Talk Show

Dana Levin

I’m being interviewed on a television talk show, I’m an expert on breathing. “Sooo,” the host croons, “Oxygen. How’s that feel?” “Like having an alien in your chest,” I say, and the live audience roars. “Let’s see you breathe,” the host says. “Go ahead, lung up ―” and I do, inhaling and exhaling to wild applause.

It’s billed as an “in-depth two-part exclusive” on retaining the use of all my limbs. “Which do you like better,” the host asks, “twirling your hair or jiggling your foot? Opening a door or kicking it closed? Which,” he leans in, “would you prefer: Parkinson’s or Polio?” Flustered, I start to stand up and he slaps his hands to his face, saying, “She’s standing up, ladies and gentlemen, she’s standing up ―” and I freeze, to mounting applause, half in and half out of my chair.

It’s another television talk show and I’m “the Doctor of Digestion,” a metabolic wiz. They wheel me out to the stage perched on an old-timey stand-up scale. “Sooo,” the host croons. “Food. How’s that feel?” Someone cues video and we turn to montage: laparoscopic images of everything I’ve had to eat for the last three days. “Carne Adovada!” the announcer booms. “Split Pea Soup!” Each announcement meets with wild applause. When the video ends I turn back to the host but find you, smoldering comfortably in the host’s appointed chair ― you lean forward smiling, your skull-eye gleams, you stick your black-boned finger right down my throat.

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