Smoking with Debbie Ann Eis

Read the Story June 15, 2007

“My nipples can feel a man’s chest hairs one mile away.” Can you name, for us, five other possible powers that such nipples might possess?

Nipples can translate foreign films. French foreign films. Nipples understand male bonding. Nipples can vote twice. Nipples know when it’s cold enough for a sweater. Nipples prove gravity exists.

“The sorry person.” Love that. What, do you think, it’s like to be this person?

I think I know this person, this sorry person. They don’t want to fight and always end up with people who take them for granted, maybe capitalize upon their vulnerabilities. Sorry people are guilt ridden, vulnerable types, who will eventually give in. A lover of a sorry person never ever has to admit a wrong, and thus the lover becomes the right person by process of elimination, even though they are no righter than the sorry person. Sorry people laugh at themselves because, well, they are sorry. A sorry person is exhausted by life—the fussing, the itty bitty nothingness of conflict, day in day out. Life is overwhelming. A sorry person wants to just move forward. Well, yes, they get infuriated when the other person/lover says I did nothing wrong, because a sorry person knows that everyone does everything wrong. But the sorry person’s anger fizzles. They can’t stay mad because it’s all too exhausting. So, they just do it, just say, “Okay. I am an idiot, it was all me, I am sorry.” It makes people happy. And when other people are happy, things move forward and the sorry person can have sex.

What’s amazingly wonderful about having work appear online?

It’s amazing to have work online because you can Google yourself. You have no life. Nothing. You are a nobody. You walk downtown and not one person says hello. You are a mere social security number. But at the end of the day. Wala! There you are. Somewhere. And you think, wow, I can almost look in the mirror now. I can almost do that.

You are going away for a week. Whom do you take and why? The two boys, the husband, or the English bulldog?

I think the answer to that question is obvious. I would of course take the English bulldog. She never complains. She agrees with me. She follows me. She sleeps with me and takes no covers. She eats anything I give her. She is warm. And quiet. She loves the sound of typing.

The titles of the stories in this issue wowed me and got me thinking about the value of the great title. What are some great titles—for novels, stories, movies, albums, CDs, and the like? And what is the worst title you’ve ever encountered?

To me, personality and feel are important to a story title. That is what I love about a good title. I like Lorrie Moore’s “People Like That Are the Only People Here.” It is a title that nails the story, the entire feel of the story, and the title has a personality. Grace Paley has some great titles. “The Loudest Voice” is one I like. Again, it has personality and it reflects the feel of her story. Worst title? Oh I don’t know. I love the following titles, but I think the literary world would hate them. Here they are. Country music song titles I have known that are probably bad: “You Can’t Have Your Kate and Edith Too,” “I’m So Miserable Without You, It’s Almost Like Having You Here,” “Bubba Shot the Jukebox,” “Billy Broke My Heart at Walgreens and I Cried All the Way to Sears,” “How Can I Miss You if You Won’t Go Away?,” and “I’m Gonna Put a Bar in the Back of My Car and Drive Myself to Drink.”

About the Author:

Debbie Ann Eis's work has been online and in small print, most recently at 3 AM magazine, Elimae, Word Riot, Write Side Up, Wild Strawberries and others. She lives in Connecticut with her two boys, English bulldog and husband.

About the Artist:

An Old Woman of Arles by Vincent Van Gogh. This artwork is in the public domain per Wikipaintings.