Private Magazine

Month: April, 2014

Naughty Secretary Wishes and Caviar Dreams


The office wall clock strikes 8 a.m. I’m at my desk, polishing up an article about the Alden Senior Citizens Gospel Choir, with the working title “Never too old for Jesus, Christ.”  My editor just might like it. The draft left him speechless. Rubbing my bloodshot eyes, I consider making a fourth trip to the coffee pot.

Five days ago, I got dumped.  Upside-down Polaroids litter my desk. I lay my head in my nicotine-stained hands, letting myself sink onto the keyboard.  I”m an overdramatic age 23; post-work self-medicating with NyQuil and Mike-a-Rita’s seemed like a logical breakup strategy.

I feel like absolute shit.  There’s shouting in the hall.

“James, James! You said you were going to help decorate my Christmas tree with Grandpa – why can’t you now?”

“Because, Natalie, I have to go out of town.”

“You’re seeing that slut-bag in Lockport,” Natalie accuses, her voice echoing in the corridor.

Natalie, who covers the South Buffalo edition, has had web content editor James Pirazski ensnared in her high-maintenance lair for far too long. I feel bad for Pirazski. He’s not bad looking.  In fact, he looks a lot like Ethan Hawke circa ‘95, and he definitely doesn’t know it. Natalie makes him wear sweaters that she picks out. Between her unrelenting demands and un-sexy loafers,  I have no idea why Pirazski sticks around. She definitely doesn’t put out. It’s tragic.

I rummage through my paper clip drawer, looking for loose change. Opening the door of the Editorial Department., I head out for some Pop Tarts. Actually, the Pop Tarts are a cover; I want to engage in my routine flirtations with Pirazski.

“Hey, Pirazski,” I whisper in a low, phone sex operator tone. “Good morning.”

“Ugh! Don’t you dare pay attention to anything she has to say!” Natalie shrieks. A button pops off of her embroidered snowman cardigan, and flies across the room. I bend over and get my Pop Tarts out of the vending machine.



“Listen, you should really come to the party tonight. You owe it to yourself.”

I swivel around in my desk chair. Stella, the North Tonawanda reporter, has a sympathetic face behind her glasses.

“Yeah, I really haven’t done anything fun in two weeks. I’ve been depressed.”

“Well, it’s Jill’s husband’s birthday,” Stella says. Jill is the Lockport editor. “They want everyone in the department to come.”

Propping my high heels on my desk, I stroke my chin. “Hmm, you’ve got a point there. Yes, I think a party is just what this girl needs.”

“What do you think, plant? Should I go to the party?” The plant on my desk doesn’t say anything.

So after the workday is done, I start getting presentable for the Editorial Department Soiree. Getting Presentable means that I’m blazing in my garage, fantasizing about the fact that Pirazski will be there, along with Jill’s 35-year-old brother-in-law, who I’m pretty sure has the hots for me.


I park my dilapidated, rinky-dink Chrysler on top of a curb. Jill  lives on the East Side/Cheektowaga border with her husband, Mitchell. It’s his 32nd birthday. His brother, Harry, has been pursuing me heavily. We went out once; he’s a 35 year-old Chippewa DJ going through a midlife crisis. I don’t know why I’m so mean to him, though. That’s no way to treat someone who takes you to Mother’s.

I’ve been writing a blog for the newspaper’s website about my dating life, and wrote one about Harry.  It said, and I quote, “My date drove a really flashy sports car with techno music blaring out of it … He stood without a coat in the snow, hair gelled into an intergalactic nightmare. I could smell his vanilla incense-meets-motor oil cologne from 25 yards away.”

Harry called me and said he was flattered that I wrote about him.

When I walk into Jill and Mitchell’s kitchen with a Cookie Monster birthday balloon, Harry is hyperactively waiting for me.

“Let me make you a drink, huh?!” He starts shake shake shaking away with a cocktail shaker, in True Religion jeans.

I mutter an unenthusiastic “sure” and go into the living room in search of Pirazski. He’s lying on the couch, strumming a guitar, singing along to “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.”

“Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage…..Yow!”

I jump up on the couch, and join in, horribly off-key.

Now I’m naked, nothing but an animal, but can you fake it, for just one more show?  Woo! Don’t you just love Billy Corgan, Pirazski? I always had a crush on Billy Corgan.”

“Oh, yes, I could see that…” Pirazski drunkenly stares into my eyes, then off into the distance.

The liquor cabinet is cracked open. There’s Bacardi Melon and Bacardi Raz and some Svetka. We pour shots into glow in the dark glasses and bitch about our boss. We toss streamers and balloons around the room, munching on Cheeto’s. Between the booze, I smoke Harry’s Marb 72’s. Suddenly, Natalie calls out an insidious idea.

“Should we play Truth or Dare?!”

“What is this, fifth grade?” I declare. “Oh wait…actually, that’s a great idea.”

All of us drunken professional colleagues are in agreement- Truth or Dare it is. Harry adjusts himself in his True Religion jeans. Stella is doe-eyed and innocent, sipping the same cocktail as earlier. Natalie has had three drinks, and is therefore drunk.

“Now Pirazski, truth,” I slur. “When was the last time you and Natalie got it in?”

“I’ll take a Dare,” Pirazski says, looking down at the floor.

“Well I dare you to…I dare you to, um…”

“If you can’t think of anything, you have to take the Dare!” shouts Mitchell from a bean bag chair. His pants are on his head. “Three….Two…One…”

“I dare you to – kiss Natalie!” It is Pirazski who makes this proclamation.

Without a moment to waste, I have already taken hold of Natalie’s chubby face and am kissing her with a generous amount of effort. Flash bulbs from at least three different phone cameras go off. I’m not sure how long the moment lasts, but I’m fairly certain that Natalie is kissing me back.



The following Monday in the Editorial Department, Natalie and I are trying not to look at one another. This is hard, since our desks face each other. Suddenly, our boss, our editor, emerges from his office.

“Ok, team, what was going on with last week’s edition?” My editor clutches his bald, perspiring skull. “There were misspellings in the Sound The Horn section, and a photo of a flower garden next to an article about a Tonawanda house fire. They are going to ask me about this at today’s Quality Control meeting and I’m not going to know what the heck to say.”

Jill’s collection of porcelain clowns stare at me from her desk. Natalie has set her knitting project aside. We all sit in silence.

“What do you have to say for yourself, plant?” The plant on my desk doesn’t say anything.

“Ok team, I”ll be back after Quality Control,” my editor declares, shutting his office door behind him. Then, sticking his bald head out again, he adds, “Nice piece on the Alden Senior Citizens Gospel Choir.”


Six months have passed, and both Natalie and Pirazski no longer work at the newspaper. Natalie got fired, and Pirazski left to start his own web design company. I hear through Jill that they’ve broken up.

Pirazski sends me a LinkedIn message one day out of the blue. It says, “You should really have your own website or blog. I can help you if you’d like.” We make plans to meet up at Cole’s to discuss business.

I find long-lost Pirazski sitting alone in the corner of Cole’s, looking  mellowed-out in a thermal. We have a few pints of Guinness; a friend of his materializes and buys us a round of Jack Daniels shots. I’m feeling buzzed as Pirazski carries on about domain names and ad space. Is this a date? Could be; Pirazski picks up the tab. We head towards the door, and Pirazski walks me home. The names of our exes are never uttered, and we don’t talk about the newspaper. It has turned out to be a pleasant evening.

I go to sleep, wake up, check my phone. A monsoon of texts, one carrying Media Content, awakens me.

The first thing I see when I open the first message is a dick pic. Then, I scroll through texts from Pirazski. “Whenever you were at the coffee machine, I’d check out your ass from my office.” His office was a stone’s throw from the coffee. “I thought about you many times while I played with myself. Do you like fishnet stockings? Your ass always looked so good in those tight pants. Do you think I’m fuckable? Do you like to role-play? You can be the naughty secretary.”

This is me we’re talking about. Dick pics and sexts are not a turn-off. What immediately offended me was Pirazski’s assumptions, and completely premature behavior. Why didn’t he just tell me these things at Cole’s? Oh wait, he was trying to be “professional.” But obviously, he has zero intention of helping me build a website. That was his ‘in,” his card to play, to see if I’d give him a blow job before things even got started.


If I had a dollar for every time a man in the Buffalo newspaper business came after my ass instead of my talent, I’d be a goddamn millionaire.

I stare hard at my face in the bathroom mirror. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I should write for porno mags like Playboy and Hustler.

Things never did get off the ground with Pirazski, after I ignored his unsolicited dick pic. I wonder where he is now….Probably married to that slut-bag from Lockport.







Travis’s Face


The time is ten years ago. My short-shorts clad self is pedaling frantically on a Huffy. I have gone in pursuit of a cigarette.

The city is looking mildly pleasant today, I think to myself. I’m home for the summer from college, back to my parent’s abode. A hostage situation is going on down the block, and a SWAT team has closed off the street. Mr. Jenkins from the East Side is pushing a pilfered shopping cart full of cans to Consumer’s Beverage. The rattling glass bottles create music in the air, like wind chimes.

And then – I get a whiff of those familiar fumes. Someone is smoking nearby! I ride up to the skinny, 5′ 4” dude in cargo shorts puffing away in front of Consumer’s.

“Hey – can I bum a cigarette?”

“Yeah, sure,” he replies, removing a Marb Light. “I’m Travis.”

We begin to chat. Travis has  half-closed stoner eyes and a receding hairline. His Molson Canadian t-shirt hangs off his scrawny physique. I learn that he is 24 (old enough to buy booze!) and lives nearby (in his own apartment!)

“Do you need a job?” Travis asks, exhaling a final plume. “We’re hiring here.”

Well, yeah, I guess I do…. Just something for the summer until I return to school. But this Travis fellow could just be the cherry on top.



I am given a navy blue Consumer’s tee, and a name tag. My boss, Seth, is a 30-something lamebrain who hates black people and girls.  He mostly sits in his office, which overlooks his dominion. When people come in with a rattling cart full of empties, he shouts “fuckin’ scumbags!” and pops in a juicy wad of Skoal.

I’ve come to know the regulars, including Janelle, who lives next door. One time she begged me to blow in the breath allyzer installed in her car, so she could leave for work. She also has Seth and/or Travis deliver Mike’s Hard Lemonade and cigarettes to her house. Travis was gone for an hour one time, and returned saying she “took off all her clothes and started reenacting soap operas.”

That story gives me a mild pang of jealousy. Why doesn’t Travis ever do anything romantic, like take me anywhere to eat? Our after-work  “romance” has consisted of me going to his house to smoke pot and watch Roseanne. Despite my flirtatious efforts and the shortest of shorts, which even made Seth shake his head in dismay, Travis falls flat. He is usually slumped over the counter, chewing on chips.

“So, Travis, what are we doing tonight?” I flutter by, tossing my hair. He looks up – a chip crumb is stuck to his lip.

“Let’s go to Bill’s and play beer pong,” he says.

That has become the plan for tonight.  I’m upstairs in my bedroom getting ready when I hear the familiar sound of Travis’s car. It has a broken muffler or something, and it’s so loud you can hear it coming a mile away.

“Oh, he’s here, your man,” my mom says, rolling her eyes. Travis beeps his horn. My mother always said to never go out with a guy who beeps his horn.”

“Oh, whatever!” I say. “I’ll be back later! Late. So don’t bother waiting up.”

We go to our co-worker Bill’s house. Bill is a decent looking 25-year-old with manners, and I think he has a crush on me. But I’m more interested in Travis, for whatever reason. I’m wearing a shredded-up denim mini skirt and white tank top. Forgot to put a bra on. After a few rounds of beer pong, I’m three sheets to the wind and have tossed all regard for getting home safely to the wayside.

The three of us go sit on Bill’s porch and stare off into the dark night. Travis pops some pills from a prescription bottle. The two of us decide to leave, and go back to Travis’s house, muffler vroooom-ing all the way.

Travis has a pitbull named Max, who starts barking as we creep up to Travis’s second floor apartment. We have to creep, because Travis lives above his mom and her boyfriend. His mom’s boyfriend usually stands in the front yard with no shirt on. He makes me mildly uncomfortable.

“Yay!!!!” I squeal, taking my shirt off and whipping it around my head. “Woo!”

“Calm down…calm down…Daddy’s tired,” Travis mumbles, schlepping across the kitchen floor to his cupboard full of E-Z-Mac.

We both pass out on the couch in the middle of a Cops marathon, and wake up to Seth’s gruff voice on Travis’s answering machine.

“Hey, fucks,” he says. “Ann’s parents are looking for her. So if she’s there, you might want to call them.” Click.

Just then, I hear someone rapping on the front door. Travis jumps up, and peers through the blinds suspiciously. I hear my mom and dad shouting “Annie!” from below.

“Oh God, my fricken parents showed up?” I say.

Travis has decided to hide in the corner, behind a stack of Maxims as tall as him. I slip into my flip-flops, knowing full well that I reek of multiple Labatts.

“They called the cops – they called the cops! They called the cops?” Travis is walking in circles like a maniac. I peer out the window. A police car is parked down the street.

“No, they didn’t, a cop car is just coincidentally parked on your street – there is always a cop parked on your street, hello!”

But I am not getting through to Travis. Does he feel I am deserting him? I don’t want him to dump me… The whole time I’m collecting my belongings, Travis is silent.

Once I get home, I plop my weary body down at the kitchen table with dry toast and a Vitamin Water.

“You don’t even have a bra on!” my mom says. For the first time, I see the time. The clock tells me it’s only 8 a.m.

I finish the toast and go back to bed.


The next day at work, Travis gives me shocking news.

“Your dad was here, and he called me a drifter,” Travis says.What the hell is a drifter?”

“Someone who wanders around, aimlessly,” I say.

“Fuck that. Fuck this. I’m moving to Colorado with Max,” he says.

And he did. The next week, he is gone, with cash that he stole from Consumer’s through bottle return fraud. I am completely torn apart inside, tearing up all my issues of Cosmo with the sex tips I’ll no longer need.

“Why???????” I yell. “I cannot go on!”

I’m in my bedroom blaring Britney Spears “Toxic,” drinking a bottle of Steel Reserve. Bill had to get it for me at work. He seemed concerned.

“Life is meaningless!” I say. “Meaningless as fuck.”

I’ve finished all 24 Steely ounces of beer and have moved on to my parent’s boxed merlot. In my frenzy, I consume a giant cup, wishing there was a bottomless fountain of everlasting liquor. Lying face down on my bed, vomit rises up in my throat and I throw up all over my white comforter. It’s nothing but an ocean of red wine all over my white comforter – and I’ll be damned if it didn’t look like Travis’s face.