Dan Piepenbring appears in our March issue and today talks to us about dreams of defenestration, the papacy and the dangers of dodging.
1. Could you ever love a woman whose vagina fell out of her now and again?
Oh, boy. There’s no way to answer this question without revealing far too much about myself, so I’ll abstain. But since anyone who Googles me will now stumble upon something, um, vaginal, let’s see if I can’t defend myself. That portion of “False Start” derives from a joke I heard on the bus as a sixth grader. I’ve forgotten the setup, but the punchline unsettled me, then and now. Kids at that age can be so incorrigibly dark—precocious in all the wrong ways. On my bus, there was a kind of gross-out brinkmanship. Boys threw around the filthiest terms they knew to try and best one another. In writing this piece, I wanted to capture that kind of unintentional, knee-jerk misogyny, and that punchline sprang right to mind. Is that interesting?
2. Who do you dream of defenestrating?
The more felicitous phrasing is, whom don’t I dream of defenestrating? If we’ll never outlaw capital punishment in this country, I think it’s only fair to legalize defenestration as a means of execution. Think of it as an exercise in incentive. If executioners could push people out of windows all day, you’d really see a spike in job applications.
3. Which is easier to dodge: traffic or taxes? Which is more dangerous?
In the short run, taxes are easier to dodge. It’s a very passive sort of dodging—lots of sitting, lots of not-doing. In the long run, I think the two problems become one. What you’re dodging in the long run is a feral IRS agent, leaning on the horn of his Crown Vic and gunning for you.
4. What would you do if you were the Pope?
This is a politically-freighted question, at the moment. I’ll tread lightly. I’d probably allow priests to marry, permit women to enter the priesthood, defrock a whole hell of a lot of folks, and sell off all of the Vatican’s exorbitant material wealth, using the proceeds to fight poverty and global famine. Before I did any of that, though, I’d put on the biggest mitre I could find, throw a big Canonization Party and baptize everyone with Veuve Cliquot.
5. What has betrayed you? What did you do in retaliation?
I’ll outsource my answer to Facebook, which yields a funnier, sadder and more human response than I could.