Saturday, 22 September 2018

I Believe I Can "Fly"

As the ape-like titan obliviously lumbered towards Dog Turd Mountain, a cloud of flies rose warily into the air to avoid being crushed under his heel.

Buzzy soared higher than anyone; the glint of triumph amplified in his mirrored eyes until it shone like a blinding sunburst to all the other inhabitants of Dog Turd Mountain.

"I love the smell of shit in the morning!" cried Buzzy, as he darted joyfully through the airborne traffic... but not everyone shared his high spirits. Cranky and irritable and late for work; the flies he bumped into were less than amused.

"Ow!" a young fly yelped.

"Watch it" yelled another.

"Watch where you're going, asshole!" growled a third, menacingly.

"Where's the fire?" screamed a passing moth, who seemed lost and confused and may have genuinely been asking for directions.

But Buzzy didn't care... he knew they'd have been a lot more respectful if they'd known who he was.

His was a classic rags to riches story; from humble beginnings in a stagnant pond he'd had to share with millions of other creatures, to his own feeding spot on a dog turd to which he'd managed to be the first in line. As the adventurous explorer who'd discovered that plentiful bounty, he was entitled to the best feeding spots; the respect of all the other inhabitants of their small community; and his pick of any of the female flies who'd reached sexual maturity. Sure, he had loftier ambitions than spending his whole life crawling on a dog turd, but that didn't mean he shouldn't enjoy what perks he had for now; he'd certainly had to work hard for them...

And just like that; his wistfulness took him back days to his early childhood, now much less bitter in his eyes as he peered at it through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia; from his disastrous stinging lessons taught by Mr. Yellowjacket the bee, who'd asked him every class in a voice thick with contempt if there was maybe something else he would rather be doing with his life; to his pitiful attempts at floating like professor Butterfly, who was flamboyantly gay and favored the passive aggressive approach of pretending like Buzzy wasn't there; even to his failed efforts at blood-sucking school, where he was tutored by none other than the renowned and widely feared Count Mosqula, who'd famously shed a single tear from his only eye and retired in shame... for he had never before failed to turn a student into an annoying, late-night nightmare for their mortal enemy; the dreaded human.

 Buzzy neither had enough aggression nor physical strength to join the hornets -nor indeed was he any good at stinging; he was not gifted with the sheer survivability or resourcefulness of the cockroach; and he didn't work well in teams, so that ruled out the ants as well as the bees -though he'd never had much luck with the latter, in any case. He wasn't loud enough for the crickets; nor was he hungry enough for the locusts; nor was he musically gifted enough for the beatles.

Everywhere he went, he was laughed at and humiliated, and the kids were the worst; the polite ones called him a maggot -which was technically a racial slur- and I'll let you figure out what the impolite ones called him (hint: it starts with an "F"). When he tried to join wasp school, he was bullied and beaten to within one tenth of an inch of his life... although to be fair, wasps were technically one of his main predators, but Buzzy wasn't exactly the sharpest insect in the picnic basket... which he proved only a day later by applying to spider school. 

Tired of being called a stupid, useless insect who'd never amount to anything, and angry at an uncaring world, which created him talentless and unimpressive, Buzzy gave up on having a career and left the pond; favoring the nomad lifestyle that only a young, unattached fly can have... he flew aimlessly in whatever direction offered a stronger stench; searching for something he didn't know... was it food? A mate? Or was it himself?

One day, after days of hard work and perseverance, lady luck smiled down upon him and he chanced to stumble upon a squatting dog... and the rest, as they say, is history. Presently, Buzzy allowed himself a satisfied smile; for he had finally found his calling in that beautiful pile of fecal matter.

He had found success, despite all the nay-sayers.

He had proved them all wrong...

He had finally made it.

But you know what they say about tempting fate...

Don't do it.

"I MADE IT!" cried Buzzy, tempting fate.

Thoroughly tempted, fate responded in the form of what seemed like a massive metal box, hurtling towards Dog Turd mountain at an impossible speed. The loud rumbling noise it made awakened Buzzy from his reverie, and he just barely had enough time to dive out of the way before he heard a sickening squelch. Hardly daring to look; he slowly turned towards Dog Turd Mountain... then his stomach lurched and he tearfully turned away again.

Dog Turd Mountain was now Dog Turd Pancake.

Before he'd had time to think, he suddenly found himself hot on the metal box's tail, boiling with rage. He would have his revenge somehow.  

After a few seconds of sustained flight at top speed, pushing himself harder and harder all the while, Buzzy began to grow tired... although it seemed to him that he was starting to gain on the strange metal box. He doubled his efforts and tried to ignore the growing pain in his flight muscles. Yes, he could definitely see it, now; he was inching closer to the box... which, counter-intuitively, seemed to be slowing down! Could it not feel his approach? Was it not terrified and trembling in fear of Buzzy's wrath? The box's arrogance angered him even more, and he swore red vengeance on the poor soul who dared deprive him of his pri- SPLAT!

The box had abruptly come to a complete standstill, and the momentum of his headlong charge had carried Buzzy into some kind of transparent force field. Intrigued, he flew into it again. And again. And again... with each painful bump teaching him absolutely nothing.

"Ow!" He exclaimed.
"Ow..." He thought.
"Ow?" He wondered.
"Ow." He concluded.
"Ow..." He confirmed.

Amazingly, it seemed like the force field had weathered his insistent battering. After slamming himself into it a few more times for good measure, Buzzy decided to back away and reassess the situation. Spiraling higher and higher and higher into the heavens; he started turning in wider circles to orbit the box and look for any weak spots... but his aerial reconnaissance yielded very little results. The box looked completely solid to him, and there seemed to be no chinks in its impressive armor to offer a kamikaze fly any advantages.

As if on cue, an unnatural hum emanated from the box... quickly followed by the emergence of what looked like a humongous appendage, wrapped in some kind of black fabric... it must have been very powerful indeed, to have been able to punch through the force field with such ease. The appendage ended with a flat surface, from which protruded five smaller, stubby appendages holding a thin, white burning torch of some description.

He gasped as the realization dawned on him...

It was a human arm.

Buzzy was absolutely shocked... what was the human doing inside the box? If the box was strong enough to swallow a human, what would it do to a fly that couldn't even sting?

Then Buzzy began to think. It was slow and painful, but he persisted;
the box had come to a complete stop, and the human had apparently punched through its surface... was that a struggle? Was the human attempting an escape? That put Buzzy in a very unusual situation; on the one hand, the box had destroyed his world and everything he'd held dear, and Buzzy had sworn to have his vengeance even if took him days to do so; but on the other hand, what was he supposed to do? Help a human? The mere thought made him shiver in disgust.

Buzzy had to think again. He thought for what seemed like hours, but was realistically closer to 3 seconds -which in all fairness was already more thinking than he'd ever done in his life. At length, he made his decision to attack the box. If the human could punch through it, then perhaps he could deal some damage too.

With a deafening war cry, Buzzy dove towards the force field on the side of the box; feeling gravity's pull accelerate him faster than anything his feeble wings could ever hope to manage. He'd chosen a steep, almost vertical angle of attack to maximize his speed (if there was one thing a fly knew better than anyone, it was flying) and at the last possible second before he hit the human's arm, he swerved right with the full force of his inertia and hurtled into the force field. He winced and mentally braced himself for impact... if he'd had eyelids, he would have closed them.

But nothing happened.

Too fast to stop now, he shot forward like a bullet into the human's face. The human swatted him away irritably with his left arm, which was still holding the white burning torch. Strangely, the torch seemed to have got significantly shorter. As Buzzy pulled away from the human, he noticed that he was pressing a rectangular object into the right side of his face and seemed to be producing even more noise than his kind were wont to produce. More curiously still, he was waving his left arm animatedly to punctuate the tiny lulls in his mysterious chant. The human seemed to be angry or in distress, but it likely wasn't caused by the box. In fact, the box seemed to remain perfectly still. Had the human won the battle? That was bad. That was very very bad.

His blind rage subsiding, Buzzy was starting to realize what a terrible situation he'd put himself in; he was now inside the belly of the beast- which in all likelihood was dead, but also inorganic so Buzzy couldn't even feed on it- and he was in very close proximity to an agitated human. He decided to make his escape... it was not his fight, and he had got his revenge, in any case; somehow, the beast was dead.

He made a beeline for the force field to escape the beast's insides, mentally chuckling at the excellent insect pun he'd just made. He was inches away from freedom when the human withdrew his arm inside the box -minus the white burning torch, which was mysteriously missing- and suddenly, without warning, the beast awoke with raucous roar. Concurrently, the ominous hum from before was back, again. It filled Buzzy with irrational fear and dread, and he pumped his wings frantically to escape before the beast had fully awoken. He was close enough to feel a fresh gust of air wafting through the force field... any second now, Buzzy would break free and fly far away from this monstrosity, his lesson well and truly learned.

But as always, the force field continued to vex him. He could not break through it this time. What's worse; the beast had begun moving again. Buzzy redoubled his efforts to break through the force field, ramming it as hard as he could.

"Ow!" He exclaimed.
"Ow!" He exclaimed.
"Ow!" He exclaimed.
"Ow!" He exclaimed.
"Ow!" He exclaimed.

But it was no use... it remained defiantly solid; teasing him with its transparency. Turning around, he saw a much larger exit in front of him, but his attempts to break through it yielded the same results. He was definitely in deep trouble now... backing away, he flew around the beast's insides, keeping as far away from the human as possible to avoid further agitating him, but his every attempt at escape utterly failed. Every time he thought he'd discovered a way out, it turned out to be protected by the same black magic that had already foiled all his previous plans.

A POX ON THE BEAST'S VILE SORCERY!

The beast was going much faster now; it was all he could do to keep up with its speed. After a few seconds of panicked flight, Buzzy was completely worn out; the fight completely drained from him. Giving in to his fate, he found a tight corner where he would be as safe as possible from the human's wrath, and slumped in defeat.

After a few minutes of relative silence, the human was at it again; once more, he pressed the rectangular object to his ear, and began roaring with rage -thick droplets of spittle flying from his massive maw to splatter against the force field- all the while waving his arms spiritedly.

The same arms that had broken through the force field...

That gave Buzzy an idea. He wasn't strong enough to break through the field, but the human certainly was!

Bravely bracing himself for what he knew was coming, Buzzy lifted himself out of his corner; his tired wings barely carrying him as he climbed higher and higher into the air until he drew level with the human's eyes... and with another war cry, he launched himself  with all his power towards the human.

As expected, the human's massive left arm came swatting at him, but he deftly avoided it and flew into his eye. Irritated, the human tried to swat him away faster this time, but he dodged it and rammed him again. This pattern repeated itself for a few seconds, with the human angrily waving Buzzy away and Buzzy taking no heed and attacking him relentlessly. It seemed to be working! The human was roaring louder than ever; with each failed attempt at killing Buzzy seeming to make him even angrier. Buzzy now flew towards the force field on the side and began attacking it, instead. The human would try to flatten him against the force field; but Buzzy would dive out of the way at the last second, and the human would instead punch through it, allowing Buzzy to finally escape his nightmare.

At least, that was the plan.

What actually happened was much stranger... for suddenly, the eerie hum was back again, and the force field he was standing on seemed to be moving; pulled down by some invisible, ungodly force. Buzzy jumped into the air in order to avoid being pulled down with it, but before he knew it, an irresistible, unimaginably strong gust of wind had grabbed hold of him, completely overpowering him and throwing him outside. Buzzy tumbled in the air, with absolutely no idea which way was up; it was all he could do to stay airborne. Dizzy and confused and more tired than he'd ever been, Buzzy allowed himself a few seconds of hovering until he caught his breath and got his bearings... and what he he saw then almost made him faint, right then and there.

 There were literally hundreds of metal beasts similar to the one he'd barely just escaped from, as far as his eyes could see; all of them dashing by at break-neck speeds... he seemed to have unwittingly stumbled upon their lair.

Terrified and wanting to put as much distance between him and the beasts as possible, he climbed as high into the air as he could, and then looked down again to formulate a plan.

The beasts seemed to be running on a flat surface in two directions, and as luck would have it, he was right in the middle of it. His only course of action was therefore to fly to the left or right; as he could see no other ends to the mysterious flat surface. He decided to follow an intriguing smell to his left; and began the long process of crossing the road.

Never before had Buzzy related more to the poor chicken who had simply wanted to get to the other side, to everyone's derision.

After what seemed like days of continuous flight, Buzzy finally reached the other side. Lush with vegetation and full of life, he seemed to have made the right choice; there would definitely be plenty of opportunities there.

Except that there was metal beast here as well; albeit at a complete standstill. Well, not technically at a complete standstill; it seemed to be rocking at a steady rhythm.

Buzzy was tired and hungry and afraid, but his curiosity got the better of him. Assuring himself that curiosity had never killed a fly, he cautiously approached the beast. Strangely, pained moaning sounds seemed to be emanating from it. Stranger and stranger still... perhaps the beast was writhing in pain. Was it dying? That would offer him a rare chance to take a closer look at the inner workings of that behemoth.

He managed to break through the force field without much incident, this time... but what he saw next gave him pause; there were two humans lying there, one on top of the other, unclad in the usual fabrics that humans covered themselves with for reasons that completely eluded him. The human on top was vigorously pumping away at the other human, who was obviously the female and the source of the noise he'd heard. Buzzy was old enough to know about the birds and the bees; but he also knew that sex was supposed to be enjoyable... why, then, did the humans choose the carcass of a metal beast as the setting for their coupling? Was it somehow enjoyable for them? And more importantly, why was the female moaning in pain? Absurdly -and even though they were both obnoxious, hated humans- Buzzy felt a moral obligation to help the distressed female.

Mustering his courage and summoning all his strength, he flew into the male's jaw... but the human made no response; so intent was he on his pleasure that he barely seemed to register Buzzy's challenge. Angered by that, he decided to teach him a lesson, and he flew into his eye this time. It had the intended effect; the human's hand lashed out at him, but he darted out of the way at the last second, causing the human to slap his own forehead. Undeterred, he flew into his other eye. The human yelped in pain and waved his arms blindly, hoping to catch Buzzy with his flailing limb... but Buzzy was too fast, and he buzzed into his ear now; causing the human to shake his head irritably.

Amazingly, the male's hips still rose and fell, barely breaking their rhythm... Buzzy had to admit to being impressed by his form and perseverance. He landed on the female's stomach and gazed up at the male, trying to look for other weak spots... but he never expected to be stabbed in the back by the very person he'd been trying to protect. Luckily for Buzzy, millions of years of evolution had protected him against exactly this eventuality, as his mirrored eyes caught sight of her hand just in time for him to barely avoid a fatal blow- but her hand still caught him in mid-air, disorienting him yet wounding nothing but his pride.

Buzzy tried not to hold it against her; she was visibly in distress and it was possible that she'd lashed out at him by mistake. He decided to help her again, but before he could fly back to the male to start harassing him, the female had already swatted him away yet again- this time coming dangerously close to crushing him against the beast's leather interior.

"Ow! I'm trying to help, you stupid bitch!"

But now both the male and female seemed to have turned on him, and Buzzy decided to make his exit. Feeling betrayed and confused by the sudden onslaught from the female who seemed to actually enjoy being in pain, Buzzy flew out of the deactivated force field, vowing never to help another human again.

It was getting dark now, and Buzzy was more tired than he'd ever been in his life. He was completely lost, with no chance of finding his way back to his most prized possession... but even if he did, what would he have gained? Nothing. The laws of fly real-estate were very strict, and fly lawyers -mostly blood-sucking tsetse flies; as one would expect of a lawyer- thrive on these kinds of contract loopholes; once Dog Turd Mountain had ceased to be Dog Turd "Mountain", Buzzy no longer had any legal claim to it and could rightfully be challenged for the mayorship rights. At best, he would have an average feeding spot amidst the hundreds of other flies, and at worst, he wouldn't even have that -a likely prospect, because Dog Turd Pancake would have a lower surface area. Bottom line is that he was completely broke now; cruelly knocked back to square one by fate, yet again.

Apart from the prestige and riches and sheer unlimited potential offered by the dog turd, Buzzy suddenly realized that he'd never see any of his old friends again. Scarier still, he had no way of knowing whether or not they'd survived the metal beast's charge; for all he knew, they could have been flattened, too. The thought gave him chills... he didn't know what to do, or where to go next. He was completely lonely and alone, and the world seemed overwhelmingly evil and cold to him. All he wanted to do was just go to sleep for a very long time.

After a few more minutes of aimless flight, Buzzy was just about to land on the underside of a tree branch to rest when he glimpsed a sleeping stray dog, lying on his back. Mindful of the plentiful bounty shat out by the last dog he'd seen, Buzzy flew to the dog and landed on his abdomen. The dog made no attempt to shoo him off, preferring to just sleep there and smell delicious.

Wait, what?

Buzzy sniffed... yes, he definitely smelled it! He could recognize the beautiful rotten stench anywhere... the dog was definitely in its final death throes; but more importantly, he was the first fly to land on him.

Jackpot.

In human terms, he had just made a fortune of Scrooge McDuckian proportions. He was set for life, along with his family for generations to come.

As the first gold-digging (or grave-digging?) females showed up, flirtatiously rubbing their front legs together; their wings fluttering suggestively with a distinctive, seductive buzz, Buzzy started looking around for a tsetse fly to help him draw up the contract.

This one would have to be airtight.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Egyptian Human Male Penis ® Owner's Manual

Congratulations on obtaining your first Egyptian Human Male Penis ®! The absolute chaos of fertilization has conspired to gift you your very own male reproductive system and all the societal benefits associated with it, and we are here to help guide you through the intricacies of male organ ownership.

Your "package" should include:

1 penis, most likely 6 inches long and circumcised
2 testicles
1 protective ballsack for testicular storage
(Optional) 1 manhood installation pack*

* Kindly note that by not installing the manhood pack, you are technically a male but not yet a "man".

Benefits of this system:

1- Ability to fertilize a human female egg, producing the blight upon the land otherwise known as the "Egyptian Baby".

2- Ability to masturbate excessively during your teen years, often in completely inappropriate locations. Wank your way to sad, half-hearted erections as your chafed member struggles to cope with your daily vigorous self-abuse marathons and compare your personal high scores with your Egyptian Human Male Penis Owner ® friends!

3- Ability to orgasm relatively quickly and efficiently, at will.**

4- Ability to pop unpredictable and uncontrollable boners at the worst possible times; often whilst attending funerals, important meetings or running errands at governmental institutions.

5- Through our patented Dual Liquid Distribution  technology, you are also able to use your brand new penis to expel urine, offering an unparalleled aiming experience which the other reproductive systems can only gaze at in wonder!

** Speeds may vary. Not applicable for systems aged 45 and older.

⚠ Benefits do not include the ability to sexually harass Human Female Vagina ® owners

Kindly note that your male penis does not grant you the right to sexually harass random Egyptian females whose only fault in life was being born in Egypt without your God-given rights as an Egyptian penis-owner. 

This has been a confusing issue for many penis owners, and Gender Privilege Industries Ltd. denies all possible liability arising from Egyptian males harassing defenseless females and trying to pass it off as "flirting". 

Please recognize the fact that most Egyptian Human Male Penis ® owners are sexually starved predators and that even if you are not one of them, random female passersby will assume that you are, until proven otherwise... so do not claim ignorance or feign innocence and just leave them alone, because they have suffered enough at the hands of fellow Egyptian Human Male Penis ® owners such as yourself.

Thank you for choosing Egyptian Human Male Penis ® for your Egyptian human male penis needs. You are now ready to install the optional manhood pack.



**************************

Just a bit of context for any non-Egyptians who might be reading this; I wrote this post in response to a viral video of a girl getting sexually harassed in Cairo. Somehow instead of shaming the man who harassed her, the situation was made into a meme and joked about; and the girl was instead blamed because she "shouldn't have been standing alone in the street" (at noon, in broad daylight) and "she was dressed inappropriately" (irrelevant, and she wasn't) and "the guy was just asking her out" (he wasn't). The girl's life was completely destroyed because she was branded "an attention-seeking whore" for filming her ordeal and posting it online... so much so, that she had to deactivate her social media accounts and she's currently suicidal.

In a separate incident about a week later, a 50-year old woman -in full hijab, no less- was sexually harassed on a beach in Alexandria; and her husband was stabbed to death for standing up to the lowlife trash who harassed his wife. The public reaction to the first incident is what enables incidents like the second one, and it baffles me how some Egyptians still don't see the connection - some of whom are even supposedly well-educated.

To anyone who still thinks we don't have a sexual harassment problem in Egypt, this post was my least condescending way of telling you to go fuck yourself.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Becoming Strangers

I saw myself excited,
With a mischievous glint in my eye;
The joy of meeting someone...
The spark of something new.

I saw myself trapped,
In a bottomless pit of love...
With no desire to escape,
And no way out but one.

I saw myself confused,
Unsure of where to go next;
I’d learned the taste of happiness...
And it was too sweet to last.

I saw myself in denial,
As my world came crashing down...
I told myself I was fine;
That I would soar up high, again.

I saw myself shot down;
My broken wings ablaze...
I hid and cowered and fled
The collapse of a crumbling sky.

I saw myself crushed,
With no will left to live.
I saw myself give up;
For my apocalypse had won.

I saw all that and more,
As I lay in bed in the dark...
Almost unable to grasp,
How far I’d come since then.

It’s hard to be exactly sure,
Of when I was reborn;
The exact date and time
My heart stopped craving hers.

But I found myself grateful;
For the relentless march of time...
As I recalled the pain I’d felt,
And how hard it’s been to heal.

And now I owe a toast,
To the greatest healer of all;
As my wings spread anew,
And I once more take to the skies...

To celebrate the end;
And conclude my final verse
In the bittersweet rhapsody
Of Becoming Strangers.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Inevitable Guest

Jack woke up feeling exceptionally fresh and energized.

He sprang out of bed with a sprightly leap that didn't quite suit his seventy five winters, and feeling much younger than he'd felt in decades, he set to his morning tasks with gusto and aplomb; after he'd had a quick shower to rinse off the stale, damp stench of his nighttime cold sweats, he quickly brushed his teeth to make sure his breath was as fresh as possible before he grabbed his comb and started styling his hair, carefully studying his reflection in his bathroom mirror and arranging his hair accordingly. He then grabbed his razor and began shaving the thicket of white hair that had formed on his jaw. It was slow going, not helped by his shaking hand and his old, blunt razor... but he persevered, slowly hacking away at his beard and earning several nicks in the process as he gradually exposed the pronounced sag of his neck and jawline. He then splashed his face with water to wash off the irritating mix of tiny hairs, shaving cream and blood, nodding with approval at his reflection as he instantly dropped twenty years of age. Satisfied, he dabbed his face and neck with aftershave; wincing as it burned his fresh cuts.

His next trip was to his wardrobe, where he'd hung up his best suit after getting it dry cleaned; he picked it up and lay it down spreadeagled on his bed, then with the exaggerated sluggishness that came with old age, he put on and carefully buttoned up his favorite blue shirt and then pulled up his suit pants and tucked his shirt into them, paying extra attention to keeping the shirt as smooth and unwrinkled as he could as he did so. It was while he was putting on his belt and struggling to find a belt hole narrow enough for his waist that he realized how much slimmer he'd got over the past few months... but that couldn't be helped, so he didn't obsess about it.
The last thing he had to do was ease himself into his suit jacket and examine his reflection again in the mirror... and he was quite pleased with the fruit of his morning labors; he might have been old and sick, but his appearance was still as meticulous and impressive as ever.

Which was just as well; he was expecting company... and he had to look his absolute finest for his visitor.

Seeing as he still had some time to kill until his guest arrived, he shambled over to his desk and laboriously lowered himself into his chair with a grimace as various ligaments audibly cracked and popped. As soon as he was seated, he regretted his choice; Jack was not a man made for waiting... as an old man, he was a vocal supporter and subscriber to the school of always actively busying oneself with various duties; in order to give oneself some semblance of control over one's own destiny, rather than submitting meekly to the ravages of old ages and listlessly awaiting death... however, his body was weak and unwilling to indulge his impatience. He was not getting out of that chair for a while.

Accepting his fate, he decided to find something to occupy his mind instead. For lack of anything better to do, he started rummaging through his desk drawers; the last time he'd sat at that desk must have been years ago, and it would undoubtedly produce something interesting that he'd forgotten about.

His top drawer was disappointing as it only contained various lengths of different-colored string and a sewing kit; remnants of a time when his wife had taken up sewing as a hobby. He smiled affectionately at her memory and closed the drawer again.

As he opened the second desk drawer, he was greeted with a sight he hadn't seen in decades; his son's BB gun... or rather, the broken BB gun his son had asked him to fix some thirty odd years ago. He remembered taking it completely apart at that same desk in order to understand why it wasn't firing properly, only to realize that a small, broken plastic part had lodged itself in the barrel quite irreversibly... and his every attempt to dislodge or knock it loose only resulted in further damage to the barrel. By the time he was done with it, the barrel was visibly crooked in the middle and practically useless, so he'd had to secretly buy his son a completely identical gun so he wouldn't have to admit to him that such a small piece of plastic had defeated him. Next to the gun were some nuts and bolts and a screwdriver, all of which he'd been using for the same failed attempt at plastic gunsmithing. Finding nothing of further interest to him, he slid the drawer shut.

Or rather, he tried to... but the drawer wouldn't close. Something was stuck behind it.

Curious, Jack pulled the drawer out of the chest, panting at the small effort. He laid it on the floor next to his chair, and then reached out into the empty space behind it, blindly groping for the obstruction... and sure enough, his hand found a book which must have dropped down from the first desk drawer without him noticing.

But it wasn't exactly a book.

His heart almost skipped a beat as he beheld the pink, rose-patterned plastic binder of the ancient photo album for the first time since Kate had passed. His wife had spent two solid weeks rifling through every likely nook and cranny in the house looking for that album, and was almost in tears when she'd realized it was probably lost... oh, how he wished he could tell her that he'd finally found it! It was almost cruel that he could look at it when she never had a chance to... and he almost put it back where he'd found it out of loyalty for his late wife, but something made him reconsider; it seemed only appropriate that someone would get a last look at all of those archived memories. Instead, he found himself blowing the dust off of its cover and laying it on his desktop. It was much heavier than he'd remembered... or perhaps he was just weaker.

Jack grabbed his reading glasses from his top left pocket and put them on; the blissful days when he could just look at things without the use of one pair of glasses or another were well behind him. Bracing himself, he took a deep breath and flipped open the cover.

The first picture that caught his eye was his first picture ever with Kate; it was a selfie she had taken of them lying on their backs in the grass at Regent's Park on a lazy Sunday, back when they'd lived in London; she was resting her head on his chest as they basked in the glow of a rare summer sun. His head was pillowed on his right arm, while his left arm wrapped protectively around Kate's waist as he playfully caressed her collarbone. Jack remembered that day as clearly as if it had been yesterday; both of them were in their twenties; their faces beautiful and clear of lines, and their eyes full of hope and optimism... nothing could have ruined their mood that day, as they were going through the glorious honeymoon phase of a new relationship; oblivious to the future challenges they would unknowingly go through together. He remembered his exact thoughts at the time; how beautiful he'd found her; how much he'd ached to admit his love for her for the first time and how afraid he'd been that she wouldn't say it back; how attracted he'd felt to her at that very moment, and how sincerely he'd hoped that she couldn't feel his stiffening manhood... which he would later learn that she could, but that she'd found it flattering rather than awkward.

Smiling fondly, he flipped a few pages until he found the specific picture he'd been looking for; their wedding. Of all of his treasured memories with Kate, that was the one day he had absolutely no recollection of; it had gone by in a haze of loud music, perspiration and energy drinks. The picture showed them having their first dance as a married couple, with his best friend Sam frozen in a ridiculous pose as he erratically wiggled within Jack’s line of sight in order to make him laugh and ruin the moment.

It was -without a doubt- his favorite wedding picture, as it not only showed how deeply in love they still were, five years after that first picture in London; but it also showed a funny, spontaneous, random act by someone who was very close to both of them... someone whose laugh he hadn't heard in seven years since he'd lost his battle with cancer. Sam had been a cornerstone of his life; a pillar he could lean against whenever times got rough... he'd always been there whenever he'd needed him, and would often prioritize Jack and Kate's well-being over his own, as evident from the time he'd donated two pints of blood to save Kate's life as she gave birth to their son, Eric. It had almost cost Sam's own life, and he ended up needing a blood transfusion, himself... yet it was still "totally worth it" for him, as he would later say often and loudly to anyone who would listen. Although he never married or had any children of his own, he proved to be a third parent to Eric -his godson- and had got him out of so many tight spots during his turbulent teenage years that Eric ended up crying harder than anyone as his godfather took his last few breaths in his hospital bed, surrounded by his family and loved ones.

After all these years, Jack's grief for Sam hadn't dulled... and the sight of his once robust best friend reduced to a frail, wheezing skeleton would never leave his mind for as long as he lived. Unbidden tears welled in his eyes, but he angrily wiped them away; he'd promised himself that that wouldn't happen... Sam deserved to be grieved for hundreds of years, but Jack was expecting a visit at any moment and it was the wrong time to lose control of his emotions.

He flipped to a picture he knew would take his mind temporarily off Sam; 5 year-old Eric was cackling with delight, his mouth open wide to reveal four missing incisors. He was wearing a yellow helmet and leaning against his first bicycle; a small red affair with blue tassels and two tiny training wheels. If the picture had been taken only two days later, it would have shown him significantly more bruised and crying over his almost miraculously botched attempts to learn how to ride what was effectively a four-wheeled bike. Jack had been later famously known to claim that teaching Eric how to ride a bike had been a more challenging task than earning his own helicopter pilot's license... yet just seeing how happy it had made his son made all the tantrums and rebellious kicks to his groin completely worth it.

The next picture he subconsciously gravitated to was of his awards ceremony at his firm; he was the youngest partner in the history of his company... a true testament to what a workaholic could do when he's not only left to his own devices, but actively supported by a loving wife. It wasn't his own, frankly smug face that he found himself scanning for, however; instead, he fixed his eyes on Kate's face... on the look of unbridled pride she had worn as she completely ignored the camera and had eyes only for him. It was something fierce to behold; almost a tangible force... the camera managed to even capture the faces of several people who were looking at Jack with unfiltered envy, and he was absolutely sure that it was not about his award.

He had won the jackpot.

The beautiful woman on his arm was not only there to smile for the cameras and briefly share his moment in the spotlight; she was there to celebrate her soulmate's success and tell him privately -purely through the mute, emotional language of the eye- that she was proud of him and that she would follow him to the ends of the Earth. She didn't need to say anything; she didn't need to buy any gifts; she didn't need to make any symbolic gestures... only one glance into her eyes was enough for him to hear thousands of loving words; pure poetry, imbued with so much selfless, raw, uncut passion and intimacy that it felt almost obscene to be intruding upon it... even if he was the lucky man she'd been looking at.

The lucky man who was the last person she'd ever looked at.

He well and truly lost control of himself at that thought; his whole body trembling with racking sobs at the memory of his soulmate, lover and life companion of more than fifty years. There was no moving on for him... Kate was simply irreplaceable- unforgettable.

He wept silently for a few minutes, allowing the grief to wash over him as he fought to regain control of his emotions... perhaps opening the photo album had not been the best idea he'd ever had. Finally, he regained his composure and, after due consideration, decided to keep going; he was damned if he wouldn't honor Kate by finishing that photo album, as he knew she would have wanted to.

Skipping ahead a few pages, he was shocked to see a picture of himself in his late teens... how did that get there? It was especially anomalous when he considered Kate's OCD and her compulsion to organize everything in chronological order. With a sinking feeling, he removed the picture from its transparent plastic sleeve and flipped it, thinking that perhaps Kate had written him a note on the back; but reality was unfortunately less poetic than his imagination. He flipped it back, and stared at the picture.

Where had all the years gone?

Reminiscent and lost in introspective melancholy, Jack considered his teen-self; a study in boyish good looks and muscular physiques. It defied his understanding how that teenage heartthrob was the same person as the old coot who'd cut himself shaving his beard that very morning. He remembered getting that picture taken; he was alive and conscious, and he was superficially the same person... minus vast amounts of experience and lessons learned, but who also still had youth and good health and laughter in his eyes. How was he such a familiar yet alien sight to his own eyes?

Almost overnight, the smiling youth in the picture had turned into a college student; a young adult; a husband; a father; a middle-aged man; a retiree;  and finally a widower. Everyone he'd considered close had left him; his own parents and extended family were long gone; his best friends were lost to either disease or long distance friendship fall-outs or both; his wife had abandoned him much earlier than he would have dreamed in his worst nightmares; and even his son was too busy to take care of a rapidly ailing father... not that he'd told him that he was sick; he'd made sure to omit that particular detail from their weekly phone call catch-ups.

He was utterly and completely alone in the world... alone but for a million memories, constant heartache and unimaginable longing. He no longer tried to stifle his tears as they dripped steadily into his lap.

It was as if the universe had felt the raw pain in him; for at that particular moment, the photo album inexplicably dropped to the floor... and as he bent to pick it up, he couldn't help noticing the picture it had landed on; the final picture on the last page of the album.

It was a snapshot of the sailing trip they'd taken in the Mediterranean to celebrate his retirement; Kate was in his arms where she'd belonged, as elegant, graceful and breath-taking in her sixties as she'd been in her thirties; Sam was visibly laughing at something hilarious as he clapped Eric on the back with enough force to knock the coke he had been drinking out of his hands- the camera had even caught the coke bottle mid-flight, and the bewildered look of confusion on Eric's face in the split second before his brain had processed what had happened. It was a brilliantly clear and sunny day, and the sea was the same deep blue as the diligently photo-edited variety usually only found on vacation postcards. Everyone was smiling, everyone was happy... the world felt complete.

Jack took the hint... perhaps rather than despairing at the thought that everyone had left him - and not by choice, at that- he should have instead been focusing on all the wonderful moments he'd shared with his loved ones. Every picture in that photo album represented a moment of sheer happiness... was he then not truly blessed that it was such a giant album? Did the fact that that he'd had so many moments of pure joy immortalized in picture form not show what an amazing life he'd had? It would be the ultimate act of ingratitude to deny the superb hand which he'd been dealt by fate. He'd had to face loss, true; but the bad times never take away from the good, for life is a mix of good times and bad times, and to neglect either would be to lose both.

In the end, perhaps it was enough that he could face himself in the mirror and honestly say that he'd had no regrets, and that he would have done it all again if he could.

A sudden noise from behind Jack snapped him out of his reverie. Without turning around, he straightened up in his chair and hurriedly wiped his face on his jacket sleeve; he was not going out without his dignity. He then hoarsely murmured "I've been expecting you".

A strangely angelic voice replied: "It is time, Jack."... not unkindly.

Taking one final, deep breath; Jack leaned on his desk to support his weight and rose to his feet.

"I'm ready" he whispered, as he turned around and slowly shuffled towards the blinding light... and beyond that, almost everyone he'd ever loved.

*********************************

Inspired by Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt".


Saturday, 5 May 2018

Clinical Depression and You!

Imagine -if you will- a river. 

The river follows a certain path, winding its way through the land as it flows downstream. It adapts to reality and reacts to the topography in predictable patterns, behaving almost like a living, feeling creature... constantly in motion; ever-changing. Even when dizzying heights lead down waterfalls to extreme lows, the river always flows forward; never hesitating; never surrendering... forever focused. 

The rewards for such an iron-clad commitment to the laws of gravity are little to none; the river will never gain elevation in blatant disregard to the laws of physics; yet even so, the river never questions its role in life or adopts a defeatist attitude. It almost appears to understand a fundamental rule of life; that nothing ever exists in a permanent high... or low. It takes life's hits in its stride, shrugs them off and moves on. Only such determination and strength of character would bind the titans to its will; through sheer tenacity, it has thoroughly earned the privilege to erode mountains of solid rock and make its mark on the immense; the immovable; the eternal.

The river is a good metaphor for what a healthy person's attitude in life should ideally be like; a persistent, relentless, unyielding drive towards a fixed goal... with an unshakable will to defeat life's challenges and still manage to keep going -even after a few hard punches- and an understanding that nothing lasts; neither the good times, nor the bad. 

Now imagine a pond. It is nothing more than some water that happened to have collected in a natural basin by no one's designs. It has no goal; no driving force; no soul; no life. It is temporary; monotonous; bereft of any semblance of purpose. Not only is it immune to currents and waves and winds; but it is also decidedly uninterested in them. It exists in an eternal state of limbo; not quite alive and yet not truly dead. It has no taste but for bland nothingness; no sound but for a boring monotone; no smell but for the stench of stagnation; no feel but for lukewarm numbness. 

The pond has chosen to face adversity in the most passive of ways; by not even trying. It knows it is temporary; it knows its existence makes no difference; and that nothing is in its power to change that.... and while it is ironically calming to simply exist with no self-imposed goals or obligations, it is a sad existence; unworthy of acknowledgment or remembrance.

That, in a nutshell, is the life of the clinically depressed.


This brings us to a very important distinction that must be made before I go on; there is a type of depression that everyone exhibits at some point in their lives, resulting from severe emotional trauma... it is a part of the "normal" five stages of grief, and while no one can question the destructive nature of that particular stage, it is -however- temporary. It is a response to a specific event, and it will run its course eventually... be it after a week or a month or even a year. It is therefore not a mental illness per se, but rather a low point in one's life.

And then there's clinical depression. 

Clinical depression is not when you're upset or sad for a few days for a specific reason; clinical depression is infinitely more intangible and harder to quantify or diagnose... it is a constant, nagging feeling at the back of your mind that never quite goes away, and the minute you think it's gone, it rears its ugly head when your defenses are down. If you've been crying for a few days in reaction to something -while I'm very sorry for whatever put you in that state- you should be grateful that you are still able to feel something that intensely. 

You want to know what clinical depression is? In the simplest of words -and without going into the typical day-to-day routine of a clinically depressed person- it is what happens after you stop crying... in other words, it is what happens after you stop caring altogether. 

Clinical depression is like a flat-line on a heart monitor; constant, unchanging, and often irreversible. It is not so much a stage you go through and move on as it is a constant companion; an unwelcome guest that sometimes briefly allows you to enjoy what feel like irregular, eerie, undeserved bouts of happiness... but who always, always, comes back. Nothing makes you sad, but nothing gives you joy, either. Clinically depressed people can sometimes feel happy, of course, however their threshold is significantly higher than it is for the mentally healthy, and they're usually very fleeting, temporary blips of emotion that quickly give way to a baseline of melancholy and dull, reasonless pain... and you don't want to know what the frequent low points are like. Even the joys and thrills of a new relationship only last for a few weeks, fading away to nothing before you've had a chance to enjoy them... and it's all downhill from there; as you try to explain to your partner why you don't seem as passionate, attentive or interested in them anymore.


People often mistake particularly long spells of unhappiness for clinical depression, but they are not comparable; for one is a mental illness and the other is a temporary feeling. The media has unfortunately not been the most informative of tutors, and clinical depression has sadly been mostly neglected and almost criminally misrepresented in popular culture. I've heard the word "clinical depression" being thrown around often recently, and personally I'm very firmly against that because it risks desensitizing the community to a very serious mental illness; in which case, people who actually need help are marginalized, overlooked or written off as drama queens. It is a word that should definitely not be uttered without serious prior thought.

To sum up; for a clinically depressed person, everything tastes bland and boring and they simply have no reason or will to live, even if they should appear -on the surface- to have everything in life. They have nothing to look forward to; nothing to get them out of bed; nothing to motivate them to put on their masks and face the world and no energy to perform even the simplest tasks. As a matter of fact, people who commit suicide due to depression are not often trying to escape momentary pain, but rather to break the endless cycle of nothingness... to finally stop feeling numb and outrun their demons and the voices in their heads.

The cherry on top is definitely the "advice" clinically depressed people often receive from uninformed loved ones, which -while very well-intentioned- can often kick the depression into even higher gear. "Get over it" or "you need God" or "you need to go out more" or "stop moping all the time and smile" are not what a depressed person needs to hear, because it makes them feel completely alienated, unheard and misunderstood... and odds are they've already tried all of these tips before. How they feel is not within their control; they cannot be blamed for their defective brain chemistry. What they need is someone who listens; who understands; who will patiently be there for them -for as long as it takes- and who provides emotional support, even if they do not particularly understand what it is they're going through. If one of your loved ones is depressed, don't stress them out and add to their worries by demanding their attention, as this is nothing short of emotional abuse. 

Long story short; keep an eye out for the signs and be supportive to others who suffer from depression, clinical or otherwise... and most importantly -while I don't personally believe in the effectiveness of therapy or anti-depressants- please do not hesitate to seek help if you felt that this article struck home, or if you find yourself pondering death more and more frequently. Although clinical depression is a chronic illness which might not be curable, it is ultimately a state of mind... and it is at least manageable as long as you know what signs to look for, and you put in constant effort to actively fight it every day.

I sincerely hope none of you could relate to any of this, but if you did and you need to feel heard, please don't hesitate to contact me. I've been there, I am there, and will likely always be there... so I know what you're going through, and I'm here to help.

I leave you with a link to another blog post I wrote in October 2017, with the hope that someone, somewhere will read it and realize that they're not alone:

http://insert-bondok-sarcasm-here.blogspot.com/2017/10/my-best-friend.html

Keep up the good fight... you're stronger than you know.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Incredible Greg

At first there was nothing... then there was the big bang; trillions upon trillions of particles of matter began expanding at the speed of light; the heat and the energy resulting from the big bang propelling them further and further in all directions.

Billions of years passed, and the basic forces of the universe began to take shape; the gravitational pull of objects pulled other objects into their orbits to form the most primitive galaxies; disorderly clouds of chaotic entropy that would come together to form the first stars and solar systems, orbiting the infant galaxies' cores.

Yet the universe was not done, for millions of years later, the dust clouds orbiting the stars would begin to form more compact and uniform spherical shapes; namely planets. One such story is that of our very own solar system; a small grouping of planets orbiting a medium star on the fringes of a galaxy playfully named "The Milky Way".

Of all the planets in the known universe, the conditions to sustain intelligent life has only existed on one planet that we know of- an unassuming blue orb of water and dirt, suitably named "Earth". Through a 4.5 billion year journey of trial and error, Earth has sustained the birth, evolution and eventual extinction of countless numbers of species, each more fantastic and unbelievable than the last, from the most primitive single-cell organisms to huge, lumbering giants such as the Brachiosaurus.

Then the statistically improbable happened... for amongst all of these species, one race of glorified apes with opposable thumbs rose to the top of the food chain not through the traditional way of the tooth and claw, but through the size of their cerebral cortices...

That such fragile beings would dominate and survive where immensely powerful creatures such as the Megalodon have failed is the ultimate underdog success story; eternal proof that David will always beat Goliath; and that human beings are the most ruthless killing machines in this planet's history, who have somehow managed to tame Earth while simultaneously making T-Rex's closest living relative into bargain bucket meals at KFC; the closest evolutionary equivalent to tea-bagging.

Alan pondered the wisdom of mother nature, however, as he considered the most convincing anti-evolution argument yet, in the form of Greg the bouncer -or as he fondly nicknamed himself, "Crusher"; he was to a normal human being what an 18-wheeler is to a Mini Cooper, but his mental prowess was on par with an intelligent German Shepherd; and his heart-warming frown concentrated his facial features into a yogurt-lid-sized area in the center of his face. His forehead was a solid slab of bone, compacted to a near-diamond hardness -through years of daily headbutting contests with his radiator, Alan imagined- and his shaved dome shone dully with the light reflected from the cheap neon light bulb that hung aimlessly mere centimeters above his towering frame.

"I SAID, I SAID, ARE YOU ON THE VIP LIST?" Greg bellowed.

Greg always bellowed... though chronic tinnitus from the club's booming speakers was likely just as much to blame for that particular quirk as Greg's limited cranial capacity.

Alan mentally considered his long list of Greg-defying options, born of years of defying Greg; theirs was a small town, and he'd been lucky enough to have gone to school with him and had the chance to watch the daisy-crushing, cat-strangling, groin-kicking, adult-male-sized toddler grow into the fully-grown behemoth standing in front of him. He decided to go for a timeless classic; Alan had long since learned that anything short of a tactical nuclear strike on Greg's face wouldn't even register with him... so picking his pocket was embarrassingly easy, especially since he always put his wallet in the same unzipped leather jacket pocket.

With arrogance born of years of practice picking Greg's pocket to get back his stolen lunch money, Alan's hand deftly darted towards the same pocket, intending to use Greg's own ID card to get into the club. Yes, he'd tried it at least five times before, and yes; it always worked.

This time it didn't- Greg's jacket pocket was zipped... and what's worse, Greg's eyes had followed Alan's arm movement, and his facial features were beginning to scatter away from their traditional yogurt-lid formation in what Alan assumed was a triumphant look of sheer joy at finally having outsmarted an adult human being. As was usually the case with Greg, however, his body tended to respond faster than his brain, likely due to impatient frustration. Any minute now, the single solitary light bulb in Greg's brain would blink on. Alan waited patiently; only a monster would interrupt such a rare occurrence... but he started counting; usually it happened around the six second mark. It must have been a particularly clever deduction by Greg's standards, however, because the first signs of anger started showing somewhere around the 14th second... but it was difficult to be sure, as Alan's mind wandered for quite a while somewhere in the middle.

"I KNEW IT! YOU LITTLE RUNT WHO STEAL GREG WALLET!" Greg's grammar and sentence structure had never been his strong points.

Alan considered his options; physical confrontation was out of the question, he might as well take on a fully grown bull African elephant in mating season with his bare hands. Reasoning with him was not an option either; Greg took "shoot first, ask questions later" quite literally, and shooting people was one of the few things he both thoroughly enjoyed and was really good at... and if he really had to ask questions, he much preferred a dead audience. The dead almost never outsmarted him.

Almost.

Distraction was therefore his only alternative. He would have to escape, regroup, and come back a few days later... Greg's long-term memory at any given point in time stretched only as far as the previous weekend... you do what you can with the limited storage capacity you have.

Only a man such as Greg would still be fooled at age 28 by the "what's that behind you!" school of diversion, but there was no time -or reason- for Alan to come up with anything more creative.

He was just about to utter the words when something happened.

Something unusual.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

The "Hardest" Town To Live In

"Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick Tock"; went the clock he hung above his bed.

"Drip... Drip... Drip... Drip"; went the steady trickle of water droplets from the leaky faucet in his bathroom.

"Howl... howl, howl, hoooowwwwwwwwwwllllll!" went the neighbor's dog.

"BzzzzzZZZZzzzzzzZZZZZZZ"; went the mosquito as it flew tantalizingly close to his ear, then away, then back again just when he thought it would leave him be.

"Meeeoowwwwwwwwwwwwww <screech> FCHHHHHHHH"; went the cats, right on cue.

"Squeak... squeak... squeak squeak squeak squeak SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK"; went his upstairs neighbors' bed... accompanied by faint moaning, which somehow simultaneously aroused and repulsed him.

"Beep beep beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep"; went the cars on the nearby main street, whose easy accessibility had been the main reason he'd chosen that God forsaken apartment in the first place.

"SNOOOOORRREEEEEEE"; went his roommate, impressively managing to make himself heard through two closed doors and the white noise coming from his broken TV set -which his roommate insisted he couldn't sleep without turning on at full volume.

And that was not all; for the entropy of the cacophony was echoed -if you'll pardon the pun- in the arrhythmic flashing of the faulty street lamp right outside his third floor window, and artfully imbued with the red hue of tens of tail lights which his ancient, tattered shutters couldn't quite block.

The potent mix of unwanted stimuli was enough to drive any sane person completely mad... and his relationship with sanity was already severely strained, at best; if sanity incarnate had been one of his neighbors, they would have been slipping passive aggressive notes under each others' doors and stealing each others' newspapers.

For the thirty seventh time in so many days, he cursed his inaction and vowed to do something about his nighttime pet peeves... and for the thirty seventh time in so many days, he mentally rolled his eyes at the notion that he would actually be proactive and do anything about them.

Some of them were perfectly within his control; he could take down the clock and smash it to tiny little pieces with the hammer he bought when he'd moved in; his mind still alight with noble ambitions of independence and DIY manly handiwork... but which hadn't been removed from his toolbox since he put it there, for fear of his unpredictability and anger management issues... and for good reason, now that he thought about it.

He could ask his landlady to replace the rubber seal on his faucet or change the whole faucet... or he could even fix it himself and be done with it, but both options would entail speaking to his sexually starved cougar of a landlady if he didn't want to lose his security deposit... and he didn't particularly relish that conversation, especially considering how she reveled in shamelessly and inappropriately flirting with him and watching him squirm under her piercing gaze as he attempted to formulate the least offensive "no thank you"s he could so she wouldn't kick him out of the apartment. Besides, spending his own meager earnings on repairs to an apartment he didn't own rubbed him up the wrong way... it was like changing the engine oil on a rented car.

His other problems required even more refined diplomacy, however. He'd never been the most sociable of people, but his limited earnings restricted his housing options severely; it was a choice between legally sharing a suspiciously affordable, spacious and conveniently located apartment with one annoying roommate; and illegally sharing a remote, tiny studio apartment with a very nice Bengali family but which also would have forced him into a daily three hour-long commute to work as well as frequent unavoidable awkwardness and averted eyes as Mr. and Mrs. Shah attempted to raise the family count from four to five.

He turned over in bed and lay on his back, lost in thought; come to think of it, most of his issues had to do with his hatred of dealing with other people; okay, so maybe he couldn't do much about the mosquitoes, the lonely dog, the street lights and noise, the horny cats or the horny landlady (well, technically he could do something about the latter, but of course she was as attractive to him as a week-old tuna sandwich left in the sun), but he could at least have a word with his roommate and the upstairs neighbor.

"So why doesn't he?" You're probably asking. Why would a grown man be so passive about everything wrong with his life when he could make a stand and end his problems?

Because after living there for more than a year, the fight was completely sapped out of him and he'd long since learned that there was no use. It was like trying to kill a hydra; fix one problem, and three others would immediately sprout in its place, some of them orders of magnitude worse than the original problem he'd been trying to fix. It took him a few furious weeks and several anger management courses to accept that maybe it was best not to disturb the karmic balance of dickery and just learn to live with his problems... it was much easier than having to face an entirely new set every week.

You see, nobody had warned him when he'd moved to that town that everyone -and everything- were dicks. At any given point in time, there was a 100% chance that someone, or something, was being a dick to someone -or something. You would be perfectly justified in letting out an incredulous snort at this point, o reader... for the odds that an entire town would only be populated by dicks are infinitesimally, almost anomalously low. You'd probably even be prepared to wager some of your own hard-earned savings to back that up... but by Aragorn's chin cleft, you'd lose all of it.

It wasn't named "Dickville Town" for nothing.