The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
1. At the age of whatever, Vandor the Cro-Magnon sets off on an important albeit hitherto unspecified quest carrying only his father’s trusty elk-horn club and an antelope bladder he uses to carry water. What is Vandor questing for? Does he ever find it, and what happens when he does? Assuming he is extremely handsome for a Cro-Magnon (make of that what you will), but not incredibly bright (ditto), what are the chances Vamdor’s quest will be picked up by Netflix? Movie or series? Open-ended or closed-? Finally, who should play Vandor?
Vandor the Cro-Magnon will be played by Macauley Culkin in a career-defining comeback that the world has been waiting for since Home Alone. He beat out Henry Cavill, the Rock, and other more obvious choices for a Netflix series that has been picked up for a whopping eight seasons. While not played by the most handsome of actors, all the other Cro-Magnons cast are missing parts of their faces, so Vandor is clearly handsome in comparison. He has set off to find the elk that his father de-horned, for that elk holds the key to the mysteries of the universe; but it’s all a ruse and that elk actually does nothing but fart uncontrollably. His father (played by Steven Segal, in another career-making comeback), is an incorrigible prankster. Since Vandor ain’t so swift, he spends eight seasons basically looking for an animal that farts a lot. Once he finds it, the two share a laugh and some mead, and learn the age-old wisdom that the journey is always more important than the reward. Then the father tells him that the antelope he got the bladder from TRULY has the answers to the universe, and a whole new series starts up again!
2. Your cat has decided, for the thousandth time, to try to drive you insane. Through an admixture of indiscriminate vomiting, poor little box etiquette, and constant yowling, your cat succeeds! Please provide the pertinent details concerning your break with sanity. That is, how exactly did your breakdown go down and how were you corralled by the authorities? When you arrive at the State Psychiatric Hospital at Blah Blah, what will your diagnosis be? How long before you get out and what happens when you do?
I know I would obviously be crazy for this to happen because I’m really not a fan of cats, so owning one would mean that I’ve fully broken with sanity. But let’s say I broke with sanity, didn’t realize how much, and then got this poor excuse for a feline… The authorities would bash down my door, drag me outside while the cat watches superiorly, take me to Bellevue Hospital, put me in a straitjacket, and force me to watch the movie Cats again and again with the belief that to break me from my insanity, I’d have to go SO insane that I start all over on the side of sanity. After the eleven-thousandth viewing, I am an old man whose only knowledge of the world is about the Jellicle Ball, and I get to go home where the cat has fully decomposed. I’m pleased in the knowledge that I won this torturous battle.
3. How would the world be different if plants could speak?
They would honestly be like, “Fuck you for everything you’ve done to this planet. We give you breath and you cut us down, trample us, overfarm, keep us locked up in your tiny apartment that gets no sun, (I’m looking at you, Lee Matthew Goldberg.), and we are glad we aren’t mute anymore so we can align and take back the Earth by kicking humankind to the curb. Bye, Felicia.”
4. Say you’ve wasted a lot of time on Facebook over the last…decade…how would you go about getting that time back?
I would love that time back. I don’t want to even know how many hours I’ve wasted. I would collate all those hours and go on a trip around the world where I would leave my phone behind and live in bliss. Until I’d come back and have to post all the pictures I took. Shit, I wouldn’t have my phone. I guess that would solve that problem!
5. It’s 2040 and the world has changed. Most notably, in 2022, djinnis were discovered to be real. A decade-long techno-magical arms race ensued, leading to the development of various djinni-location and -capture techno-magicologies. Predictably, Jeff Bezos used his vast fortune to corner the market on said techno-magicologies.
Once Bezos located and captured every djinni everywhere, he imprisoned them in an unbreachable fortress hidden at the center of the Earth. (OK, it’s not hidden very well but it is, in fact, completely unbreachable.) Forcing his captive army of djinn to crank out wishes day and night, Bezos has completely cornered the market on wishes. But he’s not selling them. That’s right, Jeff Bezos is giving wishes away, as long as you fulfill a few modest requirements first.
All aspiring wish recipients are expected to serve ten years in the Bezos organization beginning with a tour in the Bezos gladiatorial pits beneath Amazon corporate HQ. There, wish-aspirants fight robots for the right to work as unpaid interns in Amazon warehouses. Assuming you kill enough robots to qualify for warehouse duty and make it through the intervening decade of servitude—and, let me tell you, the robot gladiators were the least of your concerns, sister—you get a wish. Just one. What do you wish for? (Do I need to tell you to be careful with this?) Also, feel free to opine on the scenario in general. After all, it’ll be your reality soon enough. You should have some input!
This is a horrifying reality that I predict will happen so I will take it very seriously. Hmmm, what if I wished to trade place with Jeff Bezos? Then I could wish for whatever I want at any time, save the world from the clutches of Amazon, and force Jeff Bezos to watch Cats eleven thousand times until he’s old and feeble and crazy. The problem is now I have so much power and responsibility, but I’m a lazy person at heart. So, I’d wish for other people to take Amazon off my hands and focus on using the platform for good rather than evil while I spend my days in a villa in Spain smoking a joint and eating paella.
6. Is happiness real?
Man, I hope so, otherwise what’s the point? There’s an old Jewish proverb, It’s better to die of laughter than of fear. I hope I go out laughing (many, many years from now!).
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels The Desire Card, The Mentor, and Slow Down. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. His Alaskan Gold Rush novel The Ancestor is forthcoming in 2020. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press, Monologging, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.
Kurt Baumeister is an American novelist, essayist, critic, and poet. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana (Stalking Horse Press, 2017) was selected as a Best/Most Anticipated Book of 2017 by [PANK] Magazine, Electric Literature, Lit Reactor, and Big Other. Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, Rain Taxi, The Brooklyn Rail, The Nervous Breakdown, and others.