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By Otis Twelve

Stream of Shoppingness

December 20th, 2021

The other day while I was out shopping with my significant other…

(Any reader who has followed my adventures for any length of time now knows that this story is pure fiction because I would never, ever in a thousand years, go shopping with my significant other, nor with anyone, or anything else, including a Sugar Glider secreted in my vest’s watch pocket. Everything that follows is, thus obviously, an exercise of my imagination.)

… I found myself standing in the self-help aisle of a big, corporate bookstore…

(Yes, this is more evidence of the unreliability of my narrative. I would never, ever in a thousand years, never go into a big, corporate bookstore, as I am psychologically compelled to seek out small, locally owned–by quirky bookish people–shops that feature tomes by local folk and obscure French Existentialists simultaneously. Thus, once again, this little digression is exposed as the fraud that it is.)

… and as the titles swam past my eyes, in a moment of clarity…

(And yet again the jape is clear. I’m just making this up as I go because it amuses me. It is no secret to my family, friends, and the general public that I have never, ever in a thousand years, never had even a flashing bright nanosecond of clarity in this mind of mine. I have occasionally been able to grasp hold of a complex concept for a brief moment but there was no deep understanding involved, just a spasmodic, reflexive grabbing response, like a Venus flytrap snapping shut on a fly. Clarity is the stuff of greater minds than mine.)

…I realized that it was high time that I took an inventory of my flaws…

(I mean, how obvious can it be? This little essay is just one of those self-justifying petit memoirs meant to cast the author in a flattering light so that history might someday regard him with some degree of an idealistic gloss rather than record his name in the cruel light of reality and fact. I have never, ever in a thousand years, never taken any kind of inventory since Mr. Gesick fired me from my stock boy job at the TG&Y some years ago.)

…and commit, at long last to change…

(Change? I hate change. Everyone hates change. Human beings will embrace the most bizarre levels of self-deception in order to avoid change. No matter what th amounting, incontrovertible evidence might be that demands a change of mine, change of diet, change of residence, change of habit, change of outlook, change of heart… Raise the sea levels, run the ball on 3rd and 23, melt the icecaps, trade your best power hitter, believe what you hear on the radio, buy a thousand Powerball tickets all at once…keep at it…don’t you ever change.)

…but then I realized…

(Now I’m about to weasel out of it…typical… This might turn out okay after all. Because I never, ever in a thousand years, never fail to pull back from the cliff’s edge. That’s how I got to be this old.)

…if I lose all my flaws, there might not be anything left underneath,

(Finally, a ring of truth.)

…and that’s why I never go shopping with my significant other.

(This column was dictated to an assistant while standing in the self-improvement aisle of a very large corporate bookstore. Transcribed on the inside of a dust jacket from the new edition of “I’m OK, You I’m Not So Sure About.)

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of Omaha Magazine.