THE LONG AND WINDING ERODE

“Inside me a voice keeps repeating the phrase:

You’ve lost it, you’ll never get out of this maze…”

–  Phish, Maze

Some questions are better left unasked.

How much longer is one of them.

Nonetheless, the question reasserts itself.

With the stubbornness of a senile yenta.

And the inconclusiveness of a 404 error.

How much longer?

Ask — and ye shall be teased.

You know those deceptively misleading Disney lines? Where each climactic turn reveals an unforeseen zigzag of endless human flesh — peppered in Elsa gowns, Goofy ears, and awkwardly outgrown biker tattoos?

That’s kinda how this feels.

We’re all in jail.

And our release date extends indefinitely.

The operant term here being indefinitely.

I miss the days of definitely.

When weeks had ends.

When days had names.

When bodyhairs had borders.

When benzos had remaining refills.

What scares me is not how long it’s been.

What scares me is how long it might be.

Days became weeks which became months.

And now we’re verging on seasons, while our horizon keeps retreating into the impenetrable distance.

As of this writing, I’m clocking thirty nine point five days (= 3,412,800 seconds = 10.79% of the year 2020) of which an embarrassing percentage found me watching PTA moms, in tie-dye leggings and wine stained hoodies, lip-synching slurred versions of gangster rap in choreographed debauchery.

Jewish Moms Gone Wild.

The remainder entails predictably dysfunctional family Zoom powwows, which alternate between everyone-talking-while-nobody-listens and — more often than not — everyone-staring-while-nobody-talks. The grandparents seem incapable of not experiencing technical difficulties. And the grandchildren seem incapable of not leaving their iPads face-up mid-sentence. Before long, the only remaining participants are two technologically clueless grandparents and nine abandoned screenshots of the ceiling.

Left to their own devices, my kids congeal into semiconscious lumps of clay.

Eyes glazed. Butts numb. Brains fried.

Lulled in a blasé fog of pixelated bliss.

Which is more than fine with me.

I’ve long since unsubscribed from parenthood.

As far as I’m concerned, dumbed down = numbed up = domestic survival.

I capitalize on this downtime not at all.

Despite my eager beaver plans and a slew of lofty ambitions, I mainly roam the house, dragging my feet through the halls like a slug across sandpaper.

All roads ultimately lead back to the restroom.

And it goes without saying that I stay without going.

It may look like a bathroom.

But it doubles as an asylum.

The good news is that we’re all equally stagnant. (At least that’s my hope.) There’s something slightly less nauseating about wasting your life in unison.

But some folks just refuse to say uncle.

Community organizations seem hell-bent on remaining relevant despite a mounting body of evidence to the contrary. The result is a hodgepodge of cringe-worthy “performances” and half-baked “events” the likes of which include college guidance counselors live-streaming lanyard tutorials to an underwhelming army of none.

We‘re here for you” is what they say.

“We’re not refunding you” is what they mean.

I’m currently hovering around the 3,414,927 second mark, which makes now as good a time as ever to calibrate my marriage.

The matrimony is in questionable shape.

On the whole, I think we’re chipper.

(But my wife will beg to differ.)

By the end of each day, there’s not much to say.

We’re running on fumes.

Uncertainty looms.

We look at each other, in synchronized dejection…

simultaneously muttering the same three-word question:

How much longer?