Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Internet.
I am Sam Julian, artist and cantankerous co-editor of the blog Reasonably Ludicrous. First of all, let me thank you for your support of our fledgling blog these past few weeks. It is a great privilege to address you now, this time with words. I post today with very important news, so important that it had to be posted on a Thursday.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a man. That’s not the news. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a man who lives in perpetual fear, fear of a man that I will never meet. I cannot see him; I cannot feel him, but I can perceive him. He exists in a timeline parallel to my own, mirroring my every step, my every movement…
Until that crucial moment, when I’m not quite paying attention, when I think that for once, things are going my way. That’s when he changes things up.
Every time I make a mistake, every time I let a ball slip through my fingers or trip over the finish line or whatever sports-based faux pas you want to apply,
Every time I miss the apple, my parallel universe self (Let’s call him Hyper-Sam for brevity’s sake) takes a big, juicy, delicious bite of out of it. Hyper-Sam doesn’t balk in surprise when a situation-Hydra rears its hundred heads of branching possibility. Ever confident, he weaves his way forward silky smooth and cuts them all off in an incredible combo chain attack, turning misfortune into opportunity and opportunity into unadulterated win. If life gives him lemons, he will pulp the lemons in a juicer he won froma ring toss at the county fair, and offer it to his guests sweetened with Agave Syrup and Pimm’s. Hyper-Sam is charming and quick-witted, sensitive but never vulnerable. He is eloquent but efficient in his speech, reserved and knowing, but never pretentious. And even though he always knows precisely what he means to say, it doesn’t matter, because his winning smile says enough.
See, I am none of those things. When someone asks me a direct question it takes a moment for me to register that the person is actually speaking to me, and that the phrase out of their mouth was an interrogative, so by the time I sayanything it’s well past the point of spontanaeity, let alone wit. At parties and clubs I have to shout to feel like I’m being heard, and as soon as more than two people start listening to me, I get so self-conscious I derail my fossil-fuel powered train of thought. God forbid someone be anything less that friendly to me, because I will bluster defensively before my brain even registers they were making a joke. And should anyone of the female persuasion engage me in conversation and seem actually interested in what I have to say, I become highly suspicious.
Needless to say, Hyper-Sam excels at all the social situations I’ve grown accustomed to witnessing devolve into massive fiascos of monstrously cruel insignificance. And as I sit in the corner, watching Stacie dance with Yosef, in my mind’s eye I see Hyper-Sam pulling Hyper-Stacie ever so slightly in towards his crisp and not-at-all-wine-covered collaredshirt. Hyper-Yosef stands next to me, muttering resentments into his Dixie Cup of Jungle Juice and humiliation.
The other day I was talking on the phone to a very friendly, very tragic government worker who was so happy to have someone call him back that I couldn’t possibly deny him a quick twenty-minute survey, but because he was out buying organic groceries, he said he’d call me back when he got to his office. Thirty minutes later I have to get to work, and naturally Dan Fillin (not a pseudonym) calls me just as I’m getting into the car. I answer and don’t think anything of it as I drive along my easy, suburban commute. I was feeling pretty good about myself, totally making this guy’s day. He was just so happy to speak to someone, and I rediscovered the joys of talking about myself without fear of Judgment. I had fun answering the questions, and we joked about his computer that still ran a MS-DOS program that didn’t have a mouse. Then, just as the program was rebooting after the first crash, I heard the quick clip of a police siren and dropped the phone in angry realization.
The Gentleman Police Officer didn’t even have the courtesy to run the siren for a full wail. He sidled up to my pulled-over car.
“License and registration, please.”
“Here you go. This isn’t my car; I’m borrowing it from a friend.”
“Okay, and the friend?”
I told him, and he began scribbling on his pad. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I thought I’d bring up the elephant in the room.
“Is this because I was talking on my cell phone?”
After that I pretty much sat quietly while he input things into his laptop or whatever they use on motorcycles and wrote me up a ticket. I didn’t know what else to say. And staring at my ticket, I knew that Hyper-Sam would never have gone down like this. It would have gone something more like:
Hyper-Sam avoided the ticket and got a great story to tell Dan Fillin when he called back. Me, I pretended to still be enjoying his terrible, terrible 40-minute survey.
Now you might say, “but Sam, if this were true, Hyper-Sam wouldn’t even have been in this situation in the first place. Hyper-Sam would have a Bluetoothheadset that he bought at a reasonable price online, and what is he doing borrowing someone else’s car? Hyper-Sam owns a Tesla.” You might say that this is a sloppy metaphor and that it falls apart upon further investigation. That Hyper-Sam is merely a figment of my overly-neurotic, self-flagellating brain.
But no. It’s far worse than that. The reality is that there are actually an infinite number of Hyper-Sams, spawning off of me at every causal juncture. A new one is created every moment, and he goes off to live a life of self-actualization and purpose while I watch him fade off into the extra-dimensional horizon.
The other day I was moving out of my old office. As I left, the cute secretary, the one with the straight dark hair, the one who always smiles with a knowing twinkle, who always seems to want me to talk to her but I never do because what would I have to say to her anyway, asks, “Hows it going?”
“Good,” I say, blushing. “Heading out.”
And as I walk past her I realize that I should turn around and talk to her because I have nothing to lose. I’m leaving the building now, forever. I could be telling her about my awesome, cool-sounding job at a start-up and our fancy new pad that’s just like in The Social Network. I could ask her out to dinner and even if she said no I’d never have to see her again. I could even tell her she was beautiful, and she might even be flattered. I could do anything. I realized I could always do anything, but I just keep getting in the way of myself. Life was about experiences, not obstacles. This was the dawning of a new era, a day when Hyper-Sam and Sam would merge and become one.
But I just walked out the doors without saying anything.