Chuck Klosterman is the author of numerous books and essays on pop culture. In his bestselling Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; A Low Culture Manifesto, he had an interlude piece titled “23 Questions I Ask Everybody I Meet In Order To Decide If I Can Really Love Them”. I’ll be answering those questions in a series of posts. Feel free to chip in your thoughts or answers. See also: Part I.
4. Genetic engineers at Johns Hopkins University announce that they have developed a so-called “super gorilla.” Though the animal cannot speak, it has a sign language lexicon of over twelve thousand words, an I.Q. of almost 85, and–most notably–a vague sense of self-awareness. Oddly, the creature (who weighs seven hundred pounds) becomes fascinated by football. The gorilla aspires to play the game at its highest level and quickly develops the rudimentary skills of a defensive end. ESPN analyst Tom Jackson speculates that this gorilla would be “borderline unblockable” and would likely average six sacks a game (although Jackson concedes the beast might be susceptible to counters and misdirection plays). Meanwhile, the gorilla has made it clear he would never intentionally injure any opponent.
You are commissioner of the NFL: Would you allow this gorilla to sign with the Oakland Raiders?
Timely answer: I order an entire battalion of them, and threaten the players union with an all-sentient-gorilla season until the labor dispute is over. Think of ratings that would bring in. Eat your heart out, middling-Keanu-Reeves-movie. Then I’ll ring for my indentured servant Peter King, and tell him to write glowing reviews about how he thinks he thinks the gorillas think Bill Belichick is a fair and even-handed task master, after he throws the lead gorilla to the ground in a show of dominance. Secondary benefit; imagine Colin Cowherd’s racist head asploding when he finds out about this plan.
But more seriously, no. The NFL has enough problems with players violating the conduct policy. If the players were giant apes without any context for human society, it’d be worse.
5. You meet your soul mate. However, there is a catch: Every three years, someone will break both of your soul mate’s collarbones with a Crescent wrench, and there is only one way you can stop this from happening: You must swallow a pill that will make every song you hear–for the rest of your life–sound as if it’s being performed by the band Alice in Chains. When you hear Creedence Clearwater Revival on the radio, it will sound (to your ears) like it’s being played by Alice in Chains. If you see Radiohead live, every one of their tunes will sound like it’s being covered by Alice in Chains. When you hear a commercial jingle on TV, it will sound like Alice in Chains; if you sing to yourself in the shower, your voice will sound like deceased Alice vocalist Layne Staley performing a capella (but it will only sound this way to you).
Would you swallow the pill?
Do you believe in ‘soul mates’? Klosterman could be stipulating the entire sweeping concept of perfect love, or he could mean it in a more pragmatic way. For our purposes, I approached it as “best possible match”, not “perfect other-half-of-myself*”.
Given that, how could anyone who places me in this kind of catch-22 be my best possible match? The question is inherently flawed, and I won’t respond to it.
6. At long last, someone invents “the dream VCR.” This machine allows you to tape an entire evening’s worth of your own dreams, which you can then watch at your leisure. However, the inventor of the dream VCR will only allow you to use this device of you agree to a strange caveat: When you watch your dreams, you must do so with your family and your closest friends in the same room. They get to watch your dreams along with you. And if you don’t agree to this, you can’t use the dream VCR.
Would you still do this?
Absolutely. I always remember bits and pieces of my dreams, but what seems so vivid in the moment swirls and mingles, evaporates and dissipates upon waking. The smoke tendrils of dreams are whisked away, lost in the currents of reality. I feel like I’m trying to describe something half-glimpsed and half-remembered, to someone who won’t care and won’t understand. The remains of dreams are taunting and broken. To see the entirety, whole and unfractured by decent to this mundane existence would be wonderful.
And as far as the company goes, I wish I was more open and honest with my friends and loved ones, not hobbled by fear and insecurity. What could they possibly see in an unconscious realm ruled by random anarchy that they could judge and scold me for? If you have no control, you have no responsibility. Bring on the dream VCR.