The clarity of isolation reminds you how smoothly the world turns on its axis when you decide to hit the race & dip out the center of it.
To your eternal chagrin, you've come to the sinking realization you’re a bit part player at best. An extra who got a tad too stoned, forgot he wasn’t given any speaking parts, & blurted out “fricking gnarly” towards the end of the scene.
The assistant director had been up for two days at that point. She didn’t have the willpower to re-shoot. Now you’ve earned yourself day-rate & backdoored your way into the fabled Screen Actors Guild. Congrats, pal. You’ve made it.
Arrived at the top accidentally & now you’ll stumble off down the beaten path towards ignominy post haste. The lost dreams of a drunk steeped in his youth. That’s where the last dregs of his sobriety lay buried.
Entombed under six feet of dirt for the sake of humanity's psychological safety. The same way that I keep the bile-ridden recursive thoughts of mine quarantined inside of me to doom my unlucky spleen to an early grave.
If I know I feel better when I write, why do I resist it so? Out of some misguided service to society?
Allegedly, writing is my job. Which is about as generous of a definition for employed since we allowed the kids who repeatedly failed the STAAR test to become certified life coaches. Then again, as a staunch, lifelong proponent of the anti-work aesthetic, perhaps I’m simply staying true to form.
A sort of professional vagrancy, if you will. But don’t you know? I wanna be a cowboy, baby. What's a man gotta do to earn himself a dang Dr. Pibb sponsorship around these parts?
Goddamn, even by my own impressively curmudgeonly yardstick I’ve been a smidgen bitchy lately.
Not to worry, the solutions are holistic & my prescriptions are assuredly inauthentic. I forge my old pediatrician’s signature to score myself some prescription-strength ibuprofen. A modest requisition, you might think, but you see, I can’t be trusted with serious opioids.
I’ve got all the hallmarks of a high-functioning junkie who is tanned, rested, & ready to debase his body. Ability to lie without second thought or remorse.
Check. Mostly for fun really.
Lying reflexively simply to stay in tip-top shape to misinform any unfortunate passerby on command. Don’t want to accidentally slip up & tell the truth, do I?
The unassailable delusion engendered by narcissism that addiction is the sole proprietary property of truly unfortunate Rust Belt hosers. Surely I, being the infamous Middle Class Mike from the once-bitten, twice-shy, strip-mall utopia that is the blessed burbs, am naturally impervious to the sickly sweet bonds of chemical dependency.
Check, check.
Speaking of the cookie-cutter bliss of gated suburbia marred only by the petty tyrants serving on their local HOA...It’s prime real estate to obtain illicit barbiturates to ride out the soul-sucking reality that is your life. One featuring 2.4 kids, a white picket fence, & a Sandals Cruise every other year if the Groupons are halfway decent.
Everyone & their dog has a cheeky Xanax connection. Come to think of it; the dogs are usually more reliable.
Imagine if you will, beleaguered suburban denizens overdosing on our couches to reruns of Seinfeld ever-so-slightly sped up for syndication.
Denied even that smallest of mercies to ascend into the ether of non-existence accompanied by authentic renditions of laugh tracks. The final joke’s on you, mon frère.
Plus there’s the family history of addictive personalities which...lemme triple check, yup renders me an extremely likely candidate for....yes you guessed it. Addiction.
Maybe addiction is too crass of a word?
I believe we prefer the term “struggle” because we like to give our friends & family the impression we might yet successfully wrestle the upper hand against the white-smocked galaxy brains over at Big Pharma.
For sure, dude. I’m sure you’ve managed to figure out how not to turn your little helpers into a crippling abusive cycle. You’re not gonna get the deathly chills or shakes or insane bouts of anger & depression & emptiness without your fix now are you? You wouldn’t dream of abusing them whenever you feel tired or lonely or bored right?
Do you think you're lonely or just bored?
What’s the difference?
Well, if you’re lonely, you ache for someone or something to relieve your boredom. When you’re bored, you’re alone with your thoughts. You’re embarrassed by the mediocrity of their expression. None of them worthy entertainment.
A king rotting away in the palace of his own mind. The sick man of Europe, wiling his dozy days away. Gone to seed so long ago that serious lechery doesn’t even merit a modest eyebrow raise, gentle clearing of the throat, & polite aversion of the eyes...
Do you think you’re sick?
What would make me sick?
You’re impossibly miserable for one.
Aye, I’m a bit sad. But I think that makes me human, not ill.
It makes you ill when you identify wholly with the illness. This is clearly no longer a minor malaise. You’ve allowed it to become your default setting.
Maybe I am sick then. Sick & infected.
Early contender for the worst Tinder bio of the year.
Infected with this longing for...warm rain banishing the dust from distant vistas on my horizon. Don’t you know that I’ve got appearances to keep up? That’s quite enough out of you, Hyacinth. Kindly put the kettle on.
Alright, that '90s British sitcom reference was admittedly a little rusty & ungainly.
So rusty that Antiques Roadshow is willing to preemptively pay you to fuck off & never terrorize their phone lines. 
You’ll have to forgive me as I only vaguely remember it from childhood & it could have easily been a fever dream induced by bouquets of poppies.
I believe that’s just the gentleman’s way of saying you got yakked out of your gourd on opium.
You understand me perfectly. Tell me your ways of divination, stranger. Are you a gypsy?
I’m your subconscious.
I am literally there for every moment of your life. Why are you trying to lie to me about your juvenile antics?
The only high you got in school was the adrenaline rush from the first time mid-puberty that you answered a phone without your voice cracking so the salesperson didn’t immediately think you were a girl.
I rode that euphoria for two & a half years.
Actually, didn't he end the call with "Thank you for all your time today, ma'am?"
For the record, you perpetually underemployed mountebank, that was a sales technique called negging. If VH1’s “The Pickup Artist” taught me anything, it’s that negging works nearly 3% of the time.
You were a liberal arts major, so let me try & explain those odds to you in a way you might possibly understand.
I was a computer science major.
Let’s not get caught up in the nitty-gritty here.
If you tell 100 girls at a bar that you’re a writer, 97 of them will politely smile, sip their drink, check their phone, & immediately excuse themselves to rejoin their friends.
However, three of them will mishear “driver” & feign interest in you for a short while until they realize there is no Renault expense account ready to cover their tabs for the next decade & a half.
You'd never make it on the F1 Circuit.
Whatever, dude. That girl really did say I kinda looked like Daniel Ricciardo if she squinted extra hard.
She definitely said “Get in your car & go,” because you told her boyfriend that he didn’t have enough thigh tats to talk to her, but rest assured, you most certainly did.
Yeah, what the fuck was that about?
I don't know either. Where do you get off talking to strangers like that? Where do you get off talking to anybody like that?
No, I'm talking about her boyfriend.
Admittedly, he might have been way better looking & taller than me. Not to mention he had a more easygoing & charismatic personality to boot.
Can't imagine how she clearly made the right choice.
Me either. Did he have any thigh tats that indicated how willing he was to make legitimately poor decisions in life?
Exactly. It's mind-bottling how she could have possibly ended up with a chud like that.
Did you mean mind-boggling?
No, it makes me want to pound a handle of Wild Turkey until I forget the innumerable injustices of the world.
You've never drank whiskey out of a real handle. It's always been out of a warm plastic water bottle, heavily compressed to sneak past the underpaid & overworked security at ACL.
You'd pound it all day & wake up surprised you got heatstroke because you decried hydration as the crutch of the cowardly, the weak-willed, & children not trusted to be left off-leash by their parents, still bitterly clinging to their hastily departing youth.
An opinion that I stand by, but for your information, I have drank a real handle before. You just weren’t there.
Where was this?
It was at camp.
They were officially at capacity so you had to take a long walk off a short pier & leave me alone for the summer.
I feel like you're lying, but okay.
Great, so can I please get back to discussing my infection?
Is that still going on? Haven’t you gotten that checked out?
I thought Penicillin gave you a punch card because you were single-handedly keeping them in the black. For the last time, tertiary syphilis is not a preexisting condition.
You'll never get it covered.
What about existential dread?
I'll allow it.

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