Why the hostility?

I’m sick of you.

 

Do you want to leave the coffeeshop?

No.

 

Why not?

I need the coffee, and Laura Lippert just got here.

 

Do you want to ask Laura Lippert to interview you?

Yes.

 

Why?

She’s a professional aerialist.

 

So?

She’s more interested in why I don’t “do stuff” than she is in writing, which is more interesting to me right now than writing.

 

That’s it?

Well, she’s got hair down to her hips that she hangs from a ring by sometimes, twenty feet up in the air.

 

Is she gonna do it?  Interview you?

Yes.  She’s already started.  She’s sitting next to me, protesting my assertion that she’s more interested in why I don’t “do stuff” than she is in writing.

 

Can this really be considered a self-interview any longer?

I’m doing all the typing.

 

Why are you so negative?

Because I’m not an aerialist, or anything like an aerialist.  I take it for granted that I’m not going to die soon.  Often I’m dizzy.

 

Is that why you smoke so much?

Don’t be facetious.  I’ve seen you smoke, too.

 

This guy in the booth over there, talking on his cellphone—why do you think he thinks it’s okay to do that?

I think he thinks he’s exceptional, important, possibly even worth overhearing.  I think he wants you to get that sense from him, that that’s why he’s making those broad hand-gestures.  Like, no way he thinks whoever’s on the other end of the line can see his hand-gestures, whereas you’re in his sightlines and you have hair that goes down to your hips.

 

My hair’s all braided and up.

Your braids are formidable.  Aren’t her braids formidable?  Look at him pretending like he doesn’t know I’m talking about him trying to impress the aerialist with the formidable braids via broad hand-gestures he believes indicate an air of importance.  Yeah you.  Lower your fucking voice, dude.  We’re trying to talk about me over here.  Still pretending!

 

I don’t know what to ask you.

Try a non-sequiter.

 

Why not cowboy boots?

I think I would want to beat me up if I saw me wearing cowboy boots.

 

How high can you jump?

I don’t know.

 

Why are you so negative right now?

I’m negative because I don’t know how high I can jump?

 

You’re negative because look at your face.

I’m sick of my face.

 

Be positive.

You sound like an aerialist, or a speedskater or something.

 

Do you prefer oceans, rivers, or lakes?

That’s a loaded question.

 

Dude.  What’s your problem?  I’m trying here.

I’m trying, too.  Maybe we should stop trying.

 

SO negative!

Not necessarily.  See?  Isn’t this nice?

 

What?

This.

____________________

Adam Levin is the author of the novel THE INSTRUCTIONS, a finalist for the 2010 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, and winner of both the 2011 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and the inaugural Indie Booksellers Choice Award.   For his short stories, Levin has won the Summer Literary Seminars Fiction Contest, as well as the Joyce Carol Oates Fiction Prize.   His fiction has appeared in a number of publications, including Tin House, Esquire, and New England Review. HOT PINK, his collection of short stories, was published by McSweeney’s in March 2012.  He lives in Chicago, where he teaches Creative Writing at the School of the Art Institute.

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