Careers in Science: Dysteleology

The dysteleologist stands there on the sidewalk, sharing his peanuts with two crows. It turns out crows like honey-roasted peanuts.

The dysteleologist thinks, the chances of crows taking over someday are slim, but if they do, I’ll be in good shape (he shares his sandwiches with them too, in part for this reason and in part because he enjoys their surprised expressions when someone is kind to them).

The dysteleologist has a house and in a rear corner of the yard stands a shed and the neighbor ambushed his wife the other day to complain that the shed was diverting rainwater onto his, the neighbor’s, house and making the walls damp. The dysteleologist does not know if this is true or if the neighbor’s house is just damp because it is a rickety piece of shit, but he resolves to take a look at the situation on the weekend and tear down the shed if necessary, if a gutter won’t fix things. He took a walk through the yard this morning and looked at things and was slightly appalled at the hillbilly look his yard had to it and thought he would have to get this all cleaned up before the neighbor got someone from town hall over to inspect things, because really.

The dysteleologist regrets that he is not wealthy enough to move somewhere without neighbors.

The dysteleologist had a talk with his daughter on a hand-held picture-phone yesterday, too, and for a brief instant it felt as if he were living in the brighter future he and everyone else had once been promised, long ago, back when all this shit going on now was just getting started, invisibly, like a seed buried underground, or mold spores dividing on a sandwich.

A brighter future with picture phones and 3-day work weeks and free health care and leisure and stuff like flying cars.

And of course jet-packs.

The dysteleologist’s daughter was in Glasgow after presenting a paper, preparing to take a night bus to London. He told her if she sees any men with bloody meat cleavers, she should cross the street.

Ach, the future.

Who smells so good?

His stop was coming he put away his H.P. Lovecraft story collection – he had just finished The Horror at Red Hook – stood up and let his momentum do the walking for him as the train slowed and wow who smells so good? The pretty girl with an expression suggesting pain? The tall, husky, bearded lad with his long, black hair up in a bun? Can’t be me, he thought, my cologne is spicier and more amber. This is turquoise and iris and cumulus clouds.

Not the dogfaced screamers, nor the eldritch, seething, apelike, Asian devilworshipping Kurds (I left a few things out – swarthy, dark, what else?) Lovecraft was getting so worked up about in The Horror at Red Hook.

Avoiding dogfaced screamers, the man followed a five-year-old girl with sneakers with blinking soles, her big sister holding her hand, down the stairs and to the streetcar stop.

What is your pet peeve? Lovecraft was a xenophobe. This man here, he tried not to think about charity. Everytime he reads about a company running a charity event for one of their employees in dire financial straits because something fell on them or plowed into them or bit them, he has to think, why didn’t the company provide their employees with decent health insurance instead?

Every time he reads a heartwarming (seriously) story about thousands of people running or marching for a cause, he has to wonder why they aren’t marching on a capitol building or a country club instead. With torches and pitchforks.

He gave a panhandler twice as much as she was asking for yesterday, it’s not that he’s opposed to generosity.

When some billionaire donates money to a cause, he has to think, they should pay taxes, instead. Financing causes is plutocracy. Paying taxes is democracy.

He begins to walk up the hill to work, reading his book as he goes. He takes a big, Ministry-of-Funny-Walks step to avoid something that is either a dog turd that looks like a partially-eaten chocolate pretzel, or a partially-eaten chocolate pretzel. A mean-faced woman with dark red — almost black — lipstick walks three little kids the opposite way past him and gives him a scowl. A little blonde girl passes perpendicularly on her way to school.  A gang of little boys laugh about something in a good-natured way.

It is windy and the sun is out.

The god of the office and the god of weather

“How come you let such terrible things happen all the time,” says the god of weather.

“Why is it raining?” says the god of the office.

The god of the office and the god of weather are standing on the balcony watching it rain onto a bunch of May-green trees. May is the best month.

“See, I don’t make it rain,” says the god of weather. “Weather is the expression of a complicated system. And anyway, the trees need a drink.”

“There’s your answer,” says the god of the office. “And anyway, I’m just the god of the office.”

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t jump,” says the god of the ledge.

“Ozymandias,” says the god of weather.

“This too shall pass,” says the god of the office.

“Tomorrow shall be sunny,” says the god of weather.

“Everything eventually falls apart,” says the god of the office. “And everything is beautiful, anyway.”

“Those you worship will disappoint you,” says the god of weather. “By sacrificing too much for you and too little for themselves, or too little for you and too much for themselves, or by not making themselves happy when they are your idol and example…”

“…and you will disappoint those who worship you by not making yourself happy. Self-betrayal is not a worthy sacrifice. Sacrifice itself, I don’t know, is it obsolete or just ancient? But love makes up for all of this,” says the god of the office. “And everything is beautiful anyway.”

“These are the ground rules for an earthly existence,” says the god of weather.

Two random conversations


Man: I think I sprained my ankle putting on my ski boot.

Girl: Sure it wasn’t when you were skiing backwards and doing the splits?


Girl: It’s Friday night and I’m watching a movie with my dad.

Man: It’s Friday night and I’m watching Hansel and Gretel with a 15 year old girl.

Man, on phone

Man: So will you be there or will you be somewhere else?

Other person: Yes.

Man: … Yes, you will be there, or yes you will be somewhere else?

Other person: [Insert sound effect signifying thinking]

Man: Yes you will be there or no you will be somewhere else?

Man: Will you be there or not?

Man: Will you be there? Yes or no?

Other person: Yes.

Man: Yes?

Man: Yes, you will be there?

Other person: Yes.

Man: Okay.