By Matt Gordon
As the end of the year nears, there are three things you have heard about in 2021. Because you are human. Where you live matters not. From the sands of Sahara to the rivers of Amazon, these things have flowed forth with missional zeal: Go therefore into all the world is forever at their back. A tribesman in Papua New Guinea. An orphan in Bangladesh. A husky Siberian. A Canadian Eskimo. An Australian Shepherd and his dog. They’ve all been reached with the good news.
The first of this esteemed trinity is Bitcoin. “Wanna hear about Bitcoin?” the latest devotee asks.
“Nope,” comes your contented answer as you order your cheeseburger, fold your laundry, or pedal your bicycle. But it doesn’t matter what you say. The question is not a question but rather some cultish opening line they teach adherents at a mandatory financial seminar.
The next three hours to fourteen weeks is a continuous lecture about Blockchain and currency exchange and market volatility. At some point during the presentation, the Teacher will show you their phone—they always do. On the screen is their account—just one of them, they assure you. They also matter-of-factly share that they are up hundreds of thousands of dollars for the year. Even so, they are always still employed at the burger joint, laundromat, or bicycle shop. What work ethic!
You ask a question—any question—and they just start their entire spiel over again, word for word. When you interrupt, “Well, tell me just as simply as possible: how does it work?” or “How is everyone on earth becoming Bezos on this?” you will not get a straight answer. You will not get any answer. Instead you will be asked to set up an account. Instant conversion. I have found the only sure-fire method to exit one of these Bitcoin conversations is to fake (or have) diarrhea. Beware though: Sometimes they’ll follow you into the bathroom and power through their filibuster from just outside the stall. If this happens, you’ll be forced to fake it. So while there will be no actual human feces occurring, another class of crap may be aplenty.
When you aren’t dodging the Dogecoin, you are likely spending a good deal of your life hearing about how Peloton is life-changing. Never good. Never helpful. Never fun. Life-changing. Always. For the aliens who’ve just landed here and haven’t been proselytized, the Peloton is a bicycle that doesn’t actually go anywhere. You cannot drive it to the store or zip along the trail. No, its sole utility is for that of the soul. Here’s how it works: You hop on it and pedal. But that isn’t all—not by a longshot! Cash in enough Bitcoin to pay a sizeable subscription and a stranger will shout at you as you go (nowhere)! The charge may be robust, but you no longer will be.
Peloton people will rave about Becs or Tunde or Adrian—whichever chiseled instructor makes them feel most seen and known without ever actually seeing or knowing them. There is never a “Fat Carl” or “Big Delores.” Also, these people don’t ever look like a Fat Carl or a Big Delores or a below-average me. They look like they are genetically and painstakingly pieced together in a lab. Just once I want a sagging George to lumber up to the bike to make me feel like I’m enough simply for not looking as bad as he does rather than a toned Matty reminding me via his voice and muscles that I need to pedal harder to have any chance at leaving behind the sad, flabby thing that I have become.
On second thought, forget being a mere rider at all: I want to be one of these instructors. “My instructor makes it sooooo fun,” a person told me the other day.
“How?” I asked.
“She yells a lot!”
In preparation for my Peloton Instructor Duties (PIDs) I’ve taken to trying out a seamless stream of non-sequitur encouragements and a torrent of obscenities when on my weekly bike ride about the neighborhood. The only thing it has inspired so far is a visit by the police and a strongly worded letter from my HOA. But, like locking myself in my basement for hours on end to get in shape on my Peloton and improve the quality of my life, it is all a process. A life-changing one to be sure.
The final topic du jour is the sacred air fryer. People don’t just have air fryers; it is impossible. They LOVE their air fryers. “What’s so good about it?” asks the curious Nepalese Sherpa upon hearing of it for the first time.
“Fries. Broccoli. Chicken wings!”
That’s right. Ask an air fryer zealot anything about the air fryer and they’ll just name foods they’ve air fried in theirs. And it is never just “good” or “sufficient” or “beats the microwave.” No, like The Peloton, like Bitcoin; it is life-changing. Food is better than originally prepared. Restaurant-goers order their meals in a box and head home when the meal arrives to one-up the chef via really hot air. I envision the day where patrons tote their air fryers along to the eatery and have the server pop their meal directly in the little fryer slots.
At first, I was annoyed at these conversations. A thousand sales-pitches a week. Over and over and over again. I thought about leaving altogether, a vain attempt at escaping the cultural coercion, but how could I pay for it—who these days would take my dirty old tangible money? They want something digital, something fluid, something worth talking on and on about. Pedal as hard as I can, there is no way to out-distance the unrelenting zeitgeist. And without a menacing stranger to yell at me and motivate me to a better life, how far could I even really go? And would there be an extension cord long enough for my fryer to come along with me? I will not deign to consume soggy French fries. There is no going back, let me tell you. And if I don’t tell you, they will.
No use in fighting. Resistance is futile. I’ll start up an account, clip in, and scorch something to brittle. That or I’ll fake diarrhea till the watch fires of a hundred circling camps finally flame out.
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