Originally Posted on May 17, 2012 at 1 AM as a gift to you from Frost
A Day In The Life Of A Beta
I awake to a horrible sound, a symphony of babies crying and nails on chalkboards and Nickelback on a scratchy AM radio station. It’s my alarm clock, jolting me into consciousness, and out of a blissful dreamworld in which I was seconds away from a first kiss with Andrea, my beloved. Cruel alarm! Why must you always wake me at such moments?
I gently click the snooze button and let my body fall back into the comforting womb of cotton and goose down that I had purchased from Bed Bath and Beyond last month. A mere fifteen minutes of relaxation, I tell myself, and I’ll be off to the gym! To the weights! Today, I swear it, I will lift. I will grunt and sweat and toil, like all the other terrifyingly muscular men in the gym, and soon, soon, soon, I will grow to be one of them. Three months have passed since I’d purchased my gym membership, and I’d used it only twice. But today! Today! Things will be different.
The alarm sounds again. Dear god, has it been fifteen minutes already? Surely not. I must be mistaken. Am I certain that I hit the alarm the first time it rang? No, I am not. I must have mentally tuned it out, for no more than a minute. I can snooze for fifteen minutes, and still make it out the door in time. Fifteen minutes, I think hopefully, that I may spend with my dear, sweet Andrea and continue our stroll down the beach near the boardwalk, and perhaps recapture that beautiful, perfect moment in which we were about to…
But no! The Alarm, again! What is it you want from me, you cruel dictator of what is and is not day or night?
But then I remember – The Gym! It is time! For sweat and toil and all that. For Andrea! Yes, I will stand up now and put on my underarmour and lacroix shorts and dry-fit t-shirt and lace up my Ascics trainers, and I will drive to the gym in my leased Toyota Camry Hybrid. I will do this in just one minute, after I am done mentally planning out my morning and…
The alarm! Again! But this means I’ve been lying in bed for thirty minutes longer than I should have. Or maybe forty-five. I glance at the alarm. Yes, forty-five minutes. Far too late to make it to the gym now. Might as well enjoy one more cycle of the snooze alarm, since my original plan has fallen through. Next time, next time, next time, I thought, I won’t stay up until two o’clock in the morning playing Call of Duty and watching pirated copies of How I Met Your Mother.
I’m still awake when the alarm goes off once more. I switch it off, with no doubt that I will wake up at once. Now, it is not the gym I will be late for, but work, and I am never late for work. The last time I was at my desk a few minutes past nine o’clock, my supervisor spoke with me in such a stern tone, glaring at me with such disapproval, I had silently begged her to stop with my pleading, glistening eyes, for ten whole minutes. It was awful. So I am never late.
I cracked my back and slouched into my bathroom. “Put those shoulders back, son,” I heard my stepfather say as I caught my reflection in the mirror. Well, not quite my stepfather. One of my mother’s boyfriends. He had never said much to me, but he did once tell me to keep my shoulders back. And so I do, or at least try to.
I brush my teeth with pink Sensodyne, start a hot shower, wash and condition my hair, and apply a healthy layer of unisex antiperspirant deodorant. Afterwards I head down to the kitchen and eye the protein powder on top of my fridge. What’s the point? I think, deciding that since I had not worked out, protein would have no effect but to make me fat. I pour a heaping bowl of Frosted Flakes and click two pop-tarts into the toaster. A healthy breakfast for a man, I think, full of essential carbohydrates and, if Tony the Tiger is to be trusted, fortified with nine essential nutrients.
Shall I wear a suit today? I hardly see the point. No one yells at me, or pays me much attention when I wear billowing khakis and an oversized dress shirt, both fastened to my hips by a belt that is a reasonably close shade of brown to my shoes.
My work for the day is mercifully free of any task that require meetings, presentations, or sales calls. Oh, how I hate sales calls! And meeting and presentations for that matter. So much more peaceful, to labor quietly in my cubicle on briefings and research for others.
But my supervisor! She appears! Have I got the briefing for the account? Dear God, no I haven’t! I’ve spent half the morning browsing Reddit and reading the news! Think, damnit!
But I don’t. I stutter an apology and close my web browser. The United Fruit account, yes. I set upon it immediately. By working through my lunch hour, I’m able to write a passable brief in time for the two o’clock sales presentation that some other unfortunate employee has been chosen to give. Whoever he is, he probably had to wear a suit and show up early today to prepare. Poor fellow!
I step out for a sandwich sometime in the afternoon. Absolutely the high point of my day! I walk past Andrea’s desk. I’ve spent the past half hour scripting this conversation. I’m ready. I won’t ask her out today, but I will lay… groundwork! Soon, soon, soon, soon, soon.
But no! Someone is in there already. They’re talking about… The United Fruit presentation. That poor bastard in the suit! But now, in the breakroom with Andrea. Cocksucker. Is she laughing? Yes, that’s a laugh. Might it be her laugh? I can’t quite recall what her laugh sounds like. Well fuck him. Little does he know, she’s still reeling from a sudden breakup with the bass player of a local ska band. The bass player is a shit and his band sucks (I’ve seen them on Youtube) but still, Andrea is emotionally unavailable right now, and that poor cunt doesn’t even know it. Fuck him.
At precisely five o’clock, I’m out the door and on the subway back to my spacious apartment in an affordable suburb not half an hour from my office. I suppose I could have rented something more central, but that would mean forfeiting my second bedroom and nice, open living room. I’ve seen the sort of apartments one can afford in the downtown core on my salary, and I hardly think my 60-inch 1080i big-screen would fit in one of them!
On my way home, my phone buzzes. Now this is odd! A text message. From Professor Mentu! My old friend, from high school! My God but it’s been a while since I’ve heard from him!
Apparently he’s come to visit my city on some sort of business. He wants to know if I’d like to join him for a drink, to catch up. And apparently, we’ll be joined by his… lady friend?… and her sister. It almost sounds like a date! And of course, a fine chance to catch up with my old friend Mentu, a fine gentleman back in the day, although if I recall correctly he always had an unsettlingly lean and hungry look about him.
But what am I thinking! I can’t go out tonight! Not with a grueling, sweaty, grunting, iron-clanking workout waiting for me at six o’clock tomorrow morning! And what would become of my chances with Andrea, if she were to catch me out on the town with some… Whore? Nothing good, I surmise. Ah, Mentu, I’m sorry old friend, but I’ll have to respond tomorrow morning with the white lie that I only just got your message, and that I would love to have a drink next time.
And so begins my structured, easy, peaceful evening routine.
First, dinner. Pork, pasta and some grey vegetables, cheap and easy to prepare in the microwave. I peel off the cellophane and dig in, thinking how sturdy and healthful the food must be, since it never spoils no matter how long you keep it, or across how many states you ship it.
Next, preparation for the next day. Gym bag! Well, I suppose that’s still ready from yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. Next, work clothes. A plaid shirt and comfortable khakis. No great hastle.
Now, time to relax!
Have my favorite television shows finished downloading? Blast it, they haven’t. I stare at the screen as the bar creeps from 95 to 100%. After watching the night’s shows, I consider: Do I feel like spending the rest of the evening playing Grand Theft Auto, Call Of Duty, Or Mass Effect? Let’s go with Mass Effect. Only for an hour or two though, I must be in bed at a nice early hour so that I can wake up early and head off to the gym tomorrow morning…