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Comedy Stories

The More Things Change

Today’s the day you change.

You mean it this time.

Everything. Change every jot and tittle.

You are unsure what a jot and tittle is—an expression you learned in Hebrew school—but it seems like a good phrase to use today.

You pull out your iPhone and google “jot and tittle” → [every small detail has received attention].

It’s a sign.

Indeed, today’s the day you change every small detail in your life that needs attention. You make a mental list of where to start, but it’s entirely overwhelming, so you simply decide to get out of bed.

You get off of the futon with its balled up sheets and matted comforter—one that is too hot at night until you stick one exposed leg out from under it.

For the past two years, this particular futon has acted as a de facto womb during the quarantines, both the government-mandated ones and the ones you declared yourself.

And just look at you—up before noon!

You find immense pride in carrying up your own trash and recycling debris from your musty bedroom in the basement.

Your bare feet pound the steps leading out of the cold cinder block lair into the relatively warm kitchen, every square inch decorated with your mother’s penchant for cow memorabilia.

Should you accidentally get married, you will forbid your wife from any black and white bovine décor.

Regardless, your mother will be proud of you—for bringing up a shit ton of beer bottles without her having to nag you. Of course, you aren’t entirely sure when “nagging” equated to her trying to talk to you, but that isn’t relevant. Now she won’t have to do either. Bonus prize: she can’t see how many beers you’ve consumed this week if you get them in today’s recycling.

To dispose of them all, you’ll have to put half of them in the neighbor’s yellow RECYCLING – GLASS ONLY bin. For no reason except for pure petulance, you cut through your neighbor’s neatly gardened flowerbeds to unload an armful of Pabst Blue Ribbon bottles.

Now, back inside your parents’ house, you decide to bring the vacuum cleaner downstairs as well as some bathroom cleaning supplies since your toilet looks like a medical experiment gone awry.

As you walk through your parents’ claustrophobic living room to get to the laundry room, you notice the cloying stench of holiday allspice, wafting from an automatic air freshener. It sends out a helpful puff of holiday cheer as you walk by, two months too early and entirely unwelcome. You unplug it from the wall and kick it under the china cabinet.

After gathering what you think you’ll need to clean your living space, you notice that your mother has hung up an inordinate amount of stark square and rectangular wall hangings with assorted concrete and abstract nouns: Days of Wine and Chocolate. Peace Friendship Love. Gather Thankful Laugh.

Should you accidentally get married, you will forbid your wife from making people read the walls of your home.

Downstairs in the basement, the temperature is a good fifteen degrees colder than upstairs, so you feel resentful that your parents have not purchased a space heater. Sure, one of their aunts died in front of a space heater, but that was more from alcoholism than from faulty wiring. Regardless, you put on your favorite college sweatshirt, which like every other piece of your clothing, needs laundering.

The college sweatshirt reminds you of your ex-girlfriend, so you sit down among the chaotic bed coverings with a heartfelt sigh and pull out your iPhone. An hour and a half later, you have read through all of your ex-girlfriend’s social media, virtually meet her new boyfriend, wish them both well, and then feel sorry for yourself.

You decide you need to be on dating apps. Your father would prefer you be on LinkedIn, proudly listing your degree in communication and the 3-month internship you completed at a used car dealership, proudly painting cloud bubbles on windshields with prices containing lots of nines: REDUCED FOR SALE $13,999. But since the pandemic, you’ve kept a low profile, except on Steam, where you’ve racked up more hours playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive than it took you to earn your undergraduate degree.

You look at the dating apps options.

Tinder is a little too raw for what you want. Hinge seems a little too serious for what you need. So you select Bumble, since girls have to do the selecting, leaving the work to someone else. You watch the download with mild interest. After opening the app, you fill in mostly accurate information. When it comes to uploading a photo, the only decent one you have is from your sophomore year in college, which was about thirty-five pounds ago. Still, it’s close enough. You cobble together a quick bio that makes you sound like the person you are changing to be and pick three “My Move Makers.” Now you are off to the races!

Your social life successfully percolating, you take the toilet brush and blue bowl cleaner into the bathroom. Lifting the toilet lid, you wonder what you ate that could have gone so, so terribly wrong.

As you swish the brush around, a flicker of blue bowl cleaner lands exactly in your left eye, making you drop everything to run to the sink to flood the area with water—just like your high school chemistry teacher showed you, when you were fooling around in class with hydrogen peroxide and Billy Sampson, who later dropped out of school and now works at a Jiffy Lube.

Nearly blinded, you decide that you have cleaned enough for one day, so you gather up the cleaning products, shove them in the tote, octopus the canister vacuum around your neck, and ascend the stairs to the much cozier main floor.

Halfway up the stairs, the canister hose slides out of your hands and coils itself between your feet, causing you to catastrophically trip.

The tote of cleaning supplies spectacularly falls, flinging the wet toilet brush full of fetid toilet water and blue bowl cleaner in a perfect arc across the basement floor, but mostly on the futon.

With that, you kick the canister vacuum down the stairs, watching the main container burst open, dispelling hair and grey dust that you vaguely suspect is dead skin cells.

You pick up your iPhone and note that your friends are meeting on Steam for an all-night Counter-Strike tournament.

So, tomorrow’s the day that you change.

You mean it this time.

And you will change all of it.

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