(Interscope/Ear Drummer; 2015)
By Clayton Purdom | 27 January 2015
It looks big, but good. It casts a pale blue glow into the living room—eerie but lovely, serene—and the golden blue Arowana fish you’d selected looked, you had to say, great. The ecosystem was fresh from the store and looked that way, but the sales attendant, who stressed his background was actually botany, assured you that these things take a little time to develop into a believable tableau. And anyway: high-quality implements pay for themselves. You develop a relationship with them as they do with each other.
Your wife hadn’t loved the idea, but eventually green-lit it. The money wasn’t there, but it wasn’t not there, either. She’d enjoyed her raise plenty, on her end, and anyway, these quiet indulgences were an act of love on her part. She understood the way these nerdy connoisseurships paid dividends to your self-worth, and after everything that had happened with the baby…well, it was good to find a new focal point for the living room.
You want her to see it, and so you absent-mindedly call her name, to the back of the house, where she’d been reading. She doesn’t answer. You call again—still no answer. You wait a minute and finally grow irritated. You break eye contact with the aquarium for the first time to walk part-way down the hallway, where you see your wife staring out behind you in wide-eyed horror. You follow her gaze back toward the living room, to the sofa, on which the teenage rap duo Rae Sremmurd stand, a stream of urine arcing up from their waists and straight into your new aquarium. They are holding red Solo cups full of wine, and they are cackling. They are cackling.
You are a 23-year-old woman, and you are dancing. You are outrageously drunk and (as is sometimes the case when one is outrageously drunk) it is awesome. You feel awesome. You are theoretically going to work tomorrow, but you are beginning to appreciate the idea of maybe not going to work tomorrow: I repeat that you feel awesome. You’d read something once about how many right angles there are in the modern city and how few there are in the natural world, and you think of that fucking cubicle farm in particular, and you feel like there are circles here tonight. The lights are circles, the tables are circles, the movements are circles. You feel awesome up here. You catch a glance of some of the people who aren’t dancing, arrayed around their low-slung tables, and notice two in particular, slouched back, deep in their booth, staring at you in tandem, smiling wide as wolves.
It is the worst day of your life: your father is dead. It had seemed like eons between the moment you watched it happen—quietly, imperceptibly—and the day of the funeral, but here you are. You keep re-reading the folded paper bulletin in your hand, as if to verify that it’s the right place, that this is happening. It is. You’d tried to hold it together during the service, and found it surprisingly easy, while everyone else erupted around you: enormous, slow-motion breakdowns, everyone’s face contorted, oozing and wet.
Anyway, you’re outside now. One good thing: people are starting to give you some space, apparently unwilling to push the small talk. You think about texting a friend later—just get out of the house for a couple hours. Maybe there’s some basketball on? A bird peels across the sky; cars idle to a stop; you see your dad’s coworkers quietly making their way to the parking lot. From nowhere, a red Ferrari screams through the intersection, its engine a thundercrack across the church yard, and you can still hear its subwoofers as it disappears around a corner. “Fucking idiots,” your mom murmurs.
You are fellating Rae Sremmurd. Doesn’t matter which, it’s happening. The act completes. “Get outta here,” he says, and pulls out his cellphone. You walk to the door. “Wait,” you hear from behind you, and turn around to see him still staring at his phone. Had you imagined it? But then he looks up, and locks eyes with you. You hadn’t made eye contact with him in minutes but now he’s staring at someplace behind your eyes from someplace behind his, and they are rimmed with red. “Stay,” he whispers.
All the young boys and girls of America are at a house party together. Every single one. They are happy and healthy and there are cups of everything. No one is over the age of 17 or under the age of 14. MTV is filming it, probably: fish eye lenses, vaguely impossible aerial shots, snorricams. There are imperceptible computer graphics used to remove tiny imperfections and create a greater sense of cohesion. Everyone screams into a camera at the same time, bounding as a single organism, seething up and down, an ocean of flesh. There are no lines for anything because everyone is part of one thing. If someone has it we all do. We seethe upward, melting as one. We part only to let Rae Sremmurd march their golden glowing horses through their kingdom, and we collapse in their wake, doing whatever it is that we do, all the young boys and girls of America.