Bird’s Nest In Your Hair

Part II Chapter One

Helen was rather pleased with the way things were going at this point in her life. She also wondered how much of her success had to do with simple good luck. She had certainly been born at the right time. If Helen had been born fifty years earlier (a strange thought, but she returned to it often) she’d be washed up by now. At what other point in history could a stripper, practically a whore, she sometimes liked to tell herself, at what other time could a woman like her have become as successful as she? She was a millionaire. Many times over, as she’d been able to claim for some time now. She’d been more than lucky, of course, although it is to those who consider themselves lucky that the spoils often go. She was plucky as well as lucky, taking charge of websites for scores of other young women, and she made a great deal of money from some very small percentages accumulated over time. This wasn’t exactly hard work, but it was shrewd, and showed a great deal of foresight. Indeed, Helen’s foresight went well beyond mere financial concerns, and stranges as it may sound, it wouldn’t be going too far to call it prudence.

It went to her plan of getting out of what she usually just called ‘the business’. When she first started dancing naked for money, she had to overcome the shame she naturally felt by facing up to the public eye. All those eyes in the audience seemed to merge together and form one giant, compound eye that bore into her, unblinking. The worst was being recognized during the day. She might be shopping for groceries or walking in the mall when she’d catch a smirk or even wink from some guy who’d been in the club the weekend before. Her life since then had been one effort after another to escape that eye. She felt she had achieved that when she had first made enough money to retire in comfort, but it wasn’t long before she realized that this wasn’t enough. She couldn’t forget the shame she had forced herself to endure, and then it wasn’t enough to escape the public eye; now she had to prove herself worthy before it.

At that point it was less an imaginary, compound eye that concerned her than the more commonly recognized “eyes of society”. To have married in her mid 30s was a real victory in this regard. This had been a concern of hers for a long time. She had first learned about Tom while reading a short article about Videosyncracy’s 20th anniversary in an issue of The Stranger that had featured a cover story about her. Being featured in the same issue seemed providential; she sensed right away that they would be able to help each other. “Twenty Years and Counting” had been the title of the article, and almost all of it was devoted to Tom and the owner. According to the story, they’d built the store up gradually over the years and could now claim that Videosyncracy had more titles than any other store west of New York, including Los Angelos.

Tom was rather good-looking, she noticed, and from the article it was obvious that he knew what he was talking about. He’d been in charge of building up a collection that had been noticed by local celebrities, and even people from Hollywood who were either living or visiting the Northwest. David Lynch had been quoted as a patron of the store. Since Tom was also in the entertainment business, she knew he wasn’t likely to be snobbish about her profession (as had been the case with most of the professionals she’d met). So she’d sized him up in a couple of visits, decided it was worth a go, and then let everything else take care of itself.

Honesty was for her the supreme value, hypocrisy the very worst of sins, and this she vowed to maintain as she began her pursuit – courtship, as it were. Which didn’t mean that she couldn’t be sly, or dole out the information as it seemed appropriate, but all that she’d seen and learned over 20 years of hard living convinced her that this was so. This attitude had made her money, and now she was becoming a well-known figure in the community as well.

Hence her radio appearance that morning. She pulled her Audi into the garage underneath the building and made her way up to the lobby by the elevator. After checking in with the receptionist (straight, black hair that appeared to be soaking wet, fingernails to match) Helen stood off to one side of the lobby with her arms folded in front of her.

A serviceable lobby. Not as luxurious as the bank or the spa she visited with ever increasing frequency, nor as run-down as the bars and courthouses she’d seen so much of in her salad days, but with elements of each. The one lonely receptionist sat in a cubicle big enough to seat four women shoulder to shoulder. The cedar paneling on the front and the sides matched the wainscoting that ran all the way around room, obscured only by a sentry of poorly maintained potted plants in each corner. Above the paneling the walls had been painted a metallic gray that went badly with the wood siding. On those walls were framed glossies of the management and staff for both the television and radio station, an odd mixture that included both the conservative looking board members and the various darlings of television and radio – television anchors who’d had airbrushed what cosmetics couldn’t fix, the local afternoon talk show host who liked to think of herself as Seattle’s answer to Oprah, and in the lower far right, the radio personality Helen was on her way to see, wearing a silly looking grin to match the tee-shirt printed to look like a tuxedo. The arm of the little lamp over his framed picture had been bumped out of position, illuminating a kind of halo on the wall above him.

A Mike Raffoni Morning was the name of his show, the seeds of which had been sown in spoofs he’d started in his standup days a dozen years before: some fairly competent goofing on Jerry Springer and Howard Stern (the former had always been a big hit; he’d developed voices for various guests in addition to the host himself – on his knees for a midget, bottom lip folded out for an imbecile), although in the end he found himself creating anew what he’d first intended to make fun of. Somewhat like the old story of the man who’d imitated a pig well enough to beat a real pig in a contest at the county fair. After realizing he could make a living just by imitating a pig, he then went around oinking and squealing at county fairs the rest of his life, and so became . . . the man who sounded like a pig.

In fact, Mike’s own gravelly baritone was about as far from a squeal as one could imagine and not the least bit phony; to the contrary, it seemed to Helen and many others to be the sound of authenticity itself – self assured, seldom stumbling, and genuinely solicitous of others, as he would be of Helen this morning. Had all the voices down, too – black, Italian, southern, Indian, whatever – each of them mildly insulting and endearing at the same time. And the music he played going in and out of commercial breaks was what was hip from any era: Pearl Jam or The Shins might be followed by Frank Sinatra, followed then by Tupac or the New York Dolls. For better or for worse, it was radio the way people seeemed to want it, and a large share of the morning radio audience listened to him faithfully every day.

After a minute in the lobby one of the producers, Sal, opened one of the double glass doors on the right and greeted her warmly.

“Sorry you had to wait, Helen. Good to see you.”

“Sure,” smiling back at him, and then followed him to the elevator on the other side of the doors. He made small talk on the way up, giving her a verbal run through of what to expect when she got into the studio. Of course she’d been there before, and knew to expect surprises as well.

“Mike is about to start up the prank phone call segment, and after that we’ll go to commercials. A few minutes after the hour – ten to twelve minutes from now – it’ll be your turn.”

“Should I just hang out in the dressing room?”

“You could, but I think you’d be more comfortable in the studio. Nobody’s in there now. Depends on what kind of introduction you want…”

Mike made the decision for her as soon as she walked into the studio, waving her over with a sweeping wave of his arm, all the while maintaining his focus on the phone call as the entire studio crew listened in.

He sat behind a large desk in the shape of the letter J, breaking into a grin his audience would never see. On the other side of the long side of the desk were an easy chair and a couch, much as one might expect on a TV talk show. There was, in fact, a camera on the other side of the studio, so that all shows were in fact taped. Mike himself dreamed of the day he too might have his own late night show – first local, but then, who knows? – but for now he had to settle for the one stationary camera and the surveillance level video produced as a matter of record.

Helen instinctively checked the couch as she made her approach.

Mike continued waving until she sat down, still toying with the poor victim on the phone – one of the Sea Gals, who was beginning to sound pretty desperate.

He tried his most soothing, paternal baritone to placate her.

“Honey, I’m just asking you what Sherry asked me, there’s no need to get upset.”

“But I’m telling you, I keep telling you that I talked with Sherry yesterday and she didn’t say anything about pasties-”

“But she mentioned the private party after the game-”

“Maybe…”

Helen was familiar with the gag, performed every other Friday for the morning commuters. Between the cable TV networks, Bart Simpson, and more than a hundred years of actual teenage boys, it seemed amazing to her that a professional cheerleader couldn’t figure out that she was being goofed on. She had to credit Raffoni though; the man could certainly disguise his voice.

“Well, maybe Sherry forgot.”

“But we’ve never done anything like that … there’s just no way.”

“Donna, are you afraid to do this? Be honest now.”

“No, it’s not that I’m afraid-”

“You can tell us…”

“I just don’t want to do it-”

“But it’s part of your contract…”

“Oh no it isn’t, and what would you know about my contract anyway?”

“I mean the contract that Sherry signed with us, I mean…”

“I don’t think so, and I’m going to have to talk to Sherry about this…”

“Sure, talk to Sherry. Talk to Paul Allen if you want, but we really don’t see the big deal in all this. It’s like a little pom-pom, and it goes right over your nipple, like a pasty . . .”

Like a pasty? It is a pasty!”

“OK, it’s a pasty, but it’s tasteful. Call it the ‘tasty pasty-’”

Donna started to laugh, then stopped herself. “I don’t know, I don’t think so…”

“You have to admit it would be a fun time. After the game and all.”

“Maybe for you guys, but it doesn’t sound like fun to me.”

“Whaddya mean? After the game you just head over to Rick’s…”

“Ricks? No way. No way…”

“What don’t you like about Rick’s?”

“You’re talking as if I’m some kind of stripper or something…”

“But you are, aren’t you?”

What?”

“A kind of … you know what I mean …”

“No I am not. Maybe you can check with some of the other girls, but I have never once taken my clothes off…”

“Which other girls, Donna?”

“I shouldn’t have said that… I can’t really say…”

“Look, Donna, do you know who the party is for?”

“No, I don’t … Not that it matters, ’cause I’m not doing it.”

“Ah c’mon, I thought you were in on this-”

“Didn’t say that!”

“Well it’s for Michael Raffoni and his staff. Does that mean anything to you?”

“What? The gross radio guy?”

“Whaddya mean ‘gross radio guy?” Do you know who you’re talking with?”

There followed a brief pause

“Uh… Er, um…”

“Donna, who do you think you’re talking with?”

“No way. No way … please don’t tell me…”

“Oh yeah, Miss Sea Gal, you guessed it.”

“Oh gaawwwd! How embarassing…”

“Hey Donna, we’ve got somebody here who wants to talk with you…”

“Ohh noooo…”

There was then a moment of static, and then the voice of another young woman.

“Helloooo!”

“Oh my god, Sherry, why?”

“Which other girls, Donna?”

Donna sputtered on her end of the line

“You are in trouble now, woman.”

There was another pregnant moment, and then the two burst out laughing.

“Sherry, Jim is going to die!”

Puh-LEEZ, Donna, you didn’t say hardly anything, and I seriously doubt Jim listens to the show anyway. Not ‘til we told him, anyway. You two need a little loosening up before the wedding anyway…”

Helen looked over and saw the guys in the control booth were gaining a little more control over themselves, and then Mike, still obviously amused that the gag had gone as well as it did. He let the women continue talking on the line for a minute before breaking for a commercial, and then off-mike filled Helen in on the background for the call as a little introductory small talk. As the women were winding down he turned back to the mike.

“Right now we’re going to take a quick commercial break, but we’ll be back in a few to talk with Helen St. Helens about some of her projects, possibly take some phone calls. Now don’t be a dick – support our sponsors!”

The commercials sounded out over the speakers while they waited: Galinski Tire Service, Wednesday’s Logger (‘Seattle’s biggest gay bar’), and the Aldera Herpes Treatment Plan.

Entertainment in any form – it had always felt like home. She was liked being around what to outsiders was such a bewildering mix of control panels, wires, speakers and monitors. It all contributed to an atmosphere she felt grounded in. It was so much like making movies down at the studio.

One of the assistants put a glass of water on the table beside Helen as Mike slipped out of the room for a quick break. When he returned – just seconds before the yellow light above his desk came on – she could tell he’d had a cigarette, and tsk tsked him as he crouched into his chair. Or maybe it was something more – he sniffed twice just a split second before the green light came on, shrugged, and then started in with his best announcer man voice.

“This morning we have with us Helen St. Helens, as in Mount St. Helens, reigning queen of Seattle’s erotic film factory, the Media Madame, a veritable volcano of desire, there is a fire burning down here at the station … no, wait, that’s my pants … Welcome, Helen, it’s good to see you again.”

“Can’t help you with the burning sensation, Mike.”

“Hyeah! You know what I mean, Helen. You are so good looking!”

“Thank you, Mike-”

“Lemme ask you something-”

“Yes?”

“Do you like the back door? Cause that’s all I can think about right now, looking at that tight … you know what I’m looking at…”

“I’m sitting down, Mike.”

“So you are! … but you know what I mean. When you came in.”

She laughed and shook her head ‘no’, from left to right and back, and didn’t say anything more for a long second.

“Well, good morning to you, too, Mike.”

Mike didn’t say anything, Helen didn’t either, and they sat there staring at each other past a pair of waiting microphones.

“You’re not gonna play, are you?”

“Nnnn … no.”

“You are gooood looking though. How old are you anyway? Is that all right to ask? You don’t mind telling us, do you?”

“Not at all. I’m 35.”

“And that’s an honest 35, isn’t it?

“They’re not dog years, if that’s what you mean.”

“They are definitely not dog years … hyeah! How do you look so good? My old lady is in her mid twenties, and she doesn’t look this good. Jeeze, I’m gonna get killed for that…”

“I try to take care of myself. You have to in this business.”

“Okay, sweetness, whaddaya got for us this morning?”

“Well, we’re throwing a party in a couple of weeks, and so the place is going to be packed. It’ll give all you guys out there a chance to meet the girls. And girls too, everybody’s invited. You just have to have a ticket, which you can get if you go to the website and put your name on the list. And of course we have a new movie coming out this month, so we’ve got a lot to celebrate.”

“You people work so hard.”

“You know, we really do, Mike.”

“I mean, hard. Sally, whaddya make of all this?”

Sal leaned over the control panel behind the glass and spoke into his mike. “Sounds like a good time, boss. But let me get something straight, Helen. I’ve heard a rumor that you’re thinking about closing down the studio.”

“Where’d you hear that?” asked Helen.

“Yeah, as if,” said Mike. “What else would you do?”

“Just checking,” said Sal. “Didn’t want to stir up controversy.”

“So how would you feel about getting back into the strip scene yourself?”

“Gosh, I’m just trying to make room for the younger girls.” She made gosh sound as gentle as possible. She also wanted to be careful, as she wasn’t quite ready to go public about leaving the business. Usually these attempts were greeted with scorn by the likes of Mike Raffoni, and she knew that she would need his help in the future. So she stayed mum and talked about the younger girls.

“Too bad. Anyway, the party. We’re talking about the old warehouse aren’t we? Where you make all the movies.”

“Yeah, and for all the people out there that like to complain, we have a permit. You know how it is, Mike…”

“Do I ever. What is with these people? You think they’d know a good thing when they see it. You’ll be bringing all kinds of business to the neighborhood that night.”

“I know. I’ve tried to explain…” she said, shrugging.

“So tell us more about it.”

“We’ve still been making movies there, as you know from my last couple of visits, but we’re doing a lot more outside now. Most everything we do is on a location somewhere. And with the new equipment it’s easy to just pick up and go wherever we need to.”

“How big is it in there?”

“It’s big.”

“So do you have the sets and everything there? What are you going to do about that?”

“They’re there … you’ll just have to see it, Mike – you’ve gotta come down. Check it out.”

“Where you gonna put the bar?”

“We’ll have a couple. The stage and the dance floor-”

“So no stripping, right? Not if there’s booze there.”

“Sorry, Mike. We’ll have at least 50 beautiful girls there, but with their clothes on. We’ll have music, and it’s going to be a great time. And of course we have no policy on what people do before they come to our place -”

“Hyeah! We’ve gotta do something like this for our staff party this summer. Are you still gonna be there this summer?” he asked, turning to Helen.

Helen shrugged but didn’t say anything.

“Enough of the damn cruise. Sally, you gotta get on that. What am I paying you for, anyway?”

“Yeah, boss. I’m all over it.”

“All right. Another commercial, and then we’re right back. Don’t be a dick by changing the channel. Support or sponsors.”

All in good fun for the morning commute.

After the radio interview, Helen drove over to the Athletic Club on Pine Street at the edge of the downtown. There was a gym one floor above street level, where patrons could be seen through a row of huge, plate glass windows, riding bicycles that never went anywhere and climbing staircases that would have had Sisyphus begging for his rock back. There was a spa on the top floor, which she visited once or twice a week after her morning workout. Usually it was earlier in the day, but on the day of such a public interview she’d planned ahead and scheduled herself an appointment.

First the pain, then the pleasure; life was certainly filled with both. According to the personal philosophy she’d developed over the last few years, it was the regulation of each that gave life what little meaning there was to be had. She told herself this often, and it came in handy now as she stretched her legs straight out in front of her on the Nautilus machine. She let out a low hiss through a clenched jaw as she exhaled slowly, knuckles white from squeezing the grips at her side. The machine hadn’t been set for a lot of weight, but it was a high number of reps that gave her the firm tone that Mike had spoken so admiringly of this morning.

She had her admirers at the gym as well – Raoul, or ‘Pebble’, for example, one of the beefcake trainers who strolled the floor, stopping by this or that station, exhorting club members to give that little extra effort which alone stood between themselves and such a body as his. The Pebble was living proof of the well-being real that commitment to physical fitness and close, successive readings of Men’s Health can bring. He stopped by Diana as she was working with leg weights, kneeling down on one knee and placing one elbow on the other, the better to stare intensely into her eyes and say, “Push it, baby, harder now…”

Of course she’d heard those words before. She had said them herself, of course – many times. She tried not to think about it too much, but scrunched up her nose instead and, in fact, pushed harder.

“That’s it! You rock, baby! You rock!”

“Phh… phhhhhhhh!”

“Oh yeaahhh!”

After a customer had once pointed out the slight similarity in appearance, he’d taken to thinking of himself as a shorter version of the Rock, and had been nicknamed ‘the Pebble’ by some of the staff for his folly – 5’6’ in his tan, suede, over-the-ankle hiking boots, carefully left unlaced at the top to allow for greater mobility. The shoes were real enough. Pebble worked during the day with a group of framers – mostly remodels this time of year – and he thought they made him look pretty tough in the gym. Helen liked him for his consistently upbeat attitude. He’d hit on her a couple of times when she had first started frequenting the gym, and he’d taken the rejection in stride. Just as he took the drubbing over his nickname, which he bore with quiet equanimity. Helen had asked him if he’d ever wanted to get in on one of the orgies on film, but he’d balked at the idea of being caught naked on film. Between the gym, his construction jobs, or the club he worked at a couple of times a week as a bar back, somebody was bound to find out sooner or later. And of course, once it was done, it was done forever. “I’d still like to get married someday, maybe have some kids, and I don’t want them running across something like that….” Helen said that of course she understood, and by the way she said it Pebble knew she’d meant it.

Helen, though she hardly regretted turning him down, still admired Pebble for his carefully maintained physique; his biceps, triceps and his quadriceps; Pebble with his gorgeous gluteus maximus all shiny in black stretch pants; Pebble walking the floor in a rag of a tank-top, dusty rose from red after years of washing, armholes big enough to provide a nice view of the lateral muscles rippling under a thin layer of flesh stretched taut across his ribs. Why had she refused him? He often asked himself; was it his height? He banished these thoughts by turning to Helen.

“Coming in a little late this morning, aren’t you?”

“Yup – I was on the Raffoni show earlier.”

“Yeah? Too bad I missed it. We can’t play it in here anymore.” He grinned wide and glanced up at the ceiling in the direction of the speakers, through which the latest eighteen year old sensation could be heard wailing away.

“Understandable,” she said, as a man at least seventy walked up in a purple spandex leotard to use the machine.

Helen grabbed her towel from the seat and stood up straight, stretching her arms back behind her. Both Helen and the man in purple spandex actually waited two or three seconds before Pebble realized they were waiting for him to clean the seat. Which he did, dutifully, with a nearby spray bottle and a couple of quick swipes back and forth. She turned to make her way over to the machines in front of the window while the Pebble rolled along beside her.

“We’ve got a big party coming up in a few weeks – you’ll be sure to come to that, won’t you?”

“Oh, yeah, but…” he wasn’t quite sure how to say what he was thinking. “I’m going to go, I really want to be there, but … no posters or flyers this time, okay?”

“Pebble! I wasn’t even going to ask. We’ll be handing stuff out this weekend around some of the other clubs – decks of cards, that sort of thing – but I don’t think we’ll need to do a lot of advertising.”

After grabbing a magazine from the nearest bin she climbed up onto the stair-climbing machine and slowly began the ascent to where she already was. Pebble took a lingering look at the clear, beautiful winter morning outside, holding onto the towel around his neck with both hands. Maybe he’d head over to the climbing wall after work. “OK, Helen, I’ll see you around!”

Helen puffed out a “So long!” as he turned away. She stayed on the machine for her standard 30 minutes before hurrying off for a quick shower. “Now for the good part,” she said to herself, slipping into a thick white robe.

The pleasure part was in the spa upstairs, which had a lobby that was also fitted out with plate glass windows providing an even better view of the city, the Seattle Center and Queen Anne hill in particular. Her treatment began with a 45-minute full body massage performed by a remarkably big breasted (big all over, really, but it was the breasts that really seemed to signal her power) Micronesian woman named Hannah. The massage room was private, where all four walls were painted a soft orange and the smell of lavender and citrus floated freely about, the flower from various lotions and the fruit from two candles burning in each corner opposite the entrance. The table itself was on a diagonal to give the masseuse room to maneuver, although this put the lines of the room just a little out of kilter.

About three minutes after Helen had slipped under a towel, Hannah came in to the room. She put her long hair up in clip and then washed her hands in the small sink before squeezing out a little lotion from one of the dispensers on the side table, then rubbing her hands together while holding them up to the heat lamp above Helen’s back bared below.

When she put her hands on Helen’s shoulder they were almost hot to the touch. After this initiation she began rubbing her back in two large ovals, a shared-set configuration in which the left hand was just behind the right as they swept (a little more lightly) across the spine. Helen let out a low groan because it felt good, but also as a sign of appreciation.

“I wish all women took as much care of themselves as you do,” said Hannah. And then added as an afterthought, “I wish I did.”

“It came with the job description,” said Helen. She wasn’t sure how much Hannah knew about her semi-celebrity status. “You must get other dancers in here,” she mused.

“A few,” answered Hannah.

After ten minutes Hannah had so firmly rubbed her back under a lamp so warm that it was becoming difficult to tell where her own flesh ended and that of the masseuse began. The sense of pressure dwarfed the slighter sense of touch. From Helen’s upper back she went up and took a left onto her shoulder and upper left arm, supporting it with her own hands while squeezing the biceps and triceps in an alternating rhythm that flopped the entire limb back and forth. These motions were repeated in successively faster stages as she made her way down through the forearm, the palm, and then each of the five fingers. When she had finished she slowly returned the arm alongside Helen’s torso, as carefully as she might put a vase back on a shelf, removing her touch only when the arm was at rest. She repeated these motions on the other arm, and then treated her legs to the same attention. With both thumbs cocked hitchhiker style Hannah pressed hard under each cheek of Helen’s derrière – a trick she’d picked recently picked up from her own chiropractor. She then had Helen turn over, which was quietly accomplished in a state of mind hovering just above sleep. Once in a while an intermittent groan could be heard above an old Enya CD playing in the background. “More intimate than most sex,” Helen thought. “Certainly more intimate than sex on the set.”

Hannah accomplished her work on the front in comparatively short order. She finished by massaging Helen’s scalp with an oil treatment, letting her fingers trail away from a few last strands of hair in a motion that made Helen think of her cat giving her a final brush with his tail before walking away. Hannah told Helen to take some time for herself and then quietly left the room.

After the massage she slipped back into her large white robe and went over to the lounge, where she was given a cup of Rooibos tea while she waited for her cosmetic treatment. She was given a facial, a manicure, and a pedicure, and then another facial just around her eyes before leaving four hours after she’d first walked in. It had been a full day.

Comments

  1. Sorry I haven't commented recently, forgot when I had time, and now busy – and tired. Will come back to it soon, though have fogotten the characters.

  2. Is something ever going to happen? Is the writer ever going to feel something? Or the reader?

    I know all this has a moral purpose, but I felt a certain distaste reading about Mike and Helen at the radio station, and then my mind started to wander and I thought about better practical jokes, when a colleague removed all the furniture from the room of a friend who was bringing his girlfriend back, when my boyfriend rang up a restaurant he'd been fired from in the voice of the Japanese manager and told the workers to take all the food out of the fridges. Later I started thinking about spas, and how my niece's boyfriend paid for her to have a spa for her thirtieth birthday before he dumped her, and how my own boyfriend had said he'd bought me a massage, perhaps for Valentine's Day, but had fortunately spent all his money on lottery tickets.

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    Well, the radio show and the massage just happened. I felt various things while writing it, and feel some of those same things while rereading it, and sometimes new things. Of course I defer to your judgments about your own feelings.

    You're wrong about whether it has a moral purpose, I think, which might be one of the problems with the novel on the whole. I tried to write, as a modern Master once claimed he wrote, with "no moral in tow", but I am not Master and have failed to pull it off.

    Those practical jokes are indeed very good, but unfortunately I didn't think of them while writing this scene. At least they're here in the comments section.

    Isn't that funny? A bad novel whose most redeeming qualities turn out to be the things that other people say about it, and when I'm lucky enough, write about in the comments section. How does that make you feel?

    Back to the first questions – I'd suggest you to just quit reading. I myself have no problem dropping a book that is going badly; just last week I dropped a couple after the first few chapters. What's the point in finishing this if you're not enjoying it? Or maybe you can develop another novel in the comments section, beginning with these practical jokes and your lousy ex-boyfriend. That would really be something!

    Then when people ask how you ever got started, you can point to these comments, and then even Bird's Nest will be somewhat redeemed, a lousy work whose true purpose is fulfilled by serving as the catalyst for yet greater works.

    A happy ending for all concerned.

  4. I was planning to stop reading for a few days anyway because my feelings had been hurt.

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