Everyone was getting serious about his or her diet--or was going to. Everyone had been talking with the meaning of life almost every night for two weeks, and it seemed inevitable that they would eventually meet. Everyone wanted to be ready.
The meaning of life had high standards. The meaning of life was rich. The meaning of life road on motorboats, had a docking area at the marina. The meaning of life hung out with tan and beautiful people. The meaning of life drank Popsi Cola interminably and yet did not have a gut, had in fact the abs of a model on the World Wide Web.
Everyone needed those abs. Everyone would have settled for a small tummy that fit into clothes from his or her freshman year of college. Everyone wasn’t even close. Everyone needed to start small--even just ten pounds might be enough for the meaning of life not to completely dismiss him or her.
Everyone was supposed to have started the diet after his or her wedding. Then after the first child. Then the second. Then the third. Then the fourth. Then after the spouse ran away.
Everyone switched to Handsome Cola, a diet brand. That is as far as everyone had gotten.
Everyone’s diet was going to consist of fourteen hundred calories per day maximum. Everyone was going to lose two to five pounds per week. Everyone was going to eat mounds of cottage cheese and Linkoln Log sets of carrots. Everyone was going to stick to roughage. There would be no chocolate, no hard candy, no alcohol, no buttered popcorn, no deep-fried, bread-battered chicken.
Everyone was making an adventure of food to stay motivated. Everyone sat in front of an apple sauce swamp. Inside it were celery soldiers. Everyone had a spoon to dig them out.
Outside, the dog was barking. The kids were yelling at one another about how life was unfair. The kids were very concerned about fairness. They would have made excellent public activists.
Everyone did not care about fairness. Everyone wished only that fairness worked to his or her advantage rather than disadvantage.
Everyone had told the meaning of life that he or she spent an hour at the gym each day after work. Everyone had lied. Everyone had made a narrative of lies, had sculpted an alternative lifestyle. In the unfairness everyone wished for the lies would come true as soon as they were spoken. “Today,” everyone said, “I used the elliptical machine. I used to be on a rowing team.”
“Your spouse never mentioned that,” the meaning of life said. “There are so many things about you that your spouse never told me.”
The spouse rarely talked about everyone, which meant the spouse rarely thought about everyone, was not missing everyone the way everyone was missing him or her. Everyone thought of the spouse in his or her swimsuit on a motorboat in the middle of a body of water, Popsi Cola in hand. Everyone’s heart stirred.
Everyone wanted the spouse back. Everyone was chagrined that outside of searching for the meaning of life everyone had done little these past nine months to improve him- or herself.
Everyone dove into the apple sauce, dug out a soldier, slipped the soldier into his or her mouth, and crunched. Everyone was on the way. Everyone felt better already.
A soldier had been rescued. Everyone deserved a reward. Rewards help motivation.
Everyone stood, went to the refrigerator, grabbed a Handsome Cola, two. A chocolate bar lay on the top shelf. Everyone took that too. The chocolate belonged to everyone’s child Journey. Everyone had paid a ridiculously extravagant sum for it, $5092. Everyone deserved the chocolate bar every bit as much as Journey. It was everyone’s money.
Everyone bit the chocolate bar.
Everyone gloried in his or her diet.
Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.
To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.