The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive

It was a beautiful afternoon on the far outskirts of Houston, and Kiki basked in it. Although she missed Los Angeles, she was glad she made the visit to her mother’s house and its serene back porch.

In one hand, she held a mason jar of iced tea, and with her other hand she operated the complex system of levers, counterweights and pulleys that it took for mortals to support and read the Vogue September issue without spraining every muscle in their bodies.

Her reverie was interrupted by one short, polite “woof”. She looked up and saw a medium-sized, grayish dog sitting directly in front of her. In the dog’s mouth was a slim, flat package, wrapped carefully in plastic so as not to be sullied by teeth marks or canine saliva. Kiki took the envelope from the dog and scratched its head. Upon receiving all the gratuity it could ever require, the dog nodded, stood up, stretched, and trundled off.

Kiki removed the plastic from the package, and found herself the new owner of a thumb drive and an envelope. The thumb drive was carbon fiber, and considering how utilitarian these things generally were, it was actually quite lovely.

The accompanying envelope’s weight and quality were, of course, beyond compare. She pegged it correctly as emanating from a stationer in Argentina, specifically the verdant suburb of Olivos in Zona Norte. It was the faint whiff of sambayón con almendras that gave it away, as the stationer was located above a popular ice cream parlor.

Kiki’s Sanrio-branded Piranha Excalibur deftly liberated the wax seal from the back of the envelope, and after taking another sip of iced tea, she began to read the letter it contained.

From the Desk of Banjo L. Cagan Supervising Creative Manager Of Content Supervision,
The Yearbook Office

Before the letter began in earnest, there was a note to plug the thumb drive into her laptop, which she did, and to press “play” on the lone audio file it contained, which she did. The air filled with the unmistakable sound of Sara Watkins’s lonesome, far-off fiddle, playing a superlative bluegrass exploration of “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window”. She continued reading.

My Dearest Miss Kiki,

I am hoping the expansive grandeur that is the great state of Texas finds you well. I wish I could tell you that this missive contains good news from the homefront, but as we all know, wishes are but gossamer threads that wither and burn under the harsh heat-lamp of reality.

The gentleman you chose to take care of me (I believe his name is “Cashew J. Fagen”, but honestly I haven’t bothered to learn it) is, to say the least, a buffoon, and, to say the most, achieves a level of incompetence that would cause The Stooges Three to cluck their tongues in disdain.

Because it will take a while for my elaborate network operatives to get this to you, I must now skip past this idle chit-chat, and proceed with my list of grievances.

FOOD: At my core, I am a creature of simple needs. I do not ask for much, you understand. A pair of meals a day is all I require, so I may keep up my strength for my rigorous schedule of writing, consulting, solving crimes, and napping.

You, of course, understand this, which is why when you bring me my meals, they are a symphony of textures and flavors. The kibble and the freeze-dried protein patty working in harmonious conjunction with a hint of olive oil, a splash of consommé, an entire boneless rotisserie chicken, SKIN ON, and the rustic, savory flavors that can only come from the regal Herbes de Provence. And a sprinkle of goat cheese. And another chicken. SKIN ON.

You would think this Cashew would be able to follow this basic recipe, and yet I stare at my bowl, and honestly, he might as well just stuck a Post-it note in there that says “DOUG FUDE”. At least then I would be sympathetic to this poor sot, knowing that he did not have the basic capacity to feed me, or spell “dog food”.

Instead, he has the sheer sack to put kibble and freeze-dried protein patty in my bowl, and place it before me like I would even ENTERTAIN EATING IT. Honestly, I am shuddering in horror just thinking about this culinary travesty. Moving on.

WALKS: This is especially egregious. When you and I stroll through my kingdom together, every walk is a new, surprising journey. You obviously took Mr. Frost’s words to heart, and lead me on the road less traveled, day in and day out. There is no corner of our area code that we have not traversed, and as a result, my head is filled with an ever-changing tableau of sights, sounds, smells, and piles of things in which to roll around.

And then there is the encouragement you give me. “You are walking very well, Banjo!” “What a superlative job you did sniffing that other dog’s rear end, Banjo!” “Nice poopin’ there, champ,” and so on.

Not so with this dead-eyed homunculus. Up the same street, down the same street. Across to the next street, up, down, home. The average Roomba has a less predictable path than this ridiculous creature. And what of my extensive sniffing regimen? You and I know that I need to sniff every square inch of everything we pass for a minimum of five minutes per, and yet there he goes, yanking on my leash, demanding we continue our joyless march into oblivion.

In the future, I will give you a few phone numbers of close, personal acquaintances whom I trust to walk me correctly. Ms. Klum is an old friend, and would be delighted to do this at a moment’s notice. If for some reason she is not available, my university chum Mr. Hamm will be more than happy to pick up the slack.

SLEEP: I have been informed the couch is very comfortable, and so for the life of me, I have no idea why Cashew is not content to sleep on it and let me have the bed in its entirety. As it stands, I have tried my best to illustrate to him that there is simply no room in the bed to accommodate myself and his sloppy, hulking frame. Would if there were!

And yet, for all of my gentle nudging, feather-light shoving my body against him, and sitting on his head and refusing to move, he simply does not get the picture. Instead of taking the hint, he PICKS ME UP AND PLACES ME ON ANOTHER PART OF THE BED. I’m sorry, I have to take a moment to be PHYSICALLY ILL.

Better now. The less said about all of this the better, and besides, I’m saving it for my memoirs.

I cannot go any further. Suffice it to say, this entire enterprise has been a disaster of Edsel-esque proportions, and as we move forward, the only viable option is for me to travel with you at all times. This in itself will require further discussion, as I have very specific luggage needs, in-flight meal requirements, and although it goes without saying that I only fly first class, I will require both of the seats my row has to offer.

And now, if you may excuse me, Cashew is playing Superdrag’s “Head Trip In Every Key” for the 200th time tonight, and I am going to sit on his head until he makes it stop, or at least gives the vastly underrated “In The Valley Of Dying Stars” a cursory spin.

Until Our Blissful Reunion,

Banjo L. Cagan


Kiki massaged her temples, poured a healthy slug of bourbon into her glass of iced tea, sighed, and began the process of procuring an earlier flight home.

It would be costly, but she would just take the money out of Banjo’s investment account and blame it on Cashew if Banjo said anything.