The Cost of Being Clever
Saturday, September 30, 2006
(thank God I didn’t)

My hand steadily guides my brain through the 70 channels of my TV. There is nothing good on. I look over at my clock. It’s 8:56. That’s the reason why. 8:56 is one of the worst times when it comes to television watching; all of the programs are ending, so you’re lucky to even catch a credit roll. The next four minutes are hell on cable. The best you can hope for is an ad for Ginsu knives. Something about watching people cut shit, it’s just comforting.
I make my way around the horn. 8:59. Jackpot. Promos are coming on. It won’t be long until televised entertainment saves the day.
My hands fumble over my shirt. This late in the evening, I’m already in my night clothes: a pair of workout shorts, plain white cotton tee, and no socks because it’s Texas and it’s hot as balls. I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but my mind stops on channel 31 (USA). I see a comedian I don’t recognize hosting a game show I don’t really care about. Something about poker.
And then it happens.
There’s no real way to explain it. Somehow, it’s engrained into everyone. It travels through the eyeball, connecting synapses and greenlighting chemicals throughout your head, and somewhere along the line, we get the message. Before you know it, everything is in place. It all makes sense.
The program is called “Strip Poker”. It’s a delightful little spin on “The Dating Game” wherein contestants answer loaded questions along with general trivia, but a wrong answer ends in the loss of articles of clothing. That’s correct—the entire show is guys and gals stripping down. Sure, there’s a game bandied about, but we all know that women shedding cloth is what keeps people watching. And I’m watching. And I’m watching. And I’m not really watching anymore, because now I’m interacting. I’m interacting with what I’m seeing on this TV screen, my 13 year old mind feeling a euphoria never experienced before. In some ways, it’s not even the chemical reaction—it’s the fact that now I know what everyone is talking about. Suddenly, I’m a stereotypical guy. And it feels great.
And it feels great. It feels great. Gerrrrrrrrrrrreat. It feels like, it feels like, it feels like something you can’t quite describe. Or maybe you can, but you know you’ll never be looked at as a normal person again if you do. My chair is banging up against the bed. I stop and worry about the sound. But then I don’t worry about the sound. I don’t worry about the sound. Then I worry about the sound again. I look over at my door knob, and realize that God has smiled upon me today.
Just months earlier, I’d conned my mom into getting me a locking doorknob. My mind at ease, I could now focus on my body. There was nothing to worry about anymore. Nothing to worry about anymore. Not a thing. Not a thing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
I couldn’t believe that no one had told me about this before. None of my friends could get me beer, and were miles away from buying weed, and years of handing my mom’s cigarettes had staved my desire to start smoking...but this, this was more effective than any drug we ever talked about for that one week each year.
The real spectacle was how quickly I mastered the skill. Just like tigers instinctively know how to pounce on their prey, I was seemingly genetically encoded with the ability to fire up a two-stroke engine. I had become General Patton, in the midst of the Battle of the Bulge. My mind was welded to the images flowing across the screen.
Bras, legs, hips, thongs. Faces, necks, lips, blonds. Brunettes, eyes, smiles, toes. Wet, thighs, wild, god I love this show.
I was ecstatic for exactly 3 minutes.
But it always comes at a price. Suddenly, everything had gone wrong. I was in completely new territory—there was no manual on this type of thing. I had no one I could ask, for simple fear of ridicule for misuse. I didn’t want that reputation for the rest of my adolescence on into pubescence. I tried to stay calm, but there was no arguing that something had failed. The plane crashed into the mountain. The emergency brake had been pulled. The rockets were accidentally launched.

I thought I broke it. Thank God I didn’t.
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Ever look around at everyone you see on a daily basis and think, "None of you get it."? Well, we here at "The Cost of Being Clever" do. We totally do.

Location: Savannah, Georgia, United States
September 2006 / November 2006 /

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