wikihow article on How to Deal with an Existential Crisis

wikihow’s article on how to deal with an existential crisis

This is hilarious to me. Wikihow actually has an article on how to deal with an existential crisis:

http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-with-an-Existential-Crisis

What I love (besides the fact that this article exists) is that the solutions would only seem to make the person feel worse. If you’re upset because you realize that life has no meaning, they tell you to go make your own meaning. You’d think that would only illustrate how meaningless the exercise was. They also tell you to get involved in religion and generally find distractions or hobbies.

The condo elevator where magical conversations happen.

Everyone wants to party with the guy who has the bag of Tostitos.

“You almost missed your chance!” He said. The doors had nearly closed before he and the woman who lived below me stuck their hands out to make them open again. I shuffled in and pressed the number two.

“Yeah, thanks for holding the door.” I said, repositioning the grocery bag in my gloved hands. It’s a long story. I have fingerless gloves. It’s freezing out and I’m too lazy to go out and buy normal ones. So I have to keep sliding the gloves up to cover my fingers. The woman said hi.

“You buy beers? You got any liquor in that bag?” He asked, laughing.

“No.” I said, “I only got a frozen pizza and a bag of Tostitos.

“I can come over with some liquor.” He said. “I have scotch, and an old bottle of whisky.”

“Oh!” The woman said. We didn’t care. We were placating a weirdo at this point. “That sounds fun!”

“Yeah. I could come over. I know it’s a work night, so you won’t drink too much…”

“No.” I said, “I wouldn’t.” The three of us were quiet for a moment. “Is this all from the Tostitos?” I said. The woman laughed. He didn’t understand what I was saying. “Once I mentioned that I had Tostitos you seemed really excited to come over with booze.”

“It’s like a commercial!” He said, laughing. The doors opened. I walked out.

The next day I was at the elevator in my office building. I was going home for lunch and waited with two other people, one slumped over a cart of boxes. It was a man and a woman. The woman was older and complaining about her job. When the elevator opened I held the door for them and told them to hit the button for the main floor. As we rode down I saw that that boxes were labeled with ‘classy’ chocolates like Toblerone and Terry’s Chocolate Orange. “Holy crap.” I said, “I’m totally going to mug you.” They laughed.

“We have to throw this away.” The man said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it expired today.”

“Oh, so it’s bad.”

“No, it still good for months. But legally we have to get rid of it.”

“So… I can just have one?” I said. The man handed me a container with a chocolate orange. The woman said that they work down the hall, a company that sells candy. If I ever want something, just to stop in. The man handed me a whole crate of the oranges. The doors opened up. “See ya suckers.” I said as I scooted out the doors with my huge container of free candy. They laughed. I dropped the box in the passenger seat and thought, ‘I’m never going to eat this crap.’

Later that night I felt weird eating officially expired candy. So I had my kids try it. I showed them how to slam the tinfoil wrapped orb on the table before unwrapping it. They loved it.

The slippers that were purchased for me based on my nick-name "Flipper"

Finding meaning in the movie “Avatar” before drinking on New Years Eve

The two lazy-boys were at one end of the living room, the huge flat-screen was at the other. We sat with our drinks, waiting for her to show up so we could go to the bars. We watched a little bit of “The Expendables”, then flipped over to the “Twilight Zone”. It was the classic episode with William Shatner in the airplane and the badly dressed man in a gremlin suit pulling the wing apart out his window. I was feeling warm and tingly from the drink. The random television shows made me think of my mom, who would put anything on just to have it humming in the background. It’s why I continue to watch “In the Heat of the Night” from the’80s. He flipped the channel to “Avatar”. The screen lit up with neon blues, greens, and purple.

“I’ve never finished this movie.” He said.

“Oh, it’s alright. Kinda dumb. But the C.G. is crazy.”

“I don’t really get it. How does he leave his body to live in a fake world?”

“You should just watch it.” I said.

“Gah. I don’t have time for that.” He said, getting up to turn off the lights. “You should hear my surround sound.” He sat back down and held his remote a few inches away from his face. Confident, he pointed it at a black box on the floor with a blue light. The light began to rotate around, the bass becoming deeper. Soon anyone pronouncing a “P” or a “D” made the floor shake.

“Cool.” I said.

“This screen is 3D too.” He said.

“Like, glasses 3D?”

“Yeah. I just need to find a movie that is 3D and it’s nuts.”

“Avatar is a 3D movie.”

“Oh, this is on demand video- so, it won’t work. I’d have to get a blue-ray that’s 3D.”

“Oh.” I said. A floating tank-machine came into frame on the screen. “Oh, this is the action-porn part of the movie.” Then, I reflected on how lame a movie has to be where the ‘battle scene’ is just a bunch of ships shooting at a large tree. “You think the guy kills himself to be in the fake world?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s like the matrix, right?”

“No. See that blue guy right there? He’s actual flesh and blood, a living thing. But he doesn’t have a real brain. When the crippled guy gets the computer hooked up, he controls that flesh and blood thing.”

“Oh. So, it’s not like the matrix?”

“No.”

“When the guy transfers his brain to the blue guy at the end- he’s in the real world. This is an alien planet. So if that blue guy’s body dies- the crippled guy dies.”

“Most of my friends get headaches when they watch anything in 3D on here.”

There was a moment where we both watched the movie in silence. Then I asked, “Do you have something? Like ‘Pearl Harbor’ in 3D?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

“Why aren’t’ you wearing the slippers I bought?” He asked.

“Aren’t we leaving soon? When she gets here?”

“Yeah, but that could be another hour.” He said.

I got up and pulled the slippers out of the closet. They’re shaped like dolphins because of a joke I made once about how no one wants to have sex with me because I flap against them and make excited sounds like a porpoise. After that he, along with everyone else, started calling me “Flipper”. I never had a nickname before. So I was fine with it. They have padding on the bottom. So, walking across the kitchen floor and into the living room was like hopping through a moon-room. I sat in my lazy-boy. I sipped on my drink. Avatar hummed away on the huge screen, the floor vibrating with the sound of every CG machine that rolled onto the screen. I was happy there. I thought about afternoons with my mom and sister, watching “In the Heat of the Night.” I could of spent the rest of New Years eve that way.

“You know about these phones.” He said. “Why am I getting charged more on my data plan?”

“What app do you use the most?”

“iHeart radio. While at work.”

“You got WiFi there?”

“No.”

“That’s why.” I said. I heard the kitchen door open. She finally made it over. After some small talk, and a few drinks, the cab came.

A grocery store trip on Christmas Eve with Audrey and Margo

A grocery store visit on Christmas Eve

“Oh your daughters are so beautiful!” She said, turing around to face me.

“Thanks.” I said. This is where the uncomfortable conversation happens I thought.  Since she wasn’t turning back I figured I would have to take control of the situation. “Audrey,” I said, pulling her to me, “Tell her your name.” Audrey smiled, but didn’t answer. The old lady laughed. “Margo! Tell her your name.” I said. She wouldn’t do it.

“Your dad is funny isn’t he?” The old woman said. Leaning down a little and talking in the slow, sing-song voice that kids never seem to really enjoy. “How old are you?” They wouldn’t answer. Audrey was smiling and staring at the floor beyond her. I could tell by her expression that she was too embarrassed to talk, but wanted to see what I would do.

“Audrey.” I said, sounding like I was angry, “Tell her you’re nine.”

“You just said it.” Audrey said, laughing and burying her face in my jacket.

“Margo! Tell her you’re-”

“Seven!” Margo said. The old lady laughed. Commented on how happy my kids seem, and how I’m a good dad. She then mentioned that my wife must be sending me out on a grocery mission while she gets the house ready for Christmas Eve.

“Oh no. I’m divorced- this is a ‘single-guy’ trip to the grocery store… you can tell, because Margo is holding the toilet paper.”

I wasn’t sure if it was the toilet paper comment, or mentioning I was divorced. But the woman’s face dropped and she turned back around to face the check out counter.

Margo alone on winter break playing sudoku

Bored winter breaks

Kids, for the most part, stayed home during winter breaks back in the ’80s. Without parents. Eating tons of junk food that was considered actual food. Personally, I spent my days inviting friends over to eat endless supplies of Doritos and cans of Coke while playing on the Atari. Another way to entertain ourselves was to dig through all our parents stuff. Their closets, under their beds, the boxes under the basement stairs, and the attic. Digging through houses while parent’s were away is what led to us rediscovering old toys, clothes, books, creepy things like knives and, during one excavation in a friends attic, we stumbled across an entire box of porn. Hustlers. We didn’t understand why we were supposed to get excited about private parts that looked like the inside of a human ear, but we loved the stories people submitted.

In the summer we did ‘dumpster diving’. Because we were poor. Hopkins didn’t have a center for the arts back then. We actually sat inside the dumpsters at our complex to dig through warm trash bags and fight off bees. We found entire correspondences between two people in love, a phone shaped like a statue of Charlie Tuna (that worked), and a leather whip. An actual leather whip. I loved it because I could run around pretending that I was Indiana Jones. My parents thought it was hilarious. The whip was small and only served one purpose. They never took it away or told me about it until I was much older. If the original owner of that whip ever saw me running past their door, they must of been horrified.

My kids were bored. The photo you see above is Margo suffering in a room full of toys. She was alone for a little over two hours while Audrey was at swimming practice. I had to work for the three days I stayed home with them at the beginning of their break. So I let them have free reign of the tv, video games, and ‘healthy snacks’. And they couldn’t go for more than ten minutes without telling me how miserable they were. Begging me to take them somewhere. I guess I blame how kids are raised now- all the after school events they have to go to, rock climbing on the weekends, skiing, and monster dashes (themed-jogging). Those aren’t bad things. But it seems to have created a childhood where they feel dependent on their parents to keep them entertained.

But, knowing what I know, I don’t keep anything in my place that is worth digging around for. And maybe I’m not considering the new age we live in. What used to be the excitement of digging through stuff to learn more about your parents has probably evolved into their learning my computer password and snooping around while I sleep at night.