The Topic At Hand: How Do You Like Your Eggs?

If there was a bright side it was that he no longer worried about not getting any sleep. Not to say that peaceful slumber wasn’t needed.  No, he had to be in the office in exactly 3 ½ hours to turn on the phones lest Bill Dwyer happen to call and get the automated ‘call us back during business hours’ recording.  It’s just that once 5am rolls around the panic of facing the upcoming day in a zombie-like stupor subsides and in its place a calm wave of acceptance washes over.  Of course whatever sliver of consciousness that had been fretting over the clock now congealed with the rest of his mind in firing off questions of the most crucial kind – the kind that needed to be addressed if he were to ever be the man he wanted – the kind that had kept him from sleeping in the first place.  He shifted his stare from the clock to the books on his dresser and again the part him that demanded betterment bellowed.

“When will you finish The Brothers Karamazov?”

It was one of a formidable row of hefty books he intended to read but merely gathered dust behind a smattering of mismatched socks, junk mail, and phone bills he meant to dispute.  The dresser they sat on had held his socks, underwear, t-shirts, and jeans since he was 7 years old. It was one of the few pieces of furniture that he had taken with him when he moved to New York eight years ago. At the time he didn’t consider it the dresser – the only one he’d ever need. It was merely supposed to serve as a transition dresser until he got a job, a bigger place, and splurged on a ‘grown-up’ version of walnut or rich mahogany or whatever proper adult dressers were made of. This one had three of the bottom four knobs gnawed off by the dog and doubled as a pseudo bookshelf / coffee table.

“At what point do you plan on buying some decent furniture?”

Resigned to the futileness of re-closing his eyes he now sat up and began to exit the bed, making a half-hearted attempt not to wake his wife. Half-hearted not because he didn’t respect her sleep, but because the meager size of the bedroom was such that the bed was snug tight into the corner of the room. He had volunteered to take the side against two walls when they first moved in together four years ago. A strategic decision at the time seeing as she typically got out of bed before he did. But on nights (mornings) like this it was hard enough to crawl over his wife and out of bed without digging his knee into her leg let alone allowing her to continue her sleep undisturbed.

“How are you going to afford a bigger place?”

After a soft spoken ‘sorry honey’ in reply to an ‘ouch’ and a frustrated shift in position, he had successfully disembarked from the bed. He made his way to the kitchen to get something to drink but not before nearly tripping over the dog who consistently found a way to somehow sleep in the bedroom, kitchen, and nursery all at once, such was their seemingly incredible shrinking apartment.

“How can you tell if your dog is happy?”

The fridge offered no soda, Kool-Aid, or beer.  All of which would have served as functional beverage choices for a self-perceived tortured thirty-something awake at 4 in the morning.  A container of grape juice, three quarters full, sat in the very back – boldly selected from the beverage aisle many months ago after reading a Men’s Health article that said grape juice helped retain muscle mass after working out.  It served no such purpose now except to mock and remind him that

A: his free weights have sat in the backyard under a blue tarp as long as the juice sat in the fridge and

B: he hated grape juice.

“How are you ever going to find time to exercise?”

The beverage isle, from which the aforementioned grape juice was selected.

The beverage aisle, from which the aforementioned grape juice was selected.

The ceaseless self-interrogation continued as he filled a glass with tap water.  Just above the sink was a shelf that housed a number of cookbooks.  He scanned the book’s spines, as was his habit when waiting for the water to get cold or hot enough.  Intercourses:  Delectable Delights for Lovers was the one that grabbed his attention during this particular sink session – a wedding gift of the unused variety.

“When will you ever have the opportunity to eat grilled figs drenched with honey of off your wife’s naked body?”

Seated at the kitchen table he grabbed a celebrity magazine and flipped past the pages of the thin and rich people wearing sunglasses exiting Starbucks holding bran muffins to the crossword puzzle in the back.  If he could occupy his mind with more manageable problems such as ‘David Beckham married one of the _ _ _ _ _ Girls’ he hoped he might somehow quell the relentless, self-induced peppering.  Instead they began to mount in a fashion too rapid to address with confident stokes of a pen.

“Why are these magazines so popular?”

“How can you learn more about computers?”

“What are the rules to rugby?”

“Do your coworkers respect you?”

“How does phone sex work?”

“How can you be a better brother?”

“Where did the flavor bubblegum come from?”

“How will you get your kid into a decent nursery school?”

“Did Amanda Parker’s grandma really die the day before senior prom?”

“How will you ever pursue your dreams while supporting a family?”

“Where did you lose your baseball mitt back in 5th grade?”

“How can you reconnect with your parents?”

“Will you ever ride on a dolphin?”

“How can you keep up this front that you’re in control?”

As the steady onslaught grew a unified answer became apparent.  The sound of his own voice startled him.

“I don’t know.”

Just then his daughter began to cry. A more certain indicator that the new day had begun there could not be. He slowly closed the magazine and debated his next move. It occurred to him that not only did he not know the answers to the questions, he didn’t know whether to stay seated or stand.

Any capacity to make decisions had left him.  He couldn’t bear to face another question, make another choice.  Not a single one. No more.

His wife walked past him, already knee deep in the morning routine.  She opened the fridge and inadvertently delivered the final blow, speaking the day’s first words.

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    • billdove5

      In this most recent installment from the much-ballyhooed writer, Rich Zeroth, author of the blog “Zeroth First for a Second,” we find the answer to the question posed in another fascinating glimpse into Mr. Zeroth’s relentless imagination.

    • Laughed out loud. Could relate all too well to his train of thoughts. Love the random bubblegum questions mixed in with the more profound… how minds work.

    • Tara

      Oh wow, I love it. I hope he does get the opportunity to eat figs off his wife’s naked body.

      I’m partly inspired and partly terrified to write down my own midnight panic ritual questions, and give them a slightly more concrete form existence in reality.

      Also I think one of the wonderful things about dogs is that you can kind of assume that they’re happy, and only have to make sure you can figure out how to tell when they’re unhappy.

    • Janie Epstein

      This state of mind is sooo recognizable. A tribute to the author’s skill. I guess we all have wells of questioning that occaisionally threaten to pull us into the abyss. Humor is a good antidote.

    • janiejaner

      Oh my…the voice within! Deftly captured, mr Z!

    • Steve

      I think your post got cut off Rich. What did your wife end up asking you?

    • Hey roomie. Thanks for reading. The question posed by the wife is the very topic at hand this month.

      “How do you like your eggs?”

    • Mike

      Great stuff. The grape juice works, especially if you do a lot of these (spins right arm in circles as if mixing ingredients in a medium-sized bowl while holding spoon, thumb-side up, in fist).

    • Mike Stigliano

      Really enjoyed this Rich…sounds all too familiar…

    • Kristie Zeroth

      I loved it bro… Oh yeah, and I bought that book for you guys to have in your honeymoon suite… but now I’m thinking that was an inappropriate gift to give to your brother… Opps… Good to know though that your not eating honyed figs off of your wife’s body!
      Good stuff Rich, can’t wait to read more!

    • another mike

      good stuff, i hope the poor bastard is able to reign in his pesky ruminations in time to get to work and turn off that damn automated messaging service. That Bill Dwyer sounds like a real horses ass.

    • Amanda Parker

      Yes, she did, jerk!

    • Dan Zeroth

      Hey Dick, loved the post. Let me see if I can help out this fictional character. He really should finish Brothers Karamazov(my favorite novel!), phone sex doesn’t work, and old furniture is kitschy and has more character than mahogany. You’re all good on the brother front.

    The Author

    Rich Zeroth

    richard.zeroth
    Rich Zeroth pays his bills by day working at an online publishing company & pursues more creative endeavors on nights & weekends, e.g., stand-up comedy, blogging on the interwebs, and tweeting about owning a mismanaged zoo. His one-man show about faking sick 127 consecutive days of school in 5th grade, titled “Swollen Head”, won the 2005 ECNY (Emerging Comics of New York) Award for best one-person show, and is currently being adapted into a screenplay. He lives with his wife, daughter, and dog in Brooklyn, NY. A complete list of Rich's pieces on Revolving Floor can be found here.

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