Have you turned on the news at any point in the last seven years? Is there anything there that’s surprising anymore? Murder? Yawn. Armed robbery? Heard it. Water levels are rising at an astronomical rate and both California and Florida have vanished like bygone Atlantis? (Let’s permit the flooding until the Midwest has been submerged, too.)
Look, let’s get straight to it. We don’t have enough time anymore. Between keeping up with the voting habits of celebrities and participating in the latest viral internet trends, there’s not a lot of room left for us to get to the bottom of a lot of really serious issues. Unless it’s compacted and served via drive-thru, there really isn’t any way to stay up to date on the inexcusable things people are getting up to in the world. Hence, I humbly present The Official 2020 Guide to All Things Annoying.
When I was a kid, I made my mom cut the seams out of the insides of my socks. If that ball of inverted fabric so much as grazed the stubby tip of my big toe, I would make certain not only that my day didn’t move forward until the issue was resolved, but also that nobody’s day would move forward. It didn’t matter to me who was put out by my fit. It needed to be dealt with. Anything else that was even slightly uncomfortable needed to be similarly done away with, too. If my socks didn’t set just right in my shoes, they had to be readjusted. I would sooner endure walking pneumonia than to put up with the persistent itchiness of my shirt tag on my spine during the school day. And don’t let me get started on the complexities of acquiring pants that hugged me in a suitable way. I was verging on a teenager before I permitted jeans to replace sweatpants in my wardrobe. (I’ve once again evicted jeans, excepting special occasions.)
Sometimes I dream about hair. I don’t mean in the standard dream way where, through some marvel of anthropomorphism, I find myself fleeing from a gurgling monster whose arms, legs, and face are made of tousled, matted hair. Neither do I find myself swimming in boundless oceans of voluminous tresses. (I’d prefer the Abominable Hair Monster dream, all things considered.) My hair-dreams center on my own hair, on my own head, which disappeared a hair shy of a decade ago.
Grady was, when I first saw him, less than a year old. He was tall and slender, waving his half-length stump of a tail behind him, and he stared at me through the pane of glass that separated us, keeping me from laying my hands on his black-and-tan bespeckled coat and him from engorging his nose with the pungent scents I had no doubt tracked into the shelter. His concrete kennel was barren except for a tarnished blanket crumpled in the corner. It was the fifth blanket they’d tossed to him since he arrived less than a week prior. Had we not left with him — my mother and I — there would have been a sixth, and a seventh, and an eighth, until someone else snatched him up. But no one else was going to snatch him up. Despite his unremitting wag and his half-erect ears, Grady had an intensity to him that would have made White Fang think twice before squaring off. It was his eyes.
One of my most cherished pastimes involves flicking my stumpy thumb over Facebook’s carousel of friend suggestions. There’s no nostalgia in this. There’s no longing for the past or remembering better days — quite the opposite. There’s nothing wholesome at all about what I do. The point is to be not wholesome, to wallow in my own hauteur, to dole out my disdain across the beaming faces of the ghosts of my adolescence. That’s what draws me in while I’m sitting on the toilet or finding reasons not to be productive. Facebook calls this that section “People You May Know.” I call it “Reasons I’m Glad To Not Be In High School Anymore.” It’s with great joy that I welcome that gag-inducing row of profiles onto my feed. If I don’t have time to cycle through the menagerie, I make sure to remember a handful of posts surrounding it so I can return at a later time. That’s dedication.