Past Tense

She was not the jealous type and never suspected him of infidelity. All the same, she was morbidly curious about his former lovers—what kind of panties they wore, what they looked like, how smart they were, what sexual techniques they had—and couldn’t bear the thought of being inferior to them in any way.

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Rating: 9.6/10 (5 votes cast)


I used to fantasize that Zach would go on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” get made over for me, and ask over the special dinner Ted taught him to make if I can ever forgive him for having been so stupid as to turn me down, he was just scared, et cetera, and now he’s realized his mistake and agonized over it, and will I give him a second chance?

Sometimes I would say no and sometimes yes, but invariably, all the Queer Eye guys gasped while watching the clip when I came on the screen and each exclaimed, “Oh she’s delightful,” then another “delicious,” and another “de-lovely!”

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She was deep in discussion with the philosophy professor when his wife called. After hanging up the phone with a grimace, he told the student never to get married: “It’s like saying to someone, ‘I love you so much, I want to trap you for the rest of your life!’”

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Second Fiddle

Everyone thought she refused to date him because she was “afraid of ruining the friendship.” But back when they barely knew each other, she had watched him throw himself at another girl; and she hated the thought of taking somebody’s leftovers or of being Plan B.

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She had always thought of her father as an unreasonably harsh disciplinarian and had little if any recollection of his tenderness. Yet later on in life, her brother reminded her that when she had been very small and made what she considered to be a “gourmet” sandwich of ham, barbecue sauce, Fritos, and Tang sprinkled on top for good measure, their father had eaten it all and told her several times how good it was.

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The sisters could not get along. There were so many trigger words in their respective vocabularies that even the most mundane comment from either of them would immediately be interpreted by the other as a scathing insult.

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Rating: 7.2/10 (5 votes cast)


When she first went away to college, she was excited to join the student group organized around social justice. She dropped out a few months later with the impression that behind a flimsy façade of civil rights-inspired rhetoric, it was all just an excuse for people to smoke up together, trade indie badges, and get laid without having to go to a club.

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Everyone has those nightmares (easily dismissed once they’ve graduated into the workforce) in which they’ve forgotten to study for an exam or to turn in a project.

The hardest thing about going back to grad school was waking up from one of these nightmares with the momentary uncertainty of whether or not it might be true.

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Rating: 7.1/10 (7 votes cast)


All during his life, most types of learning came naturally to him. It was both a blessing and a curse because, seldom having been forced to cultivate patience, he would become doubly frustrated on the rare occasions that he couldn’t readily absorb a new technique or concept.

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Rating: 8.3/10 (7 votes cast)


When he died, her father left her an inheritance large enough to travel the world many times over. She was so wracked by guilt that she had a recurring nightmare in which she was a cannibal—literally living off the remains of the dead.

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Rating: 8.8/10 (6 votes cast)