A Post-Apocalyptic Work in Progress: Chapter Two

A Post-Apocalyptic Work in Progress: Chapter Two

By Christian Pfeiffer, Editor-in-Chief uploaded at 10:33 a.m. on Friday, March 23, 2018.

I’m so fucking sick of Susan. I know grief makes us do weird things and she just wants someone to talk to and she’s being human but I’m so sick of her fake, needy shit. I know she doesn’t actually care about me when she asks how I am. Don’t get me wrong, she’ll smile and sound pleasant enough, yeah? But it’s that suburban Splenda shit that you know she doesn’t actually mean. Not to mention she doesn’t even really listen to you when you answer.

“Oh, hi!” she’ll start, pretending she just now saw you heading up the road even though her nosy ass actually spotted you from two blocks away. Then, when you respond—and she’s waddled far enough to bridge the gap between you—she’ll lean in closer and lower the pitch of her voice just the right amount to sound genuinely interested before asking “How’re you doing?”_

Then it really doesn’t matter what you say. It really doesn’t.

But, for the sake of example, ahem:

“How’re you doing?”

“Well, y’know Susan, I’m actually not doing so hot right now. Cool Steve somehow managed to get stuck inside the deep freezer and from what I can tell, it looks like he choked to death eating the piece of wedding cake Max and I brought all the way back from our ceremony in Hawaii. At least, I can only hope he choked on it before succumbing to a slow death from hypothermia, but I don’t think I’ll ever actually know for sure. But that’s life. When stuff like that happens, sometimes the only thing you can do is move on and just be thankful that the excrement your best friend’s corpse expelled all over the inside of your Kenmore didn’t hit all your rations for the month.”

“Oh, that’s so good to hear, dogs truly are a gift from God…. Well, I just got Richard’s death certificate in the mail today. Really makes it all feel real, y’know? Oh, and they misspelled “Kaminsky,” can you believe it? I know the country’s still reeling from the Incident, but really? I’ll bet it was that new girl down there; those millennials don’t know their gender from a hole in the ground.. Oh, and speaking of holes in the ground! Say, I don’t suppose you’d maybe be willing to take down your lawn flamingos? …Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved them, it’s just, their legs remind me of, well, you know… those things.

“Yeah, mm-hmm, cuz you didn’t bitch about them to anyone who would listen for months before the invasion, you lying, transphobic, self-centered hag.”

“Oh, bless you. Thanks for understanding, Kyle. Oh, and Cool Steve’s been scaring my squirrels away, do you think you could keep him inside more?”

“Fuck you!”

“Oh, fantastic. Have a lovely day!”

Okay, so I’m exaggerating and Cool Steve is alive and well, but I’m sick of her shit and she can calm the fuck down because ALL of us are hurting right now. And, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, there’s something definitively sadder about losing someone with their WHOLE LIFE ahead of them than there is about losing an 84 year-old putz with type 2 diabetes and stage 3 liver cancer and wow, I’m going to Hell. But in my defense, it won’t be for a lack of HONESTY.

Now Max on the other hand? I loved him more than anything in the world. Even his glaring weaknesses intoxicated me.

“Hey, babe, I’m on the phone with my grandma and Cool Steve is getting into the trash. Can you take it out quick?”

“Batman doesn’t have to take out the trash!”

And BAM! It would be like I was falling in love all over again.

And that’s when he acted like an overgrown man-child. Can you imagine the first time I saw him performing on stage? Speaking fluent Spanish with the parents of one of his students? Filling out his own taxes? Making tikka masala? It was a really strange play. But unfff.

The only way I can make sense of how great this man was is to pretend he was one of God’s angels granted leave for a few decades. And I like this theory for two reasons. One: dat ass was from outta this world, so it just makes sense. Two: it means I can dream about the day he comes back from active duty because he’s not dead, he’s just… away for a little while.

I actually daydream about this one scenario a fair bit. So, knowing his love for drama, he’d try to make his return home like one of those videos of soldiers coming back from Afghanistan to surprise their families. Except knowing my luck, the camera would catch me NOT at a t-ball game with my loving, well-groomed family, but rather, standing outside on Susan’s lawn, urging Cool Steve to shit next to her bird bath while my pink bathrobe fluttered in the breeze and exposed my thighs.

But Max’s Uber could pull RIGHT up to that shitshow and he wouldn’t run because what we had was REAL. I pretended he helped around the house and he pretended I was actually a novelist working on a novel. I’m told relationship counselors call this “give-and-take,” and we were THRIVING.

...Until all of a sudden we weren’t.

Y’know, if you will indulge me, there’s a sort of sadness to an empty river that can’t be explained away by the factors that contributed to it, something inexplicably melancholic for a thing of such beauty to come to an end that may very well be natural, but will always feel premature to those who depend upon it.

This was our marriage, and our contributing factors were Max’s midlife crisis, caused by a lack of time and money. In other words, our funds got tighter and I did not. (Pardon the gay joke, but if a quip about anal sex is gonna bother you more than the fact that ACTUAL ALIENS EXIST and THEY’RE ACTUALLY HUMANS who ARE ACTUALLY WILLING TO MASS MURDER ALL THE MEN ON THE PLANET, then I think you’ve been conditioned, friend. But I digress.)

But yeah, as far as I know, that was the gist of it. I would hope there were more contributing factors than that, but Max never talked about it, and I never asked. I was too in love with him to let him go, so I did all I could do: I prayed nightly to Anyone who would listen.

Actually, in hindsight, I probably sounded like one of those pray-the-gay-away pastors and it’s a good thing no one ever heard me at the side of my bed.

“Dear God, please help Max come to his senses. Please let this just be a phase he’ll grow out of. Please don’t let him be out there sucking another man’s dick.” It would have shocked the world. The first morally upright homosexual, can you believe it!?! But I’m getting sidetracked.

Anyway—similar to the efforts of those pray-the-gay-away pastors—all my best, fervent praying was for nothing. All I got from my brief exploration of religion was the unshakeable knowledge that sexism is a fucking crock because after dealing with Max at this point in his life, I can never be convinced that a woman on her period will ever, EVER, be on par with the irrationality of a man going through his midlife crisis. EVER.

Oh, and Susan is still a bitch.

That’s the takeaway from this chapter. My relationship was on the rocks: the same blunt objects I would’ve use if I’d ever come across Susan in a dark, secluded alleyway at 4 o’clock in the morning.