Sisyphus goes to three stores and then contemplates his purpose in the universe.
“I’m sad because I don’t have a purpose,” I said. “I do a job I hate for people I hate to make not enough money to live. What the fuck is the point of that?”
Abby started crying.
“I know you want me to get help,” I said, “but no amount of therapy sessions or drugs to fix a so-called ‘chemical imbalance’ are going to change the fact that my life sucks and we live in a society that doesn’t care. I just hate being an ant on an anthill.”
“I just don’t know what you want me to do,” she said.
“There’s nothing you can do,” I said. “Unless you can pull $100,000 out of your ass or magically produce a career I’m passionate about, I’m gonna be stuck like this… This is why I have to do drugs.”
“I just don’t understand why you always focus on the negative,” she said. “It’s so frustrating. I feel like we’re just going in circles.”
Butter dug into her empty plastic bowl, a trick she uses to make the water magically reappear.
“I’m going to Half Price Books,” I said. “I’ll be back in like an hour.”
We both knew where I was really going.
I walked outside in a forest green O’Doul’s hat, Filthy Frank T-shirt, Adidas track pants and a neon teal and orange pair of Hoka trail-running shoes. I looked like a goddamn Fortnite character.
On my way to the CBD Shaman, I had to make an emergency pit stop at Kwik Trip to take a big shit.
Not all Kwik Trips are created equal. Some are like massive, sprawling shopping malls, with wide aisles, diesel truck bays and multi-stall bathrooms. The station by my house is on the opposite end of the Kwik Trip spectrum. It’s small, cramped, usually understaffed and most crucially, in moments like this, their bathroom is single-occupancy.
I parked my car and raced inside, hit a hard right and wafted down the narrow hallway toward the bathrooms. I might have to start identifying as a woman if this door is locked. FORGIVE ME TUCKER!
I blasted into an empty bathroom. God bless America.
Under the seat, I found the remnant splatters of the brave men who had come before me. I varnished the bowl bile-brown, putting my own salty twist on this Midwestern cave painting. You know it’s a bad shit when a little piece of your soul goes with it— when you need a moment to recollect yourself.
During my asshole’s final dry-heaves, I noticed a singular ant crawling towards me on the tile floor.
“Turn back now,” I said. “There’s nothing for you here, friend. Only pain.”
The handle wiggled. Somebody knocked. “Just a second,” I lied. Ten minutes of wiping the marker later and I was free.
I emerged from Kwik Trip in a fog, like Trevor respawning at the hospital after a shootout with police in Grand Theft Auto V.
I drove to the CBD Shaman with exactly $5.35 in my checking account. I bought their smallest joint and the total came out to $4.20, which made the cashier laugh. Life is funny like that sometimes.
I smoked it on the way to Half Price Books, a 15-minute drive. I go to bookstores when I’m sad. I love the vibe. They’re full of my kind of people— seekers, thinkers, people who enjoy wasting time.
I began browsing the humor section and couldn’t help but overhear the phone conversation from an aisle over.
“She took me to Joann Fabrics,” he said. “I wanted to blow my fucking brains out.” I told you, my kind of people.
“It brought back so much trauma,” he said. “All the Saturday afternoons I had to spend with my mom in that godforsaken place— Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, I hope they all go out of business.”
You and me both, brother.
I got in line with a copy of Pete Holmes’ Comedy, Sex, God and David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day. I’m trying to find contemporary humor writing that I actually enjoy. I guess I’ll give these two goofy motherfuckers a shot. They better be good, I’m putting this shit on a credit card.
Abby texted me. “Could you pick up a rotisserie chicken?”
Great, more human contact.
I drove to the Corners of Brookfield, a shopping mall full of rich white lady stores like Lululemon, Von Maur and Petlicious Dog Bakery and Pet Spa. I parked in the underground garage and took the escalator to the main floor, blasting subtle snot rockets along the way. I get a thrill out of being disgusting and poor around rich people. It makes me feel dangerous.
I walked around Sendik’s like a dope for 10 minutes, unable to locate the heated display case of rotisserie chickens right in front of my face. I did my best to look innocent and confused so the hot moms didn’t think I was trying to kidnap their kids.
I rode the escalator back down, clutching the chicken high and tight like Tiki Barber.
“We need a hose, too,” Abby texted. “Can you stop at Menards?”
Menards is like a bookstore for people who don’t read. The vibe is the same— people go there because they want to improve, repair, renovate. The difference is, the tools they sell at Menards will eventually get old and break. The tools you get from reading stay with you for a lifetime.
My plan was two-fold: 1. Find a hose. 2. Buy as much plastic crap as I could carry. I grabbed a couple of bottles of bubbles, a bubble… helicopter… thing. I bought a sprinkler snake and a wind-up shark for the inflatable pool— I’m living the American Dream.
On my way to checkout, the big wall of seeds spoke to me. That shit is autism-bait and I couldn’t resist. I made off with the essentials:
We’re gonna have spicy Italian watermelons for dinner every night this summer.
I got home and made a beeline to the backyard with Butter to set up the pool. The bubble helicopter didn’t work. Butter popped the sprinkler snake. Abby broke the wind-up shark. OK, I tried.
I could hear faint chiseling sounds coming from the Mexican family next door. They’re always out there working on something. First, they build a patio, then a fence, then they plant tulips along the driveway— it makes me feel kinda bad. They have this little corner of the world, about the same size as mine, and they’re determined to make it as beautiful as possible. They’re living the dream while I’m next door, less than 100 feet away, living a nightmare.
We dried off in the kitchen while Abby made dinner— Mexican spaghetti. Don’t ask. She found the recipe on TikTok I highly doubt our friends next door would consider it authentic. To be fair, it’s not bad.
After dinner, I took Butter for a walk in the park across the street. A young black kid rode by on his bike with a stereo strapped to his back, blaring a remix of an Eric B. and Rakim beat. As he passed by the Mexican family, an artist I didn’t recognize screamed, “FUCK, NIGGA, FUCK!” The dad was completely unphased, which I found shocking. If that were my dad, he would’ve called the town’s non-emergency number.
I played lazy fetch with Butter deep into the night. Lazy fetch is the same concept as regular fetch, only I’m half-asleep on the couch. It makes no difference to Butter. She just wants to chase balls. All day, all night, until she passes out from exhaustion. She might have some kind of dog autism.
Maybe it’s a puppy thing. I don’t know, but it begs the question— who’s the better Sisyphus here? Butter’s the one pushing a rock up a hill (or in this case, a ball up a staircase). I don’t have to imagine her happy, I can see it. She literally jumps for joy, just for the opportunity to do something pointless, over and over again.
Oh, the lessons I could learn from this hairy little psycho…
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All around me, I see people finding joy in the simple things. It’s those simple patterns and rituals that seem to give people the most meaning. My dog, my wife, the Mexicans— they all seem to get it. I can’t relate to any of them. I feel so wholly alone in my state of mind, lost in the darkness of deconstruction, stuck in a nihilistic malaise, conscious in an unconscious world.
I need a fucking purpose.
The answers are right in front of me but I’m blinded by the light of my own ego. I’m confused by the warped and mangled stories I tell myself about myself. I’m lost in a haze of my own creation. I’m sick in the fucking head.
I don’t know what happened to the old me. He only comes out when I’m around old friends or riffing in the shower to no one. Talking to myself… that’s all I ever do anymore. Maybe that’s my taco spaghetti. Maybe that’s my tulips along the driveway. Maybe that’s my ball to chase.
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