Boy was depressed mainly because his mother and father had decided to name him “Boy.” As a seven year old child, Boy ran away from home, but he only made it to the next door neighbor's front yard. At age nine, he attempted to steal all his parents' savings, but he took all the fake money from the family's Monopoly set. He didn't get very far with that. He was not thrilled with his life, but he was often too dumb to make any changes.
After graduating from Winthrop University in South Carolina, Boy decided to ‘find himself.’ His therapist in college told him it was the right thing to do. He had spent four years at Winthrop completely wasting his time. He received his MBA in Undeclared, and he had a minor in plumbing. He never held a job, never explored internships, and had essentially zero extracurricular activities. He was often seen visiting the campus library, but he is illiterate so no one is quite sure what he was actually doing over there. He made no friends and never talked to his professors. When it comes down to it, all Boy did there was waste his time.
In order to find himself, he decided he needed to go elsewhere. Get out of South Carolina. Get away from Mother, Father, and Cousin. Cousin was Boy’s younger brother and was often a burden on the whole family. Boy decided the best place to find himself would be in Syria. Had Boy not been so illiterate, he probably would have known that Syria is not the best place to visit right now. But once Boy had an idea, he followed through. That was about his only good characteristic.
When he stepped onto Syrian lands for the first time, Boy was mesmerized. He’d never seen anything so beautiful in his entire life. He had a cute girlfriend once, but that didn’t last long.
He flew into the Aleppo International Airport, and he really did enjoy his flight. The only downside of the trip was when he pulled out the Planters Peanuts he had packed in his carry-on bag, the woman next to him swatted it out of his hands due to her apparent peanut allergy, or just plain distaste for Planters Peanuts. The last time he boarded a plane was when he was in Mother’s womb on the family trip to Italy.
Boy was not aware that the majority of people he would come across spoke only Arabic, but he was a very expressive kid, so he got by okay. The nearest Airbnb available was all the way over in Beirut, so he decided to crash with some college kids at the University of Aleppo. They couldn't understand him, but they thought he was funny looking, so they kept him around. Boy often hung out throwing the frisbee and playing bocce ball during the days. On weekends, he would go to the local pool with his new friends. He became close friends with Rasheed, who kindly let Boy sleep on his floor. They had no air mattress, but Boy found it quite comfortable.
Boy and Rasheed were competing to make the best staircase on an Etch A Sketch when Mother called. She said she wanted him to come home immediately because she read the headlines on Al Jazeera and became worried that Syria might actually be dangerous. Boy made the counterargument that nobody in South Carolina had ever wanted to play Etch A Sketch with him, but Mother was not persuaded. Boy put up a good fight while keeping his voice steady. He had a strong thesis and made all his points clear while providing evidence and a conclusion sentence for every point he made. He really did learn something in college after all. But Mother had made up her mind.
"So you can make up your mind, but you can't make your bed like I can," said Boy.
Making his bed was one activity Boy had always been exquisite at. But Mother did not appreciate this comment one bit. She told Boy she was booking him a flight home as they were speaking, but the website of the Aleppo International Airport was in Arabic, a language Mother was not well-versed in. She had intended to figure out the language, but she never did. She was taking basket weaving classes Monday through Friday while raising her youngest son, Cousin, so she was never able to spend the time she needed with Rosetta Stone.
Feeling liberated, Boy was able to clearly make the superior staircase on his Etch A Sketch. Rasheed was a competitive lad, so this grinded his gears. Rasheed told Boy he also sucked at bocce ball, but Boy didn't understand a single word. After slamming his Etch A Sketch on the ground, Rasheed told Boy he could no longer stay in his dorm room. Due to the language barrier, Boy did not receive this message well. He understood Rasheed was angry, but he figured he would patch things up when they returned to the dorm.
That evening, after supper, Boy walked over to Rasheed’s dorm. Hearing the knocking, Rasheed opened up before slamming the door in Boy’s face. Dumbfounded, Boy kept knocking. He knocked and knocked but to no avail. He sluggishly walked out of the dorm and into the streets where he continued to sulk.
What happened to Boy, nobody knows for sure, but chances are he is still sulking in Syria. The last sighting of Boy was on the front page of Al-Thawra, a Syrian newspaper. He had unknowingly been participating in a protest against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president who Boy thought had died years ago.
I saw an ad in the paper for Arnold Jimmers, the man who predicts the past. Looking on Yelp, I read one five-star review after another. The man was loved and was hailed as the greatest palm reader of all time in the Tri-state area. On a Friday night, I made the decision I would give it a shot. I’m a very superstitious person, but I am also very suspicious of these things, especially when they receive auspicious reviews. I set my alarm for five o’clock in the morning so I could guarantee to be the first in line. Dr. Jimmers opens shop at nine o’clock. I pulled my Star Wars sheets over me, and I fell right to sleep.
When an alarm wakes me up, I wake up angry. This morning was no different. I grabbed my alarm clock and hurled it across the room, straight into my lava lamp. Both objects exploded, so I jotted down in my to do list to make a trip to Kmart to replace these items later. I put on my cargo shorts, my loafers, and my bucket hat, and stepped out the door. I was so angry that I forgot to eat breakfast, so when I felt my stomach rumble, I let out a scream on Third Avenue.
When I arrived at Dr Jimmers’ “Predictions for Winners,” I found that I was just slightly too late. I was third in line. The first guy in line was a loser. He was picking his nose, and he wasn’t even doing it right. The woman between us was hideous. She was wearing makeup but it was more like she drew on her face with crayons.
We had to wait for hours before the place opened, but there was no chance I was going to start a conversation with these two dweebs. To pass the time I thought about this Ted Talk I watched the other day on YouTube. I thought about it because I’m pretty sure the man who delivered the speech was also named Arnold. He talked about how you can calm your mind and control it. He said that if you wanted to never feel angry, you don’t have to. You can channel your awareness where you want it. So if you’d rather be happy, switch your mind away from anger to something pleasant. I thought about this for a while, and I thought it made sense. But I like my anger. It gives me something to do. If I didn’t get angry and shatter my alarm clock every morning, then I wouldn’t go to Kmart every day. What would I do with all that time?
When I finally turned around, there were hundreds of people behind me, all lined up to see Dr. Jimmers predict their past. People were wearing pants, dresses, swim trunks, everything you could imagine. All to see what Jimmers had to say.
At 9:15am, it was my turn. I was excited, but I was still suspicious. Jimmers was a slender man, about 6 foot 4. He had a confident look on his face. I think he’s Cuban.
I put out my hand, and he started rubbing it with oils. I could be wrong, but it smelled just like the Aveeno hand lotion I have back home. He coughed four times on my hand, which I felt must be unsanitary, but I went along with it. He then sneezed on my hand, and that’s where I drew the line.
“What was that!” I yelled. I wish I said something better than that.
“It’s part of the process,” Jimmers said. His eyes glimmered, but I really think this was all a hoax.
“You’re a pathetic slime nut!” I really had him there.
“Just ask me a question, son.”
“Fine. Why did Carol leave me?”
He stared at me for a moment.
“You know why.” He had a soft smile, and he motioned for me to leave.
I looked at him for a solid four seconds, and then I walked toward the door. Then, I remembered Carol telling me she was going to leave me if I broke one of her alarm clocks ever again. And boy, did I do just that.
“You really are the real thing Dr. Jimmers,” I said. “You really are.”
You are what you eat – cannibals
Round Robin – Batman sidekick’s nickname in high school when he put on a few pounds
Cold Turkey – A wild turkey who stumbles out of his home into the night, forgetting to put on a fleece
Close, but no cigar – When you vape, thinking it will be as cool as smoking a cigar, but it just isn’t quite there
Double Cross – Jesus in another dimension
All things must pass – a stance on immigration
A dog is a man’s best friend – someone who has no friends
The Mayans often receive credit for inventing the calendar, but credit actually belongs to two farmers Carter and Willis. The two men worked long days but often got distracted. They were supposed to be rending to their wheat fields, but they would get tired and eat the wheat. In the evenings, they would walk to their shed where they worked on their calendar.
“It’s all done,” said Willis.
“Finished,” said Carter.
“What?” asked Willis.
“It’s finished. ‘It’s done’ sounds like it has been cooked” said Carter. They got into useless quarrels over grammar quite often.
They had finally completed their arduous task, but Willis felt like something was missing.
“I feel like something is missing,” said Willis.
“We should include pictures for all the blank pages, so if people hang up their calendar, they can also look at a different picture for every month.”
Carter shook his head. “What pictures would we put in?
Willis thought long and hard, which was the only way people thought back then.
“Dogs. Cats. Cartoons. Maybe women in swimsuits.”
“Hmm. Those all sound intriguing to me.”
And they really were intrigued, so they wound up doing it. They didn’t know any women who would model for them. And dogs weren’t domesticated yet. So they just drew stick figure swimsuit models petting dogs. Every month had a very similar drawing. But this was 45 BCE and people weren’t very creative yet.
“It looks fantastic,” said Willis as he admired their now official final product.
Carter nodded his head in agreement.
A mosquito with a broken wing flew by and landed on Carter’s nose. Willis thought about telling him a mosquito was on his nose, but then he started scratching his own nose and forgot about Carter.
“So what day is today?” asked Willis.
“Well…It’s day one. So it should be January first.”
“That’s no fun.”
“I like it.”
“We should make today the last day. So we can celebrate the new year tomorrow.”
“Oh. That sounds like fun.”
Carter said it sounded like fun, but there was really no reason to think this meaningless celebration would be any fun at all.
“Why would we celebrate the new year?” Carter asked. “It’s just a useless system we made up.”
“That’s why it would be fun” Willis said. Willis was always looking for fun.
“Well it’s getting close to midnight,” Carter said.
They stood quiet for a while. They realized they needed to figure out how to celebrate this day, and they needed to decide quick. Time wasn’t ticking (clocks were not yet invented), but time was definitely moving.
“Happy new year.” Willis said.
Willis stared into Carter’s eyes. It was a new year, and they still hadn’t celebrated. All of a sudden, Willis leans in to Carter and plants a fat kiss on his lips.
“Sorry,” said Willis.
“What was that for?” asked Carter.
“I’m not sure. I just thought…Well, it was a new year and all so…I thought I needed a kiss to start the new…I don’t know…I just…”
Willis couldn’t explain himself. Traditions start in weird ways like this sometimes. Carter stood still. He was confused, but he didn’t seem to mind the kiss. After an awkward silence, Carter spoke up.
“Next year, we should do something else. Maybe fireworks. Or just drop a ball.
For Christmas this year, there are a few things I would like:
dear santa, i changed my mind about pete. so i could just use some advice this year
“If he doesn’t choke to death right here right now, I’m gonna kill him myself.” This is what my friend Charlie said as Mr. Shrewer choked on a fried brussels sprout. But before I resolve this, I must give some back story.
If you didn’t know Jeremy Shrewer, you should be thankful. Shrewer was the most distinguished poet of his time, and he knew it. He let everybody know it. Walking down the streets of London, he would shout things like “I’m a poet and I know it” or “I’m a poet and my sister is dead.” He often wrote about his dead sister.
Shrewer once said in an interview with Ira Glass that “poems don’t have to rhyme.” What a pretentious poet thing to say. He acted like he was deep and knowledgeable, but he really didn’t know much at all. In an interview with David Letterman, Shrewer stated, “All my poems reveal a secretive truth about the world. They all have an underlying message.” Again, he talks as if he knows what he is talking about, but if you ignore his Nobel Peace Prizes and his Pulitzer Prizes, you’d realize he really is an idiot. He wrote one poem that went like this:
A dog waits for his food.
A man refuses to give him food.
The dog barks. He is mad.
Never be forgetful.
Maya Angelou said this was the most powerful poem she had ever read, but I’m pretty sure she was high when she said that.
Anyway, Shrewer spent his days writing in the mountains. He eventually relocated to Geneva, but I have been told that was only because he wanted to go straight to the source of Evian water.
My friend Charlie and I were meeting up for a quick lunch break. We always had the same lunch break on Wednesdays, so it became our thing. Charlie suggested we meet at Chez Marino because he told me, “Oh, Alfonso. The casual Italian dining room is to die for. Just wait until you see the terrace.” Sometimes Charlie made me wish I had other friends. But I met him still, and I stood outside waiting for him. As I waited, my mind was blown. The great Jeremy Shrewer passed by me and entered the restaurant. I’m pretty sure he mumbled something like “A poem a day keeps the doctor away,” but I can’t say for sure. And the fat liar clearly doesn’t write all day if he takes lunch breaks in casual Italian dining rooms.
Soon after, Charlie showed up. He was too excited about the terrace, he wasn’t even listening to what I was saying, but that all stopped when he saw Shrewer’s calves. “I’d recognize those droopy calves a mile away,” he said. He was a bad friend, but he had excellent vision.
We were seated at a table adjacent to Shrewer. Captivated by the man before us, we had lost our appetite and told the waiter to stop bothering us. We were fixed on the man. The legend. The pathetic poet. We eavesdropped carefully as he ordered a margherita pizza like we knew he would. He’s written hundreds of poems about margherita pizzas. His most famous was a haiku.
I like my pizza
Warm and fuzzy, oh yes
The pizza is mine
This one had nothing to do with the Margherita itself, but it was entitled “Ode to Margherita Pizzas.”
As Shrewer anxiously awaited his pizza, a waiter brought out some fried brussels sprouts. This was some depressing Italian dining. I expect some warm bread and oil, not fried brussels sprouts. But Shrewer ate his sprouts, and he chewed like an animal. He’s a poet, so he’s not the most coordinated person. He missed the sprout a couple times and bit his lip instead. This caused him to let out some winces of pain. As he got to the final sprout, he plopped that ball into his mouth so fast, it went straight down his esophagus. Finally, some action. He seized up and grabbed the edge of the table hard with his right hand. His veins were popping out of his forearm, but I could tell he didn’t go to the gym very often. His rapid breathing through his nose caused an annoying whistle sound, but otherwise he wasn’t able to make much noise. All of a sudden, he stood up. Mouth hanging open, he continued to nose whistle. It was almost to the tune of “Piano Man” except that the pitch was off, and it sounded more like a hippopotamus taking a bath. As he stood there, choking, his eyes were bulging, trying to find something or someone to put an end to his pain. Charlie and I sat there and watched. Shrewer wasn’t looking his best.
Charlie became impatient and told me he was going to put a quick end to this mess, but a waiter burst into the scene. Except the waiter didn’t notice the scene at all. He just adjusted the position of chairs and put some forks on a couple tables. Meanwhile Shrewer was getting purple in the face, like a plumb or a really rotten tomato. He started doing squats, and with the combination of his nose whistle it looked like a bizarre mating call. Drool slowly spilled out of his mouth like honey falls out of a jar. Flying through the air, Shrewer jumped onto the table. This got the clueless waiter’s attention. But instead of running over to do CPR, the waiter ran off to call the police because Shrewer looked like a madman causing a disturbance. The truth is he was a madman causing a disturbance. I wanted to enjoy a nice Italian lunch, not watch a madman choke on a table.
When the door to the kitchen opened again, three policemen stormed in. One was short and stubby, the second was blond like a surfer, and the third looked like Robert Frost. Shrewer had slipped and fallen hard onto the table, his head crushing a glass. He lay there with some blood on his head, still wheezing, trying to rid the brussels sprout. Stubby handcuffed him as Surfer lifted Shrewer off the table to take him away. Robert Frost spat on the ground then followed his coworkers out of the fine Italian dining room.
Shrewer died that day. There were no more poems about Margherita Pizzas, and no more poems about Evian water. And as much as I’m thankful for that day, I wish Charlie was dead too.
Snow falling on the glass window
Strong winds blow
She sleeps, she wakes, she sleeps again
Turning and tossing each night
Graceful sleep, eyes closed
She yearns for love
Arms bent, body curled
She dreams of love
Shooting stars play in her mind
As the time slowly drifts by
Her head on my stomach, I breathe
She awaits her inevitable cry
In and out the breath goes
She shakes and twitches
Mouth closed, she uses her nose
She wants to sleep at night
Golden hair, pink shirt
Lying still on the couch
No pain, no one’s hurt
Relaxed, with sleep tonight
I turn the page quietly
I am conscious of my breath
She begins to twitch again
I am conscious of my breath
Dreaming aimlessly, deep in thought
A stress-free world seems real
All the duties are forgotten
And we’re on the beach for real
The waves crash, dolphins jump
Into the sky they soar
Sand in her toes, she flexes her feet
She walks into the water's roar
The dolphin stops to say hello
Her feet are clenching sand
The dolphin stares into her eyes
The girl lends out a hand
She takes her in, she feels so free
A rush of blood to the head
Crystal clear water shines
I hope this day won’t end
Heart beats fast
Breath slows down
Have faith within
Asleep under the sea
Fish surround her
With friendly smiles
Happy to see her stand
The dolphin stares into her eyes
Oh boy, this day is grand
She approaches the surface
Her heart is racing
She wants the people she knows
Her breath slows, her head rises
Above the surface water
Water drips from golden hair
Golden droplets hit the sea
She lies awake, she lies free
Only now is she able to see
Reality approaches like a sudden intruder
She looks to the sky for hope
Her mind distracted, she turns to see
The dolphin say goodbye
Her mouth was open but now is closed
Her lips shield her teeth
She makes a smile and all the while
Has the feeling underneath
Joyfulness hides in every day
Behind roads, trees, and under the water
You seek you find, if you want
To talk to the dolphin today
Miss the water, miss the joy
Every day is a gift
Miss the dolphin, miss the sand
We miss the beach and its mist
She sleeps now and soon will wake
But the dolphin always stays
The smile can sometimes fade away
But the dolphin always stays.
“I love you.”
Abigail stared at me for too many seconds.
“I love you.”
She didn’t mean that.
“You don’t mean that.”
“I do. I just wasn’t expecting it.”
I sat down, and I looked down. Everything about me felt down.
“Reve, I just don’t know how I feel.”
I looked up, but I still felt down.
“I fall in love too easily. And I don’t want it to happen again."
“You don’t want to fall in love with me.”
Abigail moved her eyebrows around in a way I didn’t like.
“I don’t like that word.”
She nodded her head, and I looked back down. She kept talking.
“I love pancakes, I love my life, I love this weather, I love my shoes, I love The Sun Also Rises, I love kissing you, and I love you. I say that stupid word all the time, and it doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
“I know it doesn’t mean anything, but I still feel it.” Not the smartest thing I could have said.
“How do you know you feel it then?”
My head was still down. I wanted to sink into the floor and be sunken away forever. But I am also an optimist, so I was still hopeful this conversation would go somewhere that I wanted it to go.
“I don’t think love is special –
“Can we stop saying that word?”
I looked up. And I looked into her eyes. People often romanticize eyes, but they’re just eyes. I did like her eyes, though.
“I care about you more than anything. Is that not love?”
Abigail wasn’t looking down or up. She was pacing around with a stern look.
“How would you define love?”
Before I could answer, she continued.
“Love doesn’t mean anything until it does.”
I must have looked confused. She went on.
“When my dad had a heart attack, I had a panic attack, and I thought I had lost him. And I was depressed because I never told him I loved him. And now I tell him ‘I love you’ every time I see him because now it means something. It doesn’t mean anything until it does. I always cared for him and felt the same as I do now, but there was no point in saying the phrase. And now there is. But I don’t tell my mom the phrase. And I feel guilty about that sometimes, but that’s the way it is.”
She took a deep breath then continued speaking.
“I don’t think I’ll ever tell the person I marry that I love them. If something happens like a heart attack, then maybe I will. Or maybe something I can’t even fathom will happen, and I will say it all the time. But for the most part, it’s a meaningless phrase.”
She paused and stood still.
“You told me love was joy.”
I was watching her eyes, so it was difficult for me to listen at the same time.
“Do you remember that? Do you remember saying that to me?”
"Well if love is joy, what’s joy?”
I squinted my eyes and watched her feet walk around the fuzzy carpet. It felt good to walk on that carpet.
I don’t think anybody knows what joy really is, but I spend some time almost every day thinking about it. This is why I despise the English language sometimes. You can’t describe anything. You can’t understand anything. Nothing really means what you want it to mean. And you can’t articulate what you want to say because everyone feels the same way. I like speaking Spanish because they have words for everything. Like the word sobremesa. It’s the word that means the conversation you have after you finish dinner, and are still seated at the table, talking. That’s a real word. That saves time. That makes sense.
But I thought a lot about what joy means, so I felt I might as well say something.
“It’s something more.”
“Something more than what, Reve? Something more than what exactly? More than happiness? More than fun?” She always has a specific intention when she raises her voice.
“Well it lasts longer than happiness. And it lasts longer than fun.”
“So it’s permanent. That’s what you’re saying. Joy is permanent. So love is permanent. So you and I are going to get married and have kids and will always be in love. That’s what you’re saying.”
“I hope so.”
Her jaw dropped, but she wasn’t amazed or anything like that. More dumbfounded than anything.
“I hope so? That’s about the worst answer you could come up with.”
I feel the need to say that we might sound drunk, but we were both sober. Abigail has never even had a sip of alcohol. But I lie about things, so she may have lied to me as well.
“Joy is laughter,” I said. Another incredibly broad, meaningless statement. “Joy is the feeling you have when you smile for no reason. It’s the feeling I get when I sit alone at home during winter, and I stare at my Christmas tree. I sit on the floor alone and stare at the tree for hours. And I smile. And it shows on my face, and I feel it in my bones. It’s also the feeling I get when I run in the street. A rush of joy comes over me when I realize how incredible it is to be alive. So I run in the street and yell, maybe sing, and I feel joy. And it’s also the feeling I get when I’m with you. When I see you smile, I have joy. But it’s weird because when I see you cry, I have the same feeling, but it doesn’t show on my face. I just hold you tight and we cry together. That’s joy.”
Abigail stopped pacing as she listened to all this. She really did listen. She came and sat down next to me, but not too close. When she started to speak, her voice sounded different. She was trying to whisper but was not successful. It just made her sound nervous.
“But does it go away?”
I didn’t speak for a few seconds, but I wasn’t thinking about anything at all.
“And yet you yelled at me yesterday morning. And you punched a hole in the wall a couple months ago because you were so mad at me for no good reason. And last Tuesday you didn’t even speak to me, and you never told me why. So how can you say you have joy?”
“I blocked it out.”
“You blocked it out.”
“Yes. I have it. Everyone has joy, which we can agree now is a synonym for love, yes?”
When we first started going out I thought “sure” was a negative word, but she taught me that it really just means yes. I still don’t believe her sometimes.
“Okay. So everyone is born with love and joy, and you can always have it and give it, but sometimes it’s really hard to do that.“
"But why is it hard?”
I didn’t have an answer. But she did, so she continued talking.
“I think it’s difficult because people want to be sad. I’d go as far to say that people seek out being depressed. I don’t even think it’s an attention thing, but that might be part of it. Just think about all the people you know who say things like ‘man, I’m gonna kill myself.’ I don’t even care that it might be insensitive. I’m not offended. Say whatever you want. But that sort of thing doesn’t make sense to me. People enjoy feeling bad. People want to be near death, they want to curl up in a ball and cry, and they want people to know about it. They want the world to know how sad their life is. But people aren’t special. I hate when people think they’re special. I hate it. When people think they’re special, they isolate themselves and live in their head and feel superior but also feel miserable, and it’s this whole cycle that doesn’t make any sense. Everybody has terrible stuff happen to them, everybody has strange thoughts, and everybody has emotions. And sure, I think you’re right, everybody has love and joy, and people just don’t want to use it. They’re afraid because of their past or because of a lack of trust or something beyond my knowledge.”
Her knowledge is vast.
“I don’t care,” she continued. I really just don’t care.”
“You do care.”
“How do you know.”
“Because you think about it.”
“I don’t care about everything I think about.”
“Really? What are the things you think about the most?”
She shifted her position. She bent her knees and put her shirt over her knees and legs like little kids do sometimes.
“I think about food pretty constantly. I think about you a lot. I think about sex. I think about my future, like, stressing about what I have to do for the day…I think about Jamie.”
“And you care about everything you just said. All of that is meaningful to you in some way or another.”
She rocked back and forth.
“I suppose so.”
Both of us looked down at the fuzzy carpet. It needed to be vacuumed, but it wasn’t gross.
We stayed quiet until Abigail spoke again.
“I don’t love Jamie.”
I looked up at Abigail looking down at the fuzzy carpet. I couldn’t think of something to say, so I didn’t say anything.
“But I don’t love you either.”
For some reason this didn’t make me mad or sad.
“I know. Even though I don’t know what it means.”
“I don’t think it matters. But I do think there’s some truth to what you said about always having love. I think it also applies to loving people. I think there’s one person you meet in your life who you truly love. And maybe you marry the person or don’t speak too much to them, and either way maybe you don’t realize it, but it’s there and it’s there with that one person.”
“That’s a pretty dumb thing to say.”
I knew she wouldn’t like hearing me say that, but she always listens, so I continued.
“Love is a choice. You can love multiple people, and love fades away sometimes, and that’s just that. But don’t tell me everybody has one person. You know that’s ridiculous. You know love is a choice.”
“Love is a choice, sure. But I don’t want to choose you just like I didn’t want to choose Jamie. I’m going to choose the one person who I truly love.”
"How will you find that guy? How do you know I’m not that guy? How do you know it’s not Jamie?"
She pulled her legs out of her shirt and stood up. She swung her hair in my face, but she didn’t mean to.
“The guy will bring me joy.” She looked at me when she said this, which I didn’t particularly like.
“Do I not bring you joy?”
“You have it, you just don’t give it.”
I wish I spoke better Spanish. I want to move to Spain. I want to live in Madrid and live in one of those beautiful houses that look like a castle. And I want to be retired and just paint. I want to paint all day, and explore the world all night. And joy will always be rushing over me and inside me and I’d be spreading it around to all the lovely people I meet. I wouldn’t have a bad day. On the last Tuesday of December, I’d walk out of my beautiful home at night to start my usual exploration. And as I’d walk past La Rosaleda, I’d see a pretty girl, painting. And I’d know she was special because I am a painter and saw that she painted, but she didn’t know I painted so she wouldn’t realize anything yet. Then I’d tap her on the left shoulder because the right side of my face is my good side, and I’d say, “Eres mi persona especial a quien amo.” And she’d have the prettiest eyes in the world and they would glimmer with the reflection of the water and she’d say, “Ya lo sé.”
Just because I’m a turkey doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings okay. Thanksgiving makes me furious. It is not for everyone. And it is definitely not for turkeys.
You know what I’m thankful for? Nothing. You know why? I’m gonna get slaughtered on the great day of thanks. Straight up slaughtered. Some lanky man in a straw hat’s gonna wring my neck and take me inside. I don’t wanna go inside. I’m an outdoorsie kinda gal.
Thanksgiving. Give thanks. WHO THE HELL DO I GIVE IT TO! You can’t give thanks. You can give a gift or some tasty food. I don’t give; I only receive, you understand? And guess what present I’m receiving for Thanksgiving? DEATH. Aw, little turkey girl, you must be so sad, since you’re dying and all, while everyone else’ll be outside eating mashed potatoes and throwing around the pigskin. No,no,no,no,no,no. I’m not sad. Get your mind out of the gutter. Actually, get your mind in the gutter. Shove your ugly, pathetic face inside the gutter and die because if you’re reading this, you’re a human, and your gonna kill me and celebrate it! You’re a waste of space. All you humans are the same. You’re all fat and grotesque. Models? MoDeLs?!?! Every model I’ve ever seen looks more awful than the next. You want a swimsuit magazine, start taking pictures of seals. Those are the real beauties.
But listen. I am NOT sad. Okay? You think I cry? Yeah you do. You pathetic Sargento cheese sticks, you. I’ll tell you why I don’t cry. It’s because I have Sjögren's syndrome. It’s a disease. Look it up.
People keep calling me a hen. Hen this, hen that. It’s 2018, you dweebs, I can be whoever the hell I wanna be. I’m a turkey.
This one farm girl who lives on my farm, her name is Eda. She’s from Turkey. She’s a dingus. Last Thanksgiving Eda told me, “Happy Tgivz, you little hen!”
Jesus Christ. Tgivz? What kind of an abbreviation is that? Why is it so hard for you to speak your own language? Just say your damn words! And what kind of monster says Tgivz? Eda. That’s who. I’m pretty sure that’s also the name of Mussolini’s daughter.
When Eda and her little sister chase me around, I wish there was a noose around my neck. But I have those survivor instincts, you know, because I’m a turkey and all, so I run away. One day I’m gonna muster up the guts to start chasing Eda. I’ll chase her, and I’ll peck her right in the face and knock her down. That’ll be the day. When Turkish girl can’t run no more.
So next Thanksgiving, don’t be thankful. Think about me. Think about the badass Turkey who wasn’t afraid. Think about the turkey that wasn’t thankful at all. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about. Those who are smart enough to not be thankful. Then, reach across the table and wring the neck of whatever phony family member is sitting across from you. Stuff them with stuffing and shove an apple in their mouth. Then come outside and feed them to me.
Re: Google Software Engineer Internship
1104 Main Street, Porbandar, India 360545 | 562-821-1921 | firstname.lastname@example.org
University College London, London, UK 1888
Bachelor of Arts, Economics
Double minor: Creative Writing and Fasting
Cumulative GPA: 2.931
Inner Temple, London, UK 1889
Bagels and Brownies Employee 1888
Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum 1889
Juggling, singing, able to fast for long periods of time,
Good stamina, talented chess player, familiar with Microsoft Office
It’s never where you think it’ll be, but inspiration is everywhere. I was doing really poorly. My mother had just died, and my best friend dropped out of school two weeks before that. There were other people in my life that could comfort me, but I didn’t want that because I knew it wouldn’t work. The comfort felt fake. It felt fake the same way music always feels fake. I listen to Daniel Johnston’s song “True Love Will Find You In The End.” It’s bogus. A twenty-nine-year-old whose middle name is Dale doesn’t know the slightest thing about true love. But he sings it anyway.
It pisses me off when people talk about true love. Do people have fake love? They don’t. Americans blab on about having true love all the time, but they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. The Greeks say there’s eight different kinds of love. It’s not enough, but it makes more sense. And they’re all true. None of them are bogus. We should be like the Greeks and just study these things and eat hummus all day.
But here’s the thing. When you find yourself sitting in a dark place and thinking all the love around is fake, you don’t feel well. It’s a cloudy day every day. So, that’s how I felt.
I went out to dinner with my godfather and his daughter, Jessie. The two of them were extremely close to my mother and me, and our families had been friends since before I was born. I walked down the street to meet them, and I was thinking about The Godfather, which I had just watched for the first time. Michael Corleone bothered me that whole movie. By the end, he thought he was such a big shot. He wasn’t a big shot. He killed some people and treated his girlfriend terribly. That’s not a big shot. That’s a jerk.
My ex-best friend Simon, he’s kind of a nerd, told me the movie was based on a book. Of course it was. Every lousy movie is always based on a pathetic novel. If you’re gonna write a book, write a book. If you’re gonna make a movie, make a movie. But stop regurgitating the same story to get some lousy dollars in your bank. If you eat a tomato, eat the tomato. Don’t throw it up and make a salad with it.
Plus, the author is Mario Puzo who studied at Columbia University. If he was in the mafia, he would’ve died within a week.
So I was thinking about this garbage as I was walking to see Jessie and Uncle Al (That’s what I’d always called my godfather even though his real name was Calvin or something like that). As I was lost in my mind, I tripped and fell over into the street. Nothing made me trip, but when you’re in a sour mood, walking isn’t natural. Most people would have nervously looked around, embarrassed. But I don’t get embarrassed. It’s too funny to be embarrassing.
I turned the corner on Old Harbor Road, and I saw Uncle Al standing outside the restaurant. He was holding a deck of cards. I always play gin rummy when I’m with Uncle Al and Jessie. When he noticed me, he didn’t give me some pathetic greeting or shake my hand to test my grip. I hate when people do that. A firm handshake means nothing. If you want to test my strength then let me punch you in the face.
I wouldn’t want to punch Uncle Al. He gave me a big hug and smiled when I couldn’t see him. It was one of those embraces where you just know exactly what their face looks like. “Jessie’s running late,” he said. He looked me in the eyes. Nobody looks me in the eyes.
We walked into the place, and it smelled nice. It smelled like coffee beans, which was weird because it wasn’t a coffee shop. But it was enough to get me to order coffee. I don’t even like coffee, but the smell is so good I have to just get it sometimes. They brought it out, and Uncle Al and I talked for awhile about what we’ve been up to since the last time we talked. I told him about the time a few weeks ago when I convinced some friends to play badminton. Nobody wanted to play, but I was so enthused. We picked the worse day to play, too. It was twenty degrees Fahrenheit, but that wasn’t going to ruin anything for me. Marcus and I were up by three when Marcus decided to try a jump serve. He smashed the shuttlecock way out into a tree, and he let go of his racquet, which hurled through the air, colliding with John Orilson’s fat face. We were friends with the Orilson twins, but I wasn’t upset this happened. He fell right on his butt, and we had a good laugh. We didn’t get to finish the game though. Uncle Al told me about his brother who was in the hospital. He’s been sick for a while. He asked Uncle Al to bring him a red apple, which Uncle Al thought was strange because his brother is colorblind. But Uncle Al’s a good guy, so he didn’t ask questions. He just bought his brother a nice, ripe apple. When he entered the hospital room, he gave his brother the red apple, and his brother told him that he wanted a red apple. Uncle Al insisted that this was a red apple, but his brother kept telling him this was a green apple, and he wanted a red apple. Sometimes I wonder if any of Uncle Al’s stories are true.
Jessie walked through the door, and you could tell she was giddy with excitement. I love it when people are giddy. It’s the purest form of joy I’ve ever seen. Just thrilled to be living.
She walked on over to me with her sweet smile that’s too big for her face and gave me a big hug. This family always hugs. If I ran into Jessie on the street and she was in a rush to something important, she’d throw down her stuff and give me a big hug right in the middle of everything. There’s always time for a hug. People complain about being busy, but there’s actually time for a lot of things.
We were meeting for dinner, but no one was actually hungry, so we just ordered chips and salsa. Then I convinced them to also order guacamole. None of us were big queso fans though. It was so good to be with these two people. I was a senior in college, and I enjoyed it and had friends and all, but I really needed this. Sometimes you need things like this. I’m not sure if it was the two of them specifically that I needed, but whatever it was made me happy. God, I was happy. We talked about my mother briefly, but it didn’t make me sad. We even talked about Simon for a second. But really, we just laughed. We laughed about stories from the past, and we laughed about the lousy interaction I had with the waiter. We even laughed about how salty the chips were. I don’t know what was so funny about that.
There was one story I told that I was so excited to tell. I knew Uncle Al would die with his deep, roaring laugh, and Jessie would be laughing at every word I spoke with her massive, giddy smile. The story happened just a couple weeks ago, so it was fresh in my head. I started laughing before I even started my story. Usually I hate when people do that because it's often a sign their story is going to be awful, but this was just a laughing kind of night. The story was about how I had to pick up my dad from the airport the day my mom died. I was cruising down the highway. I always speed. I know it’s bad, but I like it too much. My radio was broken, so I was wearing headphones, which I also know is terrible, but I’ve always needed music when I drive. Silence pains me. As I drove down, a deer came out of nowhere, and I crashed right into it. Uncle Al lost it when I told him that.
“A deer?!” he yelled, salsa flying out of his mouth.
“A deer!” I yelled.
I was really animated when I was telling this story. All three of us were excited.
Jessie told me I was insane, and that this would only happen to me. She’s right.
I really laughed hard when I hit that deer. My mother was dead, but I think that just added to it all. It was so absurd. And this really would only happen to me. Bad stuff always happens to me, but I never die or anything, so they almost always make good stories.
After the impact, I pulled myself together and got out of the car to go look at the deer. I called the number of some tow truck company my dad had given me awhile back. They said they would come in three hours. Three hours. Such lousy service I get. Seconds after I hung up, my dad called me. He told me he had just landed and was waiting outside the terminal. I told him about hitting the deer, and then I was cut off as my phone died.
“This is great. This is great.” Uncle Al kept saying that.
When you’re stranded on an empty highway with a dead phone, a broken car, and a dead deer, all you can do is smile. There was panic in my smile I’m sure, but it was still a smile. I walked down the highway like a mad man until I took the first exit on the right. It’s a neat feeling taking an exit when you’re not in a car. But it was dark out, so everything was feeling spooky. I walked at least a mile until I reached a gas station, and this place gave me the creeps. I swear, there was this one lady working at the gas station and the first thing she said when I walked in was, “Hello, my dear!”
“I’ve never had someone in a gas station greet me in my entire life.”
“I know!” I said. Jessie stole my line, but at least it was said.
The strange woman threw me off, so I just smiled awkwardly then turned to look at the snacks behind me. It was just an empty aisle with not a single snack in sight. No Planters peanuts, no Juicy Fruit gum, no nothing. I turned back around, and the lady was standing right behind me.
I was so animated at this point of the story, even Uncle Al was on the edge of his seat.
“The second I turned and saw her I just went, AHHHHHHH! I screamed like my life was over, and I thought it was!”
Uncle Al was laughing so hard. That made me happy.
Then the lady screamed, which made me scream louder. God, I was scared. After I settled down and laughed anxiously, I asked her to call me a cab to the airport, and she said she would. She called me “sweet thing” instead of “dear” which made me feel better. Once I got to the airport, my dad and I just took it all the way to our house.
They both loved the story, and Uncle Al didn’t even notice the clumps of salsa all over his shirt.
The other people in the restaurant were probably embittered by the ruckus we were causing. But I didn’t think about that until later. This dinner with Uncle Al and Jessie really let me live and just be. There was no room to be mad or sad. All that was left was gratitude. It was pure joy. I think that’s all that love is, really. True or fake. It’s just joy. Finding the joy in yourself and someone else. And never looking back.
The only thing similar between Vito Corleone and Uncle Al is that they have very distinct voices. They’re not similar, but they’re both distinct. The Godfather made me think about people more than anything. You can’t let special people get away from you. People die, sure. But there are certain things you can control and other things you just can’t. The sad thing is sometimes you don’t know if you have the control or not.
Uncle Al, Jessie, and I had stayed awhile longer after I told them that story. We didn’t stop laughing. They’re good people. I say that even though I don’t really know them that well. But I still say it. Laughing and making people laugh. Sometimes I don’t know which is a better feeling, but they’re both amazing.
Actually, laughing is definitely the best.
When we stood up and walked outside, Uncle Al asked where I was headed.
“I’m meeting a friend,” I said. I was thinking about Simon. I wasn’t meeting anybody. I was going home.
As I started to walk away, I had a mixture of thoughts and feelings. I had a great time. I loved that I was able to see these people I care about. But the cloudy day I was having earlier returned. All the depressing thoughts came back to me.
But then Uncle Al called my name.
I turned around. He looked at me. He wasn’t smiling or anything corny, but he looked me in the eyes. He was standing straight. He didn’t notice it was cold outside. He made a fist with his right hand, tapped it over his heart, then held it up to the sky.
I looked him in the eyes, and I nodded. I smiled a little but not much. I turned and walked away. My sadness didn’t go away. But I felt alive.
The oldest person to ever live was Jeanne Louise Calment. She was some French lady who lived to be 122. She claimed to have sold colored pencils to Vincent Van Gogh. She also claimed to have seen the Eiffel Tower being built. But I think that is all a load of bull. She claimed that a diet rich in olive oil is the reason she lived a long, healthy life. But I found a picture of her on her 120th birthday, and she didn’t look good at all.
The truth is, she’s not the oldest person ever. No. Recently, Amelia Earhart surpassed her. I know what you think. Oh, that airplane lady who died a while back. Well, she didn’t die. She is that airplane lady, but she didn’t die. She’s doing just fine, really. She disappeared awhile back, but I think she just got sick of it. Sick of everything. I mean, she was always being hyped up, but nobody really knew her. She was probably lonely. It’s hard to have friends when you’re up in the sky all day.
Seldom do people believe me when I tell them Amelia is alive. Everybody needs evidence or facts, but I don’t understand why. I don’t need any of that. All I need is fantasy. Because it’s more interesting to explore your own brain than it is to explore some random facts, you know? Because you can manipulate anything with your brain.
I think that’s what old lady Jeanne did. I think she just kept telling herself she was young and spry. She stayed in her head instead of looking into the mirror. But the second she looked into the mirror she would’ve thought, damn, I look terrible. And then she’d die. That is probably why she didn’t make it to 123. Some jerk gave her a mirror.
Amelia did something different. She messed around. She messed around with the whole world. If you can mess around with the whole world, you know you have something special. Scheming is great. Because it is simply giving people something they make believe as facts. That is great. It’s like when I was ten, I would rub dirt on my bike so that my mom would believe I had been exercising. But really, I was just in a park drawing a picture of the big oak tree right next to the raggedy, gray bench where I always sat. Same with Amelia. She was probably just drawing planes or clouds or something. But she didn’t mess around with her mom. She messed around with the whole world.
But if you’re like me, you can dodge the mess around. You can live in your brain. And when people blab on about their nonsense they think they know so much about, you can pick the information you like and do whatever you want with it. That’s what I did. And that’s why I have to go now. I have to go see Amelia. I think we’ll draw a tree or something together.
When Freddy woke up from his nap, he was ready for some fun. He had waited endlessly for this special day. As he got into his red and blue Spiderman suit and strapped on his flimsy mask, he reminisced about the days he wasn’t able to afford such a luxurious outfit. But now he was ready to somehow, someway obtain what he couldn’t get as a child.
Leaving his house filled with spooky decorations, Freddy locked the door with a smirk on his face. He went from house to house, but nobody would give him what he wanted. He tripped over jack o’ lanterns and received piercing stares from parents as well as from the pumpkins in their front yards. He looked like a hunched over fool, not Spiderman. Only a few people answered the door, and those who did closed it as quickly as they had opened it.
Freddy’s back stiffened as he left one house, and he collapsed on a family’s front yard, throwing his empty plastic basket across the lawn as he let out a scream in agony. The family who had so hurriedly slammed the door rushed outside to check on the poor man. They ran past their inflatable black cat to see him lying there. He moaned and groaned, wincing in pain. Kids came over with their parents to see the commotion. A father with fake blood dripping down his face offered his hand to help him get up, but he refused the hand. A kid who was probably a little too old for this was dressed as Ron Weasley. He didn’t need to do much to look like him.
A circle of children and parents looked down at Freddy. One child poked him with a black cardboard scythe. Then, as quickly as a vampire sucks blood, Freddy leapt up and grabbed the two largest baskets from the trick or treaters. As he sprinted away, he yelled, “I got the tricks, and I got the treats!” A stupid thing to say.
He ran off to the next street where he tried to hail a cab. But there aren’t any taxis in Hoople, North Dakota. Freddy gave up quickly and decided to run all the way back home. But when he returned home, something felt off. “Something feels off,” he said to himself.
As he walked up to his front door, he realized everything was silent. He glanced back and noticed every light in every house had been turned off. Rumbling sounds started to rise from afar. He stood and listened. The sounds grew louder. It was like the screeching sound of a subway car or the deathly scream of Marion Crane in Psycho. It felt like an earthquake in his mind. “It’s not earthquake season,” he said, trying to reason with himself. But there’s not really any such thing as earthquake season.
The noise couldn’t get any louder. Freddy grabbed his ears and fell to the ground. He started rolling around in the driveway. The candy from his baskets had spilled all over. He let out a scream, but the shrieking noise was too overwhelming. He couldn’t scream at all. It felt like he was drowning in space. He had no control. He rolled around with his mouth open, but he couldn’t emit any sound. Looking down at his legs, he saw blood spewing out of them. His eyes widened, and you could see the spewing blood in the reflection of his iris. Blood dripped down his eyes like tears. He kept wiping his eyes, but the blood tears wouldn’t stop. In an instance, all the noise cut off.
It was quiet.
Freddy stood up. Everything was still dark, but it felt more normal. His ears weren’t ringing. Everything was still. There was no wind out, and all the blades of grass stood up perfectly straight. He looked down his driveway and saw all his candy on the ground. He stood still. Next to his right foot, lay a Twix bar. He missed this smell. Bending down, he picked it up. A small smile grew on his face. A knife suddenly was forced through Freddy’s heart. The knife went straight through his back and out his chest. Blood exploded all over the place. The murderer grabbed the Twix bar that used to be in Freddy’s hands. A small smile grew on his face. “Now I’ve got the tricks, and I have the--“ A knife was forced through the murderer’s heart. He fell down, dead, on top of Freddy’s dead body. The new murderer looked around anxiously as he went to grab the Twix bar that had a couple drops of blood on the wrapper before a bullet hurled through the air and killed the guy. A neighbor, hiding in the bush, was holding a shot gun. He rushed over to pick up the Twix. He fumbled with the wrapper as he struggled to shove it in his mouth. As he chewed, he started coughing. His body lost control, and his eyes rolled back in his head. He coughed up blood everywhere until he passed out on top of the other dead bodies.
A few middle schoolers sat around a lunch table.
“That didn’t happen, Rufus,” Charlie said.
“It did, too, Charlie. I swear to God!” Rufus was defensive.
“Do you even believe in God?” Rufus wasn’t expecting that question.
The bell rang, and it was time for class. The kids grabbed their bags and walked through the hallway. Charlie turned to a girl he liked and said, “Rufus is a doofus.” Annabel turned to Charlie and said, “I think he’s kinda cute.”
Annabel walked into class. Charlie walked behind her with a frown. But nobody seemed to notice the old man in the pathetic Spiderman suit creeping in the corner. Freddy was alive, and he wanted some candy.
You can’t run away from your problems, but you can try.
I knew this before I did it. I always knew this. But when you feel you’ve had enough, there’s nothing that can override that feeling. Some people say certain feelings of love can override it. Or maybe even some extreme feelings of hunger. But I don’t like those people.
Sunday night was one of the worst nights of my life. When I returned home that night, I went to my room to write down all of my problems. I opened my desk drawer and took out a yellow legal pad. I grabbed my blue uni-ball pen. It is advertised as the pen that doesn’t smudge. It smudges. I started writing furiously. I don’t know if the writing was fueled by anger, sadness, or something else, but I was writing faster than ever. I wrote about my compulsive lying, my control issues, and my anxieties I have about my wife. I wrote about my OCD and the things I can’t do anymore because of it. I wrote down many other problems, but I don’t want to mention those.
I wrote pages and pages until I felt I should go to sleep. But when I closed my eyes in bed, nothing changed. I was still writing my problems in my head. So I got back out of bed and started writing again. My mind was racing, and my heart was pounding. I was thinking about everything, but I couldn’t think at all. My mind went places I didn’t think it could go. I started hating people I love and loving people I hate.
I was scared, yet I wasn’t able to think why I was scared. I felt bad. That’s all I knew for sure, and I believed that it would be nice if someone stabbed me right now – THAT would override this pain. Because I didn’t think love was going to come save me out of nowhere. I had no appetite.
My thoughts continued, but the fear dwindled away. The sun was soon to rise, so I needed to start my day. I ran out of the house in a hurried manner, and I didn’t close the door. I just ran.
I picked up the pace. I ran through my neighborhood, past the oak trees, out into the street. I ran to the highway, and I started to feel the heat. I thought physical exhaustion would kill off my thoughts, but I was brutally mistaken. They just became more extreme. I didn’t feel my feet pounding on the pavement, but I felt my thoughts pounding my brain. I thought about my past feelings of love and hunger. I doubted it all. I started to believe I never had those feelings. I was never in love, I thought. And I never really felt true hunger.
It wasn’t a good feeling. I had lost the belief of my own memories. I didn’t take them seriously. Not only that, but I didn’t think they happened. I knew they didn’t happen. I knew I was never loved. I knew I was never hungry.
Still, certain memories flashed through my head. I thought about Oakley, and I thought about Chloe. I thought about Adriana. I thought about some others. It was all my imagination. That’s a sad thought to have, especially when you’re sprinting down a highway.
I think several cars almost hit me. A bright yellow truck hit me ever so slightly. The bumper hit my bum, but it really just nudged me forward. It was a push that told me to go faster. It’s one of those metaphors.
I ran down the broken white line that divides the lanes on the highway. But my OCD was no longer in control. It didn’t impede me from running all out. Neither did my thoughts. They both picked up the pace.
My body was pulled toward the green rectangle that said Travis Street Exit. I ran down the exit ramp, accelerating even more. I probably looked like a professional runner at this point. A good look for me, I think.
As I took the first left turn after coming down the ramp, I collided into a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. What a stupid car. A 185-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder engine. People should care less about cars.
I lay on the street. I didn’t writhe in pain. I didn’t writhe in anything actually. I just lay there.
My eyes were closed, but I knew I wasn’t dead. I knew I wasn’t dying. I had thought that I had been dying for the past twelve hours, and somehow this was the solution that found me.
I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what any of this means. But it felt good. It felt good to get knocked to the ground by a stupid car. I wish I had known that earlier. Then I could’ve gotten a good night sleep for once. No more anxiety, no more stress. Just run from your problems til you get hit by a car. Then, you’ll be okay.
The guy who hit me offered to get me a ride home. I said I was fine walking. As I walked home, I thought I was in some kind of space movie. I laughed hysterically the whole way. I felt like I should be crying but no tears ever came out. I would look around and breathe heavily and then burst out laughing again. People were looking at me, and that just made me laugh even harder. It was the kind of laugh when something tells your body something is funny. But the brain doesn’t get the message of what it is that’s funny. So you laugh uncontrollably, but you can’t figure out why. And the confusion just makes you laugh more because it’s so funny that you think you’re laughing for no reason.
I wanted to share the feelings I experienced running down the highway. But there was no one to share them with. I knew that. Because you are always alone.
I think everyone can come to terms with their anxieties, but you will always be fucking alone. No one can enter your head. No one will ever fully know you or understand you. It’s impossible to truly get to know somebody. I don’t like that. But instead of closing myself off even more, maybe I should share my thoughts. Maybe I should allow people to know parts of me. Or maybe I should get hit by another car.
I don’t think anyone has ever loved me. I think if someone did love me, it would be for the wrong reasons. But I’m also not sure that there are any right reasons to love someone. So I don’t have love. But I am starving.
Standing in line at Potbelly Sandwich Shop is my Friday tradition after work. This past Friday, I browsed the menu for several minutes even though I already knew what I would order. When it was time for me to order I asked, “How are you?” She didn’t answer. She knew my question was for the sole purpose of escaping silence. I was hoping she would at least compliment my dress, but she was too focused on the art of making sandwiches.
As I metaphorically twiddled my thumbs and actually scratched behind my right ear, I turned to the sound of someone walking into the shop. It was Rudy. He didn’t see me, but I bet he could feel my presence.
We were married once. Well, sort of. I don’t remember if I cheated on him, or if he cheated on me. I’m not quite sure, and I don’t really care. But I’ve missed him for quite some time.
I looked at his eyes as he looked at the potbelly pig on the wall. He looked the same, but his eyes looked different. They looked like they hadn’t seen love in a while but didn’t mind it.
The eyes moved from the pig to the menu on the wall. He scanned the menu, but I knew he wanted the roast beef. People change, but not that much. Before it was his turn to order, he looked at the people in front to size up the other hungry sandwich eaters. Finally, his precious eyes landed on me. “Hey, Syrup,” he said softly. He never liked honey.
I walked over to him but didn’t say a word. I think a worker asked me something, but I’m not sure. You shouldn’t need to ask if I want avocado on my sandwich.
We looked into each other’s eyes. It was like we recognized each other but didn’t know why. We didn’t care. Neither one of us smiled, but it felt sort of pleasant. Our faces were an inch or two apart. I thought about leaning in slightly to kiss him, but it didn’t seem right. I wanted to hold his clammy hands. I saw his hand move as if to initiate a handshake, but he knew that was wrong. We stared for a while. I wished our blinks would sync up, but we were rarely in sync. I never noticed his eyes were hazel. I always thought they were brown. I had lost the memory of the way he used to look at me, but it didn’t matter because he was looking at me right then.
Then he wrapped his arms around me, and without thinking, I wrapped my arms around him. I squeezed him tight. We rocked side to side, holding each other as if someone was desperately attempting to pull us apart. The hug felt like it lasted thirty minutes. We didn’t want to let go. We didn’t care that people were staring at us. We didn’t even care about our sandwiches getting cold. We just cared for each other. It was this weird feeling like we couldn’t leave each other because we were never actually together.
The next thing I knew, he was walking away. I don’t know how it ended, but that hug will last forever. “I’ll see ya,” he said as the door closed behind him. We won’t see each other again. He knew that. But saying goodbye didn’t feel right.
I watched him walk away. The woman next to me had tears in her eyes. “That is why life sucks,” she said.
I smiled and thought to myself, That is why life is great.
Jehovah’s witness was a disaster of a person. She was actually one of the worst witnesses the court has ever seen. Her name was Sarah. And wow, she was a dumbass.
She walked into the courtroom with a smug look on her face as if she were thinking, “Man, this place smells worse than limburger cheese.” She sat down in the witness box. A man in the jury box sneezed.
“Bless you,” Sarah said.
“Screw you, Sarah,” said the man. This was personal. They clearly shared some kind of past.
The lawyer got up from the counsel table and stood near Sarah.
“Where were you on the night of September 25th?”
“I was at the dentist.”
“We all know that dentist offices are not open during evening hours.”
“I wasn’t in his office. I was at his place, and he was just about to put his-“
“Hey! Okay. Okay. Um. Thank you.”
So the lawyer was not very good. He was really like a part time lawyer. Trials were more of a hobby. But everyone still blames Sarah for the case, mainly because she just looked annoying. She looked like the kind of person who would hang her own paintings on her wall. She looked like the kind of person who would never double knot her shoes and then act surprised when she tripped. She also looked a little like Barbra Streisand.
Things began to get weird during cross examination, when a young man named Krystof was questioned. He was asked how he knew Jehovah. He explained that the two of them were childhood friends, and they had lost touch after the sixth grade. When asked if there was a reason for them losing touch, he replied, “no.” But he sat there for a moment and then said, “well, yes.” He went on to explain that in the sixth grade, during sixth period, his sixth sense was acting up, and he developed a feeling that his friend Jehovah would become a murderer. The people in the jury looked irritated. The judge looked like he wanted to kill himself. But that’s another story.
Krystof explained that he first became suspicious of Jehovah in the lunch line. He told the jury that Jehovah would always sniff the person in front of him and smile. “Just like a murderer,” he said. The jury was confused. But then Krystof told a peculiar story. He told the jury about the time he went with Jehovah to the dentist. They got their teeth cleaned and flossed, and painfully scraped with stabbing, metal instruments. But then the dentist asked Krystof a question. He asked him how often he flossed. “Not a ton,” was his response. A vague, but probably honest answer. But when the dentist asked Jehovah the same question, Jehovah didn’t flinch. Jehovah looked the dentist directly in the eyes. “Every damn day. Twice a day.” Jehovah said this, grabbed the weird tube thing that sucks up water, and took one last suck. He threw down the sucker and walked out of the building.
Twice a day. Every damn day. What a statement. What an absurd, horrible statement. “It’s something only a murderer could say,” Krystof told the judge.
Sarah, Jehovah’s witness, was asked to come back to the witness box to be questioned one more time. She was asked simple questions at first. But when it turned to dentistry, things went off the rails. When asked how often she flossed, she told the court that she flossed every day. When reminded she was under oath she replied, “I know. I floss twice a day.” The audacity. The temerity. What a scoundrel. I bet even dentists only floss twice a week.
The man who sneezed earlier stood up. “She’s telling the truth!” he yelled.
Who is this guy?
It doesn’t matter. The judge had heard enough. And because everyone was completely dumbfounded how this witness had just admitted to flossing twice a day, they had completely forgotten that Jehovah had done the same. The judge slammed his mallet on the hardwood desk and announced that the ruling was not guilty. Jehovah was let off the hook, and Sarah was in the newspaper the next day. But Jehovah is definitely a murderer. And honestly, Sarah might be too.
Jehovah apparently left the court room as a free man and went to celebrate Easter with his family. I personally don’t care. I’m just here to describe the events that unfolded. And I don’t celebrate Easter. Because I am a Jehovah’s Witness.
A romantic, candlelit dinner would be incomplete without genuine human connection. But my girlfriend thought otherwise. She was not fond of human connection, and unfortunately I was unaware. She seemed outgoing and genuinely interested in me, but apparently I was mistaken.
It was our third date, and I had already bought an engagement ring. I wasn’t going to propose yet - I’m not crazy. But I felt I probably would soon. I wanted to make things special on this date, so I invited her to my place: the most romantic one room apartment on the planet. I have the perfect layout with a mini sofa in the front area where we can snuggle after supper. It’s one of those used sofas you would see on the street, and that’s just where I found mine. It’s green with a couple of coffee stains, and it has a yellow pillow with a frowny face. I even have two lamps that will provide the ideal lighting for a truly magnificent night. And if things get crazy, we can hit up some classics on my HBO Premium account.
Hours before our special date night, I prepared for my loverly date. She was a beautiful woman with glistening brown hair that flowed down her neck like an angel. Her name was Betty Anderson. When I first saw her name on her eHarmony account I thought of Betty White, and I hoped she wasn’t going to be that old. When I first met her I discovered she was not old, but a young, beautiful woman. With blue glistening eyes, and sparkling white teeth, she looked like Superwoman, except without all those powers. Throughout her life, she was always recognized as being special, but she was extra special for me. She was top of her class in high school and college, which is the opposite of my education experience. I dropped out of high school my junior year to pursue bird watching, and unfortunately that still has not taken off.
I was in love and sought perfection in this third date. I accidentally purchased 5000 candles online yesterday when I meant to buy the song “5000 Candles in the Wind.” But at least now I’ll have a few extra candles for our next romantic night in. I got dressed twenty four hours early although I could not figure out what attire would be proper in this situation. I wondered if a tuxedo was too fancy. I thought I’d go with it; I’ll impress her with my mint condition rented tux from Al’s Formal Wear. Maybe I could even put one of those colored tissues in my pocket so she’d think I have a pretty, purple pocket square. The evening was going to be fantastic, and I just couldn’t wait.
I decided to go buy some fireworks to set up in my front yard. What a dramatic entrance that would be to my one room apartment. The people who live in my complex would probably be angry, but nobody takes advantage of our little grass patch we have as our yard. I bought some fireworks from my sketchy neighbor for only fifty bucks. He told me it was quite the bargain. And then I went to Party City to buy tons of confetti that I’d set up to go off when we kissed. What a magical moment. I had the perfect foolproof plan, which she was going to love.
But when I went to Party City, they were out of all their confetti poppers. I thought instead I might as well buy a thousand balloons. There were red, blue, yellow, green, pink, and purple balloons that flooded my house like a tidal wave, surrounding everything in my wonderful home. I went back to my house to set up the place. As I was getting ready, I heard the doorbell ring, and I couldn’t really see the door through the swarm of rainbow-colored balloons, but I pushed my way through. I opened the door and was waiting to see the glamorous look on her face when she would gaze excitedly into my eyes. But I could not find her smiling face. She just stared at me and said, “Oh no, not this again.” And that was it. All these candles and balloons wasted.
I looked out the door in utter disbelief as she stormed off to her car. I knew I should have found some of those confetti poppers.