FUNNY WOMEN: A Novel, a Short Story, a Memoir, and a Poem Walk into a Bar


“I challenge you to a drinking contest,” said the novel. “I’ll win, of course. You three have no stamina.”

“I have staying power,” argued and complained the memoir.

“And I have been known to be epic,” gloated the poem.

“But none of you has had a movie adaptation,” the novel reminded and then ordered another round of drinks. “I can pay. I make more money than all of you.”

“Ahem,” coughed the memoir.

“And ever hear of Brokeback Mountain?” asked the short story, rhetorically. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? Arrival?”

“Single movies? That’s cute,” sneered the novel. “Talk to me when you’ve done multiple adaptations.”

Poem groaned. “Must you all go on, at length, about money?”

“Speaking of length,” interjected the novel, “let me tell you about sex.”

“No, let me tell you about sex,” bragged the memoir. “You might learn something.”

“You’re so full of yourself,” the poem accused both the memoir and the novel.

“Poem and I are better at sex than you two,” said the short story accurately. “We get in. We get out. Boom. Done.”

“I transcend definition,” the poem said loftily, changing the subject out of nowhere. “And I can be embedded in any one of you for enhanced impact.”

“I already have colossal impact,” retorted the novel. “I have so much impact I could be used as a weapon.”

“I can be used in a lawsuit and to ruin lives,” the memoir exaggerated.

“I am in songs and have killed lots of people,” said the poem tragically.

“Spare us the Gloomy Sunday yarn,” whined the memoir.

“Shh,” cautioned the novel, pointing at a rambling story spinning tales a few seats away. “You want the yarn to overhear us?”

“Novel and memoir, you ought to respect your elders,” advised the short story. “Poem and I have been around since the oral tradition, long before you two were in cloth covers.”

“I’ve been on Oprah,” boasted the novel arrogantly.

“So have I,” echoed the memoir, before saying goodbye. “Speaking of which, I have an appointment with my stylist.”

“Time for some embellishments?” smirked the novel.

“You can be quite pedantic, too,” scoffed the memoir. “But enough about you.” And with that the memoir swanned out of the bar.

Poem was also gone. “What happened to poem?” squawked the novel. “They were here a second ago.”

“That’s how they like to end things,” observed the short story. “Always open to interpretation.”

Which the novel analyzed for hours, until the bar closed. The end.


Rumpus original art by Natalie Peeples

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Sarah Totton's writing has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Belladonna Comedy, Little Old Lady Comedy, and, of course, The Rumpus. Her poetry has twice been a finalist in the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, and her short fiction has appeared at The New Quarterly and EVENT and is forthcoming at The Walrus and Room Magazine. More from this author →