Jack’s Naughty Bits: Mark Leyner, My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist

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Jack's Naughty Bits

a very compromising thing, excerpting from a book that has a blurb by David Byrne on the
back cover. But dubious book-packaging aside, Mark Leyner’s My Cousin, My
was one of the favorite books of my now-Mesozoic college days. While
all my friends were striving to develop sophisticated, New Republic-y prose styles, I
was still lapping up Leyner’s playful indulgence as the alpha and omega of good writing.
Now, a decade later, as the first grays start to insinuate themselves in my etonian coif, I
occasionally still find myself reading Gastroenterologist and doubling over with
laughter. And, if the truth be told, I sometimes spin Talking Heads records too.

The selection below is classic: it’s the one I always read out loud to my friends to turn
them on to the book. Now all I have to do is say the opening words, “Hello Mark. This is
Elizabeth Hurlick” and I get immediate laughs. As a whole, My Cousin, My
suffers from having too many discontinuous one-liners and not enough
glue; in this passage, however, Leyner stays focused and harnesses the full force of his wit. The
passage is trimmed a bit for legal reasons, thus the abundance of ellipses, but it definitely
retains all the wallop of the page-and-a-half original. Enjoy, then, this heady shot of Leyner:
he’s a rush like no other.

* * *

From My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist by Mark Leyner

Hello Mark. This is Elizabeth Hurlick. I’m one of Trudy’s friends from school. Trudy asked me
to call and tell you that when she gets home from work she’s going to want to make love
tout de suite and then eat ’cause she’s got an early squash practice so she wants you to .
. . put the chicken in the oven . . . run a hot bath . . . and soak in the tub for a while . . . She said
that while you’re in the tub you should masturbate almost to the point of orgasm and stop and
that way you’ll have a more copious ejaculation later when you have sex with Trudy because
Trudy says you have to propitiate the squash god and the squash god is in the mood for a really
super-copious ejaculation, and she said to tell you that . . . she doesn’t want you to use any
deodorant under your arms because when you’re having sex she wants you to smell kind of macho
sort of raunchy kind of ruggedly homo sapien kind of rural and she wants you to wait for her
wearing the . . . red kimono . . . and when she comes through the door . . . you should
nonchalantly let your kimono fall open so your meat sort of pokes out, and then she wants you to
lift her skirt up and take her underpants off and rub your knuckles up and down her perineum, if
your writing this down that’s p-e-r-i-n-e-u-m . . . I hope you don’t mind me leaving this sort of
intimate personal message on your answering machine, but I’m a really really good friend of
Trudy’s and Trudy’s told me all about you and I hope we can all get together sometime . . .
Trudy says you’re creepy in a sort of attractive way and that sounds fun.

© 1990 Mark Leyner