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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 middle—aged man.

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.

When Lumphrey Napoleon Futon arrived in 1980, he was a 26-year-old unpublished writer,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 French.

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.

Lumphrey’s first 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 now. 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 ecstasy.

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.

“Love ya 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.