Easy Things


DARYL sits at his computer with a look of frustration on his face. After clicking his mouse, Daryl walks over to a blank canvas that is prominently set in the room. He picks up a brush, but has no idea what to paint. After a few moments,he picks up his phone and turns to the kitchen. He calls RUTHIE.


Ruthie is preparing a dish comprising pasta and sauce. There are tomatoes, onions and garlic on the counter near a cutting board. A pot of water is on the stove, but she has not started the burner. There are frozen breadsticks on a baking sheet. Her phone rings, she sees that it's Daryl, and she answers.

RUTHIE: Hey. What's up? I'm just cooking some dinner here.

DARYL: What do you know? I'm also just cooking some dinner.


Daryl is cooking the same meal as Ruthie, but neither of them are aware of this. He has the same ingredients and is following the same routine, a step behind Ruthie's progress.

RUTHIE: Well, it is that time of day. Anything particularly wonderful or horrible happen today?

DARYL: Well, it's my life, so you know some bizarre combination of those two things went down, and what you see and hear depends on which side of the fence you're on.

RUTHIE: I'm on the side of the fence where Ruthie lives. Ruthie has a pony. Well, she will have a pony. She has room for a pony. Well, she will have room for a pony. I'm sorry, please continue.

DARYL: No, that's cool, if you wanna do the pony thing for a bit, we can do the pony thing.

RUTHIE: Nah. You sound like you're in one of those moods where everything is going well for my pony, and then, suddenly, my pony has Zika. Or whooping cough. Leave my pony out of this. What happened?

DARYL: You know those shorts, they're short shorts, but then they say stuff on the back?

RUTHIE: Are you asking for the name of them?

DARYL: No, trying to create a solid foundation to describe why I'm referring to them.

RUTHIE: I know what they are.

DARYL: This design I did today, it was for those, and it's fucking with me.

RUTHIE: You can't think of a good design to print on short shorts?

DARYL: No, I already did it, it got approved, it's done, it'll be on short shorts very soon, I suppose.

RUTHIE: What was it?

DARYL: It was this gradient, well, first of all, it was literally cyan, magenta, yellow and black, there's this vague green at one point, I suppose, and it says "Kiss My Ass."

RUTHIE: Jesus Christ.

DARYL: Yeah, right? And then there are these lipstick marks, some of them are different colors, as if this is an already well-kissed ass, you know? Get in line, do it, but feel lucky about it, 'cuz lots of people are kissing this ass.    

RUTHIE: What color are the shorts? (Ruthie places her sheet of breadsticks into the oven.)


RUTHIE: Of course they are. These need to force themselves into everyone's field of vision. It's an important message.  

DARYL: So I sent that to them, and they were all, "Oh, it looks wonderful, but one more thing, can you change the font to something less fun?"

RUTHIE: What font did you use?

DARYL: Some bubbly shit, I forgot the name, something fun and sassy.

RUTHIE: Sounds appropriate enough. Hey, hold on a second. (She puts down phone, begins singing in a Double Dutch jump-roping cadence as she sprinkles oregano into her sauce in time.)


Me and Buddy Holly  

went to the zoo

I saw a tiger, he saw two

I stole his glasses so he can't see

Now Buddy Holly looks for me.   

(picks up phone


Ok, sorry, “Kiss My Ass,” it's both fun and sassy.

DARYL: That's what I thought, but they were like, "Can you change it to like, a graffiti font?" And I figured they wanted some urban neighborhood thing, and so I did that, even though the color scheme is a dash counterintuitive.

RUTHIE: Ugh. Now the ass is a wall.

DARYL: So I get that done, send it back to them. They say, "No, more like street art." And I'm like, "Yeah, graffiti." And they're all, "More like stencils, you know?" And I'm like, "You mean like Banksy?" Thinking there's no way someone making “Kiss My Ass” short shorts knows who the fuck Banksy is, right? And they're like, "Yeah, like Banksy, that's what we're going for here." And I'm thinking you're going for zero things, you're making “Kiss My Ass” short shorts."

RUTHIE: Well, they're going for that one particular thing. Seems they may be taking an overly circuitous route, but they're going there.

DARYL: Yeah. I'm just trying to wrap my head around who would even wear this. Who goes through the stages of seeing them, then deciding to buy them, then deciding to wear them, then deciding to wear them in a situation where other people can see them wearing these things. There are a lot of points for that routine to break down, and it's astounding to me that there are people who will experience every aspect of that, and be like, "Nope, I'm moving forward with this process."

RUTHIE: Did the font help it become more like Banksy? Do the red short shorts that say, “Kiss My Ass” now have any value, in a subversive, or possibly transgressive way?

DARYL: Nope.

RUTHIE: You certain?

DARYL: Yup. And here's why. I send it back with the stencil typeface. I didn't go with solid block stencils, I used one that was just a little distorted, and just a little distressed. Cuz, you know, my job is to actually think about the aesthetics of how the message of an ass being kissed is presented.

RUTHIE: We're all very fortunate that you take this so seriously.

DARYL: Please don't mock me until the designated mocking time - after the anecdote ends. (puts his baking sheet of breadsticks into the oven.)

RUTHIE: You got it, chief.

DARYL: So, they really like the font. It's perfect. It matches their vision. "But," they say, “it looks a little sparse with just the words and the lipstick marks." There wasn't enough "going on" in their opinion. I asked what they had in mind, told them I could add stars or hearts or whatever.

RUTHIE: Oooh, like Lucky Charms!

DARYL: Yes, like Lucky Charms. And they came back with, "How about random splotches of paint?" As if they figured that that went well with the street art motif they were attempting to establish.

RUTHIE: Like someone had gotten up there successfully, but was sloppy and inept?

DARYL: Hey, hold on a second. (puts down phone, sings with the same cadence as Ruthie while sprinkling oregano in his sauce, but loses his place near the end)


Me and Buddy Holly

went to the zoo

I saw a tiger, he saw two

I stole his glasses now he can't see

So now Buddy Holly is looking...Damn it!

(picks up phone


Right. Like they messed up.

RUTHIE: Maybe it had to be done in a hurry, as if the cops were on their way, and this was the one chance to make the mark.

DARYL: That sounds plausible. But --

RUTHIE: Ah, but then who had time to kiss the ass, right? The lipstick marks. Yes, this throws the entire thing into question. How did you bring order to this chaos?

DARYL: I did what they asked. I put random splotches of paint around it.

RUTHIE: And they were happy?

DARYL: They weren't happy yet. They wanted bigger splotches of paint, and they wanted some of it to cover the other elements. And this put me in the position of telling them, "Ok, but you're going to beobscuring some of where it says, ‘Kiss My Ass’."

RUTHIE: The integrity of it all was at stake! (takes breadsticks out of the oven)

DARYL: Right! I had to fucking advocate for “Kiss My Ass”! Something, and it must have been a horrible something in my life, led to me making a bad decision that put me ona trajectory to where later I'd find myself saying, "But then you won't be able to see where it says 'Kiss My Ass' on the ass of a pair of red short shorts."

RUTHIE: Maybe it was the time you dressed as a frog for Halloween, and you didn't think it was absurd enough, so you had to decide whether to add a golf club or a stethoscope to pop the costume, and you decided on the golf club, and if you would have chosen the stethoscope, none of this would have happened?

DARYL: But you told me to go with the golf club.

RUTHIE: Don't pin this on me, buddy.

DARYL: So I add bigger splotches, trying to be careful, you know, and I reposition them, and I'm about to send it out. I'm looking at them, and it dawns on me what it now resembles, and it's gross.

RUTHIE: The whole thing is gross.

DARYL: Right, right, but imagine splotches of paint...

RUTHIE: Hmm. Ohhhh. Oh, fuck. That's pretty vulgar.

DARYL: Right?

RUTHIE: Who would want to kiss that ass if that had already happened, or, I guess best-case scenario, in progress?

DARYL: How is "in progress" the best-case scenario?

RUTHIE: My thinking is that there's a freshness issue.

DARYL: I think I'd rather it be old and dry.

RUTHIE: Fair enough. So is that what they were going for the whole time?

DARYL: I dunno, but they approved that. They were very pleased with the final product.

RUTHIE: Hey, sorry, hold on a second. (puts down phone, repeats same singing cadence as before, with basil this time)


Me and Buddy Holly 

went to the zoo

I saw a tiger, he saw two

I stole his glasses so he can't see

now Buddy Holly looks for me

(picks up phone)


Well, thank you for assisting in this assault on the sensibilities of decent folk.

DARYL: I wish I could understand the appeal of things like this. I wish I could be dumb enough to enjoy it.

RUTHIE: You're a complicated man who enjoys puzzles. There has to be a way for you to figure out how to enjoy it without actively and purposely injuring your brain.

DARYL: I don't think there is a way. I'm just destined to be tortured by it. And not just tortured by it, but forced to be complicit in the creation of the devices of my own torture.

RUTHIE: You can walk away from doing it. You can just stop, and say, "Hey, no more, I refuse to allow myself to engage in these-," well, you don't have to say shenanigans, but shenanigans fits.

DARYL: I shouldn’t have to walk away from anything. I'm not the problem. I'm better than that, they're better than that, why can't everyone just wake up one morning and decide they’d like something more challenging, something of actual integrity, not just any shit thrown against the wall that could have come from the inane recesses of the minds of jerks and maniacs!

RUTHIE’S boyfriend CARL enters the kitchen. He is wearinga garish t-shirt that reads “Walkin’ On Sunshine”.  He grabs a breadstick, dips it in the saucepan, and starts eating it.

RUTHIE: People will always settle for easy things.

DARYL: Yeah, but why?

RUTHIE: Makes other things less difficult.

DARYL: Word.

RUTHIE: Ok, I gotta get. Glad it worked out.

DARYL: Nothing ever works out. (hangs up)

D’enny Patterson is a fancy football commissioner and pop singer from, for lack of a better term, “Chicago.” He enjoys dogs and having an older phone than you. One time, D’enny ruined the magic show.