Tonight I'm turning feral. The first thing I do is call Ben to let him know.
white "If you need me, I'll be ten beers deep and sleeping with my jeans on," I say. "Better if you don't need me at all."
white The echo and static from his end suggests I'm on speaker. I hear him take a hit from his stupid, elephant-shaped bong. Then there's no sound at all.
white "Can you hear me? Ben?" I open my mouth and close it. "Don't come around for anything dumb."
white I pull my phone away from my ear and see that it's dead. I consider going upstairs to Ben's half of the duplex to make sure he got my message, but twenty minutes ago, I roofied myself, and I'm beginning to feel the effects.
white My back is clammy. My head seems smaller. My limbs are foamy and grey. I turn on the TV, drop the remote, and can't bend to get it. I keep envisioning this scene of myself doing a snake maneuver with my jaw and dumping a forty-eight-count of crayons into my mouth. I don't know if it's a memory or if I'm asleep, but more importantly, I don't know how to turn off Animal Planet.
white They're doing a retrospective tribute to the documentary series Meerkat Manor. The clips of wildlife are narrated by a dramatized, reality-TV-style script describing all the meerkats as they go about their lives, fucking each other and falling in love and having families.
white Then the TV starts changing itself. It cycles through Shark Tank, Dateline, and Extreme Chef before it lands on Sesame Street.
white Elmo's yelling at that moldy, green man who lives in a trash can, but something's off. Elmo sounds like my dad the time he chewed out a homeless guy for going through our garbage, right before him and my mom got divorced, saying stuff like, "This is my trash. Just cause the rest of the world goes around sticking their trash in my can, doesn't mean I'm okay with it," until my mom came out and started yelling at my dad and the guy ran off.
white It'd be easy to blame my parents for my difficulty dating, but my ex-girlfriend said it's something else.
white My last date had been going fine until I told her a long, desultory anecdote about getting my pants stuck in a vacuum cleaner which was met with a silence so terrifying I had no choice but to fill it with whatever thought came next.
white "What if I roofied you?" I asked.
white I looked up, surprised to find fear in her eyes.
white "Just kidding," I said. "But what's so bad about roofies anyway? They seem kind of fun."
white "Umm… Women aren't scared of roofies, we're scared of what happens next," she said.
white I thought her point was sound, but I still felt there was something to be said about the roofies themselves. Even the popular use of the term "roofie," made them seem unknowable and haunted—but I was prepared to lift the veil.
white Elmo stops yelling at the trash can man and faces the audience, staring into the camera like he's looking at me directly. He starts laughing and doing a little dance, wagging his hips side to side in this way I can't help but interpret as mocking. I flip him off and he dances harder. His laugh is several octaves too low, as if the credited voice actor had called in sick. I'm so pissed, I almost don't notice the sound of someone trying to open my front door.
white I blink and wait for my eyes to adjust to the unlit room beyond the TV glow. I still can't tell if I'm awake, but I'm leaning towards no because my door's swinging open, and I would never leave it unlocked.
white A dark silhouette enters my apartment and I try to shrink further into the couch, but I remain immobile. My pants feel like they're falling down for some reason and I'm pretty sure I just farted in a really girly way. The fear running through me is so far beyond my comprehension it's painful, like a bruise penetrating my teeth and chest. I briefly acknowledge that I now understand women better than anyone else in the entire world.
white The intruder flips the lightswitch and I get a look at the guy. The intruder appears to be my good friend Ben.
white "What the fuck man?" he yells. "It's 3 a.m."
white I try to talk but my face isn't responding. Ben looks very far away and shiny. I feel like a shampoo bottle behind a display case.
white "You gotta turn this shit down. Where's the remote?"
white Ben starts picking stuff up off the floor.
white A raw, primal instinct deep in my bones tells me Ben can't have the remote. I feel hostile and violent. I'm having thoughts like, "Be the meerkat," as I watch him clock the remote on the floor right beside my foot. I finally get my vocal chords going and let out a sound like grurrrrrhm, then I slide off the sofa and form a shield around the remote with my body.
white Ben, the intruder, is no match against my shield. He's unfocused. His form is weak. He's laughing way too much.
white I drop my full weight onto the remote and the song on Sesame Street soars.
white "Fucking move man, Jesus."
white Ben slips a hand under my ribcage and jabs my armpit. I crumple to the side and he trounces me. The remote is his now. He stands, triumphant, and I swing for it. Then he's gone. I swivel my head and find him on the other side of the room, shaking with laughter.
white He decreases the TV volume and turns to look at me. I think he wants me to speak. And I will. I'm working on it. I'm working on a sentence that will convey all the essential information.
white Once I've got it, I look into his stoned, red eyes, and in a very calm voice I tell him, "Meerkat Manor," but this doesn't seem to help. Ben tilts into the wall and slides down it with his arms bent like a bug, laughing so hard there's not even sound coming out anymore besides this weird, clicking noise coming from the back of his throat. He flips to his stomach, presses his nose into the carpet, and lies very still.
white My thoughts feel buried behind something with a mashed potato texture, and I keep forgetting what I'm trying to remember. Eventually, two minor details slip into my purview: one, that someone has roofied me; and two, that I bought mushrooms this afternoon and ate them about three hours ago.
white Then the living room's on the move, spinning like a demonic carousel. I try not to puke while the popcorn ceiling twirls around so fast I can't stand. I reach out to Ben, but he can't see me. He hasn't moved at all and I wonder if we're both dead.
white Tomorrow, his girlfriend will find us lying in little half moon shapes right next to each other and think we pulled a gay Shakespeare. They never let men be friends after they die. They always make them fuck. And we'll be no different. They'll write up our secret romance posthumously and it'll read like a narration on Meerkat Manor. The camera will pan across our extensive family of bio-hacked children and surrogate wives, all running loops around primitive, rock-cut tombs as the sun sets hot and gold.
white Thinking about this, I start to feel sorry for myself, not because of the gay thing, but because I'm afraid I'll never find that kind of love in this version of my life.