There are seven movies in the Sharknado cinematic universe. The last movie, gloriously titled Sharknado: It’s About Time, follows the two main characters, Fin and Gil, as they warp through the inter-dimensional fabric of space and time, plagued by swarms of bloodthirsty sharks swirling around in a tunnel of doom. Sharknado: It’s About Time includes but is not at all limited to Benjamin Franklin, dinosaur mounts, Cleopatra, a Wild West showdown, and a robot wife that shoots lasers out of her eyes. Some of the cast members include write-home names like Alaska Thunderfuck, Jaason (with two a’s, not a typo) Simmons, and someone who is only ever referred to online as “Naked Cowboy. ” The films also feature Billie Ray Cyrus, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Perez Hilton, and Jerry Springer. In short, Sharknado is the single best thing to ever happen in the history of cinema.
Since Mike, our youngest, went away to college, Derek and I have been eating a lot of meals in front of the TV, or, specifically, while watching Chopped, which seems to always be on the Food Network. We’ve started to eat dinner in front of it most nights, not sure what to say to each other. We need something to fill the silence.
I’ve never considered myself much of a cook, nothing special, anyway. I made meals the kids liked, homemade mac ‘n cheese, lasagna, hamburgers and roasted potatoes. But now that they’re both in college and thousands of miles away—they both insisted on getting as far away as they could—Derek and I have been eating a lot of premade and frozen meals. It’s different with half as much food to make. I keep buying more than we need and having to throw out rotten apples and potatoes with eyes. I have to halve recipes. Sometimes I buy things out of habit, like beef jerky or Double-Stuf Oreos—Mike’s favorite—and they go uneaten for months.
My phone pings, an electronic ring, clear and sharp. Morning, afternoon, and in the still of night.
Ping, a father’s text lecture. What good is your writing doing? Show me proof. Would you consider law? You can make good money. Fatherly translation: Being a lawyer gives me status with my friends whose sons and daughters are not just lawyers, but doctors and physicists.
Dear Tom Hanks,
It’s been a few years now that the events I will describe to you have occurred, and I think I have enough emotional distance to convey my story without any bouts of bewilderment. This all came about a few months before the release of your short story collection in October of 2017. It’s just a case of mistaken identity. Well, my mistake of your identity.
A bulging stomachful
of high calorie vitriol.
Tables bowing under the weight of envy,
like too many books on a shelf.
Tables laden with too much, too much
disgust for others.
Back in 2009, season one of a late-night reality show called RuPaul’s Drag Race first aired on cable television. It presented a familiar talent show format: each week, a group of drag queens competed in a zany challenge and the weakest amongst them faced off in a shared lip sync performance, which ended with one of them being instructed to sashay away from the competition. Ultimately, the final queen standing was crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar.
It was a fun show. The footage was fuzzy, the runway was rickety, and it was all a bit tongue-in-cheek, a send-up of its more serious contemporaries such as America’s Next Top Model and American Idol.