Read More: A brief interview with Andreas Trolf
Although he couldn’t say for sure why, having his own YouTube channel was something Sean had always wanted to do. He’d never done it, though, because Linda had always been against it, which in a way was reason enough to do it now. She hadn’t believed in him and, what’s more, didn’t think it was good to put things up online where god knows who could see them. But still, for his profile pic he’d used one from their wedding, only Linda was cut out of it because she was likewise out of the marriage picture and Sean was free to finally do whatever he wanted. And thing number 1, well, okay, not actually number 1, because that had been to get exceedingly hammered at Sassy’s and watch the girls dance, but thing maybe number 3 or at most number 4 was to make a YouTube channel. He figured it was cool to use an older pic because in it he was wearing a tux, which exudes confidence, and also he was maybe 20 pounds lighter with good hair still. But even now he is not some gross slob.
With his channel up and running, Sean kicks back at the kitchen table feeling all sorts of good. He still has to make some videos, which he is 100% ready to do, but first he takes a moment to appreciate this next step in his parade of infinite freedoms. The way the house looks now? Less cluttered! A definite improvement with Linda’s useless stuff gone (A pressure cooker? More throw pillows than any human being should legally be allowed to own? Come on!). His neon Michelob sign that she’d made him put into storage when they got married buzzes reassuringly on the wall.
He adjusts his ChromeBook’s camera angle and hits record. “Hey, YouTube!” he says. “This is Sean. Sup! I finally got around to starting this YouTube channel. It’s gonna rock! Here’s the deal: I’ll eat or drink anything, except straight up poison, for $35. So comment with your dares, PayPal me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make a video of me eating or drinking whatever you want!”
He’d always had a strong stomach. Even in high school Sean’s buddies had marveled at his ability to eat basically whatever, so he thought why not put this singular talent of his out into the world, online where god knows who could see it and appreciate his attitude of being cool and going for it? And why not, while he’s at it, make a couple bucks? Straining slightly, he lifts a watermelon onto the table. There’s an empty bottle of Popov sticking out of a hole in its side. He takes the bottle out and with a kitchen knife cuts into the melon, which falls apart into gooey chunks.
“So for my first vid,” he says, “which obviously no one’s paying me for, because how would you guys know about me eating or drinking stuff for $35 before I make any videos of me doing it, I’m gonna do a classic: a whole vodka watermelon. Go with what you know, right?” He picks up a handful of red slush and starts eating.
“I’ll tell you what,” he says once he’s about halfway finished, “this is good times. Linda was not a fan of me getting wasted on watermelon. I never could have started this kick ass YouTube channel if she was still around.”
“I guess I’m trying to get back into the game,” Sean says a bit later, looking into the camera. “Put myself out there, you know?”
When the watermelon is finished he raises his hands in triumph, unsteadily like a dynamited high rise that sways a moment before it falls. “The thing is,” he says, “I’m an American man with needs and desires. You hear that, Linda? No, I guess you can’t because you went off to Spokane with that son of a bitch Nelson.” He remembers the day this guy showed up at their house and stood there with his arms crossed while Linda loaded her things (kitchen crap included) into this shiny blue Ford Focus with a Coexist bumper sticker on it. “I hope you both fall off a cliff,” Sean says to the incoming darkness and hits upload.
He wakes up with his head on the kitchen table. After a shower, he tries to sign up for the YouTube ad revenue sharing deal, which they deny him from because it’s “against their policies to monetize harmful behavior.” Fine, screw them. Sean’s video has got 14 views, which is a good start. He’s also got two subscribers and a single comment, containing his first dare. It’s from a user named Sandee Girl 45 who in her own profile pic looks like maybe she has some kind of issues. “Eat a tube of caulk genious,” is what she writes. […]
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Andreas Trolf’s fiction has been published most recently in Juked, Bluestem, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as collected in the anthology Life and Limb (Soft Skull Press). He is the writer and co-creator of the Emmy-nominated Sanjay and Craig, which airs on Nickelodeon. He is currently writing the series Tigtone for Adult Swim.
Read More: A brief interview with Andreas Trolf