Friday night. Mike’s apartment. Midnight. Mike tosses and turns in a nightmarish sleep as a thunderstorm rages outside ...
“Zzzzz ... Life sucks. Everything sucks. Everything I do is so wrong … wrong ... wrong ...”
MA 00:9, yadrutaS
Mike wakes to find the storm has cleared and sunlight is streaming into his bedroom window. Wait ... no it’s not. Mike gasps. He jumps out of bed and runs outside in his tighty-whities. “The sun,” he stammers. “It’s, it’s rising in the west. Good God, that means today is—“
Mike trudges uncomfortably into Green Goddess. He’s wearing ironed pants, a dress shirt and his only shoes without holes. His tighty-whities have been replaced by fashionable boxer-briefs. Mike tugs at the waistband. “Damn boxer-briefs, they have no support. There’s no … cuppage.”
The waitress arrives. “Breakfast sandwich with extra bacon?”
“Um, not today. I’ll have the vegan special. What’s in that again? Satan?”
“What is seitan anyway?”
“You’ll find out in the bathroom later.”
Mike grimaces in absolute horror. He reaches into his backpack, past a Stephen King book, and instead pulls out “Great Expectations.” He starts reading … ironically, he suspects.
At the Shaw’s checkout, Mike bags his groceries. Himself. Using a reusable shopping bag. As he leaves, he notices the clerk forgot to charge him for his low-alcohol-content six-pack. “Yes!” Mike thinks. “Free beer.” He skips out the door, elated. Then stops, slumps his shoulders and turns around.
“Excuse me, I think you missed the beer.”
“Oh yeah,” the clerk says. “I do that all the time. Thanks for telling me, you’re very honest.”
“Whatever — are you working tomorrow?”
Mike finishes his daily run on the Rec Path. He’s been running on the left side of the path, irritating everyone in sight. “What are ya, from England?” Someone yells.
“I am today.” Mike pants.
Out of habit, he pulls open his trunk and hauls out a garbage bag. He heads for the trashcan in the parking lot, then stops. “Oh crap” He throws the bag back in the trunk and pulls out two dollar bills. With a sigh, he starts the car and heads for the dump.
Mike’s landlady drives up and sees Mike mowing the lawn around his building.
“Mike? You’re not dozing fitfully on your couch all afternoon? Are you sick?”
“No. I just felt like doing manual labor today. It’s unusual for me.”
“I know. You’re the type of person who uses terms like ‘manual labor.’ ”
Mike finishes his latest column, one that’s written with care, deeply moving and uses actual literary devices, like irony. He brushes aside a tear, then clicks on a document titled: Alien vs. Predator vs. RoboMike. Mike grins. “I’ll write you tomorrow, my precious!”
Mike checks the baseball scores and sees the Yankees won. He grits his teeth and says, “Yay.” There’s a knock at the door.
“Hi Mike. Well, your apartment looks ... nice. Too nice.” Mike’s girlfriend walks to the bathroom. “You cleaned in here instead of making a lame excuse that you were too busy?”
“It’s opposite day, isn’t it?”
Mike nods again.
“Does this mean we can go to Aladdin tonight instead of the new Chucky movie?”
Mike clenches his fists, and nods again.
“Then I ain’t complaining. I should’ve known. It sounded like you were actually paying attention on the phone earlier instead of playing video poker. But Mike, why do you do these opposite days sometimes?”
Mike stares into the distance. “I’m not sure. It’s like I’m compelled by forces beyond my understanding.”
“Yeah, that’s fantastic. By the way, I booked an Airbnb for next weekend. It’s a yurt. It’s soooo cute. I mean, there’s no indoor plumbing or anything, but there’s a compost toilet.”
“What is a compost toilet anyway?”
“You’ll find out in the outhouse later.”
Mike lets his head fall on the coffee table. “That ... sounds wonderful, honey. You had to choose today to tell me that?”
“Yeah, I kinda did.”
Saturday night. Mike’s apartment. Midnight. Mike tosses and turns in a nightmarish sleep as a thunderstorm rages outside. Mike suddenly wakes to find a ghostly presence hovering over him.
“Auuuuughh. It’s ... it’s ... George Costanza from Seinfeld?”
“Yup! I’m back, baby. And I was once like you, Mike. Whining all the time about how my life sucked. Then, one day I started doing the opposite of what my instincts told me.”
“I loved that episode.”
George rolls his eyes. “Gee, ya think? You’re writing an entire column about it. Anyway, that opposite day was a revelation. Everything about my life changed for the better once I started doing the opposite. And ever since, I’ve wanted to help you see the light, Mike.”
“But why me?”
“Mike, you are the closest thing to George Costanza the world has ever produced.”
“I’m not like you! I mean, um, wait, lemme think. Well, I’m not freakishly bald.”
George grabs Mike by the face. “I’m guessing that was your instinct talking.” Mike nods. “Stick to the opposite.”
“OK. I’m not freakishly ... balding.”
George growls in frustration. “George is gettin’ upset. Forget it, Mike. You’re beyond hope. Now I have to curse you.”
“The George Curse? No, please, anything but that!”
“Yes. I’m cursing you to a ghastly Seinfeldian universe where you will spend eternity discussing the tedious minutia of everyday life with vapid morons instead of doing something meaningful with your existence.
There’s a burst of light and TV static, and Mike suddenly finds himself … at Green Goddess. Eating his usual breakfast sandwich, having the usual coffee, nothing changed.
Mike looks around puzzled. “Wait, the curse is my regular life? I don’t get it.”
George’s voice booms from above. “That’s because you don’t understand irony, Mike.”
“That’s fair.” Mike pulls the waistband of his underwear. Tighty-whities. Mike sighs in relief.
“Well, if I’m cursed for eternity, at least I’ll have some support.”
Mike Mulhern lives in Stowe. Email letters to news@stowereporter .com.