By: Rachel Axler
January 1, 2019

One in a 2018–2019 series of posts reprinting stories originally written — by 12 HILOBROW contributors and friends — for Josh Glenn and Rob Walker’s 2009–2010 anthropological-literary experiment SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS. See below for more info about this ongoing project.



Q: Does John like me? A: TRY AGAIN

Q: Does John like me? A: TRY AGAIN

Q: …Does Alex like me? A: YES


Q: So I asked John out, and he said okay after only a little thinking, and we went to the movies and it was great! Actually, it wasn’t great, but we definitely went to the movies. Three times! I paid for his tickets, and he brought a friend along and paid for her tickets. Sometimes he and his friend would kiss a little. Is John my boyfriend? A: ASK A FRIEND

Q: I asked Ashley because I figured she’d know, since she’s been coming to the movies with us so much. She said no. Is that because Ashley’s jealous? A: TRY AGAIN

Q: …Does Alex still like me? A: YES


Q: What should I wear on Saturday when I see Hook with John and Ashley? A: TRY AGAIN

Q: Sorry — I forgot I have to phrase these questions in a certain way. Um… should I wear a dress? A: NO WAY

Q: Jeans, then. But a cute sweater? A: TRY AGAIN

Q: …You want me to wear scrubs again. A: YES

Q: Really? Again? A: YES

Q: But they look so bad on me. A: YES


Q: Merry Christmas tomorrow!! I’m thinking of getting John a present, since he’s my boyfriend. A: NO WAY

Q: I know, right? It’s a big step. But that wasn’t the question. My question is — how about, like, a CD? You think he’d like that? A: MAYBE

Q: I wonder what his favorite band is. A: YES

Q: Really? That’s weird. I thought maybe he might like that new band, Nirvana. But you think I should get him 20-year-old British prog rock? A: DEFINITELY


Q: John showed everyone at school the weird CD I got him and everyone at school laughed at me. Except Alex, who looked kind of hurt or angry or something. That was a jerky suggestion, fortune-teller… Why are you shaking? You’re shaking a little. Are you laughing? Are you actually laughing?! A: MAYBE

Q: I can’t believe this! You’re totally evil! Are you purposely giving me terrible answers? A: NO WAY

Q: You just don’t want to admit how in love with me John is! You’re trying to break us up! A: MAYBE

Q: That’s it — I’m never consulting you again. I hate you. You suck. [FORTUNE-TELLER PLACED IN BACK OF CLOSET; ANSWER UNCONFIRMED]


Q: Hi. It’s me again. Um, John and Ashley are going to prom together. And I wasn’t invited along, so I guess they’re a couple now. A: NO WAY

Q: I know. They’re big jerks. Oh, but Alex got me a birthday present. Off the Deep End, by Weird Al. It’s pretty dorky. But funny. A: YES

Q: So, what do I do about prom? I can’t show up alone. I’ll be mortified. A: ASK A FRIEND

Q: …You want me to ask Alex, don’t you? A: DEFINITELY


Q: So, we didn’t just go to prom together. We also went to the movies. Alone! I mean, with each other, but nobody else. Except the other people in the theater. Oh, who, by the way, included John and Ashley… and Laurel. John sat between them, and in the middle of the movie, Ashley got up, and she was crying, and she dumped popcorn all over John. It was better than the movie. A: NO WAY

Q: Seriously. But anyway, I guess I didn’t have a question for you. A: —–

Q: I just wanted to say… we had a good time. A: —–

Q: You were right. A: I KNOW.


ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE: Ben Greenman on SMILING MUG | Dean Haspiel on KENTUCKY DISH | Doug Dorst on RUSSIAN FIGURE | Kurt Andersen on SANTA NUTCRACKER | Matt Brown on CRUMPTER | Chris Adrian on KANGAMOUSE | Nicholson Baker on MEAT THERMOMETER | Rachel Axler on FORTUNE-TELLING DEVICE | Sean Howe on PABST BOTTLE OPENER | Susannah Breslin on NECKING TEAM BUTTON | Tim Carvell on ROUND BOX | Susanna Daniel on SHARK AND SEAL PENS

SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018). 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE . ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.

CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: UNBORED CANON by Josh Glenn | CARPE PHALLUM by Patrick Cates | MS. K by Heather Kasunick | HERE BE MONSTERS by Mister Reusch | DOWNTOWNE by Bradley Peterson | #FX by Michael Lewy | PINNED PANELS by Zack Smith | TANK UP by Tony Leone | OUTBOUND TO MONTEVIDEO by Mimi Lipson | TAKING LIBERTIES by Douglas Wolk | STERANKOISMS by Douglas Wolk | MARVEL vs. MUSEUM by Douglas Wolk | NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators