Some days there just isn’t anything to do. You wake up alone. You put on a pot of coffee. You check your social media accounts and possibly take a shower. If you’re normal, you probably eat breakfast. If you’re human, you probably take an antidepressant or a few hits of weed. And If you have a dick, you might jerk off at some point. Maybe you text a friend, but your friend is busy. All of your friends are busy because they all have jobs and/or lovers. Everyone seems to be doing something they need to be doing, but you don’t know what you need to be doing. The world keeps spinning, and so does your head.
At noon today, I drove to the Phillipsburg Mall to find something worth thinking about. The mall always reminds me that everything good is temporary. All of the best stores are gone: the bookstore, the CD store, the movie store, the pet store. Even Spencer’s and Hot Topic are gone. No matter how much time I spend people-watching at that mall, I can never seem to figure out what anyone is doing there. Most of the visitors just seem to aimlessly wander around in a robotic or zombie-like fashion –– and I avoid making eye contact or asking any of these people how they are doing. A large fraction of my spirit melts away whenever I hear someone answer the how-are-you-doing question with an evidently reluctant “Good, how are you?”
While sitting on a bench at the mall, it became really clear to me that nobody really lives in the present. Everyone is chasing something or running from something. Everyone wishes to be somewhere else. Sometimes our hearts get left in the past. Sometimes our minds are glued to the future. Dinner conversations seem forced, not genuine. Our iPhones are always out, even though we ignore most text messages anyway. We fake smiles and laughter. We go to the mall and waste money to pretend we’re doing something important.
An old man sat right next to me, even though there were 2 or 3 empty benches right by mine. I got up and walked away, eventually ending up in H&M. A morbidly obese woman who worked there asked if she could “help me.” I fought the urge to tell her that no one can help me because I’m dead inside. I stared at some sunglasses. I stared at some T-shirts. Then I took out my iPhone and stared at that. I sent my friend, Alex, a Facebook message and asked what he was doing later. He read the message but didn’t respond. Busy. Everyone is always busy.
When I walked back to the bench, the old man was gone, so I sat back down. A male-and-female couple walked by me, blank-faced and holding hands. I watched them walking, feeling a little creepy. The female snatched her hand away and said something about his hand being sweaty. The guy didn’t say anything. I wondered if they were in love.
(Probably not. I don’t think people get grossed out by each other’s sweat if they are in love. Or at least I don’t. If I’m in love with you, I’m in love with all of you – even your sweat. I don’t give a fuck. I’ll make a smoothie out of your sweat and saliva and drink it for breakfast. What’re you gonna do ‘bout it?)
Another person who walked by me: a dude with extraordinarily large muscles. He looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. No –– he looked like a titan who secretly slayed actual dragons in his spare time. For some reason, he was wearing a a shirt that appeared to be 200,000 sizes too small. It had the Pringles logo on the back of it, which made me crave Pringles. I got it up and started following him with my phone out because I decided it would be really funny to make this guy part of my Snapchat story. I wanted to secretly record a video of him walking and label him as “The Pringles Beast.” Then my phone died. I felt alienated and stopped following him.
Just as I was about to get back to my car, I heard someone behind me: “Yo! Brandon!”
I turned around and didn’t even know who I was looking at, but I pretended to recognize the guy anyway. Gave him a reluctant wave as he walked toward me with a shit-eating grin.
“I haven’t seen you in MAD long,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.
Then I realized who he was: Tim from high school –– the guy who always puts the word “mad” before random adjectives in his sentences. He was the reason I dropped out of high school in the first place –– well, not just him, but people like him. People without real personalities drive me insane. (If you ever hear me start calling things “mad” for lack of anything else to say, please stop being my friend and make sure I die a lonely death.)
“What you up to nowadays?” he asked.
“Still just doing warehouse stuff,” I lied.
“Ah, shit, that’s cool. You can make MAD money from that.”
MAD. MAD. MAD. MAD.
I felt like getting in my car and running him over. But yeah –– I didn’t feel like going to jail. So I just told him I had to leave and lied and said it was “good to see him.” I drove home. Fed my cat. Plugged in my phone. Turned on my MacBook. Checked my bank balance: $0.43. Put on an old Sum 41 album to feed my nostalgia.
Some days there just isn’t anything to do. You wake up alone. You go to the mall. The people at the mall make you feel more alone. You go home. You force yourself to write, but then abruptly end your column out of nowhere because you’re in the mood to take a nap. No –– you’re in the mood to watch porn.
Final thought: I want to perform cunnilingus while skydiving without a parachute.
B. Diehl co-authored of the poetry chapbook Temporary Obscurity (Indigent Press, 2015) with Charles Joseph. He is also the sole writer of the full-length poetry collection Zeller’s Alley (White Gorilla Press, 2016). When he is not writing, you can usually find him at home, hanging out with his cats and/or feeding his social media addiction. He still lives with his parents.
You can find him on the web at www.mynameisb.net.