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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Janice J. Heiss

Though I'm trying to devote all my attention to writing this, please forgive me for glancing at my watch to keep track of what cycle I'm in -- laundry cycle, that is. Can you believe that I've been doing wash now for three entire weeks straight? Every single piece of clothing I own says "wash separately" -- even the individual socks!

Do you ever feel that your life is a series of action items? Sure, multi-tasking is the name of the game these days. But still, in between laundry cycles, holding down a part-time telecommuting job, reading all the fine print underneath No Left Turn signs, trying to keep up with both the physical and now the virtual worlds, I often ask myself, "Self, what about all these so-called labor-saving devices? How did I get caught up in this post-industrial, info-age frenzy?" No answer or a busy signal.

I finally hit bottom when I found myself believing that I had completed a task just by thinking of it. Hmm... Just by thinking of something, it's done... Yes, it had to be out there, the ultimate service. If I searched for it (the truth is out there -- does anyone know the url?), I would find it. So, every day, along with surfing for the man of my dreams -- I've never kept a boyfriend longer than a car -- I searched the Web for my dream service.

And, of course, after surfing for seven days and seven nights, I found it! Check this out: "Everyday hassle of going to work, folding your sheets, brushing your teeth, having feelings, sex, headaches, getting constipated, drunk, angry, pregnant, etc., tiring you out? Phew! Then you need our new service LIVING YOUR LIFE (LYLtm) For You. We'll live for you, cry for you, go on blind dates for you, we'll even die for you! Check out our newest subsidiary, SEX-EXPRESS, especially for you busy dot-comers, short on time, who take sex seriously, who love to do it, but often like to be free from the sweat of doing it."

Wow! I sit at home and dream about all the things I'll never have to do again. The possibilities are limitless. Never having to put my best foot forward; I never know which is which. Never having to say I'm sorry. The Professional Apologists of LIVING YOUR LIFE will do that for you. And, tired of thinking? Who has time? LYL's "The Mind Shop," will make up your mind for you. I took them up on their free introductory offer and had mine made up yesterday just in time to vote in my city's special elections and choose new kitchen wall-paper. I'm feeling especially firm and confident knowing that they guarantee the results for a week. And did you ever really want to have an opinion on everything? For only $30 more per month, "The Mind Shop's" annex, "Opinionakers," at their state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, will tag every thought you have with an opinion. Farewell to laborious belief formation -- having intuitions, making observations, sifting through information, drawing deductions and, finally, constructing an opinion on whether or not Einstein's rejection of quantum mechanics was misguided.

Right off the top of my head, here's my short list of I'll-never-have-to(s):

* use an ATM, lose my ID, get back to you ASAP, stop BS-ing, purchase more RAM, put money in my IRA, pay the IRS, fight for the ERA, complain to the EPA, eat a BLT, buy a CD or PC, or be PC, ETC.

* decide whether one size really fits all.

* feel men undressing me with their eyes. (OK, I'll come clean on this one: men look at me and put more clothes on me.)

* love too much or run with the wolves.

* listen to someone say: Tighten those abs. Please pass the salt.

Already there's an actively-traded secondary market in LYL options and hybrids soon to be listed on the NASDAQ. You may buy, sell and trade your life in this secondary market **. Also, on their web site, LYL has announced an exciting new insurance product: "When you buy LYL's Life Reinsurance Policy, you'll never have to relive your childhood or, for that matter, anything again." Finally, if there's anything you actually would like to do, such as eat chocolate decadence fudge cake or watch NYPD Blue, for a few dollars more per month, LYL-GOLD provides maximum flexibility.

Don't delay. Visit the LYL web site today where they say: "LYL wants to put you in their Limousine-of-Life-Lifetime deluxe plan. (Charge LYL to Visa, American Express, MasterCard or, better yet, open a new LYL Life-Line credit card -- just call 1-800-LYL-DEAL). Forget about your right to life -- you have the right to let us live your life for you. After all, did you ask to be born?"

Gotta go. I've got one more load to dry until my LYL policy kicks in, and then I'm through forever!

** Void where prohibited by law.

Janice J. Heiss is a stand-up comic, performance artist, web journalist and writer of literature which has appeared in various and sundry publications. Janice may be contacted: jjheiss@earthlink.net.