Darcy Alison Spitz
Lumpy’s Love Handle Crisis
Lumpy Futon is
52 and lives in a run-down tenement, which he fondly refers to as the “Leaning
Tower of Orchard Street.” He
has lived on the top floor of the rent-stabilized, five-story walk-up for over
25 years, and despite the twice-daily five-story climb, he has become a plump
When he was
awakened by the garbage trucks early that morning, the fact of his plump
un-hipness and sartorial deficits invaded his consciousness like tourists on a
red tour bus about to visit the Statue of Liberty. He groaned, turned over and fell back to sleep. Taryn twitched irritably at the motion,
but she didn’t wake up.
Napoleon Futon arrived in 1980, he was a 26-year-old unpublished writer, fresh
out of Eastern Seaboard University with a bachelor’s degree in 19
Century French literature. This
was a miracle in itself – because Lumpy never learned to read or speak
At 26 he was thin
and didn’t yet have his distinctive double chin. Like many men, he was hapless when it came to clothing, but
he quickly adopted the prevailing East Village style of all black clothing,
thick black-framed eyeglasses, Converse high tops, stovepipe pants that stopped
a little above the ankle and a leather jacket. Voila! Add a
dash of world-weary ennui and he joined the ranks of 1980s punky East
Village/Lower East Side hipsters.
job in the city was as a waiter.
He had the breakfast/lunch shift in a neighborhood coffee shop, the
Warsaw, and spent the first two days trailing a Polish waitress named Lucinda
as he learned the ropes.
Lucinda had dyed
black short spiky hair, kohl rimmed eyes, false eyelashes, and bright red lips
-- pure punk with a Polish accent.
She was a conceptual artist.
He fell in love instantly. It was Lucinda who affectionately started
calling him Lumpy, and the name stuck.
It was a green card
romance, but Lumpy didn’t care, he was mad for Lucinda’s creamy white thighs
and uninhibited lovemaking.
Lucinda moved into
Lumpy’s tiny apartment in the Leaning Tower of Orchard Street. She worked days at the restaurant and
Lumpy worked nights. She spent her
nights creating art by thinking hard about empty white space. She stared at blank paper to help her
focus the force of her thoughts.
She was a conceptual artist of such purity that her work could only be
appreciated by telepaths, and she was expecting contact with a telepath any day
Lumpy was working
on his first novel, “Heroine Overdose”.
It was about a Lithuanian nobleman, raised during the Communist regime,
who comes to New York and finds fame and fortune as a subway graffiti
artist. He obsessively paints a
comic book style super-heroine – “Lady Ludmilla, Heroine of Hope,” on the sides
of the trains. One night, Lady
Ludmilla comes alive, and all she wants is sex and more sex. The nobleman dies in a state of erotic
Six months after
they met, Lucinda and Lumpy bought matching brand-new Converse high top
sneakers and took the 6 train to City Hall to be married on a grey April
morning. They paid too much for a
bouquet of flowers sold by a guy in front of City Hall, and then ended up
waiting in a long line for their marriage license. Lumpy was so happy, he didn’t care about waiting in line.
The marriage would
have been perfect except for Lucinda’s boyfriend from Poland, who arrived a few
months after Lucinda’s green card.
Lech was a 6’5” blond god
she had been in love with since she was a teen. Lumpy didn’t have a chance. But that happened a long time ago, and he has put his
marriage and divorce behind him.
He and Lucinda had parted as friends.
Sitting on the
edge of his couch more than 25 years later, in a white t-shirt and boxer
shorts, Lumpy could see himself in the cracked, cardboard backed mirror that
was propped against the plaster wall.
He was drinking luke warm coffee out of a chipped white mug. He looked okay until he put his
glasses on and saw a pot-bellied, hairy white man with thinning brown hair
staring back at him. He sighed.
“I’m going to
work now,” said Taryn, emerging from the bathroom, perfectly made in an elegant
grey linen jacket.
Lumpy!” Lumpy sighed mournfully
again, got up and kissed Taryn on her cheek, not wanting to expose her to his
nasty morning breath. He watched
Taryn hurry down the stairs to for her morning workout. Taryn liked him as he was, why worry
about his looks at this stage of his life? He locked the door and continued to worry.
Being unhip didn’t
really bother Lumpy most days – but today it mattered a lot. Out of the blue, Lucinda had
called, and they were supposed to meet for dinner in the trendy new restaurant
that opened in the same space as the old Warsaw coffee shop. He had neglected to mention the dinner
date to Taryn.
Lumpy was having a
clothing crisis. Wearing all black
had become hackneyed and uncool. A
shame because black could have hidden those love handles above his belt. They
looked like muffin tops, and in fact may have been caused by over-consumption
of blueberry muffins, one of Lumpy’s weaknesses. Low rise jeans had been a
disaster for Lumpy.
The loose pages of
Lumpy’s latest unpublished alterative universe manuscript rustled underfoot as
he stood up and resolved to do something about his appearance immediately. He heard water gurgling down the drain
next door, and realized that Fidel was letting the water out of the bathtub
after his morning soak.