Ramblings From an Apathetic Adult Baby

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2095 A.D.: How Did You and Great-Grandma Meet?

 Q.

Your great grandma and I met online in 2016. On this ancient app, Tinder, we both had on our non-telekinetic phones.

Q.

Tinder was how single people found dates. Or found hookups. Or reinforced stereotypes. It intended to be a medium to get to know each other in a non-public setting. Striking up conversation with a complete stranger in public wasn’t done.

Any gesture, pleasantry, or—god forbid—smile directed at an unfamiliar someone was met with scorn, aware that there needed to be some sort of scheme, some endgame.

Q.

People might be more open nowadays; you know, with the government-mandated diversity quotas on friendships and all.

Q.

The app was simple. Swipe right if they’re profile’s attractive-ish enough and swipe left if they’re sickly, overbite-y, or some other variant of gross. Details—bathroom habits, levels of indoctrinated racism, what kind of neglectful parent they’d become—were inferred instantly and conclusions cemented.

All in all, pretty fun.

Q.

If you and a stranger didn’t immediately find something revolting about the other and both swiped right, you’d open a dialogue. The results typically yielded the sexually and emotionally desperate, though, occasionally you’d find a somewhat stable person.

Q…

No. There wasn’t video. No sensory body suits. No humanoid surrogates obeying your every whim. This was no-frills back and forth. Writing tiny virtual memos to one another. Actual, serious keystroke typing with letters and tiny cartoon pictures.

Q.

Uncertainty was everywhere. What’s the right amount of emojis for a self-described heterosexual man to use? Does actual grammar matter to this person? How many “LOLs” does their terrible joke attempt merit? I know kids today are comfortable with offering up any and all exploitable fears and banking passwords to anyone on the web asking, but this was all uncharted territory.

A lot has changed, namely with companionship Concubots™ and a Supreme Court recognizing marriage between human being and a gratification robot. I mean, when we were married weather hadn’t yet been government regulated and the country bordering Turkey was “Greece,” not “Greece: A Nation Presented by Volkswagen.”

 

*Your HeadstoneHolgram© will resume momentarily. This HeadstoneHologram© is brought to you by Burger King™. Burger King™: Mourn Your Way*

 

…It wasn’t just like I could hook up a REM Reader and have it transcribe everything.

Q.

Ten, maybe twelve, message back and forth over twenty Earth minutes before we’d exchanged nude pictures and agreed to meet in a well-lit public space.

Q.

Just a coffee shop. Close to the lab where she worked and close to my analytics job. She was cute, considering 2016’s more realistic standards of beauty.

Now with your commercially available occipital and temporal lobe probes they can rewire you in a snap. One minute you’re in the alleyway negotiating with the john. The next you’re on the Wahlberg Zeppelin. In the Fuck Room. Working your way through a carousel of A-listers. Your mind can hardly distinguish the artificiality. Erotic experience is no longer limited to the non-genetically modified people in your immediate locale. Or whatever you found on webcams.

Q.

I never did get bored. Attention spans used to be a lot longer. Plus, back then there wasn’t a need for those passion-inhibiting brain condoms to protect against psionic herpes. Not to mention that your great-grandma’s always been sweet. I remember she gave me her Hulu password right after we became Facebook-official.

Q.

Before the Dark Web took over all forms of media, you had to pay actual, nationally recognized currency each month for the shows you wanted. Or steal a friend’s password.

Q.

I had asked myself one question, “Do I want to spend the rest of my life with her?” I mean, of course I self-audited a little further. Didn’t find any lingering flames. No divorce fantasies. Plus, there were no numbers to crunch before the engagement. Before 2030 you could get married without submitting your genomes to the Central Office and waiting for a phenotype report.

There wasn’t any Chomosale.com™, or any database option for bidding on prized genetic material. Back then it was a little gauche to pry over medical histories. All you could do was skulk around family gatherings and take note of anyone trying to quell discussions about Huntington’s.

Q.

My only regret is not marrying her sooner. We rolled the dice, tried our best, and got lucky. We wed eight months after I’d proposed and then spent an amazing 58 years together before we died six months apart in 2074, me of stroke and her of a degenerative bone disease. I loved her and she loved me.

And we still love each other! Living in Afterlyfe™ has been great. The property taxes are bananas, but mostly it’s great.

Had I been overloaded with information, I’d have risked over-thinking the best decision I’d ever made. The choice I’m happiest with was made purely on feeling and anecdotal evidence. I couldn’t imagine living and never having your granddad, Wynnter, and great aunt, Sumatra, our perfectly imperfect genetic combinations.

Q…

I know. It was 2020 and dumb names for kids were all the rage. I suppose, come to think, those names would be another regret.

 

*Thank you for using HeadstoneHologram©. Your World Bank account has added two working days until you are permitted to die.*

 

 

 

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Today My Name is Triumph

Denial, anger, bargaining, and, finally, depression—yes, I’ve been through it all this morning.  The tears have started coming and I don’t think they’re going to stop.  Not now, not today, why did it have to be today of all days?  It’s awful, I’m a wreck, and I can’t stop shaking.  No, this isn’t the day Fox cancelled the Glutton Bowl, it’s not the day McDonald’s discontinued the McPizza, and it isn’t even the day my cousin debunked pro wrestling for me.

No, today is the day of the 5K I had agreed to do eight months ago.

“It’s so far in the future, I’ll just agree to get them off my back, and, by the time it rolls around, I’ll have gotten new friends, or they’ll have forgotten about it, or, maybe, I’ll have succumbed to the sweet, warm blanket of death by then.”

Yeah, there’s no chance I thought I’d actually have to participate.

Trudging up to the crowds of happy, fit people was rough enough.  So I don’t own one of those fancy one-piece workout suits that aerodynamically shapes the contours of my penis.  No, I have a pair of pajama pant cutoffs and an old shirt that says, “I hate Mondays, but not as much as I hate Garfield.”

I’m getting a lot of stares; clearly, I look out of place, or everyone here has a penchant for workweek beginnings and comics drawn by Jim Davis.

I don’t want to run, but, fortunately, and much to the chagrin of my friends, Clipboard Guy says I can sign be one of the walkers competing.  I keep hearing that the only people who walk are the perpetually preggers, the robustly obese children, and the geriatric polio survivors.  Perfect, I have successfully identified my athletic equivalents.

The herd of people migrates to the starting line and  I’m realizing how much I don’t want to get sweaty.   I know if I start trying too hard my thighs are going to start rubbing together in some seriously extreme chub rub.  Eh, that’s pretty redundant; I’ve never had chub rub that wasn’t seriously extreme.

The gun goes off and I’m terrified.  Why couldn’t they just say go or use a whistle to start the race instead of that sawed-off shotgun?  People whoosh by me—their already-sweaty arms flailing and their bodily fluids just rubbing off all over my pasty skin and face.

Two hundred boring steps later and my brow is sweatier than John Goodman’s at a mayonnaise-eating contest—I must have gone at least 2K by now.

The realization is settling in. I don’t really want to tempt this life-or-mess situation, so I’ll just walk nice and easy.  It’s like an old car—you don’t want to give it too much gas and risk something coming loose.

Many boring, television-less minutes later and I see spectators handing out cups from the sideline.  I mosey myself over there, hoping that at least one of those cups has Dr. Pepper in it, however, if they not down with DP I guess I’ll just ask the bartender, or whomever’s giving them out, for a triple whiskey.

The first cup I grab just has water in it and I immediately throw it away. Okay, I don’t want to waste anymore cups incase some tasteless freak actually prefers water, so now I’m going to start poking around through all these cups to find Dr. Pepper.  No, nada, nope, all water so far.  What do I have to do; I’d even settle for a Pibb Extra at this point, but no, it’s all goddamn water!

Clearly irritated, the runners keep brushing up against me with their sweaty slick bodies and it’s disgusting.  This is just like Family Day at the water park: constant violations of personal space, utterly unbearable, and notably free of Dr. Pepper and whiskey.

I think I’m close to the end, but my doody chute feels wetter and deeper than the Mariana Trench.  It’s simply become an abyss of cavernous, dark, unexplored depths from which I’m trying to hold back a faceless monstrosity.  In agony, I let out this abhorrent screech—seriously, the sound is insufferable; it’s like a cacophony of screeching cats, or screeching cars, or a young Dustin Diamond.

My dogs are really barking at this point, and by that I mean I don’t think these Hush Puppies were the ideal walking shoe.

The finish line is near and a crowd has gathered.  Surely, they are likely through most of the official awards and paper-plate awards by now, as I think I am the only one still on the course.  I cross the finish line and am immediately dissatisfied with the shameful lack of applause and pomp.  Clipboard Guy grabs me and my head begins to spin.  Did they know I was using performance enhancers?  How could they even know about those Jell-O energy suppositories I bought before the race?  I’m going to have plead ignorance or insanity on this one.

Instead, Clipboard Guy throws me on the top of the podium, likely for some public shaming.  I look to my left and right and there aren’t any contestant standing on second place or third place pedestals.  The announcer’s voice booms into a megaphone as he announces that I, Justin Gawel, have won first place for walking men aged twenty to thirty by default, as I was the only one who signed up.

The crowd sighs; clearly disgusted that part of their life was wasted looking at me received a medal.

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