12: You go to the beach.

You want a day at the beach. That’s nice for you. You pack a bathing suit, a bucket and shovel, a blanket to lie on, an umbrella and a cooler of snacks and/or alcoholic drinks. You of course have not refreshed your knowledge of nutrition since the watermelon incident. Alcohol is dehydrating, and though you will be surrounded by water, you will not have water to drink except for the ice cubes in your cooler, and the sun will bear down on you, dehydrating you further, frying you like a tasty chicken breast. Do you really want to be beer-battered meat? Must you really speak to my cannibalism?

But perhaps your cooler is just full of chemical-tasting lemonade, making my point moot. You will still be drinking partial poison, but at least you will not be so tempting to eat. You remembered to pack lots of water and sunscreen, and will probably not get skin cancer, which is, again, nice for you.

You ask me why I say this is nice for you and I say, “do you really want to get skin cancer?” At least, I hear it’s very unpleasant, and I do not wish it on you or anyone that I like. You, of course, do not want skin cancer, as you are quite aware that “unpleasant” is a euphemism for “horrific” and you are such a kind soul that you would wish it on no-one, not even [human we mutually dislike]. You are too sympathetic, I insist, as [human we mutually dislike] has more than earned such suffering as a painful consequence to their negative actions. But you insist, “not skin cancer.” Very well, I acquiesce. I will arrange for axe-murder instead.

You ask me why I say this is ‘nice for you‘ and this time specify that I seem unenthusiastic about your beach trip. You realize you haven’t invited me and you feel terrible. Well, you should. It’s not enough to warrant murder with an axe, but perhaps something close, like a scratch with a nail file. I look away gloomily, I imagine towards the horizon over the sea, not that I would know where that is, I haven’t been to the beach. You are surprised: do I not wish to come? I do not. I do not like the sun or the sand. I will not go with you.

Still, you demand your vacation – you had a stressful exam recently and you want to relax! So I will take you to the beach through my hypothetical reasoning and hopefully it will seem as authentic as the hug I am giving you right now, gently squeezing your soft human body and admiring the fragility of human life. An axe seems almost unnecessary to end it; the smallest thing could kill you. You quickly pull out of this hug as you sense my humour is far too dark and you were really rather hoping to show off your beach body before you died suddenly from something as small as a virus or a bullet or a coconut falling on your head. You should probably stay away from coconut trees.

You cannot get away from me fast enough, and hop into your/a mode of transportation. It is a bright, sunny, clear day. The sun shines round in the sky like a coconut, though I would advise you not to look directly at it, though you are tempted because you really want to see just how much it resembles a coconut, and whether it is similarly hairy and full of milk.

The sky is cloudless and achingly blue, which is unfortunate because cloud cover could shield your delicate human skin somewhat from the sun’s powerful rays.

If you are in a car you have a fairly comfortable trip, and if you are on a bike you will have more trouble carrying your possessions, but you will be getting much-needed exercise and your taking care to protect the environment endears you to me. But perhaps the beach is too far, and you do not own a bike, and you cannot simply walk from your luxurious beach house to the luxurious beach, but must take public transportation, and as it is summer the bus is full of other humans wearing minimal clothing. All this human flesh awakens your cannibalistic tendencies, or perhaps reminds you of the fleshy vulnerability of the human body, or perhaps disgusts you a little bit because you didn’t really want to see that much of your fellow humans and many are wearing flip flops to reveal rather appalling feet and one woman’s pinky toes seem to grow out of the side of her foot instead of alongside her other toes and just hover, like warts, above the ground. Inwardly you scream.

You finally make it to the beach, and exit your mode of transportation. You remove your shoes and walk upon the sand. This either feels lovely or excruciating, it depends on how much you enjoy the feel of grainy, exfoliating sand beneath your feet, and whether you’ve stepped on broken glass. You find a nice, fairly human-free section of ground and lay out your blanket, prop up your umbrella, and engage in the several beach activities available to you.

First, you read in the shade, enormous sunglasses on your face and perhaps a floppy hat on, made unnecessary by the umbrella but giving you a certain old-timey fashionable flair. Do you remember when people wore a lot of hats? You smugly adjust your bowler/top hat/white powdered wig and enjoy your book, a trashy romance novel involving ridiculously sexist supernatural teenagers, or a sexy human rescuing you from a boring existence, or the latest bestseller, or an old book you’ve not yet gotten around to reading, or a self-help book. Good for you. If you were interested in that story about a sexist billionaire buying and oppressing a young female, you definitely need as much help as you can get.

Once you are done expanding (or shrinking) your mind with a good (or bad) book, you decide you want to cook yourself, much as one would cook a bird, or a farm animal, or a delicious human being. You put on sunscreen or barbeque sauce, and lay on the sand, roasting deliciously. Every so often, you rotate. I suggest you baste yourself regularly, and after you turn you reapply your sunscreen, but I was really hoping you’d use the marinade I packed. I used cucumbers to make it and it’s very good for your skin.

You burn yourself to a deliciously healthy red colour, if you are comparing yourself to a lobster’s good health, or perhaps you’ve browned yourself, an appealing colour for meat, or perhaps you were charred black. Unless you were already dark, I would be very concerned. Another nutritional fact: the longer meat is cooked, and the more blackened it becomes, the more carcinogenic it is.

You will later, gingerly, apply creams to soothe your poor human skin, and even convert to vegetarianism. Briefly.

You drink from your cooler, which is refreshing and hydrating, and then you go for a swim in the ocean. It is lovely and you definitely don’t drown. There are no sharks and you don’t get stung by jellyfish, and the child swimming nearby you certainly didn’t pee in the water, and you didn’t get your toe caught in between a crab’s claws. The ocean is being kind to you today, and you are even so excited as to see a mermaid! Actually it is a handsome young man with long hair and a prop tail, acting in a film project for his sister. What confuses you is why he would need a shell bra? After all, his luscious long hair could adequately cover his inappropriate male chest.

You contemplate this until the water wrinkles you, unless you were already wrinkled, in which case the water still wrinkles you. Why would you think your age would make you immune to water-wrinkles? You exit the water and return to your towel, where you allow the sun to dry you, and roast you a little more evenly for your barbeque later. You want to look absolutely attractive and tanned when you serve your friends grilled vegetables later this evening.

You enjoy yourself immensely in the beauty that nature has to offer, which does not include other humans. Other humans you enjoy separately, be it the appealing body of a human male in oversize, saggy trunks that do not well show off his goods, to your disappointment, or the appealing body of a human female, in a too-small bikini that shows off too much of her goods, to your displeasure. You are a hard-to-please human! But that’s what I like about you. You entertain yourself by counting the number of rolls of back fat of the woman in front of you, and estimate whether the amount of chest and back hair of the man to your right would be enough to make a disturbing sweater for a child. Perhaps the child that insists he didn’t pee in the water next to you. You don’t care what he said. The water felt too warm.

You realize you have a shovel and bucket too, and no trip to the beach would be complete without burying humans alive. You chuckle far too much at this, and I feel worried. You find some eager, overly-trusting kids and play with them, because you are actually still a kid at heart and your heart is kind enough that you get along with children, or perhaps you are so uncool that adults won’t play with you and your best bet is to hang out with kids who are too young to discern your lack of social appeal and so invite you into their group. You help them bury their friend so that she is just a head poking out of the sand, and you all chuckle as she is approached by a crab. She is not as amused as you and in fact will develop a severe phobia of crabs that she will carry with her until she is 61, at which time she will finally return to the beach and realize she is much bigger and stronger than a crab and really, they can’t all be held responsible for the one that nipped her nose with its claw. Later you will make that particular crab into soup. This is your solution when it comes to human offenders, too!

You also help the kids build a sand castle. You build it around a couple of little boys who become the castle princes, and beg the girls to save them. The girls, one warrior, one dragon and one Godzilla precisely, tear down the castle. You are infuriated because you spent a damn long time constructing those detailed and historically accurate turrets and whoever heard of Godzilla in medieval times anyway! You seethe and storm away while the princes thank their saviours and then remember they left that other girl in the sand up to her nose in crabs.

To calm down after the sand castle debacle, you lie back down on your blanket, close your eyes, and listen to the waves and the fading laughter and chatter of humans. The sun is going down and you are feeling relaxed and very well cooked. You feel your connection to nature, that you are a speck of sand on the beach of life, and that the world has its own unique flow, like the waves. You always were a bad philosopher.

You pack up your things and make your way home. You feel good, happy, relaxed and peaceful. You enjoyed your trip to the beach, even though you will be peeling dead skin off your burnt back and arms for the next couple of weeks. When you lie down later on your soft, smooth sheets, you feel excruciating pain as the fabric rubs against your burns. I chuckle. I never went to the beach.

11: Your fatigue.

You are feeling fatigued. I ask you what this means.

“Imagine a weight on your shoulders,” you begin, but I must stop you right there. I regularly wear weights on my shoulders. I find them stylish, and adding bulk to my shoulders makes me feel more powerful. You do not want to argue the benefits and fashionableness of shoulder weights, so you start over.

“Imagine you are lying down,” you begin, and because it is an easy request, I comply by lying down accordingly.

“Now imagine a blanket of sand atop you,” you continue. “A very thick blanket of sand, wet sand. It’s very heavy. Next, on top of this is a lead blanket.”

You pause here to contemplate that lead is poisonous. Are you trying to kill me?! You say you are just making a point, but it seems to me you are sharpening a point, with which to stab me. I think I have discussed with you before this concerning propensity for violence, and would remind you once more that an empathetic, reasonable, and thus superior human being would not resort to violence in such unnecessary circumstances. You have not perused through your science textbook recently (which is silly, since there is no better bedtime reading, and one must always be refreshed on hydrocarbons in case they come up in daily conversation, which they will), and thus the other heavy metals do not easily come to mind, and you feel hard-pressed to use lead. You suggest this is non-poisonous lead, but wouldn’t the lack of its toxic aspects make it less heavy? You spend a lot of time thinking about this but finally decide non-poisonous lead is even heavier, extremely heavy in fact!

You have almost lost your train of thought, and glance at me for conversation. Actually, I fell asleep shortly after lying down, and did not hear a word you said. Fortunately I am imaginative enough to estimate what you’ve been saying while I was out.

You glare at me rather irritably for whatever reason. It is probably because I know more science than you. Further, after waking me so abruptly, should I not be the one who is miffed? I was having a rather nice nap.

You explain that the fatigue you feel is a heaviness, a drowsiness, a blanket of exhaustion, and expending this much effort explaining it to me has fatigued you even further.

“So I was right that you were talking about blankets!” I say happily. “If you are fatigued,” I continue, “Why don’t you lie down? I will fetch you a blanket of sand and lead.”

You are very irritated now, because I have clearly not been listening to you, but I have problems of my own to worry about. I thought you might be referring to ‘fatigues’, the army clothing, rather than ‘fatigue’, the state, and thus have been very confused. You are angrier still that I did not specify the non-poisonous lead.

This was no accident. Mu, muha, muha ha ha!

I joke with you. I am getting you a heavy down blanket. I’m sure that when you feel as low as you do, you will appreciate the further push into the ground. You will like that consistency.

Rest well, my friend. Relax those frowning face muscles. Sleep away your fatigue. If sand is what you want, I’ll take you to the beach.

10: Your exam.

You are suddenly a student. Perhaps you are already a student. Perhaps you were formerly a student. Perhaps you are simply filling out the paperwork for a license of some sort. Either way, you find yourself at a [desk/hard surface] with a [pencil/pen/pen without ink, no!] and a test sheet. And you…

Look at the sheet, and all of the answers come to mind instantly. You and your wonderful memory! You and your resourcefulness and intelligence! You fill in every multiple choice bubble, every short answer question, and write out an essay not only in a structured and timely manner, but with beautiful handwriting. You are fantastic, and everybody hates you.

OR

Look at the sheet, and are momentarily flustered. What is this? This is not what you studied for at all! Looking it over more thoroughly, you realize this is not what you studied for at all. Bringing the test to the front of the room, you explain to the [professor/teacher/adjudicator/human to whom questions must be directed] that you are fairly certain you’re in the wrong room, taking the wrong test. They laugh at you, but with big friendly smiles (that are from laughing at you evilly) they direct you to the next room. Once a fresh and more relevant test is placed in front of you, refer to scenario 1.

OR

Look at the sheet, and are momentarily flustered. What is this? You don’t remember this topic in your studies! Your eyes scroll down and you find some questions you know the answers to. You fill the test out as best you can, and return to the questions you skipped. You make your best estimate. You are fairly certain you’ll pass. You hand it in, not feeling exuberant, but not fingering the cyanide pill in your pocket.

CYANIDE PILL!? The hell are you doing carrying a CYANIDE PILL around with you on a regular basis?! This warrants serious discussion—

OR

Look at the sheet, and are terribly flustered. Poor you, you have test anxiety! It is fairly severe. Your mind goes blank, and your heart races. You chest constricts tightly with breathlessness, heart palpitations and very mischievous ribs. You sweat profusely. Your mind drifts to other places, like the song playing on repeat in your head. It goes, “la la la la la, you’re going to fail.” Why is that song on your playlist of inspirational songs?! It is exactly the opposite of what you need to hear!

But, you take deep breaths, you collect yourself, and you start answering the easiest questions. And as you are able to calm yourself, you answer the rest. And somehow, you manage to pull yourself through this, perhaps not to the best of your abilities, but as far as you can go while you’re choking on your own fear. Poor you.

OR

Look at the sheet, and are terribly flustered. All of the questions are written in blood. Horrified, you look up and see your parents glaring disapprovingly at you. You look to your right and the Simpsons are sitting there. Yes, the cartoon figures. You are confused, the test is gone and there is a cake on your desk instead. Oh no, your diet! You find yourself naked save for your underwear. Your absolute worst pair. You are terribly embarrassed that they are so tattered. Why do you even keep this pair?! You’ve always been terrified that one day, one day while wearing this pair, that would be the day your clothes come off for whatever reason and everyone would see these bunchy, torn, hideous things. Why?! Why?!

You wake up. You are wearing those underwear. Other than that there is no relation to a horror movie.

OR

Look at the sheet, and are feeling uneasy. You look down and you are BACK IN THOSE BUNCHY, TORN UNDERWEAR! NO!

You wake up, and you are wearing much nicer underwear. You are also late for your test. YA BURNT!!

OR

Look at the sheet, and you feel very grim. You did not study at all. You wager your best guesses. You may very well fail. This is what you get for ignoring your studies. How could you think a class called “Contemporary Thoughts About Penguin Slippers And How Adorable They Are” would be anything less than complicated, research-heavy and necessary?

OR

Look at the sheet. Start screaming incoherently. Fold it into a paper airplane, toss it toward the front of the room and go barrelling out of the class. You are in your underwear again. This is not a dream. I think you might be a little bit out of your head today.

OR

Look at the sheet. Fill it out. However you usually do. The point is that we all are tested in life.

“How is THAT the point?” you snarl, still in your underwear.

“DON’T TEST ME,” I roar.

9: Your small victory.

You are ambitious! You strive for the sun and the stars! You reach your hand out day and night, and when you squint very hard, it looks like they’re close enough to touch. You will taste victory, Big Victory, one day.

In the meantime, you take a moment to enjoy the small victories in your life. The moments that go well, the little successes. You may be a very lucky person who enjoys many of these, or you may be a less fortunate person who does not have many happy moments. All the more reason to cherish the ones you get. You have succeeded! Call out to the heavens, scream your joy into the sky!

“Life is good!” you shout optimistically, before slamming your foot into a door.

You smile because your efforts are appreciated, your skills are commented on, and your attractiveness is winked at. Yes, it might have been sand in her/his eye, but you’re fairly certain it’s you. Because You Win.

And you have to enjoy today, because tomorrow brings another challenge. I know because I’m the writer. Stay tuned!

7: You are ever courageous!

I visit you today and ask you how long you intend to be a recluse.

“At least another five minutes,” you reply grouchily. You have already seriously considered shaving your head and wearing monk robes, whatever those may look like, and becoming a hermit, which as you understand it is a form of crab. Actually, the prospect of being a crab-monk is very exciting to you.

“Is there nothing I can do to convince you to return to civilization?” I ask.

“Make it more civilized,” you scowl.

“All by myself?” I gasp, dismayed. I can turn at least 95% of the world with ease, but ALL of it? You are asking quite a lot!

“I cannot go back outside,” you say seriously. “I have egg on my face.”

“I thought you had mud on your ass,” I reply.

“THAT WAS YESTERDAY,” you growl. “TODAY I DROPPED EGGS.”

I am momentarily concerned as to where you got the eggs.

“So you refuse to go outside ever again?” I ask doubtfully.

“That’s right,” you pout, sketching out potential costumes for your newfound crab-monk lifestyle.

“Very well,” I say. “I will just go to get [drink=select=iced coffee] all by myself.”

“Did you say [iced coffee]?!” you gasp. You toss your plans to the floor. You were getting very overwhelmed as to how to make a crab-monk costume. It would require a lot of sewing and bits of sea creatures, and you’re not sure you would look very nice. Oh, you. Always so self-conscious.

“Are you choosing another costume?” I ask.

“I’m choosing LIFE!” you say, beaming, and you put on a fresh pair of pyjamas. “LET’S GO OUT!”

*

After you change a few more times and settle into your usual outside clothes, we go out and get [iced coffee]. As you drink this down, you contemplate damage control.

“Not required,” I say. “Everyone has amnesia.”

You are very excited. “Really?!” you say hopefully.

“Yes, on that soap opera I was watching with your parents while we were waiting for you to come back outside.”

“My parents?!” you gasp. “How do you know my parents?!”

“I know everything,” I chuckle, hiding the exam I once got a C- on. I don’t know why I carry it around. It becomes very incriminating at times like these. And it says Borty Barrens on it. Who the heck is Borty Barrens? How have I been carrying around a poorly done exam that is not even mine for all these years? I face a temporary internal crisis as I contemplate all I have done in my life. You ignore me as you suck up [crushed ice] through a straw.

“Well, now that I’m back out, I suppose there are an endless source of things to do. I suppose I should catch up with life.”

“You were only a recluse for one day,” I inform you. “Not even a full day. Technically, you could not in any way be described as a recluse.”

“Technicalities,” you chuckle. You are so glad you learned that word. You can use it to dismiss any argument.

I wonder if this is true. “Even: You have failed your schooling and must start over.”

“Technicalities,” you sneer, printing out your own diploma.

I try, “Even: Your beloved pet [animal=select=iguana] has died.”

“Technicalities,” you repeat, taking Sergeant Lizzy to the taxidermist. He will be back in his cage as good as new.

I say, “Even: You are pregnant. Yes, you sir/ma’am.”

“Technicalities!” you laugh, no longer being pregnant. Amazing! Indeed, you are quite creative.

“It’s important to be positive,” you nod.

“What about receiving a positive diagnosis of a disease?”

“Technicalities,” you repeat, assuming a positive diagnosis means good news. It does not.

I look for more ways to stump you. Surely there are arguments you simply cannot dismiss! Don’t you think?

“Alls I thinks,” you say, reverting to slang, “Is thats I’ve gots somes lifes to lives. And some s’s to remove froms my sentences…s.”

Now that you have given me a grammar headache, you are able to prance off and form… a bucket list?

“I have formed a list of buckets I want to own before I die,” you say. “A red one… and a metal one. And that is all.”

“I’m not sure that is what a bucket list is,” I say.

“Technicalities,” you say.

6: You go on a walk.

“It’s a nice day out,” you say. I look out the window. I see no hail storms, rain or snow, slush or sleet, or blood flowing through the streets. Indeed, it is an adequate day, I suppose. A little bit of blood might be nice, but whatever.

 “No it wouldn’t!” you say, reading my thoughts, or rather, the words I have written down for you. Don’t pretend you are psychic! 

“Is it the six of hearts?” you ask. I gasp. How did you know?! 

“Anyhow,” you say. “I am going to go for a walk. Care to join me?”

“No,” I say. I would rather fly, but my Icarus Wings are not fully completed. You’ve warned me against those, but I am fairly certain I can fly higher than that loon. His flaw was a lack of perseverance, after all. Was that not the moral of the story?

You do not seek to correct me, but instead go outside and start walking. It is a lovely day. I remind you not to step on cracks on the sidewalk. 

You snort. “How superstitious,” you say, stepping on a crack to prove your point. Your leg falls straight through. As I tried to tell you, the cracks in the path are quite large and you can get hurt, stepping on those. Better to duck around. 

You pull your leg out and dust off the jagged scrape. Blood is flowing in the street after all! I cheerfully offer to join you now, but you do not want to see me test my wings, nor do you want me chuckling behind you as you try and walk with dignity in your pyjamas. Oh yes. You’re still in your pyjamas. 

“What a twisted writer,” you think to yourself, but then you are grateful I didn’t write you naked. I actually didn’t have the idea. Now I do! But you’re jogging away before I get the chance to add in a pack of clothes-tearing-off-dogs, rabid aggressive beasts who only attack you insomuch as to tear off your clothes, then they give up and leave you alone. They are actually very specially trained. 

As you contemplate these dogs, you walk into a tree. I’m joking, that’s silly. You instead walk into someone you’ve been avoiding recently. That’s much worse. 

“Do you like me or not?!” you yell, shaking your fist toward the universe, because you can’t remember which direction you started in and you’re not sure where I am. Probably soaring through the clouds like a fool who does not read stories through to the end. That person you’ve been avoiding looks at you like you are crazy. 

Now they pin you down with small talk! No! You try desperately to escape, using every trick in the book. “My home is on fire! I left something on the stove! I mean, the thing on the stove will set my home on fire unless I leave immediately!” 

“Don’t worry,” says that person cheerfully. “I am a firefighter and can save the day as required.” Then there is a terribly long awkward silence between the two of you because neither of you really wants to talk to the other. What is this weird social framework that insists you must? 

While this person now tries to corner you into doing a favour for them, you try the tactic of being suddenly deaf. This person also turns out to know sign language. You are terribly frustrated but impressed. A firefighter who knows sign language? What else does this incredible person do? You don’t wait to find out, as you pretend to get an emergency text. “Someone I love is on fire,” you explain. “I mean, they exploded. Something firefighters can’t help with. Excuse me.” You hurry away, hoping the person you were avoiding is not an intellectual on top of being a signing firefighter, as you realize that was a terribly weak lie.

You hurry away, but slip on some mud and fall onto your rear end. You rise to your feet, cursing, and feel the heavy weight of mud slick against your buttocks.

“My adorable Spongebob Hello Kitty Cars Star Wars pyjamas!” you yell, despite wearing something far more ambiguous, colourful and unbranded. “The ass of my pants! Curses!”

You are starting to really not enjoy your walk. You wonder if this is my revenge for you walking out on me. As I glue feathers together, I am indeed wondering when you will remember that you promised, absolutely promised you would stay in with me this afternoon and finally watch Casablanca so we could stop pretending we’ve seen it. “Here’s looking at you, Kim,” I murmur sadly.

You brush some of the muck off your butt, but that just leaves muck on your hands, which you brush onto your knees, further ruining your pyjamas. This would be the absolute worst time to run into your crush… SO HERE S/HE IS!! 

“Hi there!” you gasp, hands shooting backward to cover your ass. This just draws additional attention to the terrible brown coating of your posterior. Yes, it looks exactly like what you realize it looks like. Also, when did you rub your face with your hands? 

“Are you… um, okay?” your love interest asks. S/he is incredibly attractive and radiant today. A worm pokes its head out of the cluster of mud you wiped on your knee. 

“Never better,” you say breathlessly, trying to redeem yourself. Nervously, you run your fingers through your hair. Yes, the mucky ones. What’s wrong with you?! 

“Excuse me!” you say, and you run off. Your crush watches your retreating, mud-covered behind bounce away, squinting. “Surely that’s mud,” they are probably thinking. You groan. Why was there a mud puddle on a perfectly sunny day? 

If you’d asked me, I would have told you it was a day of freak storms. C’est la vie with Global Warming/Climate Change. It rained briefly and vehemently this morning, and look! It starts again now. 

You are drenched, but fortunately you are able to rinse some of that mud off. “Yay, my pyjamas!” you cheer. But there is still a soggy brown patch on your buttocks. You scowl and try to smack it off. Your love interest passes by again, staring at you with carefully-contained shock. This is really not your day. 

“I SURRENDER!” you scream, running back to the [house/apartment/place of residence]. It is not your [house/apartment/place of residence], however, and the people inside are terrified of the screaming, soaking-wet mud-covered creature yelling in its pyjamas.

I come in to save the day with my waxy wings! Just kidding. Those melted disastrously. Who would have predicted it? But you don’t need me to save you. You run screaming out of there, avoiding the urge to jump through a plate-glass window, which you think would add just the perfect dramatic edge to this awful scene but you’re fairly certain it would be pretty painful. Instead you run down the sidewalk, past a bunch of people who you’ve always wanted to impress, and return home, where your in-laws/extended family/friends/some ghosts are waiting. With the greatest dignity, you go to your room, remove your pyjamas, and become a recluse.

5. You learn about sharing.

You are poised, majestically, like a hawk, or an eagle. You are perched at the shoulder of your friend, your talons ready to take! You reach over your friend and try to grab some [food=select=poutine], but your friend dodges you and moves the plate away from your eager fingers! You sulk majestically!

“Friends share!” you scowl, because you don’t have [poutine] and your friend does have [poutine] and you thought you were getting some [poutine], because you reached rudely onto your friend’s plate and grabbed a bunch of [fries] with the grace of the wind and the precision of a dentist, but your friend then cottoned on to your greediness and became greedy in turn, shielding the food like a bird guarding its nest. You have quite some experience with birds because of your current slogan “I am like an eagle”, and also because you once tried to take some eggs out of a nest and a bird attacked you for it. You tried to reason with it but birds are notoriously irrational.

You have several options here. First, you can attack your friend with your eagle-like talons and, once your friend is no longer in your way, feast on your victory. This is not the best option, and I think you know why. In the violent struggle your friend might drop the [poutine] on the floor, and who wants floor [poutine]?

Your next option is to ask politely, but that’s lame, and not majestic. Majesty involves some form of bird-ishness.

Thus, you caw loudly in your friend’s ear and your friend freaks out. “What the hell are you doing?!” your friend asks. In your friend’s confusion you grab some more [poutine] and run.

You are indeed like an eagle, because this is not rational human behaviour.

4: Your headache.

You have a headache today and you don’t know why. It might be that you slept badly on your misshapen pillow, the crushed contents giving your hard human head little cushioning, your blanket slipping down past your ankles, tugging your pyjama bottoms with it, and your teddy bear slipped far out of your reach. That sounds like a very bad night indeed.

Then perhaps it is because you didn’t drink much water today.

“Water is unnecessary,” you snort, ignoring the fact that much of your body is made of water and water is the source of much of the Earth’s sustenance, and that three days without water will certainly kill you. But you don’t care, you’ll drink urine if you have to! I then remind you that your urine contains water. You are irritated. You thought urine was a fairly unique substance and were rather enjoying its special taste before I ruined it for you.

“Water is terribly necessary,” I reiterate.

“The heck it is!” you curse unforgivably. “Besides,” you say, more soothingly because you are aware of how deeply you’ve hurt my feelings, “I drank coffee and cola and urine, I should be fine. That’s plenty of water right there!”

I will disregard the urine for now, but I would be remiss not to inform you that coffee and cola are both dehydrating fluids, that not only require you to drink double the amount of water to make up for them, but also strip calcium from your body. Did you not know that?

“Alls I know is they taste good and osteoporosis is a future problem,” you say smugly. You have seen your future self, once, in a dream that was similar to a movie you watched the night before, and you did not like that jerk and you have been secretly working to smite her/him ever since. Next time we talk and you tell me this out loud, I will tell you how ridiculously stupid that is.

But perhaps it isn’t the bad sleep or the lack of hydration, perhaps it is the loud music your next door neighbour has been playing.

“This is why I should live in the woods!” you scream, wishing desperately to be back in your cabin in the woods where your many neighbours are much quieter and more considerate people. “Even worse,” you snarl at me, downing another glass of suspicious yellow liquid, “That fool plays the worst music of all time! It is [your most hated genre/band/musician/instrument]. I want to break through the walls like Terminator and TERMINATE HIM/HER!”

I suggest a strongly-worded note should suffice, but you are already headed to pick up a weapon. Fortunately for your hotheadedness, your headache is so bad that the room spins when you move, and you sit back down.

It might not be an inconsiderate neighbour. It might be a team of inconsiderate construction workers, doing construction at the wrong time of day. The wrong time of day is defined as any time you are around. You gaze forlornly at your arsenal of weapons and sulk because you have to be a rational, empathetic, reasonable human being. Going on a killing spree is not appropriate in this case, and you realize this gloomily. You shove your head under your crushed, uncomfortable pillow.

Or perhaps it is a stress headache. Are you stressed? Do you want to talk about it? I put on my therapist’s hat once more. I stole it from my therapist when she was telling me about kleptomania or something or other.

I extend to you two Advils and lay you down on a softer pillow. You look up at me and think, “What a beautiful, handsome god of a being, so comforting and weird.” I know, I am quite perfect. I set you down lovingly, tuck you in, and forget to call work/school/your guardian/significant other to let them know you are unavailable but accounted for for the day. I also take the liberty of yelling at your neighbour on my way out. My loud, angry screams punctuate the throbbing of your head.

You’re welcome, my dear. Feel better soon!

3: You had a bad day.

You had a bad day. Oh, you. I’m so sorry to hear this.

“What happened?” I ask.

You sigh heavily, the weight of the world on your shoulders, eyes avoiding mine. I am concerned.

 OR

You scowl at me! How rude! I understand you’ve had a bad day, but the gall of you, taking it out on me! You don’t mean to, of course, but your self-control is so poor, and there you are, face contorted in either anger or stomach spasms, and ready to yell. I stand my ground.

 OR

You break down into tears. Poor you! Is that what I’m supposed to say? What I actually did was snort and call you a wuss. I’m sorry about that. That was really inappropriate. It’s not bad to cry or anything… But isn’t the thing you’re crying about that your sister ate all the watermelon in the fridge and you had to eat a banana for breakfast? Buck up, you! Fruit is fruit.

“But the banana is so much drier than a watermelon!” you choke out between sobs. “Watermelon is a hydrating breakfast! It’s light and refreshing! A banana is heavy and DRY!” You’re wailing so loudly at this point I can’t even make out what you’re saying anymore! Calm down!

OR

The scowling. My defense is up. More carefully, I ask, “What happened?”

You tell me that while you were at [school/work/other] you had a negative social experience. A person made you angry, and you felt powerless due to likely social constraints at the time. Now you want to exert some of your anger; you think yelling at me will give you some of that power back.

You’re wrong! I won’t take that BS. But I will hear you out.

“My [adversary] is so annoying and short!” you rant. I don’t see what his height has to do with it, but I let you continue. “He has a stupid haircut and he wouldn’t listen to what I was saying and that print on his shirt was a butt!”

You really must work on your insults. I make a note of this for later. But between your immature ramblings, I get the meat of the topic: your adversary does not know how to style himself. 

OR

Your shoulders are slumped. I want to reach out and place a hand on your shoulder, to be comforting. I want to show you I care. However, I suspend my arm by my side, for fear I will make you more uncomfortable than comfortable with my conspicuous touch. We remain stiffly separate, two beings who would like to connect, but always miss our chance.

“What happened?” I ask again. You look at me through [big/small/narrow/wide] [colour] eyes. They look so sad. 

OR

Back to the fruit. Okay, I will concede. You made a valid point. A banana is much less refreshing than juicy watermelon fresh from the fridge. But at least it gives you potassium. Your wails renew.

“I have too much potassium!” you self-diagnose. You’re not actually sure of this, and you realize your doctor would probably disagree, but you’re really trying to make a strong case for the watermelon and if this requires a little truth-bending to make a point, so be it!

Ha! I can see through your truth-bending. I have an interest in both nutrition and science and I find it highly unlikely that your occasional intake of bananas and other foods based on your diet have resulted in too much potassium. You exhibit no symptoms of too-much-potassium and quite frankly, you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Shame on you.

There is never an excuse to lie. If your argument is weak, YOU ARE WEAK. AND YOU FAIL. 

OR

You shake your head and go to your [room/place of sanctuary]. You want to be alone, but will that really help you? I think you need to talk this out. I am practically a psychologist, I rationalize. I will be more than happy to charge you by the hour, as well.

OR

I realize my error – it was not your [adversary]’s outfit that angered you so. Your [adversary] wasn’t listening, you explained in between the confusing statements of his ugliness, and I’ve caught it! I quickly rearrange myself and try to pretend I caught your point right from the start, so that I seem even smarter.

“Why do you feel your [adversary] wasn’t listening?” I ask. It’s a rather formal-sounding question and you glare at me for playing therapist when you don’t trust my credentials. Do all of my certificates mean nothing to you? I printed those on high-quality paper, and one of them says I am an officially ordained minister.

“Because he wasn’t,” you snarl, with an expression that adds a silent: ‘a-DOY!’

“Explain.” I become more computer-like by the minute. Fortunately, you are so full of passion and human fluids, you are bursting to tell me.

“He said this one theory had flaws because it was limited to [variable], but it is quite applicable to [many/all other variables]. I tried to voice this opinion but he basically regurgitated his original argument, without adjustment to receive new information, and he did not realize his error, nor was he able to adequately describe my potential error!”

You are speaking very eloquently and I enjoy it.

“Furthermore!” you fume, nostrils flared. “He insisted that in listening to further theories, I would see how this theory was flawed because it was a smaller theory, but the bigger theory did not address the problem that the smaller theory addressed, because the bigger theory glossed over many specific problems in its vastness, and more importantly, was less applicable to our topic of discussion and was not even useful as a theory!”

I can very clearly understand why you are angry now. A person who does not understand the important meanings of theories should basically be strung up by their own intestines.

“And also he is AN UGLY LAME BUTTFACE!” you scream.

OR

I apologize. I should not have oversimplified so much. One weak argument does not make you a weakling. You made a mistake. At least you didn’t hurt anyone.

You look at me sheepishly now.

“I kind of threw one of my bananas at someone,” you admit. “Because I was angry and wanted to hurt someone so that they could feel my hurt, as I was racked with banana angst.”

I am absolutely appalled, until you tell me who you hit and quite frankly, I do not like that person! So I am feeling much more favourable toward you and your predicament. You were angry. Bananas slip. It happens.

OR

You’re angry. It happens. But do you have to resort to the swears of a child who has not yet gone through the dictionary looking for better swears?

After your ‘buttface’ comment you went on to call your [adversary] a ‘booger-eater’ and a ‘poopoopeepeehead’. That one was especially uninspired. I did like what you said about how his butt was saggy like a deflated balloon filled with cottage cheese, because that was descriptive and really helped me picture it. But then the picture was so vivid, and quite frankly it is a pretty unpleasant picture. More unpleasant than your description of how his stomach was so fat and hairy that it was as if he was a gorilla pregnant with a baby gorilla. A poignant point, but then you followed that up with ‘any baby of his would look like a fart and a poo!’ and I don’t know that that’s a proper description. You also used the word ‘ugly’ nearly twenty times. I will get you a thesaurus.

OR

I follow you to your [room/place of sanctuary] and insist that you talk to me. I am very persuasive. Perhaps it is my beauty, my lovely eyes and plush lips that soften you, if you are a sexist gentleman, or perhaps I used coercion and force, particularly because you are sexist and not a gentleman. I feel less sympathy for you now, and from your cowering, I can tell you can tell.

Unless of course it is my soothing low voice and handsome broad shoulders that have given you an ulterior motive to cry on my shoulders. How very inappropriate! Here I am trying to be nice and you’re trying to feel up my shoulders.

You look very small in your sadness and you admit, in a very quiet voice, that you feel very lonely. Are you trying to be seductive? Is this because of my shoulders?! No, not that kind of lonely. The kind of lonely that is an aching void in your life and you long to feel a connection to another human being, but you are sad because today you went out and you tried to fit into the world but the world spat you back out and you feel less loved and accepted than ever.

That is very sad, actually. You can totally cry on my broad, masculine shoulders. Or, if you are a heterosexual gentleman, I will stroke your hair gently with female fingers. Of course, one as sexist as you must note that female fingers are not gentle by nature and can just as easily rip your chest open, pull out your lungs and blow them up like balloons.

I’m sorry, that was inappropriate. You are sad right now and here I am talking about making party decorations out of your organs. Very rude of me. You are a sweet person and I feel sad that you feel sad. A nice person like you should not be alone. The world is harsh.

OR

At the very least, you realize that you have exhausted your points regarding the banana-watermelon dilemma. There is nothing much to do now but accept that you did not get a chance to enjoy the watermelon, and you will have to wait until the next grocery-shopping excursion before you can enjoy watermelon again.

“If at all,” you say darkly. Some weeks do not yield good watermelon.

I am very worried about you.

OR

I am very worried about you. You remain with your head down, too sad to even cry. THIS would be an appropriate time to cry. Much more appropriate than crying over, say, fruit. You don’t need to tough it out. You are safe with me and honestly, it’s okay if you cry. I won’t make fun of you and I won’t attempt to drink your tears due to an unusual belief that they will make me stronger. I wouldn’t do that twice.

I want to comfort you and make it better, but sadly there is nothing I can do except be attractive and offer you a listening ear. I will support you as best I can, but your feelings of isolation and dejection will not simply flutter away like an ignorant [adversary]’s cheap toupee. I ache for you that you feel so alone. I know there are others who feel as you do, desperate for connection, aching for that rare and meaningful love, but sadly, they are very far away and currently distracted by some very interesting writing. They distract themselves while they wait to meet you. I wish you the best…

OR

The thesaurus was a bad idea. You are rational enough not to take it and throw it at me, but just irrational enough to trip over your bag as you make your way to your room to slam the door to make a sound so loud it drowns out your anger. No amount of use of the word ‘booger’ will make your [adversary] any less of a ‘butt-licking twerp’ and I understand you will be facing that idiot tomorrow. Good luck… I have reviewed your theory and have found you to be correct. At least you can carry that with you as you stare this man down, watching his hairline ebb and flow as his false hair falls onto his shoulder.

OR

Finally, I give you an apple. A smile spreads across your face, as perfect and curved as a banana. I keep this to myself because I am terrified of how you might react if I make this very accurate comparison between you and the fruit you hate so much.

“I love apples!” you say joyfully.

“I know,” I say. I read your diary. You say a lot of really rude stuff about peppers. They aren’t the tastiest vegetable but have a heart, you!

“Thank you,” you smile. “Now my morning fruit agony can subside…” Your face darkens. “For at least one more day…”

You are very dramatic. Why am I even friends with you?