BY JESSE EISENBERG
Ariel: Look at this stuff! Isn’t it neat?
Me: Not really. What is it?
Ariel: They’re whozamawhats, silly! I got them from a yard sale.
Me: We don’t need more stuff. I can barely walk through the house.
Ariel: You want thingamabobs?
Me: You mean those vintage corkscrews?
Ariel: I got twenty!
Me: Where did you even find those?
Ariel: Estate sales.
Me: You’ve just been going around to estate sales?
Ariel: And sometimes eBay.
Me: You can’t keep buying this stuff.
Ariel: Oh, it’s no big deal!
Me: Yes, it is a big deal! You put seventeen washing machines on layaway at Sears.
Ariel: And I want more!
Me: Three Vitamixes were just delivered from Amazon.
Ariel: The blendamarols arrived? How splendid!
Me: They were six hundred dollars each!
Ariel: But they’re the only kind of blendamarol that can mix up my whozits and whatzits!
Me: Did you read that book I got for you about the Easterlin paradox?
Ariel: No, but I used the pages to make an origami bird!
Me: Easterlin posits that happiness isn’t derived from the accumulation of material goods—in fact, newer studies show that amassing possessions will likely make you feel, almost counterintuitively, deprived.
Ariel: Stop reprimanding me! You sound just like daddy.
Me: Can you please not say “daddy”? It sounds weird coming from an adult.
* * *
Ariel: Are you all right? You’ve been tossing and turning all night.
Me: I can’t sleep. I’m panicked.
Ariel: What’s wrong? Did an octopus steal your soul?
Me: What? No.
Ariel: Is a Jamaican crab spying on you?
Me: No . . . I’m just feeling stressed about work. The deadline for my book is next month and I haven’t even started writing it.
Ariel: Well, that’s not so bad. I have a splendid idea!
Ariel: What if you trade a part of your body for a manuscript?
Me: What do you mean?
Ariel: I mean, we find an evil sorceress and we ask her to accept one of your body parts in exchange for a finished manuscript!
Me: I was really just hoping to talk through some of the plot with you.
Ariel: You don’t need a plot, silly. You just need to think of a part of your body that you don’t need that much, like one of your arms or an eye—or maybe the sorceress will have her own suggestion—and then you trade it in for a finished manuscript.
Me: That sounds terrifying.
Ariel: Oh, silly, it’s only terrifying if you don’t get the book published within three days.
Me: Why? Then what happens?
Ariel: Then the sorceress will keep your book and your arm.
Me: Can’t you just listen to me? I’m feeling anxious, and I need to get this off my chest.
Ariel: Ooh, your chest! We’ll trade in your chest for the book! How splendid!
Me: I’m not trading any part of me for the book.
Ariel: Well, then, I don’t know how else to help you. Turn off the lightsamabulb. I’m going to sleep!
* * *
Ariel: Honey, I’m home! And I had the most splendid day!
Me: Great! Did you pick up the dry cleaning?
Ariel: Well, I certainly tried to, silly! I went to the cleaners, but I forgot what you asked me to pick up. What was that word again?
Me: Dress shirts?
Ariel: Right! Your dress shirts! I’m sorry, sweetheart. I forgot.
Me: That’s O.K. I’ll get them myself later. Did you make it to the pharmacy?
Ariel: Well, I knew I had to refill your—what was that word again?
Ariel: Right! Your Paximalol!
Me: It’s just Paxil.
Ariel: Right. Paximabob! How splendid!
Me: Did you get it?
Me: You forgot that, too? Did you at least pick up our son?
Ariel: I tried to! I even went to his—what’s that word again?
Ariel: And I asked his—what do you call her again?
Ariel: If she had my—what is he called again?
Ariel: But she asked me for his—what do you call it again?
Ariel: And I told her it was—what do we call him again?
Ariel: Right! Ryan! No, I didn’t get him.