25: You Return!

 

You open your eyes slowly, blinking into the light. It is very bright. Uncomfortably so. Is this heaven? They could stand to turn it down a notch.

Wait – no – there’s [person>select>someone you dislike]. There is no way that scumbag made it to heaven! Come to think of it, you did steal that [item>select>pack of erasers] once. Oh gods, is this hell?!

Wait – the surroundings are coming into focus, and that bright light is a fluorescent ceiling light, enhanced by white walls and the overall sterile atmosphere of a hospital. Because you are in a hospital.

“Goodness gracious!” you yelp. “What happened?”

“Oh no, [s/he]’s awake!” moans that person you figured was hellbound, confirming your theory. Why is s/he even in your hospital room? “I was hoping today was the day I would watch you flatline,” s/he sighs, before your [person>select>parent] shoves [him/her/it] out of the room angrily.

“You!!!” your parent weeps joyfully. “You’ve finally woken up from your coma!”

“I was in a coma?” you say. “I don’t remember that.”

“Well, you were comatose,” I say reasonably.

“You!” you gasp, pointing at me.

“No, you’re You,” I remind you. “I’m just the humble narrator. The brilliantly kind and humble narrator. Wow, I’m just too humble. I’m so humble I probably think that song in Popstar is about me!”

“What’s Popstar?” you moan. “What year is it?”

“You’ve missed a few cool things,” I admit. “Mainly Popstar and [that other one]. Actually you’re all caught up. There haven’t been that many good movies.”

“What happened? Why was I in a coma?” you moan. What a moaner. It’s just a little coma, toughen up!

“Oh, speaking of moaning, Moana! That was a good movie too. I don’t mean to say there was much moaning in Moana, rather phonetically it jogged my memory.”

“You attempted to jog, remember?” your parent says sadly. “You kept trying to be healthy, and it was nearly the death of you!”

“Wait… I remember this… I went on walk and it went so badly I became a recluse…”

“Not really,” I mutter.

“And then I attempted to jog… but the weather was bad… but then I attempted again… and pulled a muscle… in my calves!”

“Both our calves,” I sigh, massaging my calves.

“And then… I went on the treadmill…”

“Let me tell this story!” I interrupt. “I’m so much better at talking about you! See, you went on the treadmill, and, wanting to make up for lost time and a completely sedentary lifestyle, you cranked the speed all the way up to 11.”

“To get it over with faster!” you remember illogically. “And to burn more carbolies!”

“Carlories,” I correct you incorrectly. “Yes!”

“Do you remember what happened after that?” your parent asks anxiously.

“Not really. Did I burn all the cardicals?”

“Kind of,” I said. “You went careening off the treadmill into the wall, hit your head and blacked out for a shockingly long time.”

“Yes, well, look how much weight I lost!” you say, smirking proudly over the success of your all-IV diet. “Clearly I was right about the treadmill!”

“Yes, but your calves are still a hot mess. Also you have no muscle tone.”

“No problem,” you say. “I’ll just lift weights. I’m pretty behind so I’ll probably start with, like, 200 lbs, and lift those right over my head.”

Your parent and I exchange worried looks.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got this,” I assure [her/him/other].

Welcome back, you!

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24: You go jogging. (Part 2)

“This is it!” you say proudly. You are prepared this time. You have your sporty headband and wristbands, your spiffy running shoes, your snazzy jogging shorts, and your supportive sports bra.

“This will keep my masculine chest/female breasts well-supported!” you chuckle. “And my man-boobs/woman-boobs won’t jiggle uncomfortably!”

Not to mention nipple-chafing, I add helpfully. I have seen it to be a problem on sitcoms.

“Do you not have jogging experience?” you ask, admiring your sporty look in the mirror. People will surely be fooled by your attire to think that you are very athletic indeed. Perhaps you can just splash some water on your chest, back and underarms and people will think you’ve been exercising, and you can relax on a [curb/park bench/statue of a horse, sitting very still and then surprising people with sudden movement] for a long enough time that will fool me into thinking you’ve co-operated.

Silly you! You think you can trick me?! Jogging is your resolution!

“I resolve to quit!” you try. But you want to be healthy, don’t you?

“Yes,” you sigh. “But I want to be healthy with minimal effort and also not changing any of my dietary habits.”

HO, HO HO! Don’t we all! But you have to change everything, all the time. That is the way of your progress.

“Very well,” you say. “Let’s go.”

LET’S?! I said YOU have to change! I hug a bag of potato chips closer to me and wave goodbye.

“That’s not fair!” you pout.

Out of the bag I produce carrots.

“Oh,” you say.

“You are presumptuous,” I huff. You leave, and I chuckle and dig deeper under the carrots to eat some chips. They have become soggy from the carrot water. NO!

* *

To your disappointment it is not raining or snowing or hailing or a new form of precipitation that alternates flaming boulders and pastries, so you have no excuse not to trot down the street. You do trot, picking up pace, feeling pretty capable.

“I can do this!” you say aloud, scaring an elderly person walking by. “I can totally do this!”

Then you pull a muscle! You collapse to the ground, grasping your tender calves. “Ouch my calves!” you yell.

Having washed my hands and hidden the evidence of the chips, I trot out to help you. I reach out and pull a muscle in my arm.

“Ouch my calves!” I yell. 

**

We retreat to your abode and nurse our wounds.

“Next time we should stretch,” I suggest.

“Next time,” you repeat darkly, massaging your calves. If you survive to next time, of course. Exercising is proving surprisingly threatening to your health.

“No excuses!” I roar. I pull a jaw muscle. NO!

23: You gaze thoughtfully out a window.

You gaze thoughtfully out the window, watching the rain fall. In your hand is a glass of amber liquid.

“Hasn’t this been done?” I remark.

“What?” you reply.

“The ‘gaze-out-a-window-while-swilling-scotch’ shtick.”

“This is root beer diluted with water,” you explain. I stare at you. “Root beer is some pretty strong stuff by itself!” you express.

No… it isn’t.

You return your gaze to the window. There’s a raccoon out there, in the rain! Ho! Ho ho! Look how wet he is!

22: You go jogging. (Part I)

“I am going to be healthy!” you declare loudly. You drink lots of water (not bottled, of course!), eat lots of fruit and vegetables (organic, of course! You grew the carrots yourself!), you sneak in a sip of [soft drink=select=Coke] (I saw that! Damn it, that negates everything!) and a cigarette (are you serious?!) and squeeze into your jogging shorts.

“Hello, old enemy,” you say to the shorts, fingering the hem with an unfathomable expression. So much history. So much to learn about you.

“I hate exercise,” you explain. “It’s tiresome.”

Ahh. I understand. Sitting is much more comfortable.

“Don’t forget lying down,” you add wistfully.

That will be your reward later.

You lace up your running shoes, put on your game face (it is a contorted, concentrated expression you have when playing video games, or going to the bathroom), and throw the door wide open.

“Oh,” you say. “It’s raining.”

Chuckling, you strip off your shorts, grab some cake, and sit back down in front of the television.

“There’s a treadmill just over ther–” I start, but you cut me off, waving cake in front of my face.

“It’s raining,” you say definitively. “And Frasier reruns are on.”

I can’t argue with that. I join you in lethargy.

“Comfy, eh?” you say. You toss your headband to the floor in victory.

21: You give bananas one last chance.

After you cleaned up your fridge, you turned to the counter upon which there were several bananas. You bought them around the same time as the okra and though, like the okra, they were green once, they are now, like the okra, somewhat black. However, the black-to-yellow ratio is not too imbalanced and you are full of vim and verve and moxie and many other fun words you don’t use often enough. You will give bananas one last chance.

You peel back the ripe, pungent skin and take a bite of the mushy yellow content. It is sickly sweet and has the consistency of, well, overripe bananas. Do overripe bananas really have a comparison? Like chewing on an overripe brain, you imagine! The image of chewing on human brains revolts you, because you are not a zombie, or me, so you spit out the mushy banana mouthful and swear off the cursed fruit forever.

Ah, this is so unfair! That’s not a real chance! That is trying the banana at its worst! That is like taking an exam before you have studied, or years after you have studied and long-forgotten the information. It is like stepping out in your pyjamas while covered with mud when making a first impression! It is like trying a banana before it is ripe, or long after it is ripe! I feel we are not finished with this, in all due fairness and in the name of JUSTICE! BE JUST WILL YOU!?

20: Your neglected refrigerator.

You were a Responsible Human Being one day and ventured out to buy food products so that you would have something to live on other than crackers and expired mayonnaise. “I can do better than this!” you shouted, spitting out mayo-covered cracker bits and hopping to your feet, traipsing to your fridge and wondering if crackers with freezer ice would be better, or perhaps those soy sauce packets? No! You are a Responsible Human Being, Functional and Capable and all that jazz, so out you went to buy groceries.

And, because that functional capable nonsense is a load, and you are a busy human, too busy to cook, that bag of [food=select=okra] is a rotted blackened mess of fungus, and it is time to clean out the fridge.

You start with the mayo, because lard knows it’s still in there.

“Ah,” you say wistfully, “I probably can’t eat this anymore.” But you’re a daring human and you try another platter of crackers. More spitting occurs.

You find some congealed, filmy liquid that was once soup, out that goes! With hesitant fingers and the expression of one who has had something smelly placed under one’s nose – this being literal, of course – you remove a long tube of fungus that was once a cucumber, the petri dish of new life that may have been a tomato, and the rancid bag of salad that is floating in yellow water that was not previously there. Good for you! I’m glad to hear your fridge was so well-stocked with vegetables. I will ignore that you apparently have not eaten any of them.

You find several take-out containers that contain the remainders of meals unfinished, meals you cannot finish now if you have any desire to live. Out they go! You find a piece of cake that you did not eat when you had the chance. “Damn!” you say. “I really wanted cake the other day, too!” Unless you want really stale cake with blue spots, you will let it go.

I realize I should not give you a choice, with that wistful look on your face. “LET IT GO!” I command. Out it goes.

On the fridge door is a block of cheese. “Blue cheese!” I remark.

“It wasn’t always blue,” you admit. Out it goes.

I see you have milk on your door as well. I remind you that milk is not a good source of calcium, being pasteurized and losing the enzyme that would make it even remotely useful, and did you know that much milk is full of pus due to the poor treatment of the cows?

“Apparently,” you say, as the milk in question is extremely lumpy.

“And hormones and antibiotics,” I continue, ever concerned for your health and wellness. You consider this.

“What about yoghurt?” you say. “‘Cause I mean, this milk is about one step away from being yoghurt.”

I urge you, once more, to toss that stuff out.

Atop the lumpy dairy products and hairy vegetables and fruit (you found the strawberries, Dear Goat!) comes stale bread and something neither of us could identify. I feel quite queasy and back away from your garbage. Incidentally, shouldn’t you be throwing these foodstuffs in the compost?

“Oh, the compost! Of course!” you say. You’d forgotten you had one! You remove the pizza box you had balanced precariously atop it and lift the lid.

We scream.

Once you remove the empty cans and containers from your counter top and finish scouring the dishes that once held items that once were food, your kitchen does not look half-bad!

“Time to restock the fridge!” you chuckle. I raise my eyebrows at you. You will learn from this, won’t you?

You return with fresh groceries and pack them into your fridge. You realize you missed something in your clean up.

At the very back, the very darkest corner, you find a mysterious container you haven’t seen for some time. You pop the top, and sitting beneath a pool of white film and blue fungus appears to be the carcass of what was once…

watermelon.

You scream like a wounded animal. Your soul is as black as the okra.

19: You see a movie.

You see a movie, and contemplate the cruel truth that you cannot unsee something once you have seen it, and you cannot get a refund no matter how much you yell at the movie poster. You are a considerate enough human that you know it’s not fair to yell at the ticket window, because plastic is just a material, albeit a slightly toxic one. And you didn’t yell at the ticket sellers either because you know, deep, deep down, that it’s not their fault that the movie sucked.

But honestly! Who is to be held responsible for such awfulness!? Will your hate mail ever make it all the way to the director? Will that envelope you angrily coughed into make its way to the hands of the producers? Will the studio feel the shame your abstract painting was meant to make them feel? Will the actor die in an explosion? No, his stunt double did though. Harsh.

You expected better! Sure, the trailers were garbage, the costumes looked ridiculous, and whatever story you managed to glean in advance was a terrible one at best. But you expected better from [big name director] and [big name actor] and [big name studio] and [concession stand]. And instead, you got that drivel that made you want to puke from your eyes.

“WHAT WAS THE POINT OF IT ALL?!” you wail, wishing back the last two hours of your life. You could have gone jogging or fishing or ridden a camel or something. You could have done something IMPORTANT. You could have not gazed at the face of Bad Screenwriting and had it chuckle meanly at you. Even though IT HAD A ZIT.

Well, that’s enough of that. You move on, you get over things. There are other movies, after all, and many look far more terrible. And then there’s that one that you hope will redeem every cinematic experience of the year.

“IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR A GOOD STORY?!” you sob.

I hope not. I’ve made a lot of effort for you, punk!

18: Your revised bucket list.

“Ta da!” you say proudly, handing me the list you were working on last we spoke. Quietly, I inconspicuously slide your diary under the nearest piece of furniture. I will have to read your thoughts on how hunky Brad Pitt is another day.

Unfortunately, the nearest piece of furniture was a [desk chair/glass coffee table/otherwise insufficient hiding spot].

“Is that my diary?” you say suspiciously.

“Oh my, what an interesting list!” I say loudly to distract you, and it works! Smugly, you settle in beside me, eager to hear me read your list aloud. So you like to hear me both in writing and in voice? Well, I’m touched.

“My Bucket List”

1) Go jogging.
2) Clean out refrigerator.
3) See a movie.
4) Cook something.
5) Be a hero.
6) Give bananas one last chance.
7) Buy a bucket.

It’s short, but sweet, and it makes me smile. I ask you, though: “Are you sure this is a bucket list? This sounds more like a to-do list.”

“It’s my bucket list for this year,” you explain. “Inspired by me.”

“That’s vague,” I say. You wink.

Well, it certainly is an interesting list. Is there anything you’d like to add to it?

17: Your thoughts on lemons.

Damn lemons! you write. What kind of a fruit are they? Fruits are supposed to be sweet and yummy, like a fresh and juicy watermelon, but these things are sour and sucky! They suck your cheeks right in! Why do these yellow footballs even exist?!
But…
You look from side to side nervously, and add to your entry:
They are the best! When you grate the rind, oh, what a fabulous smell! They have that wonderful lemon-y smell that can’t be beat! Plus they are the colour of the sun and they’re beautiful to look at, and they don’t burn your eyes like the sun does, unless you get lemon juice in them and then they burn in a different way. But lemon juice becomes lemonade, or else adds a citrus touch to your cooking! And with a little pinch of sugar they are sweet as well as tangy, and how many fruits can boast to be tangy? Not bananas, that’s for damn sure! Those damn bananas!
And here you go into a stream of expletives.
Such fruitless passion.

16: You write something.

Gasp! And here I thought I was The Writer. Yet there you are, hunched over a pad of paper, writing out some kind of list. I try to peer over your shoulder, but you are ready for this, and pull closer to the page, shielding the contents from my eyes. Rude!

I take it you are miffed due to my recent absence. I try to reassure you by patting you on the shoulder. You are even more miffed to find that the slimy sensation of my shoulder-patting is due to the fish in my hand.

“Why are you holding a fish?!” you snap.

“Why would I not be?” I respond, puzzled. I play catch with my fish while I wait for you to finish writing.

You take your time, which leaves me impatient. What, oh what could it be? I contemplate the contents of your list. Is it a list of swear words? Those are fun. Don’t forget dumbballs and lardpants. Get creative.

Is it a list of organs in the human body? I know all of those. Don’t forget Red Blob and Slimy Tubes. Those are big ones.

Is it a list of fruit you might enjoy? You really do need to cast your net a little wider here, your pickiness has concerned me more than once. Watermelon is not the be-all end-all of fruit, I promise.

Is it a list of the fish in the sea? Don’t forget this one!

*schwap*

That was me slapping you with my fish. Ho, ho ho, look at your expression! Oh. You’re not pleased. You slam a door in my face that has conveniently appeared betwixt you and me. I suppose I’ll just sneak back in tomorrow to read your list and your latest diary entry. I never did get a chance to see what you thought of lemons.