(an excerpt from "The One and Only Thing")

Drew and Dig are talking on the phone. Drew is telling Dig about this chick with blue hair that he fucked last night and isn't sure he wants to fuck again but she has his phone number so whatever.
"And she works at the store I work at too so you know I have to see her tomorrow." Drew hasn't called Dig in almost three months, since the summer at least, and he's calling him at four in the morning to tell him about the chick with blue hair that he fucked but isn't sure if he wants to fuck again. Dig is looking for his glasses which he wasn't wearing even though he was wide awake and it's four in the morning in North Carolina so he has a suspicion it's just as late in New York.
"What time is it in New York, Drew?" he asks.
"I don't know. Four. Like you were asleep, anyway. But listen. She had pierced nipples."
"I can't find my glasses. Fuck. Hold on."
"But it didn't really matter because I couldn't actually touch them because she just got them done or something so you can't touch them for like, three months or something. But, I mean. For what it's worth. They were pierced. Both."
"Drew, could you hang on? I'm looking for my glasses."
"Are you nearsighted or farsighted?"
"What? Why?"
"Because, Dig, if you're nearsighted you could get that surgery and you wouldn't need to interrupt me to find your fucking glasses which you don't actually need to talk on the phone anyway, dumbass."
"What? What surgery?" Dig is a little confused and annoyed becuase he still can't find his glasses plus he hasn't had a conversation with another person for what seems like months, for what probably was months, since he came back to North Carolina for school, which he hasn't attended, for what it's worth, in the technical sense, for what also seems like months. He finds his glasses and balances the phone on his shoulder. It is four-thirty.
"The radial keratonomy. Or whatever. I knew this girl and she got it and she was like, completely blind. I mean, she had glasses like a fucking coke bottle. They cut your cornea. They use lasers." "i don't think I feel comfortable having surgery they advertise on the subway, Drew," says Dig, falling back on his bed, tired.
"They don't advertise on the subway anymore. They have that single-ad thing now. Fruitopia cars. Calvin Klein cars. Nicotine patch cars. One product's ad per car. How long has it been since you were in New York, Dig?"
"I don't know. A year? I was in New Orleans, then here. A year and a half?"
"Jesus, dig. What are you doing down there, anyway? Time to come back to the world." Drew taps what sounds like a pen on the phone.
"College, Drew. Higher education."
"Whatever," says Drew, sounding irritated. "People from New York do not go to college in the fucking backwoods. People from New York go to NYU or SUNY or expensive private colleges in New England with a student body of two hundred and twelve where you get fucking artistically nurtured and everyone winds up fucking everyone and his mother twice before graduation. People from New York do not dick around in New Orleans doing God knows what for a year and then run off to draw pictures in some redneck painting school. I'm surprised you haven't been lynched. Shit."
"What does she do at the store?"
"What? Who?"
"The girl with the blue hair. At your store."
"Oh," says Drew. His tone seems to say this is totally irrelevant. "She works at the bag check. The bag check by the door. I mean, I thought you had to have the IQ of a hamster to work in a comic store to begin with, selling Cherry comics to thirteen-year-olds who go to fucking Collegiate for Christ's sake, but she can't even use the cash register. She sits behind the cash register and checks bags and reads fucking tattoo magazines and takes cigarette breaks and gets paid while I am actually required to speak to the imbeciles who come in and walk around reading everything for forty-five minutes and leave without buying anything anyway. Still, it's probably required or something."
"Not buying anything?" asks Dig, confused.
"What? No. The hair. I mean, it's Saint Mark's. There's PR again. She goes to Eugene Lang."
"Eugene Lang. The New School. In the West Village."
"No, who does?"
"Blue Hair Girl. Women at the New School are cute. I may transfer."
"Oh," says Dig.
"Anyway, ding, our time is up, thank you for playing. Call me when you decide to move back to the real world, my friend," says Drew, and then hangs up.
"Bye," says Dig. He sits listening to the dial tone. When the fuzzy recorded voice comes on, he snaps out of it, and hangs up. He sits on the bed watching the sun come up.
It's pointless to try and sleep. Dig turns off the light at five-thirty and watches the dust float in the first few rays of gray light. At five-forty-five he gets out of bed. At five-fifty he gets back into bed. It doesn't make much difference as the room is small. At six he masturbates to a weak orgasm in hopes it will make him sleep. It doesn't. By six-ten the sun is fully up and Dig goes to the window to close the blinds. Looking out across campus Dig sees his roommate walking home in the strong chilly light. Dig's roommate majors in film. Dig, though a third-year sophomore, is Undeclared. About thirty seconds after Film Boy disappears from view he walks in the door.
"I fucked this girl with blue hair," says Film Boy. Dig looks at him.
"Dance," says Film Boy
"What?" asks Dig, wondering if he's expected to get up and mambo.
"Dance major," says Film Boy, whose name is Todd. "Very flexible." He winks. Todd is actually from North Carolina but only admits it when pressed. Todd used to ask Dig about New York a lot but gave up a few weeks into the semester. Dig didn't have much to say, which was depressing since he had spent the greater portion of his life there. Lately Dig was finding himself without much to say at all.
"There are apparently a lot of girls with blue hair in New York," says Dig.
"What?" says Todd, because this is the most Dig has said to him in several weeks except to impart phone messages.
"Zoning laws," says Dig, and falls asleep.

Alison Fensterstock