This Mudane Life: Adventures In Whatever This Is
By Brian Polk
Art by Julianna Beckert
Published Issue 105, September 2022
I Was Thinking Of It As A Vasecto-me When Really It’s A Vasecto-us
Darling, I must confess that I am guilty of some very short-sighted, self-centered thinking. You see, when you first mentioned I should look into getting a vasectomy, I could only think of myself (and my testicles). I thought about losing the option of siring offspring (even though I know I don’t want children). I imagined what would happen if news of the surgical procedure ever reached my parents (who, let’s face it, never really had my best interests at heart). And then I pictured the pain that would come with severing my sperm tubes (which, now that I think about it, I can only picture my sperm cells swimming through tubes at a kind of miniature inner water park, which is kind of funny). But with the looming threat of a highly organized far-right movement that is sweeping the country and denying us our own bodily autonomy, I have begun to see it your way. Plus, I know you hate birth control (and it’s kind of fucked up that the burden of preventing babies should be all on you). And since neither one of us particularly enjoys condom use, the sweet snipping action of a vasectomy wouldn’t just benefit you, it would benefit both of us. So yes darling, I have evolved from my narrow worldview, and can now see the bigger picture. Allow me to schedule that vasecto-us today!
The Bear Went Over The Mountain: A Primer In Existential Disappointment
My favorite song growing up was “The Bear Went Over The Mountain.” As a child, of course, I never reflected on why it appealed to me. I get it now though. That bear was probably full of excitement to see what was over the mountain. I bet he went to bed early the night before, ate a nutritious breakfast so he would have enough energy, and packed a snack in anticipation of the feat he was soon to accomplish. On the way up the magnificent peak, he probably scarcely contained his excitement. “This is about to be a sight to behold,” he no doubt exclaimed to the fellow hikers who happened to be within earshot. But then he made it to the top and “all that he could see, all that he could see” was the other side of the fucking mountain. Talk about anticlimactic. “I’m not sure what I expected,” the bear assuredly said to no one. “It’s just like the upside of the mountain, but this side is going downwards. And now I have no choice but to go down with it.” And at the end of the day, he was right back where he started. Existentially, it’s a perfect way to prepare kids for discovering the inevitable.
“I Don’t Know Who You Think You Are, But You Know Who I Am.”
Based on his facial expression, this is definitely what my 14-year-old dog is thinking when I try to teach him new tricks. “Shake,” I tell him with my right hand extended, a treat in my left. And that’s when his face makes the expression that could only amount to the aforementioned quote. It’s either that or, “Surely you jest.” Either way, my old dog is definitely not learning any new tricks. Though he will take that biscuit in my left hand, thank you very much.
Everyone At My Job Can’t Stop Talking Shit About Our Super Ambitious New Coworker
We have all agreed that Doug, the over-ambitious new coworker at my dead-end job, is a real asshole. He gets to work right on time (or even early), says words like, “you’re welcome,” “my pleasure,” and “anything I can do to help,” and smiles when he interacts with the customers. Meanwhile the rest of us begrudgingly languish in a hope-free environment, stretch our breaks out way longer than they should be, and spend all of our work time in the breakroom talking shit about Doug (an apt venue, since he never takes his breaks). His scrappy, can-do attitude has really united everyone at the office in a way that management could only hope to do with their endless corporate buzzwords and promise of Amazon gift cards. The way Doug asks questions at meetings and washes his clothes between shifts just makes everyone want to seriously punch his stupid overachieving face as a basic reflex. Of course, the reason no one has punched him yet is because we don’t want to get fired and have to go find new shitty dead-end jobs. And ultimately in two months or so, Doug will realize that his efforts are wasted in a place like this and he’ll start coming in late and talking shit about management in the breakroom like the rest of us.
The Next Time I Get A Solicitor At My House, I’m Going To Tell Them About My Most Boring Dream
Door-to-door soliciting must be a rough job — mainly because they’re selling things I can’t imagine anyone needs. From a vacuum cleaner that I already own to religions that I would just get kicked out of, I’ve never in my history of being on this planet patronized a salesperson who rang my doorbell. As such, I’ve had a “no soliciting” sign on my front window for quite some time (why waste each other’s time?). That’s why the next time a determined salesfolk ignores my sign, I’d like to treat them to a painfully tedious description of my most boring dream.* “It all begins on a train to nowhere,” I’d tell them before they began their pitches. “And I’m in the back row with this guy Mike I knew from high school art class that I haven’t thought of since the ‘90s.” At this point, they might try to interrupt so they could start selling me their wares, but I’d just talk louder. “And the train attendant who’s dressed as a flight attendant asks if we need anything. When I tell her I would like a drink, she shouts, ‘THERE’S NO DRINK SERVICE ON THE TRAIN TO NOWHERE!!!’ and starts cackling. Then in a puff of smoke, she turns into a bat. I tell my former classmate Mike, ‘Well now, that was weird. Should we open a window so she can fly out?’” By now, the solicitor would have no doubt realized they knocked on the wrong door, but I’d remain undeterred. “And then Mike turns into this guy Jay, who I used to play music with, and asks if I have any melatonin, since he finds it hard to sleep on trains …”
*To be clear, I would only ever pull this zany scheme on religious solicitors, since I don’t want to punish anyone else for the unfortunate circumstance of having a shitty job — especially when having a shitty job is punishment enough. Peddlers of religions, on the other hand, are trying to sell me on an organization that has already made it clear there’s no room for the likes of me in their ranks. Their pitches all start with, “Are you looking to make a change in your life?” They tend to leave out the part, “because we couldn’t possibly accept you the way you are right now.”
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.
Julianna Beckert, sometimes Julie B., sometimes J.B., enjoys developing a mutually respectful working relationship with her client-friends. She’s a graphic design with a focus on branding, illustration, and web, with a background in the fine arts and carpentry. She also geeks out hard when she gets to write code. Julianna is also a comedy and improv performer, as well as the Designer of Birdy Magazine. Follow her on Instagram and see more of her work on her site (or just flip through any Birdy to see her immense talent 😉
Check out Brian’s August Birdy install, Salacious Details, Blather, and Other Mundane Chatter, or head to our Explore section to see more of his work.