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.

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.