Tag Archives: Sam Virzi

SEX TOY STORE by Sam Virzi

Don’t tell anybody, but when we were in the sex toy store I discovered a bit of popcorn stuck in my teeth where I couldn’t get it out. It had been there for days. We are great friends now. I ask it: “Why am I in a sex toy store?” and it says something different every time. Sometimes it says I’m there because I’ve never had sex at all, or that I had sex one time for two minutes and cried forty hours straight, or that I’m having sex right now and I shouldn’t be a smartass.

Don’t tell anyone, but when we were in that sex toy store and the sex toy shoppers were giving us nasty looks because they knew we weren’t going to buy anything, just walk around and make fun of funny things, I was about to pass out. They had one of those chairs that’s really a big plastic hand, and I was thinking of sleeping on that, even though it was some sort of sex chair, and I obviously wasn’t going to have sex. You can’t have sex in the sex toy store. Obviously.

Don’t tell anybody, but I had a brief absurd thought about how the sex toy store became a sex toy store:

The owners, a husband and wife, began by selling lubricants and prophylactics door-to-door, and their being a couple made other couples feel comfortable about their sex toys. But rapid industrialization made that abruptly impractical, as a lifestyle. So then they started selling not only catalogues but stuff in the catalogues, and lived comfortably. Trying to improve on the formula, they set up a sex toy farm stand, which wasn’t profitable, and it got closed down because they lacked the right permit.

Parenthetically, there is no such thing as the right permit for a sex toy farm stand.

Opening up a sex toy store made a lot of sense: being indoors is key to sex toy shoppers feeling safe and comfortable enough to buy their sex toys. And that’s how the sex toy store could exist for so long: they cared about it enough.

Don’t tell anybody, but this is what love is like now: letting people into your sex toy store, hoping they will resist the temptation to make fun of funny things, no matter how outrageous they are. Some people will track mud from outside all over your clean sex toy store carpet, and you will have a dirty sex toy store, which is no good. Even worse, some people, after getting the floor muddy, will snicker to themselves and think you aren’t embarrassed, but you are.

Don’t tell anybody, but you can’t have a heart that isn’t a sex toy store. Your heart can’t beat without inviting people to walk in it, muddily. This is what love is like now: shopping in each others’ sex toy stores at the same time. Nobody says, “Buy something or get the hell out.”

SAM VIRZI is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He’s published stuff at Thieves Jargon, Cherry Bleeds, Dogmatika, Pen Pusher and Unlikely Stories. He’d like to thank his family and friends for their endless support.



St. Mesrob doesn’t know who he is, and wants you to tell him, because he only knows what the monastery is, and the monastery doesn’t know, but it still wants to tell you who St. Mesrob is. “St. Mesrob,” it says, its big oak doors fanning like crusty lips. (It does not have big oak doors, it is a small wooden church wrapped with clapboards: in some places there are patches where the monks mined firewood out of clapboards that were pretending not to be firewood.) “St. Mesrob, now,” the monastery begins, its eyes looking inward, although there is not a mirror to look into, although there is really only one window and the glass is long gone, replaced with clapboard that was really a window all along; the useless curtain eyelid closes behind its clapboard. “St. Mesrob, you see,” the monastery says: satisfied, it sleeps again.

St. Mesrob ate five pounds of bread a week, and that was all. He ate no meat, and even apologized to the wheat germs whose ashes gave him bread to eat. “I’m sorry,” he would think. “It’s wearing my teeth down, like a deer’s. You know, you can tell how old a deer is by the wear on its teeth?” St. Mesrob imagined the wheat germs saying something back one day, like lollipops that made noises when bit. Then he would say, “I’m really sorry, though. A man I love gave his life in almost the same way. Just not for bread. You know, that was actually the point, that it wasn’t for bread. The point of it was specifically not for bread. Now that I think of it, it wasn’t the same at all. I think I spoke too soon, I beg your pardon.” But they did not forgive him, the wheat germs: they were all dead.

St. Mesrob longed to live off things smaller than mustard seeds. He’d read the thing about the kingdom of heaven being grown from a mustard seed, and wondered, “My! I wonder what the smallest unit of measure for flour is? What a pressing question. I should investigate.” Ever since, he has envied wheat germs, and their ability to pick up their roots and drift with their food as the wind took it places. Ever since, he has wanted to live off shavings and start his fires with the latent heat of water turning into ice. Take away the scraps excess leaves and there’s no proof of excess. The best you can do after that is hope somebody feels better because of what you’ve done- yourself or the scraps you eat or the people that give them to you.

St. Mesrob kept a regular correspondence with his mother, who still lived in the country. The year he left home for the monastery, she was abducted by aliens from the moon. St. Mesrob knows why. “I see them when there is a quarter moon, when it sets beyond my windowsill. I wake up at that hour each night, when the moon has gone down, and I wonder if they will come this time, or if they will ever come back at all.” She said the aliens were shy, and asked strange questions, like, “What is it like when you breathe in?” and “Do you ever feel like everything is thin?” St. Mesrob’s mother looks at the small dark space at the edge of the waning white moon, at the face growing and fading from a grin to a smirk every month.

St. Mesrob’s funeral was confusing. There was an awkward stretch of time between his death and his becoming a saint, and nobody knew what to call him. The monastery said it most succinctly in its prayers. “I would be afraid to live like him because it is possible to live like him.”

On Sundays, St. Mesrob’s ghost scratches its beard and walks around the monastery’s backyard, which is how he used to pray. They had to investigate it before making him a saint, because saints are not supposed to have ghosts: they are supposed to be in heaven. But some people had already taken to calling him St. Mesrob, so they decided to just give it to him. St. Mesrob’s ghost paced back and forth, scratching its beard.

SAM VIRZI is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He’s published stuff at Thieves Jargon, Cherry Bleeds, Dogmatika, Pen Pusher and Unlikely Stories. He’d like to thank his family and friends for their endless support.