Maybe this work Zoom call isn’t the time for what I’m about to do here, but our boss Kevin has shared his screen to display a prompt that literally encourages us to, “Start today by heading into breakout rooms to connect as friends and share what’s really going on with you.” Welp, roll up the door on the loading dock, chums — because I’ve got a big wide load of precisely what Kevin has prompted us to get out, and I don’t think I can hold it until I get to the breakout room. What’s going on with me is this: I need someone to send in the fucking clowns, and fast.

Like the rest of you, I used to luxuriously moan my way through life watching television shows about depressing shit happening to people long ago, back when daily living would routinely grind folks’ souls into a fine powder used to suffocate their hearts while their dreams were forced to watch the whole murder. I think all 39 participants on this call can admit we felt like we were home free when watching those shows; as if we had dodged a goddamn bullet from the gun that history would routinely pull from the front of its angry blood-stained trousers back then to pistol whip the charm right out of simple god-fearing people, minding their own business on a farm or in a haberdashery. Hell, we’d celebrate having watched entire seasons of shows like that by waking up the next day and listening to some bag-of-tears downer fest on a podcast or the radio. It’s as if we were taunting life, jumping around, waving our canvas totes and coffee cups like pom-poms, cheering about how olden times may have fucked 80% of the globe. But as time marched on, it seemed disease and strife were taking a holiday when it came to boning so many of us here in modern times. “Yeah, well, then shit changed, my bitches.” as Pam from Account Services likes to say, and it’s high time to make each other laugh as best we can, given the shit we’ve been through.

And I get it — this is a work call, and I can see that a lot of you look confused, probably because I’ve changed the name displayed on my Zoom account to D.J. Fucko this morning. But let me carry on here because this feels good, we’ve all got our coffee, and your shocked and confused expressions make me think that maybe I’m onto something.

What I’m saying is this: Between wildfires, terrible men in humid and farty suits ruining lives and the environment, modestly salaried
racist pill fiends with guns and handcuffs losing their shit and killing citizens, a literal fucking real-life contagion situation, watching friends and loved ones turn to ghosts, losing track of time, overeating nervously, having fucked up hair, and basically watching all of us snap into our own motherfucking Apocalypse Now, I’m gonna need someone to send in the clowns on the goddamn double and lay a little comedy on the table.

I see you waving your hands Kevin, I know you’re my boss, I also know I’m straying from this Zoom call’s agenda, but I just wanted to reach out and connect about what’s really going on with me, like your shared screen said to. Because it’s better than walking back to the kitchen you see in my background here, dumping that bottle of shitty cooking brandy over my head, setting myself aflame on camera, and hoping to god or the devil that it makes a few of us take a moment to wonder if we shouldn’t have laid some laughter on each other a little sooner. Especially in this time when we can’t even see or hear one funny person in a comedy club or movie theater.

I know, I know, there are pleasant, neighborly men on TikTok suddenly snapping into defending their spouses from suburban bobcat attacks, and that’s supposed to hold us over. But lately, I’ve been spending most of my time daydreaming of being the person being attacked by the bobcat. In the daydream, I decide not to fight back, quietly confident that the bobcat is simply offering a humane end to my days and all the depressing shit coming at us, on blast, from each other, pretty much constantly.

Lastly, I hope I didn’t come off like I’m on some high horse. I am by no means perfect. I was humiliated when I had to “tend to some
personal business” in the shrubbery of a local merchant not so long ago when I found myself in a very sudden personal emergency after eating meat for the first time in two years. Also, to the women who learned Jan and I were separated briefly, and who flirted with me at our off-site event then angrily asked me if I was gay: I was impotent because of a minor medical condition and its attendant medications, which I’m convinced is why Jan had asked for some time apart back then.

Jesus Christ, this felt great to get out, you guys. Kevin, thank you for sharing your screen with the prompt to reach out and connect about what’s really going on with us. I’m seeing a lot of raised hands and look forward to hearing from everyone else.

I will now change my name back from D.J. Fucko.