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Home: The Toast

Virginia_Woolf_1927We live in an age of worry — things are falling apart, hell is other people, you’re wasting your life — and it can seem like nobody understands your particular flavor of agony. Until now! Whatever your existential dilemma, at DIAL-A-MODERNIST, we’ve got an answer for your every despair.

Dear Modernist,

I work at a high-powered consulting firm in Manhattan and I feel totally guilty about loving my job! I just want to live and wear great suits and sync calendars! But should I put my career on hold to have a love life? I have this terrible feeling I’m going to wake up one day and want kids, and it’ll be too late, but I just don’t right now — is that a bad thing?

–Birkin, Not Babies

Dear Miss B,

It is enough to have this day! the occasional red Starbucks holiday still flashing from the sea of white grandes; high-pitched click of your glossy heels on the cement; laptop buzzing in your great leather bag; sunglasses tinted into the sidewalk; glossy black windows; the spine-tingling jingle of some stranger’s iPhone marimba; life; Manhattan; this moment in January.

–V. Woolf


Dear Modernist,

I’ve been on-again-off-again seeing a woman — well, I wouldn’t call it seeing. But I told her we had to break it off, it wasn’t fair to he her, or her fiancé. Screw him, she said, I’m in love with you. You have to go back to him, I said. He’s a good man. I don’t think she’s taken it well — I have a bruise on my temple, and I don’t remember last night.

–Have or Have Not

Have Not:

The bar is empty. Take a whisky. The glass is small in your hand, the amber glows above the mirrored surface. Put the glass down, empty. The bartender pours in another few inches. A woman comes in, sits at the other end of the bar. She lifts her martini, but the glass shatters, the drink slips down her leg, the olive skitters across the lacquered bar. The world breaks everyone.

–E. Hemingway


Dear Modernist,

I teach night classes at a community college, and the view from my semi-basement office is of the parking lot, but beyond that is the ritzy Faculty Club of the nearby university, which always starts to glitter after dark with these elaborate dinner parties. I don’t mind my office, or my job, but sometimes, I do have to wonder — what’s the difference between them and me?

–Untenured Is The Night

Dear Night,

Let me put it this way, old sport: bright lights, tinny yellow cocktail music, slithery people in sequined cardigans and tweed, sherry in glasses the size of your glasses. They’ll invite you with a stiff cardstock invitation, at least Paperless Post. Or you can give yourself the green light, and no one will be the wiser — until they ask about your book, and then you’ll be nameless, beat on, borne back ceaselessly into the canapés.

–F.S. Fitzgerald


Dear Modernist,

It’s a month away from prom, and I don’t have a date — which, I swear, I wouldn’t care about, except I already bought a dress. Ugh, high school without prom is such a waste… I mean, I’m getting etherized here! Hurry up please it’s time —

–Manless in Middlesex

Dear Middlesex,

April is the cruellest month — the women come and go, talking of beaux and OhSheGlows — and did she dare to wear peach? But don’t fret, yet. I know you’re waiting for that “Let us go then, you and I”, but a month’s still time for a hundred indecisions! And don’t get your hopes up, because this is the way the prom ends…this is the way the prom ends…this is the way the prom ends…not with him banging you, but with a whimpering boy, trousers rolled. Shantih shantih shake it off.

–T.S. Eliot


Dear Modernist,

I’ve just started online dating — okay, I created a profile — but I can’t bring myself to click on any of my matches! I think I might have more confidence in a city, where I’d never have to see a ditched date again, but I’ve lived in the same small town my whole life. Who am I going to meet whom I haven’t already met?

–Perplexed in Peoria

Dear Perplexed oh dear oh dear Perplexed is it that your name is Perplexed and why your name is Perplexed and what is your name Perplexed and whether it is Perplexed and what is my name Perplexed in Peoria or is it Peoria or is my name Gloria. What is Astoria or is my name Gloria what if my name was Gloria Gloria did I mention I had a story or was it a glory or what is a glory. Glory is what grows in Peoria wasn’t it glorious wasn’t it terrible never to not to know what it is not to grow up. You think that you want to grow up to be Gloria but nothing grows up in Peoria.

–G. Stein


Dear Modernist,

Writing this on the walk of shame… Went out with this great Irish bloke last night, but it turns out he’s the worst! Even though (yes, I admit it!) I said yes & yes & yes, turns out he’s got a girl, and so here I am, wandering around this city…it’s not even eleven o’clock and I’ve nearly been run over by a funeral, found spiritual kinship with my psychic double, experienced my birth in eight languages…kidding…sort of…

–Inelocutable in Ithaca

Dear Inelo-cutie-pie,

What chance cuddleys, what in yesteryear was this true feeling for this false hiccuping father of fornicationists who stuttered his way into your bloomingbed! The bore the more: better to begone, be No-one, hurtle-turtle your way away from the colossal wreck, barren and bare and bear in mind that men are hippohobbilies and hobbled cuckolds and it’s cockles and mussels, alive-alive-o.

–J. Joyce

Adrienne Raphel is a graduate student who lives in Cambridge, MA. She has written for the New Yorker, Lana Turner, and Wag's Revue, among other publications. Her first book, The Pretty Girl Who Was Smart and the Beautiful Girl Who Was Stupid, was published by her parents when she was seven.

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