Takeout, 2013

by Corey Ginsberg

After Denise Duhamel

It’s only March 2013, but I keep writing 2017 on checks. I think this is a sign
that I’m already done with this year, and for that matter, the next several.
I think everything’s a sign and maybe that’s the problem.
Driving to work in my wheezing VW, each time the monorail passes over me
I make a wish and know something good’s in store. Usually I’m wrong
about what I think I know. Some days when the monorail tents my car
I still end up in some bathroom stall, crying about some thing. Last time
I wished upon the monorail I fell in a puddle of my sweat while doing lunges
and blew out my knee. Knees are a symbol of stability and foundation.
I’ve spent more of 2013 on crutches than I have passing as a normal human.

It’s only March and I’m working full-time to not lose myself
in the rhetoric of disconnection. I forget faces and names
like they’re state capitals and irregular French verbs. Everyone’s already forgotten
the Mayan apocalypse four months ago. I, though, am still apocalypsing.
A week after the world ended my agent told me everyone passed
on my novel. When my uncle died a month later, slumped over a shoebox
full of orange plastic cylinders drained of their white discs,
they had to bury him in a special casket because his body was rotting prematurely.
There are special caskets that contain premature rot. This could be a sign.
My car died today so I didn’t get to wager a wish. Everything dies
alone, I once read. Except cars. My car likes to die in good company,
or even mediocre company, with me bitch slapping its collarbone and begging
it to hang on for three thousand more klicks. Another AAA resurrection, a new
battery and a promise from Frank, the cross-eyed mechanic, that I’ll make it
to work on Monday. The year melts into a mobius strip of undesirable
montage moments, strung together into a wobbly ouroboros.
When I stare down the horizon, I can see into the hood of my sweatshirt.

It’s only March and I’ve already cemented the divorce between Hypothetical
Me and Real Me, a separation that takes others years, even mental illness,
to properly reinforce. Hypothetical Me does so much more
than walk in heels and balance a checkbook. She makes eye contact,
asks about your mom’s colonoscopy, and has intelligent things to say
about fracking. Hypothetical Me knows what fracking is, whereas Real Me thinks
it’s a combination of fucking and racking, which can’t be right,
and doesn’t even make sense. Real Me is aware of her diminished capacity
for sense-making, which runs parallel to her compounding aversion
to human interaction. Hypothetical Me excels at many things Real Me can’t
fathom. She did much better at the strip club than Real Me,
who spent the bulk of the night in yet another bathroom stall, hiding
from an extremely topless stripper who’d been paid by real friends to give a real
lap dance. Hypothetical Me can handle strippers as well as clothed humans,
whereas Real Me drives to the party, sits in the car a block away, then goes
home, puts on eating pants and destroys a pint of raw cookie dough.
A stasis of selves requires no true compromise.

It’s only March and I know it’s presumptuous to write off nine months,
but last week the dog threw up on my crutches while I was icing my knee.
If this is a sign I’m not sure what to do with it, other than declare 2013 a takeout
year, three months in. There’s still time to apply the mercy rule and stop the pattern
from propagating. If that’s settling, then I’m settling for settling, which is meta-
settling, a new dimension to my rationalization spectrum. I didn’t get mad
at the dog for releasing his poison. Letting it out is better than waiting
for it to corrode the inside. The next day, when the stomach flu ripped me
out of sleep, I threw up in my bathroom sink. Then I had to clean up the vomit,
which made me puke again, this time in the toilet. There is no protocol
for retracting nine months, and no way to concede without collapsing into self-
pity. What’s in store for the remainder of the year could be so much worse
than this colossal teaser. For all I know the next time the monorail passes
over while I’m negotiating the asphalt below, it may derail
and flatten my car before I can cast a final, frugal wish.



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