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.

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.

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?