Raise a proud middle finger to the cheeseburger industrial complex by treating yourself to an entire bucket of fried chicken. Finish the chicken in a single sitting while watching reruns of the classic American crime drama Hunter. Become enamored of Hunter star and former NFL defensive end Fred Dryer. Print a photograph of Fred Dryer’s face and adhere it to your now empty chicken bucket. Using pillows, a broomstick, duct tape, and old clothes, fashion a Fred Dryer “body” and secure it to your Fred Dryer bucket…
Resolve to leave the civilized world behind. You are a danger to yourself and others.
But first, stop for supplies.
Find a sporting and/or outdoor goods store. Avoid eye contact and conversation with any of the shop’s staff or your fellow customers – head down and hooded at all times.
Fill your cart with trail mix. Also: a tent, a sleeping bag, an emergency radio, water purification tablets, eight pairs of socks, eight pairs of underwear, three changes of clothes, hiking boots, a sun hat, a camp stove, a lantern, a compass, a hunting knife, a multi-tool, duct tape, climbing ropes, sunscreen, various toiletries, and a backpack (or two) to hold everything…
Stay off the roads and find a way out of town. Climb a hill into the forest inland from the coast. At the very least, the trees will help clear the smell of cabbage and celery from your nostrils.
Walk through the forest for hours. Walk until the sun begins to set. Consider your options for how and where to spend the night, then stumble onto a group of campers – a friendly bunch without a hint of chop suey about them.
The campers will invite you to stay with them. As luck would have it, they’ve brought along an extra tent and sleeping bag. Exhausted and with no other options, gratefully accept the offer…
Drop by what once was the lighthouse keeper’s favorite Chinese restaurant – the only Chinese restaurant within 50 miles of the lighthouse. Order chop suey.
While you’re waiting, consider where the lighthouse keeper might have gone. Draw a little map on a paper napkin. Attempt an Internet search, but find the phone in your pocket intact, but dead. Search your other pockets to find a wallet, a credit card, some cash, and the note from the library you found so many weeks ago. Wonder why the universe is suddenly kind.
Pull your cherry turnovers from the oven and set them on a rack to cool. Fan them lightly with your oven-mitted hands.
Take in your surroundings. They are familiar if badly kept. Dust covers every surface. Cobwebs obscure a view of sand and shore from the cracked kitchen window.
Remove your apron and mitts. Leave the kitchen. Walk outside.
An abandoned lighthouse looms on the cliff, covered in brambles and low-quality graffiti. This is the place. But, you’re too late. No one has lived here for years.
Drop the façade of mild-mannered normalcy and allow yourself to indulge a few of your wilder urges today. Why? Just because.
Leave the second button of your shirt unbuttoned. Forgo sunscreen. Mismatch your socks. Drink milk directly from the carton. Order the large fries. Why? Just because.
Add fabric softener to the wash. Don’t clean out the lint trap. Push the washer and dryer against the laundry-room door. Barricade the windows. Why? Just because.
Climb into the dryer. Close the dryer door. Wait in the darkness until you feel safe. (As long as it takes.) Why? Just because.
Purchase several hundred dollars worth of board games, card games, and jigsaw puzzles. Wrap each purchase in Christmas-themed wrapping paper and carefully pack them into a red velvet sack.
Dress in your Santa costume, throw the sack over your shoulder, and head to the nearest senior citizens’ assisted living facility…
Hop in your car, fasten your seat belt, turn on the radio, and head toward the sunset. Let’s face it, whatever you were up to before this moment wasn’t all that great. This is better.
Your car is your personal anonymity device – you get in and you become no one. You don’t have to pretend to like your job, your colleagues, or your friends. You don’t have to pretend to be smart or confident or likable. When you remove yourself from the context of work, home, or relationships, you’re kind of nobody. Right now, you’re just another nameless driver on the road.
Take a photo of where you are now. Take a photo of the people and/or things that surround you. Take a selfie. Post these photos to your preferred social media account.
While you wait for the likes and comments to roll in, scroll through your photo backlog. How many do you have? A thousand? More? Give the screen whirl and stop at a random moment from your past.
Find a group of pictures you don’t recall taking. They’ll begin with a series of landscapes – a blur of trees from a car window, an empty road stretching to the horizon, tall grass along a shoreline…