about the author

Alexander Yan is a graduate of Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. He resides and sometimes lives in Los Angeles.

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Pronounced Social Aggression

Alexander Yan

On the drive back home, my friend slaps himself awake and says, “I’m telling you this as your friend: we’re not friends.”

After threatening to tell my girlfriend what we did in Nevada—he’s joking, but not really—he goes on to explain how everything bad that happens to me is my fault. “If an airplane falls on you,” he says, “it’s only because you were standing there.”

“What if I get leukemia?” I ask.

“It’s your fault,” he repeats.

“What if I was born with leukemia?”

“Same thing. If you hadn’t been born, you wouldn’t have leukemia.”

“I really don’t think it was my idea to be born,” I say, and even though his argument should have fallen apart by now, it doesn’t.

Merging into the carpool lane, the lack of conversation tells me that my friend has fallen asleep again. I swerve across the rumble strip and pull towards the median, and I can’t help thinking that:

(A) My friend is right.

(B) My friend is always right.


(C) I don’t know any people except people like my friend.

By way of a ‘for instance’:

The girl in the apartment next to mine tells her boyfriend, “I don’t feel comfortable sucking your dick if I can’t give you what I want to give you.” She swears she’ll kill the baby inside her if he promises to hold her the way boyfriends hold their girlfriends, but this boyfriend can’t do anything except order her to go away and die.

The girlfriend says, “I can’t do this without you.”

The boyfriend says, “No shit.”

At the fast food restaurant near my grandparents’ house, a pair of black teens ask the white girl behind the counter if they can fuck her in the ass for the price of a number eight. The girl stares at them and blinks very slowly before asking if they want to substitute carrot sticks for their French fries.

“What,” says one of the teens, “I’m not your type?”

“No, you’re definitely my type,” she says. “I’m not into white boys, or, you know, Puerto Ricans or whatever. You wanna fuck my ass, then fuck my ass. But I’m working right now, so I’d better just, you know, take your order.”

Home for the weekend, a college boy and a group of his friends order Chinese food from the new place by the bridge. When the delivery man arrives, the boy throws a Yahtzee shaker full of bleach into his eyes and beats him with a claw hammer until it stops being fun.

When asked to comment on his prison sentence, the boy’s parents tell the newspaper, “Our son likes to do things with his hands.”

A pregnant barista collapses in a coffee house and has what a customer would later describe as an “anbolism.” Despite her co-workers’ best attempts at something resembling CPR, the woman spits bile and stops breathing. A squad of EMTs watches from a table in the corner as the barista’s mouth boils and her eyes fade white, and when the manager begs them to “get off their fucking asses,” they hold up their coffee cups and one of them says, “It’s our break, guy. Jesus.”

A kid I went to high school with returns home from a place he calls Los Angeles. He finds the lead actress from our twelfth-grade production of Les Misérables and whispers things like “Three Picture Deal” and “In Development” and “I know this agent at ICM who’d really get a kick out of you.”

They have sex as many times as he says he’s had lunch with Johnny Depp before he tells her that her voice, chest, and personality are way too flat for Hollywood.

Waiting for the tow truck, my friend tells me about this time in college when he filmed a guy from his frat having sex with some girl for a contest sponsored by an online porn site. He plays me the video on his cell phone and I can hear him shouting from behind the camera, “A blowjob will get you farther in this life than a Communications degree.” When he found her in the handicapped bathroom a couple nights later, he pocketed her suicide note and uploaded the video anyway, posting it with the description: There’s No Such Thing as Unconditional Love.

“We came in third,” he says and reaches into his wallet to show me the note. My eyes are pointed in the right direction but I can’t read the girl’s handwriting, so I just laugh until my friend tells me to stop.

“There are things,” he murmurs, taking back the folded slip of paper. “There are things that sometimes happen.”

I agree with him, but it’s colder now and I can’t help thinking that these things aren’t entirely my fault.

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