Keep it going!

By Andrew J. Pridgen

When I moved down here, I vowed not to read any news, or books, or listen to any public radio, or go outside and see for myself, or walk into a cafe and talk to — you know — actual people. I mean, that’s why I moved down here.

Here is 28 feet underground in a bunker. It’s actually an old storage container like the kind they use to ship those plastic balls you see trying to break out of their cage in the grocery store. I buried it underground with two ventilation holes for breathing. I eat beans. I sleep on something that you would normally float on a river. I don’t have any windows. There is a single door that’s more like a hatch that is attached to a ladder leading back up to earth. In between me and the ground are several thousand, tiny furry burrowing things doing their daily work above me at all hours.

I decided my only connection to the outside world would be through my Facebook feed.

And from what I can tell, things are going great up there.

For starters, it looks like everyone’s shooting at each other. That’s pretty cool. In other words, it’s about time. When I first came down, I was always wondering when the shooting was going to start. I mean, there are twice as many guns up there than there were in 1968 and that means basically one gun for every man, woman and child. I wouldn’t necessarily call that a surplus as much as one each. But since I didn’t have a gun and nobody I really knew had guns, that means a lot of people have a lot of guns — so I guess it’s about time they start shooting them at each other. Why have a Porsche if you’re just going to keep it in the garage?

One thing I miss about when I was “up there” is I used to do a lot of running races. Sometimes they were on the road, sometimes they were on trail. Sometimes they were on sand. A lot of people would turn up for these races. If I recall correctly, these people were all of different races and sizes and religions. They never usually agreed on what type of shoe they liked best or what shorts didn’t chafe or what they preferred to eat and drink before, during or after to fuel up. But they did all like to run. And nobody — NOBODY — in spite of their differences, carried a gun to these things. It was like we can agree to disagree and I’m not going to shoot you.

That was a pretty cool feeling.

I wonder if that whole part of living up there is gone now. From my Facebook feed, it appears that way. Nobody seems to be able to say, “I know you may have a different point of view than me, but here’s what I think — please feel free to disagree on the Facebook. Or, better yet, reach out to me and let’s go get coffee and talk not only about our differences, but how we can find common ground.”

What people say now is stuff like, “OUr PResndt is STUPed nad he kills copz” or they put a picture up with some Sheriff that looks like he’s the guy standing behind the kid playing banjo in Deliverance saying the something similar. It’s weird. The people on Facebook who seem quickest to judge are absolutely the same people who say, “Unfriend me if you disagree.”

OK.

If my Facebook is correct, a few other things are going on with actual people up there besides the gun stuff. They are:

  1. Holy shit. NOBODY wants to run the country anymore. The president is definitely the worst job in the universe. On one hand there’s a guy from a reality TV show who dropped many, many, many not-so-subtle hints that he wants to fuck his daughter with his penis that he claims is big. And on the other hand, you have a former First Lady who seems to want all the power. Wow. Yuck.
  2. Nobody seems to want to interact with other people. I see a lot of people taking and posting pictures of themselves. Usually there’s a cool building or a pretty body of water or some good-looking food or person in the background. But they’re not interacting with any of it. It’s like everyone overnight became a hood ornament — so insular that they now can’t stop someone and ask them to take a picture? What happened? Are the other people also too busy taking pictures of themselves too?
  3. I get the feeling that everyone’s really really sad. They don’t actually come out and say they’re sad on their posts. But either they put up ‘memories’ from five years ago that don’t seem too great in the first place but now seem EXTRAORDINARY by comparison (“remember when we had jobs/a backyard/could afford sushi”?) or they just post single-word really melancholy things like, “Disappointed!” What does that mean? Are you disappointed that there still hasn’t been a decent Neverending Story sequel? Are you disappointed that last time you went home you wanted to drink out of your favorite Burger King Fozzie Bear giveaway cup and your mom said she gave it to Goodwill? Are you disappointed that your car broke down between Vegas and Barstow and you instead wandered through the desert eating ‘shrooms for three days passing out under giant rocks that have been slumbering for a millennia, ever patiently waiting for our species to die out so they can get up from their self-induced coma and start boogying with the rest of nature again? Or are you just simply, “Disappointed!” In EVERYTHING?

It seems like the latter.

I also see that racism has made a HUGE comeback, while jobs have not. Money is almighty even though the chance for ordinary people to earn it is remote. Folks who used to produce original thoughts and ideas and have just kind of gone away. In their place, it’s just people who like to hate everything except for maybe a clip from Dancing with the Stars once in awhile. I wonder where all the thinkers went, the doers, the kind observers. Maybe they’re all hiding way underground, just like me.

Anyway, I’m learning how to crochet a blanket because I’m cold most of the time, so I’m going to go back to doing that. I may not come up there for awhile, maybe not ever at this rate. Thanks for your posts though. Thanks for keeping me informed. If I had one thing to say, one piece of advice, it’s maybe take a deep breath next time. Think about what you are saying and whether it’s helpful or hurtful. Try to err on the side of the prior.

And maybe, just doing that will do some good.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of “Burgundy Upholstery Sky,” he lives in California. 

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