part 5. and then it came from coney island.
I slept terrible last night. Tossed and turned. An awful dream: I was walking the streets in a nameless, foreign city where the locals spoke only gibberish. I wore no shirt. Nary a nipple graced my frame. I puffed out my bare, nippleless chest, swollen with pride as I walked. The people all pointed and whispered. I thought it must be the way I was walking. I exhaled and let my arms swing naturally, casual. The pointing and whispering continued. Perhaps my trousers were on backwards again. I checked. Nope. Maybe it was my hair. Or my face. I always thought I had the kind of face you just wanted to punch until it could not be distinguished from a sloppy joe. I carefully examined my reflection in a shop window. Hair – ordinary. Face – relatively inoffensive. Still they pointed and whispered. Then, the words “hot” and “dog” seemingly floated out of the babel. I gave it no thought. I heard it again. Hot. Dog. And again. Hot dog. And again. Hot dog. Until it seemed all anyone said was hot dog. Hot dog. Hot dog. Hot dog. Suddenly I was wrestling a man for his shirt. A crowd circled. Hot dog, hot dog, hot dog! The scuffle ended. I had the man’s shirt. I covered up and ran down a side street. I didn’t look back to see if the crowd followed. Hot dog, hot dog, hot dog! they screamed.
I woke up with the night sweats. My bathroom mirror confirmed that I was not a hot dog monster. It was only me staring back. Just me. And my horror nipples, like two checkers ready for diagonal battle across my chest. A small lump rose in my throat. I swallowed.
In theory, nipplelessness was a way out of Monstertown. But how would it translate in practice? Would it really make me less of a monster? Or more so? Was my nightmare a product of panic or would unnippled smoothness only reduce me to a meat slurry torpedo in pants?
Perhaps Ken’s nippleless existence wasn’t ideal. I mean, who else was living sans nipples? Only Grimace came to mind. Not helpful. Particularly when I remembered that, besides being a purple blob of unknown provenance, Grimace was initially evil and had four Shiva-like arms for stealing milkshakes. Evil, four-armed, felonious purple blob = MONSTER.
Ken or Grimace? It was 50-50 on the nippleless front. I was back on the fence, maybe even climbing back down on the side of living with rank nipples. At the very least, I was not ready to drop my nipples cold turkey. I needed to come to terms with the possible reality of entering the nipple void. So, naturally, I turned to technology and pulled into simulation station for some sophisticated computer modeling.
The outcome suggested that life without nipples would be okay, if not enhanced by some rad scarring. Still, I was unconvinced. I could not see Brad Pitt, Capt. Cool Nipple Scars. I could only see Brad Pitt, the nefarious Hot Dog Monster.
That’s when I realized, hot dog monsters were everywhere.