I need a break. A break from whiny complaints about trivial predicaments, a break from answering ignorant questions.

Who are these people who haven’t noticed that the world is burning? Or heard of Google? They feel tortured by insignificant annoyances; refuse to acknowledge their insufficiencies; blame others for their failures; deny the value of kindness and respect; demand instructions with links and diagrams, and still can’t figure out how to tweak a single detail of their insular lives. Do I really need to point out the obvious: that smoking, drinking, and Helicobacter pylori cause bad breath; crumbling toenails need anti-fungal tincture, not another coat of red polish; and reputations ruined through cheating, lying, and stealing are harder to repair than sun-damaged skin?

And then there’s the ignoramus who’s flooded my inbox with orthographic and grammatical errors, ridiculous prejudices and superstitions, narcissistic self-obsession, and oversized attachments. Their bleating never stops: “How can I get more Instagram followers? Why did my soulmate block me? Where do I find streets paved in gold?”

How much time can a human being waste staring into a mirror, stalking others on social media, and driving a leased vehicle into the desolate outback to attend semi-religious relationship seminars? At this point, I just want to shout: Go on, get that Brazilian butt lift if it’ll make you shut up!

As it happens, the good people of Queen Mob’s Teahouse are closing up shop. Despite my rant, I loved writing Halp!! Questionable Advice, and I loved writing my previous series Let Me Clarify: Unsolicited Advice. Thank you, dear woodland folk of QMT! Thank you, editor extraordinaire Russell Bennetts, for your trust in me and my words. The magic continues at Berfrois, of course. I hope to see you all there!


The following list is an excerpt. My entire flash essay is at Berfrois.

 Ten Questions I Asked After Seeing Marathon Man at the Movies


1.) Did you see me in the foyer, buying candy at the refreshment stand?


2.) Did you watch me flirting with the boy behind the counter when he tallied up my coins?


3.) Did you observe me from the back of the almost empty cinema, nibbling on my Milky Way before the lights were dimmed?


4.) Why didn’t I change seats when your briefcase grazed my foot?


5.) Was I distracted by a larger-than-life Sir Laurence Olivier drilling into larger-than-life Dustin Hoffman’s Hollywood teeth?


6.) Did your classy overcoat make me think you were a doctor, or a lawyer, or a dentist like my father?


7.) Why did I apologize?


8.) Did you think I was giving you permission?


9.) Was it like the time my father filled that cavity in my left maxillary molar and skipped the anesthetic?


10.) Escaping the scene, will I outrun the story?


Genia Blum is a Swiss Ukrainian Canadian writer, translator, and dancer. Her work has been anthologized, published widely in literary journals, and received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. “Slaves of Dance,” based on excerpts from her memoir in progress, was named a “Notable Essay” in The Best American Essays 2019. Find @geniablum on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website: geniablum.com

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