trash mag


Manhandlers by Kara Vernor

Many women are handlers. They’re better at taking care of business because their brain hemispheres are pals. If their hemispheres went to the bar, they’d talk breezily over a hummus plate and beers, while men’s would only eye each other from across the pool table. That’s what I learned at the JC, though sure, in different words. I learned, too—and this part is verbatim—that depressed people are more realistic, which if you think about it, is a sad fact for all of us.

I’ve never understood wanting to handle a man because even though I have the hemispheres for it, I can’t find the motivation. I suffer, generally, from low motivation and the inability to contribute anything but store-bought food to potlucks. I am destined for a life of handling only myself.

My brother can handle no one else nor himself but maybe that is to be expected. It’s obvious he regrets not being born with cabinet handles screwed into his deltoids so a good-looking woman can grab ahold and steer him. A woman like that would have stopped him from jumping off that rooftop into a pool on a dare, his belly-flop smack frightening the dog who took off into the street as the stretch Hummer was bringing more cocaine. Maybe then he wouldn’t have ruined the party for everyone else, including his former best friend and kickball team captain, Tommy. Maybe he would have lasted more than six months at a job.

There are women—I’ve known many—who handle for free, who remind men what to buy at the store and when to call their mothers to wish them happy birthday and how many lines is too many lines and the exact words to use in conversations that are not about the weather or sports. I’m sure if my Psych professor did a study he’d find that these women are a statistically significant reason men still occupy the presidency and congress and the management positions at the fast food establishments I frequent, though the majority of the line staff are not men. I’ve counted.

So when my brother stopped by and said he’d been fired again, this time from his job selling Hyundais, because he was “boning the secretary” and “why can’t we go back to the ‘80s when it was still legal to have fun,” I felt a bolt of energy—an idea! I grabbed his shoulder and looked seriously into his face. I told him to buy that secretary some flowers and whatever ring he could afford and get down on one knee and also say these specific things when he’s doing it because we had a shot at swindling a handling professional into a lifetime of free services, and even with the lackluster communication between his hemispheres, he ought to be able to recognize that deal.

He agreed, I think. I don’t know. He said a new episode of Top Gear would be on soon and could we talk about it later. But I mean, realistically speaking, what other options does he have?

Kara Vernor’s fiction and essays have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Ninth Letter, The Normal School, Gulf Coast, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and elsewhere. She has received support from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, and her writing has been included in The Best Small Fictions and Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fictions. Her chapbook, Because I Wanted to Write You a Pop Song, is available from Split Lip Press.


Photography: Aditya Ali