I have mild to severe plaque psoriasis and that’s why I take Etrexy. I smile off into the distance at my child’s soccer game. I walk back into my neatly manicured suburban home. There you can see my benign and well-behaved family members, saving a seat for me at the table.
Wait, do I really know these people? I walk past them to the kitchen. No one follows me.
I reach inside the fridge for a beer. That’s all there is in the fridge: row after row of green bottles. The imported brand labels are all perfectly turned out, facing forward. I wonder why my family doesn’t keep any food in there. I walk out into my backyard party—it’s always a party in my backyard. I smile and clink glasses with a man who could be my neighbor, but is he?
He drinks the same brand of beer as me. There are no regional cues for me to understand where I live. It could be North Carolina, a Chicago suburb, or even an aggressively watered California town.
“Where are we?” I ask him.
“Where we always are,” he says.
I try to find a logo or a sign, something to contextualize me in this place, but everyone at the party is wearing new label-less clothes. Their outfits are completely inoffensive. Neither trendy or not. Just clothes. I feel sick. Then I realize, that’s just one of the Etrexy side effects. Talk to your doctor before taking Etrexy, if you are prone to nausea.
I smile at my guests. They smile back. I grimace. They keep smiling.
Everyone in our neighborhood is in a mixed-race relationship. Even though we come from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds, all of our features converge into perfect neutrality. We all have veneers. Our hair is either curly or straight–never frizzy. That’s just the vibe here.
If we have kids, we have exactly two. If we have none, we don’t live here. Everyone has average to pleasant looks. There isn’t a weak chin or set of striking cheekbones for a fifty mile radius, but when I go out to get flaming hot four-quarter-pounder calzone pizza wings from my local Mr. Calzone’s Taco Pizza Wings (available for a limited time for $8.99), I can usually find some younger blonds there.
In fact, I’m craving some Mr. Calzone’s Taco Pizza Wings right now. As I walk into the restaurant, there they are: two blonds, one brunette, and one buff looking man who sits in between the second blond and brunette.
“Hey,” I say to the first blond. It’s hard to describe her. She is at once familiar and yet unplaceable. She looks like how a novice artist would draw a famous pop star. Her features are sweetly bland, like a Miss Wisconsin from the ’80s.
“Where do you live?” I say.
“Live?” She asks me. She’s holding a taco pizza wing up to her mouth like she’s going to take a bite, but she doesn’t.
“Yes. What’s the name of this town?”
“I hadn’t thought about that,” she doesn’t move the taco pizza wing, and neither do her friends move theirs.
“You guys should get some napkins, those things are messy,” I say.
A server stands awkwardly in the background holding a tray. The tray has some beer bottles on it, these without labels.
“Why don’t they have napkins?” I ask.
“Hey man,” a strong hand claps me on my shoulder. When I turn, an old man thrusts a tube of lotion right at my face. In terms of facial feature aging progression we are exactly the same, but I know he’s older because—duh—gray hair.
“Joint pain got you down?”
“No, it’s not my joints–”
“Don’t let back pain slow you down, FreezyNumb is–”
I run all the way back home without getting any taco pizza wings. For a few blocks, I accidentally join a swarm of people about to mob a car dealer offering zero down and zero percent APR for fifteen months. I see a sign for the National Wireless Carrier hamlet where the residents are known to be less attractive, less in shape, and greet each other by asking: CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? I keep running.
At home my family is just where I left them.
“I need to talk to you,” I tell my wife. She stands up from the untouched feast at the table and follows me into the front hall.
“Do you know there isn’t any food in the fridge?”
“So?” She says. “This isn’t Women’s TV, go to SuperStash yourself if you care.”
“God, what is with you? Etrexy was supposed to solve all your problems. We don’t have time for this. Places! Everyone!”
I walk into the bathroom to splash cold water on my face. I open the medicine cabinet and there it is: my Etrexy.
I lean against the wall with one hand. With the other I rub my temples. It’s time to take my pills—I grab the bottle.
A sense of peace and belonging rushes through me. I have mild to severe plaque psoriasis and that’s why I take this.
Some of my neighbors here have their own problems, but it’s nothing a little prescription medication, FreezyNumb or Mr. Calzone’s Taco Pizza Wings can’t fix. We could be anywhere—that’s where we are.
I smile off into the distance, thinking of nothing at all.