What Are Words For
18

How To Order A Croissant

Ordering a croissant is a perilous enterprise. It forces lovers of French pastries between the Scylla of pretension and the frying pan of provincialism. Actually that’s understating the case: The perils are not two, but manifold.

If you attempt the proper French pronunciation, krwa-san, and succeed, you’ll seem snobby. If you trip over the guttural R, as so many non-native speakers do, you’ll seem pseudointellectual.

If you go for the namby-pamby middle ground, kwa-san, replacing the guttural R with a W, you’ll sound terrible… and namby-pamby.

You could avoid these dangers by pronouncing the word in a straightforward American accident: kruh-sant. But then you’ll quite possibly become the [...]

15

What Comes After The Twink?

The first time someone called me a twink, it was 2003 and I was standing at the urinal in the basement of a laser-and-smoke-filled club in Toronto. I was 19, rail-thin and still in my excitable stage of post-coming out euphoria, which, in my case, meant wearing cut-off jeans and raising my hands above my head when I danced. That night, I had gone to the club with two new friends of mine, one of whom, an aspiring actor, kept telling me about this amazing drug, "poppers," he had just tried. Like most of our Friday evenings, we spent the night flailing our gangly limbs on the dance floor to [...]

2

I Was A Love-Letter Ghostwriter

Nine years ago, I answered an ad on Craigslist and was hired by artist Jana Leo de Blas. Jana was a tiny woman of indeterminable age with a dandelion puff of hair. I arrived at her bright, high-ceilinged studio in the old I.S.C.P. building in midtown Manhattan; she had built a platform in the middle of the room. I climbed the few steps, settled at the desk with my laptop and coffee and tried to remember some poetry to quote in case I choked. That morning was the start of a weekend of open studios, but Jana wanted to be sure we didn’t limit ourselves to visiting art fans, so [...]

0

Inside The Minds Of Men: Junot Diaz In Texas

It was 6:17 on a hot September evening and I was already in the front row. In Houston, you don’t want to bet against the traffic. I had breezed by three girls sitting on the sidewalk waiting to get in—they didn’t have tickets for Junot Diaz, so they hoped for the best. There’s an article floating around about how Facebook makes you all depressed because your life isn’t as fabulous as the newsfeed you see everyday, but that’s ridiculous. Thanks to Facebook, I got my ticket to the reading at the Brazos Bookstore within minutes of them being on sale. So there I was, not depressed at all, armed with [...]