Two idiots stood in a room. One said to the other “Punch me in the face.” And the other one did.
Now, the reason that one of them wanted to be punched in the face was that he was an idiot, as has already been previously mentioned. But I should be more specific. Saying that he wanted to be punched in the face because he’s an idiot is like saying that strippers strip because they have daddy issues. It’s true but there’s more to it than that. So this idiot, idiot number one as we’ll call him, wanted to be punched in the face because he wasn’t sure he was tough. And the only reason he wondered about it was that he had just watched Fight Club for the first time, and he agreed with Brad Pitt, how much could you know about yourself if you’ve never been punched in the face? Which is what he said to idiot number two right before this all went down. Of course, the real line is “How much could you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight.” Which would have allowed the idiot a multitude of ways to test himself, ways that didn’t involve standing still with his eyes closed while a fist collided with the cartilage in his nose.
And of course it hurt. No-one has ever been punched directly on the nose and didn’t bleed or hurt. He was expecting some kind of understanding of himself or the world. He expected that punch to remove his desires for worldly goods, and afterwords he’d be ready to live in a shitty house somewhere, free of consumerism and all the bad shit that brings you down. But all he had to show for the thing was half a roll of toilet paper shoved up both nostrils to stop the bleeding.
So later in the evening, both idiots were sitting on the couch and watching x-files reruns on TV. Neither of them really spoke, the tv just glowed over their faces while Scully and Mulder did their thing, finding aliens or whatever weird shit they do on that show. He pulled the tissue from his nose and tossed it on the coffee table. It rested there beside a bag of chips and several remotes. And the idiot had a moment of real self reflection. He looked at the pile of paper containing his blood and sighed, because the ball of toilet paper represented the most he’d accomplished that day.
He got up and went into the bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror, noticing the shape of his face for the first time in his life. I mean, he knew what he looked like in a general way, but not in the specific way that you get when you stare at yourself in the mirror. He had many moments where he said to himself, “So this is what I look like.” He was a young man but he was getting on past the point where anyone could look at him and think “what a nice kid.” He thought back to what he’d done with his life and this made him sad. There just wasn’t much. A c student. A slacker. A lazy little shit. A leech. A dumbass.
He opened up the medicine cabinet and looked for something to kill the throb in his face. He found a bottle of tylenol and tipped it over but nothing came out. He looked some more and came up with some Chapstick and a jar of Noxzema. So he gave up and went back to the living room. A commercial for the George Foreman Grill came on. George ran down all the ways that the grill could improve your life. He picked up the remote and flipped around. But the nagging sensation wouldn’t leave his head.
“What do you want to do?” He asked his friend.
“I don’t know,” said idiot number two, “I’m out of ideas.”
“I don’t want to think of anything right now. Just find something.”
So he tossed the remote into his friend’s lap and the channels passed by in quick succession. Food, Women, Products, Music, Those Geico Cavemen. And they circled back to the channel they started on and did it all over again. To his eyes it looked like everything was speeding up, like someone was moving the hands on the clock, making a minute pass for a second, like someone was fast forwarding him.
He reached over, grabbed the remote and shut off the TV.
“What the fuck?” said idiot number two.
“I’m tired of that shit. How much money do you have” he asked
“Just a twenty.”
“No I mean like all together. In accounts, bonds, action figures, whatever. How much money do you have?”
“I don’t know. I never thought about it like that. Couple thousand probably? I don’t know.”
“Let’s start a band.”
“HA!” he laughed, “You can’t play anything and I can’t sing. So…” and he lifted both hands, palms up.
“Doesn’t matter. Half the guys doing anything can’t play anyway.”
“Just turn the TV back on.”
“I’m being serious here. How much longer can I do this?”
“Look you told me to punch you. I didn’t want to do it. You’re lucky all I did was bloody it and not break it.” Which, he was right. But he did try to break the nose. He just wasn’t strong enough.
“That’s what I’m talking about. I asked you to do that because I sat here and watched a movie and because that’s all I do with myself I let that get in my head and make me do something stupid.”
“Don’t blame the movie, that’s lame.”
“I’m not,” he said, “Look, let’s start a band.”
“I’m not starting no band.”
“Why the fuck not? What are you doing with yourself that’s so fucking important you can’t start a band with me? Huh?” he said with a little touch of anger in his voice, a hint of a childish tantrum.
“You wanted to know if you were tough,” his friend sighed.
“Are you still on about that?”
“I’m only repeating it because we just found out that, clearly, you are not. So shut up with your band bullshit and turn the TV on.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Have you forgotten what we do to bands? To singers and other people that do that shit? We’re merciless. I saw you spend three hours the other day sitting at your fucking computer ripping on some local band, and the only reason you spent that much time doing it was because you knew they’d see it. And look at us, we’re two of the most average dudes that ever sat in the middle of everyone else on the whole goddamned planet. There’s a million assholes just like us. We can’t start a band. I mean we could. We could buy some intruments and write some songs and make ourselves a band. But it won’t go anywhere. It won’t do anything. But not because it won’t be any good. It could be the most awesome shit any has ever done ever. It could make the Beatles look cans of Coke. But no-one will hear it and those that do will tear it to shreds and you’ll get heartbroken and give up. Because it’s what we deserve and you aren’t tough enough for that. So shut up with this band non-sense and turn the TV back on.”
He struggled for something to say, anything to keep the argument going but he couldn’t, it was over. Done. Fin. Best to just let the shit drop. Go back on with whatever he was doing before and let things, you know, resume. Resume the position. Resume the way. Just fucking resume.
Which is what he did. He turned the TV back on and flipped through the channels some more. But they couldn’t find anything they wanted to watch. So he went back through his shelf of dvds, where he found his copy of Snatch, which he put in the player and they both watched it until they fell asleep.