11 - honeymoon phase

ROBIN:

Hey, everybody, uh. Robin here. Back at it again! Woo!

So. Personal updates. I got married. You were there, it was great, I have a wife now, it’s cool, it’s good. Uh. The cat is okay! He hurt his leg but he’s got a little cast, which is—very cute. It’s very cute and good and I want all of you to acknowledge that. I was away for a little bit, we went up to my dads’ place in Maine for the honeymoon, for, uh, isolation and distance from the weirder stuff in life, and what have you, so I haven’t actually listened to any of you folks’ tapes, except for, uh, Mae’s and Teresa’s? Sorry. Probably should’ve, uh. Done that. But I’m trying to maintain this good mood, and, uh, don’t wanna bum myself out. Not that you guys bum me out—you are. So wonderful. I care about you, I worry about you, but, uh. This whole—thing is scary as hell. Were that not clear.

But, I mean, I have updates. I don’t want to share them, because if my recollection is right, this is usually about when the happy lesbian starts dying, and, uh—that’s because of, like media traditions from the olden times, but, look, I don’t want to risk anything.  I’m sharing because I feel obligated to. So. Hi. It’s me.

This is our calm before the storm, I think. Which shouldn’t feel as comforting as it does–it is the security of a basement right before a hurricane. Before, see, because your basement doesn’t feel safe during the storm itself. It feels like you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die and flood and–

But beforehand, you’re going over every single disaster movie you’ve ever seen, every safety PSA from when you were a kid, and you feel secure. And there’s something to be said about the contrast of comfort and fear; that even the slightest illusion of comfort is bliss in comparison to terror.

But, look. Listen. Metaphors and similes aside, something is about to happen. We all know this. We’re seeing a dip down in Weird Shit T-M, but we’re on edge for a reason.

And I know this, because I got a message yesterday. An email. Not from—none of you would pull this, basically. I got an email, and the address was—blurred out. Like, I hovered and everything, and I just—couldn’t read it.

And it just said, uh. It literally said SOMETHING’S COMING, in all caps. I don’t know why it got sent to me, or anything, but, uh. That sort of proves that something is coming, right? Because, uh, it’s right there. All caps, bolded, italicized, underlined. Not struck through, so, bam, that—

Also, the text is in red, and there’s one of those email platform exclusive emojis of a sun wearing sunglasses. So. Summer? Is when things are coming? Maybe? Who’s to say.

It’s, what, April—twenty-second? Yeah. That’s today. April twenty-second, one-oh-seven PM. So. Summer starts on June twenty-something-th. The twenty-first? Or. Second. Whichever. So I think, like, that’s when it’s gonna hit the fan. Solstices, and all. They’re important. Symbolically, temporally, and hey, if we’re not judging things symbolically and temporally first, what have we been doing in these last five months?

Do people still say that? Shit hits the fan? I haven’t heard it in years, but, uh, I’m not really good at paying attention to that sort of thing. Which is bad, considering, but.

You know.

Here’s what I know.

Something’s coming. We don’t know when, but we have guesses. I’m—I’m.

I’m not sure what to think. I’m not—afraid, but I’m definitely not comforted, either. Maybe anxious is the best word, but it still feels off.

Concerned? No, too emotional.

But something’s coming, and it’s not gonna be good.

Also, the email’s subject was “Just Checking In!!!!!!!!!!!?” with, like, twelve exclamation points and then a question mark. So that’s why I clicked. I don’t think it’s spam.

Uh. Ran into an old friend the other day! Well. Middle school bully turned high school acquaintance. Johnny Parsons? He goes by Jack now, because he started to think that the Johnny Carson thing was annoying. Which it was. But. Whatever. I don’t know why I’m calling him a friend. He was kind of terrible to me, and, like, he stopped but never made the time to apologize, so. Whatever. We weren’t close, during high school, but he was slightly more decent.

But I ran into him the other day. He, uh, said he saw wedding photos online, and, uh, that he was happy for me. But something about his eyes were off. That’s why I mention this encounter with standard Straight White Dude number four-hundred and twenty—that wasn’t intended to—whatever, but—like, you know the type. When I ran into him, this man, who was wearing the whole salmon-shorts-blue-button-up-boat-shoes number, which I didn’t even know had found its way into this town, but he—halfway through our greetings, he just—

Left. He was gone. Like, his body was still there, but it’s like when we found Teresa. Like—

So, he was different, for a moment. Eyes all dilated, glassy. And then, he was back. Pupils back to normal in a flash—like, a literal flash. And the conversation continued, like it was nothing. He didn’t say anything of it, so I didn’t comment. Don’t want to drag in that dude to our weird mystery adventures.

It wasn’t zoning out, before you ask. It was—Look, I know zoning out. It’s—basically what I do, lately. He was totally focused, which was—weird, for him. We had, like, one bonding moment, in high school, and it was when we both just completely blanked on all of the instructions at our ACT prep class and we were assigned to be partners.

But he was focused, and then a flash, and he was out, and then another, and he was back in it.

Weird, right?

That’s the ending to everything any of us say to each other, now. Weird, right, weird, right, weird, right. Ugh! I’m so sick of it, it’s so overplayed. None of us even like overplayed. We all try and push ourselves away from overplayed. Hating cliche is the glue that holds this group together.

Like, we’re gonna argue about what’s weird. Like, okay, so, whatever, everything’s weird. Everything that has happened to us in the past four months is weird! It’s beyond weird, and I am so sick of using that adjective!

We need a better word! I am so sick of just using the word weird and expecting it to be effective.

Semantics are weird.

Right?

That was—I’m kinda proud of that joke. I liked it a lot. I came up with it on the spot, and—It’s genuinely fun. I think.

Here are some suggestions for better words than weird. I’m pullin’ up the old thesaurus in my brain that I used to write bad poetry in high school—I’ve become a bit more Hemingway-esque, since then, but, like, in the brevity way, rather than the sexism thing. But. Here is a list of words that are better than weird. I hope that, for future reference, we can stick to them:

Bizarre. Far-out. Bizarr-o. Freaky. Eerie. Fun and funky. Fresh garbage. As if from a dream. Supernatural. Off color. Eccentric. Offbeat. Outlandish.

Wild and crazy? Out of this world.

Out of this world.

Can we bring that one back? I like it. And I think it suits the situation at hand.

Christ, what am I even doing? I sound like some terrible English teacher. Eugh.

Said is dead, weird is—feared?

Not quite. Let’s check out that rhyming dictionary—

[beat]

Okay, so it’s either feared or disappeared. Neither of which are too exciting, which is a bummer, I think. If there’s no opportunity for a fun rhyming phrase, there’s no need for anything to happen. And that’s just the facts, there. I am a writer. I have a MFA. I know these things. I know them.

Oh. Wow. Cool. Time stopped again.

Sorry, just gotta add that in, so you know Because, hey, it’s still one-oh-seven PM. Love that. That one hasn’t happened in a little bit, for me. Dunno about y’all—again, I have not listened to your tapes, and again, I am genuinely sorry for that. I will when the world is, like, a little less terrible and overwhelming, and also, when I’m not receiving emails from alternative-universe-folks.

Unless you guys are receiving those emails too, and I’m missing that by not listening. I think that stuff goes into the group chat. I didn’t put it in there, though, so, uh. Who’s to say? Not me, certainly. Never me. I don’t know, uh. Anything. Ever. At all.

That’s the nature of humanity, or something like that. Was it Tolstoy who said that? Or Plato?

Ugh. I’ll google it later. It’s just–

Here’s what I know about the nature of humanity, which is just about as much as anybody else.

It’s good. I genuinely believe that. If it wasn’t good, inherently, I don’t know what I’d do with myself. I think I’d rot, wilt, shrivel up.

And I’m usually close to wilting, anyway. That heavy weight in my chest makes me feel like wilting.

[music kicks up–a simple beat, synths, drums, piano. at the end of the world, says a muffled vocalist, it’s just you and me. you and me.]

I gave Teresa a haircut last night at three A.M. She knocked on our door and told us that she needed it that moment. Elaine offered, but then I mentioned her junior year high school roommate, whose hair she dyed, and she shut up right there.

We listened to shitty lo-fi hip-hop and it felt right, somehow, that moment. I’ve been–

I’ve been so close to wilting, but in that moment, three-forty-seven A.M., my friend and my wife and her bad music and our cat and a pair of clippers–

In that moment, I think I grew. Not in a–huge, development sense. I didn’t change. I just felt good, y’know? I felt like, for once, the world was okay.

And the weight was gone.

My point is–

My point is that, we have to be good, in spite of the–my brain is saying weird, and I’m refusing it. To each other. I’m not saying we have to, like, elf-on-the-shelf it. That’s weird. We have to be kind–and not just to each other. To these new people too. To salmon-shorts Jack’s alternate universe self. To Mae. To–to everybody that’s new. This is terrifying for them. We have to–

We have to be kind, we have to make sure that they don’t shrivel up. Because there’s nothing worse than that.

I’m so afraid of shrivelling up.

So, so afraid of it.

Elaine helps. The cat helps. You guys–you all help. I think everybody needs that. I think all of you need that.

If we love each other, and we love everything that we can bring ourselves to love, I think we can overpower the weird–fuck!

Time is moving again. Sometimes, and here’s my theory, just my good ol’ idea: to get time moving again, you have to wax poetic for eight hours, cuz then time gets bored and wants to make that clear to you. If you are pretentious enough about love and life and all of the other big meaningful things that are out there, you can literally control time?

How metal is that?

Do teens still say metal? I am so, so tragically unhip. I hope they do. I like that as a descriptor. I don’t think it’s a good replacement for weird, but I think that we should use it more often.

Okay, okay, so, signing off–yeah, yeah, signing off. Gotta do that. We all do that. I just waxed poetic! I could have used that for signing off, but no. Ugh.

Here’s what comes next:

[static]

[confused]

Here’s what comes next:

[static]

[insistent]

Here’s what comes next.

We need to–

[and the static picks up: long, resonant]