‘CUZ “FREAK” IS SUCH AN UGLY WORD
Breathe in, breathe out. You are okay. You are safe. You are completely in control. You are positively crushing life.
Notice your body. Are you holding tension anywhere? If you are, well done. Clench your butt cheeks together like you’re trying to crack a walnut in your ass-crack. Squeeze your fists until they’re dark purple. Grind your teeth so hard that the veins in your forehead pop out a little. Doesn’t that feel nice? Bonus points if you black out.
Your thermostat is set to exactly 71 degrees. Your landlord Bob changed the air filter yesterday just like you asked him to. Your filtered glass of water has three ice cubes in it. The ice cubes are circular, not square. The circular-shaped ice is also filtered. Your straw is bendy, not straight. It is biodegradable. Probably.
Keep breathing. You’re doing great. Double-check that your Uber Eats order is still set to arrive at exactly 7:05 PM. Triple-check that you asked for extra wing sauce (on the side). Quadruple-check that you included a note that says “KETO BRO.” Dim the lights two-and-a-half ticks on your dimmer switch. Remind yourself that you have a three-day guys’ trip coming up and you already have every meal and outing scheduled for the group. Babes, brewery, brutalizing the back-nine. Your outfits for your trip are dry-cleaned—you even had the tailor take your sleeves out a little to accommodate those sweet, sweet gains. You already sent day-by-day packing lists to everyone on the invite. Your bros are lucky to have you.
Picture your friends showing up without their golf clubs and cleats. Hyperventilate a little. It’s good for circulation.
Now picture yourself walking through a field of wildflowers. The flowers are blue, which really brings out your eyes. The field is perfectly mowed. There is no trash anywhere in this field. There are no pets anywhere in this field. You walk, and walk, and walk, and never get any grass stains or dog shit on your shoes. Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” is playing on repeat—not too loud, not too soft. Just right.
Come back to the present. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you f—
Hang on a second, there’s a thread hanging off your shirt. No, it’s okay, I’ll get it. Where are your scissors? Wow, your drawers are immaculate. But where the hell are your scissors, dude? Six different boxes for paper clips, but no scissors? What is all this shit? Twelve colors of Post-its? Four flavors of gum? Eight metallic sharpies? Here, wait, I’ll just get it with my teeth. Well, I’m sorry, I can’t keep going until we take care of this—you look sloppy as hell.
Right, as I was saying—shit. I put a tiny hole in your shirt. Really sorry about that, buddy. But we got the thread, so, that’s something. I feel a lot better.
Let’s get back into it. Notice your color-coordinated bookshelf. Remember how that took you six hours on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon while your friends were at the beach, but it was totally worth it. Appreciate your vintage baseball card collection, organized by date and team, sitting dust-free in their hand-labeled Rubber Maid bins, despite the fact that these tiny little pieces of cardboard are not worth nearly as much as your grandpa hoped they would be. Collecting for collecting’s sake is still an accomplishment, and you own that.
Turn your attention towards—
I’m really sorry, I just can’t keep looking at that hole in your shirt. Do you have like, a tiny sewing kit I could borrow? I can stitch it up and then we can keep going. Throw some pajamas on while we wait. The modal pair. No, not the micromodal, the regular modal—the one with the monogram on it in four different places. Yeah, perfect.
Let’s wrap this up—Barstool vs. America starts in ten minutes.
Lie down in bed and picture yourself floating through space. You’re weightless, free, totally at ease. Now start making a mental grocery list for tomorrow, organized aisle-by-aisle according to the 47th Street Mariano’s. Don’t forget the Bubbly, at least four cases. And those teeny tiny hot dogs all your bros like so much.
Wait, what’s that smell? Is the family upstairs cooking something nasty again? Make a mental note to slide a vaguely-threatening anonymous message under their door later. No one cooks stinky food on your watch. You’re the boss.
Wings time!!!! Go crush some meat, bro. You deserve it.
Emily Holi is an author, short fiction/satire writer, mom of five, and grilled cheese connoisseur. She currently balances writing at her kitchen counter with making dozens of sandwiches for her awesome kids—four girls, and one very spoiled baby boy. You can find her on Twitter @ emilyholi13