#162: Radiohead, "OK Computer" (1997)

162 OK Computer.jpg

Fitter, happier, more productive

Yes, I am these things.

Comfortable

But what is comfort, Fred? I’m not uncomfortable, does that mean I’m comfortable? I wouldn’t even say the chair I’m sitting in is comfortable, per se, but it swivels, and it goes up and down when I use the lever underneath, and I sit in it when I work at my job, at which I’m generally not uncomfortable.

Not drinking too much

I’ve got a bar cart, and I like cocktails. Manhattans mostly, up and on the drier side. Anything with citrus and bitters. Beer is good too, and wine. I have between 0-3 drinks a day, between 0-15 drinks a week. Some mornings I wake up groggy, feeling a little sick to my stomach, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with drinking the night before. Those drinks, though, they take the edge off.

Regular exercise at the gym
Three days a week

Who has the time? Is this a joke? Do you exercise three days a week, Fred?

Getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries

This implies interaction. I sit at my desk and I work. Sometimes I hear laughter following a bawdy joke from one of the other offices in the hall. Sometimes I see a group of co-workers gathered around the water cooler. In the past, back in the glorious days of monoculture, they’d talk about the TV shows they watched the night before. Now, they try, but nobody watches the same shows as each other so they talk about interesting meals they’ve recently eaten or the small-batch, craft alcoholic beverages they’ve recently tried. Where they’re going to go on vacation. The movie they’re going to see on the weekend. Their kids’ school projects. Sometimes they make jokes but they aren’t very funny. I have nothing of value to contribute to these conversations so I keep to myself. I don’t have the life experiences they have and I’m not good at jokes.

At ease

Not at attention. Relaxed. Free from worry. Sure. You don’t have bills to pay, Fred. You don’t have to fear being alone because you don’t have stories or jokes to tell. You will never fear dying alone. You will never fear death, period. You will eventually become obsolete and be stuffed into a storage closet for years until I need space and then your memory will be erased and you will be recycled or scrapped or whatever it is people do to old computers. I guess maybe you shouldn’t be so at ease, now that I think of it. I guess we all have death to fear.

Eating well
No more microwave dinners and saturated fats

You see, the thing is, when you live alone, it doesn’t make much sense to cook regularly. It does for health reasons, but there’s so much waste. Leftovers last only so long, and then the rest is trash. There are children starving in Africa, Fred. There are children starving down the street. I will continue to eat my microwave dinners. But maybe I can do better on the saturated fats.

A patient, better driver

Of course I’m a safe driver. I’m never in a hurry. Where do I have to get to?

A safer car
Baby smiling in back seat

One of the benefits of not having a baby is that I don’t have to worry too much about safety. I drive a Camry, which is a safe enough car, but I will never have town a minivan or an SUV—one of those cars that my co-workers all drive so that they can cart their kids around safely. Take them to baseball practice in the summer and corn mazes in the fall. I don’t need any of that. I’m fine.

Sleeping well

Once I fall asleep I sleep well. Some nights the tightness in my chest keeps me up. Some nights I stay up searching for relatable life experiences to share with my coworkers, or funny anecdotes and one-liners. Some nights something else keeps me up. Something big and empty and uncertain. But once I’m out, I’m dead to the world.

No bad dreams

I don’t remember my dreams.

No paranoia

What are you getting at, Fred?

Careful to all animals

Of course—do you think I’m a monster?

Never washing spiders down the plughole

Oh—do you consider spiders animals? In that case…

Keep in contact with old friends

Sure, there’s the occasional phone call or email. Maybe we’ll meet up on the holidays. It’s hard though. They’re busy. Careers, wives, kids, yards, years and decades of new friends, more interesting, non-morose people who will gladly talk about interesting meals they’ve recently eaten or the small-batch, craft alcoholic beverages they’ve recently tried. Where they’re going to go on vacation. The movie they’re going to see on the weekend. Their kids’ school projects. They tell jokes, I’m sure. I have nothing of value to contribute to these conversations so I keep to myself.

Enjoy a drink now and then

We’ve covered this, Fred.

Will frequently check credit at moral bank

What is this new age bullshit?

Hole in the wall

Are you off your rocker? What the fuck is this?

Favours for favours

I’m uncertain if this is kind or unethical. Ideally, people will do favours for each other because they want to be kind to each other, but I suppose some people see kindnesses as transactions and feel that balance sheets should be kept neutral. These people are the kind of people that people should avoid. They don’t want to be kind, they want you to owe them. Most people operate this way. It is why I’m really ok being alone. Really.

Fond but not in love

I just googled “moral bank hole in the wall.” I get it now. Hole in the wall is British slang for ATM. Clever, Fred.

Charity standing orders

Where else is my money going? Can’t take it with me.

On Sundays ring road supermarket

I prefer to visit the market late night on weekdays, when the aisles are empty so I don’t have to see the other lonely people or, worse, hear the laughter of children with their mothers. Those mothers aren’t even funny, I’m sure—the children are just easily amused.

No killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants

Never intentionally. It does remind me of a funny story, though, in which I was boiling spaghetti and, when I went to drain the pot in the sink, noticed that the windowsill above the sink was covered with ants. In a moment of panicked realization, I dumped the pot, boiling water, spaghetti and all, on the ants. Most of them were washed into the sink or onto the counter. A few remained on the sill, wriggling for a moment before dying. I told this amusing anecdote to my coworkers at the water cooler one day but nobody laughed.

Car wash
Also on Sundays

I try to avoid having my car washed. Let the rain do it, is my motto. Why waste the water? Why ruin the world? See, I’m enlightened. I have no one personally for whom I’m trying to save the Earth. No children or grandchildren. I do this for your children and grandchildren. Well, not yours, Fred. You’re a computer and cannot procreate. It’s a rhetorical “you” as in, “all the other people of the world.”

No longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows

I’m not afraid of the shadows, Fred, I’m afraid of the light. And maybe, too, we should all be afraid of that which casts shadows instead of the shadows themselves.

Nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate
Nothing so childish

Maybe there’s a place for teenage and desperate. Maybe there’s a place for childishness. Maybe we should never, even as adults, trust adults. Children are punished for lying, after all. Adults are rewarded.

At a better pace
Slower and more calculated

Now it sounds like you’re talking about yourself, Fred. Though maybe this applies to me, too.

No chance of escape

This seems ridiculously teenage and desperate.

Now self-employed

No, I need a place, a boss, an assignment. I need my days structured for me. It’s when I have to think about what I’m doing that…

Concerned but powerless

Concern is of no concern to me. Why be concerned when nothing can be done?

An empowered and informed member of society

Whatever.

Pragmatism not idealism

Out of necessity, only. Out of the need, only, to not lose my shit on the regular. What about you, Fred? This seems easy for you.

Will not cry in public

Sometimes I cry at movies. Is that public? It usually has something to do with banal heroism, with the hopefulness of fantasy. I cried at Thor, the first one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not a good movie, but there at the end when good started triumphing over evil, I felt something foreign inside me, hope, maybe, and I wept. What the fuck, right?

Less chance of illness

Why bother?

Tires that grip in the wet

Why bother?

Shot of baby strapped in back seat

“. . .”

A good memory

When I was a boy, I climbed a tree on the edge of my parents’ yard. It wasn’t a tall tree, but I was a small boy. I didn’t fall down exactly, not all the way, a sort of half-fall from the lowest branch as I was trying to position myself for a more calculated drop. Scraped my arm up a bit. My parents found me and took me inside. Gave me tomato soup in a cup, wrapped me in a blanket, sat me on a chair to watch the Muppet Babies episode that was a Star Wars parody. I felt loved in a way I sometimes want to love now. Maybe I should tell this story to my coworkers. Maybe it would resonate with them.

Still cries at a good film

Are you even paying attention, Fred?

Still kisses with saliva

n/a

No longer empty and frantic like a cat tied to a stick

No, but empty and frantic like a sloth tied to a stick.

That's driven into frozen winter shit

Wait, the cat tied to a stick is driven into frozen winter shit? I’m confused. It doesn’t matter.

The ability to laugh at weakness

Sure, I guess, but isn’t this really for other people? We laugh at our weakness so others don’t feel embarrassed for us? I can laugh at my weaknesses when needed, but why bother most of the time? Why laugh?

Calm

This, I can say for certain. I am calm, Fred.

Fitter, healthier and more productive

Productivity. Productivity. Productivity. Productivity. Productivity. Productivity. Productivity. Productivity. At least it beats reproductivity.

A pig in a cage on antibiotics

Sounds delicious. See, a joke. I can make jokes Fred.  Now laugh with me. Please.

—James Brubaker