Nonproblems of a Member of the Privileged Class

This afternoon I was struck with the dire decision of where to get first meal. I’d slept in later than normal and when I got up my roommate was watching the episode of sherlock with That Woman. So, of course, I had to stay and watch before getting on with my routine of yoga, breakfast burrito, coffee and writing.

Anyway after watching I was way to hungry to do yoga but also feeling fat so the breakfast burrito was out of the question. Now incredibly hungry, a little stoned, and without the predetermination of a routine I got into my car and haphazardly drove off to figure it out on the way. As some of you may know that was a terrible decision.

As I waited at the first stoplight the true weight of the matter fell upon my feeble mind. Where would I eat? The myriad restaurants passed through my mind faster than I could process them as every car on the road seemed like they wanted to slam into me. It had to be somewhat healthy (veggies, no grease, etc.). I know I was disgusted with myself too however I skipped yoga, my dubious excuse for eating like an american, but everything that came to mind was the opposite.

Breakfast bagel from my favorite spot? No, right direction but too late. Breakfast burrito? No, stupid. Okay fine, something from the coffee shop? No not enough food. The buffet of choice overwhelmed me as I drove aimlessly. I lamented the plethora of choice and my own indecisiveness. It seemed there would be the perfect solution if only I sifted through the proverbial haystack.

That or I should just pick something, anything, and get on with my day. I mean, it’s all clean, edible, and in most cases delicious. How was this even a problem. In fact it wasn’t and shouldn’t have been at all. The plethora of choice of food is the pinnacle of society.

I began imagining a nondescript third world community of huts, scavenging the slim amount of edibles from the plain on which they live. They had no problem deciding what to eat all they could do was happily accept the bland wheat and whatever meat would pass by. Their entire life is based around scarcity. Everything from what they could eat to their job in the community is determined by working with what they have.

I envied them. In The States, well at least the part in which I live, there is no scarcity. We have an abundance of places to eat, types of jobs and anxieties about which to choose. It reminded me of an episode of Malcom in the Middle where Malcom was caught in the middle of the indecision the plethora inevitably creates. He was faced with choosing a career, and only told he could be whatever he wanted. Some would see that as nice problem to have, especially the fictional third world community I made up above, others would point out it’s fiction.

However, it points to a very real problem what do you choose when you could literally do anything and nothing seems right.

Then my stomach growled and I was on a road with no food at all so I pointed my car toward the coffee shop and settled on the terrible sandwich shop next to it and wrote this.

TV Land

It’s easy to forget we live in the real world, that our actions have consequence and others are the main character in their own show. It’s even easier to forget that sometimes we aren’t the hero, or the protagonist, we’re just a person walking around happening to he where we are any the time; nothing special, just real. It’s easy to think that at the end of the day everything resets, that the arcs and storylines from yesterday concluded and that today is a new day. Well, it’s not. Sometimes we’re the villain, sometimes we’re background noise, an extra, but all of the time what we do has an effect on others.

It’s easy to forget that in film, television and stories that situations are exaggerated for entertainment. A simple fact it to me years to realize. The circumstances, actions, reactions, even down to the emotions of the characters are all fake. Mind blowing, I know. Now extend that to so called reality tv, televised real people in real situations. Real people with real emotions doing real things is boring as fuck. There’s no way they would show the real life of these human beings doing taxes, grocery shopping, taking shits, and when they do there’s always some contrived drama that allows the story of the episode to move forward, and eventually conclude with some cliff hanger set to dramatic music so you’ll tune in next week to the Kardashian’s crazy and totally real antics. It’s not real, reality tv is not real or else it would have no place amongst the cartoons and the dramas that are so much less entertaining than real people in fake situations. We accept that it’s real because we want it to be so we can sit back with our popcorn and say “oh, I’d never do that,” or “if that was me I’d totally do it this way,” and be satisfied that our lives aren’t that ridiculous.

What brought this thought about was an all too common video of police officers forcefully arresting a cooperative man in front of his family. They were man handling him, slamming him into the wall as he was saying “just let me go, I told you I come with you calmly.” Another officer came to assist the first in trying to handcuff the criminal. He continued to plea that the force was unnecessary and that he would go calmly without the cuffs, I suppose to retain some shred of dignity in front of his wife and son. A 3rd cop was trying to stop the wife from filming as she was screaming that he wasn’t resisting. They finally force the man out onto the walkway in front of his apartment, at this point all three officers were tackling and beating him while the wife begged them not to punch him. Suddenly a taser was pulled, and a small dog entered the scene. One officer was tasing the man, another was holding his son back while the 3rd kicked the small dog out of frame. I couldn’t watch anymore.

Now it’s possible that there was something that happened before the video started to cause such drama, action, and brutality. However it had a tinge of theatrics, an NYPD Blue sort of quality. What I’m saying is that growing up in a time where NYPD Blue, and cops were some of the most popular shows on television probably inspired a lot of kids to become cops so they can take down bad guys. In that simplicity and with that inspiration it would totally make sense to make any routine arrest as dramatic and exciting as possible.

This doesn’t extend solely to cops either. I see it on Twitter and Facebook and real life everyday. This dramatization of real life leads to a point where someone will see a Kardashian pulling someone’s hair for saying something mean and think it’s okay to do that in real life and then wonder why the cops were called to beat the shit out of them. Then people will complain that their life is too boring to simple. Well fucking good you’re doing something right, it’s not a bad thing if your life isn’t dramatic, real life is hard enough with cops forcing you out of your house for missing a court date, or some dude trying to beat the shit out of you for looking at his girl. In real life things aren’t as important or extreme as shown on tv.

I’m not saying we should eliminate reality tv or that police brutality is a rampant and terrible problem, I’m only saying that maybe we should all collectively take it down a notch.

Wine May Not Have Blue Mountains but it Gets You Laid

Wine is by far the best party drink. Forget your 4lokos and your (now plastic) bottles of mickeys those are for frat boys and teenage girls, respectively. You want a man’s drink better come prepared with a corkscrew and a muscly arm because no spindly little twig arm is getting to that sweet sweet merlot.

Now imagine this you’re at a party, your bro’s hitting it off with a 9, you walk over to give him a cheers. You’re long thick glass bottle taps against his puny tin can, and even though those mountains are bluer than the mediterranean on a clear day, you catch her eying your thick long bottle of sauvignon blanc. She bites her lip but you don’t notice because your enjoying that translucent yellow liquid splashing against the back of your throat.

You walk away so as not to put a damper on your bro’s game, even though it would be no contest. You find a group of buds and push your way into the circle. They’re all clutching frosty cans except one, he “forgot” to get beer again. He’s been trying to bum a brew from the other responsible party goers. Your eyes lock, you know whats coming so you put your mouth around the mouth of your big bottle of cabernet sauvignon and take long slobbery draught. You catch his eye again, he looks away.

That conversation went stale, much like the taste Natty Ice. So you turn around try and find that gorgeous pair of legs and breasts that intimidated you half a bottle of syrah ago. Now, however, your cheeks are ruddied and your step is wobbled and you got balls as big as John Cena’s and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s put together. There she is right over there, by herself, you can fix that. So you swig a mouthful of chardonnay move toward her.

But what’s this? Some pussy steps up first and in his hand he’s clutching a plastic baby bottle of Steel Reserve. Pah, he’s some kind of bitch, so you step between them and start laying down that vagina moistening game harder than you thought you could. That guy taps your shoulder and starts swinging, sayin that’s his girl, but you’re a classy motherfucker so you tell him you can’t own a girl, and that she has the free will to choose whoever she wants to rail her. He brings that bottle of Steel Reserve down on your head, but the plastic crumples and bounces off with hardly a tickle. You ain’t mad but he mussed your hair so this loser’s got to learn a lesson. You cork your thick glass bottle of zinfandel swing it hard into his ear. He goes down, she draws closer and tells you to take her to your house.

Now you’re getting laid and that malt liquor drinking barbarian is lying on the grass with cauliflower growing out the side of his head. You wanna know why, because you’re that classy motherfucker who brought wine to a party.

Back to the Future day got me thinkin

So today marks the fact that we are officially in the future. According to an extremely popular 80’s movie October 21st is the future. I’ve seen more comparisons of the real now and the film now than I have seen the actual movie, regardless, it is disheartening. Obviously the creators of that movie overshot their predictions, food rehydrators don’t even really make sense, and hover boards, while cool, are likely still years from being feasible. Technology is great and all, really fun to talk about, but as this blog lately hasn’t really been about fun (sorry about that I’m trying to make a fun story but it just won’t come together). I wanted to talk about the grim reality we face as a species.

Especially in the United States our greatest minds are working less and less in the scientific fields and more in grocery stores. We were the country that put humans on the goddamned moon and now we’re fighting over who should be allowed to marry? We fucking invented trains and now ours are the laughing stock of the rest of the planet. Let that sink in for a minute, we revolutionized transportation now we have some of the worst trains in any significantly advanced country. Soon we won’t even be able to call ourselves significantly advanced.

At this time in history I see a significant regression, we’ve been resting on our laurels. That’s not how you make a “more perfect union” that’s how you implode like the Romans. This is fucking America goddammit we’re supposed to be the best and we very well can be, we just need to pick up our bootstraps and work harder… just kidding. We need to break out the guillotine… still kidding, kind of. Not the actual guillotine, even though that is boner inducingly enticing, we’re not animals, but a metaphorical guillotine. We need to cut off the bank accounts of the überrich.

During The United State’s heyday, the era a lot of americans still believe we’re in, the taxes on the überrich were 90%. Now that’s ridiculous but it allowed us to live in a world where the government could fund ridiculous technological projects like getting a rocket to the moon. Imagine if we continued with that momentum, the creators of Back to the Future did and theirs was a much lovelier future that we can only be jealous of.

Instead we live in a future riddled with anxiety. Climate change, political instability, religious(resource) wars all center around the überrich’s obsession with scarce resources. They take advantage and even create our reliance on oil. They hinder the progress of renewable/infinite energy at every turn for no other reason that I can see than to maintain control over the populace. They make it so our only choice is reliance on them. Whether it be debasing solar/wind power or blocking it in legislation altogether. Now I have no idea how to fix this, it seems it’s just one of those things that could be too broken to fix. However I have faith in humanities ingenuity, I just don’t have faith in our timing.   

(Sorry about all these opinion pieces, I know I hate reading them too. I promise I’ll post a story soon. you know when you have a really great idea and it just falls apart on paper? Yeah I’m at that stage right now. TTYL)

Gun Control, Climate Change, and Kim K’s Bodacious Booty.

I’m tired of asinine arguments. Any trending topic, gun control, climate change, discrimination, these are all incredibly important issues that internet people have turned into baseless jokes. It seems now no progress can be made. Anytime a nuanced, well-thought out, and researched argument comes along it is attacked and derided with opinions. It’s as if beliefs are now viable fact on par with science, statistics and research. It is despicable and dangerous that the social discourse has devolved in such a way.

Belief is especially dangerous because it needn’t be based in fact, it needn’t be based in anything except the believers will to believe. The truly terrible thing is that the more evidence one uses to debunk a belief the stronger the believers will is to hold on to it. Now this it’s fine that people hold on to beliefs I’m not arguing against that. However, it becomes a problem when these people go to vote, or make legislation. See, societies for a long time based law on belief because that’s all they had, there was no science or statistical analyses, but it’s 2015 and we’ve had these things for a while. So it’s time to stop believing and start knowing.

Now I’m not one to tell anyone how to live their lives. However, there is nothing wrong with telling you how I live my life so as to give an example. I hold no beliefs, each passing moment contains new information and thereby changing the situation beliefs will only hinder the decision making process. So I solely make decisions based on information, and you can to. You can even hold on to your beliefs but just leave them out of your argument and decisions. This way there is no fear of new information. You won’t have to change anything about yourself and you never have to admit your wrong, merely ignorant.

The problem with telling people to drop their beliefs, however, is that people will base their entire personality around them. That’s fine, thats their choice same as mine to not hold any beliefs, but when it comes to public discourse these people will throw their belief into the mix and bolster it with consensus. Consensus is not truth and that is what I see a lot of these believers arming themselves with. Facts become mere blips in the sea of cacophonous consensus. See a fact has to be based on something in objective reality, consensus just has to be repeated by enough people. As long as a group of people agree on something, regardless of its basis in reality, it is consensus.

I guess I’m just saddened and disheartened that belief and large groups of loud people have so much more power than truth and fact. It honestly scares me because a lot of the facts point to complete and utter destruction, and the consensus seems to be ignoring it for Kim K’s bodacious booty.

Rhetoric

Rhetoric against rhetoric. people exclaiming words they have no true grasp of against others doing the same. What has my country come to? A bunch of loud mouth idiots getting mad at each other over beliefs and systems they grew up in without thought to the true implications or the veracity of what they believe. That’s not even the worst of it, it seems that it’s become almost a badge of honor to believe in and remark about something they have no idea about and you’re almost ostracized for having a well thought out, logical, and nuanced opinion on a subject you may actually know a thing or two about. People don’t understand that what they say and what they write, the words they use, have power. Actual power. Power to bring together or break apart. It seems, sadly, that more people are concerned with the latter than the former. It is truly terrible that an individual with a nuanced and thought out belief system, one which considers and adapts to new information, is a pariah, and outcast, an idiot among violent, mouthy parrots.

There is almost a fear, for the aforementioned reason, of being a nuanced and articulate human being, and a fear of nuanced and articulate humans. We are a tribal being so it makes some sense; no individual wants to be cast out of the necessary comfort of being accepted. One almost has to adhere to some rhetoric or another just to be accepted.

It’s laziness, people don’t want to or don’t have the time to consider a fully fleshed out new idea. They have other shit to do like take care of their families and work. They don’t have time to think for themselves so they latch onto rhetoric that is most similar with the ideals they grew up in. Circumstantially it is understandable, however when it is that persons job to be nuanced and considerate, such as a political pundit or writer then it becomes a problem. Normal people rely on them to tell them what is happening in their world so when a new policy or law is passed and then filtered through whatever rhetoric each particular “news” outlet employs and is then absorbed by the american public through whichever source they have for whatever reason adhered to they believe they know what their talking about and have the best most unbiased information they can. When in reality they are talking about the same exact thing only looked at through their own semi-chosen lens. Anger and distrust and even hatred will then stem from this.

It is particularly sad because it truly doesn’t have to be this way. If we were to get the full story or the true top down perspective of each issue we can look at its implications and consider for ourselves the true outcomes of each decision made for us by our leaders.

This is the most painful thing for me because people will stick to their given rhetoric or beliefs and defend them like their lives depend on it causing truly unnecessary pain and division. It’s almost like we are at war with ourselves being pitted against each other for the pleasure of those so far above this strife, the necessities of daily work and family. They don’t have to adhere to rhetoric, they create it. The saddest part is that like them we can also create our own rhetoric. Most people fear to because they may be wrong. That’s the beauty of it though, we can’t be wrong because there isn’t a wrong or a right, there is only cause and consequence. This means there are only things you do and the things that result from such actions. For example what happens when you punch someone. Depending on your strength you could cause considerable physical damage, this affects how they are now experiencing their life, with pain. Now ask yourself if you would like to experience life in such a way. If you said no then why would you want another to experience that pain? The same goes for our words and legislation. So next time a piece of legislation, such as a prop, comes up for a vote first ask yourself if you’d like living under that rule, even if it doesn’t affect you personally. If you said no, vote it down, if you said yes, vote for it. We live in a democracy where the rules are made by us, not some god or king, us. So be considerate because like it or not we are all in the same boat here.

No More Clowning Around

Richard sat in the mirror meticulously applying his make up. He painted the white foundation in long smooth strokes making sure to flatten any clumps along the way until it covered his entire facade. He then made a caricature of a smile in red and blue around his mouth. Finally he pinched the big red ball so the slit on the side opened up. He stared into it for a second before he placed it around his nose. He looked himself in the eyes and smiled; no longer Richard, he exhaled and said to himself, “Hello, Boppo,” and squeezed his big red nose twice making a honking sound with his mouth each time.

Sarah sat in the kitchen repeatedly tapping her thumbs together between her folded hands. She stared at the space between their dirty refrigerator full of half checked to-do lists and invitations to children’s birthday parties, and the semi-doorless, paint chipped cabinet that surrounded it. She then got up and paced the wobbly kitchen table they’d picked up from a craigslist curbside ad. Finally she stopped at her framed bachelors degree. She traced the lettering through the glass before she thoughtlessly turned her head to his clown school diploma framed in cartwheeling clowns attached at the limbs, dressed in all manner of brightly-colored, tasteless outfits. She sat herself back down and frowned; no longer able to cope, she exhaled and said, “What’s taking him so long?” her rage built each time she heard him honk from the bathroom.

He walked in with a goofy grin plastered across his face. She wanted to smack it off.

“You look like an idiot.”

“That’s kind of the point isn’t it?”

“Funny,” she said laying her slender arms on the table.

“Exactly,” he said not looking at her as he opened the fridge.

He bent over at the waist looking into the fridge. His vibrant rainbow covered, egregiously large ass seemed framed by the light emanating around it.

“You know it’s better to bend at the knees.”

“Yes, Mother,” he said removing the peanut butter and jelly and placing it on the counter.

“Won’t they have food there?”

“I’m hungry now.” He said turning to her, biting his sandwich with his lips peeled back.

“You just going to leave that there then?”

“You seem aggravated, Sis. Can we skip the passive aggressiveness and jump to the yelling? I’m kind of on a time crunch.”

She stood from her chair with such force it toppled over backward, he started. This made him look more surprised than his perfectly painted eyebrows intended.

“Fuck you, Dick.”

“Go on.” He nodded causing his pastel blue/green afro to bob.

“Our house is turning to shit; Nothing ever gets done around here except your stupid make-up. ”

“Okay, valid point, but you know I’m gone all day-“

“Don’t you dare say it.” She said stepping toward him.

“-Clowning around. I wasn’t going to until you said something.” He explained, “what I was going to say was: I’m gone all day working two jobs so we can keep the house, what are you doing? Maybe if you spent less time on the computer and more time checking off all these fucking to do lists you keep making then maybe the house would be in better shape.” He punctuated this by shoving the rest of the sandwich in his mouth.

“I’m talking to professors and applying for internships trying to better myself. Plus, dad never taught me how to be handy, you’re the big brother isn’t that your job.”

Swallowing, “My job… my job? Just because I’m a guy means I’m supposed to be handy? You went to college what’s your stupid degree worth if you don’t even know how to use a screw driver.”

“Oh, my degree is stupid.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Oh I’m sorry I forgot you went to clown college let me explain it to you. Your. Degree. Is. A. Joke.”

“Fitting, I mean, I am a clown. At least mine wasn’t a $500,000 joke. Who’s hiring physicists right now? No one? Oh weird, at least I knew going into it my degree was going to be a joke.”

She began flailing her arms in a rage. “You know that’s not how it works, you have to get your- why am I even explaining this to you?”

“Just because I’m a clown doesn’t mean I’m a fool.” His oversized shoe squeaked as he stepped forward in anger. “If I didn’t have to pay all of the bills, buy all the food and pay your fucking student loans I could be a clown full time, I’d never have to take off my costume. I could be living my dream.”

“God forbid you can’t live your stupid dream of being a clown. What about my dream, huh?”

“Your dream? How is going to school indefinitely a dream?”

“It’s not indefinite, I can’t be a professor with only a bachelors degree. I need at a masters and that’s if I just want to teach at a community college,” she shutters. “I need you to support me in this you’re all I have.”

“I do support you, that’s what I’m saying. I need you to support me to, and maybe help out around the house some when you have nothing better to do.”

“How am I supposed to support you if all you want to do is clown around?” She yelled with the fury only years of rumination could build.

“How are we supposed to both live our dreams if we can’t even support each other. Everything we’ve ever done has been one sided always you, you, you. I’m sick of it, I have to go.” He turned to leave and his oversized trousers clipped the jar of jelly shattering it on the floor. “Ah, shit. I got shit on my fucking… fuck”

“You’re just going to leave that there, huh?”

He’d already left the room, faintly he heard, “always fucking cleaning up after you.”

“Eat a dick, Sarah.” He yelled.

“Eat a bullet, Dick.” She yelled back.

He slammed the door causing a shudder to go throughout the old house. Sarah’s college diploma shook off the wall and shattered in front of her as she bent down to pick up the jelly covered, broken glass.

A clearly audible scream emanated from the house as Richard opened the door of his ’98 Honda Civic. He didn’t look back as the suspension creaked under him as he got in and drove off to the party.

Parked out front of the gaudy mcmansion which vomited rainbow colored streamers and the laughter of children Richard downed 2 tiny bottles of Makers Mark he’d bought on the way. He looked at himself in the rearview mirror and said, “Hey kids… No that’s not right,” this time in a higher register, “Hey, kids!” He cleared his throat and belched then said in the same pitch, “Hey, kids! It’s me Boppo, ready to have some fun?” Then affecting a ridiculous expression he laboriously climbed out of his tiny sedan, dropping his emptied bottles into the pristine gutter as he stood.

Sophie, adorned in jewels and a flowing, crisp-white sundress, greeted him at the door. “You must be Boppo,” she said curtly ushering him through the door, “follow me, the kids are in the back.” They passed through the wide open french doors decked with streamers and a banner exclaiming, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRESTON!” It opened to a sunwashed patio brimming with Tommy Bahama decorated adults and GAP adorned children. The patio led to a vibrant green lawn where a petting zoo and a bounce house had been set up. “You can set up there in the corner by the pool.”

“So where’s Preston?”

“He’s right over there. Preston!” she called.

A small toe-headed child turned to look. A plastic, silver spoon dropped from his mouth as his eyes widened fearfully. He began crying and ran into the house.

Sophie turned to Boppo in disgust, as if he’d drop-kicked her precious Preston. He shrugged.

“Why don’t you just get set up I’ll have my brother bring the other kids over.” She huffed then turned and briskly walked into the house.

No sooner than he’d dropped his duffel bag and started unpacking did children gather wide-eyed around him.

“Hey, Kids! It’s me Boppo!” He said, exuberantly opening his arms to them. “Who wants a balloon animal. I can make worms, snakes, and armless lizards.” He began pumping air into a balloon but let it go early, purposefully hitting himself in the face. This garnered a big laugh from the kids who were now dropping rabbits from the petting zoo and bouncing head-first from the bounce house to gather around him. There was even a chuckle from the crowd of adults keeping an acceptable distance.

As he pratfell and bounced through his routine the sweet sound of children’s laughter washed over him. Normally, this would assuage the stress of whatever happened outside of the costume, but it failed to wash away the sickening feeling the mornings argument had stuck in him. Beneficially, however, it forced him to try harder to find better ways of making a fool of himself.

Unfortunately the end of his act had come and it neither expunged his sister’s terrible scream from replaying in his head nor had it pulled Preston out of his childish fear.

“Where is the birthday boy I haven’t seen him all day!”

“He’s inside crying,” one boy gleefully explained.

“That’s too bad maybe a song will cheer him up, now sing loudly so he can hear,” Boppo began to sing:

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

“If you’re happy and you know it, and you really wanna show it, clap your hands.”

“No Preston?” He said as he exaggerated a searching affectation with his feet planted widely below him and his hand shading his eyes from the sun. The memory of how Sarah had cried for hours even after the clown had left his own 7th birthday pressed itself to the fore of his mind. A fresh wave of guilt washed over him remembering how his fondness for the clown had prevented him from knowing, let alone comforting, his sister’s distress. All this while the mornings argument played again and again in his head.

“One more time kids!

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

“If you’re happy and you know it, tell me how,” Richard unconsciously let slip.

“If you’re happy and you know it, I want you to show me.

“Tell me how.”

A few surprised looks specked the faces of the adult crowd, and another toe-headed boy matter-of-factly said, “That’s not how the song goes.”

Shit, Thought Richard. “Yell out why you’re happy kids, maybe that will cheer Preston up,” Boppo recovered. “How about you little boy? Yeah in the red striped polo.” He said pointing.

“I’m happy because I have a mommy and daddy who love me.”

A pair of adults wrapped their arms around each other’s waist, an invisible hand squeezed Richard’s heart.

“Uh, what about you little girl?” Boppo mechanically pointed to a golden haired girl in a pink dress.

“I’m happy because I love my brother and he loves me,” she said hugging the boy next to her.

“That’s great.” Bop mustered as Preston and his mother emerged from the house wiping tears from his cheeks. With renewed energy Boppo exclaimed, “we did it kids there he is: the man of the hour. What makes you happy, Preston.”

Preston sniffled, then with pride said, “I’m happy and I know it, ‘cause mommy said I can tell you to leave.”

“Oh.” Richard’s frown was strong enough to pull even Boppo’s painted-on smile down with it. He looked at the mother whose hands draped the little boys shoulders in a gesture comfort and transferred will. She met his pitiful gaze with a mother’s immutable pride.

“Why don’t you gather your things and meet me inside,” then turning to her child she said, “go play with your friends the scary clown is leaving now.”

Richard reluctantly gathered his things and met Sophie in the house.

“Kids, am I right?” He said jokingly.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, nothing. Listen, I’m sorry Preston was so scared, I had no way of knowing.”

“I didn’t expect you to.” She said maliciously as she snatched her wallet off a shelf. She wrote a check and handed it to him.

He stared at it for a second before saying, “what is this?”

“A check.” Her expression might as well have said, “idiot.”

“This isn’t even half of what I quoted you over the phone.”

“Well you made my kid cry, he didn’t even see your act.”

“Do you think what I do is some kind of joke?” He said waving the check held in his comically large gloves.

She stared at him blankly, “what’re you complaining about? You’re lucky I even paid you.”

“Do you think I’m some kind of fool?” His jester’s staff fell from his unzipped bag as he gesticulated.

“I’m the one who should be mad. You traumatized my Preston, who knows if he’ll ever recover? You’re lucky my husband isn’t here.”

Picking his staff from the floor and waved it furiously in the air, “fine, whatever, bitch, tell your husband I said ‘hi’ when he gets home from whatever’s more important than his kid’s own birthday.” He said slamming the front door behind him.

At the end of the driveway he put a cigarette between his lips. While searching for his lighter a man called out from behind him, “Boppo, Boppo. Hey you heading out?”

Richard quickly removed the cigarette and hid it in his palm as he turned to see a man in a silky, collared shirt with palm trees framing his protruding beer-gut and a kid attached to his arm walking briskly toward him. “Yeah, Boppo’s job is done here, off to make the next group of kids smile and laugh.”

The child stood silently in his vibrant blue polo and khakis as his dad explained, “My boy really loved your act, can I get your card his birthday is coming up in a couple weeks.”

“Of course,” he reached into the pocket of his duffel bag searched around affected a surprised look. “Oh no, it looks like I’m all out of cards,” he exaggerated his dismay, then looked down at the child, “what’s that behind your ear?”

The child looked around in surprise and frantically brushed his ears, “What, I don’t know.”

“Here let me get that for you.” He reached behind the child’s ear and presented his business card to the wide-eyed and elated child. “Give that to your dad so I can come to your party.”

The child held the card in both hands as if it was the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory.

His father said to Boppo, “thanks, man you were great,” then to his kid, “didn’t you have something you wanted to say to the clown, Jimmy.”

Jimmy raised his eyes just above the card and said almost in a whisper, “I wanna be just like you someday.”

His father laughed and said, “Kids say the darnedest things don’t they,” as he patted Boppo on the shoulder.

Boppo affected a laugh and said, “yeah, yeah they do.”

They waved goodbye as he crossed the street and got in his tiny sun-damaged sedan. He lit his cigarette, stalled then drove off.

He looked at himself in the rearview mirror, Boppo stared back. He talked as the cigarette bobbed between his lips, “Is this what you wanted? Is this what you dreamed it would be?”

“Shut up, Boppo. Don’t you start in on me now.”

“What did she pay us, let me see the check.”

Richard removed the check from his pocket.

“Ooph, ouch. What a bitcharooniedoonie,” Boppo observed.

“Yeah life probably just isn’t going her way and she has to take it out on whoever will let her get away with it.”

“You’re right about that, man.”

Richard took a long drag of his cigarette, “fuck.”

“Yeah that was brutal. What were you thinking when you let that ‘tell me how’ shit slip. That was a just us thing.”

“I don’t know, man. I guess that fight with Sarah was really getting to me. That was some good thinking asking the kids what makes them happy. Even though they kind of hit me where it hurts you really saved the act.”

“Yeah what the fuck was Sarah’s problem this morning?”

“She’s probably not happy with how her life turned out either. Ever since our parents died she’s been pulling further and further away from me. I just need to talk to her about it.”

“Yeah because that worked so well all the other times.”

“I mean a real conversation, no bullshitting around the bush.”

“Do you really think you can do that?”

“Yeah, well I’m pretty sure I can. I mean it’s like I’ve been hiding behind this mask from everyone, especially her, and all it really does is make everything worse.” Richard said to the mirror as he rounded the corner to his street and flicked his cigarette out the window.

He parked the car in the driveway and said, “whelp, I guess it’s showtime, Richard.”

He entered the house. The only sound was the door latching behind him as he made his way to the kitchen. When he passed through the doorway he noticed the jelly had been cleaned but there was a broken frame still on the ground. He looked up at the wall and notice his diploma had been taken from his frame and replaced with Sarah’s. Infuriated he stormed into the living room. No sign. Then he raged into the den. Not even a tumbleweed. Finally, with his temper boiling off his make-up he busted through Sarah’s door to find her crying.

“Get out!” she screamed.

Richards anger immediately disappeared and was replaced with overwhelming concern. “What’s wrong?”

“I said get out of here.”

“Sarah, come on I’m your big brother tell me what’s wrong?” He said removing the big red ball from his nose.

“Just shut up. You wouldn’t understand, everything goes your way. Just get out of here you fucking clown.”

“I just-“

“This isn’t a joke, get out!”

Defeated Richard left to his room. When inside he pulled out a half emptied bottle of Makers Mark and spit cleaned his tumbler with a dirty shirt from the hamper. He set them on his desk, sat down and began drinking. After the second glass he poured a third and left it as he got up to rummage through his closet. He parted the hanging t-shirts and clown pants, and tossed aside several props until he found an ornate box. He took it back to the desk and placed it between the bottle and the glass. He sipped his whiskey as he opened it. Reaching inside he pulled out a multicolored ribbon and continued to pull until all the colors of the rainbow presented themselves about 8 times. Finally reaching the last of the colors he pulled out an ornately carved pistol. “Goodbye, Boppo,” he said as he held the gun to his temple. He pulled the trigger.

BLAM, read the tiny flag.