Happy Expiry Day

Time marches on – waits for no man

Text by Shumon Basar

This bald spot. Just here. On my chin. Let me point it out for you. Look. This fallow, little patch. A negative island, the world’s smallest crop circle, a sign from the alien trapped inside me. This question mark. It’s here to stay. A question of time. Fucking inevitable, you say? These yellowing stains that cling to my teeth despite the computer-generated animations that fill my mouth with marauding invaders whose defeat is guaranteed. By this new mouthwash. These cavities I hide from myself. Gums. What kind of word is “gums”? This kind of blood from that kind of electric toothbrush. Sent it back to Amazon three times. We’re sorry, sir, it was a faulty batch. I misread the email. It said: “You are a faulty bitch.” I complained but they put me on hold. I’m still holding. It was a question of time, of waiting. Inevitable, I assumed. These nostrils that slowly refuse to intake air. At the rate that I want. With the capacity I need. Those nasal sprays. Otrivine. O-tri-vine. I say it as I inhale. And think about the phrase, “the last breath”. Will I inhale it or exhale it? Will I have a choice? Does anyone? And that other phrase: “the tunnel after the end of the light”. These eyes. Somebody told me, “Your eyes are the only part of your body that does not age”. He meant it poetically, eyes and the soul, that kind of stuff. But he was wrong. He didn’t see with my eyes, the eyes I have now, that stubbornly refuse to see the way I once did. Acuity unintact. These specks that sometime float around in front of my sight like the stuff before dinosaurs arrived. This soul, your soul. On this earth. Does David Bowie’s green eye age quicker than his blue eye? Perhaps. It’s a question of time being able to get revenge. On me. On us. Everything with time is inevitable. These white hairs. Their nylon texture. The way they fall and then refuse to fall when I want them to. I’ve kept count of every single one. I take pictures. I date them. It’s time posed as a question through me. Inevitable, my mother says. This silhouette of my body that won’t fit those skinny jeans. They won’t go on; those skinny jeans are for someone that isn’t me. I fucking hate him. The skinny jeans can’t get past the lumps that seem to be growing on existing lumps. That radio programme said lumps, they’re early warning systems. Listen to your body, the radio spooked, and I listened. I’m still holding on for customer services. This holding music by Simply Red. His fucking grin. Neither question nor answer. Whether age is a number or a state of mind or giving in to Simply Red. These aches. These aches that have become me. And I in turn become the aches. As well as these vitamins, these medicines. All the saved spam mail trying to sell me cut-price Viagra. If it’s just a question of time, of age, of inevitability, I should ask my friends to buy me a crate of the stuff. Of all the things to fail, what a thing to fail. It even happened to Ted Danson. I saw him on TV, that show about the writer who can’t write. Blocked. Ted Danson says, “I used to enthral. Now I disappoint”. Cheers, Ted. It’s a question of inevitability, of biological determinism, of your cells going kamikaze. My cells. These white cells. I’m sending mine back to Amazon. Don’t tell me the guarantee has expired. Machines expire. Food expires. Science tells me I’ve been propped up by artificial means, like Walt Disney’s cryogenic body, and now this piece of technology, these circuits and valves, they can’t be saved by my mid-life Porsche, my scrawny, scrapped-back ponytail, greased with organic beeswax, and this girl everyone mistakes for my fucking daughter. She isn’t. I’m not. We’ll be happy once I get past this hump. And so I watch the ice caps melt, the sheaves of snow crash into the sea, water levels rise inch by lethal inch until we’re drowning, not swimming. And the errant patch on my face has grown and grown to cover the surface of the world, drowning it. This world, this fucked-up world, my children one day will say. Hello. This is customer services. How can we help you? I see. The thing is, sir, you have over-extended your extended built-in obsolescence. No sir, you can’t be fixed. Company policy states it’s a question of timing. These things are inevitable. Happy birthday. Goodbye.


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