Sunday 28 July 2013

Humour and Music on a Summer Sunday Morning

We all need a little bit of humour in the summer, especially in this stiflingly humid weather (at the time of writing) we are having in London now. First published in The New Yorker and reproduced here without any permission, Simon Rich's Unprotected is one of those stories that combines factiousness and earnestness beautifully. And the clip today is a trip down memory lane for some of us. Are you a 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s kid? Answers below, please.


I born in factory. They put me in wrapper. They seal me in box. Three of us in box.

In early days, they move us around. From factory to warehouse. From warehouse to truck. From truck to store.

One day in store, boy human sees us on shelf. He grabs us, hides us under shirt. He rushes outside.

He goes to house, runs into bedroom, locks door. He tears open box and takes me out. He puts me in wallet.

I stay in wallet long, long time.

This is story of my life inside wallet.

The first friend I meet in wallet is Student I.D. Jordi Hirschfeld. He is card. He has been around longest, he says. He introduces me to other cards. I meet Learner Permit Jordi Hirschfeld, Blockbuster Video Jordi Hirschfeld, Jamba Juice Value Card, GameStop PowerUp Card Jordi Hirschfeld, Business Card Albert Hirschfeld, D.D.S., Scarsdale Comic Book Explosion Discount Card.
In middle of wallet, there live dollars. I am less close to them, because they are always coming and going. But they are mostly nice. I meet many Ones and Fives, some Tens, a few Twenties. One time, I meet Hundred. He stay for long time. Came from birthday card, he said. Birthday card from an old person.

I also meet photograph of girl human. Very beautiful. Eyes like Blockbuster Video. Blue, blue, blue.

When I first get to wallet, I am “new guy.” But time passes. I stay for so long, I become veteran. When I first arrive, Jamba Juice has just two stamps. Next thing I know, he has five stamps—then six, then seven. When he gets ten stamps, he is gone. One day, Learner Permit disappears. In his place, there is new guy, Driver License. I become worried. Things are changing very fast.

Soon after, I am taken out of wallet. It is night. I am scared. I do not know what is happening. Then I see girl human. She is one from photograph. She looks same in real life, except now she wears no shirt. She is smiling, but when she sees me she becomes angry. There is arguing. I go back inside wallet.

A few days later, picture of girl human is gone.

That summer, I meet two new friends. The first is Student I.D. New York University Jordi Hirschfeld. The second is MetroCard.
MetroCard is from New York City and he never lets you forget it. He has real “attitude.” He is yellow and black, with Cirque du Soleil advertisement on back.

When MetroCard meets GameStop PowerUp Card Jordi Hirschfeld, he looks at me and says, No wonder Jordi Hirschfeld not yet use you. I become confused. Use me for what?

That night, MetroCard tells me many strange things about myself. At first, I do not believe what he says. But he insists all is true. When I start to panic, he laughs. He says, What did you think you were for? I am too embarrassed to admit truth, which is that I thought I was balloon.
Who would be "him"?

It is around this time that we move. For more than two years, we had lived inside Velcro Batman. It is nice, comfy. One day, though, without warning, we are inside stiff brown leather. I am very upset—especially when I see that so many friends are gone.
No more GameStop PowerUp Card Jordi Hirschfeld. No more Blockbuster Video Jordi Hirschfeld.

No more Scarsdale Comic Book Explosion Discount Card.

Only survivors are MetroCard, Driver License, Student I.D., myself, and a creepy new lady named Visa.

I am angry. What was wrong with Velcro Batman? It had many pockets and was warm. I miss my friends and I am lonely.

A few days later, I meet Film Forum Membership Jordan Hirschfeld.

At this point, I am in “panic mode.” What is “Film Forum”? Who is “Jordan Hirschfeld”?

Jordan Hirschfeld is same guy as Jordi Hirschfeld, MetroCard explains. He is just trying to “change his image.” I am confused. What is wrong with old image? That night, I poke my head out of wallet and look around pocket. It is dark, but I can see we have new neighbor. He says his name is Cigarettes Gauloises. He is very polite, but I get “weird vibe” from him.

It is about this time that I meet strip of notebook paper. On him is written, “”

Now we’re getting somewhere, MetroCard says. I have never been more frightened in my life.

That Saturday, five crisp Twenties show up. I assume they will stay long time, like most Twenties.

But two hours later they are gone, replaced by receipt La Cucina.
MetroCard looks at receipt La Cucina and laughs. She better put out after that, he says. I am confused and worried.

Later on, I am minding my own business, when Jordi (sorry—“Jordan”) shoves his finger into me. I am terrified. What was that? I ask. MetroCard grins. He is checking to make sure you’re there, he says. For later.

My friends try to calm me down. One of the dollars, a One, tells me about the time he met Vending Machine Pepsi. He was stuffed in and out, in and out, so many times he almost died. I know he is trying to make me feel better, but I am, like, please stop talking about that.

Eventually, the moment comes. It is like other time. I am taken out of wallet and tossed on bed. It is very dark. I can make out shape of girl.

She picks me up and squints at me for a while. Then she turns on lamp.

I am confused. So is Jordan Hirschfeld.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

His face is like Jamba Juice Value Card. Red, red, red.

“I think,” she says, “that this might actually be expired.”

Next Post: "Food for Thought on a Summer Sunday Morning (and Music, too!)", to be published on Sunday 4th August at 10am (GMT)


  1. Gracias, Maria.

    I should have written that "We all need a little bit of humour EVERYDAY". Not just in the summer! :-) Mind you, since I wrote this post the temperature in Blighty has changed somewhat. It's not as stiflingly humid as it was a few days ago. it's rather pleasant today.

    Have a great week, all of you.

    Greetings from London.

  2. Hehe. A lucky escape for our narrator-friend! :)

  3. haha...that is a fun read...the condom talking to the money....ha...i should install a mic in my handbag to see what kind of conversation the lipstick with my tampons has maybe...smiles...i used to smoke gauloises.. i can imagine that they would make some weird conversation companion...and oh....that poor condom will now never be used...but good she realized that it had expired...smiles..ha.. happy sunday

  4. ha. the interesting life of a condom...a status symbol in high get the ring, though it means nothing...i hate to think of how many were kept and even used well after the expiry...interesting personification and the community it creates in that wallet as it watches the boys story...

  5. LMAO I wonder what the kitty litter would say to the litterbox, Mannequin was a great cheesy movie to.

  6. I needed this laugh this morning. This is one of the most clever things I have read in a long time!! Thank you.

  7. WoW! This is brilliant, innovative, and hilarious! And, BTW, an excellent summary of the "growing up" process. :-)

  8. Thanks for sharing this. Every perspective helps us connect the dots, no?

  9. Me gusta la alegría pero no tengo mucho sentido del humor en cambio, pero es cierto que estar alegres nos hace ver la vida mejor de lo que es en muchos momentos y más en un día pesado húmedo que por aquí se hace sentir también.
    Un abrazo

  10. Too funny.. and clever. Maybe only a wee bit of a stretch... of imagination of course.; )

    60's for me!

  11. Very funny Cuban! I am almost a 60's child...'58. It was a good year;-)
    Thank you for the wonderful comment :-). Happy Sunday

  12. Ah, yes .... youthful memories.

    A friend of mine "liberated" several of these "devices" from his father's supply to ensure that all of his close friends would be prepared should lightning strike. This was the same friend, incidentally, who "liberated" occasional packs of cigarettes and partial bottles of liquor from his father's supply to ensure that all of his close friends were well-practiced and knowledgeable as they moved on toward manhood. Need I say that the "devices" outlasted the cigarettes and the partial bottles of liquor by several years.

    Have a good week, CiL, and thank you, for stirring recollections of days long ago.

  13. What a brilliant and funny autobiography! I wonder what accent "it" would have...

    Born in 61, I guess I'm a late 70's/80s person...

  14. you always make me smile. You seem so surprised everytime you visit. I love that. It means I´m doing the right thing. Thanks a lot. :)

    I´ll read your post later, I´m going for a long walk right now. Have a great day. :)

  15. That's a great post and thanks for the smile on my Monday morning.

  16. ha...very entertaining! I sometimes think of inanimate objects as having feelings : )Who knows...anything is possible.
    I am a child of the 60's.Peace, groovy and flower power!

  17. Hilarious! Really clever. Very well done. I am laughing. k. This is - I may need to post comment as an old blogger i.d. -outlawyer. k.

  18. So funny, Cuban! Great illustrative piece, you created such a vivid idea of Jordi's - sorry - JordAN's life. And now he'll have to run back down the pharmacy for something that isn't expired. *giggle*


  19. Not just a laugh, a series of belly laughs! So many thanks!

  20. True Story? jokes!

    Good funny tale!

  21. 50's child but Lord do i remember the outline every boy from 8th grade forward had of that condom in the wallet. This was well before thy were readily available and I think many 1's were shared to elect a boy to go into the store and swagger as he bought the things that for years did nothing more than make a round circular imprint on the leather that always showed up at the most inopportune time. Like when you left your wallet in your jeans on laundry day and you mom want's to know "Just what do you think you're going to be doing with THIS young man?"

  22. reproduced here without an permission.. so reminds me of my father(that is a compliment, btw)

    & then: Eyes like Blockbuster Video.

  23. I went off New Yorker short stories years ago, they were so rambling and boring - but this is top. Every sentence just right. I shall start reading the New Yorker again! thanks for posting this, it brightened a rainy morning. :)

  24. Got me wondering about the consciousness of plants once again. What an interesting life they live.

    I watched what Netflix offered of The Office UK, probably missed most of it but enjoyed the US version as well.

    Let's keep the blogging high, doesn't seem to be too popular from what I see, anywhere

  25. Really made me laugh...and I SO needed that today!
    Thank you so much:)

  26. This is really funny. Kept my attention throughout. Thanks for the laughter on this humid, hot summer morning.

  27. Many thanks for your kind comments. As you know, I am officially on blog-holidays, but every now I poke my head in to see what's happening. :-)

    Jenny, I, too, felt like you at some point about The New Yorker, but I can't do without my regular dose of "Shouts and Murmurs" and the cartoons! :-) This post was nicked from the former.

    Greetings from London.

  28. Now that's funny: an expired condom.

  29. Funny! Even so, I was worrying about the expiration date. Am I a mom of young adults or what?

  30. This piece is my first read of your writing. You have a creative and witty mind! Much fun.
    Enjoy the rest of your vacation.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...