Ramblings From an Apathetic Adult Baby

A non-comprehensive collection

Category Archives: Season Two

Our Dinner Guests Will Never Again Suggest ‘The Newlywed Game’

Q: How would you and your partner characterize your sex life: in the fast lane, the slow lane, or broken down by the side of the road?

 

 

A: “The fast lane. Definitely. Even when everything else is falling apart, one look can send us tearing into each other.”

 

 

A: “We like the scenic route. Slow lane all the way. Methodical, you know. We’re content on arriving whenever it all should—err—happen. Sorry, everyone, that might have been a little much!”

 

 

A: “I’d say we’re broken down by the side of the road. Hood open. Flames materialize and mature. Dancing higher and higher, the car’s soon engulfed. The bodies of the two state senators in the backseat burn beyond recognition. We look on from the shadows of a nearby mesa. Only uncertainty and the desolate Nevada night lie in front of us. We picnic in silence.

 

“Procedures have been carefully calculated and followed. Still, we can’t help but hurry through our sandwiches, monitoring the waning blaze, knowing the authorities can’t be far behind. East-southeast is determined and we trudge into the wasteland beneath the obsidian sky, too focused to be excited. Handgun legislation never saw us coming.

 

“Daybreak yields a small hamlet. Two diners, a bar, a bus stop, and a gas station attached to a grocery store. We assume the names Clancy and Abigail Robertson and split up for the day. The manager at the Early Bird hires Abigail as waitress. I take a commuter bus eleven miles to a superstore. I pay for a water purifier, a hatchet, and small tent in cash. This must suffice until autumn.

 

“My days are spent foraging, through nature and through dumpsters. During the first two weeks we move camp every night. We’re both on edge, but I’ve become insistent for details on every customer, every interaction, she has. I’m always convinced we’ve been compromised.

 

“I don’t know how. I know she’s terrified too, but she manages to keep me grounded. Without her my days are torturous. Every thought is soaked in fear. VIN numbers, errant trash, alibis—every detail from the final week of our old lives is combed over, examined and reexamined. Nothing can ever be completely confirmed.

 

“Every evening she tells me it’s going to be okay. It helps, even though I know she can’t be sure either. We snuggle into our tent and whisper details to each other, constructing our narrative piece-by-piece. We’re Clancy and Abigail Robertson. We both grew up around Indianapolis and met when we were both living in the city after high school. I never saw the ocean until I was twenty, and even then I thought it was overrated. She was an only child, but I have a half-brother fifteen years older who lives outside Cincinnati.

 

“Gradually, we start to relax. I take a job as a bar back and we’re able to afford an apartment. The job is exhausting and everything in the one-bedroom unit smells like water damage. Still, we’re thrilled.

 

“We start having money for groceries. We buy a bicycle, too. Our apartment remains furnished with sofa cushions we’ve acquired from garage sales. We play checkers every night while we fill in more of our back-story. After each other, the two things we love the most in the world are Bruce Springsteen and the Indiana Pacers, though we sometimes disagree on their order. My first kiss was in third-grade with a girl, Penny Radcliff, at Youth Group. Clancy was my grandfather’s name. Abigail spent three weeks in the hospital right when she was six with a congenital bone disease. Neither of us enjoy children and we’ve never thought of adopting. Our new signatures become fluid.

 

“I never once win at checkers. I love how excited she still gets over beating me.

 

“We follow the investigations in the news, the senators’ and our own missing persons report. Both fizzle over different timelines. The names Clancy and Abigail become naturalized; memories don’t feel as fabricated.

 

“One night, as we cuddle together on our collage of cushions sprawled on our living room floor, I dream as Clancy. His life seems so perfect.

 

“I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re into some pretty weird things in the bedroom.”

 

 

 

 

 

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I Really Need to Poop But I’m Lost in This Corn Maze

My son’s tugging on my sleeve, though I’ve resigned myself to the ground. Peripheral noise quiets as a Category Five stress migraine crashes into me. Forehead wrinkles tighten. Cool sweat pools. The stalks loom, laughing and rustling as I struggle and thrash. Mortified, my son orders his classmates to look away. The corn knows it has almost won.

 

You volunteer to chaperone a field trip and you think it’s going to be all “You’re my favorite parent” this and “Here’s my single mom’s number” that. Today, though, no matter how many rehashings I play over in my head, my now-stained backseat is still just that. Even though I told Kyle S. three times he needed to be careful with that juicebox.

 

I’d signed that permission slip for Farmer Jack’s Orchard without thinking. Sure, I’ll volunteer; I don’t anticipate fourth graders being hungry and bringing crumbly snacks or juices that stain into my car when we’re leaving directly after lunch. No teacher would ever think to saddle me with an EpiPen or other mortality based accountability. I’m sure there’s enough room in other cars for my group to return if I get sick. Or get diarrhea and have to go home and take, like, two showers. Everything in life always turns out exactly how you plan, remember?

 

Optimism, you’ve swindled me again.

 

The kids grow anxious. My “episode” has paced us behind the other teams. I tell my son to leave me. To go with the others. He’s in charge now. He asks if I’m dying. I reply, “Kind of.”

 

The pressure relents. Slightly. I feel like I’m passing through the eye of this personal hurricane. Culprits come to mind. Gas-station deviled egg. The lost-and-found cookie. Both plausible. They gave us those plain cake donuts when we got here. Dry and tasteless. An embarrassing excuse for empty calories. I’d regretted eating it before even taking a bite.

 

A positive identification won’t help my situation, but I just want something to blame.

 

I drag myself off the path. Into the shadows of the corn. I could try to run, or rather toddle. Do what’s honorable and try to make it to the Port-O-Potty. It’s a maze, though. The outhouse could be in any direction. Failure at this would mean public embarrassment and a far higher likelihood of earning a spot on the Sex Offender Registry. I’d be letting my son down. Not as a sex offender, but as ‘That Dad’ who pooed himself on a field trip. We’d have to move. No classmate could ever forget that. Not even if they wanted.

 

I’ve sweat through my blazer now. Pressure intensifies and the migraine returns. A tear wells. This is bigger than me. Yes, this time it seems monumental—once excavated, my skin will likely be noticeably looser. What I mean, though, is that I’m here for my kid.

 

Hence, I will remain in this corn thicket.

 

Time is a factor; strike while the iron is hot.

 

Crouched, Dockers lowered, it begins. Colonic coughing and vomiting. The EpiPen narrowly escapes tumbling into the quintessence of hot mess, almost resigned to being “lost” and never living out its purpose.

 

“How did our son, Kyle S., die? I left his EpiPen in the corn field. Why’d you do that? Well—and you’re gonna really laugh—but…”

 

I grew up to be a divorced dad pooping in a cornfield and it’s not nearly as bad as that headline reads.

 

I hear a rustle and freeze. It subsides and I resume breathing. Hadn’t considered wiping, but it’s become very necessary. Do I go husk or cob? Gritty or protruding? Horrible or possibly slightly less horrible? It’s an eerily familiar dilemma.

 

My underwear is back on, though I haven’t stood completely up. Kyle S. rounds the corner. Of course that idiot wandered off. He sees me and I see him. Cautiously, we stare one another down as I re-buckle my belt. I step out from the stalks.

 

His face sours after one whiff. I seize him by his shoulders, my dead gaze bearing down on him. “No one will believe you.”

 

Dragging him by his fruit-punch-stained fingers, I call out and catch up with my son and the other kids.

 

 

 

 

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