Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This post probably doesn't exist.

If you have any existentialist friends, you probably already know that there are two things you never want to disclose in their company. The first thing you should never mention to an existentialist is that you "just happened" to catch a women's volleyball match on ESPN2 last night. It really doesn't matter what level it is - college, Olympic, even beach - nothing gets an existentialist's knickers in a knot like volleyball. It's seen as a refutation of some of Kierkegaard's mid-19th century critique of modern Christendom, particularly if Logan Tom or the Misty May-Kerry Walsh tandem are involved.

Two years ago at Dole, Ronny Balboa (yes, that's his real name) went after Rex "The Supervisor" Hymen with a can of sliced pineapple after Rex made a passing mention of the national championship between Nebraska and Stanford. We had to bodily haul Ronny back to Cannery Row, but he kicked and screamed the whole time about how there was no God in "team", and how Nebraska had obviously prevailed on the strength of individual achievement and personal responsibility, and how their collective fate had to be a moot issue for them to overcome Foluke Akinradewo and Cynthia Barboza, Stanford's First Team All-Americans.

The second unmentionable tends to be even more controversial and potentially explosive. Never - and I can't stress that enough - let an existentialist find out that you, or anyone else, has been debating your own existence. The reason that I'm at home right now nursing a black eye, a cracked tooth, and three bruised ribs is because I forgot this rule.

Here's what happened:

12:33 PM yesterday: an email arrives from my aunt Jane.
Hi everyone,
According to this site, see how many Hoobans there are in the USA.


Right away, I'm thinking this email has the odor of potential trouble hovering about it much the same way that a mysterious odor of Gouda cheese hovered over Grand Central Station last Friday, and not for the first time (A-Rod must be back in town, I suppose...). So in the interest of my safety, I decide to archive the email and maybe look at it when I get home. It's called "leaving well enough alone."

1:08 PM: A scant 35 minutes later, my aunt Mary Beth decides to abruptly end the practice of leaving well enough alone, and looks at the website. She replies to all,
0 Hoobans!?!? How can that be? I find lots of unknown Hoobans when I google [sic] the name -- and, of course, I am related to a few Hoobans!!

Trouble has a front row seat to the festivities at this point. I probably should have deleted the email, or at the very least, unsubscribed. But the trouble is, there are zero Hoobans in the United States, according to the website. So I can't unsubscribe, because I'm apparently not here.

The feeling of paralysis is extraordinary! Also, it's, well, paralyzing. At this point, my conversations with co-workers become jerky and halting.

2:14 PM: I'm caught between my desire to delete the email and my desire to crack jokes to my apparently nonexistent family members. The emails start flying fast and furiously, or perhaps not at all. I can't tell the difference anymore. Oddly enough, my uncle John's email address keeps bouncing the emails back as undeliverable because, and I quote, his "email address does not exist."

2:19 PM: The entire Dole Fruit factory seems to be fading in and out like Marty McFly before his parents kissed at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance in Hill Valley in 1955. I start to vigorously perspire, but then I remember that my sweat glands don't exist either, so my undershirt must be wet from something else.

2:28 PM: 10 emails have gone back and forth among my family members. I reply to all the only way I know how.
Who the heck keeps sending these emails?
Surprisingly, there are six more emails after this, none of which offer a satisfactory theory as to who is actually doing the sending.

3:13 PM: I break my silence and confess to Eustice "Not the Supervisor But Wishes He Was" O'Dowd that I might not exist. Eustice rates about a 440 on the Briggs-Goering scale of existentialism, so I'm thinking he is safe ground. Not that it matters, since technically I'm not telling him anything. The news of my non-existence should really be a non-event, since I'm not even there to be missed, as far as I can tell.

Of course, what does Eustice do? He looks for my name on the website. Then he leaves it open on his computer. Everyone who walks by his desk sees this:

Let me just highlight the salient part for you.

3:55 PM: I get a call from payroll, asking me for lots of money. I hear snickering in the background. I tell them, "there's no one here," and then I hang up the phone.

4:18 PM: Laughin' Pete swoops in after I put money in the candy machine in the break room. "Hey look," he says, "free peanut M&Ms from the candy machine in the break room!" Asshole.

4:40PM: Greasy Tony, who is just as greasy as the legends say, if not more so, moves into my cubicle with me. Only, since I don't exist, he's just moving into a cubicle. He argues this point among himselves. I think he might be schizophrenic, except that I apparently don't exist, so I don't really think that.

5:02PM: Smilin' Luke pushes me in front of a taxi on 45th Street. Or rather, he pushes nobody in front of a taxi. Nobody, of course, gets pissed and retaliates by slugging the crap out of Smilin' Luke, which he doesn't feel at all. Nobody and Smilin' Luke start a tussle in the Gouda-free afternoon that results in nobody getting pretty badly hurt. Also, nobody learns what pavement tastes like, all while getting told that ultimately, nobody is personally responsible for nobody's existence because there is no God.

So there you have it.

For a self-negating experience of your own, check out www.howmanyofme.com, unless of course, you too don't exist. I'm sort of relieved that I don't. It was always sort of unpleasantly like being drunk. What's wrong with being drunk, you wonder? Just ask a glass of water, Arthur Dent.


Anonymous said...

You neglected one admittedly far less salient, but nevertheless interesting fact: only 99.7% of the people named Matthew are male. This means .3% of the Matthew population is out there in pigtails and skirts, nursing their own bruises from the fights on the playground, and googling "how to divorce your parents."

Ericka Bigelow said...

I would leave a comment here, but this post ostensibly does not exist.