I once applied for a hamburger. I didn’t expect to get it, especially after getting the go-ahead on a feed of tacos and Mexican beer earlier that year. But the week after I wrote for it, I checked my email and there it was: a coupon for a fully dressed king-size hamburger with fries and soft drink of my choice, although the fries were synthetic, as were the hamburger patty, the bun, the pickle, lettuce and ketchup. But the mustard and pop were real.
This was back before the fourth blight, when people were only mildly starving, when there were two billion fewer people scratching the planet’s surface for crumbs of anything that would keep them alive for another day. Another hour. But it was after we stopped burying our dead and started recycling them like in the movie Soylent Green, which was made so long ago I don’t think most people had ever seen it. But we heard about it when they first started talking about recycling the dead. Lots of people were against the idea, but everybody was starving and it was getting hard to find places to bury the bodies. Plus, there was already mandatory organ donations (wherever those went), so we were already sort of into the recycling thing.
But let me tell you, that hamburger was delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything as good as that burger, real or unreal. And the fries! I don’t know what real fries taste like―I don’t think they grow potatoes anymore since the farmers committed their mass suicide to protest what was happening to them and their way of life―but those fries had a taste that filled my mouth and nostrils at the same time. It was a solid taste, like you would associate with real food. The root beer wasn’t so bad either, being real and all.
And then it was back to starving. Things have gotten worse since then and I’ve given up on ever getting another hamburger or anything like that. I’ve scaled my expectations down to more realistic things like powdered milk, pollock, noodles…stuff like that. Most of it’s probably recycled people, but you never know because they don’t put that kind of information on the food labels. May contain human parts. Ignorance makes for blissful eating. I tried telling my friends and family to keep it simple and humble, but they kept writing essays about the big stuff: steaks, turkey, spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread. They’re all dead now―starved to death. Into the mixer.
I keep my essays limited to the possible things. Last night I wrote an essay about how eating a bowl of beef-flavored texturized vegetable protein soup would improve my attitude toward work. I work for a small company that advises people. We cover just about everything. When somebody wants good advice, they come to us and if we don’t have the advice on hand, we find it for them, or we just use our imaginations. We’ve never once failed to advise a client. Sometimes they take our advice, sometimes they don’t. But they pay for it and there’s no refunds because once advice is out there, hell, there’s no getting it back.
Tonight I’m writing about macaroni and cheese. The cheese may be a little extravagant but sometimes you have to push things a little into the “I’m way out of control” zone. But not too often and not too much. You could starve to death. My theme is Macaroni and Cheese: A Meal for the Masses. Which it was in the long ago when there were farmers and cows around to make milk and use it to make real cheese. Damn farmers took the cows and pigs and chickens with them and started the first wave of blights that threw the world’s biggest cities into war zones with everybody killing off everybody―trying to steal their food―and breaking into stores and food banks and the government food distribution centers, even after the centers ran out of food to distribute and the stores were full of empty shelves and the food banks were bankrupt.
But that’s ancient history. We have better ways of feeding the populace now. And better ways to determine who should survive. These days, we weed out the stupid and the arrogant. Literacy rates are higher than they’ve been in all of human history―mostly because the illiterate were the first to starve off under the new system, but also because a lot of people became literate really fast. Of course the really stupid ones wouldn’t know how to turn on a computer and send an email. I mean, how were they supposed to submit their essays? As for the arrogant, well, did I mention what happened to my family and friends who wouldn’t take my advice and tone it down?
Now, something like macaroni and cheese creates a nice balance with your basic pasta on one hand and synthesized cheese (probably cheese-flavoured human extract) on the other. One for nutrition and one for taste. Plus, it’s easy to prepare: boil pasta, add cheese, stir, eat. If ever a food was made for the masses! And there’s something humble and unassuming about macaroni and cheese, something to tame the tethered masses, remind them of how lucky they are to not be arrogant or stupid.
These are things I’m putting in my essay. I can almost taste that macaroni and cheese now. I don’t want to get too cocky, but I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t in an essay. Certain things seem to be “right.” For instance, mentioning things like humble and unassuming seem to work. Mentioning things like bold and strong can get you starved. Mentioning balance is another good thing. Talking about how much you need what you’re writing for is almost certain to fail. What you need is good writing skills and a realistic approach to composition. It also helps to know your place.
I have a nice writing desk and a nice room. I have a view of the river. Last week, I saw a man fall into the river―though it almost looked like he jumped―he disappeared under the gray water and didn’t come back up. I didn’t report this. You have to be careful about whose attention you draw. And besides, I doubt if that man would have been recyclable after being in that water.
If water doesn’t come in a bottle, you don’t drink it. You don’t use it to cook food and you don’t use it to wash either yourself or your clothes. Tap water is still good for washing floors and other stuff, and if you have real grass in your lawn, it might be safe for watering. That river water though…just as bad as lake water. Good thing there’s lots of bottled water. Farmers didn’t have any say in that.
I share a bathroom with about twenty other people who have exactly the same kind of room as me. And like me, they all live alone because, like me, they don’t have Relationship Permits and they haven’t had their parts re-connected so that they can have babies. I think everyone’s in agreement that we don’t need a lot of new babies. But that doesn’t stop people from writing essays about why they’d like to have a baby. Not me, though. I stick to food. I’ve heard about people being allowed to have a baby but they spent so much time taking care of the baby that it cut into their food essay writing time and they and the babies starved to death. You have to be careful about what you commit to.
But I like it here. It’s quiet. Nobody intrudes on my personal space. Hell, I don’t even know the names of anybody in this building and they don’t know my name. It’s safe that way. And you don’t have so-called friendly neighbors yakking in the hallways at all hours of the day and night and distracting you from writing essays. Loud neighbors can get you starved. But we’re always sure to smile and nod to each other in the halls and coming in and out of the washroom. When you don’t smile and nod, you’re thought to be out of balance and being out of balance can draw attention
I’d like some macaroni and cheese, please.
I think I’ll end my essay with that. I don’t think it’s too presumptuous, and it might even give the editor a smile. I’ve heard that people with really good writing style and things like a subtle sense of humor and wit get offers for work that pays in money and food coupons, both. I’m hoping that I’m that good in another year or two. I’m getting better every day. And I’ve gone from 80 pounds three months ago to 83 pounds yesterday, so my writing must be getting better.
At first the whole essay thing didn’t go over well. There were a lot of stupid people on the planet whose grammar was so bad you could barely make out what they were trying to say, let alone what they were trying to write. Some people say a lot of it came from the way people were writing online, especially in the forums on news sites. Plus, they had a lot of stupid opinions. And there were a lot of arrogant people who could write well, but they also had a lot of stupid opinions. Their downfall was that they were too arrogant to admit their opinions were stupid, and that attitude showed in their essays. Into the mixer.
They say almost three quarters of the world’s population died off when the food all but disappeared. Most of them died in food wars where one nation invaded another for its food, and there were food civil wars where people from different religions and political persuasion in the same country slaughtered each other for their food. But apparently, that kind of thing had been going on for a long time. This time, though, it was pretty much final. Neither side had food. But that didn’t stop the slaughter.
Nobody knows who came up with the idea to make people write essays for their meals and babies, but there’s lots of rumors. Some say it was a group of disgruntled grammar teachers who were also gentleman farmers. Others say it was an international conspiracy pulled off by newsroom copywriters who gained control of the internet and everybody’s bank accounts. Some said it just made sense, so shut up and don’t ask questions―just write.
The people who just wrote are still mostly around―except for the stupid ones, and the arrogant ones. I’m not sure if it’s a better world or not since the blights, but I guess there’s a lot less stupidity and arrogance. I guess we can be thankful for that. And that’s a lot to be thankful for. In fact, that’s just what I said to one of my clients when she wanted advice on things to be thankful for. We never got to collect the final payment from her because she died before it was due. I think I heard it was suicide. If only she had come to see me for more advice.
Anyways, I’ve finished my essay and now I just have a little polishing up to do before I send it in.
Macaroni and Cheese: A Meal for the Masses
A long time ago, the Farmers all killed themselves because they didn’t know their place and once you don’t know your place, things get out of balance and bad things start to happen, like mass suicide in which all the cows die as well, and real cheese becomes a thing of the past because there’s no more milk
But we still are lucky enough to still have macaroni and cheese because we have awesome sophisticated machines that “re-cycle” human things we don’t need any more and turn them into food (which we do need), such as cheese.
Macaroni and cheese creates a nice balance because you have your basic pasta on the one hand and delicious cheese on the other. That’s one for nutrition and one for taste. Plus, macaroni and cheese is so easy to prepare: boil pasta, add cheese, stir, and eat. Food for the masses!
Macaroni and cheese is also humble and unassuming. It knows its place, as do people who crave eat it. I’ve even heard that every bite of macaroni and cheese reminds one of how lucky one is to not be stupid or arrogant. So, no! I do not want savoury steaks, mouth-watering pork chops or scrumptious chicken.
I’d like some macaroni and cheese, please
And I still have time for a good start on tomorrow’s essay, before they turn the electricity off.