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When the Toasts Stopped Being Funny
by Steve Almond

This was in an airport bar, the four of them squared off and late to somewhere else, on holiday from offices, files, throwing toasts like punches: to leather jackets and chardonnay and potato skins and snow delays and new friends and old flames and every sin rearranged to seem romantic, less mistaken.

Their stems swung forward and their glasses clanked, and when the drunkest of them, a loud blond, belted out her appreciations to valium and vibrators, all four howled and clanked again and tried to remember the last time their naked bodies felt a part of God.

It was nothing like grace, this sorrow.

Then they drifted off to be swallowed by gates and planes that were dreams they would never see from the ground.

"When the Toasts Stopped Being Funny" was originally published in StoryQuarterly and appears here by permission of Steve Almond.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.

Steve Almond is the author of two story collections, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow. His next book is a collection of essays, (Not That You Asked) to be published in September, 2007 by Random House. He lives outside Boston with his wife and new baby daughter, whom he cannot stop kissing. Visit him at

Read the interview.
Issue Eighteen (September 15, 2007): When the Toasts Stopped Being Funny by Steve Almond «» Nailed by Robert J. Bradley «» Raymond Carver by Dan Chaon «» The Sound of Success by Terry DeHart «» Ethnic Lego Girls Carry Spears by Heidi W. Durrow «» Mole Man by Stuart Dybek «» Party by Emily Fridlund «» From Halliville To Grice's Town by Jason Jackson «» Starfish by Jeff Landon «» Insomnia of an Elderly French Designer by Sean Lovelace «» Display by Davin Malasarn «» Little Bones by Kuzhali Manickavel «» Stigmata by Susan O'Neill «» Inroads by Dominic Preziosi «» Bachon by Teri Davis Rouvelas «» Voc Rehab Vignettes by Jessica Schantz «» Neighbors by Curtis Smith «» Caging the Thing by Beth Thomas «» Interviews: Steve Almond «» Robert J. Bradley «» Randall Brown «» Dan Chaon «» Terry DeHart «» Heidi W. Durrow «» Stuart Dybek «» Emily Fridlund «» Jason Jackson «» Jeff Landon «» Sean Lovelace «» Davin Malasarn «» Kuzhali Manickavel «» Mary Miller «» Susan O'Neill «» Dominic Preziosi «» Teri Davis Rouvelas «» Jessica Schantz «» Curtis Smith «» Beth Thomas «» Cover Art "Repression of an Open Mind" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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