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A Story in 500 Words

No one believed me when I said I wasn’t lying this time. The empty cans we’d tied to the tripwire had gone flying. I sprang ten feet when I heard the clanging. I’m not lying about that either. Ten feet, maybe twelve, that’s how high I jumped before I took off running, my heart pounding like it was trying to crash its way out and beat me back to Milo’s house.

“Why do you do that? Why do you lie about things that don’t matter?” …


Photo by author.

My mother is ninety-three and lives above my sister’s garage in a converted apartment, but not really. Her body is there, diapered and hunched and mostly immobile, but she is elsewhere. I guide her fingers to the soft ear of a toy rabbit. She smiles wide. This, she never would have done before. Toothy smiles stretched her skin and made her look like a crone, she said. By the time I was ten, my mother was old and done for, her beauty gone and her best years wasted. I told her always that she was beautiful, more beautiful even than…


Remember the ’80s, when men preferred Hanes and could legally rape their wives?

Credit: Fanatic Studio/Getty Images

In 1982, Donald Trump was 36 years old and he preferred Hanes pantyhose. Not because other leading brands constricted his balls, but because women belonged in dresses; it pleased the male eye.

If you’re a Gen-Xer, you undoubtedly remember these ads. For nearly two decades Hanes ran television, print, and radio ads as part of their Gentlemen Prefer Hanes campaign.

As for your preferences, ladies? No one gave a shit, least of all, you. You were happy to tuck that ass in Hanes if that’s how gentlemen preferred it. Why? Because you, Gen-Xer, were socialized not to see a problem…


When Americans are born on third base and think they hit a triple.

I’m in line at the Target pharmacy watching a woman edge a baby stroller back and forth. Lena, the pharmacy tech, tilts her screen toward the woman and points. The information hits hard. The woman’s hands fly everywhere and nowhere, snapped masts with torn sails. I watch as she cycles the stages of grief: This is a mistake. Fix it! Is there a generic? A coupon? Please. She leaves empty-handed.

Lena tells me the baby’s medicine was too expensive, even with the woman’s insurance. …


This Is Us

Why parents should think twice before granting kids absolute digital privacy

Dark photo of a young girl on a smartphone.
Photo: Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia/Getty Images

So, I had the talk with my 11-year-old daughter. (Not that talk, I had that talk a couple years ago.) She stared, unblinking, as I explained how sextortion works. I began with the story of Aaron Coleman. Five years ago, when Aaron was 14 years old, he tormented middle school girls online. His actions were so hurtful that a 6th-grade girl attempted to take her own life. She told the Kansas City Star that Coleman harassed her daily, insisting she kill her “fat” self. After obtaining a nude photo of another girl, Aaron threatened to send it to her friends…


Her name is Cindy Hyde-Smith. She’s a Republican Senator from Mississippi. Her website says she’s a Jesus-loving lifetime member of The National Rifle Association.

On the morning of November 14th, the Senate was on the floor debating legislation for background checks as a gunman opened fire at a high school in California. Two students lay dying from semi-automatic bullet wounds while Republican Senator Hyde-Smith blocked a bill that would have required universal background checks for all gun purchases in America, including private and online sales.

She argued that the bill would prevent her from spontaneously giving her rifle to a…


Our education system is killing learning, one standardized test at a time

Photo: Florian Gaertner/Getty Images

For a long time you will say I am not listening, not paying attention. You will insist I do not care, that I am lazy. At best, a daydreamer.

A neurological explanation will be found. You will give me cures: Here is extra time to complete the test. And a calculator. And medicine for your daydreaming brain. You will feel good about yourselves: See how we have accommodated, how kind we are, how helpful and understanding?

And I will wonder how very awful I must be. They gave me extra time, gum to chew, notes to view and still, I…


I don’t want to tell my kids what to eat — but maybe I should tell them why I’m vegetarian

Illustration: Armando Veve

My daughter and her best friend are in the kitchen rummaging through the cabinets. They find what they’re looking for: gummy bears.

“Those might be old,” I say.

We don’t care.

“Fine, but before you eat them I want you to watch this video.”

I’ve been meaning to show my daughter this video, but the timing never seemed right. When is it ever a good time to get stung in the eye? (“Now that everyone’s finished eating pie, can someone bring in the bee?”) I retrieve my phone and pull up the clip. Midway through, my daughter buries her head…


How a novel with F-bombs and sex gets categorized for juveniles.

Illustration: Erick M. Ramos

Your 11-year-old is reading a YA novel by bestselling author Sarah Dessen, which she found at her middle school library. You couldn’t be happier. The book is long and appears to be quite a page-turner. (Touchdown, book! iPhone trails late in the fourth.)

Here’s an excerpt:

“Damn,” he said, wiping his mouth as he passed the bottle back to me. “Since when are you such a lush?” Then he took a deep drag, sputtering slightly as he held it in. My head felt heavy, fluid, as he exhaled, the smoke blowing across me. I closed my eyes trying to lose…


After seeing things on social media no parent could unsee, I decided to do something about it

Illustration: cosmaa/Getty Images

A year ago, I spent months undercover on the popular video-making app, Musical.ly. (It’s since been renamed. Nice try, but we see you hiding your lame-app self behind TikTok.) My commitment to using the app as an engrossed child, and not a mildly interested adult, led me on a distressing journey into a social network where kids as young as eight sexually objectify themselves. I found hundreds of self-harm videos that showed suicide options — bathtubs filling, images of blades, a child’s voice saying she didn’t want to live anymore. It only got worse from there.

Nearly every kid in…

Anastasia Basil

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