Back in the Time Circus

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Content Warnings

I got depressed and started eating metal after Jenny Switzer told me it was gonna make me stronger, better able to withstand the modern world. Starting with several little curls of metallic wire we found by the side of the road. I think they were the bristles from a thrown out electric hairbrush that had been dragged alongside the road by its plug by some wild kids in a truck one night, which was the custom back then. Kids out there were wild and hard-bitten. They hated combing their hair, and never trusted outsiders. We walked along beside the road and hoped not to get hit as more trucks kept roaring by. I found a lighter by the side of the road and took it apart, eating all the metal parts, and the parts that looked like they were made of metal. Some parts were sharp and hard to swallow. One part looked like it might have been made of super-strong plastic, and we couldn't get it to burn. I figured that was sure to make me stronger even if it was plastic and swallowed that too. Then I got the bright idea of eating aluminum foil because that would be cheaper and we slipped into a grocery store, making steely eyes at all the customers. Soon I found what I was looking for, and stuck a roll of aluminum foil in my jeans, slipping out past all the other customers, making the steel eyes again. We sat on a little hill of trash behind the store tearing the foil off into little pieces and eating as much as the two of us could. There were all these people from different levels of the class system back there throwing trash into a fire and fishing things out of a giant burning pile of trash. That was the heritage. Well, I sure had been eating all this stuff, but everything was still the same—or "Ha ha!" Jenny Switzer interrupted my train of thought. "You've been eating all this metal, it's gonna make you sick!" Yes, the joke was on me. Jenny Switzer had lied, and I had wanted to believe. Neither one of us was guilty. I puked up some of the metal parts. Then Switzer gave me a haircut and set my scalp on fire for a couple of seconds using a special spray-on liquid, which at first felt like a betrayal, but then she said some cool slang phrase for what they called it, and how it made the haircut more authentic, and after that, everything did seem better, slightly, and I said thanks. But it was still a confused, worried, bitter, betrayed kind of gladness. That's how it goes, trying to fit in with all these different groups in life. Down at night school, there are groups. Or at the DMV, you will find yourself standing in line with a group of people talking about the same thing. Everywhere you go is broken up into different social groupings like this and you can try to fit in or avoid them. That's just life. That’s just today’s modern world.