I’ve been lying to myself. I’ve been saying I don’t feel like writing. I’ve been telling myself I’m just not in the mood to write. Those are lies. Perhaps they’re not intentional untruths, but they are at best misleading. You see, I’ve been afraid to write because of what I might say. I’ve been afraid I might reveal aspects of myself I don’t want to share with the world. I don’t want the world (that is, both of you who read this regularly) to know that I’m simply a knot of rage, a two-dimensional image of anger that lacks substance. Every time I listen to the news or watch television or read a newspaper, I face screaming voices or exaggerated headlines telling me the vile sickness that ruined countless countries via colonization has come to the USA. I witness evidence at every turn that radical Christianity has sucked the decency out of churches and replaced it with manifest deviance. I see signs that courthouses and police stations and tax offices have been invaded by alien beings whose sole purpose is to cause anguish and unceasing grief among people who don’t share the driving principle that self-satisfaction and obscene wealth are the only valid life goals. I’ve not been writing because fiction cannot possibly outpace the outlandish realities surrounding us today. Who could have imagined a constantly-masturbating ape in the White House? Who could have pictured crowds howling their approval at public servants who strip the crowds of their money, their clothes, their jobs, and their homes? I feel like I’m living in a poorly-cast movie whose plot was created by rabid skunks under treatment for reverse coulrophobia. I expect at any moment to see promotional materials advertising zebra hunts in Hot Springs Village, weapons and field-dressing included. Soon, we’ll have a circus in which the elephants will ride bicycles and then, when their acts are complete, members of the crowd will taunt the animals like matadors, killing the pachyderms with razor-sharp spears thrust into their guts. It won’t be long before evangelicals in Congress introduce legislation declaring open season on atheists, agnostics, Muslims, and Jews. Public floggings will become commonplace as couples who dare kiss one another in public are punished for their grievous injuries to the public conscience. Neutering pets will be illegal, once People for the Ethical Treatment of Christian Animals assert without dispute that the Bible says spaying and neutering are sins against the one true God. People will build arks in anticipation of the great flood; when no great flood takes place, they will empty water towers into the streets, saying they were instructed by God to do so; they will say Noah did the same, as stated plainly in the Bible. Country club membership will be mandatory. Anyone whose blood runs red will be deemed a communist and will be burned on public squares, causing widespread fear of knives and thorns. Candles will inexplicably become treasures valued more highly than children. The question to newlyweds will no longer be “do you have children yet?” Instead, the question will be “how many candles do you have?” Robert Jeffress, the Secretary of Human Indecency, will mandate tithing for all adults, defined as humans over the age of eight. When caught on camera having sex with a six-year-old chihuahua, Jeffress will demand that all men over the age of forty must do the same, saying “I do only what God tells me to do, and he tells me now to require you to do the same.”
Okay. All of this stuff is made up. In truth, I’ve been outside counting all the leaves on all the trees in all the world. Both on trees and on the ground. That’s a bunch of leaves. And if you want to talk about a really big number, count all those leaves and then calculate the factorial of that number. It’s almost too big to imagine. Sort of like all the butter in the world, all in one place at one time. Can you imagine how big a stick of butter that would be? And the rest of the world would be butterless. How depressing would that be? Try imagining the butter thing with anything else. Dogs. Cats. Oatmeal. Just imagine. All the dogs in the world in one place. All the cats in the wold in one place. All the oatmeal in the world in one place. Try that with all the objects you can think of. Sheets of paper. Pennies. Goats. Telephone books. Spark plugs. I could go on and on. If I did, though, I’d lose my mind. And so would you. In fact, I think you may have lost it already. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “what about all the fingernail clippers in the world, all in the same place at the same time?” See? I know. It’s hypothetically addictive. The realities of the world today make such mindlessness quite attractive. “What if bubbles, the kind kids like to create with soapy water, were filled with random answers to questions humankind has faced for millenia?” Now, you’re going to want to follow those bubbles and get inside them before they burst, aren’t you? You’re going to seek those bubbles out with a passion unseen since the beginning of time. And you won’t be satisfied until you’ve gotten inside every bubble created by every kid on earth. That will keep you busy. That will keep your mind off the madness in national capitols the world over. And you’ll lose weight because you won’t eat, favoring the pursuit of bubbles over food. Of course, you’ll die of thirst while you’re chasing bubbles, but you won’t notice. You’ll be too busy clawing at nearly invisible floating globes to notice your skin becoming brittle and your eyes bulging from their sockets. Wait, this could become uncomfortably macabre. I think I’ll stop right here.