To my darling Cecilia,

It’s all gone wrong, Cecilia. And I spend my nights lying awake and alone in my cold, comfortable bed, under my cold and comfortable duvet, tearing my memory to shreds and then tearing those shreds again, trying to pinpoint the exact moment when everything started to come undone.

Was it when I first set my sights on the distant heights of success, stood up tall and proud like my adorable monkey ancestors looking out over the rolling grass of the African veldt, and said ‘Yes, I will be a writer. A writer who dedicates himself to the wonder, to the art and the intricacy of his craft, to the dark forests of human nature, to the ravenous whirlpools of believable characterisation, and the majestic, lofty skyscrapers of interesting plot scenarios, but also, who makes a lot of money, sells film rights every week, and spends a lot of time in his Jacuzzi with at least two women?’ Was it when I challenged Frank Sinatra Jr. to a winner-takes-all pentathlon, my only understanding of the pentathlon coming from that Dolph Lundgren movie, Pentathlon? Or was it when you first set eyes on that rat-fuck Steve Buscemi, and your heart and, more concerning, your body, were lost to me forever?

I still love you, Cecilia. I still remember our first night of passion under the watchful eyes of your Chat Noir poster, in your fashionable and hip second-floor apartment, when we destroyed two beanbags and I broke my wrist. I still remember those lazy afternoons, when we lay content in each others’s arms, like basking oysters in the sun, and I kept saying ‘Man. Do you remember that night when I broke my wrist while we were having sex? Fuck, I’ve told so many people about that. Honestly, I’ve just been grabbing strangers from right off the street and telling them all about it. Straight up. Jive. Sassafras on the fifteen-hundred. Funky drummer.’

Then, as now, I had no idea how to stop once I had started using street lingo.

The slow murmurs of memory are a song that steals my sleep at night, my every pillowcase ruined by the acid of my tears. I remember how you played the guitar, your fingertips gently whispering a command to every fret they romanced. I remember how I’d be woken in the midnight hours by the sound of you inventing your latest invention, your muscular shoulders strapped tightly as you rained hammer-blows down on glowing steel.

And I remember coming home early from work to find you riding Steve Buscemi like a champion thoroughbred who has been breakfasting on finest Bolivian Red for a week and is starting to like it.


I don’t care that you loved him, if I ever see that man on the street I’m going to pistol-whip him like a red-headed stepchild. I don’t care that he’s got biceps like train carriages, or triceps like city buses, or calves like suitcases full of boa constrictors – the big kind of suitcases, and the big kind of boa constrictors. Whenever I think of you, Cecilia, and, believe me, I think of you often, your face is blotted out by Buscemi’s laughter. The laughter he laughed while he declared me laughable, as I stood in the doorway to the lounge room and I screamed ‘Cecilia! Steve Buscemi from Fargo, and Armageddon, and a host of other, equally-memorable character-based roles! Oh, merciful God, no!’

He didn’t even miss a stroke. He just kept laughing.

Fucking Steve Buscemi.

Did you do it to punish me, Cecilia? Did you do it as revenge for all the times I said I wanted a time machine so I could travel back to the day when the Breeders were filming the clip to Cannonball, so I could have sex with Kim Deal while she was wearing a wide variety of different but entirely flattering outfits? Because I only said that a dozen or so times, at most, most of which were while we were at breakfast with your friends – and I want you to know I was playing to the crowd when I used the phrase ‘and probably Kim Deal’s sister, Kelly Deal, at the same time.’

Because Kim, really, was the prize from that family.

Can’t we try again, my love? Without that sexual powerhouse Buscemi to ruin it all?

I miss you,so much. Every time I sit in the rocking chair we bought for your mother’s birthday and  I subsquently decided was too good for her, I think of your smile. I remember how I laughed when you found out  I had stolen the chair back from your mother’s party with the aid of my friend Harry. It was the funniest thing since Harry’s brother (Larry) asked me to be the best man at his wedding, and that bridesmaid thought that I was winking, when in fact I was blinking, because I’d been thinking.

So much has changed, my heart. My deepening madness has taken me to strange and unforgiving places, and I’m not the man I once was. I’ve been working out, Cecilia. No longer do I need two breaks to finish a glass of low-fat milk. These days I drink full-cream milk by the carton and I can hurl a half-brick through a car windshield from four blocks away.

Your new boyfriend is driving a Mercedes now, right? A black 2007 model with heated seats, triple-coil suspension, and a slight scratch on the top right hand corner of the underneath of the intake manifold? And he finds that sometimes he needs to re-adjust the seats after spending the night at your place, almost as if someone has made duplicates of his car keys and is embarking on a long-term campaign to subtly throw off his balance, little by little? So that someday, at his beloved Zumba classes, he over-extends and snaps one of his equally-beloved vertebrae, perhaps somewhere around the superior articular region?


I have to go now, Cecilia. I have a deadline to meet, and maybe, when I am very rich, you will love me again. If this is the case, please let me know what levels of affection would correspond to what amounts of money.

Christ, I love you.

I burn for you, tragically.


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SIMON SMITHSON is an Australian writer and editor. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, but frequently finds himself in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His work has appeared on both sides of the globe in print and online in publications such as BLIP, Every Day Fiction, Beat, The Loop, My Sinking Boat, and more. He has a tumblr at www.simonsmithson.com and he runs a lifestyle experiment at www.selfhelpless.net.

101 responses to “A Letter to Cecilia”

  1. Ashley Menchaca (New Orleans Lady) says:

    I’m in the car so I’m going to say this, I had a dream about Steve Buscemi last night and this post really freaked me out.

    I hear the theme to twilight zone loud and clear.

  2. Laura Bogart says:

    I have no words other than “I love this”.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      And I have no words other then ‘antidisestablishmentarianism.’

      Oh, I also have: ‘Bogart’, ‘Laura’, ‘thank’, and… there’s one other. Something beginning with y…

  3. Joe Daly says:

    For me, it was one of Kid Rock’s guitarists. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

    If living well is the best revenge, then I shudder to think what the recipient of the above letter has in store for her.

    Just remember, my Titanic Pimping Brother, that for every Breeders, there is a Veruca Salt; for every Larry a Harry; and for every Steve Buscemi, there is a David Zayas.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I want a t-shirt now that says ‘For Every Steve Buscemi… There is a David Zayas.’

      I’ll wear it to David Zayas’s house, and everyone will be confused.


      Brother, if you were the Titanic, you would have put that iceberg out to work on the streets of Chicago. Also, I’m going to listen to some Veruca Salt now.

  4. Zara Potts says:

    I love Buscemi.
    Particularly his turn in The Soprano’s – which I know you will appreciate, Brew!

    I love absurdness of this piece. I would love to know the process in which this letter (in ALL its imaginings!) came about!

    You crazy kid.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Fuckin’ Tony B. What an asshole. Why couldn’t he just curb his sociopathic tendencies for as long as it took to rise to power?

      Although it was funny when he filmed Carmela’s butt and Tony’s heaving stomach.

      Well, the genesis really came one night when I came home unexpectedly early.

      That’s odd, I thought. That looks almost like Steve Buscemi’s car in the driveway…

  5. Gloria says:

    So, first I found the Dolph Lundgren line funny. Then I chuckled when I realized that invoking Dolph Lundgren in almost any literary piece is funny.

    For the record, I was a red-headed stepchild. We’re no fans of pistol-whipping. Where the hell did that phrase come from anyway? (Becky – etymology check, stat!)

    You may be interested to know: two years ago, I saw Modest Mouse in concert. The Breeders opened. They did “Cannonball.” It was stellar.

    I actually laughed out loud – alone, in my bedroom – at this line: …I can hurl a half-brick through a car windshield from four blocks away. A whole half brick, huh? Srrrrewww <— that’s the sound of me whistling through my teeth.

    I burn for you tragically.

    God damn, man – you’re hilarious.


    • Simon Smithson says:

      Dolph Lundgren is awesome at everything. Seriously. The man has a degree in Chemistry and competed in the Olympics. Have you seen the clip of him singing and dancing?

      I’m very sorry about the pistol-whipping reference. I would have used ‘like a borrowed mule’ but there was too much danger that it would be tracked back to the sub-par Luke Wilson vehicle Third Wheel, which also starred Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

      I saw The Pixies a while back – Kim Deal does not command my heart the way she once did. Although hearing Cannonball live would be something to remember. And rub in everyone’s stupid faces.

      Thanks, Gloria! You’re hilarious too.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Well, it’s fairly literal. It’s the action of striking/whipping someone in the head with a pistol.

      Presumably, it’s whipping rather than, say, clubbing, because if you pistol-whip someone, you’re usually doing it just to punish them or cause them pain/unconsciousness without actually killing them.

      The online etymology diction says only that “pistol-whip” was first recorded in 1942…good ol’ WWII gave us all kinds of fun new figures of speech.

      • Gloria says:

        Yes. But. I meant the etymology of “red headed step child” – like, why is it worse to be of the red head variety?

        • Becky Palapala says:


          Internet search reveals that no one is quite sure.

          Could have something to do with “child of an Irishman,” could have to do with redheads being doubly-recessive and therefore rare and don’t fit in, etc.

          Like, if you’re a blonde or brown-haired stepchild, you might still blend in with you half-siblings. But if you’re the only redhead in a family of blondes and brunettes, people will KNOW you’re not full biological child of both parents.

          Something about cuckholdery…

          Blah blah blah.

          I mean, a combination of these things.

        • Simon Smithson says:


          My gut tells me its the Irish link.

          My gut also tells me these eggs are cooked to perfection.

  6. Richard Cox says:

    “…riding Steve Buscemi like a champion thoroughbred…”

    If this were the only line in the post it would still be a win. But like ZaraPotts, I love the absurdity of the whole thing.

    I don’t like imagining Buscemi having sex with anyone. Except maybe Nancy Grace.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Thanks, RC. There are plenty more where this one came from. I really need to get out more.

      Scratch that – I will get out more!

      I don’t know – Buscemi worked clearing people from the rubble of 9-11. Surely that entitles him to some allowances to sexuality?

      • Richard Cox says:

        Upon reflection, and a scolding from you, Simon, I retract my statement about Buscemi and his right and/or ability to fuck whoever he wants.

        For whatever reason I think of Buscemi as the guy with the bleeding face in Fargo. That’s not fair. He’s probably a better man than me, and I certainly don’t begrudge myself the right to indulge my sexual impulses.

        I formally apologize to Mr. Buscemi. The Nancy Grace comment was particularly offensive.

  7. That scene from Fargo comes immediately to mind in which Shep Proudfoot is beating the living daylights out of Buscemi with his belt. I bet you love that scene.

  8. Richard says:

    Are you sure you weren’t simply obsessing over Ms. Deal’s outfits, taking those first steps toward exploring the darker, gaily-dressed side of your sexuality? I mean, you seem to have a love/hate thing going with Steve. And by love/hate I mean “totally lusting in your little gay heart not to mention in your warped-by-too-many-hair-products-seeping-into-your-brain head. Just asking. Not, like, hopefully or anything.

  9. Erika Rae says:

    So, like, after you broke your wrist, did you guys, um, you know – finish up?

    • Simon Smithson says:

      A gentleman would never put that kind of information on the internet.

      If only this was the wall of a public restroom.

      • Erika Rae says:

        Right. But I wasn’t asking if a gentleman would — oh, right. Sorry, Simon. My bad.

        You know, your reproachful stare in your gravatar is very disturbing.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          It’s cool. The reproach you’re seeing is all directed at my friend J, who did the makeup, for having a boyfriend.

          I hate that guy.

          And have never actually met him.

  10. Quenby Moone says:

    Funky drummer!


    I mean, if you’re going to be throwing around lingo, best to have Clyde Stubblefield around to help you out in the background.

  11. jmblaine says:

    Look dude
    I hate to be the one
    to tell you
    but I saw your chick
    with Clint Howard
    at the Southside Dairy Queen.

    Funky Drummer
    get wicked.

  12. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Mr. Buscemi is a fine actor, but there are some roles I wish NOT to see him in, like the unbidden image in my mind’s eye at this moment that burns, burns, burns….owwwwww….make it stop!

    You know you can’t buy love. Not the real kind anyway.

  13. Okay, this is admirably weird. And I too love anything with Dolph Lundgren in it. And the best kind of Dolph references are right up deadpan alley, where you placed it. Made me laugh out loud. Nice.

    Tony B got on my nerves. I just couldn’t separate “All The Other Buscemi Roles” from “I am watching Sopranos” in my head, taking me out of the narrative. Mostly, I think, Trees Lounge Steve, with a touch of Con Air Steve.

    I was enamored with 1986 Susannah Hoffs in much the same way you seem to pine for 1992 Kim Deal.

    You know, Cecilia broke both Simon and Garfunkle’s heart too. No one should be allowed to get away with breaking any part of Garfunkle, in my humble opinion.


    • Simon Smithson says:

      In that case, sir, I present to you:


      Tony B started to bug me a little. I just wanted him to either escape or take a dirt nap, enough of this dicking around.

      The problem with Buscemi became apparent to me while watching Boardwalk Empire. I’m just too used to seeing him in that role. There isn’t a surprise left to me, now.

      Oh, man, I haven’t listened to that for ages. And it’s true; no one should be allowed to break any part of Garfunkel (heh). That Cecilia. She’ll gravitate to any Simon she can find, and then starfuck her way right back the way she came.

  14. Sam Everett says:

    This is the kind of brilliance only a hearty amount of alcohol and an empty house can produce! Bravo! Of course, Buscemi is now tearing it up in the role of a booze peddler. So, in that way, you’re still his beeyotch. : /

  15. Judy Prince says:

    Simon, is that the same Buscemi that edited a college English textbook?

    I should get out more—–or, rather, stay in more. Or both…..in and out more. ahem.

    Quit staring at me! I’m trying to deface your gravatar face. Erika Rae and I have formed an ad hoc committee, ASSFG (Against Simon’s Serious-Faced Gravatar). And she can do that kick-boxing stuff (ok, me wrong, but heartfeltly intent).

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s not a man to be trusted, or a man to be denied. It’s a dangerous combination.

      And my serious gravatar face only grows in gravitas the more you look at it. I will never smile again.

  16. I’ll just say: “Theodore Donald ‘Donny’ Kerabatsos.”

    Couldn’t get those words out of my head.

    “Riding Theodore Donald ‘Donny’ Kerabatsos like a champion thoroughbred.”

  17. Slade Ham says:

    I’m so confused by this Simon. Who exactly is…

    Man, nevermind…

    Those poor fucking beanbags.

  18. Irene Zion says:

    No one else can do romance like you can, Simon:

    “I still remember those lazy afternoons, when we lay content in each others’s arms, like basking oysters in the sun.”

    That just sends shivers down my spine.

    And you’re right, Steve Buscemi is a sexual powerhouse!

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Heh. Thanks, Irene. I’m not sure if oysters actually bask, but some day I’ll grab a pair that appears to be in love and leave them on a warm rock somewhere, just to make a point.

      He’s a man’s man, all right – and a ladies man to boot.

  19. Megan says:

    I loved the acid of your tears, being unable to stop using street lingo (word), telling everyone on the street about your hot sex, and yes, as above, the oysters baking in the sun. Great great lines.
    What a sharp humorist you are Smithy. I thought this was a real plea and was happily wrong.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      You talk a straight-up jive, Megan. And that’s an uptown lock. 86. 23 skidoo. Beaujolais.

      Wait, what?

      I’m amazed by the (admittedly small, but still existent) number of people who are getting in touch and asking if everything is OK with the girl I must have met recently.


      I love you, internet.

  20. Becky Palapala says:

    Well, if he is a hero, Steve Buscemi is the most appalling hero I’ve ever seen. I hope they get someone more attractive to play him in the movie.

    Cecelia isn’t blind, by any chance? Maybe from that metal work? Is she a welder?

  21. Dana says:

    Why are there so many new posts again?!? I can’t leave you people alone anymore. I have like 15 pieces to read! Jerks.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I know. It’s crazy. I blame Amazon.com. Shopping is easier than ever, and it leaves us with so much more free time.

    • Gloria says:

      That’s how I feel, Dana. Like, I’m sending private apology emails. This is the weird/unique thing about TNB – the fidelity. Seriously – is there another website that you go to with any regularity where you feel like you’re offending somebody personally (especially a shit ton of people you’ve never even met) if you don’t read what they’ve posted? I like Kevin Smith’s blog, but I guarantee you I suffer zero guilt if I don’t get to it. TNB’s a strange animal.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Oh, man, it’s so hard these days.

        God, that’s the most privileged thing I’ve ever said.

        It’s so hard to comment on the internet.

        I used to try to comment on every post, because I used to read every post. Now there just isn’t the time; there’s so much happening, all the time, that I’m scrambling to keep up and read everything properly, and thanking the Universe for the occasional lull which allows me to catch up. Just about everyone seems to have contributed in the last week or so; I want to give everything a close reading but between the 9 – 5, writing my own stuff, eating, exercising, seeing people, reading fiction, and the hundreds of other things to do… it just isn’t feasible.

        • Gloria says:

          All good points. And I agree. But doesn’t TNB feel a little like a needy girlfriend? Like, you really want to give it the attention it deserves (because, at the end of the day, you want it to keep putting out) but sometimes you just feel like you have to take ‘me’ time.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I think everything changed for me the day I realised there was no onus on me to comment if I didn’t feel like it. Especially if I feel like it’s expected if I want to get laid that night.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Which, Gloria, by association means that we contributors are all like needy girlfriends. Each of us puts out to get the attention we want, and we live off those good vibes for a month until we start feeling needy/horny again, and then we make another deposit into the TNB bank.

          So contributing means being a needy girlfriend and trying to date 300 of them all at the same time. Reading means only dating them. Or something like that.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          It’s like we’re a couple hundred friends with benefits who say ‘Yeah, yeah, it’s totally a casual thing… But you’re still going to sleep over, though, right?’

          Except Joe.

          He’s just pimping us all out.

          He can’t help himself.

        • Gloria says:

          We all have a toothbrush at Joe’s house.

        • Gloria says:

          Incidentally, there are 452 contributors as of today. We’re a bunch of sluts.

        • Simon Smithson says:


          Holy McKnuckles.

          That’s a crapload of contributors.

        • Gloria says:

          We’re going to have to get Joe a new shelf for all his toothbrushes.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          This is Christmas in Daly City:

          ‘More glasses for toothbrushes? Well, just take ’em out back…’

  22. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    “…when we destroyed two beanbags and I broke my wrist.”
    That’s kind of awesome.

    Also, I’ve got cable for the first time since moving to California. With HBO. With Steve Buscemi starring in Boardwalk Empire, which I haven’t watched yet because I’m on the couch with two fistfuls of carbohydrates and a box of tissues. I hadn’t seem a romantic comedy in three years. This could get ugly…

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