Skull Stomping @ American Apparel
By Mike Sauve
The personal style of my alter-ego Tarheel Slim had not yet fully developed. Tarheelâ€™s purpose was to avenge the offenses against good taste I witnessed on the Facebook newsfeed. I had been repressing a lot of anger over the personal content posted by my peers. My therapist suggested a fake profile to mock the whole vast, soul-flattening, digital organism. It seemed like a good idea. Under interests Tarheel listed â€œthe denigration of rubes.â€ I tried to denigrate some rubes, but I didnâ€™t know who to mock. To mock a stranger seemed exceptionally rude, to mock a friend or acquaintance even less healthy. Still, thatâ€™s what I set out to do. The purpose of Tarheel Slim was to implode my Facebook ego before deleting both the account in my real name and the Tarheel variation.
The person I wanted to challenge most was among my direct competition as an ersatz Facebook humorist. From my point of view, he was well beneath me in this regard. He was, however, one of the few who commented positively on my efforts, his latest post had me fuming:
Booby Ericsson: despite recent findings, advice and pleas, I’ve decided to carry on doing exactly what I feel like for every single second of every single day. the following people/things/ideologies can go fuck themselves: Bono, morality, the PO-lease, speed limits, anything said un-sartcastically, any action done un-ironically, Travis Tritt, Karma, unsincerity, sincerity, the internet, the rye, my give-a-damn [sic]
I could manage to ignore this abominable effort on its own, but not the 17 fawning comments like: â€œYou are one of the funniest people I know,â€ â€œThis is your greatest status, youâ€™ve reached your peak,â€ and worst, â€œThis is the most awesome thing Iâ€™ve ever read.â€
I wanted to point out that not one element of this list could be considered an ideology, that the word was insincere, and that the entire composition was sophomoric and hackneyed. This was the purpose of the Tarheel Slim profile after all, yet poor Tarheel could only lament this injustice in ruminative paralysis.
Tarheelâ€™s competing postâ€”On choosing the beach over Sex and the City 2: That film is a paean to consumerism, materialism and middle-aged shrewery, or among younger viewersâ€”imminent middle age shrewery. The beach on the other handâ€”itâ€™s like an all-ages bra and underwear partyâ€”received not one comment. I did not sleep well that night. I considered deleting the Tarheel Slim account.
The next day Tarheel found his voice while shopping with a friend. I did not expect Tarheel to emerge so dramatically, certainly not in the real world anyway. A sweat-shirt listed at $68 was on sale for $39 at American Apparel. The cashier charged me $68. I didnâ€™t notice until after my credit card had been processed. I alerted the employee to the mistake.
â€œSorry, no refunds.â€
â€œItâ€™s not a refund. You charged me the wrong price.â€
â€œWell you paid that price. I canâ€™t help if the item is on sale now.â€
â€œBut this actual item, in my bag, has been marked down.â€
â€œNobody knows when that was written, you could have written that right now.â€
â€œAre you crazy? What kind of two-bit operation are you running here?â€
It seemed like a crucial moment of conflict in the clerkâ€™s confused, unhappy life. He would not back down. He perhaps had some kind of deep-rooted spiritual sickness. This opposing uglinessâ€”the ugliness of retailâ€”released the true, terrible Tarheel in all his awesome horror.
The clerk stood on an elevated three foot stoop. He wore a robust Hulk Hogan-style moustache for ironic effect. Tarheel reached up and grabbed both ends of it with his thumbs, forefingers and middle fingers then tried to lift himself up. The clerk screamed in a high tone, â€œWhat the hell are you doing?â€
â€œWhat the hell are you doing?â€ Tarheel wanted to know. My friend looked horrified. She wasnâ€™t enthusiastic about the whole Tarheel Slim experiment in the first place. Tarheel grabbed the clerk by his long blonde hair and slammed his head into the counter, then started grinding his fist into the clerkâ€™s orbital bone. Tarheel punched his skull ten times to the rhythmic chant of an imagined 1984 wrestling crowd.
Tarheel opened the cash register and heroically grabbed the $30 he was owed, playing entirely to this imagined crowd. With a wild gleam in his eye he grabbed all the bills and threw them in the air, â€œMake it rain!â€ he cried in jubilation. He kicked the clerk in the kidneys. The clerk tried to crawl away and Tarheel stomped his skull against the rich, honeyed veneer of the parquet floor.
A high-strung manager appeared with a taser, hell-bent on tasing anyone he could. Tarheel got hold of the taser without much difficulty and tased the living daylights out of the manager.
â€œAnyone else want to get tased?â€ Tarheel screamed.
A hipster girl whoâ€™d been shopping for tights said, â€œNo way, donâ€™t tase me, pleaseâ€. Tarheel gave her a hard look, but in the end showed mercy.
I went home and logged into Tarheelâ€™s Facebook account. On the newsfeed a bleached bimbo from my isolated and television-informed hometown lamented the end of her four-year relationship. Her most popular post had more comments than my many piquant insights from the past month combined: â€œLearn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow,â€ it said. It was everything Tarheel stood firm against, some functional illiterateâ€™s cheap attempt at Chicken Soup profundity that was blindlyâ€”yet genuinely, enthusiasticallyâ€”supported by a culture of â€œlikeâ€-clicking cave-dwellers.
It would have been real vicious if Tarheel â€œlikedâ€ this given his stated intentions. It would be confounding, annoying, patronizingâ€”the equivalent of an unexpected tasing. Fortunately, I thought better of it, and showed some restraint. People knew that I was Tarheel Slim after all. Tarheel had to be kept in check.
Skull Stomping @ American Apparel