The world is going to end in forty days. No; the story begins, "The world was going to end in forty days." Forty.
Bereft of purpose, humanity spawned many celebrations, great and glorious, to commemorate the end of something so dear. Luxury and extravagance spilled into every moment as we figured we might as well use it up before it went to waste anyway. Every Hilton, every one-shot, every flippin' Marriott was booked right up to eternity, filled by revelers appreciating the last of what there was to appreciate.
I met her at a resort somewhere, where she was serving drinks for one of the last human affairs. After we'd talked a while, she got a fifteen minute break, and I pulled her into this little nook off the side of the west ballroom, near some Spanish art. "What the hell are you doing?" I asked her. I waved at her little maid's uniform. "Look at you, you're...you're serving drinks for these people, with like thirty days left to live." (Not just to live, either, but to ANYTHING. And everything. It was all going to be over in 40 days, and this was a few days into that deadline, besides.)
"You gotta do something," she said. For a while, I thought she was an idiot, but now I wonder if that wasn't particularly brilliant. I mean, what the hell else were you gonna do in the last thirty, forty days? Drink champagne, rather than serve it? Wait to use the bathrooms, rather than scrub them up? Once you got down to the last few days, hours, minutes of it, what was the difference, anyway?
Then, of course, it got worse. Forty days, or forty years? What does it matter, if we're all headed into the abyss in four billion years, whether we're serving drinks or drinking drinks? I hired Kirsten Dunst to giggle her way through the part of the maid. It might've gone straight to TV, but that's more than a lot of people can say about themselves.
Is that what my life is, anyway? A straight-to-TV movie? Is that even a valid metaphor for a life based around some kind of post-sexual tension? Maybe it's time to reconsider truck-driving school. We keep America moving, am I right? Christ, at least you could be part of something. Go get me a coffee.
. / . / . / .
Not many people know it, but I was the first person to observe the sickening aura that goes along with check-cashing shops. That's right--it was me. I'm so fucking brilliant, so ingenuitive, that when I mentioned how signs for "checks cashed" and "we buy gold" were kinda depressing yet also postmodern commentary on who-knows-what, we all had our first collective breath of reality.
The next premise was, of course, that you could buy and sell memories. For cheap. Some, at least. Others were expensive. You could buy memories of being rich, sexy, successful, and wipe out your old ones, so that you could live with this really inflated sense of yourself.
Then you could go farther. You would redo your past, so that you believed you had been a slim, gorgeous oligarch up until only yesterday--but what about today? Well, you'd just change your perceptions of today, then, too. They'd go in through the right temporal lobe, or something appropriate like that, and monkey with some stuff, load some new and improved stuff, and you'd believe that your real life was just as good as the fake memories. You'd be sorta 'Do Androids Dream,' convinced that, when you made your telemarketing calls, you were actually making calls on behalf of something important. Setting appointments for Donald Trump, or the President, or if you prefer it differently, arranging the protest schedule for Code Pink, but for pay, so your career is personally rewarding as well as fiscally rewarding. Is that an interesting life? No? Fine, then go mop up the cardiology floor bathrooms, while your new and improved brain tricks you into believing you're something cool, like, say, a bouncer at a big club. No, the owner, all right? Whatever cool job or lifestyle you want. Who needs reality?
How many summer blockbusters could we wrench out of the tortured O-ring of those last few paragraphs? I can just see Tom Cruise rappelling down the chimney of the memory-implanting factory to settle a personal score with the corrupt Hugh Jackman (playing Trump's evil futuristic son) who has been condensing the "sad" memories (extracted from decades' worth of unwitting customers) and turning them into some kind of energy source for his galactic pleasure yacht. Who wins that fistfight? It's okay, though, 'cause the science of condensed memory energy management checks out. You can thank me later.
The point is, our memories define us, even if they're unpleasant, so we should always choose reality. Isn't that the moral? That's what Roeper said, at least. I went back to my friend the little french maid in the house of armageddon parties, and she pointed out that the fake memories were really no different, except in scale, than, I dunno, makeup, right? Because makeup is about faking who you are, and so is exercising, but of course, those examples go too far, so it's not really the same as memory replacement. So you can have your moral and eat it, too, she said. Maybe it all is a glorious, stupendous fake, which is why I'm ten steps ahead of all of you as I serve drinks at the party where you're celebrating something you don't understand.
What'll it be, sugar?