Consequences of The Grand Cosmic Accident (And Other Observations About Life In Dying Times)
By Brian Polk
Published Issue 115, July 2023
Aw Fuck, Looks Like My Least Favorite Customer Survived Covid After All
We hadn’t seen Old Man Lifton since before the Great Lockdown, and absolutely no one at my job at the coffee shop missed him. He was always making creepy comments and misogynistic jokes to my coworkers five decades his younger. He referred to full-grown adults as “boy” and admonished them for not working harder in his presence. And he always demanded discounts for everything he ordered, even though he never tipped once. So when three years went by and no one had seen a trace of him, we just figured he had become a Covid statistic. But then yesterday, I was in the back and I heard someone say, “If they paid you for bein’ a good looker, you’d be rich.” I recognized the voice immediately. I also knew he was talking to Irene, since she and Matt were on bar shift. (If he had been talking to Matt, he would have said, “Hey, boy.”) I sighed. Defeated, I walked out to give Irene a break and tell Mr. Lifton not to talk to the employees that way. He called me “little man,” gave me a hard time about raising our prices (since he was last here in 2020), and tried to leave without paying at all. When I confronted him about the bill — $3.75 for one Americano — he paid me in nickels and pennies. While we’re still pretty sure Covid claimed the mean lady with the MAGA hat who always stole all our sugar packets and made Mandy cry a few times, and the guy who would go on 20 minute sexist/racist/homophobic tirades about the evils of oat milk, it spared Old Man Lifton. Since he’s always talking about how great Florida is, maybe he’ll move. It’s our only hope at this point.
I Feel Like Curmudgeons Live The Longest Because They Have A Purpose Here On Earth
Every day they must wake up and say, “There simply needs to be more pettiness, anger, bitterness discontentment and hurt feelings in the world. And by God, I am just the person to make that happen.” This cosmic technicality to longevity should be called “the asshole loophole,” and it sure is thriving these days.
My Goal Is To Reduce My Alcohol Consumption To The Amount I Tell My Doctor I Drink
When my doctor asks how many drinks I consume in a week, I always say, “Oh, I don’t know. Four or five.” This is a lie. I mean sure, there are weeks when I drink that amount — or even less — but that’s the exception to the rule. Most weeks I have myself a couple of cocktail parties where I really throw ‘em back. But now that I’m aging a bit, I’m beginning to realize I should probably slow down and actually consume four or five drinks a week for the sake of my own personal quality of life index. And then I’ll tell my doctor I only have one or two, because for some reason, I feel like they can’t be trusted with certain information.
I Had A Dream That I Couldn’t Sleep
And now my insomnia has gone meta. What a load of shit.
My Spouse Wraps Me In Bubble Wrap Before I Go Skateboarding With The Understanding That Once All The Bubbles Are Popped, I Have To Come Home
And I’m not allowed to skate after the Urgent Care place closes. I was lovingly compelled (“forced by my significant other” in other words) to agree to these conditions in order to fully realize an essential aspect of my midlife crisis — to claw back a sliver of my former skateboarding talent. But of course there are other barriers preventing me from reentering skating culture — namely my knees, heels and lower back (body parts that must collectively be wondering just what the hell I think I’m thinking). Also, falling off my skateboard hurts a great deal more than it did when I was 15, and I wreck more often as well, because I totally suck at this sport. So yeah, I pop a lot of bubbles on my protective bubble wrap. Sometimes I make it a half hour (though my sessions are often much shorter). But thus far I have yet to seriously injure myself, which I consider a massive success. And until I seriously maim a body part (or bubble wrap gets prohibitively expensive), I plan on continuing this pathetic attempt at reliving my childhood well into my 50s — at which point I’m sure I’ll have to surgically replace a body part or two.
Do You Ever Find Yourself Wishing That You Shouldn’t Have Swam So Hard As A Sperm Cell?
Have you ever had one of those days where you think, When I was a sperm cell, why didn’t I just sort of dog paddle once I made it to the fallopian tube? Why did I need to be so goddamn ambitious and penetrate the egg like that? Because I think about it often. I mean, all those other sperms really wanted to get to that egg as well, and if they succeeded, I wouldn’t have to go to fucking work every day. It really puts things in perspective, and it can even lift my mood. For example, if I’m having a terrible time at work and all the customers are being horrible and I picture myself as an eager sperm cell, I can’t help but laugh. Then I realize that almost everyone alive was at one time an overachiever and I laugh again, because that means that Anthony, the laziest roommate I ever had, was actually a super ambitious swimmer at one point. And he doesn’t even know how to swim as an adult (which begs the question, when did he forget?). Anyway, once I found a way to inject levity into my own nightmare of existential despair, it made life a bit lighter and easier to handle. I highly recommend it.
Brian Polk is a Denver-based writer, publisher of The Yellow Rake, and drummer for Joy Subtraction and Simulators. He’s the author of Placement of Character and Turning Failure into Ideology. He likes writing, muck raking, yellow journalism, zines not blogs, cheap booze and punk rock.