And other answers to unsolicited questions.
“I see this person on the bus almost every day and it makes me feel wonderful. They are so adorable. I can tell they like me, too. But I am shy. What should I do?” — Shy Guy on Bus
Nothing, Shy Guy. You should never do anything about it. Enjoy it while it lasts in this stage, spotting each other across a crowded bus. Feeling warm and alive just at the sight of them. Fumbling, stammering, sweating along palms, butterflies unfurling wings in your stomach: you’ve got it made. This is the only thing that has ever truly made me feel alive and happy. The excitement we feel when being attracted to strangers, possibly hopelessly, is wonderful. It almost counterbalances out the disappointment we feel in finding out anything more about any human being ever.
Do you know how astronomical the chances that you will actually like this cute person? Nevermind like. Do you know how astronomical the chances that you will be able to stand this other person’s presence for more than 5 minutes at a time across public transit? Like super astronomical. There is no way you will like the movies this person likes. It’s impossible that they will like the same Netflix shows as you. What chance is there that they think “Orange is the New Black” would be 50% better if Piper Chapman was abruptly let out of prison this instant, never again to be seen on this show? There is no way they feel this way.
Strangers are alluring, real people are boring. And reality is incredibly predictable and monotonous: you will meet someone, it will be fun for a while, you will fall in love with them, they will fall in love with you, something terrible will happen, possibly you will get pregnant or married, they will cheat on you, you will be angry with them, you will think you cannot forgive them, but you will and then they will eventually cheat on you again, you will not be able to forgive them, you will have to split up your stuff with this person, you will forever be interested in who else they are dating and why didn’t they love you enough. And this is, as Louis CK might say, the best-case scenario.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Just no, shy guy. Anyone is going to disappoint us after all this bus back and forth. I don’t even wear my glasses on the subway or trains or buses anymore because I don’t want to be tempted into crushes with adorable, seemingly loveable people. Like in Pokemon Go, we should never be satisfied with what we actually have. We should always be searching for more. You have this cute bus person. It is like seeing a wonderful Psyduck in the park. But don’t you want to find the Shaymin?
Shy guy, you ought to luxuriate in the magic of this stranger on the bus. So few things are magical about living in the world, and this is one dandelion you ought to never, ever, ever pluck out of the cold ground. Let it grow until it is five feet tall. Crushes are better than real love because in crushes you get to play both parts. Never find out anything about anyone! Make up your own fun universe as you go along!
“There are so many different kinds of mustards! Which kind would you recommend for hot dogs?” — Desperately Seeking Condiments
For my money, mustard is the greatest of all sauces. Ketchup is pretty good. Salsa is also tasty. Soy sauce is great! Mayonnaise I am not big on. But mustard is magnificent. So yellow. And so mustardy. I once dated someone who didn’t like mustard. I found this insane. I used to tease her about it. She did not appreciate the teasing. She married someone else. She was otherwise entirely perfect, someone you could marry and spend a life happily with. Also I was not Jewish. But the mustard thing I could not understand. Not liking mustard is like not liking oxygen or orgasms or something. I probably blew it with her on this mustard hang-up I have.
And just like I don’t have a favorite kind of orgasm, I cannot chose a mustard I think is best. I love them all equally. Nathan’s, Gulden’s, Heinz, French’s, Kosciuszko, Krasdale. Spicy mustards, honey mustards, horseradish mustards. They are all delicious. My refrigerator is 50% half-used mustard bottles. I never remember if I have finished the mustard, so I always get more. It is cheap! And always delicious. On french fries, hot dogs, burgers, onion rings, chicken, whatever. Burritos, probably. Skittles, right?
Asking me to choose one mustard is just impossible, it’s like asking the one person you’d fuck if you were stuck on the Island on “Lost.” I mean, Ethan. Jack and Sawyer, obviously. Charlie. Hurley. Desmond. Sun and Jin. Ben. Kate. Juliet. Rose and Bernard. The guy with the glue-on beard. The smoke monster. The polar bear. A coconut tree. Ana-Lucia, obviously. But mostly Hurley. I can’t choose and shouldn’t have to and neither should you. No one should have to commit to one kind of mustard their whole lives, ignoring all others.
It’s a myth that we can only take one all the time. That makes no sense! It’s not human to chose one and forsake all others! It’s ridiculous! I simply cannot choose just one! Who said we have to only like one kind of mustard, smell one kind of flower? We’re not built for fidelity, we should just want to try one of everything. Fill your fridges with all these tiny little yellow bottles.
And to the lady who did not love mustard. I loved you and should have given up mustard forever for you. I was a fool for mustard! And not a day goes by that I don’t think of you while eating mustard. I am glad you are happy! I am happy with mustard! I would have been happier with you and mustard! Damn you, mustard! Such a little seed! Such a long life of unending regret! With yellow goodness spread all over it!
Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works in a bookstore.