Trigger warnings: gun violence, suicide references
First, once again, I express my useless condolences for the latest mass shooting in the only country of the world where mass shootings are a regular occurrence. I want to stress that it had nothing to do with guns or gun laws. It was all because of mental illness, which only exists in the United States for some reason. Let's not do anything about it and then act surprised when it happens again in a month or two. There's no possible solution to this problem just because every other country in the world appears to have found one. I'm willing to accept mass shootings as a normal part of life for Americans and nobody else. Aren't you?
Sunday evening I was in hell, or hell was in me, or both. It had turned into one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days that makes you feel like Palpatine shortly after "A New Hope".
"How are you?" Alice asked as I slid into linger longer the table across from her. Perhaps she had forgotten that she already asked me that two hours earlier. Perhaps she thought something had drastically changed in that time. If she did, she was right.
I mumbled something about it under my breath.
"What?" she said.
"What?" I shot back, having immediately realized that this was perhaps not the time to discuss it.
She let that slide and moved on. She used to speak to me like I was a child, but she stopped after I showed her my writing and she apparently realized I have a brain, so that's been great. Then she said she had to go to some family thing in another city that she didn't seem too excited about.
I mumbled something about it under my breath.
"What?" she said.
"What?" I shot back, having immediately realized that maybe we aren't close enough for me to be affectionately rude.
She smirked in what I suppose was meant to be an intimidating way. "Are you being snippy with me?" she demanded.
Ew, who let him in here? Get out of here, Hayden, and go slaughter some indigenous people or children or something. Anyway, what I actually said was, "Oh no, I'm the most polite person you'll ever meet." I was being facetious.
"I can believe that," she said.
You can? I mean of course you can.
That really had nothing to do with anything. I just wanted to put it in. My account, pieced together from already scattered and fragmented memories, really begins later at night when I called Morris, on my third attempt to reach a human with my phone that luckily was undamaged after I threw it across the street. Morris is one of those guys that I should have taken under my wing because he was younger and new to the ward I'd been in for five years, but of course with me being an introvert it was the other way around. I told him how I was feeling and he wanted to rush over. I said he didn't need to do that, as I just needed to talk to someone and he had already been at my home a few days earlier and I didn't want to keep inconveniencing him, but he wanted to come over so I said all right. He came over and this time he only brought one other guy, JC, instead of three, but that was only the beginning.
"Some girls brought us here," he said. "Is it all right if they come in?"
I hesitated for just a moment. What were we going to talk about? Was I going to describe what was wrong, and if so, was I okay with having a female audience? Flashback to group therapy in middle school. It started out exclusively male. And most of the other males were there for anger issues and getting into fights at school every day, so I didn't quite fit in there either, but on the plus side they were real nice to me and offered to "pay a little visit" to anyone who was giving me a rough time. One day the leaders solicited our feedback on the prospect of including females. I was very much against it because I didn't want to share personal things in front of them, but I was outvoted and they joined and it turned out to not be so bad. So I got over that hurdle long ago.
"Sure," I said, then hesitated again as another horrifying thought occurred to me. "Wait, which ones?"
He listed off five names. I only had one matched up to a face, but none of them were the one who is no longer welcome in my home, so I said that was okay and he texted them. I mean, they were right outside and I didn't understand why he didn't just go get them, but whatever.
There haven't been many women inside my apartment. My first roommate never had any over, which might be explained by the shot glasses I found in a cupboard after he left.
Then my next two roommates had one over sometimes to play Dungeons & Dragons, which seemed like kind of an oxymoron. I saw her in public later and she waved and I didn't remember her at all but I waved back and she gave me a donut. Ka-ching. During my time with them I had Cece over to clean my room and watch "A Goofy Movie". Then I lived alone for a year :) and never had any visitors :( Then one of my current roommates had his girlfriend over sometimes, but usually she would be in his room and I just saw her shoes downstairs. So one day when a pair of feminine shoes appeared I thought nothing of it - until they were still there the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next week, and the next month. I began to wonder if I should call the police but figured it was too late by then anyhow. Then one day he was cleaning and he asked, "Are these yours?"
So there were more women coming into my home at one time than I think had ever been in it the whole time I've lived there. They came in and all looked so different yet so beautiful that it made me think of God's garden with lots of different kinds of metaphorical flowers. Everyone sat down without asking and I ended up at the end of the couch in the corner of the room, in the worst possible location to make a quick escape if they turned hostile. The first thing they wanted to do was gush over the Darth Vader puzzle my roommate gave me for Christmas, like putting it together was some kind of impressive accomplishment. If I had known they would be that impressed by it I would have put out my thousand-piece R2-D2 photomosaic puzzle instead.
The next thing they wanted to do was gush over my letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, like getting it published was some kind of impressive accomplishment. They asked what it was about. It was a moment of truth. Would they be upset that it was about evolution? Would they give me my first negative Mormon reactions? I kind of hoped somebody would argue with me. I would educate her, and Morris would back me up. But nobody did. They just kept gushing. So I guess that was cool. One of them read it right then and there and promised to share it with the others.
Morris tried to start a game of "Would You Rather" that no one else wanted to play. "Would you rather poop through your mouth or taste everything you touched?" he asked. A tricky question, except that I feel like the answer doesn't really matter because it never specifies that you have to stay alive for any particular length of time.
Therapist: Suicide is never the answer.
Patient: I poop through my mouth.
Therapist: I stand corrected.
I tried to contribute my own question to this game. Only JC heard me. He said I needed to talk louder. I said I couldn't because the estrogen level in the room was paralyzing me. The room divided into two conversations for most of the time, four and four, but mostly three because one of the women in my group didn't talk much. I hope she was just introverted and not bored. She did say something she learned from a documentary about how eggs are worse for your health than cigarettes. I made a mental note to switch to cigarettes.
At one point I felt a sudden compulsion to play stupid. I asked the only female in the room I was a little bit acquainted with, "Do you ask girls out?"
"No," she said.
"You're not fulfilling your priesthood duty," I said.
"Chris, I'm not a boy," she said. I loved how she played along and acted like I was serious. Because she knew
"Has it been over a month since you asked one?" I pressed.
"You should be asking out at least one girl a week." Even though she was laughing, I felt like I needed to apologize for being stupid instead of legitimately funny.
JC got to talking about falling out of a plane for some reason and I said it was my biggest fear.
"Just out of a plane?"
"Well, out of the sky. Falling is the worst feeling ever." It really is. It's not the death part that scares me but the falling sensation itself, with or without a parachute, and also the tiny little chance without that I might be "lucky" enough to survive and just break all my bones. I wouldn't jump out of a plane to save my entire family from cannibals. My sister did it for fun.
"That's a good fear," he said.
"And women, I don't like - I mean I do, but -"
Before I could come to terms with what this Freudian slip means for me, he said, "I think we all feel that, Chris."
"Chris," Morris said, "before we go, we've got five girls here. Do you wanna..."
Kiss them? Uh, sure. Look, how was I supposed to have any idea what he was asking? I've never heard a question prefaced with those words before. It was weird.
"...ask them any questions about dating? They know a lot about dating."
Of course they would, more so than males at any rate, because they aren't the ones that dating is primarily designed to screw over. It seemed like a waste of time to garner information about something that I had no intention of trying ever again, especially when some of the knowledge I do have is useless in practice. I know the importance of communication, for example, but that does me no good when everyone else refuses to communicate and it's socially unacceptable if I do. But I didn't want them to leave yet, so I asked a joke question to make them feel awkward. "What things do I need to change about myself to be attractive?" I asked. Oh, this is golden, look at them squirm... wait, they're actually thinking about it.
"You're fine, you don't need to change anything about yourself," one said. "Especially physically." I'm not sure whether she actually said those last two words or I just became more delusional than usual for a second, but I heard them one way or another.
"Just be yourself," another said. "Don't be something you're not. And being confident is really important."
"But not cocky," one said. "That's really unattractive."
"Unless you're Harrison Ford," I said. She laughed even though it wasn't a joke. Indiana Jones is obviously a womanizer, having dated approximately five thousand women in the course of his adventures as a teacher (most of whom survived), but I recently read a controversial opinion that Han Solo was intended to be a loser who was always alone (or, I guess you could say, solo) with another guy (of sorts) until Leia took pity on him. But if this person were a true fan she would be aware of the deleted footage that refutes her interpretation.
I'm excited for "Solo: A Star Wars Story" because it looks exciting. I'm not completely sold on Alden Ehrenreich, but Donald Glover looks phenomenal. It also looks to be somewhat faithful to the original canon of Han joining the Empire and getting kicked out, yet it looks as though the Empire aren't the main villains this time, which would be a nice change of scenery and also an homage to "The Han Solo Adventures" where he fought CorSec because Brian Daley wasn't allowed to use the Empire. We see him working with a team, which seems a bit out of character for him prior to joining the Rebellion. Will he learn that group projects are literally the worst and vow never to be part of one again, eschewing all attachments except for Chewbacca, who insists on following him because of the life debt? What if he starts with a different last name and changes it to "Solo" to get that point across? Intriguing. But the main questions this movie needs to answer are, in reverse order of importance:
1. Why does Lando, Han's second best friend, pronounce his name differently than almost everyone else?
2. Why doesn't Han believe in the Force even though he was ~10 years old when the Jedi Order was destroyed?
3. What shampoo does Chewbacca use to get that healthy glow, and how can he afford it?
Returning to my story: "We can tell the difference between confident guys and cocky guys," one said.
"Those are the ones you want to punch in the face," I said. She laughed even though it wasn't a joke.
"I feel like if you could tell the difference, women wouldn't keep dating jerks," Morris said. Ohhh snap.
They hemmed and hawed about that for a second before I came to their defense to assuage my guilt about trolling them. "Maybe they're more perceptive than most women," I said, and realized that I had just insulted over 3.687 people. But they were okay with that and nobody else needs to know about it until now that I'm admitting it.
"It's just about finding someone with the right personality," one said. "Like I went on a date today, it was a disaster, but just because we're not right for each other doesn't mean he isn't right for anyone..."
"There's this really great metaphor about bagels that I heard once," one said. "Everyone likes different kinds of bagels so they just go and pick out the kind of bagels that they like."
"What if there's a moldy bagel that nobody wants?" I asked. Yeah, what about that, huh? Didn't think of that, did you? Thought you were so clever, didn't you?
"Somebody will want it," somebody said.
"You have one of the coolest personalities of anyone I've met," Morris said.
"The date I was on was awful; he was so cocky, so you see, we're all in the same boat," the one who had been on a date said. Of course. Just because they're all younger and prettier than me means nothing. But none of them had rings? Really? My eyes flitted around the room checking all their hands for an absence of rings to corroborate this statement. Of course, that's not even a foolproof metric.
Coworker: I don't wear my ring to work because I don't want it to get lost.
Me: Yeah, well, that seems really unfair to some guy who might feel horrifically guilty when he realizes he's been crushing on a married woman for months. Hypothetically.
"Our roommate," Morris said, "just got rejected by this girl that he dated before his mission, and she said he was cocky and that he hadn't changed at all. He went out running and we didn't see him for hours."
I had heard something vague about this before and I had told him that someday she'll be kicking herself harder than the guys who rejected the Beatles and everyone had said "Ohhhhhhh!" But I hope she actually doesn't feel that bad because they probably did more than kick themselves.
Therapist: Suicide is never the answer.
Patient: I rejected the Beatles for a recording contract.
Therapist: I stand corrected.
Everyone got up to leave and some of the women were still talking and I missed the context, but one of them said "If you date one of us, you date all of us!"
"Fine with me," I mumbled accidentally. Two of them heard me. One laughed while the other stared. Hoping I hadn't committed a faux pas, I added, "I'm sorry. Sometimes I think without talking." Wait...
Then everyone except Morris was gone. He stuck around to praise me some more. "I don't even ask girls out; I'm too scared," he said. "But you do. You try. That's amazing." If you've ever been praised for doing something that you thoroughly regret, you know how awkward I felt. But I didn't want to ruin the moment.
"Thanks," I said. I don't want to try again. But you... you should. I bet my life you would have more success, Mr. Movie Star Hair.
Then he left too. The end.
This random and completely irrelevant thing came up in the search for "that's it she's going down gif". Why does it have Chinese symbols in it?
Valentine's Day started out average, not terrible like it was last year. Last Valentine's Day, both my printers at work malfunctioned and the freshly trained quality control guy was overzealous and too strict (which usually wears off after a few weeks), so I felt like I was being eaten alive all day. And then this happened, and I don't know who did it but they made my day and I hope that either through here or through Facebook or through me speaking in church next week they'll be made aware of my gratitude. I was so shocked and so happy. You're lucky I was gone at the library for the right amount of time.
Myself, I considered leaving flowers on someone's doorstep, but then I looked at the prices and decided maybe next year.
Return to this blog next week for "Lunatics: A Space Girls Story"
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.