Bryan Joiner

Why then I

Tag: imaginary conversations


ME: What the fuck is up with your mosque statements?

BO: I firmly believe in the right of all citizens to practice religion, but I worry about the wisdom of this project.

ME: Are you fucking kidding me?

BO: Are you swearing at the President of the United States?

ME: Are you pandering to a nebulous group of people who aren’t going to vote for you anyway? Are you shying away from a “teachable moment?” Are you blowing this non-issue spectacularly?

BO: Well, Bryan, you said it. It’s a non-issue. I have bigger things to worry about.

ME: So you can afford to punt on this one?

BO: I’m not punting. I said what I believed.

ME: If you said what you believed, I’m the starting quarterback for the Patriots.

BO: Something happened to Tom Brady? (he’s angry and calm in that way of his)

ME: You do realize the mosque isn’t a mosque, isn’t at Ground Zero, and that there’s another mosque already in existence down the block?

BO: I’m aware.

ME: So why is this community center unwise?

BO: I didn’t say it was unwise. I say I questioned the wisdom of the decision.

ME: You realize people can’t stand that, right? I mean, it was fine right after Bush—it was like having C-Span after you’d been watching TV fuzz for eight years. The worst part is that everyone knows you don’t believe what you’re saying, and you’re botching even how you say it.

BO: I have a difficult job.

ME: I’ll say. And you went through hell to get it. But you knew exactly what you were getting into. All those comparisons to Herbert Hoover people leveled at you starting, oh, on January 21st, 2009? You are making those people look like Nastradamus.

BO: You mean Nostradamus.

ME: I most certainly do not.

BO: Do you know what LBJ said about Herbert Hoover?

ME: Enlighten me.

BO: He said, “I thought Hoover was a victim of sadistic people and economic conditions over which he had no control. He was unusually equipped to be President.” I’ll be Herbert Hoover.

ME: Damn.

BO: Were you saying that because you were impressed, or because of the pun it made with “Hoover?”

ME: (shamed) The second one.

BO: I thought so.

(He walks away, disgusted.)


I speak to a scholar

Nicholas Asleep is a scholar, and I spoke to him.

ME: Hello Nicholas Asleep, scholar.

NA: I am the scholar Nicholas Asleep.

ME: That’s what I said.

NA: It is true, that is what you said.

ME: Welcome to the interview.

NA: I feel welcomed. You are very welcoming.

ME: I appreciate the compliment. You are too kind.

NA: (hurt) I do not believe I am too kind. (thinks, speaks deliberately) I do not believe I am kind enough.

ME: Why do you think this? You have a reputation as a very kind man.

NA: I try to be a very kind man. But sometimes it is difficult. (pauses) Sometimes I think unkind thoughts.

ME: What type of unkind thoughts?

NA: I sometimes agree to speak to people with whom I wish no association.

ME: Like me?

NA: No, other people. (pauses) I am enjoying this conversation.

ME: You’re too kind.

NA: You said it again.

ME: The last time I spoke to you, you were working on a book. What’s going on with that?

NA: The book has been published and turned into a film which is shown in film school for its artistic value, and of which a book of criticism has been written, by me.

ME: I last saw you like two months ago.

NA: These things have happened quickly.

ME: Didn’t the books win Nobel prizes?

NA: Yes. The film too.

ME: They have a Nobel prize for film?

NA: They invented it to honor this work. They are too kind.

ME: Now you said it.

NA: I did, but they are too kind. It has actually been flagging my health.

ME: Really? How?

NA: Their kindness has forced me to sit through interviews like this, which are bad for me.

ME: Hey!

NA: I meant because of the chair. It is bad for my back.

ME: Would you like to sit on the floor? (I suggest this to mean we will both do it)

NA: How dare you ask a scholar to sit on the floor!

ME: I just thought I was helping…

NA: I am kidding. This is… fun.

ME: You are mischievous.

NA: (now actually hurt) I do not believe I am mischievous.

ME: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.

NA: (smiles) I am mischievous.

ME: Ha. This IS fun.

NA: I wish I agreed.

ME: What?

NA: (smiles)

My conversation with Yoga, the Gym, and Running

Don’t know how much zip this one has, but I feed my fans. (That’s actually a line from a Kool Keith show I read about once where he threw fried chicken, in baggies, to the audience.)

(We enter mid-argument)

ME: But I already paid you $30. What else do I have to do?

YOGA: You know what you gotta do.

ME: (sigh) Fine. (Begins to beat the crap out of myself, Fight Club-style.)

YOGA: Don’t you miss a spot. (ominously) You know what happens when you miss a spot.

(I redouble my efforts until I am a shell of myself)

YOGA: You look good. That’s enough for today.

ME: (totally battered)

YOGA: You don’t get that shit at the gym.

(THE GYM pulls up in an Escalade, wearing a sleeveless Under Armour shirt and shades. Basically it’s The Situation.)

THE GYM: You called me? (sees me) Hey man, you want a ride?

ME: I’d love one—

YOGA: He most certainly does not.

(THE GYM and YOGA are having a staredown when RUNNING passes right through them.)

RUNNING: Hey guys!

YOGA and THE GYM: (simultaneously) FUCK OFF!

YOGA: (in consensus) Terrible for your back.

THE GYM: (same, but hurt) Why doesn’t he just use the machines?

(As this is happening, FLAG FOOTBALL, SOFTBALL, and ULTIMATE FRISBEE show up. They are all in their uniforms, and they’re wasted.

FLAG  FOOTBALL has terrible posture, SOFTBALL’s a little tubby, and ULTIMATE FRISBEE is lithe and pretty. SOFTBALL and ULTIMATE FRISBEE are both women.)

THE GYM: What’s up guys?




FLAG FOOTBALL: Check this out! (takes out a flask and puts it to his lips, but RUNNING comes by again and drinks it like a sippy cup)

RUNNING: …thanks guys what was that vod…

SOFTBALL: Asshole!

FLAG FOOTBALL: Play a real sport!

ULTIMATE FRISBEE: I dunno, I think he’s kind of hot. I like the skinny-guy type

FLAG FOOTBALL: (boiling rage)

ULTIMATE FRISBEE: Not as hot as you, babe. (she is obviously lying)

(everyone has apparently failed to notice that YOGA has been doing a headstand for some time now)

ULTIMATE FRISBEE: (quiet enough that no one notices) Or that.

ME: Hey guys.

FLAG FOOTBALL: What the fuck happened to you?

(I nod toward YOGA)


FLAG FOOTBALL: (angrily) He can’t hear you.

YOGA: I hear everything you’re saying.

THE GYM: I can do that too! (springs out of car, attempts to to headstand, does a pratfall)

SOFTBALL: That’s so funny!

THE GYM: Do you want to get a drink! And then maybe… (as cheesily as possible) a workout?

SOFTBALL: Hell yeah!

(the drive away just as RUNNING is passing back through)

RUNNING: …hey guys that wasn’t water…

FLAG FOOTBALL: FUCKER! (runs after him around a corner)

YOGA: He’s pretty hot at that guy, huh.

ULTIMATE FRISBEE (to YOGA): No, that is hot.

YOGA: (stands up in some unbelievably smooth transition) You wanna go back to my place and fuck?


ME: (shocked, trying to say something while they make sex eyes at each other) More like… ohm yeah. (shakes head at self)

(they look at me like I’m stupid)

YOGA: (to me, menacing again) I’m not done with you.

(I hail a cab and we pass RUNNING increasing his distance on FLAG FOOTBALL until FLAG FOOTBALL stops to talk to some sorority girls. I open the window to yell something at RUNNING but the cabbie tells me to close it because the air conditioner’s on.)

My conversation with Steve Nash

(I’m walking down Broadway and it’s so hot I can barely think so I drop under an awning and realize that I’m standing next to Steve Nash)

STEVE NASH: Brutal today, huh?

ME: Yeah. […] HolyshityoureSteveNash

STEVE NASH: (chuckles) Ha ha. Yeah.

ME: Are you aware that you are very possibly the coolest person in the world?

STEVE NASH: (chuckles politely but, you can tell, slightly warily) I don’t know, there are a lot of people in the world.

ME: Okay. But top… 10. 12.

STEVE NASH: (rolls eyes up, like he’s counting people in 20th story windows, then continues as if by instruction) Higher.

ME: 48. 50.

STEVE NASH: (bulges eyes at me)

ME: 30.

STEVE NASH: I can live with top 30.

(We high five)

ME: Hey remember when you Tweeted that picture of your breakfast?

STEVE NASH: From China?

ME: Yeah. That was awesome.


ME: I could go for some food. Hey, let me ask you a question. That was all eggs and sausage and shit. I remember when I read that you don’t eat sugar. That’s true, right?

STEVE NASH: (nodding)

ME: Okay, so. How the fuck do you do that?

STEVE NASH: (laughs)



ME: I call bullshit on this entire enterprise. You’re misleading the public.

STEVE NASH: (suddenly trying to grasp if I’m serious)

ME: This… this is an outrage.

STEVE NASH: Now you wait just here…

ME: (whips out Pixie Stix)

STEVE NASH: Whoa. Careful with that.

ME: (tears top of one off) I’ll do it.

STEVE NASH: You just carry Pixie Stix around?

ME: (grabs him by the face, jumps, pours it in his mouth, he grimaces and spits it out like it’s salt.)

(I start running.)

STEVE NASH: Get that guy!

(By this time there are a few people watching, and a couple guys stand in front of me, blocking my way. One of them, like several others around us have taken out cell-phone cameras and are taking video.)

(STEVE NASH approaches me and is kind of menacing.)

STEVE NASH: What’s your problem, bro?

ME: I just…

STEVE NASH: You just WHAT? (He’s standing right over me now)

ME: …

(In one quick, effortless motion, he pantses me, revealing boxer shorts with vegetable prints on them.)

STEVE NASH: Nice squash. (Everyone laughs.)

ME: (tries to run, falls over shorts)

STEVE NASH: Have a nice trip. See you next fall. (everyone is dying now.)

ME: Yeah well… you’ll never win a championship.

STEVE NASH: (suddenly downtrodden) Stop it.

ME: Oh, no snappy comeback? You never could play defense.

STEVE NASH: (angry again, pulls a handful of things from pocket, starts throwing them at me) Yeah… but I can play offense.

ME: Ow! Ow! Wait a second.

(STEVE NASH smiles)

ME: Those are MENTOS!

(he guzzles a handful of them, sprints away)

ME: (yelling) Top 20!

(he gives a thumbs up; 20 minutes later, a stray Mentos thwacks me in the head, but he is nowhere to be seen)

My conversation with Summer

I went downstairs this weekend and as soon as I was out the front door, my phone rang. It was Summer, the season, who is a dude:

SUMMER: Hey, man! What’s up?!

ME: (immediate wince from heat) Oh Jesus, man. This is a bit much.


ME: (Sigh) This again.


ME: …


ME: …


ME: I got news for you, budy.

SUMMER: What’s that, homeboy?

ME: You ain’t all that. Nor are you a bag of chips. And you are especially not Cape Cod Russet Potato Chips. [Ed. note: best chips ever.]

SUMMER: What the—?

ME: I mean sure, I love going to the beach and yeah, there’s nothing quite like a nice, full day in the sun to really set your mind at ease, really point it back in the right direction after you’ve been writing about dolls and shit for six months.

SUMMER: Alright!

ME: But man that feeling passes quicklyyyyy… and then you’re just annoying as hell.

SUMMER: You’re being mean, dude! Go jump in a pool!

ME: See that’s just the thing. It’s not like I can just go jump in a pool. I live in the city.

SUMMER: So crank up the AC! Hang out in the house nekkid!

ME: Hmm. That’s not really my thing.

SUMMER: You’re a bummer, man. Why don’t you go to the Hamptons or something? Everyone loves the Hamptons!

ME: See, now that’s a problem.

SUMMER: The Hamptons is the greatest place in the world! Southampton! East Hampton! Amagansett! Montauk! They got monsters there, bro!

ME: Don’t I know it.

SUMMER: All of New York City’s richest and best people, all hanging out in one place and having fun! What could be better?

ME: Moronsayswhat.


ME: Exactly. What could be better? Pretty much anything.


ME: We get the point. Now you need to get the point. The Hamptons is hell on earth. Literally—if Satan himself was to appear on this planet, I think it would be at some outdoor bar in Southampton, dressed in pink chinos with a polo shirt and a sweater around his neck, complaining about the slipping fee for his yacht.

SUMMER: Whoawhoawhoa. Aren’t you from freaking Martha’s Vineyard?

ME: Yes. But even for tourists, there’s a world of difference between them. And I grew up there. I, like, hate conspicuous displays of wealth or class privilege.

SUMMER: Says the guy who lives in Boerum Hill.

ME: Guilty as charged. But I didn’t take the easy way here, did I? I’m no lawyer or banker or something like that.

SUMMER: You want a medal or something?

ME: Shit no. It’d burn my skin today.

SUMMER: Man, you’re a dick.

ME: I get that all the time.

SUMMER: You wouldn’t be so pissed if you were in the Hamptons. Or Nantucket.

ME: That’s just low. Even for you.

SUMMER: You’re right, man. I’ll make it up to you. Go to the deli. I’ll call the guy and have him put a sixer of Pacifico on my tab. Bring it over to Bedouin Tent, have a falafel sandwich outside and read or write or something.

ME: Seriously? That sounds awesome. I can dig this.

SUMMER: No problem man! Hold on a second. (I hear him make call on another phone, explain situation.) It’s all set up! Sixer of your choice! Rock on dude.

ME: You know what? I think I do love summer. Rock on!

SUMMER: Alright!

ME: (enters deli) Hey, I think Summer just called? The season? I can get a six pack?

COUNTER DUDE: What in the FUCK are you talking about? I think the heat’s getting to you.

(I just buy a six pack and head over to Bedouin Tent and start reading when I get a text message from Summer that says “ahahahaaha,” but it was only like 80 degrees that night, which was really nice of him, and truth be told I do kinda love summer, which I drunk-texted later. He didn’t respond.)

Remember to check out my Tumblr for this and more stuff.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost

I came home last night after my 10 o’clock—yes, 10 p.m.—flag football game to find my 31-year-old self (aka, me, last year) on my futon checking his email. The lights had been off and I hadn’t seen him, and I threw my bag on the futon without looking, and…

2009 Bryan: Watch it!

ME: (startled) Aaaaah!

2009 Bryan: Hi. Love what you’ve done with the place. Nice shirt.

ME: (looks down at tie-dyed uniform) Thanks.

2009 Bryan: You wear tie-dye often?

ME: It’s my flag football uniform.

2009 Bryan: You play flag football?

ME: Yep. This is the third season.

2009 Bryan: Nice. What does the lady think?

ME: The who?

2009 Bryan: (uneasily) The lady… what does she think about it?

ME: Oh right, her. Um…

2009 Bryan: Oh.

ME: I’m sorry dude. I know you were excited, especially right about now.

2009 Bryan: (clams up)

ME: It’s just…

2009 Bryan: …

ME: We were still acting a little “young.”

2009 Bryan: I’m trying not to act young!

ME: It’s the fact that you have to try at all. You’ll get it, eventually.

2009 Bryan: So now all we do is write blog posts (turns computer around, shows screen to this blog) and play flag football? And rearrange the apartment a bit?

ME: Yeah, you like?

2009 Bryan: I guess. I don’t see how I’m going to come up with this.

ME: A lot can happen in a year if you let it.

2009 Bryan: (angry) What does that fucking mean?

ME: It means that now that you’re not hiding out in your party palace in Astoria, you can actually grow up.

2009 Bryan: Oh for Christ’s sake.

ME: You know, one of our good friends say we talk in general terms about religion more than we realize.

2009 Bryan: You’re not like some crazy Christian or anything?

ME: (makes sign of cross) No.

2009 Bryan: Shalom.

ME: L’Chaim.

(2009 Bryan’s phone rings. I pull out my phone—the same one—and look at the time. It’s the girlfriend, on the way home from work. It’s a conversation I don’t need to hear, so I go take a quick shower and come back to find him finishing up. And then.)

ME: So?

2009 Bryan: She’s going home. How do you screw this up?

ME: It’s been two weeks. Easy, buddy.

2009 Bryan: You are condescending.

ME: Take my advice: Just do whatever you’re going to do. Nothing is going to change. You’re going to be back here in a year anyway.

(I hear keys in the door and am startled. The door opens, and it’s 33-year-old Bryan, wearing a snappy suit and sunglasses. He carries himself well, but there is an odor of booze on his breath)

33-Year-Old-Me: (Declarative statement:) Boys.

2009 Bryan: Nice suit.

ME: No fucking way.

(33-Year-Old Me just slaps me lightly on the cheek, like a soccer player, and moves over to the desk, where he sits with a dopey smile on his face and starts to talk to 2009 Bryan.)

33-Year-Old Me: Hey dude.

2009 Bryan: What’s up?

33-Year-Old Me: Now listen up. 2010 Bryan knows what he’s talking about, mostly. Just ride out whatever’s going on here until it’s over. But for God’s sake, enjoy yourself.

2009 Bryan: He just told me about that.

33-Year-Old Me: Told you about what?

2009 Bryan: Mentioning God.

(33-Year-Old Me snatches laptop from 2009 Bryan, types furiously into Google until this picture is showing)

33-Year-Old Me: Now do me a favor and shut up for a second. (2009 Bryan would not normally take such talk, but frankly, he’s entranced by the suit. The line from Catch Me If You Can echoes in my head: “They were all looking at the pinstripes…”) That was just S—— on the phone, right?

2009 Bryan: How do you know all this?

33-Year-Old Me: I had the conversation, remember? She said she was just going to go home after work, and you said that made sense, because you have to work tomorrow and it would be too late?

2009 Bryan: More or less.

33-Year-Old Me: Dude! Go over there! Live in the moment!

2009 Bryan: But I’ll be tired… (Both me and 33-Year-Old Bryan look at him like: Get over it.)

33-Year-Old Me: (with dopey smile, takes cigarette out of pocket and starts tapping it on the desk) Live a little dude. Go surprise her with flowers or something.

2009 Bryan: (entranced by cigarette, doesn’t even mention it) Okay.

ME: Get excited, man!

2009 Bryan: Okay! (gets up, walks to door, pulls out out phone to make a call as door closes behind him.)

ME: Wow. That was good.

33-Year-Old Me: Tell me about it.

ME: (in appreciation) Nice suit, man. Why are you wearing it?

33-Year-Old Me: (starts taking it off) Thanks. It was mostly for effect. Scare the kid, you know?

ME: Oh. We own it, though?

33-Year-Old Me: You’ll find out.

ME: We smoke?

33-Year-Old Me: Nope, also for effect. (crushes cigarette in hand) Want to get a drink?

ME: I don’t know, I’m honestly pretty tired.

33-Year-Old Me: (mocking) Live a little! (and then) Ha. Me too.

ME: I’m gonna hit the hay. You gonna take the futon?

33-Year-Old Me: Oh Jesus, this thing?

ME: Will I still have it in a year?

(He can’t answer because he’s already snoring. I try on the suit jacket. It looks nice, but I’d probably rather buy a couch.)