It's the bottom of the ninth, and the bases are loaded. Unlike the mongoloids on first and second, who are distracted by a flock of angry geese, honking and fucking behind the right field fence (geese sex is like rape), Tim stands focused, his foot wedged against third base. As catcher, it's up to me to keep him from getting home. Ten years later I'd be much more willing to let Tim "slide" into "home plate."

(He would also get there embarrassingly quickly.)

But back to the mid-90's.

Our pitcher has an ugly curveball. Now, Coach Dave calls time and tells Keith to step in. Keith Pearson is about a half-eaten glue bottle away from finalizing his retardation. Everyone groans as Coach guides Keith to the mound, his Batman cape fluttering in the breeze. On the mound, Keith shoves the ball down his pants. I'm not sure if this is called a "balk" or what, but eventually everyone walks to the next base, including that fucking asshole Tim who scores a run. Afterwards he runs around whooping and pumping his fist—also what he did after "scoring" ten years later.

I intern at what they call a "vanity" publishing house. We're like that fake music video company that pissed out the auto-tuned disease that is "Friday." He also high-fived the other guys waiting their turn.

Pouting, I ask Coach Dave why the heck he let Keith pitch, or at least attempt to. Coach explains that Keith showed "spirit," and also that Keith's dad was nice enough to give Coach a discount on a pack of blank cassette tapes. Yes, my catcher's mask drops to the dusty ground with a hollow thud then. The ominous thunderhead that looms above the field growls. That day, a cruel life-lesson beams me like a knuckleball to the throat: money can replace talent.

It was a really fucking sad day in Mudville, is what I'm saying.

As it happens, now, I don't have either money or talent. My dream of being a professional athlete ended on that gloomy afternoon. Then, in college, I accidentally majored in English. So with no marketable skills and a distrust of the structural integrity of cardboard boxes, I found myself interning at a publishing house this summer. A publishing house…or so I thought. It was there that Keith's metaphorical Batman cape fluttered once again. Only this time Keith was a retired accountant who thought watching Goodfellas and eating gnocchi equipped him with the skills to write a faux-witty crime thriller.

See, I intern at what they call a "vanity" publishing house, which takes its title quite literally. I would give you the actual name of this place, but we publish a lot of lawyers and I don't want to get sued. We also work with doctors, accountants, Gilded Age robber barons, and pretty much every other white collar profession. Except, that is, actual writers.

Seahorses are Real by Zillah Bethell
Oh yeah? What next, this book is real too? …Oh for FUCK'S SAKE, SERIOUSLY??
We're like that fake music video company that pissed out the auto-tuned disease that is "Friday." You know, the one where Rebecca Black's mom paid four grand so her daughter could ponder which seat to take. That one. Instead of giving our clients a token rapping black man, we give them shiny books with their picture on the back. (The rapper costs extra.) But the joke's on them, because no one fucking reads books anymore, let alone the self-published masturbatory dookie this press allows.

The only writing skills our clients need are those required to fill out a check. They aren't that different from Donald Trump, who thinks hosting a C-list reality TV show qualifies him to run for president, despite having less political experience than Eliot Spitzer's prostitutes.

You: So what if a bored doctor's wife wants to pursue her lifelong dream of being a smut novelist? Who are you to spit on her aspirations, Kathryn? At least writing will offer a distraction from hand-jobbing the pool boy, right?
Me: Motherfucker, you haven't read some of the manuscripts we've received.
You: Oh.

Usually something even mildly sexual keeps me interested. The only reason I passed U.S. history was because I had a crush on nineteenth century presidential hopeful Henry Clay. (Keep that between us.) And I guess the same reasoning explains why you've stuck with this article so long. But selling sex can only go so far (Tim didn't exist). (You stupid bastards.)

Recently, in a manuscript, one woman exploited something that I hold to be sacred: hooking up with near strangers. Imagine a lady eating Dove chocolate, orgasming to a Lifetime original movie while writing a sex scene. This bored housewife creamed out the equivalent of a 13-year-old girl's version of a Penthouse letter. She actually wrote phrases like "her groin throbbed with fire." (Her fucking groin?) And, "His man-stick gushed forth," which, I suppose, has a certain Dickensian charm to it. But since this broad is rich, there is talk of ghostwriting the whole novel. I just don't understand it.

Amazingly, though, there are actually some real publishers out there who accept shitty manuscripts and try to market them to the public. But that's another story. Actually, it's four stories, and it's called the Twilight series.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know this. I think I'm gonna go write a novel about it.

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