Exclusive Evil – The Unprecedented Drinking Game
Consider the free article below a trailer: I’ve got a collaboration with Situation Normal’s Michael Estrin and Field Research’s Amran Gowani coming Wednesday. Keep an eye open for it, it’s a killer. The standard Extra Evil journal/doomsaying will go out on Friday.
The Unprecedented Drinking Game
I celebrated my birthday the modern way. Whenever I heard “unprecedented,” I drank one shot of overproof Jamaican rum. No exceptions.
I started the morning hovering around a newsstand. No one discussed the news, bought anything, or acknowledged the stand’s existence. It had to be a mob front, or at least a tax scheme. Either way, no customers stopped, sighed at a headline, and lamented unprecedented times.
An educational start. I rode uptown sober.
At noon, I had a lunch date. Her job title involved restorative climate justice, so I was ready to turn up.
“You do nature stuff, right?” I began, prodding a plate of alleged calamari. “What do you think of the planet turning into an oven?”
“Well, I’m off the clock. Do you like movies?”
“No, which is why I watched Don’t Look Up. How’d you like it?”
“I didn’t.” She sank into her chair, defeated. “It treated old patterns like novel behavior. Which is why we’re still stuck in this loop.”
Another wet blanket. I gave in, and lied about either my feelings or pop music. We left without planning another date.
I needed to get creative. On the NQR platform, I asked an officer what kind of times we lived in. He said “the cuckold apocalypse.”
“Sure, but is there any precedent for that?” I said, pointing to the bottle and raising an eyebrow. He then explained, at length, that sexual deviance destroyed the Greek, Roman, and Yankee empires. I’d have left early, but he waved his nightstick like a Catholic school ruler as he spoke. It was best to let his energy and attention span decline.
I thanked him for his service, and boarded the next train. Sober. It wasn’t my train, but I wanted to reach another birthday.
On my ride to nowhere, a pair of low-tier bboys performed a routine. I sat beside the blondest, angriest rider in sight and waited.
“Can you believe they’re getting away with this?” she scoffed.
“No, it’s horrible. My year’s ruined,” I said, betraying three dance crews. “Has the city ever been this bad?”
“Yeah, back in the bad old days. Before Giuliani put everyone back in their place.”
“Come on, lady. It’s my birthday.”
I left six stops early, buzzless and disgusted. My city was dead.
Lecturing was a better bet. I had sixteen drowsy humanities students, searching for participation points. Someone might have to carry me out.
“Thus, we’ve come to prefer demagogues to governance,” I droned. “Can anyone think of an equivalent in history?” Classic softball.
“Late Rome, with those Grako guys,” said Dave, a nerd.
“The Brothers Gracchus. But is that really a precedent? Who else?”
“Not Dave,” I said.
“In China, the declining Han Emperors were usurped by their pandering, publicly popular regent,” said Jennifer, another nerd. “His dynasty died with him.”
“Shut it, that’s culturally appropriative or something. Modern anglosphere only.”
I threw a dry-erase marker. The department responded with a harshly-worded email, and warned assaulting a fourth student would not be tolerated.
Back home, I cradled my unopened rum like a fallen soldier. My dream for us had been deferred.
My roommate could tell something was off. Like any good friend, he avoided acknowledging it with military discipline. Instead, we watched AEW Dark. After learning what wrestling looked like sober, I hazarded a question.
“Hey. How precedented would you call these times?”
He digested the question for a few seconds.
“Chaotic periods are inevitable. Sometimes a civilization makes it. Sometimes you get the bronze age collapse. What’s important is keeping perspective.”
“Fuck you, Sam. You’re shitting on me like this on my birthday? I hope you get unprecedented crabs.”
Then I turned on MSNBC. I blacked out in six minutes.
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