We can't all scale Everest. We can't all hit a ton of home runs or sink a clutch Ray Allen-style three-pointer. The vast majority of us don't have the ability to do something big and headline-grabbing. We have to settle for the little things -- the small, everyday achievements that jolt us with pride. The little things that fill us with an astounding sense of success that quickly fades away because, ultimately, who gives a shit? It's not impressive in the least. But in that moment, to you, it's an astonishing victory that can lift your spirits, if only by a fraction of a percentage point, and act as a dim yet much-appreciated light in the midst of an otherwise dreary day.
These stupid, insignificant little things are tiny sources of confidence, of pride. They're things no one in their right mind would ever brag about, but still kind of want to. So let's do it. Let's brag a little about the little things like ...
If you can consistently get a USB cable into the port in fewer than five attempts, I think you're a wizard. If you can do it on the first shot every time, you are a god who can bend and shape existence to your will. I assume that, when you sit at a table, you just fall back into empty space and a chair from across the room glides beneath you. A USB cable shouldn't be at all difficult to plug in. Nearly all of our devices use them, and we plug at least one or two into something every day. But here's the problem:
USBs don't do a good job of conveying which side is up, so that little white strip in the center bangs against the incongruent end of the port, meaning I have successfully failed at my first attempt at plugging it in. Here's where it gets interesting: There's blood magic and voodoo curses in USB cables. Flip the plug, stab it in -- nothing. No obstruction, no white thingy getting in the way -- the cable knows. It knows you're trying to be cute by finding a solution. It summons its dark magics and prevents itself from being plugged in correctly. Flip it back and blah blah blah failure failure failure. This can go on for upwards of 30 seconds. If anything as basic as plugging a thing into a second thing goes on for more than seven seconds, it's a challenge thrown down by the God of Mundane Mischief -- a naughty, giggling cherub-looking bastard who takes great delight in igniting my short temper when it comes to uncooperative technology.
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It's a battle of attrition. Eventually, if I wear down my USB foe, it will concede. It grows bored with making me think I have a learning disability. Much patience and shit was lost in this battle, making it an ugly victory, but a victory nonetheless. I commemorate each battle by taking that day off the following year.
Thankfully, we will soon be able to tell our grandchildren of our battles with USB cables and they'll have no clue what we're talking about, because in the not-too-distant future there will be directionless USB cables. We have won.
On most microwaves, there seems to be a faint, fleeting whisper of a moment between when the countdown hits zero and when the beep does its beepy thing. That moment is precious. It's mythical. It's an elusive beast only the brave and stupid attempt to capture. I attempt to catch it every time I use the microwave. I don't set the time and walk away -- I stand there, waiting. A good hunter fuses himself to his surroundings, knowing that moving will only degrade his shot at glory. Time slows around me, even though I'm staring at a countdown of time that is very clearly moving at the regular speed of time. My vision Instagrams -- a vintage-looking black ring circles my periphery, bringing my target into a sharp, duckfaced focus. I will beat the beep.
Most microwaveable food outside of water and popcorn isn't glorious. It's actually kind of depressing. The food always looks mopey and soggy, a little sad, like its dog just died.
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Like eating the memories you're running away from.
It's the microwaves themselves that offer glory, and it is the glory of defeating time itself. Or maybe just victory over the speed at which the timer communicates with the beep mechanism? Whatever. Glory is glory.
Three seconds. The clock ticks down as the intoxicating scent of a 79-cent frozen burrito wafts into my nostrils. Two seconds. My nimble fingers grasp the handle, primed for an explosive pull. One second. My eyes are so focused on the time that I can almost see the goop within the digital clock begin to bleed into the form of the next set of numbers. Zero. Pull. CH-THUNK!
No beep. Just burrito and silence. Zero on the clock. That's how you make an awful microwaveable burrito delicious -- by seasoning it with the spice of victory.