I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality”, or my writing over at Medium. You can also donate to my PayPal or support my work at Patreon, where you’ll get access to patron only content and new content early, all for as cheap as a buck a month! Thanks for reading!
WHEREwolf? More like WHYwolf? Why ANYTHING, honestly? Life is so vague.
How did we, as a species, arbitrarily come to agreement that breakfast consisted of eggs.
It’s amazing that we as a species could ever agree on anything, even something so insignificantly meaningless as breakfast, but somehow it just became a common, unspoken agreement. Eggs are breakfast food. We can’t even agree on big things like world peace or simply not murdering one another because someone parked funny. I was thinking about this while making eggs this morning, which is a rare feat for me as I never eat breakfast or use the stove. But standing there, staring down at these eggs hissing in the skillet, it just sort of dawned on me that we unanimously found eggs acceptable as the true breakfast food. That’s right. Breakfast gave me an existential crisis.
Across the world, there’s a million differing opinions ending in harassment, murder, pain, suffering, oppression and yet somehow, we all agree that breakfast consists of certain foods. If only we could apply that same sort of agreement to literally anything that matters. If only simple arguments or disagreements in relationships, places of work or family matters could be boiled down to the universal law we’ve assigned to breakfast food. My parents had me, despite my father being a raging alcoholic at the time and on and off of drugs, all while senselessly beating my mother. He eventually told me he’d come see me, and always left me alone on the weekends, either not showing up at all, or taking me to his place and then passing out for hours. My mother was addicted to pain medication at times, drank a bit and told me that there was something wrong with me, that I should just “try harder” to fit in, and at one point told me I should probably just kill myself already.
This is how my parents treated me. These people were my parents. People who’re supposed to love and protect the children they knowingly have of their own volition, and yet this is how they treated me. We can’t abide by the simple universal truth that parents should just unconditionally love their children, no matter who they end up being, even if they disagree with the life choices their children make.
Yet we can all agree that eggs are a breakfast food.
But I suppose the world can’t be that simple, can it. It has to be complex, otherwise it’d be devoid of meaning. Foreign policy and marital problems can’t be solved by something as simple as hashbrowns. But wouldn’t it be nice if it could be? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all just took a step back, realized we all, at one point or another in time, accepted that eggs are a breakfast food and go, “Hey…we all agreed on this. We can get along.” They say peace is impossible. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it is hard. Yet, we’ve shown time and time again that we do have the capacity to get along, to agree on things, to follow a certain line of thinking where we’re all okay with the outcome. If only it could be applied to everything really important.
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I’m starting to think it might be a lot more important than that.
Happiness, stability, normality; these will all one day become expensive commodities that only the rich can purchase and have access too. The rest of us will stand outside the store window, gazing in longingly at the new happiness that we can’t afford. At the shiny new stability that we will never attain. The rich, they will purchase these without much thought, only because it’s the new model that their friends have, and just as quickly toss those out for the new upgrades. We might be able to buy some at half price or lower in second hand stores, but it won’t be the same. They’ll be used. We’ll know the difference.
We’ll watch the ads. Those fast paced ads with the new hit pop single and the dozen of smiling faces of people our age trying to sell us something we can’t afford, trying to force us deeper into emotional debt. Some of us may be lucky enough to know someone who could afford the new happiness, and maybe they’ll let us play around with it for a day or so, but that’ll be it. It won’t be a long lasting experience. We’ll be jealous, and start talking down about happiness, about stability, about how the knockoffs we have are the better alternative. About how the people who own happiness and stability and normality are self entitled, narcissistic, pretentious elitists who’re ruining the economy, who’re pushing more and more people into poverty and depression and that they don’t deserve what they have.
They say money can’t buy happiness.
Not yet it can’t.
But it won’t be long.
The night of Sandys first recital, Derek was nowhere to be seen. She was nervous, she couldn’t stop chewing on her bottom lip. As she stood backstage and watched these little girls she’d been training for weeks get ready in their tutus and stockings, pulling their hair up into tiny buns one by one, she just knew this had to go right. She needed this to go right. Her fingers tangled in one little girls hair, she had zoned out, and had stopped tying a bun and instead just been petting her for minutes now. The girls voice finally broke through the haze and awakened her.
“Miss Price?” she asked, and Sandy snapped back to reality, realizing she only had scant moments left before they went on.
“Oh god,” Sandy said, stating to actually put the girls hair up now, “I’m sorry, I got distracted.”
“Just remembering the first time I danced,” Sandy said. A few seconds went by and the girl reached up and touched her face.
“You’re not smiling,” she said.
“People usually smile when they remember things that should be good. Dancing should be good, and the memory should be good, but you’re not smiling. Was it not good?” she asked, and Sandy was impressed. Sometimes kids were really smart.
“It was fun, actually,” Sandy said, “I got to wear a pretty outfit and those little tap shoes, and I was so excited. I went on stage and had the best time, and afterwards, I learned my mother hadn’t even been there to see me. She’d gotten held up at work. I stood outside in the rain waiting for her to pick me up, but she was stuck in traffic, and this was back before every kid had cell phones so she couldn’t call me. When she finally got me, she apologized so much, and she took me to get fast food for dinner. I had caught a cold waiting outside.”
“You couldn’t wait inside?”
“They closed the studio down. Everyone assumed all the kids left with their parents. Nobody bothered to check,” Sandy said as she finished the girls hair, “There you go, Maisy, that looks pretty.”
A few seconds later, the announcers voice rang out through a microphone, and Sandy took Maisy by the hand, led her to the other girls and they got into formation. As she headed to the back of the auditorium to watch, she found Derek leaning in the back against the wall, arms crossed. She sidled up right next to him, wringing her wrists nervously. Derek glanced at her and took her face in his hands. He pulled a corner of his shirt up to her face and wiped the blood away.
“You’ve been chewing on your lip again,” he said, and Sandy blushed.
“It’s such a bad nervous habit,” she said softly, “I’m going to ruin my lip if I keep doing this.”
“Nothing can ruin your lips,” Derek said, as he leaned in and kissed her quickly, “You look great. When does the show actually start?”
“A few moments,” Sandy said, pushing hair back behind her ear, “God I really hope this goes well. I worked so hard on this, trying to make it perfect.”
“Nothing can be perfect.”
“I’m aware. Doesn’t change a perfectionists problem when it comes to their work,” Sandy said under her breath, “Haven’t you ever worked on something that you wanted to come out just right, only to have it come out entirely wrong and make you miserable?”
“Yes, it’s called my entire life,” Derek said.
“Shut the fuck up, you know what I’m talking about. This is important to me. Didn’t you ever have anything important to you?”
“I guess, maybe when I was in school. I was a pretty good student, but it didn’t carry over to anything outside of the academic field,” Derek said, “I guess I just sort of gave up on anything being perfect after that. But in school? Oh man, I made sure everything I typed up was perfectly formatted, spelled correctly, you name it. I was the teachers pet.”
“I was, and I’m not ashamed of admitting it.”
“So what changed?”
Derek shrugged, “I don’t know, I guess I just realized life isn’t as simple as turning in a perfectly formatted, grammatically superior paper. Perfection doesn’t come at the end of an assignment in the ‘real world’, as the ‘realists’ like to say.”
“The people who ‘keep it real’.”
“The people who keep it real never want it kept real for them,” Sandy said.
“You got that right. Anyway, once that realization was solidified in my brain, I knew that it was pointless to try and achieve perfection from something as messy as reality. School doesn’t prepare you for the real world. If anything, it does the opposite. School tries to teach you that hard work pays off, and you’ll be greatly rewarded. That’s not true. You can be the hardest working employee and still have the lowest level job. Probably why so many perfect students falter so fast once they’re out of school. They don’t know what to do without someone telling them how to do it. A teacher gives you instructions. Nobody’s giving you instructions outside that school.”
“God you make me depressed.”
“That’s what I’m here for.”
The lights dimmed, and across the theater, the bright lights of video cameras and cell phones blinked on as parents prepared to capture their childs performance. Derek shook his head and nodded at everyone.
“See, this is another example. Nobody is content with just experiencing it. They need to record it.”
“They want to have something to remember it by, dude. It’s their kids, you can’t bemoan parents making memorabilia of childhood. What if your mom threw out everything you drew in kindergarten?” Sandy asked.
“I’d probably be thankful. I’ve gotten a lot better since then. I don’t need some crappy evidence of how bad I used to be dragging me down.”
Sandy laughed and started biting her lip again.
“I’m just saying…people don’t know how to do anything without being told what to do. It’s like the old saying of ‘well, nobody invented a handbook for being a parent’, because it’s true. That’s why some parents think they’re doing the right thing, even when they’re being clearly abusive. Everyone thinks that what they’re doing is right because there’s no upper level person around to tell them they’re wrong, to give them an ‘F’ and tell them to try harder next semester.”
Derek looked down at Sandy, who was looking at her tap shoes, and not up at the stage. He sat down on the floor with her and touched her shoulder.
“I can’t even argue with you, because you’re right. Just backstage, I told this girl a story about how my mother didn’t come to my own recital and then tried to make up for it with fast food. Instant gratification, because we know that’s how a childs brain works. I know she thought that what she was doing was the right thing, and I know that she didn’t mean to miss my performance, but it still stung and oversalted french fries isn’t going to fix that.”
“…so I’m right?”
“In a sense. There’s no guide for anything. There’s no such thing as perfection. We’re all just sort of flying by the seat of our pants, even the ones who seem qualified,” Sandy said, taking her shoes off and rubbing her feet, “I guess I just would rather believe in a world that’s run well, always on schedule, and disgustingly perfect. I don’t want to think that everyone on earth has no idea what they’re doing and we’re just floating on a ball of dirt in the middle of buttfuck nowhere in space with no help whatsoever.”
“Well nobody said you had to listen to me. You can still believe that.”
“It’s stupid to live in a fantasy.”
“Not when that fantasy helps you cope,” Derek said, and Sandy looked at him.
“Isn’t that unhealthy?”
“You bite your lip because you’re nervous and it helps calm you down. It’s the same as that. Anything that helps get you through day to day life is good if it keeps you going. So if you need to believe the world is well run and we’re all doing what we’re supposed to be doing, then believe it, because frankly, the alternative is terrifying.”
Sandy smiled and leaned her head on Dereks shoulder.
“They seem to know what they’re doing,” he said, motioning to the girls on stage.
“It’s because I told them what to do.”
“Exactly. Order. You brought some control to an otherwise uncontrollable universe. That’s something to be proud of.”
“…we should probably never have kids,” Sandy said, “We wouldn’t be good parents and the world’s overpopulated enough as it is.”
“I agree. Having kids is a really bad habit.”