The first thing you should know about me is I hate to do things the normal way.
-----------> YOU FIND YOURSELF LOOKING AT A MAN. (01)
He's about 6 feet tall, with short brown ("HONEY BLONDE IS NOT A COLOR, GODDAMMIT") hair and an easy-going smile. He's got a bit of a pudge going on, but there's a yoga membership card poking out of his jeans. In his back pocket he has a brown notebook.
If you want to...
... see what he's doing this weekend, scroll to "WEEKENDS MUCH? (02)"
...check out his package, scroll to "PERVY EYE SQUINTING (09)"
...ask him about his notebook, scroll to "HEY FOUR EYES! (11)"
––––––> "WEEKENDS MUCH? (02)"
"What?" he says. "I don't understand what 'weekends much' means."
"Neither do I," you say, "but that was the only passing-acceptable option I was presented with."
"Wow, God is cruel," he says.
"Yeah!" you respond.
"I was kidding, I don't believe in God," he says.
And you feel sort of tricked by all of this, and wonder how you possibly got caught in a Choose Your Own Adventure on OKCupid.
...are horrified, sickened, and disturbed by the phrase "I don't believe in God," scroll to "THE HAPPY LAND OF RAINBOWS" near the bottom.
...a little uncomfortable by the phrase, "I don't believe in God," and you want to press him about it, scroll to: "REPENT, DISBELIEVER! (03)"
…want to know more, scroll to "DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE?"
––––––> "REPENT, DISBELIEVER! (03)"
"Saying you don't believe in God makes me uncomfortable," you say.
"Oh God, me too!" he says. "We have so much in common."
"So you believe in God?" you ask again.
"Then why do you feel squeamish?" you ask.
"Because I definitely believe in irony."
If you're intrigued, scroll to "DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE? (04)"
If you're horrified by the turn this conversation has taken, scroll to "THE HAPPY LAND OF RAINBOWS (13)"
––––––> "DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE? (04)"
"Do you want to know more?" he asks, looking up from his iPhone.
"I think you're making a 'Starship Troopers' reference," you say, "and I may or may not have gotten it."
"Well then," he says, "You may or may not be awesome then."
There's an awkward pause in the conversation as you and he both attempt to measure if you are awesome.
"Can we get serious for a moment?" you ask. "I want to know about the whole God thing with you."
The man scratches his head, purses his lips, and then says, "I used to be very spiritual. My parents had been Christian, but they never really practiced it when we were kids. Over time I just moved more and more away from it. Now if you ask me, I'd say I'm reverse-agnostic. I think there is PROBABLY something out there, but it doesn't seem to impact my life in any verifiable way, and none of the religions seem to have the details quite right. In my opinion."
"You dated an atheist once, didn't you?" you ask.
His jaw drops, and for a moment. "You're good."
"I'm a very insightful person," you say.
"Thanks for asking, by the way," he adds. "I'm cool if you believe in something, as long as you don't mind me being who I am, and as long as you don't believe speaking in tongues is a rational solution to a problem."
He waits for your answer.
If you believe speaking in tongues is a rational solution to an answer, scroll to "THE HAPPY LAND OF RAINBOWS (13)"
If you don't, scroll to "KEEP THAT WOO TO YOURSELF, JACK (05)"
If you just, for the love of all that may or may not be holy, want to know what he does on the weekends, scroll to "SERIOUSLY, WEEKENDS MUCH?! (06)"
––––––> "KEEP THAT WOO TO YOURSELF, JACK (05)"
"Please don't say 'woo'," he says.
"Huh? I thought you said you were agnostic," you say.
"Yeah, but 'woo' is a kind of shitty phrase. It belittles people and hurts peoples' feelings."
"You are an enigma wrapped in a mystery," you say.
"No," he says, "but I'm holding one."
He shakes a package he's holding.
If you want to check out his package, scroll to "PERVY EYE SQUINTING (09)"
If you just want to change the subject, because for God's sake, when did this become a theological discussion, scroll to, "HEY FOUR EYES! (11)"
If you really, really just wanted to know what he does for fun, continue down to "SERIOUSLY, WEEKENDS MUCH?! (06)"
––––––> "SERIOUSLY, WEEKENDS MUCH?! (06)"
"I think you're trying to ask me what I do on the weekends," he says, "but you're not doing it very well."
"I'm doing the best with what I have," you answer, giving him a pointed look.
"Hey, 'motion of the ocean,' right?"
"We will not be making penis jokes this early on."
"Right." He pulls out his iPhone – which you notice is not the newest, nor the oldest – and brings up his calendar. He turns and shows it to you.
The weekends read like this:
HANG WITH FRIENDS
"That's as generic as a stick figure's diary," you say.
"I'm a simple man," he responds.
As you reread the list… "Wait, you work on the weekends?"
"Sometimes," he says, "I'm in the entertainment business, so sometimes the hours are a little crazy."
If you want to know more about his job, scroll to "OOOO MR. FANCY HOLLYWOOD JOB (08)"
If you really want to press him on his hobbies and what he likes to do, "MOFO, IMMA CUTABITCH (07)"
––––––> "MOFO, IMMA CUTABITCH (07)"
"You're very aggressive," he says.
"I don't know what came over me." You put away your switchblade and think about your life choices, while he tells you his hobbies:
"Let's see – I write a lot – "
– "I never would have guessed," you say –
"– so I like a lot of things that have to do with creativity. Writing, drawing, movies, video games. Anything with a story and I'm there. I like stand-up comedy…" He seems to run dry.
"You don't have many interests," you say.
"I just like spending time with people I like. What we actually do is secondary, isn't it? And anyway, my work is what I love to do, so it's more like I have an insanely great hobby that I get paid for, and I don't have to get a crappy job."
"That actually sounds pretty awesome."
If you want to know more about his job, continue below to "OOOO MR. FANCY HOLLYWOOD JOB (08)"
Or – scroll literally anywhere else. Free will is real, man, but only if you make it real. Dig?
––––––> "OOOO MR. FANCY HOLLYWOOD JOB (08)"
He ignores your intensely-cynical tone and explains he does a lot of different things: writing, editing, producing, directing.
"What specifically?" you ask.
He says nothing.
"Does talking about your job make you uncomfortable?"
He still says nothing.
"Are you bothered by the fact that people will judge you by your position in life?"
Nothing, says he, so you press on.
"Do you feel like talking about the specifics of your job either way opens you up to a double-trap, wherein if you explain your job is awesome, people may want to use you for that reason, whereas if your job is not awesome, people will judge you for it?"
His silence is punctuated by a big helping of quiet.
Finally, you say, "Have you essentially been speaking through me this whole time?"
He flashes you the thumbs-up.
No matter how you feel about your psyche being temporarily borrowed for a moment of exposition, scroll to anywhere else.
Otherwise, scroll to "A LULL IN CONVERSATION (12)"
––––––> "PERVY EYE SQUINTING (09)"
"Niiiiiiice package," you say, eyeing his package.
"Thanks! It just arrived," he says, pulling out a small brown box wrapped in paper. Written on the top is: "STUPID AND/OR NAUGHTY JOKES."
"I go through these like crazy," he said. "I was almost out. It was lucky it came when it did."
"Aren't we all?" you respond.
"Hey!" he shouts, "I paid good money for these. Don't go using them all up willy-nilly."
Then he high-fives you.
If you feel sick to your stomach that you were forced into making a naughty joke on the Internet, scroll to "A HAPPY LAND OF RAINBOWS"
If you're still curious about the notebook in his back pocket, scroll to "HEY FOUR EYES! (11)"
If you're still curious about what he's doing this weekend, scroll to "WEEKENDS MUCH? (02)"
If you can't pass up the phrase "willy-nilly," continue down to "WILLY-NILLY? BUT I DON'T EVEN KNOW NILLY! (10)"
––––––>"WILLY-NILLY? BUT I DON'T EVEN KNOW NILLY! (10)"
He stares at you blankly. "That one was a stretch."
"That's what she said!" you fire back.
"Are you still trying?" he asks.
"That's what she said!" you fire back.
"You're going to keep doing this till I give in, aren't you?"
"That's what she said," you fire back.
"Yes. SHE did," he responds, seized with frustration and sudden indignance, "and the fact that women are treated as sexual objects and hounded for their favors, instead of being respected as individuals and treated as equal members to both a sexual and emotional relationship – not to mention in the workplace! – it just makes me angry. And sad. And a little disappointed in this thing we call 'society.'"
In the distance, Sarah McLachlan begins gently plinking on her piano. "In the arrrrrmmms…. of…. the angel…."
"I'm sick of it!" he shouts. "I'm sick of dating women who don't speak their mind! I'm sick of the bigotry, sick of the ignorance!"
"….flyyyyy awaaaaay…. from here…."
"I'm sick of seeing films where women are portrayed as cardboard cutouts, with 'insert tab A into slot B' over their crotch, and 'This page intentionally left blank' over their brain!"
"…from this darrrrrrk…cold….hotel room…"
"It's time for women to stop accepting the short end of the stick!"
"That's what she said," you say.
Sarah McLachlan gives you a disgusted look and abandons her piano.
"You know the words to 'Arms of an Angel'?" you ask, squinching up your nose.
"Just the bits they play over the sad puppies," he responds.
"Let's move on."
...want to change the topic as quickly as possible, scroll to "WEEKENDS MUCH? (02)"
…are still concerned about why a grown man carries a notebook like he's Harriet the Spy, scroll to "HEY FOUR EYES! (11)"
…were like, "hey, a Harriet the Spy reference!" high-five yourself. Because fourth grade was awesome, wasn't it?
...thought that was all pretty cool, scroll to "A LULL IN CONVERSATION (12)"
––––––> "HEY FOUR EYES! (11)"
You point at the notebook in his back pocket.
He looks at it, looks back at you. "You would make a terrible high school bully. I don't even wear glasses."
There's a long pause…
"Are you going to say something?" you ask.
"Um, no. This is the last one I had left to write, and to be honest, I have other stuff to do. So. I have a notebook. I write in it. I also like writing with typewriters."
"How about pen and quill?" you ask, "Papyrus? Stone and chisel? Do you write with a computer at all?"
"I'm doing it right now," he answers, finishing up typing "he answers."
"This has gotten insanely meta," you say.
If you want to quickly change the subject, scroll to "SERIOUSLY, WEEKENDS MUCH?! (06)"
If you're kicking yourself for not checking out his package, shout, "Look, over there! A flying marmoset!" and scroll to "PERVY EYE SQUINTING (09)"
If you think this is actually pretty awesome, continue down to "A LULL IN CONVERSATION (12)"
––––––> "A LULL IN CONVERSATION (12)"
"You're pretty cool," you say.
"Thanks. I like your choices."
There's a long, awkward pause.
"Hey, so…" he says, "as cool as this is, I feel like you know a bunch about me, and I don't know anything about you."
"Yeah, I guess that's true," you say.
"If you've gotten this far," he says, "I think I'd probably like to know more about you."
If you'd like him to know more about you, send him a message. You didn't expect these choices to last forever, did you?
If you've read this far, and don't want to know any more, continue down to "THE HAPPY LAND OF RAINBOWS (13)"
––––––> "THE HAPPY LAND OF RAINBOWS (13)"
Just kidding. This was a trick: there isn't a happy land of rainbows. But I brought you here because I think this is probably not going to work out.
Is it you? Is it me? I wasn't the one making the choices. But then again, I wrote this. So whose fault is it really? The egg-maker? Or the egg? The stupid, stupid egg?
(You're not a stupid egg)
I mean, you very well may be an egg. Who am I to judge? I've never met you. But if you are indeed an egg, and are indeed reading this, you are certainly not stupid.
So that's a comfort. Bye.