Harper’s Cynicism

Most comics are tortured souls. Cynicism makes the funny and Harper was tired of being the funny. There he was, alone in the beginning throes of a midlife crisis and all he could think to do was lie down. Not activate himself to put his mind in a better place, he preferred to do the closest thing to die – nap. Even his naps were in discomfort.

You see, Harp prefers to nap on a couch. Seems less committal than getting fully into bed. But he doesn’t really “have” a preferred couch. Each one has its own idiosyncrasies…one is old and smells most likely from his body odor from years of said naps. One is too short and his left foot has to jam just right into the arm of the couch if he even has a chance to dream something worthwhile. And the third, well, the third is for the dogs. He doesn’t dare remove the plush dog linens from that one as he risks using the couch for it’s actual intent. Seeing similarities between his mood and the dog couch, he decided to nap it off like a dog…on top of a high thread count “dog” sheet that is coming loose from the one cushion and is so full of hair you would think it a sacrificial altar to a yeti. Well, at least he’d be warm amidst all that fur.

No, aspiring to such deeds as mowing the lawn or opening the curtains just wasn’t in the cards. After all, what use is a crafted lawn or sun coming through the window? A mid life crisis is decidedly unmowed (most certainly not edged or de-thatched)and in no need of sunlight. With Harp’s mood as it was, any ray of light that came through the blackout curtain would send him plummeting further into despair as he would compare it to a ray of hope. Hope is not what Harp had.

He wanted to be unplugged for a while so he only kept the laptop and phone by his side. The apps running on his tablet were left in another room. He’ll show that tablet! He put it on airplane mode so it could not annoy him even if it tried. Felt good to take control.

As Harper reclined back into furry sleepiness he found himself in a familiar place. Lamenting. Recounting who he let down because a comedian is never let down by others…it is always on him. If he were not the one to let others down, how could his self effacing humor be “real” for fuck sake? No, he took on the guilt like a paranoid Catholic.

Let’s see, his customer unceremoniously fired him via text because Harp’s last ad campaign managed to actually lose the company market share and sales. Something about how Harp’s description of a quick acting gum, when pitched in the context of a first date, helping singles avoid bad breath or what Harp termed “hala-no-kiss”…hadn’t quite impressed the target audience. He was banking on hala-no-kiss. He thought it would go viral or whatever catchphrases go. Instead, hala-no-kiss received eye-rolling criticism.

Oh well, he’ll file that one away for another failure down the road.

His wife had actually started in on him for his dogged determination to roll over in bed each night. What was it she compared Harper to? Tectonic plates rubbing angrily against each other along some Serta-branded fault line? With every shake at the fault, his wife was forced to hold onto her pillow for dear life in fear that she’d be flung out the door. This just would not do. Beds are meant for sleeping not rolling over. She would say “it doesn’t matter if you lose feeling in your left leg because sleeping on your back pinches your disc, I have to get up early and every time you move, I wake up. And you know when I wake up I cannot fall back asleep.”

Harper knew the feeling, after all he had laid awake 5 nights a week because, as expected, his foot went numb and he did not dare move. He forced himself to lay there and ponder what nerve damage he was doing to his foot and how he would be dragging that appendage around like a flat tire before too long.

It was bad enough he left drag marks on the carpet every morning as he tried to walk some life back into his foot. If a tracker were to come along looking for Harp, he’d swear that a peg legged man was dragging some sort of small dog beside him and lose the trail somewhere near the bathroom.

He took some satisfaction in this. He HAD to nap. It was his only way to catch up on sleep. Wait, that’s not like him. Allowing himself some sort of pleasure as if it were justified. Damn fool.


This wasn’t working and now he had dog fur in his eyelashes that moved every time he blinked and he couldn’t, for the life of him, grab it…wait, he got it. Small victory.

He hoisted himself off what he deemed his 2nd favorite couch and decided to make coffee. Even though he just has to plug some wasteful little cup of grounds into a machine that does all the work for him, Harp still pondered if it would be easier to just get in his car and go buy a cup.

As Harp was looking for his preferred coffee, he spotted one of the joys he had in life. Out Harper’s kitchen window he could see the local park. Not just see the park, his yard practically was the park. The trees meant to offer some sort of privacy never really worked so people would stare at Harp through the window and he would stare right back sometimes with field binoculars.

As he feigned being busy he spotted his usual prey…it was always the same. Some new mom with a complicated stroller, scads of blankets and the new mom weight that she just couldn’t shake.

And shake she did.

What is it about mom’s of newborns and their insistence to fit into their pre-birth clothes? They were obese. Embrace it. Harp was obese and he had no problem finding shirts and pants that left him more than enough drape, if you will, to feel comfortable and not see his gut.

Yet, here she was, the mom of the year making her daily sojourn to the park. While her shirt was the requisite dark black, she merely made herself look like a hefty bag that had been stuffed full of garbage. Her body lumps protruded at weird angles and with such violence that that she had to be in pain.

People left things at the park all the time….sweatshirts, hats, used condoms, maybe Harp could leave a few of his XXL sweatshirts out there by accident in hopes that this hefty mom would take a look, on one chilly day, peer around to see if anyone was looking, and try the sweatshirt on. She’d realize that, yes, there is more to clothing than a skintight Old Navy, low thread count tshirt that has long since given up on her muffin top. She’d put the sweatshirt on, extend her arms and agree with herself that, even though the arms are a bit long, she deserved this sweatshirt.

Harp had donated so many old, big boy/gal shirts to the local Goodwill that he found himself angry with this woman for not picking a few up. He snapped back to reality when the baby, as always, started crying when mommy plopped him (or her, Harp couldn’t be sure) into the baby swing. The kid’s poor, muscleless neck lolled like a tacito that had been over warmed in a microwave. His/her baby fat legs (that, despite all the blankets around, were still pantsless left only to be defended by a onesie) screeching against the swing’s rubber and most likely causing some sort of chemical burn. It was late fall for fuck sake, lady, put some damn pants on that kid! Lord, put YOUR pants on the kid, God knows they are too small for you!