H Anthony Hildebrand

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He is a Cumberland sausage dog. He is a giant meaty snail shell. A coiled spring of flesh. A tube of person. From a certain angle, he looks like one of those plush fabric snakes you lay at the base of your door to keep the draught out. He is tall and thin and curled up in the corner, and we joke about his penis. We imagine that it might be like that thing with a pet and its owner, which it probably is. We all look a bit like our dicks, we laugh, choking on smoke, tears streaming from bloodshot eyes. For instance, Jay says, you always keep your hood up, except when you’re really excited about something. It’s true, I howl, but I’m thinking about my circumcised cock, its mushroom head squished against my button fly, and about mushroom clouds, and nuclear-strength jizz, and sex with superheroes. Surely the chances of having mutant sperm would increase if you were exposed to a massive dose of radiation – a dose strong enough to gift you with unnatural powers?

My phallic free association is interrupted by a series of grunts. The beast in the corner awakens. We snigger. He blinks, yawns.

“Fuck you guys,” he sighs, scrubbing the word ‘TWAT’ from his forehead with spit-moistened fingertips. “Fuck you with a pitchfork.”

The pitchfork thing’s from some bad movie we watched.

“Shut up, Darren,” Jay says.

I close my eyes and hear Jennifer Lopez and see kaleidoscopic spirals.


For years I haven’t been able to get the chorus of Jennifer Lopez’s smash hit single ‘Jenny From the Block’ out of my head. The Germans call it an Ohrwurm. Earworm. That feels right. ‘Jenny From the Block’ has all the attributes of a parasite, a stealthworm that has burrowed through my auditory canal and is steadily gnawing away at the slimy folds of my cerebrum.

“Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I’ve got,” Ms Lopez sings. “I’m still, I’m still Jenny from the block.”

It haunts me.

My subconscious morphs and adapts these lines to any given situation; they’re about socks, about stocks, about dogs, about Pizza from the Hut. Sometimes I’ll find myself singing silently, internally, and I’ll command my brain to fucking stop it. Other times the laughter of friends or the quizzical look of a neighbourhood cat will tell me that my mouth has joined in on the action.

The unwanted fascination is partly to do with the singsong, catchy simplicity of the sassy chorus. But it’s also tied up with wondering why? Why does a multi-millionaire popstar/actress feel the need to simultaneously celebrate her riches and emphasize her roots? I don’t care if she’s changed – I didn’t know her back in the day. It suggests defensiveness and paranoia, the fear that people are talking about her behind her back. And the accompanying music video, in which she is framed by paparazzi-style lenses cavorting on a massive, decadent yacht with then-paramour Ben Affleck (who tellingly plants a kiss on the celebrated Lopez posterior), surely only serves to compound the impression of distance from her childhood in the Bronx.

It’s not uncommon for those who have made enormous fortunes to want to ensure that a connection with their roots is visible, I know. But I think it’s the naked insecurity in these two lines which really affect me. She seems to be singing to her childhood self as much as to us.


Once we all did mushrooms and went wandering around campus. It was the single best drug experience of my life. There were moments of giddy, uncontrollable laughter; mild, amusing hallucination, both visual and aural; and the sense of an unshakeable bond between those of us who were tripping. At times I felt ridiculously horny. I’d see a pretty girl and picture her pressed against me, tongue swirling around my mouth. I’d look in the mirror and see my entire cranium swollen and red, but that was funny, too, the not panicking. But the tripped out weirdness was balanced by periods of sustained normality, of clear-headedness. I’d head to the bathroom and confirm that my face hadn’t actually changed shape or colour, and that my eyes weren’t bloodshot, and I’d watch the water circle around the drain before disappearing, and think about my family, and the way we’d look at old pictures of ourselves, trying to recapture something, remembering memories, circling our old selves, as time buffeted us and changed us and dragged us further away.


Written by hahildebrand

September 5, 2013 at 9:52 am

Posted in Stories

One Response

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  1. Sheer hallucinatory genius.


    September 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm

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