THE NEW ME “Studies Confirm”
C20 (Irrational Tentent)

“Behold, the new me!” you say, your pie face radiating smug self-awareness as you beam to the roomful of strangers you happened to come upon in the convention center downtown. “Get out,” says a mustachioed gentleman of about fifty, bespoke suit straining a little bit at the extra poundage he’s garnered across various buffet lines. Who am I kidding – this dude makes too much money to eat at a buffet, and you and your high-street makeover clown getup mocks the very sightline he paid good LASIK money to keep free of your type. And isn’t that how it goes? You think you’re the pig in the poop, new clothes, new hair, new makeup, new look, new you, but there’s always some other pig in much nicer poop making you look silly for trying. Your self-respect meter starts dipping; your self-awareness meter gradually begins to rise, like the thermometer on my grill when I’m rocking ribs – you can tap the glass on that thing all you want, it’s not going to change the reading, and yes, something is decidedly wrong. “God made everyone beautiful, and no one is ugly,” you say to yourself as visions of dead-eyed naysayers begin to fill the periphery of your perception, and the paranoia you thought you medicated away suddenly starts to make its unwanted appearance. It reminds you of film montages of people losing it, set to tinny and warped industrial synthesizers, buzzing and wavering until madness takes the subject completely. You reach for the handkerchief in your purse, embroidered with your initials (because why not?), and begin dabbing at the beads of nervous perspiration that have suddenly appeared at your upper lip. You think of the taxi waiting for you at the curb, the fare astronomically high at this point as it’s waited for you for over an hour to exit the building, and you wonder if the driver has any idea what it means to be the new you. You relax for a second – you have the cash, and you don’t care what a taxi driver thinks. Do you? Then the waves hit again, relentless: “Studies around the world confirm that passion usually ends.” Did you say that out loud? Did you mean it? What studies? Real studies? Or have you based these conclusions on your own personal experiences? You can practically see those dead-eyed naysayers now, their blank faces and passionless intonations becoming more real than your surroundings, more real than the conference room in front of you, filled with its dead-eyed drones judging you as your control starts to falter, the drones become the naysayers, the naysayers begin to drone, and the sound fills your head as your mouth drops open and the words tumble out, even if you still can’t make out if you’re saying them out loud or not, “This is the new me. This is the New Me. The New Me. The New Me. The New Me. The New Me.”

“Are you still here?” says the mustachioed gentleman. “That’s it, I’m calling security.”

--Ryan Masteller