Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Sunday, September 05, 2004
A Short Story
Shecky was unhappy. He'd been that way for a long, long time, but he'd just come to be aware of the full extent of his unhappiness the night of the disastrous party. Before then, he'd just assumed it was natural to be dissatisfied with one's lot in life and to never feel truly at ease at home, at work or anywhere in the world. He'd gone through his entire life without any sort of sustained joy. He'd hit age 28 without ever once lying back on the grass, turning his face to the sky and sighing contentedly.
The night of the party, his birthday party, for his girlfriend always invited her friends over for charades and fondue on his birthday, began like many birthdays in the past. He returned to the apartment after running all of Lanie's errands (picking up his cake, buying the wine, borrowing Mable's decorative fondue forks) to find Lanie hard at work slicing bread cubes and putting shrimp on skewers. Shecky was allergic to shrimp, but he had to admit it always smelled good.
After Lanie went through the checklist with him twice, satisfied only then that he'd completed all his assigned tasks, he went to clean the bathroom, which was not fit to receive company, as he'd accidentally broken a bottle of Old Spice the week before and hadn't yet managed to rid the room of the smell. As he headed off to begin cleaning, Lanie thrust a scrub brush into his hand and informed him that, if he didn't get the ring of scum from around the sides of the tub, he'd be eating his birthday cake on the curb. Shecky pictured the scum ring in his mind and laid himself odds that he'd be streetside come party time.
After ten minutes of scrubbing, Shecky found himself a bit woozy. Between the lingering Old Spice fumes and the Mr. Clean and the complete lack of ventilation, he was growing very dizzy. Nevertheless, he scrubbed away diligently, not wanting to disappoint Lanie. He'd been working on the same spot since he started and the scum ring hadn't faded noticeably. The bucket of Mr. Clean and water, however, had grown somewhat greyish, so he decided he'd better refresh it. He stood up to walk to the sink. Better expressed: he stood up too quickly to walk to the sink and, before he could take so much as a step out of the tub, the room began to spin and pitch. He tried to call out as he fell, but only got out a muffled, "Maarrgh" before his head hit the bathroom floor.
When Shecky awoke, he was very surprised to find himself not on a cold tile floor in need of sweeping. Instead, the surface below him felt and smelled very much like grass. Long, cool grass. He cautiously lifted his head and opened his eyes just a sliver. The tiny silver men who'd gathered around his ankles jumped back and regrouped about five feet from him, near a bright green bush dotted with purple berries. The whispered nervously to each other and gestured furtively in his direction. Shecky sat up and just as quickly fell back down. The little silver men retreated a few feet further.
Shecky decided not to sit up again. He called out, "Excuse me. Do you know what happened to my bathroom?"
The tallest of the little silver men approached Shecky slowly. He very gently said, "Blurg grathha ma wooden."
Shecky shook his head slightly. "Sorry, old man, I don't understand what you're saying."
The little man tried again. "Micken zoo prathta?"
Shecky did his best to interpret the little man's tone. He seemed friendly enough, if slightly paranoid. His head feeling a trifle less spinny, Shecky very slowly sat up, which caused the little man to jump back several paces. Shecky took a better look around and saw that there were practically a whole village-full of little silver people around him. Some of them appeared to be families, with several generations present. Others might have been city councilmen, if one were to judge by the way they interacted. Shecky raised his hand in a slow, friendly wave. He said, "I'm Shecky. Do you speak English?"
Upon which all of the silver people fell on Shecky and tore him apart with their razor sharp teeth. It was incredibly painful. The moral of the story is, always try to speak in the other person's language and never serve fondue at a birthday party.