Slouchers: The Novelization
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Read between December 15 - December 23, 2020
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Spooner rollerblades in a circle and pumps his fists much like the rollerblading champion he is. Or wants to be. His dream is to one day become the Roller-blading Champion of Seattle. It’s Spooner’s one way out of this parking lot. He doesn’t know how else to escape this home he’s created for himself, walled off by bustling roads and buttoned-up losers on their way to their white-collar McJobs.
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“I believe that the entire premise of Jaws was based on the Kennedy assassination,” he finishes.
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One of Willow’s all-time cinematic influences—more so than even Truffaut, whom she has yet to see—is the herky-jerky camera movements from the Zapruder Film, so influential on MTV’s documentarian, vérité style: exciting, loose, impulsive.
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Beneath his robe, Wes wears a ripped T-shirt recently purchased from Old Navy. He would have ripped it himself, in all the right places, but he figured he’d just let the Chinese workers do it themselves.
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Royce smokes his Camels “straight.” Kicked out of the Army after forcing the citizens of Baghdad to memorize at gunpoint the lyrics to R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”, he’s back in Seattle and living it up in the parking lot.
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Skip is the king of the Cassette Underground. He prefers Elliott Murphy to Bruce Springsteen, Richard Verlaine to Fleetwood Mac, Jobriath to David Bowie, the Shins to the Beatles. College radio isn’t progressive enough for him.
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God, Willow thinks. She should have known this mumblebutt wouldn’t pay in cash! And that he’d be using a traditional wallet instead of a large rubber band stolen from the vegetable section of a grocery store!
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This was true … for instance, Cliph, a former member of the Lost Boys, was recently arrested and is now in jail for a scam involving Columbia House Records and Tapes. One million records for one penny. It made the international news. The poor man is doing life.
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In his right nostril, Toody has inserted one foam ear plug. No one dares question why. Spin magazine had already written about Toody’s special look, calling it “thrift shop hip.”
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Toody’s band is called That’s Your Problem and it is now swinging on the “flippity-flop.” The previous band’s name was Jim’s Flavor-Aid. They are loud. Crushing. Extreme. And they have only six days to practice before MTV arrives to choose one band from the entire Seattle area—and only one from the thousands—to be launched into super stardom in the wake of Nirvana’s colossal success.
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He plans to wear a “Corporate Magazines STILL Suck” T-shirt and brag that he’ll soon be dating top junkie models.
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Jim Gordon in Rolling Stone had deemed it a great, historical move forward for women. Three women died for the cause, which made it all that much more significant.
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Willow is friends with every Gen X’er within them. This is the way it works in Seattle in the early 1990s. No doors. If a friend wants to chat, they just walk into the next apartment and do so. A den of slack. No doors. I just said that.
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Vicky is into bands who combine gypsy jazz, Delta blues, Klezmer, Theremin horror and anything involving medieval instruments. Vicky only cooks “light” but can’t lose the weight she gained in the 1980s from all those fat-free Dove bars. Vicky draws fliers for alternative bands and staples them to telephone poles. In most cases, she’s sleeping with the lead singer.
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Who has no bumper stickers? Only those with zero concerns about the world’s complexities, that’s who …
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Pausing, eyes to the ceiling, he unloosens
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his tie knot. Eyes back on Willow, he says: “I’d like to know if you’d allow me to take you out for dinner tomorrow night at Lé Chíc.” “Ooooooh,” says Skip, in a fancy manner. “Only the hippest new restaurant in the city!”
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“Business,” says Mr. Straight. “Finance. Commerce.” All nod. “And what did you do before Business and Commerce?”
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“I liked your show,” Willow had said to Toody. “Thank you.” “Does your band play any instruments?” “Not yet.”
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“You don’t think Aquaman gets laid?” asks Topper, speeding past on his black board, jumping off the curb and performing a 360, landing at the very spot from which he launched, as if nothing was ever attempted and nothing was ever gained.
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ascended because it’s too difficult for Willow to walk with both scraping the
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I think this Safe Sex party might just fall into the category of ‘better in theory.’” Willow laughs. They have an entire list. “Like picnics.” “Or piano bar dates.” “Like playing Cheap Trick on your crush’s answering machine.” “Onion loafs.”
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“Air mattresses.” “Complimentary continental breakfasts.” “Dry humpin’.” “Destination weddings.” “Fake snow.” “Giving a shit.” “Yeah,” says Willow. “Giving a shit.” “Yeah,” agrees Vicky. “Amen, sister. Giving a shit.”
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Please don’t be a ring, Willow thinks. She hates gold and despises the subjugation of the hundreds, or however many they are, forced to work more than a few hours a week, or however many hours, in the African mines, or wherever the hell country they’re located. There was once a Quincy episode about this. Silver on the other hand … “I made you a mix. From songs I really enjoy listening to ...”
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But her documentary isn’t about her sex life. Who would be interested in that anyway? It’s really more about her friends and how they are changing the universe.
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“No. It didn’t even occur to me until we just stepped off the elevator that this must be the place! This place of Business. Of Commerce. Where … they create … finance.”
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“By … gently suggesting that we modernize. That we leap into 1992. And not chase customers out who might want Aerosmith on ‘inferior’ compact discs. They’re here to stay, Skip. We’re going to learn that. Together.”
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“This is the most popular food in Seattle!” brags Mr. Straight. “Korean BBQ. You ever hear of this stuff? It’s so new, Korea doesn’t even have it! You grill it yourself! Indoors!”
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He smiles. “Dolphins.” “Saving them?” “I worked for the tuna industry.” “Killing dolphins?” “I wouldn’t put it that way. But if dolphins happened to be … sacrificed for our children’s nutritious tuna sandwiches, well, then … I can live with that.”
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“Cheer up. You’re earning a living. You’re now an adult. And facing adult problems. Speaking of which, fire Skip at your earliest convenience. Over and out.” He laughs. “That was a joke, by the way.” “It was?” asks Willow. “Um, no. Fire him.”
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“Should we go in there and help her?” asks Bake. “But … this is hard for me to say …” He gags. “Work?” asks Topper. “You mean, like go in there and help her … by working with her?” “Yeah. Go in there and help her with the … work.”
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throwing sparks!”
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Another woman? With red hair? Is that who she thinks it is? Red hair aflame with fame? Standing casually with a microphone by a limousine? “Oh my god,” Willow mutters. Tabitha? From the TV? No last name needed? (Or allowed because of legal reasons?) Is she here because I just worked eight hours?
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“Very good,” says Tabitha. “You know, I’m recognizing a lot of my younger traits in you. Initiative. Perseverance. A sense of entitlement that has no bearing on reality. I love it.” With that, she points to the driver, a middle-aged man wearing a chauffeur’s cap that reads “Mister Loder.” He appears none too happy with his assistant role.
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“You still have so much growing up to do,” Willow says. “You can’t stay like this forever. Will you ever be able to talk without a distortion box?” “Yes,” he says, through the distortion box.
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“More than okay,” says Willow. “Very okay. And he’s worked super hard for this!” “Even at the expense of your relationship,” says Vicky. Leave it to the mediocre-looking woman to tell the truth!
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They nod. Tabitha has a point. Toody really is dumber than a flounder on a bed of ice in Chinatown and about just as talented.
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“Because of this,” says Ben, pulling out a sheaf of papers. “Papers that prove that you … did something wrong … at the company.”
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It’s the world premiere of Reality World: Seattle. The episode is airing on MTV and playing on five large television screens scattered around the store—and throughout the world.
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“Wake, I’d like you to meet two of my very dear friends,” says Brendan. “This is Steve and this is Jeff.” Wake nods to both. They, too, are wearing striped Oxford button-downs, fully buttoned. Maybe it’s a new look? “We’re headed to Palo Alto and then maybe back up to Seattle. To change the world.” Wake remains silent. “There’s an entire new reality out there, Wake,” Brendan says. “But I think you already know that.” Wake touches one finger to his forehead. “Is that code?” asks Brendan. Another finger to Wake’s forehead. “A yes?”