imagine you were god and you had created the universe. but imagine that no organisms were supposed to do any more than eat other organisms and poop and nap. have you ever baked something, and you added the wrong ingredient, and the oven filled up with what was supposed to be cake? no? well, perhaps you’ve seen it in a movie from when you were younger? can we move on in spite of your lack of baking history? what i’m getting at is that the universe could have been a recipe. the stars and galaxies are moving away from us …accelerating away from us like stage hands pulling back the curtain, and i can’t help but feel that the abject darkness that will one day fill the skies – an endless darkness with not a single star cluster to be seen – all light swallowed up by dark energy, leaving us to look at the sun and moon, and maybe venus – was possibly what was intended to be seen. maybe the recipe was meant for us to not see anything of the universe. to have no clue how it works. and instead, because we’ve seen into a lot of it, we’re able to rearrange atoms and turn them into entirely new things. if that was not what was intended, imagine how terrifying that would be to look down on. “well, so far so good. the ones without claws or fangs are staying in this thing. you guys, pay up. everyone thought they would die off immediately. oh …well, this is weird. they’re making tools. and they’re examining their dead ones to see how they’re made. well, that’s unsettling. now they’re mining minerals and other elements from the soil …and ….oh crap – they’re turning them into lasers and bombs! they’re growing replacement ears on rats! what the hell is this?! they were supposed to just stab the furry ones with pointy sticks. oh, i see. i added too many brain cells. why do i always do this? how do i turn this thing off? this is too horrific to watch.” but if there is no god, it’s kind of sad that no one gets to see all this stuff we’ve figured out.

as a society, it seems like the united states is inching ever closer to equal rights for everyone. lots of groups could make a pretty solid case that they are being treated horribly, but the one thing that seems to always calm those gripes is “it used to be worse.” which is seemingly true in almost all cases. things did used to be worse across the board. you have to break some eggs to make an omelet, and then it turns out – no one’s really that fired up about omelets. one group that can say things used to be quite a bit better would be the effeminate straight man. it’s not like they have a group, or meetings, or any sort of coalition. they may not even know that they are a ‘people’ – but as a group, things have only gotten worse for them. several decades ago they would just be whispered about behind their friends’ backs. “old phillip sure likes ironing his pants, doesn’t he?” “boy, old phillip can sure sing and dance …better than the gals even.” and so on. old phillip may have gotten some weird looks, but when he went home to his wife, they all just shook their heads. “never woulda guessed old phillip likes crammin’ into a lady …god bless him.” but now, because being gay is becoming increasingly more accepted, effeminate straight men are subjected to the “you can tell me” talk. and that can’t be comfortable for anyone. “phillip, listen, i’m your friend. and if you have something you want to tell me …you can. if you’re gay – it’s ok.” and the friend gets to feel like they are enlightened and progressive – but they didn’t take into account that no one who is straight likes regularly being called gay …and vice versa (not many gay fellas like being high-fived, “let’s get some pussy! …it’s the equivalent of that, basically). “i’m your friend. you can just tell me.” “dude! i just like karaoke and bette midler. can we just have one night where you don’t try to pry me out of a closet i was never in?” so, maybe everyone is better off just continuing to whisper behind the phillips of the world’s backs. “he’s a little light in the loafers, isn’t he?” and then just move on.

every now and then you hear a story about a homeless person found dead in the park. and sometimes it turns out they had just been laying there all dead for several hours – if not days. that is a sad thought. people die in their homes, and no one finds them for days or weeks, but they were inside a house. the thought of someone being dead right in front of everyone as they make their way to work – it’s pretty disheartening. well, not on my watch. i was at a park in the middle of the day doing standard park stuff (flying kites non-stop, cartwheels, etc) and i saw a figure over near the fence. it was a lump of black fabric. not a sleeping bag, not a blanket. like a thick sheet. and under the sheet, some long black curly hair stuck out. my hunch, based on the lump, was that this was a male. suddenly, as i watched the clump of fabric and hair, i thought “is this guy dead?” and i was about to waltz over and ask as much …but then i realized how insulting that is if the person is not dead. “oh, sorry. thought your life was so bad that not only were you sleeping in a park – but that you’d become deceased while doing so. carry on.” how do you casually just check on that? if he was asleep, no one likes to be woken up. yes, it’s nice to have people care about you, but a stranger shaking your shoulder to see you arise and then going “oh good. he’s alive! everyone relax!” won’t brighten anyone’s day. so instead of waking up the figure – i waited. i watched with the intensity of a bird enthusiast. was that a rise in the fabric? what about that?? ….yes! or wait …yes, that definitely was. alright! way to live, park guy! the subtlety in breath and movement was almost unnoticeable – but it was there. he was living! as i exited the park feeling pretty good that no stranger had been dead right in front of me on my watch, i saw that laying right next to the figure was a guitar. and that made me hope i was seeing a good old fashioned rags to riches story. “yeah mom, it’s going pretty good. getting some decent gigs. it’s a long road. hmm? oh, at jeff’s house. yeah, he’s got a decent couch. okay, talk to you soon. love you too.” then roll on over and finish a solid park sleep …without some jerk waking you up to see if you’re still living.

research is continuously being conducted in the world. there are studies on animals, on humans, on situations, on inanimate objects, the stars, and pretty much everything in our known universe. there are always studies going on, and no one knows the names of any of them. but that has never stopped anyone from referencing one to lend their argument some much needed credibility. “no, this guy, i can’t remember his name …but they’ve done studies” and everyone in the conversation leans in slightly. “this guy sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. he knows about some study they evidently did once. seems pretty solid.” it would make sense on occasion to either pretend to know the name of the study, or just lock in on one – and actually know it. if you know the kinsey report, just wait for that to come up. people talk about sex a lot, and then bang – there you are “oh, you guys talking about sex. you know, this guy named kinsey did a study and found out…” and then nearly anything you say after that will seem credible. we’re all just passing around the same terrible information because one of our friends, who we trust, referenced a study once. “did you know that if you tickle a koala bear, they’ll poop out of their nose? yeah, they did a study. the eifrem-haggert experiment” oooh, eifrem-haggert – that’s as good as gospel.