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Lessons

by David Galef

 

Make sure you have on clean underwear in case you get into an accident and are found mangled by the roadside.

Brush your teeth and gargle before leaving the house. Someone might kiss you without warning.

It never hurts to say please and thank you, even if someone’s humiliated you. Particularly in that case.

Tell them no twice before agreeing. A seemly reticence can be attractive in many ugly situations.

When you fall, be damn certain someone’s nearby to catch you.

If a skirt makes you look broad about the hips, remember that a maternal flair is fine in some circles. Know your audience.

If you’re going to read in public, choose your book carefully. Many covers are downright misleading.

Never carry a purse without money or a weapon in it, even if he’s the one paying or making threats on your behalf.

Cover your mouth when you yawn. We already have one Grand Canyon.

Always leave some food on your plate, no matter how hungry you are. Use your fork to swish around what’s left to make it look like more.

Make sure he loves you, through some simple test. When your hair finds its way into his mouth as you kiss and he spits out the strands, for instance.

Proper posture makes you appear taller. That can be an advantage when you’re wearing a dominatrix outfit.

If you’re going to entertain, learn how to cook. As you lose your looks, simple soups won’t cut it.

The later you marry, the more catching up to do, not that the finish line is much of a goal.

Children are half-pain, half-pleasure. Determining which half is which may take many years.

To die with dignity is a victory. Play to win.

 

David Galef has published extremely short fiction in the collections Laugh Track and My Date with Neanderthal Woman, extremely long fiction in the novels Flesh, Turning Japanese, and How to Cope with Suburban Stress, and a lot in between. His latest book is Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook. Day job: professor of English and creative writing program director at Montclair State University. Website www.davidgalef.com, Twitter handle @dgalef.

 

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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Lessons”?

I wanted something like Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” with a different vibe. But the first two versions didn’t seem harsh enough, so I showed it to a woman who’d been through some of this with her mother. She made three suggestions for turning it nastier.

News

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

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