A Pimple on the Ass of Drew Barrymore Speaks*
[pdf]

Sam Lipsyte

 

I guess it won’t be long now. We don’t get that long. We get popped, lasered, eaten down by cream. We get stabbed, drained, injected with poison subcutaneously by some fucking dermatological Kevorkian. It’s no life, pal. It’s no life and then it’s over.

A boil, a bleb, you’ve got a shot at some longevity, especially if you’re clever or lucky enough to latch onto one of the great unwashed, the great uninsured. Carbuncles, furuncles, warts, wens, they all do well on your average low-wage grunt. Hell, even a garden-variety zit, safely hunkered down behind the earlobe of some homeless schizo vet, could live for years, found a colony. But a pimple on the ass of a movie star? It’s a wonder we bother being born.

There are perks, sure. I’m pretty much swathed in satin and other premium fabrics, soaked in soothing high-end bathing gels. I’ve been pinched, licked, lovingly, by some of the coolest actors and rock stars on the planet. They make tender jokes about Drew’s “buttne,” their voices muffled, their faces deep in dank paradise. Because it does get a little close in here, even under Drew’s ultra-breathable duds. That’s the climate any ass pimple must endure. Still, there’s always this unbelievably sweet scent knifing through the moist stench. So, yes, there are certainly perks. Is that what you wanted to know?

No? Always the same dreary drill with you people. What’s she like, right? What makes her tick? You know how pathetic you are, don’t you? Do you think movie stars talk about you? All right, I’m sorry. No, the money’s fine. I’m not talking to you for the money.

So, Drew. Well, what’s there to say? Here’s something. There was this other pimple next to me for a while. Smitten the whole week he was around. “Oh, the golden hair,” he’d moan, “the quirky grin, the impish magnetism”—yeah, that’s right, “‘impish magnetism,’” he actually said shit like that—“the whole bold noble silly vulgar smart stupidity of her. Drew really is everything, everything and more.”

I’d tell him to shut the fuck up. Such a simp. Did he think she was going to fall in love with a pimple on her own ass? People, not to mention the things that grow on people, they’re basically fools. It’s all part of our soulless consumerist inferno, ask me, and furthermore—what? Fine, I’ll get back to Drew.

She likes to laugh, she likes to cry, okay? She likes wheatgrass juice though she’s not averse to a nice rare hamburger. Or maybe she is, in fact, averse. Why does this matter? And don’t tell me you’re after a wider cultural relevance. You’re selling a goddamn magazine.

Oh, you just want a little story? Something small but telling to help us better comprehend the essence of Drew Barrymore? Okay, here’s a story. That pimple I was talking about? Things got ugly for him. He became, well, some kind of pustule. Infected, ingrown, gruesome. Dude was all foul and leaking. Made me want to puke. Good thing I wasn’t a discrete organism with a digestive tract.

And the agony he caused Drew every time she sat down on the toilet to piss or take a dump! He knew he was a goner. “I’ll always love her, no matter what,” he whispered, even as the doctor lanced him, scraped him into a metal dish. That’s the effect Drew has on people, or at least the things that grow on people. It’s love, you see, it’s not rational. So then the doctor offered to take care of me while he was down there. He’d just shoot something into her butt and I’d shrivel away. “I’ve got a meeting,” Drew said, “next time.” She saved my puny life. Me, a meaningless pimple. She didn’t have to do that, but she did. That’s class. What? Not quite? Look, this is ridiculous. The interview is over. I know what you want and you’re not going to get it from me. Talk to her asshole, you want that stuff. I have to live with myself. Not for long, but still.

*About three or four years ago I received an odd request. A chic London fashion magazine was dedicating an upcoming issue to the film actor Drew Barrymore. Since I, according to the editor’s email, was one of Barrymore’s favorite contemporary writers, the magazine wondered if I would be willing to join a select few commissioned to write very short fictions that either starred or featured Drew Barrymore, or else in some central way were related to the person or idea of her. Well, why not? I didn’t really believe Drew Barrymore had read my work – she seemed too busy and productive a person for that – but the money was nice, and Barrymore was actually one of my favorite contemporary movie stars. She obviously had a genuine sense of humor, and this could be an interesting exercise. I wrote the piece and submitted it just a few days past what I had understood to be a fairly provisional deadline. And then I never heard from the magazine again. I figured the whole idea had been scratched. But months later the issue came out, with a big photo spread of Drew, a long interview, and, yes, a few short stories by contemporary writers. I never found out why my masterwork got eighty-sixed (they later said it arrived too late for publication, but I never quite believed that). I did eventually get paid, so everybody acted honorably, and I bear no animus toward the magazine or Drew Barrymore. But when I told this story to the editors of World Picture over a few bourbons in New York City, they insisted they could provide a home for my orphaned homage to one of Hollywood’s grand talents. A writer and a talking zit are grateful.
                                                                                                                                                   —SL

Sam Lipsyte is the author of Home Land, The Subject Steve and Venus Drive. He lives in New York, but has watched countless films conceived in California.