Adam Reger | Freelance Writer

Pittsburgh-based freelance writer

Is This a Real Question that Real People (Still) Ask?

I’ve been almost completely oblivious of the MTV series The Hills, which I guess just concluded. When I’ve run across it it’s either been through The Soup or just flipping around. When I’ve had the option of giving it more attention than The Soup would, though, I’ve inevitably bailed.

I’ll skip listing all the reasons under the category of how bad and dumb it seemed—MTV, class warfare, blah blah blah—and cite the only one I needed: Was I really supposed to believe that this was real?

It was on the other day at the gym and I was trapped watching it for about thirty minutes. (The remote was with another gym-goer, who seemed sincerely into it.) Even with the sound off, this thing looked much closer to The Office than The Real World (which, granted, is not completely “real” but is not a record of actors playing characters): do reality shows typically station two cameras around a cafe table to record the facial reactions of both participants in a conversation?

I could go on—and to be fair, if I let myself go on at length about this ridiculousness I’d probably get around to talking about the achievement of the young actresses I’ve seen on the show, doing an actually pretty passable job of simulating the utter mundaneness of everyday conversation—but I’d rather not. What spurred all this bloviation is this Yahoo! TV Blog post on the (shocking!) apparent fakeness of the entire show. (Although, to be fair, there’s lots of acknowledgment of the long-running charges that the show is fake, and plenty of intelligent on-the-other-hand equivocation. And the post did point me in the direction of this story, which is pretty excellent.)

Lyrics of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner,” Reformatted as Flash Fiction

I am sitting in the morning at the diner on the corner. I am waiting at the counter for the man to pour the coffee.

And he fills it only halfway. And before I even argue he is looking out the window at somebody coming in.

“It is always nice to see you,” says the man behind the counter to the woman who has come in. She is shaking her umbrella.

And I look the other way as they are kissing their hellos.

I’m pretending not to see them. Instead I pour the milk.

I open up the paper. There’s a story of an actor who had died while he was drinking. It was no one I had heard of.

And I’m turning to the horoscope and looking for the funnies when I’m feeling someone watching me and so I raise my head. There’s a woman on the outside looking inside. Does she see me?

No, she does not really see me because she sees her own reflection. And I’m trying not to notice that she’s hitching up her skirt. And while she’s straightening her stockings her hair has gotten wet.

Oh, this rain it will continue through the morning. As I’m listening to the bells of the cathedral I am thinking of your voice…

And of the midnight picnic once upon a time before the rain began…

I finish up my coffee. It’s time to catch the train.

This is Dumb

But this site says I write like J.K. Rowling, based on their analysis of five or six paragraphs of a short story I had lying around. This Entertainment Weekly blog post summarizes why this is dumb. I don’t know what I expected. Anyway, further evidence that genre writing is where I’m headed.