April 9, 2006

Alas. The contest entries are all in, and I owe everybody an apology. The rules were not at all clear, a fact that led to almost as many different approaches as there were entries. Furthermore, the perspicacious among you figured out the truth by unscrupulous means, and were therefore able to include it in your entries.

Let us pledge to remain silent, therefore, on the subject of the contest’s multifarious faults, and get on to the entries. Please vote, in the comments for this post, for your favorite entry. Note that you should not vote for the entry you think is most likely to be true unless it is also your favorite. Since so much else about this contest was ill-designed, I’ll leave the definition of “favorite” up to individual voters as well. I wish also to make it clear that I did not write any of the entries below. The truth will come later this week.

The person whose entry gets the most votes wins a gift certificate to Powell’s City of Books. The deadline for voting is midnight, Eastern Standard Time, on Monday, April 16.

And so, without further ado:

1. Faustus and E.S. recently closed on their new home together. Because of taxes and fees, the final purchase price was an odd number. Rather than splitting the costs down the middle, resulting in a number that included cents, Faustus generously agreed that he would round his half up to the nearest dollar, and E.S. would round his down. The difference being a single dollar.

At the closing, just before both lads signed away their lives and fortunes, E.S. suddenly had a revelation. Faustus was not being generous, he was using the tactic to gain the upper hand! He would forever get his way because he would own just more than half of the house.

E.S. dug in his pocket, found a lone dollar bill, and handed it Faustus.

“You’re a sneaky little bastard,” he said. “And if you ever think I’m topping you again, you’ll take my dollar and never speak of this again.”

The transaction went off without further hitch.

2. The very last dollar of repayment on your 1998 spree at Bergdorf’s.

3. You are underselling the rubber bracelets you made to support efforts to respond to the current rise of TB in the countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

4. Setting: a bedroom somewhere in Crown Heights


First young man. Surprisingly attractive. His carefree attitude and slim physique belie the heavy spiritual weight he carries with him. He is clearly a bottom.

Second young man. Also attractive, but in a cruel and heartless way. He is careful with his praise, perhaps a man of science.

First young man undresses to his briefs while Second young man reclines on bed reading a magazine.

First young man: I have lost three pounds, does that make me look hotter than I ever have looked before?

Second young man (still reading): Ummm… Back in August, mid-August. That was when you looked hotter than you ever have looked before.

First young man (pouting): If I were a go-go boy would you hang out in seedy bars to watch me dance? Would you stuff money down my jockstrap to catch my attention?

Second young man (setting magazine down): I’d have to see you dance first.

First young man begins what appears to be an aerobics routine, but done with a slutty air.

Second young man digs through his pants pockets and finds a crumpled dollar bill. He stuffs the bill under the waistband of First young man, whose dance has slowed to something more seductive.

First young man: A dollar? One measly buck? That’s what I’m worth?

Second young man runs around bedroom searching the dresser, tables, etc.. Finally, he finds his wallet and pulls out a fistfull of bills.

First young man (batting the money to the floor, then grabbing Second young man by the collar and pushing him to the bed): You’re in trouble now, MISTER!


5. On the basis of my nom-de-plume alone, a little haggling with Mephistopheles was always on the cards. And you know, I’ve been ready for years, waiting and willing to strike a deal with the devil should the opportunity arise. Well, last week it arose.

It arose on the subway.

“Can I interest you in an exchange?” he said. He was sitting right next to me: big guy, handsome, thirty-something, goatee beard, greying at the temples; obviously a top. Normally I wouldn’t dream of talking to strangers on the subway — other than to assassinate them with the sort of withering putdowns that, alas, only come to mind many hours later — but who can resist the blandishments of the Prince of Darkness?

“Bodily fluids?” I asked, eyebrow raised; but I already knew it wasn’t that kind of encounter. The rattle of the train in the tunnel, the press of other passengers, the mundane details faded into the background. It was just me and him.

“Your immortal soul.”

“Oh. That old thing?”

“It’s not as if you’re doing much with it.”

I couldn’t argue with that — and, frankly, I didn’t want to. My mind was filling with visions of success and idolisation and the respect of my peers. I was having a one-to-one meeting with Satan himself, the world must be my oyster.

“That’s quite a proposition you’re making. You want to buy my soul?”


“And in return I get earthly riches beyond my wildest dreams? Every carnal wish satisfied?”

“Um. Not exactly.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, truth to tell, times are pretty hard in the soul business. Prices have dropped through the floor. We’ve had to make cutbacks all over.”

“I’m sorry.”

He shrugged apologetically. “What can you do?”

What indeed?

“But you still want to buy my soul?”

“Oh yes. It’s a really juicy one. Trust me, I have an eye for these things.”

“I’m sure you do. So if the whole riches and adulation deal isn’t on, what are you offering?”

There was a pause.

“I’ll give you a buck for it.”

“A BUCK? One measly fucking dollar for my immortal soul?”

“Yup. That’s the deal — and let me tell you, it’s way over the going rate.”


“That’s about the size of it.” He’d taken on a sort of browbeaten, kindly, avuncular air. Approachable. Worldly. A devil you could relate to.

I mulled it over. Hardly the windfall payoff I was hoping for, but he’d been right when he said I wasn’t doing much else with my soul.

“Okay then.”

A dollar’s a dollar, right?

6. I was on the way to teach a step class, when I saw someone famous getting out of a cab. As she was paying the driver, a bill fell out of her hand and flew off in the wind.

I took off after it at full speed, and, three blocks later, I caught it. I ran back to give it to her, but she said that letting me keep the dollar was the least she could do to reward such a display. I told her that, actually, the least she could do would be to autograph it for me.

She smiled, pulled out a pen, and signed the back, remarking that I was certainly very fit.

I explained to her that one of my jobs is teaching aerobics and that I was on my way to a class just then.

Anyway, now I’m Chita Rivera’s new personal trainer.

7. The dollar bill marks a momentous occasion in the life of our Faustus: it was the first dollar he earned from his songwriting. When he was but a wee intern, Faustus wrote and performed “My Umbrella is Blue and Has Sparkly Flowers” for his neighbour, Mrs. Joanna Billings-Monroe. She was so tickled by his performance, she opened her purse, pulled out a dollar bill (the one pictured) and said, “Here, take this dearie…” At which point he happily snatched the dollar and went skipping on his merry way, completely missing the rest of the sentence: “…and get me a soda!”

(Incidentally, she’s still waiting for her soda.)

8. Someone offered you crystal meth and bb sex and you instinctively rendered him powerless (MacGyver style) with a dollar bill and some sugar free chewing gum. I could see you, in true superpower fashion, folding up the bill into a chinese throwing star and implanting it into his forehead from 10 paces. You then removed the bill, inserted the used chewing gum (to spare his life), and called his sugar daddy to come save the wretch.

9. Upon awaking one morning I found myself in the mood for a tasty breakfast treat. I quietly rolled out of bed as not to wake E.S., who was sleeping soundly after last night’s escapades. I walked around the corner to explore my new neighborhood and the sight of a McDonald’s at the corner suddenly excited me. I scurried across the street, nearly being hit by a car, and found refuge in the grease-filled air that hit me on my way into the fast food establishment.

I ordered my food and waited with anticipation for the delicious taste of unhealthy nourishment. The bill was $3.21, a small fortune for the quality of food I was about to receive. I had gone to the bank last night, to finance my night out, but all I had remaining was one five-dollar bill. I paid graciously and upon receiving my change I was delighted to see that my order was ready. Gaily (no jokes), I rushed back to the house to devour my treats.

However, my happiness balloon was soon to be deflated when I opened the door to find E.S. standing at the entrance with a not-so-happy look on his face. He proceeded to lecture me on the courtesy of waking your boyfriend when one wants to delve in the realm of tasty breakfast treats. Meanwhile, my food was getting cold so I had to think fast of something to shut him up. I decided to reach into my pocket and throw all the money I had at him and make my way outside to eat my food in the hallway. Unfortunately, as I was pulling out the one-dollar bill, I had forgotten that I lacked the significant amount of monetary reparations it would take to appease E.S. Nonetheless I flung the one-dollar bill at him and proceeded to eat my yummy breakfast. We had a fight but made up soon after.

Okay, go to.

And no criticizing entries you think are bad. Play nice.

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42 Responses to Alas

  1. timothy says:

    I’m liking number six.

  2. al says:

    Number six is my favorite.

  3. Frank says:

    I’m tempted by number six, but I think number one does it for me.

  4. Oliver says:

    Bucking the trend, I’m going for number…. ONE! It’s my, ahem, number one.

  5. Joe R says:

    It’s a tough choice between Satan, 5, and the house purchase, 1, but I’ll go for 5.

  6. Michelle says:

    I like number five.

  7. Alan says:

    Either #1 or #4. I guess, if pressed, I’d pick #1 over #4.

  8. Jeffrey says:

    I love #6 too, but #1 has a ring of truth–manipulative, petty, fabulous!

  9. I am stuck between 1 and 6, tough call! I will have to say that 6 is my favorite for creativity and 1 for probably reality 😉


  10. bpbc says:


  11. David says:

    I was torn between numbers 5 and 7. I could be independent and generous and give 7 a vote, since it hasn’t received any. But that would be like voting for a Green Party candidate, which is kind of pointless. So I’ll retreat to a more sheep-like mentality, give some sympathy for the Devil, and vote for 5.

  12. Dave says:

    I like the understated simplicity of Number 2.

  13. Brian says:

    #1 is pure Faustus and pure fabulous!

  14. amysue1 says:

    In rereading my own pathetic entry I realize I am as inarticuate when writing as at most othertimes. It just sounded creepy. So, I thorw my vote over to #5. (She said realizing that delurking is never a good thing…)

  15. Jose says:

    Numero uno, por favor.

  16. will says:

    Number four. Because I so want it to be true.

  17. jim says:

    Number six is clearly the best one.

  18. matt says:

    #1. Amazing.

  19. sonyl says:

    I vote #4, because that sounds like the exceptionally mundane yet amusing interchange that would take place between the two…. even if it makes Faustus sound a little too butch.

  20. Kitty says:

    The runner-up is No. 4. And the winner is …

    Number five.

  21. Rocqui says:

    Y’know, I liked #9, but #1 is amusing, and has that ring of truth to it. #1 it is!

  22. Aidan says:

    Since none of them include giving a blow job for subway fare, I guess I’ll have to go with #5.

  23. Sarah says:


  24. goblinbox says:

    Five! Five! Five! Five! Five!

  25. Annie says:

    Definitely Number 1 – it has such a ring of truth about it

  26. Shawnie says:

    Oh, I hope I hope I hope that it’s number 6. It’s so delicious.

  27. moonrose says:

    2 is sublime.

  28. Paige says:

    I think my favorite was #5. It was certainly inventive.

  29. tralfaz says:

    Mine is my favorite. But, I am biased.

  30. Ruthie says:

    Number 1. love it.

  31. sam says:

    Can people vote for their own? And since when did democracy flourish here?

    My vote is for #6.

  32. chris says:

    #1! its much more like you and ES than any of the others. *knods*

  33. Paul says:

    Number 7. Stealing from an old lady whether on purpose or not is true humor.

  34. Elliott says:

    My favorite is entry #5… I have this gut feeling that it is also true. ;’)

  35. Pam says:

    Number 7.

  36. Sin says:

    #4. Or #9. But I’d be hard-pressed to pick between them, so please let just whichever is a clear winner take my vote. But if it gets tied (unlikely from the empirical evidence), then I’ll re-cast?

  37. Ruby says:

    I like #7, but I’m going with #6

  38. Jen says:

    One. Most definitely.

    The others are good, too, of course!

  39. Jeff says:

    Toss-up between #1 and #5, but we’ll go with #1 because #5 can’t be true: Mephistopheles can’t be broke, he made almost $9 million dollars last year.

  40. Lina says:


  41. raph says:

    #5, definitely. although, #1 should get an honourable mention for being cute.

  42. Pingback: The Search for Love in Manhattan

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