Category: Non-Fiction Essays by Katie Schwartz

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There is an unspoken shit etiquette, shitiquette if you will, among us —dump on your own turf or a public facility; not in a place where your scent tracks will come back to haunt you.

One evening, my dependable spigot with the prostate of a teenager evaporated into a geriatric piddle. I called my apartment manager, Chochiti. When he stopped by to assess the situation, he strong-armed the knobs, twisting them with the fervor of a mad scientist, each time yielding fewer droplets, asphyxiating the oomph out of the sink I hoped he’d salvage.

The sink was a sexy, porcelain vintage pedestal number with a rubenesque shape, replete with white enamel knobs with “hot” and “cold” written in weathered inky black paint. It was a supper club dame dancing the Tango. As sinks go, it was fabulous.

After much deliberation, he determined the sink needed to be replaced. He washed his hands with my sink’s final tears as he conveyed the news. I didn’t own the apartment; it would cost me nothing either way. Why should I give a shit? Sure, the sink was lovely. Nonetheless I got over myself quickly, and agreed.

Before heading out, Chochiti asked to use the bathroom. Sure, why not? He’s nice. He’s always there when I need him to screw anything (not me). When I lived in the apartment a floor above, he schlepped my 50-pound air conditioner up two flights of stairs and installed it. He moved my things to the downstairs unit for half the price of a mover in less than hour. At the end of each year, I give him a few bucks and a bottle of booze for his trouble and, sure, once I helped him fill out his application for legal residency and his daughter’s visa application. It was the least I could do for the guy.

Besides, one of my favorite pastimes is dining on Cubans and Dominicans. I’ll always need fresh meat and without immigration, I run the risk of noshing on regurgitated dick—this is not an option. Faced with granting him access to my toilet, I agreed without hesitation.

As compared to other building supers I have found myself acquainted with, I was impressed with Chochiti’s snappy attire. Ansamblays were the cornerstone of his social identity and spilled into the workplace. My building. Black dress shoes, still tapping to last night’s eight track or animal skin cowboy boots with pointed steel tips paired with peen-projecting women’s Lee jeans and a skinny gold, pleather belt with matching Pierre Cardin buckle. If he wasn’t wearing a wife-beater coordinated to match his shoes, he wore a silk, button down man-blouse. Most importantly, he never left home without his thick herringbone chain topped off with signature Cross– a cross so big that if Jesus wanted to reenact his death, he could easily schlep up and hang himself.

When our paths crossed, we always had a word. Chochiti made it a point to ask me how I was doing, how things were going and if I had an opinion on the weather. He loved talking temperature and cross-referenced ours against the climate in Guatemala. He’d drone on in his little whatamalan accent about the ladies he recently bent, whipping out a Polaroid of each from his back pocket, draped in their tighter-than-sausage casing, floribunda dresses and stiletto heels. At that point, I usually tuned out, but offered up a genuine right with a glance and a nod every few minutes. Visual aids to prove Chochiti’s sexual prowess with his various lady friends felt like a boundary we didn’t need to traverse.

As Chochiti closed the bathroom door, he closed it with too much enthusiasm and a twinkle in his eye. It was that coffee-belly shit-twinkle one gets when they’re about to have a truly rewarding private moment. I knew I’d made a huge mistake—HUGE, and that our cordial relationship was about to change forever.

A strange ass on my toilet is the only brawn it takes to bung me up for days. Germs, real or imagined, from a stranger’s tuchas are about as appealing as skin parasites slithering the length of my body. Nuturing the many varietals from my own bowels is laborious enough in the complete privacy and stable level of cleanliness of my own bathroom. I have a complex colon, one that doesn’t respond well to change. The slightest modification makes me pucker, or release pedestrian nuggets. Being prone to constipation, I couldn’t allow for the possibility of an ass besides my own to sit on my toilet seat. It was a risk I couldn’t afford.

Anxiously, I went into the kitchen and tried to convince myself I did not, in fact, just sacrifice my toilet to the Green Card Gods. Five minutes passed and Chochiti was still in my bathroom. I was a mess, and paced back and forth in front of my laptop.  Pausing to distract myself by surfing the web for gossip, vintage tzotch, and ideas on how to isolate and destroy microorganisms. As I clicked from browser to browser, one set to distraction shop, the other to fuel my germaphobia, I commentated, out loud, like Howard Cosell. In browser one: microorganisms can kill a human being! E. coli: transmitted through feces! In browser two, an auction for Guerlain perfume for ten shekels! Surely watered down!

Seven and a half minutes later, the shitathon took a twist. Chochiti’s phone rang, and echoed from my cozy restroom a Santana tune circa shiny polyester pants, chest hugging silk shirts and man-platforms. He talked on the phone to one of his Polaroid chippies, and argued with her. I bit my lower lip, rubbed my fingernails together, massaged my pectoral muscles, did kegel exercises, and squinted my eyes, glaring left, right, up and down. I was in the hotbed of a shitmare as an angry whatamalan voice reverberated through the walls. He held court on my toilet.

As quickly as the bathroom door opened, it closed. Oh God, I thought, this is it, the moment I would find out what really happened in my sweet loo. As I headed towards the bathroom, I heard my apartment manager scurry to the front door and race out.

I covered my mouth with my sweatshirt, slowly inched the door open, and wondered what morticians did to repel offensive odors. I contracted every muscle, braced to sustain a beating of this magnitude, and feared I might never recuperate. I was greeted with what can only be described as the scent of a thousand assholes harmoniously shitting in a squat toilet in a Turkish prison during a bout of food poisoning. The pervasive scent nauseated me, scorched my eyes and settled in my taste buds where it dwelled for the remainder of the day.

As if that wasn’t enough, after forcibly violating my olfactory, the laboring beacon of poorly digested fast food didn’t even have the decency to wash his hands afterwards. My doorknobs would have to be treated for dysentery, too.

In the words of my Great Aunt Fudgie, “If you’re pumping gas at a do-it-yourself station and a man asks you if you’d like a hand, that rat bastard is doing you no favors. Mind your own business. I have news, he’s trying to fuck you—like everyone else, they all want a piece of you. It’s plain disgusting, I tell you.”. I wanted to call the Feds to send in a Hazmat team. I wanted a Silkwood shower, to be that exfoliated. It seemed justified; an alien terrorist did just bomb me.

Instead, I pulled out rubber gloves, a bottle of bleach and gathered my finest scrub brushes. As George S. Patton, Jr. said, “War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts.” And, my soldiers were lined up, ready for the fight of their lives. I scoured the bathroom and every door knob Chochiti came into contact with. I scrubbed thirty years of generic apartment white off the walls until I hit drywall. I used a steel brush and dropped to my knees; I so furiously cleansed the tiles that I eroded the original grout. With a cylinder spiral brush, I scoured the gut and shell of my toilet while I cursed Chochiti for dumping the contents of his bowels into my life. He sold me out for a squat. I felt mocked. He’d gotten away with violating my space and he knew it, evidenced by sneaking out of my apartment. He took advantage of the unspoken rule to shit on me.

Ten minutes later my doorbell rang. Fuck. Fuck. Mother fuck. It was him. The man, whose ass should be registered as a lethal weapon, as it clearly harbored the carcasses of dead aliens and dumped them into my toilet.

“Yo necesito Yome Depoat for bassroom. Yo here me comb?”

“Oh, I be home,” I said.

“I here un our.”

I closed the door and went into a tailspin. I wanted a functioning sink, but I was petrified he was going to shit on me again. I pounded my fists on the door and paced the length of my apartment as I conjured my plan. Okay—he was going to remove my sink and replace it with another. How long will that take? Ten minutes? Ten hours? How should I know from sinks? I’ve never had to snake or plumb any bathroom accessory in my life.

I had to remove all temptation from the seductress and I had to do it fast. I confiscated my towels, toilet paper, panty liners, tampons, Q-tips, dental floss and toothbrush and hid them in my bedroom down the hall. I removed my shower curtain as a just in case and stuffed it into an 18 quart sized pasta pot in my kitchen.

Next in the anti-shit campaign was the door, the fucking seven-foot tall, heavy wood door. I had come so far, I couldn’t quit now. The opportunity for privacy had to be eliminated completely. I had to remove it from the hinges and hide it in under my bed. I whipped out my electric screwdriver and ripped that bitch off faster than he dropped trou.  I didn’t know from plumbing, but I could unhinge a door.

I deep-cleaned one more time to give it that fresh, guilt-laden bleach scent and waited for the ass master to rear his McDonald’s lovin’ head. I had gone to great lengths to prepare for this moment; to ensure that I wouldn’t be a detainee of his appalling manners a second time. No way was I going to be a day player in “The Bold and Dietarily Challenged”, or taken advantage of, or shown disrespect by an anus or a man, especially in my own home.

An hour later, Shituardo was back with a new sink. I opened the door and graciously welcomed him in. When we reached the scene of the crime, I stared him down. He glanced around the sparkling clean bathroom, darting his eyes at his shimmering porcelain lover. No words were exchanged. He surely sensed how defiled I felt. His jaw dropped for a moment and his cheeks turned red. I knew that he was nervous I’d call the building owner, his employer, and tell them what he’d done, something I wouldn’t actually do but wanted him to feel as tense, and worried, and as threatened as he made me feel.

I sat in the kitchen and vigilantly listened to his every move. If an earthquake was going to erupt, I would’ve felt the rumble and was prepared to deport him from his sanctuary. This was war and I was staying the course, steadfast; ready to retaliate with the same shock and awe he dumped into my innocent porcelain goddess. I had a stiletto heel on one side and my dog, Louie, on the other.

A few hours later, he said, “I done. I yo.” I took a deep breath and thought for a moment. I could confront him with words or hope that the stench of Clorox haunted him enough to think before he bootlegged another tenant’s bathroom. I could also say nothing. I wondered if I would regret it if I did not speak up.

He collected his tools and swept the floor with his rag. He walked to the door and went for the knob. I wanted to stop him, grab his ear, spread it open and scream into it loud enough to make his eyes bulge out. I didn’t. I wanted to proctology hunt for him to find a cure to his sewage crisis. I didn’t do that either. Instead, I let his asshole strut right out of my house without injury. I watched him walk down the long corridor in his green tank top, ostrich skin boots and women’s Lee jeans and all that echoed in my head was the song “Stayin’ Alive”.

I wondered if any of his Polaroid birds ever experienced the same and if so, had his unforgivable anus come up in conversation. I deliberated about my decision, and questioned myself, but ultimately felt I did the right thing.

Until, a few weeks later.

My landlord called to tell me that Chochiti needed to stop by and check the fuse box and asked if I’d be home. I said, “Oh, yes,” but inside screamed, “You bet your sweet fuckin’ ass I’m gonna be home.”

Chochiti knocked and before I genially invited him in; I closed the bathroom door, which felt like the equivalent of purchasing an alarm for protection. I stood beside him while he tinkered with the fuse box a few feet away from the bathroom, asking inane questions about his thoughts on the weather and how he was doing.

When he finished, he pointed to the bathroom and raised his eyebrow, asking, “I use?” That was all I needed, “Not until you can stop abusing my bathroom, Shituardo.” He didn’t understand (I knew he wouldn’t). He opened the door. The nerve! I threw myself in front of it and said, “el cuarto de baño es cerrado para usted” (the bathroom is closed for you). And it was awesome. I stood up for my bathroom, and in the process, stood up for myself



I am the oldest of five siblings, one sister and three brothers. My parents are divorced; my dad remarried over twenty-years ago. My mother has been with her hubbyish for seven-years. My brothers grew up with my father and my step-mother while my mother raised the goils.

We are the type of family that genuinely wants to listen and be there for each other. Content is secondary, especially if it hurts. Talking over each other and fighting for the punch line with the frequency of published images of celebutard antics wins.

We’re drowning in old school-why-change-therapy-is-for-pussies, coping mechanisms and superlative dysfunction, what family isn’t… right? Rampant misunderstandings, guilt, selective listening and denial are thematic aphrodisiacs that inform our communication and crisis management skills or lack thereof.

To love my family is as euphoric as it is catastrophic. As heart-crippling as it is heart-salvaging. And every morsel of it is nauseatingly addictive.

When I hit my thirties, I started seeing pieces of myself within each family member in a way I didn’t before. I saw each person objectively and understood how their histories and memories differed from my own. Imagine that? Some discussions connected new dots, and revised my interpretation of history and our family dynamics as I thought I understood them.

I became so intrigued by the complexities of how we love each other and how unconventional and non-linear it truly was. Each person was cast in a role based on somebody else’s perception, resulting in a skewed central plot that tirelessly called each person’s “character” into question. Still, I came back for more and wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.

My dad is a funny, loud, boisterous, intelligent man who leads a full and rich life. When I call him, I don’t say hi. I never have. I say, “Daahd.” He responds with, “Dawwwt.” It’s a trivial little thing but I love the continuity of it. He says things like, “I’m going wherever the schmooze takes me.” And, “If you want good service, shmear em’ right.”

He affectionately nicknamed all of his five kids Dick, Prick, Putz, Schmuck and Asshole. He always calls in a schmoozey mood, except on one particular day when my dog had marathon diarrhea. I had the dog’s leash on my wrist, a phone in my hand and I was trying to catch his explosions in a bag before they smacked the grass or my shoes.  It was all so eerily apropos. My dad said, “I’m at the newsstand grabbing the Times. I think I’m gonna treat myself to an afternoon cup of coffee. I can’t decide if I should have a cappuccino or a drip. I have to stop and pick up tampons for Kath and cleats for Nick. I’m having open heart surgery on Friday. Don’t worry. It’s no big deal—it’s just a triple bypass. Don’t bother coming. I’ll be fine, home by Monday. Ya know what; Putz can pick up his own fuckin’ cleats.”

Isn’t that a guilt-laden statement wrapped in a heart palpitating latke? His mother, my beloved grandmother Helen, committed suicide. The running joke for said suicide was that she was experiencing short-term memory loss. God forbid she get Alzheimer’s and forget to feel guilty for putting anyone out. Her suicide was a triumphant overdose precipitated by paralyzing depression and three previous failed attempts, facts easier to digest than the truth.

When my dad told me about his bypass, I thought he was kidding, and said, “ I’m denouncing Judaism for Breatharianism and joining the Tea Party. I’m also dating a lovely horticulturist named Hugh Jass.” He was supposed to laugh and say, “Fuuuuuck you.” Instead he said, “No big deal, just a little procedure. Tampons come in sizes? Oh, man, I’m fucked.”

That was Wednesday. I was stunned, shaken and went numb. It was the first time in my life I didn’t have time to fixate on whether I had heartapalooza, too. I just kept saying, “I’ll be there tomorrow,” over and over again, like the repetition was somehow going to change the feared outcome.

In a crisis, my sister doesn’t talk, she sings and gets cottonmouth. Me, I write eulogies and change outfits every five minutes. During our five hour drive to my dad’s house, I used her songs to inspire eulogies. She’d sing, “Grease is the word is the word that they heard. It’s got groove, it’s got meaning.” I’d eulogize. “Joel Schwartz was a groovy native of Brooklyn. Word on the street was, he was a fierce stickballer and felt up girls named Corrine.”

She rasped, “Corrine? Dad would never cop a feel on a Corrine. That’s the fourth outfit you’ve changed into. Pace yourself or you’re going to run out of clothes.” 

Of course I had a comment, “Strap that water bottle to your tongue, bitch. You look like the Mount Saint Helen’s of addicts erupting from an overdose.”

When we got to my dad’s, five outfits and a dozen bottles of Fiji water later, we sat down at the kitchen table. My sister was humming through chafed lips. I sat, distraught for a new outfit, and a pad and pen to eulogize anyone or thing, with uncontrollably sweaty palms.

He took out the angiogram pics for the show and tell portion of “Oh My God, I Can’t Fucking Breathe, Please Let This Be A Nightmare That I Wake Up From”. My dad, looking healthy as ever, began with, “I should be dead. I have 3 arteries that are 80% clogged and one that’s 100% blocked. See! My heart is a time bomb waiting to blow. Tic-tock tic-tock.” As my dad continued to sell us on his triple bypass, calling it the “Rolls Royce” of surgeries, I kept thinking, if his heart is gonna blow at any minute, shouldn’t he be horizontal or in the hospital. My sister just stared at him, searing him into her memory, and humming “Edelweiss”.

The pictures weren’t descriptive enough on their own. They needed that terrorist aplomb-oomph to drive his point home. “Without this surgery, I have a 2% chance of survival. So, I gotta do it. No big deal.”

It was the deathiest of moments. The wind was sucked right out of my lungs. I was faced with the reality that my parents weren’t going to live forever. Until this moment in my life, my parents had enjoyed perfect health. I spiraled faster than tea baggers chop a civil right.

The night before his operation, in need of a distraction and having nothing left to change into, I Googled my first blowjob for no particular reason. I found his email address and emailed him the following:

Dear Barrington,

How are you? I’m pretty good, no complaints, really. You probably don’t remember me. About 14-years ago, I gave you my first blowjob.

Anyway…Hope all is well,


I still berate myself for having sexual relations with a Barrington. Barrington?!?

At 4 AM we were caravanning to Good Samaritan Hospital. Nothing screams out of place quite like six loud Jews in a Catholic hospital. To prevent the off chance I might offend a Jesuit doctor, instead of wearing my “Moses Walks on Water” T-shirt, I decided to blend and wore my, “Jesus Loves Hollywood Hell House” T-shirt, a nice touch, I thought.

For six hours we waited. My three brothers. My sister, my stepmother and I; waited and waited. We gave new meaning to waiting:

Ben, I’m sleeping, leave me alone. Nick, let me play with your Game Boy. No cell phones, please. I wonder if Barrington emailed me back. Kerri, do I have another pair of shoes in the car? Shut up, that woman is crying. Come with me to the cafeteria to get water. What is the last name of the first guy who felt me up? I want to Google him. Fuck. How much longer? I don’t think I could date a prisoner. Mike, I was reading that first. My pants are crawling so far up my snatch. I can’t take a shit in public. Could that priest be any more “Dead Man Walking?” Why haven’t we heard anything? I’m executor of the will. Ben, that’s creepy and I’m older. Too bad dad’s not gay– he looks great with a shaved chest. Why didn’t you fully charge your iPod? Do you think the word breakfast means breaking the first fast of the day? You’re weird. You’re weirder. It’s been five hours. We should’ve heard something by now. Why did Bo Duke have such pervasive dick lips? Was it an actor’s choice? The creator’s choice or a network decision? Do you think Lana Turner has a giant pussy? Would it kill this hospital to have a fucking TV in the waiting room?

Eight hours later, fretted to the point of delirium, we were traipsing into the cardiac ICU, the irony of death wrapped in a riddle. Nurses were gorging themselves on Cheetos and cheese dip as they asked other nurses to cover for them while they ran out for a cigarette break. Meanwhile, before reaching my father’s room, we had to witness four post surgical studs embellished by cardiac battle wounds, each plugged into at least a dozen life preserving machines.

There was nowhere else I wanted to be then beside my dad before and after his surgery. I will never forget seeing him lying in a hospital bed under a soft grey blanket post surgery. The sound of tranquil, monotonous bubbles sucking the excess blood through the hoses in his chest sparked a feeling of hope and helplessness. He drifted in and out of consciousness, fighting the intabation tube, vigilantly being attended to by one of the nurses and surrounded by his family. Hearing the sound of the ubiquitous rhythmic ventilator was life affirming and terrifying. My thoughts fixated on “What if it stopped? What then?” I wasn’t emotionally prepared for a code red or code blue or whatever the fuck. Dozens of clear bags dangled from their silver nests and penetrated his veins, all filled with antibiotics, pain medication and nutrients, proof of life united with my anxiety that he wouldn’t survive. It was exquisitely nauseating in that this-isn’t-really-happening kind of way.

My brother, Ben, said Dad was living in twilight, the space between life and death. When he was awake, he was closest to death. When he was asleep he was closest to life.

I knew my dad was going to be fine when I called him two-weeks post surgery for my daily check in (after staying with him for almost a week, I checked in with him daily). He answered the phone when I called. I said, “Daahd” and he said, “Dawwt—I got a fuckin’ pulse, you can stop calling… schmuck.”.

One of my Dad’s concerns was having zipper scars on his legs and arms, and was relieved that he did not have them. He was also afraid of being treated like an invalid. Being a dominating, strong-willed person who needs to be in charge of himself, that was his biggest fear. He doesn’t submit to care gracefully; perhaps it invokes a fear of surrendering to someone else. I know for me it would, being self-reliant to the point of unhealthy obsession.

Our fear of losing my father won. We fell apart, completely. Over indulgence in drinking, eating, or whatever vice was at arm’s length, accessible enough to latch onto for a glimpse of solace.

My dad did more than survive his surgery. He went on to live as he always had, with gumption, passion and unrelenting zeal for his life. So, yeah, we put ourselves back together again because he put himself back together.

A year after his surgery, he called me and said, “Ya know, it just hit me that I had open heart surgery last year.” I wondered if that realization would be too overwhelming to cope with. It wasn’t. He was finally ready to digest the magnitude of what happened. Pre-surgery, my dad kept saying, “This is great. I’m pumped. I’m ready to go. Let’s get this done. Out in a week. Rolls Royce of surgeries. They’re treating me like a king. Best hospital in the world.”

After I got off the phone with my dad, it occurred to me, our familial vices, including denial is a blueprint for self-preservation. I digress, family—my family, is as heart-crippling as heart-salvaging.

As for Barrington, he had no recollection of me or my blowjob. However, he did email me back. He’s a cowboy now living off of his trust fund in Oklahoma. He became a crack addict. We still keep in touch. Sort of.

*Image courtesy of Etsy

Homesick Abortion

My abortion, Pippa, and I are really close. Really, we are. She’s not homesick in the slightest. For an ethereal aberration who communicates via text message and telepathy, I must admit, she surprised me with her fast-talking, deadpan, assertive personality and wild history.

Neither of us expected to share my womb for nine months. I was twenty-one and in college; it just wasn’t feasible. Once she arrived, Pippa missed her aborted fetus community, a small village called Pheerknot that resembled a strip mall with themed venues, loud dive bar, woody coffee shop, grocery store, and an art deco hotel with vintage art and etched mirrors. Pippa was vacationing in my womb, to detox from a few weeks of hard-partying inside a celebutante.

Being pro-choice, I always felt that if I became pregnant when I wasn’t ready, I’d be decisive about termination. When I was confronted with the reality of pregnancy, it wasn’t as black and white as I thought. I wasn’t indecisive per se; I just needed to catalogue my reasons and questions. On a shallow note, being knocked up would’ve been the perfect excuse to inhale fat at the speed of light, which would’ve been a real buzz kill for cock-hunting excursions with the girls. On a serious note, I wasn’t emotionally, physically or financially ready and knew I’d regret carrying a pregnancy to term, much less having a kid. Conversely, if I terminated and stopped the process, would I mourn what could’ve been?

Pippa was very clear; she wanted to be aborted. Her plan was never to be a kid. She loved her freedom and her artsy, indie circle of friends. She thrived on cultivating her personal style—she was such a fashion whore, that Pippa. She wanted to finish her novel, “A Tail of Two Ovum”. Who was I to argue with her? The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Pippa hooked up with me simply for some R&R before heading home. She had a fabulous time with her previous hostess. They went to Vegas for four days of round the clock merriment, a couple of openings in Los Angeles, a quick trip to New York for a premiere and then back to Los Angeles, so Pippa could ship out. She was feeling a bit homesick, but needed to decompress and thought my vegetarian womb would be the perfect destination. She longed to play canasta with her fetus girlfriends, to compare notes about previous womb hostesses, gossip about the latest in Pheerknot, work on crochet projects, and among other things, she also wanted to wrap up the first draft of her book.

Though, breaking up is never easy, this was one of the most pleasant break-ups I ever had. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a decision Pippa and I entered into lightly. God no— Vacuums give off such negative ions and I hate making appointments. Still, we never, not once, looked back with regret or sorrow. In fact, we considered it one of our best decisions and felt proud of the choice we made.

Pippa wanted the street cred multi-aborted fetuses have in Pheerknot. Apparently, in Pheerknot, miscarriages quickly lost their notoriety and risked banishment, and this was a place where Pippa felt a genuine connection. I really had no idea how passionate aborted fetuses felt about miscarriage until Pippa finally cleared my confusion via a series of text messages, “Miscarriage is the poor man’s abortion. An ostensibly courteous way to terminate a pregnancy without acknowledging that abortion is also God’s way. Not to be cunty, but if you so much as think about trying to miscarry me, you’re gonna fuck everything up and rob me of a choice that has both distinction and reverence. I’ll be a fuckin’ fugitive in Pheerknot. You’ll be jeopardizing my future.”

Fugitive? That was a little over-dramatic. Coming from my womb, I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less. I texted her and said, “You need to calm your ass down. Don’t you think you’re overreacting just a little bit? It’s not like I said I wasn’t going to have an abortion.” Pippa wrote back immediately, “Don’t cross me, child. We’re having this abortion. I don’t want none of that coat-hanger bullshit, either. And I want a new vacuum. I’m just sayin’.”

It was when she quoted self-help authors that I wanted to throw myself down the next flight of stairs I could find. Instead, I decided to hear her out. Her text read, “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided. —Tony Robbins”

Tony Robbins?! Yuck. I was ready to make like a flame, and stop, drop and roll myself off a roof. Pippa sensed my angst and sent me another flurry of text messages that read, “To quote Jerry Falwell, Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions. Now, make like a fundamentalist and shut the fuck-up. You got me all twisted up inside. I need a fucking joint to calm my nerves. What the fuck was I thinking when I chose a drug-free-rarely-drinks-vegetarian?” My non-response infuriated her. She telepathically screamed, “Don’t ignore me. And please stop telling me I need a nap. Gaaaaaaaaahd.”

“Listen Misty Waters,” she said, “You shouldn’t need convincing. I thought you were ready to spread and join your vacuum-riding-stirrup-sisters-in-arms.”

“Duh, Pippa,” I snapped.

I’m not a dumb ass; I didn’t view abortion as a means of birth control. I was a condoms-foam-diaphragm girl, walking into each fuck, ready to do battle and confront sperm head on. I was the General of my womb. “You want in, you’re gonna have to fight with everything you’ve got, Spunk Boy. Cause you ain’t rollin’ outta my cunt with a pulse.”

Pippa read my thoughts and, telepathically, we went back and forth.

“I knew you were my kinda broad.”

“I’m as pro-choice as they come, even when I need a minute to figure shit out.”

“I know. I just really, really want to maintain my street cred back home. I know I’ll be your first. Having been down this road many, many, many times…”

“Three manys?”

“Yeah. Why so surprised? I was born to be aborted. All different women, too, but all very unique and special in her own way. I choose carefully. We’ll get through this. And I promise you’ll never regret it.”

Pippa was very clear about what she wanted, a private doctor in a tranquil officey setting, not a nondescript steriley hospital. To tell you the truth, I was surprised. I thought a clinic abortion had way more street cred. Maybe just less than a back-alley-number, the butchest abortion possible. Pippa said it didn’t matter as long as she was aborted. Guilt is my cardio, and I logged plenty of it to last me a hundred lifetimes. I was only too happy to oblige. By twenty-one, I had an enviable shoe collection. At $300 a pair, Pippa knew I wasn’t cheap. Of course I would’ve paid twice that or more to give Pippa the abortion of her dreams—the better the abortion, the sweeter the karma, she explained.

When I asked my girlfriend, Zoë to drive me to the gyno for my procedure, she asked me why I wasn’t going to a clinic. I explained Pippa’s request. “Abortions today are so demanding, aren’t they?”  Zoë said, winking. She had a point. Then again, Zoë had to beg her fetus to go clinic because she was pushing for back alley. Zoë’s embryo, Shennequa was one tough egg, a throwback to the 50s when back alley abortions were all the rage for that season’s fashionable fetus. I kind of admired Shennequa’s assertiveness though. I think Zoë did, too, secretly. Zoë’s Shennequa was also hot for a Fonzie fetus she met earlier that year in Pheerknot between sojourns from womb to womb. He was taking a one-year abortion-sabbatical to work on his Harley, repaint his condo and try Bikram’s Yoga.  He was like a superstar in the trendiest aborted circles, spinning yarns that made the most uptight feeteye wet. Shennequa was eager to get home and wanted an impressive abortion story.

Pippa was scheduled for check-out at 10 AM. We got up early for a proper coffee klatch, sipping freshly percolated beans and noshing on raspberry scones, a recipe she swore by. They were delish. We had so much common ground. We had similar taste in men, both suckers for men who made us laugh and had unbridled magnetism, looks were secondary. We dished about the annoying before-the-much-anticipated-date blemish, how such things were just our luck. Pippa and I valued life a lot, our own and others and our freedom. We realized that we both skewed whoreish. I think— No. I know she was sluttier. I thought the time I got caught by two cops with flashlights on my ass as I rode my joystick du jour was racy, not to Pippa. That girl was hosted by many a porn star; one of her hosts pulled a train back in ‘79. As we recounted our best-of-fuck-yarns, we laughed and felt bonded.

I asked her where she saw herself in ten-years. I was curious. She said, “On the A-list abortion list. Hello. Do you know me?!” Who knew all of that moxie could radiate from such an ethereal bird?

Pippa thought about coming to me sooner. Though, she didn’t want to move me up on the list. There’s a list? Sure. All fetuses have lists, as it turned out. Pippa admitted she wanted to hook up with other chicks and be aborted by them first. I was pissed; we got into a huge fight.

“I may not be womb Cancun, but I thought I was at least a Lauderdale West womb. You’re the one who came to me as a vacation spot to decompress.”

“Don’t be so sensitive. I’m not complaining about the womb service. Chill out. Every year I make a Top 20 list of women I want to be aborted by.”

“What number am I?”

After I tirelessly hocked, she finally confessed, “Fifteen”.

I asked Pippa what she based her list on: must always use birth control, feminist, funny, easy to talk to and absolutely, positively had to be pro-choice, to ensure she’d get aborted. I was flattered, really. She asked if I had a list of qualities I wanted my aborted fetus to have– What a good question! I hadn’t really given it much thought. Off the top of my head, I said, “A girl, to be sure, someone I loved enough to abort, knowing that that bond would forever connect us and keep us in each other’s hearts no matter where life, in spirit or in body carried us.”

It was sweet. We were just two little peas in a pod.

After our abortion, Pippa and I stayed in touch just the same for a few weeks. She was so happy to be home and started dating Shennequa’s Fonzie feeteye. We talked about life, love, sex, china. This and that.

Though, we never did hook up again in my womb, we connected from time to time. Mostly to bust the other’s chops and have a laugh.

Looking back, I would’ve made the same choice. Though it wasn’t easy, I had Pippa. I didn’t have to go it alone—she was with me every step of the way. When last we spoke, she told me that if I ever decided to reproduce, she would consider going to term with me. Hearing that from her twelve-years later meant everything to me, especially because I still remained so indecisive about having a child and simultaneously afraid that I would never feel capable of being a parent. Respecting and loving her as much as I did, that confidence bolstered my own. I wanted to say as much. All I could think of was, “I bet you say that to all the girls, but what’s my number on the list should such an auspicious occasion occur?”

I’m still waiting for an answer…. that’s so Pippa.

Homesick Abortion: Written by Katie Schwartz / katiegirl@gmail.comA variation of this essay appeared in the Monkeybicycle Dirty Humor Issue #5


*Image courtesy of Felt and Wire