tommy kha

Here’s a piece of fiction I wrote a while back.

I shopped it around but it wasn’t the right time. Timing is everything.

Also, it need s a rewrite…

The Smaggots

It’s a perfect day in my local Brooklyn pie shop. I’m enjoying a strong cup of coffee and a day-old blueberry muffin. Lovely. I’ve gotten up early enough so that I don’t have to rush, and my work docket is full of fun stuff today. Attractive grad school types fill this local joint and there’s a charming smell of apple pie wafting from the oven. I’m easing into my day.  Nothing can ruin this.

Except something does.

Out of nowhere the door swings open. A walking nightmare has arrived. It’s a local gay couple that I’ve grown to despise through covert observation, eavesdropping, and baseless assumption.

My day-old muffin gets dry and thick mid-swallow. Suddenly it tastes like a two, or even three-day old muffin. So long, appetite.

Another peaceful mid-morning snack ruined – by the Smaggots.

It’s very rare that I can decide to judge someone without meeting them and interacting a little bit first. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I’m a New Yorker. It doesn’t take much for me to judge you, but usually you have to do something to me personally. A dirty look, unfunny misogynist joke, or an invitation to a Pilate’s class will usually do it – but Smaggots?

Smaggots can whither me on sight.

Allow me to define the term, in case it’s not already clear. “Smaggot” is a word I coined using the words “Smug” and “Homosexual.” Smaggot. See how the words fit together?

Soon they order, and as if they can sense my contempt, they sit down right next to me. The Smaggot couple marks their turf by having one of their pithy quip-versations:

“I saw Margaret at the organic butcher. She wants us to go to Sufjan at BAM next month.”

“Ugh, she’s such a poser. Let me guess, she was buying grass-fed beef shins?”

“Of course, she just HAD to copy us, right? Oh, she says the Etsy business is going well.”

“Ugh. People will buy anything. Bracelets made of reclaimed IBM computer parts? Really?”

They strike a pose and raise their eyebrows. Did anyone hear their uber-hipster convo?  Their eyes dart around the room. Smaggots do that. They ruin the atmosphere of a bar or restaurant or subway car by oozing snide, exuding smarmy, extruding their own insecurities and making it your problem. They turn their noses up at everything. They lord their attitudes. They poison everyone around them,  serving up sassy, stylish Hate-orade, and laughing at their own jokes.

Usually, Smaggots are found alone, since normal people can’t stand to be with them, and indeed they frequently even find each other repellent. This, however,  is a couple. Good lord. They kissed! They’re boyfriends. No! It’s not just twice as much annoyance, it’s annoyance squared. Oh wait. That’s twice as much. Two squared is four.


Even so, this is my turf. I’m determined to enjoy the rest of my coffee. I dig in my heels. I’d like to see these two Smaggots try to ruin my well plan afternoon skedge.

“OMG you’ll never guess what I saw my roommate doing last night?


“Praying! Like, to God.”

“Adorable!” He claps his hands. “How ironic! Like how I’d wear my Phil Collins half-tee to a Death Cab for Cutie concert.”

“I thought so too, but then turns out she does it every night. Right before bed.”

“Ew! Believing in God – so passe. She looks so cool too! That’s a shame.”

Again, they strike a sassy pose. Pouted lips. Stinky cheese.

I’m far from a believer, but hearing these two snark about their roommate makes me want to get baptized immediately. How can I share a core opinion with these two? Deep breaths, I tell myself. Deep breaths. This will all be over soon. All you have to do is finish your coffee and enjoy the rest of your day. Don’t let these two bubblegum cynics ruin it for you.

One of the Smaggots is bug-eyed and slack jawed. He’s a mouth breather, and I can’t figure out what quality he possesses that sets him above everyone else. The other is taller and more stork-like, with an improbably long neck and a permanent sneer on his face – as if constantly smelling bad cheese. He moves in flicks and dabs. It’s like a long time ago someone called him ‘graceful’, and he decided to really take it to heart.

Bug-eye has gotten up for a coffee refill. On the way back, he bumps into a stroller and spills some half-and-half onto a baby’s leg.

“Golly!” He exclaims, all syrupy and sweet. “I didn’t see you there out of the corner of my eye!”

“It’s okay. It’s just milk.”

He snorts. “Um, it’s organic, locavore half-and-half.”

“Oh. Okay. Well it’s no big deal.”

“I should get my eyes checked. I should have seen that fortress. I didn’t know they made strollers so large!”

“Um, you know what? It was a gift from my in-laws. Is that okay?”

“Yeah, it’s fine! Love your hat!” He says, rolling his eyes.

He flips an imaginary mane of hair, and smags his way back to his seat.

Bug-eye sits back down and loudly talks to Stork-o about a New York Press article.  Apparently population explosion is the biggest threat to the environment, and the global economy. We should all think about adopting, instead of conceiving children. While I completely agree, I don’t think such a theory needs to be espoused as punishment to a young mother and her infant. I mean, you’re the one who spilled the milk, Smaggo – don’t cry over it.

My eyelid has started to spasm. I hate admitting defeat, but these two are getting under my skin. I pad though my iPhone for something to distract me. Nope, no new Twitter posts since I checked two minutes ago. I think of reading the news, but then I remember the New York Times  loves to slander downtown comedy theaters. I’m not in the mood for that.

I feel trapped. Cornered. The Smaggots sense my unease; their impending victory.  They move in for the kill.

“Ew, Seth! There’s something stinky in my quiche!”

“Shut up, dummy, that’s just the pickled lingonberries.”

“Smells like Chinese pussy.”

They assume the stance – heads cocked, lips pursed. They’re scanning the room, daring anyone to take offense at their racist remark. I mean, clearly they’re allowed to say things like that. They’re in an inter-generational poly-ethno-morphic open cis-lationship.  Comments like that are ironic, dummy!

One of them catches me looking at him. He shoots me a look that seems to say: “Hey, if you can’t see the post-modern commentary, then maybe you’d feel more comfortable in Queens.  The guy who made the comment was a quarter Filipino, for God’s sake.”

I’ve had enough. I admit defeat. With broken shoulders I gather my things and shuffle out.  I simply can’t stomach this crap.

I’ll finish the rest of my afternoon alone in my apartment. It’s not as sunny or airy as the coffeehouse but at least I won’t have to overhear such banal Smaggotry.

I take a long shower, and try to reclaim myself. Center myself. Regain my day.

I remind myself that the reason I’m free to judge the Smaggots is because I, myself – am so very different. I’m nothing like them, and I should be proud of myself. After all, I’ve got a great evening to look forward to. The guy I’m dating, a Korean/Nigerian Atheist who writes for McSweeney’s, is taking me to BAM to see Joanna Newsom. We’re going to an organic, locavore cocktail lounge afterward – Jun-Hyon Buntu just loves a well crafted martini.

I’m almost ready. I open my MacBook Air to check an Icelandic fashion blog. Frustrated, I change my clothes. Right before I leave the house I check the mirror.

My neck seems longer than usual. My mouth is sneering,  as if I smell something awful. I try to correct myself. I try to smile in a natural, warm way.

The grimace widens.

I’m starting to feel like a Smaggot.




4 thoughts on “Smaggots

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