A short story by Anne Malkovich Malkovich and me.
As a 28-year-old independent female, I’ve never until now had any need for a car. Having lived in the city my whole life, I’ve always used public transportation and my bicycle and that’s always been good enough. But now that I’m out of college and I now have a real job outside of the city, my parents and I agreed that it was time to get a car. I studied English Literature with a focus on twentieth-century British literature but my dad knew a guy in the search-engine optimization business so he helped me get a job doing that. Pay is good, great benefits, I get to be on the internet all day, and I get to use my degree because I’m basically a writer (I write and rewrite and edit articles about certain keywords to help websites show up on searches).
When I went ahead and bought a used car, my mother said I needed to find a noter republic to note for the government or whatever that the title is now in my name, to really make the car mine. So I Googled “noter republic” and found several listings for “notary public,” which seemed okay, but the last listing on the first page was for a legitimate “noter republic,” so I chose that one. I never really liked “public” things like public pools or public bathrooms. Just always felt more like a republican. I looked at the Google Map displaying all the places and chose the one noter republic, which, conveniently, was near my new job. It was called Abraham D. Brown, who is a mobile Notery Signing Agent, handling all of your Mobile Notery needs—from real estate purchases and refinances to verifications and depositions. No worries, they come to you. But I thought it was weird, the idea of them coming to me, like I would have to let them in my house or something? Why? Awkward. So when I called to make an appointment I asked if I could just go to them and they said “No worries, you can come to us.”
When I pulled up to the address I was surprised to be at a trailer park. I felt like noter republics should not be within trailer parks. I felt that trailer parks were not really republics. I went up to the mobile home that was the noter republic I found on Google and knocked, rattling the screen door. The screen was half on, half off the door.
The man who opened the door was really awkward and geeky but extremely attractive. He was wearing high-wasted khaki shorts like a geek. But he kind of looked like he was one of the three people to have been given the title of “Sexiest Man Alive” twice by People Magazine, first in 1997 and again in 2006, like he appeared in commercials outside the US for products like Fiat, Nespresso and Martini vermouth, and has lent his voice to a series of Budweiser ads beginning in 2005. He looked like he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2007, 2008, and 2009. It almost looked like South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker lampooned him among other stars, in their feature film Team America: World Police, like he later maybe said that he would have been offended if he hadn’t been made fun of in the film. He sort of looked like he was also mentioned in the South Park episode “Smug Alert!”, which mocks his acceptance speech at the 78th Academy Awards or something like that.
When he said hello and asked me how I was doing he spoke with a stutter. He seemed very scared. When he looked at me he noticed I was also wearing high-wasted khaki shorts and really correctly-chosen shoes that make my ankles look pretty even though I’m 75 lbs. over what the National Institute of Health says is average and my face is kind of large and flowing with smushy features. He thought I looked very well put-together, because I was. I always am. I’m not blessed with good looks so I “dress to impress” and I do. Impress, that is. I’m also decently well-read in the humanities and can carry a short-to-medium-length conversation about a modest range of literary trivia.
When we moved from the door to the table in his mobile notery home I noticed an incomprable grace of movement as he glided effortlessly across the laminate floor, as if he were more influential in the social networking sphere than Barack Obama or The Dalai Lama. It was as if according to Jan Hoffman of The New York Times, part of his appeal stemmed from his YouTube channel. One might have thought that long before he released his EP, My World, in mid-November, the YouTube videos attracted millions of views and someone named Braun recognized the appeal. I almost felt that prior to flying him to Atlanta, Braun might have wanted to “build him up more on YouTube first” and had Abraham record more home videos for the channel. I imagined that he might have said: ‘Abraham, walk from the door to the table like there’s no one in the room. But let’s not use expensive cameras.’ We’ll give it to kids, let them do the work, so that they feel like it’s theirs.” I imagined in my head, which was now furiously spewing the most creative and far-fetched possibilities, that he continued to upload videos to the same channel and has opened a Twitter account, from which he interacts with fans regularly; that his account was reported in November 2010 to have over 6 million followers; that since then he has been consistently gaining followers at an average of 24,000 per day; that the accounts also serve marketing purposes; for example, that he has a music video for a song called “No Worries, We Come to You,” which only began selling quickly after it was uploaded to YouTube.
“I’m Abraham,” he said, “What’s your name?”
“I’m Hagar, nice to meet you, Abraham,” I said.
I looked around the mobile home and it was small and chintzy, covered with myriad colored fabrics to hide the sad-looking wood-looking paneling, but all in all, the place was okay.
“How can I help you?” he asked.
“Well, I just bought a used car and the former owner signed the title over to me and my mother told me to bring it to a noter republic. So if you could just, like, do whatever you do for that… I’d appreciate it,” I said.
“Oh, um,” he said, “I haven’t had a customer in a while, or, actually, like, ever, I guess. You see, um,” he said, pausing and looking at his high-wasted khaki shorts, “OK, so this, uh, ‘noter republic’ thing was really just a way for me to buy my own mobile home and write it off as a business purchase to save on my taxes. That’s why I spelled it so stupidly, so nobody would find me on Google. It was the only way I could move out of my parents’ mobile home a few lots down that way,” he said, pointing North. He looked at her and thought she was supremely well-dressed with her high-waisted khaki shorts and then he looked at his own and felt awkward but okay, like maybe her style spilled over onto his own shorts or something.
I felt silly for a second and then I felt like I had fallen out of the solar system that makes sense and landed in a trailer park that was outside of the solar system my mother was in, the solar system that made sense. He was very attractive, surprisingly attractive.
“Well, why don’t we just Google what it takes to do notary public?” I proposed, emphasising the syllables and pausing between words. “And then you can just do it, I’ll pay you, I get my title, and we all win.”
“Um, uh, OK, I guess we can do that,” he said.
“Wait, first, you don’t have a cigarette, do you?” I asked.
“No, sorry, all I have is my corn-cob pipe,” he replied, pulling it out and beginning to prepare it.
“Oh, OK, that’s all right,” I said, adding: “Where is your computer?”
“Oh, um, uh, I don’t have one,” he said. He thought she was very beautiful and he felt very awkward but happy that she was there.
“You don’t have one?!” I said.
“No, but my parents do have one. Maybe we could go use it?” he said, somewhat embarrassed.
“OK, sure, if they are OK with that,” I said.
“Well, what I’m thinking is hopefully they are asleep so we can just go there and use their computer without having to talk to them. They are old and pretty retarded but their mobile home is bigger and nicer than mine,” he said.
“Oh, OK. Hey, how old are you, Abraham?”
“Forty-nine,” he said. “Let me give them a call and if they don’t pick up they are asleep and when they are asleep they do not wake up for anything.”
He opened a drawer in the kitchen and pulled out what looked to me like one of the phones in that series of cellular telephones manufactured by Motorola, Inc. from 1983 to 1994. It looked like it was one of several different models, plus newer models under the Classic and Ultra Classic names, in the first line of cell phones commercially produced by Motorola, with the first member of the DynaTAC series, the 8000x, being the first cell phone to receive U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acceptance in 1983. His parents did not pick up and he looked at me like I was really well-dressed and he liked it and I liked it.
When we got to the bigger mobile home it was still kind of small but bigger and still had fake-wood paneling covered with any number of different fabrics. But the fabrics were much less chintzy and, on the whole, it was much more okay. The screen was completely on the door, which made me feel good, sort of proud for Abraham and his parents. He said his parents take painkillers but they are so old and retarded that they can’t keep track and would I like one? He was very attractive. We went on his parents’ computer and started getting sleepy and a little goofy and we ultimately figured out how to do notary public fraud. We did it and it was a pretty bad job and we laughed a lot and touched elbows and hips about six and two times, respectively. That night we fell asleep in his parents’ mobile home for the first of many times to come over the next forty years and all in all it all felt very okay.
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Murphy, Justin. 2011. "Abraham and Hagar are Very Okay Now," https://jmrphy.net/blog/2011/08/30/9604419542/ (December 14, 2018).