Mr. Leopold Bloom sat on the couch, legs akimbo, knees a bony promontory untried of clothing but the frayed bottoms of boxer shorts. Between such legs blared a rerun of Friends, Joey’s debauchery the teeth-pulverized pomegranate seed to Chandler’s sadsack oatmeal.

Sunlight slaked inward through smudged, unsmudged, resmudged glass and Mr. Bloom’s mind wandering between the television refractions. Two days’ unchallenged breakfast dishes stacked in unsteady layers between silverware and unread newspapers. Where is Molly? Where is Molly?

Away, Molly with the litheblack cat. The chipped floorboards a horizon, challenging. The wallplaster beyond, a cracked sky. A maiow opened tuna cans in Monday’s downward pinioned morning light. But this is Tuesday and where is Mr. Maiow, whose company in neutrality would be more and less a nuisance than that truthtelling? Four breakfasts and two tuna cans ago, and how strange an accusation of infidelity, being the veritas vos liberabit of his solitude. And cruel, cruel that she changed the Netflix password!

Time rising up from sleep’s cotton-smothered ululations, indiscriminate. An hour, a day. Friends played ad infinitum on that one cable channel. Starz? And the sunlight downward thrown from Phoebus’ crag admits no ticktock of rossrachelmonicachandlerjoeyphoebe.

Might as well start drinking, Bloom thought. Red Stripe, yes. But Budweiser is cheaper. An easy decision: Drink well til the cost means less the further in. Do we have any of those cheese crackers left? We.

He would ask easy questions to the sunlight.

The flap of bare feet on the living room floor startled him so a sneeze erupted the dust. Coffee table spaces between her magazines. Magazines unread. O but looking through the sunlight’s brief prism over that wasteland of clothes and blankets and pizza boxes. Molly’s mother’s afghan, where he slept. Onward!

The footflapped walk to the kitchen navigated by the sound of the television (Joey Tribianni, undone love remakes your liaisons!) through the dark sitting room, the bookshelves looming. Avoid the looking glass, her left underthings on the towel rack. Beers, as many as you can carry. Make true the minutes the sunlight would deny.

Bloom eschewed the bedroom light switch, also. The bed! And kicked an unidentified slipper. Whose, the slipper? The bedclothes strewn? Hers? Mine? Pussens walks on downy slippers, pads of animal skin, Bloom in crocodile moccasins.

The creak of the bedroom door spoke maiow, and Pussens. Sunlight through the hallway made a path of the world.

Suck, spoke the refrigerator like the sucking of a drain. The motor whirring. Don’t look at the dirty dishes, some hers. The armful of beer was unwieldy but for the shortness of the trip until her mother’s afghan enfolded him and milksopped the rossandrachel spillage, the sitcom catharsis.

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NATHAN PENSKY is a recent graduate of the Creative Writing M.F.A. program at Mills College and has been published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, MONKEYBICYCLE, and many others. He is an Associate Flash Fiction/Fiction Editor for the online literary journal JMWW, and a frequent contributor for the pop culture website PopMatters.

15 responses to “Leopold Bloom Walks From the Couch to the Refrigerator”

  1. Victoria Patterson says:

    The only thing that might improve this post is to hear you read it. Please.

  2. Greg Olear says:

    This is very, very funny. Adding to the humor is the fact that I was literally reading this very passage — the real one — not 24 hours ago…I assigned it to my writing students for next week.

    (I only wish you went a few grafs further, to the “dry sunken cunt of the world” line; I’m curious if she is Rachel, Monica, or one of the secondary characters).

  3. Art Edwards says:

    Oh, I love “Drink well til the cost means less the further in.” That brought me back to struggling over that damn book. I always make it to page 150, then put in the audio BBC abridged version.

  4. Irene Zion says:

    Granted I know little to nothing about pop culture, Nathan,
    but I just don’t see how this is in the humor section.
    This sounds very sad to me.
    Everyone else thinks it’s funny, so obviously I’m the ninny here.
    Maybe I should have watched “Friends” or something.

    • Gloria says:

      Psssst…Irene…I don’t get it either. And I did watch Friends. I did not, however, ever once try to read Ulysses. No, wait. I tried.

  5. Amber says:

    Nathan, I commend you on convincing me to once again attempt Ulysses. It may well be the death of me but I refuse to die an ignoramus.

    Promise me Chandler will be there.

    Dear lord, you’re a funny man.

  6. […] The Nervous Breakdown thenervousbreakdown.com/npensky/2011/02/leopold-bloom-walks-from-the-couch-to-the-refrigerator/ – view page – cached Clearly what James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ needs is a bunch of references to ‘Friends’., Clearly what James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ needs is a bunch of references to ‘Friends’. […]

  7. I have read Ulysses. Thank you, Professor Danny Kaiser of Sarah Lawrence College.

    Awesome piece!

  8. Nathan Pensky says:

    Thanks everyone.

  9. Summer Block says:

    You are awesome. That is all.

  10. Karen M says:

    That’s what happens when you fill up on Thesaurus and alcohol, pretentious vomit all over the place. (Humor, my ass!) I think I’ll go stick my finger down my throat now.

  11. Nathan Pensky says:

    I’m a Manatee!

    • Karen M says:

      What does that mean? Manatee’s are endangered, fat, lazy and oblivious to their surroundings. That’s why they keep getting hit by boat propellers. Is that who you are? I read some of your other “articles” on here. I just don’t get your sense of humor.

      • Nathan Pensky says:

        I often have adventures with my underwater friend, the sea turtle! I sometimes call my friend, the narwhal, on the telephone! We laugh and laugh! I do enjoy a nice piece of seaweed!

    • I know I shouldn’t be doing this.

      But I think what Karen O’s sister is trying to say is that if you’re gonna write an “article” you’ve got to make sure everyone, I mean absolutely everyone, gets it. And if you don’t, you really ought to make sure everyone knows you don’t get it.

      Yours truly,
      A Baited Sea Cow

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