Burt had been depressed for weeks before he decided it was time to buy a luxury condo and throw a party. The idea came to him after a botched purchase of Amazon recommended self-help books proved to be a fruitless exercise to make “meaningful friendships” because he hadn’t the time to read them. To Burt, though he had soaked up all the information provided on the their back covers, he still couldn’t enact any of the advice provided. He still smiled at the wrong times, looked concerned when he should have joked, and joked when he should have looked concerned. Burt, as per usual, embarraseed himself around his work superiors, emasculated himself around the bros at the bar, and alienated a quarter of Seattle’s female Tinder population, all in a matter of weeks. He gave every book 1-star and a scathing review.
His motivation, like his heart, had been crushed. It was May. Summer, fast approaching and Burt felt as alone as ever. The late snowstorms didn’t help. He watched the daffodils bloom in March and freeze in April. The frozen spring showers kept his spirits damp. It wasn’t until Jon C., his spiritual advisor and self titled “tech recruiting guru” brought up the idea that a change in kitchen counter tops could do a world of good for Burt.
“Have you seen the granite counter tops going into these places?” He asked Burt, referring to the plethora of high-rise condominiums sprouting weekly in the city.
“Yes, the granite counter tops,” Burt said in the same uneasy tone he always uses when he answers in the affirmative about things he doesn’t know about.
Jon C. flickered his eyelids to control his disappointment and sighed.
“Burt we’ve talked about this bad habit of yours.”
“I’m sorry, it’s hard to admit when I don’t know something.”
“I’m talking about your surroundings, Burt.”
Burt looked confused. He hadn’t recalled Jon asking him about his surroundings.
“Burt, I’ve been telling you to look at the condos. I’ve been telling you to look at construction sites to internalize the visual metaphor into your own life — to build yourself up like a big expensive luxury temple.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t remember,” Burt said, anxiously.
Jon C. closed his eyes again, uncapped a tiny brown bottle of essential oil and took a deep whiff and exhaled slowly. Burt bobbed his head in support. Jon C. slowly opened his eyes, as if he were reborn and continued.
“Are you listening in the evenings like I’ve told you?” Jon C. said.
“I do, but I’ve been going to bed late.”
Burt, I’m asking you a yes or no question.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, no you haven’t, because if you had, you would have been getting my messages.”
“You mean, on the dreamscape?”
“IN the dreamscape, Burt, IN it,” Jon C. wiped his lips with his fingers. “The dreamscape isn’t a platform, it’s an unconscious superhighway we all tread on between our waking hours.”
“I’ve been meaning to ask you about this…”
“Burt, I’m talking right now.”
Burt blinked and sealed his mouth.
“These meetings only get us so far, and you know that my best work comes right before bed. I have to be ready for them when they come. When was the last time you received a transmission from me?”
“I’m not too sure.” Burt felt sheepish for failing his spiritual guide.
Jon C. unwound his legs from his kneeling office chair and walked to one of the ten electro-glass orbs scattered around his office. He pressed his pointer finger to the glass and watched the current strike it. He slid his finger across the orb and the blue snake of energy followed. He smiled. Jon took his finger off of the glass ball and walked to his bookcase. He reviewed his library of new age prophecies, tarot card decks, and the long column of Ayn Rand paperbacks categorized by duplicate and triplicate. “She was so right on.” He whispered to himself. Swiftly, he turned to reengage with Burt.
“Burt, your new condominium needs three things: granite counter tops, a hot tub and Cards Against Humanity.”
“Cards against Humanity?” Burt said.
“Yes, it’s a game where you can be racist, sexist and all the other ists and get away with it because you’re just matching unrelated phrases on two different cards. The most shocking combination wins! It’s risk-free and makes people like you and me feel safe and empowered.”
“Okay,” Burt said, not sure what he and Jon C. had in common besides their beards.
“Do you know what else makes people feel safe and empowered?”
“No, but buy the condo and throw a housewarming party and all your problems will be solved.”