The Proper Degree of Chill

Life is too short to overthink it, but still, give it a little thought.


Before the age of portable music, life was horrible. People had to look at and sometimes even talk to each other. Imagine, you're on the train, commuting home from work, and all you have for entertainment is a bookA book!? What disgusting filth. Books contain all kinds of evil and original ideas. Just think about what it would be like to be on the train full of people reading, full of people stimulating their sick little minds in all kinds of different directions. And honestly, not just books--magazines, newspapers, and maybe even their journals. Good lord now that I think about it, back before portable music people may have even written in notebooks and other soul-sucking paper outlets. What a terrifying thought.

It's so much better now that we all can put on one of the three or four types of headphones and tune out the possibility of originality. There are three different songs--the upbeat one, the one about breakups, and that country one--and by listening to any of them everything is OK. People may still be surrounding each other on the train, but take comfort in knowing that it's only physically. They're all tuned out from each other, safe and sound in their own heads, closed off like a message in a bottle sealed by an earbuddy cork.

I am the smallest man in the world, so it's especially comforting for me that no one has to come out of their musical shells to threaten anyone else. Before, back when men's faces were unshaven and babies' faces were unlit by the safe glow of electronic screens, I never got stepped on. People would look down at me and avoid me, taking my wellbeing and regard into their own hands. It was constant peril. Now, I get stepped on all the time. No one avoids me and no one apologizes to me. They simply pummel me and walk on. It gives me hope knowing that they can't see me or consider me, because that means they're doing the good work of Apple and Samsung, completely zoned out and unengaged.

Only when we are all out of it are we all OK, for this is when we know that no one is having any thoughts at all. For any thoughts of any type could be dangerous thoughts, and the dangerous thoughts are the ones that could bring malice. Just ask yourself: would I rather go on dates knowing my heart could be broken at any given time or would I prefer to never have my heart broken? It's an easy choice. If you are smart, which you certainly are, you'll see that the latter is clearly the best choice and never go on any dates. If you are demented enough to choose the dates, then you are clearly a dangerous, sick person. Why don't you go on a trip to someplace new and explore, while you're at it. Good luck not getting lost!


It was a classic 2014 party, at least it started out that way. The renovated industrial loft was huge, so large that it made the two hundred or so people there seem a small gathering. A DJ spun tracks from a makeshift booth up on the balcony. He wore a tattered jean jacket and played a three hour extended house remix of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space." People were loving it. There was a makeshift bar against the back wall. The bartender wore a tattered jean jacket and served any drink you could imagine, PBR tall boys, whiskey, and wine. Next to the bar was a snack table. It had a great selection of hummus and wood fired pizza squares.

I grabbed a PBR and made my way about the party. I told my friend Eric I would meet him here, but I had come late and I couldn't see him. I tried calling him, but he didn't pick up. So, I walked about the different circles of conversation.

One group was discussing politics. A man with a bushy beard and horn-rimmed glasses held a glass of whiskey. "The republicans are really just so dumb," he said.

A girl with a beanie cap and cateye glasses chimed in. "And evil," she said. "I could never vote for a republican candidate. No way."

Another man with a thick beard and horn-rimmed glasses spoke up. "Or for any democratic candidate, for that matter. They've really lost my support with all of the stuff they've been doing lately," he said. "Also, the stuff they haven't been doing."

"I read on BuzzFeed today that it's not like this on the West coast," said a girl with two beanie caps and a cateye monocle. She raised a glass of wine to her mouth and drank. The liquid went into her mouth then back into the glass. "15 reasons to not vote at all, as told by squids," she said.

A third man cleared his voice. His orange beard was especially thick, covering his entire face. He wore glasses with no lenses. They weren't glasses at all, actually. His tail flickered as he spoke. He was a cat. "Squids are so in right now," he said. "If I weren't already a cat, I'd totally be a squid."

The girl with the two beanie caps and cateye monocle laughed. Her laugh sounded like a crow cawing. "Burp bromp blop!" she said.

Eric clearly wasn't in this circle, so I backed out and went to the next. A man with a colorful blue tattoo peaking out from his shirt sleeve and a bushy beard spoke. "I just find that biking to work makes me feel better about all of this carbon," he said, adjusting his horn-rimmed glasses.

"Absolutely," said a girl with hoop earrings wearing black yoga pants and a loose grey sweater. She had a pair of horn-rimmed glasses on top of her head and another pair hanging from the collar of her shirt. She coughed. "I can smell the carbon now."

"Grassroots gourmet donuts," said a man with hunched posture. He had dark, bold skin. It was bold. He was the letter Z. "Fair trade salmon coffee."

A Roomba vacuum sucked up crumbs from the floor.

"Great point," said the girl with two pairs of glasses. She reached down, picked up the self-propelled vacuum, and passionately kissed it all over.

"Analytics! Self-taught coding!" said a piece of custom wooden furniture. It was not quite a chair, but also not really a table. It had four legs, but only three touched the ground. One stuck up from its sloped surface. The wooden piece was covered in horn-rimmed glasses and had bits of beard glued all over it.

"Hey, do any of you guys know Eric, by chance?" I asked.

"Not in this moon cycle," said the man with the blue tattoo. "Why don't you crowdsource her?"

"Thanks anyway," I said, finishing my beer and walking on. Where is he? I thought, not knowing where to go next. I stood on my tip toes to try and get a better look, but everyone was roughly five feet, ten inches tall. I did see some reclaimed wooden crates in the corner below the DJ, though. I walked over to them for better vantage.

As I boosted myself on top of one of the crates, I slipped and fell backwards. I caught myself against the wall with my hand, then took a step back to balance myself out. I accidentally kicked an electric plug out from the socket.

The track stopped and the room became silent. "No play play?" said the DJ from above me. I could hear him scratching at his single turntable, but it was only the physical disk itself scratching. "Play play!" said the DJ, anxious. "Go play go!"

The crowd began to buzz. "Gluten?" said a woman from across the room.

"Gluten!?" said another woman, louder and more panicked.

"Gluten!" shouted a man from the group of people right beside me. He punched the man next to him, knocking his horn-rimmed glasses to the floor.

With that, the party became a mob. Wine glasses, whiskey glasses, horn-rimmed glasses--all kinds of glasses flew everywhere as people pushed past each other, rushing in all directions at once but nowhere specifically.

I leaned back against the wall and watched the turmoil. A woman with one side of her head shaved and horn-rimmed glasses ran as hard as she could into a wall. A pit bull mix wearing a driver's cap barked verses from T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land." He was a professor dog. The DJ jumped down from the balcony onto the frenzied crowd, squashing a man who looked like one of the members from ZZ Top. Upon closer examination, the man was Cousin Itt in a pair of thick-rimmed sunglasses.

"My baby!" screamed a woman in a sleeveless shirt, her arms covered in colorful tattoos. She reached at the wall toward a portrait of herself, which dangled slightly out of her reach. "Please, won't someone help my baby?"

The Roomba repeatedly bounced into a curvy, dark body on the ground. It was the letter Z. He was dead, or at least wounded. Blood and horn-rimmed glasses oozed from a gash in his side.

A mime held a square peg and rammed it against a round hole. He wasn't part of the chaos, he was just doing his own mime thing.

A loud bang came from the back wall. I looked over as a flare of light erupted. The bar was on fire. Flames licked up at the ceiling. They followed a trail of whiskey on the floor, igniting it.

"Call the Huffington Post!" said the cat man. "Someone call the Huffington Post!"

The girl with the two beanie caps and a cateye monocle ran in circles in front of the flames. "Squampa wampa dwoosh! Squampa wampa dwoosh!" She flung her arms wildly as she circled over and over again.

As the panic continued but no one really did anything about it, I snuck toward the door. As I walked out, the sprinkler system finally went off, dousing everyone with artisan green tea.

I leaned against the closed door from the outside, relieved to be out of that party. I was also slightly relieved they were all OK, excluding the letter Z and all of the injured people, but mostly I was relieved to be out of there.

Something popped into my head. Wait, I thought. I reached into my pocket and pulled out its contents: a button that had fallen off my shirt earlier, an Altoid, two Kraft Jet-Puffed Miniature Marshmallows, and a crumpled scrap of paper. I opened up the scrap and read it.

9:30 Friday night, room 18B

I looked at the door behind me.


I looked at the door directly across the hall.


That seems about right, I thought as I walked over and opened the door to 18B. As I opened the door, I heard Katy Perry's "This Is How We Do" playing.

"There he is!" said Eric, giving me a hug. "Here, take my Coors Light." He handed me a sweaty, cold bottle. "There's plenty more where that came from!"


There are many different degrees of chill. I like to think that I can not only chill with the best, but that I can chill with about anyone. "Yeah, chilling, laid back." Still, sometimes what seems chill isn't chill, so be careful.

For me, I know it's the right amount of chill when the Rocky Mountains are blue.

That's how we do.