ALMOST PALAHNIUK

by Jason Killmeyer


The next time I hear anybody tell anybody to think outside the box, I知 gonna go fucknutty. It痴 gonna be amazing. I知 gonna grab them, take them to my house, Google search for the tallest flight of stairs in the world, buy two plane tickets there, drag them to the top of the stairs and push. Oh yeah, I値l make them buy me a Slinky on the way. Look for it on the news. Bad news for Google shareholders, good news for me.

And when I知 in court, I will ask to be prosecuted under hate crime legislation. Because, trust me, hate will be involved.

So this is where I reside, in that uncomfortable new place where unPC meets antagonistic tendencies and all the little niches that fit uncomfortably into the new box are used to form an unsophisticated philosophy. And, wow, what a Chomsky complex. Notice me dropping names to sound smarter. This is me introducing me. The reason I知 supplying so much detail is because I am insecure. When you base your ego on a supposed intellectual prowess, each unsaid observation is an opportunity for someone to one-up you, to wield the knife of social commentary more menacingly. So you give more and more detail hoping to shape what others think about you, when in reality, they are learning about you from that insistence.

By the way, the above few paragraphs could also be a list of things-not-to-say on a job interview, or the first few pages of an anthology chronicling ways to alienate someone on a date. I知 sure the book would sell, there痴 already a place for it at the local national giant book store. They could place it in the Business or Self-Help sections. The publishers could stress the cross section of market niches it could awkwardly fit into. And yet my moral superiority would interfere and the last page would have to read 典he best way to get rich is to sell get-rich-quick schemes and self-help books. More backlash, more hate crimes. Or I could mix in with some other editors and we could blend the genre with the trendy mystic faith plans and step-by-steps to enlightenment. How about: The 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Soul. This is where holier-than-thou and arrogance stop running parallel and finally intersect.

I知 going to do my best to abandon the ego for awhile and start the story you could be a few paragraphs into already. Hopefully, you still want to. I promise to be less affronting.

See, I know no one believes this, but I swear I remember this. I think somewhere in my little kid logic, unless I知 just imagining it, I think somewhere in my little kid logic I could sense my innocence was taken too early. I wasn稚 supposed to know about certain things yet, I could tell it in the faces of adults. I wasn稚 supposed to be scared of the bad men in New York. I wasn稚 supposed to cry and beg and cry for Allan Iverson tennis shoes for the first day of school. You can see it in the eyes of adults. That little twinge of surprise.

Should they be surprised?

When your parents pay no mind as you sing along to the radio, it痴 interesting to see their faces change as you are on the ground playing with your toys or they are getting you dressed and brushing down your cowlick and you start half-singing and half-mumbling the radio edited versions of songs and you池e sleepy and innocent and then they stop you and shake you or maybe spank you because you were singing about fucking bitches and slapping hoes. Or if you didn稚 get the album version for Christmas, you were waxing poetic about freaking tricks and slapping them as well.

Anyways, it痴 that type of look I am referring to. But like I said I just feel like I could sense it and I also realized I couldn稚 get it back. And that made me want to scream, because as soon as you池e aware of it it痴 too late. I also really wanted to protect my little sister from it. I didn稚 want her to be aware of so much just yet. And I tried to do what I could but it didn稚 matter, it was already too late. It痴 over before you池e born. How fatalistic.

Hell, maybe it痴 over before you are born. Maybe, the same parent playing Beethoven for their child, should wonder if the evening news or the latest action film has the ability to inspire their child towards a life of crime or firing bazookas at the bad guys and looking good doing it. Let痴 put down the books about osmosis and the edge it can give your child. Let痴 not worry about parenting better than The Joneses.

Anyways, the better older brother would致e simply accepted the reality and led by example to equip his sister with the insight and tools necessary to process everything coming her way with any hope of avoiding apathy and despair. Instead I mourned, I whined like a little kid would. Instead I moped around for a few weeks and then began to ignore it as the beginnings of my preteen life made me a different kind of selfish.

Maybe at that age, had I spent one less night doing laps at the food court I would致e realized what an older sibling should be and paired that insight with my fears over innocence lost. It was my inability to process that concept as a young child that causes me to question whether or not I really felt that way or am imagining it all, especially the glossy transition from bright eyed child to materialistic preteen. Hopefully, someday soon I will be able to do a Google search for time travel and understand with a three language manual what Donnie Darko had to learn from a book. Then I can remember for sure. Until then, I値l either start on the path to moral relativity or urge my government to parent the airwaves so my wife and I won稚 have to feel guilty about working late most nights of the week. Also, if I go back in time, I知 gonna commit more hate crimes, avoiding harsh prison penalties!

The next time I hear anybody tell anybody to think outside the box, the twenty four hour news cycle needs to be prepared. It痴 gonna be amazing. I知 gonna grab them, take them to my house, Google search for the tallest flight of stairs in the world, buy two plane tickets there, drag them to the top of the stairs and push. Oh, of course I値l videotape it. I can稚 wait to send it in to Real TV for a small undisclosed cash sum. I値l have my friends over the day it airs and buy some chips and dip and a case of better beer than I drink when I知 by myself.

Whoops, I致e admitted more than I needed to. Not about the hate crime I can稚 wait to commit, but that little blip about the drinking. Oh, and the being by myself. Unfortunately, I値l have to address that. Here痴 an easy way. I only do it to escape the everyday pressures of work and family, indulging myself with a beer or two after work is a perfectly normal and acceptable thing to do. The glass of wine with dinner is healthy for stuff, they say. And, what痴 more, maybe if our society wasn稚 so high-pressured people like me wouldn稚 feel the need to go out occasionally on Fridays and Saturdays and regress back to the only happiness we can remember: childhood. This would have a decent chance of getting the subject changed if only I had a job or a family.

This is why I知 a sinking ship. If clich駸 suck, then fitting perfectly into one is even worse. Anyways, I am one big mass of wasted potential. I am lazy and irresponsible. I will never put in the effort and hard work to become successful. I already am the guy with visions of grandeur. I知 hoping to avoid being the bitter drunk guy who starts political and philosophical conversations with the uninterested bartender only to reaffirm his own faltering ego. If hope is enough to be somebody else, I may be in luck. Effort is not reporting for duty anytime soon. I might be able to keep my sanity from taking off by entertaining myself with the few ideas and concepts I知 enamored with. I will try as hard as I can to overstate their importance and scope in an effort to avoid becoming disillusioned with them. I will celebrate the ridiculous and the camp, making trendy conversation wherever I go.

In memoriamsorry, conclusion. In conclusion, the next time I hear anybody tell anybody to think outside the box, a crisis will arise. It痴 gonna be amazing. I知 gonna grab them, take them to my house, Google search for the tallest flight of stairs in the world, buy two plane tickets there, drag them to the top of the stairs and push. Oh, and of course I値l videotape it. I can稚 wait to send it in to Real TV for a small undisclosed cash sum. I値l have my friends over the day it airs and buy some chips and dip and a case of better beer than an unemployed person should be buying. I should also mention that I値l rescue the person and get to go on a morning talk show. I値l be especially charming and be booked on the other networks morning shows and get to be Jay痴 last guest of the night. I値l stretch my fifteen minutes anyway I can think of. I値l get my tips frosted and buy a tan in preparation for my week on Hollywood Squares. I値l try but not get selected for a celebrity reality show where I could致e jumped into a pile of cow shit and then gossiped about how badly the others smelled. I知 also gonna coauthor a book on finding the inner hero in you. I will not fade from the spotlight gracefully. It痴 not a question anymore whether or not I will whore myself out, it痴 展ho痴 the highest bidder?


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Almost Palahniuk, 4 August 2005