Did I Say That, Or Did John Updike?

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Vol 41 Issue 24

All Of Math Teacher's Examples Involve Moon Pies

BAY CITY, MI—According to sources at Bay City Middle School, all of 51-year-old math teacher Lance Stonitch's in-class examples express numbers in quantities of Moon Pies, the snack item consisting of marshmallow fluff packed between round graham crackers and coated with chocolate, vanilla, or banana icing. "Let's say Jimmy and Janie eat 40 Moon Pies in two weeks," Stonitch said Monday. "Their friends John and Joe are coming to visit for two days, and John and Joe eat Moon Pies twice as fast as Jimmy and Janie. How many Moon Pies does Jimmy need to buy the week of the visit, to have enough Moon Pies for everyone?" While most of Stonitch's students have no idea what a Moon Pie is, eighth-grader Trace Crutchfield said, "Whenever Mr. Stonitch says 'Moon Pies,' we just think of that as a generic unit."

Portugal Finally Gets It Together

LISBON, PORTUGAL—To the relief of surrounding countries, Portugal seems to have finally gotten its ducks in a row, sources reported Monday. "Man, I didn't think P. would ever get it together," said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. "But it really cleaned up its act and got its shit straight. Who would've guessed?" Cyprus said that if Portugal can do it, maybe it can, too.

Coke Party Takes A Couple Minutes To Get Going

POMPANO BEACH, FL—According to partygoers, an impromptu cocaine bash on North Ocean Boulevard took three to four minutes to really get hopping Monday night. "This place is like a morgue," said Paul Manero, moments after doing a line. "I wonder if they've got any of those daiquiris left. Oh God, look, things are warming up. Hey Mark, do you have any of those daiqui—know where I got these shoes? I got them at—what's that? Hey, did I tell you I went to Chicago last week? Yeah, it was—hey, what's this song? Chingy? It sucks! This rules!" According to clean and sober sources, the party actually blew all along.

GM's Rising Costs

General Moters announced that it intends to cut 25,000 jobs in the coming years, explaining that it is losing money on every vehicle that it sells in North America. What are the costs of producing a typical GM car?

Medical Marijuana

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld the federal government's right to ban marijuana use, even in states that allow it for medical reasons. What do you think?

Everything That Can Go Wrong Listed

FULLERTON, CA—A worldwide consortium of scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers is nearing the completion of the ambitious, decade-long project of cataloging everything that can go wrong, project leader Dr. Thomas R. Kress announced at a press conference Tuesday.
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Technology Unfortunately Allows Distant Friends To Reconnect

WAYNE, PA—Providing them the tools necessary to bridge a gap that both individuals say they were more than willing to maintain indefinitely, sources confirmed Monday that the advent of modern technology has unfortunately allowed distant friends Mere...

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Did I Say That, Or Did John Updike?

I'm glad we finally got this out in the open. I mean, "That a marriage ends is less than ideal, but all things end under heaven," right? I believe that's a quote of mine, or one of John Updike's. Would you pass me a menu?

What are you going to have? Oh, it's Tuesday; they have the chicken and dumplings today... though sometimes, the chicken here can be a little stringy, I find. I might prefer my usual tomato stuffed with tuna salad. That and a glass of iced tea... Helen? Why, what's the...? Oh, golly.

Of course I love you. Here, drink a glass of water. There you go. Take my napkin. Wipe your eyes. ...There. Now, what's the matter? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Well, that's silly. You're only 51. Look at me, Helen, I'm 57. Besides, "Middle age is a wonderful country. All the things you thought would never happen are happening." That's something I said to Bob last week at the club. We were seated at his father's table, under that one portrait of the old scowler—you know the one—and I said, "Bob, middle age is a wonderful..." Wait a sec. You know what? I think that might have been something I read in Updike.

What? Well, gosh. I guess I don't know why I brought you here... I guess I... How to explain... You know, it's sort of like that part from Updike's In The Beauty Of The Lilies. Do you remember? Where it's Tuesday, and Clarence is driving with his wife, and he says, "Helen, I have been having an affair with my receptionist. I want a divorce." It's in the third chapter, I believe. Although, having given it a moment's thought, it occurs to me I may have conflated that with something that happened to me roughly half an hour ago.

Sit down, Helen. Don't make a scene. Now, truth be told, I feel like a heel taking you to this bum diner. But, then, after all, what was I to do? Throw myself face down and weep? Crash the car into an elm?

Say... This is like Rabbit At Rest. Remember? How's that go again? I think it's, "Most of American life consists of driving somewhere and then returning home, wondering why the hell you went." Actually, no. That was a thing I said.

I said it to Stevie before his commencement. I remember... We stood below the old sycamore. The late spring sun filtered through the leaves and dappled his shoulders like golden coins, or something majestic—like something from the Greeks, or Shakespeare's tragedies. I put a hand on Stevie's shoulder, and I said, "Well, Stevie, most of American life is the"—the quote I just said. Then I said another quote, one of Updike's. I said, "It's not the flowers you don't send, Stevie." It had something else to it, I think.

Oh, waiter? When you get a chance, we're ready to order. Yes, I'm going to have the stuffed tomato, an iced tea, and another napkin. My wife will have a vanilla milkshake. Vanilla milkshake. See... Here on the menu? This. The vanilla milkshake. That's right. Helen? Did you want anything besides a milkshake? How about a plate of fries? You'll enjoy those, Helen. You need to eat. Of course, "People who tell you what to do always have whiskey on their breath." My quote.

Rabbit, Run? I don't remember that being in there.

Aw, Helen, I'll always love you, but we're just... We aren't... You remember us then, Helen? Driving to the office each morning, babying the furniture, cooking indifferent meals—we fell into bed at night like a revelation. I remember the first time I saw you; I was beside my father at the Brauers' picnic. With your hair back and a hundred tiny hairs loose, you had a sort of coronet in the sun. And your shoulders were slightly stooped, but I swear to you they were golden, and Le-Le Brauer said something or other, something about how I had to try Zabar's, and I said, quoting Updike, I said, "I love those fancy groceries. I like the little weenies." That's Updike. Helen, I'm positive that's Updike.

Lookee, our food. Mmph, delicious. What? Oh yes, waiter? We had a vanilla milkshake, as well.

"Say, could you hand me the pepper, Helen?" What's this? Oh, I see. No, I wasn't asking for pepper, I was quoting from an Updike story. Not sure of the title, but it's in The Afterlife And Other Stories. Have you read that? Oh, you ought to. Updike writes prose the only way it should be written. That is, ecstatically.

No, I haven't looked at John Updike's blurb on every Nabokov book published by Vintage. Why?

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