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A dutiful party host attempting to encourage mingling recently paired me with a newly arrived guest. After a few introductions he left us alone. The guy--I think his name was Bill--was wearing a Tar T-shirt. That seemed like a good place to start. "So, you like Tar?" I said, pointing to his shirt. "Nah," Bill said. "I was walking over here just now and this bird took a big shit on my shirt. [The host] pulled this out of his closet." Oh.

--Jeven Hammon

Dear Reader,

On a crowded southbound 36 bus last Wednesday, the little girl in front of me was trying in vain to get the attention of her mother, whose T-shirt read "Don't Ask Me 4 Shit." From a plastic handbag, the woman took out a wooden spoon with pieces of orange yarn glued to the top and a magic-markered smiley face in the concave. Thinking this was a toy for the girl to occupy herself with, I was surprised when instead the woman held the spoon in her lap. Then I noticed the words "Mr. Spanker" written down the handle.

--Paul Stuart Henkel

She smiled shyly and mumbled something as we passed on the sidewalk in Uptown. I turned back. She wasn't emaciated or hard looking. She was dressed casually, like a young mother on her way to the grocery. "What did you say?" I asked.

"Would you like a date?" she repeated. She said it with a smile so sweet it could have been an old friend asking how I was.

"No thanks," I answered. "But thank you for asking," I added, in a crazy effort to make her feel OK.

Starting to walk on, I turned back. "On the other hand," I ventured, "I have an extra dollar if you'd like it."

"Thanks," she said. "I can get some fries down the street."

--John Jenkins

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