ISSUE 98

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 You feel like an idiot. Right now, you are a giant, clumsy preschooler who struggles with really simple concepts and is easily distracted by that funny man with a hat. People might describe you as adorable but dense, like a really cuddly brick, or “one hell of a guy with a hammer,” like if you need anything hit with a hammer, you are the person they go to.  
 It should help to know you are not alone. You too can join people who have no idea where they are most of the time, who predict the end of the world and sell their possessions to dress in tinfoil, who show up on the six o’clock news with the crazed look of someone who thought sticking their arm into a vending machine was a good idea.  
 You’ve expressed your opinions valiantly, completely unaware that at this moment, even an alien would think twice about abducting you. Your allies have abandoned you, people who agreed vehemently only five minutes before and said things like, “This is the best” and “I will never leave you to piddle a miserable stream of weak, tepid ideas to your colleagues.”
 Like a conspiracy theorist or a child campaigning to stay up past her bed time, you have elucidated with graphs, agitated pointing, rushed equations, dogmatic braying, big books, impressive books, library books, picture books, and the pleading of someone who is so tired they put their pajamas on backwards.
 But instead of the cheers, the raucous ovation, and the “Mission Accomplished” banners, you are greeted with a silence reserved for those two to fifteen seconds between someone jumping off a building and hitting the ground. Oh, in those seconds, you will wish for so many things to happen. You’ll wish for someone, anyone, to swoop down and save you by at least recognizing the possibility of the general gist behind your idea—or to pity you enough to pretend.
 But not today. This is the day where the aliens win, where Mission Impossible Tom Cruise is recovering from knee surgery, where you call God and all you get is three rings and an answering machine. You look at yourself later in the mirror, wondering where your logic went, and say, “Maybe a rare tapeworm is eating away the frontal lobe of my brain, and that’s why I said that.” You don’t have a tapeworm. But it’s a nice thought. 
 After you have slunk away with the remains of your ego, you are faced with three options. The first is to never speak again, to prosper a cowardly, weak existence that is infinitely better than onlookers picking through the squashed remains of your pride for loose change and a functioning kidney—because it’s always good to have one of those around.
 The only downside to never speaking again is never being able to speak again. Your opinions, wisdom, dreams, wishes, fast food orders—all will be lost in the blank expression of someone on hold with Frontier Airlines.
 Instead, you will need to gesture to get your point across—gesture for food, gesture to explain why you were speeding, gesture to explain your emotions and why Kevin is an ass.  
 The other option is to make things worse. Instead of letting go and coming to terms with your failure, buy more stock in the company of I Wasn’t Wrong, I Miscalculated or I Have Invested So Much Time And Effort In This I Might As Well Keep Going. This is the same attitude of fishermen, Beanie Baby collectors, people working jobs they hate, serial killers, and anyone buying something they know they shouldn’t be buying.
 This option begins well because you don’t have to admit what is obvious to everyone else but ends badly because eventually you will have to admit what is obvious to everyone else. Instead of a small failure, you will have done something like invading a country or paying a porn star to keep quiet about an affair. 
 The final option is to accept you will do stupid things from time to time, learn, and move on. While this will smother your pride, it leaves nothing else to be desired. Join the idiot camp and buy some tin foil. It sure looks good on you.
   
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