Lost my house key. Left it hanging in the lock for hours and now it’s gone; someone took it. Or it’s in a spot that should be obvious but I’ll never see it. My key is buried in my buttcheek while I walk around with a mysterious ass pain all day looking for lost items.
They always say well what did you do when you got home. Retrace your steps. What’s the last thing you remember before you lost it. As though I could remember a series of actions I’ve repeated billions of times every unmemorable day of my adult life. I wasn’t there when any of it happened. Those moments don’t exist, they have no substance.
If I’d walked through the door and a man in a paper burger king crown raped me and left me for dead then I could give you something. Reconstruct my movements leading up to the event and work through the trauma. I would say I probably lost the key right around the time I was raped. Otherwise I have no idea.
If I could remember what I was doing or where I was when I lost my key I wouldn’t have lost it. What am I, a Buddhist monk? Is every step I take a deliberate exercise of centering myself in the mystical present? Do I study every second and wring it for every precious detail?
I’m not an old man but I’m old enough to not care about what I’m doing most of the time. Every day is a bridge that burns When I walk over it. I don’t remember how I felt or what was happening around me. I can’t go back. Once it’s over it’s gone forever.
So what was I doing when I lost my key. I walk around in this cocooned state of distracted grumbling and overheated ranting and until I step in dog shit or the air conditioner falls out of the window I’m not aware, I’m not attentive. Something beautiful and subtle is always unfolding but there’s a spiritual fog in front of my face and I don’t see it.
Miracles of creation and breathtaking works of art all around me. But I don’t notice or care because I’m fuming and fantasizing, regretting my lost youth or fearing future sorrows. My inner life is a screen saver, a cycle of stock images and phrases. I have to project rehashed scenes. Can’t be blank, can’t leave space for experiencing something new that might change me.
There’s a burger king a quarter mile from my house. So now I eat there three or four times a week. I tell people I eat at burger king a couple times a week in a self deprecating way but I eat there more frequently than that. There are limits to what I’m willing to admit even when I’m trying to make myself look bad for comedic effect. There’s a line you inch toward where it’s funny to be a little pathetic and dysfunctional and beyond that it just makes people uncomfortable.
Only I know the truth of how often I drive my borrowed 94 cavalier through the burger king drive through for two double cheeseburgers and a medium French fry. Which costs just under 6 dollars.
It’s a tasty, affordable and convenient meal for a man with a nonworking stove and a rattling air conditioner who makes no money and has to spend a hundred dollars replacing the lock on his door because he left the key outside and a feral methhead took it and is now plotting to break in and shit everywhere and steal the cat.
The joke is on whoever breaks into this house. Once they see the inside they will be moved by pity to leave me a television set and soothing drugs. Rethink their degenerate life of opportunistic crime. They’ll find nothing of value, nothing that works. But the thought of someone in this neighborhood of toothless hillbillies and stunted mongrels having 24 hour access to my shitshack makes my skin crawl.
And I already sleep so poorly that the slightest possibility that my door could be effortlessly opened in the night with one quick turn of the key would destroy any chance of me getting some rest and escaping this waking hell for even a second.
I eat at burger king now but who cares. I’m poor. I accept this. I will not receive proper dental care. My teeth will rot. I will not receive proper health care. Various parts of my body will break down and my organs will wither and there will be no money or time to fix anything. I won’t be able to claw my way out of debt but I won’t get help from the government either.
I eat like a post apocalyptic mutant picking through the ruins of civilization and I lose keys and debit cards and licenses all the time. I’m never not on the verge of doing something stupid that wipes out the pittance I’ve put together from months of toil. And apart from my own negligence something is always breaking down, in need repairs or replacement parts, updates and check ups.
Your old version of this thing is no longer compatible with our new version. You pay to find out what’s wrong and then you pay to fix it. You pay inscrutable organizations to help you pay for your diseased body, broken appliances and collapsing house. They continuously bleed you just enough over time so they can prevent a disaster from destroying you. So they can keep bleeding you.
My computer, my phone, my stove, my toilet, the car that isn’t even mine. All this stuff slated to stop working, to slow down and make ominous rumbling and whirling noises and then explode seconds after the warranty expires. All these carelessly constructed objects that begin as luxury toys for the idle rich and end as grinding necessities for all strata of society. Forced to practice the art of electronic husbandry. Maintaining a stable of ill bred but expensive horses that die without warning. You want to say fuck these horses but you can’t keep a job or friends without them.
Society will shun you for not holding a time bomb in your hands until it blows up in your face. We don’t just live somewhere and work and know the people around us. We have to connect and know what what’s happening to everyone every moment of the day. Work to buy and maintain devices we have to carry everywhere and keep charged so we can respond within seconds to every text no matter what we’re doing, hurtling 85 down the interstate, making love, performing open heart surgery or having our prostates removed.
So we can respond to every text and email and forget about our ultimate insignificance. When the noise dies down and you’re not tweeting, texting, updating your blog, looking up restaurant reviews or scrolling through an infinite feed of enhanced asses on instagram the despair begins to percolate in your bowels like an oncoming bout of cataclysmic diarrhea. What if no one knows where I am or what I think about the latest mental spasm of an unqualified celebrity. Sounds like freedom but as we all know by now freedom is terror and we’ll put ourselves through anything to avoid it.