Somehow in our move last month our queen size air mattress disappeared. Vanished into thin air (mattress). “It’s a metaphor!” I declared at least once a day as I putter around the house convinced it must be somewhere. It is not a metaphor and it is not in this house, but that doesn’t stop me. I love this air mattress. It’s by a company called Sound Asleep and though it was a little pricey, it was worth every penny. We bought it years ago when my youngest brother and his wife came to visit us in Philly. He’d assured us that he could just sleep on the floor and my sister-in-law could take the couch but I wasn’t having any of that even though I didn’t really have air mattress money back then. There are so many ways to measure where you are in life and apparently, for me, one of those is “dost thou have money to spend on air?” I did not but I think I put it on a credit card or something. One gallon of air, please!
Years earlier, my brother had come to visit me in a different place I was living in Philly. At the time I didn’t have a bed frame because I couldn’t figure out how to get to IKEA. A lot of adulting’s challenges boil down logistics and finances. I didn’t have a car or mode of transportation and I didn’t have frame money, let alone air money, so my mattress sat on the floor. Jeffrey, my brother, was not impressed with this and let me know that my life was un petit mess. He was like “Eric, I’ve seen crack houses nicer than this” which got me thinking what kind of millionaire crack dens he was popping into. (At the time he worked in law enforcement; but I think it would be funnier if he was a drug building real estate agent so let’s go with that.) This curt assessment was rare as he’s incredibly kind and a humble sort so I got to thinking maybe I should get a bed frame. That will fix my life! One foot off the ground, please!
I wasn’t about to have a recurrence of my brother’s succinct but memorable read, so I bought the air mattress. And we got a lot of use out of it. I don’t yet have guest room money, which I think of as enough money and space to have a room that sits dormant for most of the time like the Elvis Penthouse at at fancy hotel, but we really like having guests come visit nonetheless. The air mattress bridged that gap, helping us to be hospitable while still using our room. One multipurpose space, please!
But the air mattress apparently didn’t make it off of the moving truck. Or maybe it became more air than mattress and just evaporated. Who can say? Maybe it’s still in this house somewhere, floating above a fan, contributing to a general sense of welcome.
One thing I wish you could find out when you view an apartment to rent or a house to buy is what the air is like. We act like every living space just has regular air that flows in and out and doesn’t really smell like anything and is the right temperature all of the time and that simply isn’t true, is it? When I’m not obsessing about the missing air mattress, I’m wandering the house playing scent detective. I have made a whole side career out of sniffing various places of the house like a police dog and trying to figure out where various aromas are coming from. It’s nothing bad but I think my theory is if I can figure out the air flow situation in the house, I can master in. For instance, we put a oil diffuser in the basement and I put some mint oil in it and suddenly the whole house smelled like mint, but when we put a different oil diffuser on the second floor and put lavender in that one, only the hallway smelled like lavender. “The air is rising!” I cried. “Another metaphor!”
I think my goal is to always one step ahead of weird house smells. Like if I fry onions or the house just has a strange aroma, I can race to one random corner of the basement, spritz from bergamot and assert my dominance. These are the kinds of things I’d like a realtor or leasing agent to talk about. The other topic I’d like to hear about is whether a place is haunted. I mean, obviously. A few people have asked if my house is haunted, which is a dangerous question to ask me because I am scared of everything and I think everything is haunted. But I am quite pleased to let you know that my house is not haunted. Every once in a while I think that maybe we have shy ghosts who haven’t revealed themselves yet but I know in my spirit that there ain’t no haints here and that is a good thing. I would not buy a house that was haunted. The only ghosts are air mattresses. Famously, Taylor Swift bought a haunted house and she had to write a whole album to appease her ghost. I don’t have any recording equipment and I still haven’t learned how to play my keyboard that I bought early in the pandemic with the foolhardy thought that I’d start new hobbies, so I think producing a whole album to un-haunt a house is beyond my means at this time.
Everything else you can kind of figure out, I guess. I mean, it’s helpful to know if a pipe leaks weirdly or if the refrigerator makes a strange noise. I would have liked to know that the buzzer on the dryer goes off five times, like it’s judging you for taking your sweet time coming to get your clothes. This dryer is really stressed out about my hot and fresh clothes getting wrinkles. Nobody told this dryer that we are in quarantine and ain’t nobody seeing these wrinkled sweatpants.
But mostly I think it would be helpful for realtor to talk to you about air. Is it hot, is it cold, is it humid, do the fans work, will things disappear, is there a sweet little scent that comes from the garden, is it metaphorical, does the air feel like home?
People ask me "how do you sleep at night?" and I really appreciate that level of attention to my well-being. The answer is "pretty well!" but it's been a little harder with all this concern I've been having. I might try meditation. I'll let you know. To be completely honest, I do wish someone would do something. And I wish that someone was me and I wish that something was nothing.
So I have a very serious question. As a writer, you're largely behind the scenes, you've written for The Good Place and Succession, and of course Watchmen, among many other things. You’re usually in a writer's room and not on camera. And so last night was very different. How does it feel to come out as hot on national TV?
[Laughs extremely hard] You know, it feels great. I'm a writer for a reason. It's because I like to be alone in my room with the computer and just working by myself. I've never been prepared for the spotlight. It makes me incredibly nervous. So, something that people couldn't see, thankfully because of the tuxedo, is how much my armpits were sweating as I was standing up there and reading and giving the speech. So, it is not my forte, we'll say, but I do appreciate you saying that I'm hot. That's very kind of you.
There was no way to escape the fact that everyone was in different places, that the feeling of the evening was dramatically different depending on who was in the room with you (or in Uzo Aduba's case, who was in the next room possibly watching the broadcast, possibly reading a book). This is why the Emmys were most successful in engendering a spirit of togetherness when they completely ignored reality and fully committed to prerecorded laughter and applause. Yes, the Emmys felt most real when they were at their fakest. Is that a metaphor for America? Sure. Probably. I guess. Zoom into your professor's office hours and ask them.
I don't want to sound like the dad from Footloose, but I just don't think people should be having sex on Lovecraft Country. Look, I'm all about people getting their monster mash on. Put your thing down, flip it, and reverse it, I always say. But there's not nary a time when two people have done the deed on this show where it turned out to be a good idea for them. Well, I guess you could say that when Tic and Leti had sex in the bathroom at her party, that didn't have supernatural consequences. So, that's one. One nary. But everything else—Ruby climbing the stairway to heaven with Winklevoss, Leti being seduced by Fake Tic at Fitzgerald Grant's mansion, and now this episode, which focuses on a woman who literally explodes men when they climax—has been a disaster. They should show this episode in 1990s sex-negative health education classes. But how scary is it? Let's find out!
Let’s hang out!
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John Darnielle, Leah Johnson, Daniel Lavery, Amber Sparks, and R. Eric Thomas—join Dungeon Master Matt Lubchansky for this classic tabletop role-playing game with a literary twist. Tune in for murder, golems, murder golems, humanoid turtle people, and labor disputes at Lightning Bolt Literature’s Masquerade of the Necromantic Plague! If you’ve never played D&D before, don’t worry—most of our players haven’t either.
Random Thing on the Internet
Deus and Mero made an ad imagining what their show would be like directed by John Turturro, which is totally random but also the funniest thing I saw all week.
It’s a metaphor!