Floss more. Why did you bring the fun-size Oral-B Glide all the way to New York if you’re not going to use it once? Will you use the full-size Oral-B Glide you have waiting on the sink back in Los Angeles? Are you for real? Why did you think of this Weather post while brushing your teeth only to rinse your mouth and pick up the fun-size Oral-B and say out loud to the mirror, “But you’re not being serious…”?
Eat more vegetables. Do you realize, Tom, what you ate yesterday? You had coffee for breakfast, two slices of the admittedly legendary DiFara pizza for lunch, a burger from the admittedly legendary though not at all innocent Odeon for dinner, and two Eggo waffles in the middle of the night when you couldn’t sleep partly because you had this acid-type feeling drilling a hole in your chest, a feeling that before, you’d attributed to Bud Light Lime, but last night, well, last night you did have a handful of Limes, but not enough to account for acid?
Laundry. Actually, you did laundry yesterday. But then it got cool out for the first time since you got here so you wore pants because you, like nearly all men, look better in pants than in shorts, and what’s more, feel better in pants than in shorts, and then, on your first fully-dressed night in nearly a month, spilled a michelada all over yourself because you tried to hug a girl in an extremely crowded bar?
Hug less, kiss cheeks more. Did you not know that, in extremely crowded situations, the kiss on the cheek is a far wiser option? Did you not know that the kiss on the cheek is more civilized not just because but because of actual logistical situations like this when clean pants are at stake? They do it in France. You did it in France. Why not here, Tom? You do it sometimes. Why not with Mary Beth? Because with this old friend who’s a girl you’d never done it before? The two of you had your own private cheek kissing virginity to preserve? And you cherish that or something? Are you a prude? Are you open to sexual adventures? Are you living a full life or one that’s only missionary?
Develop competence like all those people in the bar. Yes. Let’s be just like them—nice shirts, shoes that match rest of clothing, total command over the cocktail menu, ability to order name-brand old-fashioneds, lack of visible fatigue in group conversations. Yes. This is all perfect. We’ve got a life plan.
Tom Dibblee is Trop’s editor. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and his nonfiction has appeared in Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Point. He lives in Los Angeles.