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It was the kind of Saturday that would make aliens postpone invasion. Cold wet underneath your feet, seeping in from the side of old running shoes. You didn't have to go to the farmers' market, but you did.
"Get green beans," she said to you on your way out.
You hate green beans. You hate the farmers' market. You hate your old running shoes.
Somewhere between college and now, things lost their luster. You have become the thing of tired cliché. A song on the radio. A movie starring Ben Stiller. You're not sure which part you would play. You pray it's not the "best friend." You hate the fact that you have even seen enough of those movies to know the typecasting. You used to fancy yourself an intellectual. You shake your head with disbelief as your internal monologue says, "Fancy yourself."
You get a hummus wrap and can't remember how it's different from falafel except that it's cold and tastes like the molding that your orthodontist put in your mouth for your retainer.
You're 28 and you go to the orthodontist.
She goes to the same orthodontist. She referred you. You think the doctor has workout anorexia and put the likelihood of him having an affair with at least two of his hygienists at about 75 percent.
You had a Christmas card and because of her braces she did that smile that covers her teeth that reminds you of your ex-girlfriend from high school. In the picture she is holding your dog.
You get green beans. You get two mangoes. You get eggplant. You get arugula. All of these things are on the list.
You want to stop and get a bottle of liquor. You want to buy a plane ticket and fly to China, where you can eat McDonald's with people who think it is interesting. You want to take off your clear braces and your old running shoes and jump in the river. A clean dive where no one will even know you did it. You want to find an underwater tunnel that leads to a cave where you can accept a secret mission from a round table of unknown world leaders. You want something that takes precedence over everything.
Back at home you come in with the bags of vegetables. You knock over a vase and you all have a fight that starts about a vase and ends up about having children.
Falling asleep you listen to the debate as one of the candidates ends a speech with the rally cry, "This is the land of the free!"
That night you dream about a toy guitar you had when you were a child. It's symbolic, but you can't figure out why.
She dreams about aliens and tries to tell you about it the next morning while she brushes her teeth.Charles Hodges, 24, is a copywriting grad student at the VCU Brandcenter. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in May 2007, with a degree in English and economics and a minor in creative writing. With a desire to write for TV, he interned with Conan O'Brian in New York, but soon lost the romance with the thought of writing jokes for someone else to perform. This summer Hodges is contemplating the pursuit of stand-up comedy and freelance journalism.Back to the cover story.