick of being on B squad

35. every year at challenger elem we had a memorial service for them where 7 special kids got to hold up giant portraits of the astronauts | i can remember their faces | went there for 7 years

35. the name of my elem school was fales | how bad is that | like fails

35. Do you still want to blow him up?

36. ok | i’m going invisible

36. he’s back

36. Are we safe in here?

37. i feel big tired and unable to focus and unable to think of what to do | big, tired

37. my feet hurt

37. That’s it, I’m retiring

38. i was having an awesome dream. i was just taking flight and going back in time and you fucking kicked me | i wanted to hit you | ruiner even in sleep

38. I put on a shirt you’d like | I won’t see you today

38. This is an adventure

39. you have been a little scary for the past two days. i plan to just continue staying out of your way

39. please stop yelling at me | I’m sorry about the cat

39. Please don’t make fun of me I just wanted to flirt with you

40. i’m making beef stew and peach crisp. it will be here when you get home so think about being hungry

40. eat our future off my shoulder | I made it all day | it smells like blueberry pie

40. This is an adventure

41. one time a midget came to my house and i saw him making out with his full-sized gf | i thought, “this is tender”

41. one time these girls were on mushrooms in the boston common and they found a lost orphan and they brought him home | they woke up and he was a homeless midget and he was sniffing their underwear drawer

41. Not completely your fault. I’m going through some personal problems

42. i can’t take much more of this life | wee | i’m gonna get a hell of a tax return | i’m going to keep working here hard

42. I’m going to sign the return in blood this year | no really

42. Who narced us out?

43. we need to start dressing in the traditional garb of our forefathers

43. we need more cowbell

43. You wanna go up in my balloon?

44. i’m painting the fucking bathroom green | again. yes. again. yes

44. I’m painting the floor under the carpet | it is hard to lift the corners | I will keep the carpet over it though

44. You’ve taken us out on uncharted waters

45. what is a good equation to signify infinite replication?

45. sacred geometry and I know all along | I’m kinda psychic a little | you are too but you are dumber than me

45. Had Ned’s heart stopped beating before you pulled him out of the water?

46. what if google is an arm of god? | today stock in god’s arm went up 1.64%

46. vote for strawberries

46. Can you fly a chopper?

47. no one wants to be calm

47. no one wants to be clam

47. What sort of expression is the lad wearing on his face?

48. things always come together. | we are not retarded. the terms of this life are retarded | probably

48. things always come together. | sometimes it takes years. Do not make yourself retarded in the process | probably

48. Not this one, Klaus

49. tonight is a blanket | i am excited for when all is in place

49. this is my confession

49. This was to be our most interesting voyage to date, and ultimately, our most dangerous one

50. you used to hate a lot of things before i turned you into the light

50. we see the line, the shadow, the etching. We must not bare witness to the dark, but instead, the light

50. Eleanor Zissou, my wife, President of the Zissou Society



Blake Butler is the author of Ever (Calamari Press 2009) and Scorch Atlas (Featherproof Books, forthcoming). His work has been published in Ninth Letter, Fence, Unsaid, New York Tyrant. He edits HTML Giant and blogs here. This list was almost entirely composed from words stolen from instant message conversations between the author and those he loves.


Nicolle Elizabeth is the author of Threadbare Von Barren (Paper Hero Press, forthcoming) and a novel in the works. Her work has been published in Night Train, Wigleaf, Elimae and others. She writes for Words Without Borders, the Brooklyn Rail and blogs here. This list was her writing inspired by Blake Butler’s writing.

The Life Aquatic is a movie by Wes Anderson. Nicolle watched it again and pulled quotes from it to Blake Butler’s writing.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, July 24th, 2009.