The One-Armed Man: Eric Reads the Week, #68

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

This week: all the available lawyers please report to DC, Zuck if you buck, and celebrity height!

Okay, I have to tell you this story about how I accidentally almost lost an arm but I want to warn you first. I do mention blood a few times in this story so if you're someone who doesn't like to read the word blood, I got you--scroll down to where you see Beyonce and then you'll know you're safe. (That's the international safety signal, btw.)

So, yesterday morning, after watching roughly 16 hours of Instagram Stories, I decided to get out of bed. I threw on a pair of shorts and, on a whim, decided to do a quick clean-up of the bedroom. I gathered the two coffee mugs, one wine glass, and three water glasses that were sitting on my bedside table (she is thirsty) and headed upstairs to the kitchen.

As I jogged upstairs, I stumbled, the stacked water glasses bounced and shattered. I caught myself and saw that in falling I'd spilled grape juice all over the ecru carpet of stairs. I stared for a second, trying to figure out where the grape juice had come from. And then I looked at my arm, which, it turns out, had been ripped asunder like a henchman in Kill Bill. I don't want to be too graphic about this, but my arm was spraying blood everywhere and I was peering, curiously, at the inside of my arm. My first thought was "This is the grossest thing I've ever seen." My second thought was "Wow. Def gonna die." David came racing around the corner, saw me looking like Carrie at the prom and raced away to get a dish towel.

David is an Eagle Scout and very well-trained in first aid. I am none of those things but I have a lot of opinions. I've found that when we're in emergency situations, we start to speak very loudly and very clearly to each other as if we're both attempting to reach a frequency that overrides the other's neurosis. David shout-enunciated at me "Sit down. I don't want you to faint. I'm getting gauze." I shout-enunciated back "There's glass on the stairs! Be careful! I may have gotten blood on your book bag!" Just a lot of calm, clear shouting.

He eventually got me downstairs, I'm still dripping blood. He was like, "Hold your arm above your heart." I was like, "Yesterday was shoulder day, so I'm a little sore actually." He broke the news to me that we won't be able to get a shirt on me and I responded like I'm being told the designer gown I was supposed to wear to the Oscars isn't ready. We started to shout-enunciate at each other about my attire. Me: "I'm not going out in public wearing bloody sweat shorts and no shirt. I don't have my summer body yet." Him: "We can drape this bathrobe over you." Me: "Who am I, a street preacher? I can't pull off that look. Just get me a hoodie. There's one in the second drawer in the closet. No, the second drawer. It's the purple one." There's one part of my brain that thought, "I'm being very clear about which shirt I want." And there's another part of my brain that thought, "You will die because of your vanity." The two parts literally never meet.

David convinced me to just throw a sweatshirt over my good arm like a shoulder fascinator. He went to put shoes on and suddenly I realized that a tank top would be perfect for this situation. I wandered, still geysering blood, into our library and then into the closet, looking for the box I've packed my tank tops in. How was I going to unpack this box while using one arm to hold a dish towel to another arm? Unclear. David, exasperated, found me in the closet. "We have to find my tank tops," I said. I turned to him, "I know I'm being ridiculous." This is not a helpful comment. What I didn't tell him is that only one of the tank tops actually fits me at this point, so we'll have to do a fashion show.

He got me out of the house sans tank top. Of course, we ran into neighbors in the elevator. I was, I should note, in a very good mood at this point. I was very scared but also very amused. If this is what crossing over to the other side is like, sign me up. "Good morning!" I said to the neighbors. "I apologize for my exposed nipples."

We breezed into the basically empty waiting room of the closest Urgent Care. I looked, at this point, like Gone Girl when she came back from Neil Patrick Harris' house. Everyone looked shocked at the sight of me, a person who was in need of Urgent Care. "Good morning!" I called. "Do you do stitches? Just a need a few, lol." The medical assistant's eyes bugged out of his head. He led us back to some rooms; a doctor followed and took the dish towel off, the room filled with blood. He was like "You gotta get out of here. You cut an artery." We had a small back and forth about what hospital to go to because we didn't know what the closest one is and apparently he was not allowed to tell us. I told him, "Look, if I survive this I won't report you, etc." David shout-enunciated at him until he told us where to go in a general yet vague sense. He gave us directions Pig Latin. He was like "Don't not go to Union Memorial wink."

As David was fighting with the parking meter outside the hospital, I seized the opportunity to try to wrestle my arm into my shirt. I am actually an insane person. My arm got stuck--LIKE HE SAID IT WOULD--so then I had to extricate myself before he came back and, honestly, I'm nightmare person. The car filled with blood. We went inside the ER and encountered a Charge Nurse who is basically an Octavia Spencer character. Like, if I were to dramatize this adventure, I would then have to boycott the film because of the stereotypical depiction of the black Charge Nurse who has no time for anybody's shit. They took me back to triage and David tried to follow because he wanted to make sure that I am getting the right amount of care and he was concerned and also, he will tell me later, he knows that black patients typically have their pain under-assessed in hospitals and he wanted to look out for me. He is the best. But all of these impulses collapse into a one-second exchange in which the Charge Nurse bodily blocks him from entering the triage area. I'm like "Oh, honey, that's a mistake. My husband is a white man; he does what he wants." Octavia Spencer tells him "Just sit down out there; you can come when he's taken to a room." David, love of my life, took a chair from the waiting room, turned it around so he could face the Charge Nurse, and waited. I was like "I LOVE DRAMA!" Octavia Spencer was, at full volume, talking about him. "Who he think he is?!" she asked the wind. "He turned his chair around like he's in class." It was a whole thing. She is still talking about him.

Anyway, they stitched me up real good, it was super gross, our house looked like Dr. Richard Kimble had been there, and now everything hurts but I will probably live. Ah, being a human! What a rewarding experience!

This week's columns are all about dudes who seem very willing to cut off their hands to spite their arms or whatever the saying is. There's Zuckerberg who breezed through terrible congressional hearings with smart answers to dumb questions, there's Paul Ryan, whose retirement was met with a limp thumbs up from an exhausted public. But first... Jolly Green Gossip Girl:

Amateur Book Publicist Donald J. Trump Doesn't Want You to Read Comey's Book

James Comey, the Beltway's new Jolly Green Gossip Girl, has a book coming out early next week in which he dispenses devastating reads with the plainspoken candor of a cast member on The Real Housewives of Lake Wobegone. According to leaked excerpts of the book, A Higher Loyalty, Comey subtly shades Trump's skin tone and hand size, talks at length about the "pee pee tape" that may or may not exist (working title: Schroedinger's Scat), and generally genially trashes the president's entire life. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Mark Zuckerberg Is Having a Great Time in Washington Today, Despite What His Face Says

A Statement From the Lawyer for the Lawyer of the Lawyer for the President

Hello. I am the lawyer for the lawyer for the lawyer for the president. My name is Doctor Lawyer. Doctor is my first name and please call me Doctor. Dr. Lawyer is my father. Thank you to the members of the fake news for joining me here at this fake press conference about real lies and true facts. I have some prepared remarks and also some things that I shouldn't say but which I am accidentally going to say anyway. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]


Finding out that Timothée Chalamet, who appears to be roughly the size of Armie Hammer's pocket square in Call Me By Your Name, is a relatively giant six-foot-tall string bean of a person rocked my world. First of all, I have no idea how to conceive of six feet. Bigger than a bread box? Not the bread I'm eating. Secondly, how tall does that make Armie Hammer?! Is Call My By Your Name about a couple of queer Ents?! [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

The New Food TV Is a Stress-Free, Sous-Vide For the Soul

As someone who grew up on the relative comforts of competition-less cooking shows like Julia Child's Cooking with Master Chefs and Martin Yan's Yan Can Cook, the rise of high stakes kitchen contests can be a bit jarring. "Food" is my favorite genre, of television show and in general, but there's a marked difference between being amiably instructed on something I'll never make by the lilting sound of Julia Child and watching Alton Brown shout at sweating millionaires as they race around an area holding a live lobster. It's a lot. It's thrilling but it keeps me up at night. I can't even look at a Baked Alaska without growing near apoplectic with sympathetic rage for Great British Baking Show's Ian. Please do not bring the dessert up to me; I am still not over it. It's for this reason that some new iterations of the food television genre popping up on Netflix are a welcome change of pace. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

Goodbye Paul Ryan, My Most Problematic Thirst Baby

This morning, Paul Ryan announced he is retiring at the end of 2018, a move that was met with a lackluster thumbs up by a public whose staunch hatred of him is dampened only by the fact that literally every news thing is happening right now. "It's been a wild ride," he remarked, presumably referencing the way that he consistently bulldozed women's rightsover his time in office. You may remember Paul Ryan as the cravenly careerist Wisconsin politician and Speaker of the House who boasted a commitment to abusing the poor and elderly that would make Ebeneezer Scrooge blush and financial vision that even Ayn Rand was like "this is too dark." Personally, I'll always remember him as the guy who was photographed working out in a Sears Portrait Studio while running for vice president. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Mark Zuckerberg Is Getting the Eliza Doolittle Treatment Before Appearing Before Congress

According to a New York Times report, Zuckerberg has brought in a team of experts to help him present an air of calm, responsible leadership. The effort intends to put Zuckerberg "through a crash course in humility and charm." Humility and charm! How adorable. On one hand, it's a little strange that Facebook looked at this immense public trust issue and decided, "This is a job for a Henry Higgins type." On the other, this is perhaps the first time in recorded history that it's the man whose being told to smile more and play nice. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Let's Hang Out!

Philadelphia: Hosting THE MOTH StorySlam at World Cafe Live on May 7. Get tickets one week before at
ALSO, my new play Mrs. Harrison begins performances on May 2. It's tense drama with bursts of dark comedy about the question of who owns a highly charged story. Rehearsals started this week and it is FIRE. AND it's Pay-What-You-Decide after the performance. The future! Of! Theater! It's a small theater space, so reserve your spot at

DC: Hosting THE MOTH StorySlam at The Miracle Theater on May 4! Get tickets one week before at

New York: Hosting THE MOTH Mainstage at Lincoln Center on April 18. Tickets are available here.

Random Thing from the Internet...

John Mulaney on SNL was brilliant, of course. The lobster Les Mis was an instant absurd classic. But my favorite was Drag Brunch. He just commits so fully and it's amazing.

Please excuse my exposed nipple,