Black-bearded businessman of the year 2017

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It was a lovely morning in Bruges. My girlfriend and I were strolling around, on the lookout for a hole-in-the-wall waffle place called Chez Albert. Google reviews told us that it’s the best, so this is where we had to go. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn, got lost, and ended up in some sort of gallery with what appeared to be abandoned shops on either side. We decided just to walk through it in the hopes that we’d find something more exciting on the other end of the gallery. About halfway through, my girlfriend stopped, because she’d spotted a charming, little fountain outside the window on our left-hand side, which we then turned to and looked at for a bit. When we turned back around to resume our quest, we were greeted by an old man dressed as a pirate. He said a few words about the weather or something equally generic before he went on to greet us in a more formal manner. He shook my hand and then, in a move that is as slimy as it is dated, he kissed my girlfriend’s hand; an experience that she later succinctly summarised as, and I quote, eeeeeewww!

  Before I’d had the chance to bitch him out for not kissing my hand as well purely because of my gender, he asked us where we were from and the usual business. My girlfriend and I are from Texas and Luxembourg respectively and that’s exactly what we told him. He then started spitting fact after fact about Texas and, after a couple of minutes of this, invited us into his shop so he could show us post cards he’d been sent from Texans. Because we are idiotically polite, we followed him. Once inside the shop I began to worry. The place looked very off. His walls were completely covered in post cards, badges, stickers and posters that depicted, among other things, nature views and architecture from all over the world, dogs, cats, other furry creatures, lots of naked women and third Bundesliga football teams. Then there was this video camera in the middle of the room. It looked very old and contributed heavily to the room’s particular aura. I’ll phrase this in the nicest way I can think of. His ‘shop’ looked as if he directs—possibly stars in—some rather dodgy adult entertainment films; the sort of place where the expression ‘hole in the wall’ has a very different, much more glorious meaning.

  Anyway, he was still babbling, still spewing random geographical facts until he suddenly started talking about some sort of „free demonstration“, which he didn’t really give us the chance to disagree to. He put me in front of the only blank bit of wall in the entire room and had me face the camera. He then got behind it and started taking pictures of me, ordering me to make a variety of weird noises, each of them intended to produce a particular facial expression. I half-arsedly complied. After about two minutes of this, a large sheet of paper appeared out of his very old printer. It turned out to be a calendar. But this was not just any calendar. This was undoubtedly—and I cannot stress this enough—the ugliest calendar I have ever seen. It had a map of Bruges on it, as well as a photo of my face, all of this in black and white and with a resolution so low that you could count the total number of pixels on one hand. He’d also captioned the photo ‘Kevin the Star’, because apparently I’m six.

  After presenting his masterpiece to us—and receiving not even a word of feedback, because we were too nice to tell him just how atrocious it  was—, he confidently rolled it up, put a rubber band around it and, in the process of doing so, revealed the price of the calendar: 7.50€. Now, I’m no expert when it comes to business administration, but even I know that taking and printing a black-and-white photograph with Windows 97 era IT equipment leaves you with relatively little overhead, which is why the price of 7.50€ threw me back a bit. Rather than telling him all this, I just said I didn’t want it, providing no further explanation. He then changed his sales psychology from confidence to intimidation, got a fair bit louder and told me that my mum might want it. I replied that my mum already has a calendar. He argued that, surely, her calendar could not possibly be as special as the one he’s offering since it has a photo of me on it. I told him my mum has more than enough photos of me. Then he asked me to consider that my girlfriend might want to have it. So I turned to her and asked: „You don’t want it, do you?“, which the pirate really didn’t appreciate. He accused me of foul play, of trying to steer her decision by phrasing the question in a negative manner. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, dear pirate, but her decision was made long before I’d asked the question. In fact, the decision was made the moment that you, a full-bearded, elderly man dressed up as a pirate, closed the door behind us, leaving us cut off from the outside world, completely isolated in in a room that looked like a porn shack at best and a rape dungeon at worst. By the way, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but people have these things called facial expressions and they’re generally quite indicative of their mental and emotional states.

  Undeterred by the atmosphere of utter discomfort, the pirate kept acting as if my life would be considerably enriched if only I owned his stupid calendar. He tried to convince me that looking at it would arouse fond memories of spending that holiday in Bruges with my girlfriend. He seemed not to realise that the only memories this awful, overpriced calendar would ever arouse would involve me being pressured into buying an awful, overpriced calendar off a sleazy as fuck pirate.

  Anyway, he eventually went down to 6€, essentially lowering his profit margin from 7.40€ to 5.90€ for exactly three minutes of labour (what a selfless man he is!). At this point I had lost all patience and just told him: „It’s not because of the money. I just don’t want the calendar“, after which he disappointedly abandoned all his efforts and stopped talking, which we interpreted as an appropriate time to get the fuck out. Once outside, I speedwalked away. To this day I’m still not completely sure if I ran for comedic effect or out of fear. Probably a bit of both.

  Now comes the creepiest part. Some of this has happened before. I don’t remember being in the shop, but I definitely remember a pirate kissing my mum’s hand on some holiday about a decade ago and I also remember the gallery and the fountain. I was only wee little at the time, but this definitely happened. I called my mum and asked if she remembered all this. She didn’t. My brother, however, remembered every detail. So it really did happen, which gave me a good couple of minutes of shivers down my spine. He’s been doing this for at least ten years. Ew.

  All the discomfort eventually faded when we found a fantastic, little restaurant called At Tattie’s, where we had a delicious French onion soup, followed by a superb sandwich with Brie, apple, honey and rocket on it. With the exception of the pirate incident, I have to say I really liked Bruges. Loads of chocolate and loads of waffles. In fact, there is a street that seems to be occupied exclusively by chocolate shops, with the exception of a torture museum and a sort of BDSM shop (can’t say I’ve ever seen anal beads in a shop window before). Most importantly though, I could not live with myself if I neglected to mention how nice all the doors in Bruges were. Seriously, Bruges houses have the nicest doors I have ever seen. „He had like multiple doorgasms“, is how my girlfriend described it to a mutual friend or ours.


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Flour power

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Whenever I visit my grandmother the telly is on. She likes watching television a lot and there is a specific kind of program that she seems to favour. The common denominator of all the shows she watches is that they belong to the category of reality TV. Of course in TV terms, reality usually means ‘structured reality’, which in turn means ‘not reality’. The unfortunate, if not to say tragic, thing is that my grandmother, despite being consistently and insistently reminded of this, refuses to believe that what she sees on screen is not factual.

     Her favourite show, I gather, is a programme that sees a camera crew accompany German police forces in their everyday. The bulk of the show is footage of the police dealing with minor crimes, then explaining the nature of the crime, the laws and the punishment. Usually it’s things like someone riding a bicycle through a pedestrian zone in a city centre. The police, as you might expect from Germans, are very strict and unforgiving; something my grandma seems to enjoy seeing. Basically, my grandma likes to watch Germans being anal whereas I like to watch Germans doing…

     In a different episode of the same show, a man who had been caught speeding on the motorway was stopped by the police, who then searched his car because they suspected the man was trafficking drugs. As soon as their suspicions had been confirmed, one policeman forcefully pressed the suspect’s face down on the windscreen. The interesting thing about this scene was that, rather conveniently, there was a camera inside the suspect’s car that, through some miraculous circumstance, happened to be pointing at the suspect just when his face was being pressed against the windscreen. I sarcastically pointed out how skilled the camera crew was, considering they were able to anticipate the escalation of the situation and position their cameras and microphones accordingly. My grandmother, unfortunately, did not understand that I was trying to make the point that everything we just saw had been meticulously set up. She took my utterance at face value, which is both hilarious and sad.

     What I found more entertaining than the police programme was a show that had a supposedly professional mediator resolve disputes between neighbours. The reason why I found it so entertaining was to do with the fact that, in one of these disputes, a very long-winded and intense conflict between two neighbours who had made threats of physical violence to each other on multiple occasions, was eventually resolved as follows: the mediator took both parties to the nearest park, had them write one word that encapsulates the thing they were upset about on a packet of flour with a marker pen. Finally, both parties were asked to throw the packet of flour down on the ground. That’s it. Conflict resolved. End of show.

     Wow. Behold the power of flour! How did I not know about this? See, I was actually very close to applying for a master’s in conflict resolution. Now I’m really having second thoughts. I mean, what more could they teach me? Suddenly, it all made sense. Having witnessed the magic of the packet of flour, I saw the world anew. I saw history anew. Was it not US president Ronald Reagan who, on the 12th of July 1987, proclaimed “Mr Gorbatchev, smash down that flour!”? Inspired by Reagan’s emotional address, tens of thousands of Germans on both sides of the steel curtain rummaged their pantries, took to the streets, collaboratively counted down from ten to zero and then it happened. Every single person smashed their respective packet of flour down on the ground, thus creating a blindingly wonderful and wonderfully blinding fog of flour dust. And once, after a couple of minutes, the fog had dissolved, people came to see that the wall had disappeared and suddenly the Cold War was over. One can only hope that the people of Israel and Palestine can find it in their hearts to do what the East and West Germans have done three decades ago.

     I’m going to conclude by saying that I find reality TV philosophically interesting because it consciously attempts to blur if not eliminate the boundary that separates the realm of the factual from the realm of the fictional. Essentially, reality TV, though legally acknowledged to be fictional, tries to pass as fact, which, if anything, is morally delicate because this blurriness can very easily influence if not manipulate people’s societal and, ultimately, political views. This is more or less what happened to my grandmother.

     Moving beyond the dying medium that is television, I can report that I have seen videos on YouTube that are similar to reality TV in that its creators intend to misrepresent reality in order to push a dramatic narrative, occasionally in a way that favours their political views by misrepresenting those of the people they disagree with. Humbuggery of this nature is generally disguised as ‘social experiments’. These social experiments are set up in a way that predetermines their result. In most cases, this is achieved by hiring actors who assume the role of random strangers and/or by editing footage very selectively. For example, there is a YouTuber who goes by the name of Joey Salads (yes, really), who has staged the vandalisation by black people of a Trump supporter’s car (the car had Trump stickers all over it) only to conclude that “the black community” (in the United States) is very violent towards Trump and those who support him. Things like this sadden me. Prioritising ideology over truth achieves nothing but to foster mutual distrust, consequently eradicating the possibility for reasonable debate or even just conversation. I wish things like this would stop. But I am no fool and I know that this is not going to stop anytime soon, because money. Social experiments amass millions, sometimes tens of millions of views, generating incredible ad revenue. There is a very straightforward dynamic at play here: maximum drama equals maximum views equals maximum ad revenue. People will attempt to distort reality so long as it pays to do so. If you ask me, there is only one thing that can successfully disrupt this dynamic. What we need is another flour revolution. #FlourPower


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Dicks are Life; or, Why We All Want the D

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Dicks are Life; or, Why We All Want the D. This is, I think, a fair summary of Freud’s entire oeuvre. The reason why I bring up Freud is because I have noticed something about my mental development (involving Freud) that I wish to talk about. It is both curious and very worrying how easily I can separate my life into a pre-Freudian and post-Freudian paradigm. And despite my rejection of Freud’s blatantly phallocentric view of humanity, I still, from time to time, see the world like he would have, which, of course, is funny because penises are funny (every person who’s ever seen mine burst out laughing), but it is also worrying because it means that a demonstrably flawed theory has been influential enough to hijack my mind on a more or less regular basis.

     What I mean by this is that there are a lot things that I can no longer look at or even think about without being reminded of penises and sexuality in general. Bananas, hot dogs, any tall building, guitars, microphones, pole vault (owie!). These are all things that I will very often see through Freudian lenses, which, again, can arouse some very comedic thoughts, but is also rather annoying the more it happens. I’ll illustrate what exactly I mean with a few examples.

     For my pre-Freudian self, drop towers were just one of many amusement rides found in a lot of theme parks. For post-Freudian Kevin Lux, however, it’s a whole different story. What I see now is an enormous steel pole that is well lubricated with oil so as to ensure the ring that surrounds the shaft glides up and down smoothly. Essentially, what I see is a handjob.

     There’s plenty more examples of similar nature. Heck, we can even go as far back as Genesis (the book, not the band) with our Freudian interpretations. Yes, even the story of the original sin can be construed in a way that coheres with Freud’s idea of the male member as the ultimate explanatory force for everything ever. Just think about it: the tree of sin. One need not be a particularly devoted scholar of Freud to know that tree means penis, which in turn means that when Eve cannot resist the temptation to eat a fruit from the tree of sin, this symbolises her inability to resist her desire to consume the produce of the male sexual organ. It is not the snake that is the main source of all evil; it is masculinity (though, in case you didn’t know, the snake is also a phallic symbol). Yet we cannot resist masculinity, neither men nor women. We take perverse pleasure in our life-long pursuit of male genitalia, which clearly showcases the self-destructive tendency of the desires that are inherent to human nature.

     If trees symbolise penises, then what the frick would a Freudian think about deforestation? There seem to be a couple of options here. Perhaps the systematic chopping down of trees is about the castration of men brought about by their fear of becoming irrelevant in an increasingly feminised world. Now just bear in mind the fact that the industry of chopping down trees is dominated by men and there we have it again, the self-destructive impulse. Men, having understood that they are losing their place in the world, are so desperate and helpless that they are led to engage in perverse behaviour that is eventually going to lead to their extinction, by which, of course, I mean impotence. Alternatively, deforestation could also, quite simply, be about men’s denial of their homoerotic desires. If you don’t understand where any of this came from then you really need to go and look at the books again. It’s basic Freud, mate!

     I shall conclude by arguing that any education on Freud’s theories and all of his books should come with a health warning, because his toxic ideas stay with you whether you want them to or not. I do have a hard time blaming Freud for the lasting popularity of his ideas, because he himself simply cannot be held accountable for that. As far as I’m aware he was merely in the pursuit of knowledge. However, because of innumerable cock-ups in his methodology and a fair amount of phallacious thinking, I am now still occasionally confronted with the frankly ridickulous idea that the driving force of all life is the male organ. And although we all know that a considerable part of everything Freud has written is utter bollocks, a lot of us (for it cannot just be me) from time to time catch ourselves looking at the most mundane aspects of life through Freudian lenses. I wonder if Freud just had a particularly boyish sense of humour and did it all for a laugh. Though I think it’s much more likely that the man was just very obsessed with dicks.


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TOP 3 WEIRD USES FOR WD-40 (YOU WON’T BELIEVE THESE!)

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List articles. They’re all over the Internet and they’re annoying. I think listicles (the industry term) are something that we all unanimously say we hate, but we secretly click on the links anyway. They’re just so damn seductive. One thing is certain, enough people must click on the links, for if no one clicked on them they wouldn’t dominate the Internet like they do. What fascinates me about them is that their content is almost always utter garbage (see BuzzFeed). And weirdly enough, the pages on which you find listicles are always submerged in ads. Now I’m not trying to start a wacky conspiracy movement here, I’m just saying I think there is a possibility that these articles may be more concerned with producing ad revenue than with putting out information or entertaining the readers. The reason why we keep clicking on them, I believe, is that there’s always the promise of something new, something more extreme, something even weirder, something that just has never been seen before. No one ever delivers on the promise, of course, but we’re gullible enough to keep trusting the empty promises of the listicle factories. It’s a tragedy.

     Anyway, my idea for this article was to make a mockery of listicles by presenting a topic so random that, surely, no one would have covered yet, in a listicle-like fashion. Typing ‘wd40 top 10 weird’ into Google proved me wrong. It has been covered loads of times, meaning my exaggeration was not at all an exaggeration. It has already become reality. (By the way, if you don’t know what WD-40 is then welcome to Earth and why do you keep doing anal probes on us when we sleep? Never mind.)

     Before I did the research I had already written a few paragraphs on WD-40 and I really didn’t want those to remain unused. So here are my 3 WEIRD Uses For WD-40 (THIS WILL BLOW YOUR MIND!!!):

  1. Want to spice up a stale salad? Simple! Just add two tablespoons’ worth of WD-40 to your standard Mediterranean salad dressing and I guarantee you’ll be killing it next time you cook for your SO! She’ll most likely be so impressed by your cooking skills that she’ll rip off all your clothes INSTANTLY and give you the handjob of your life!
  2. But, wait a second. What’s that? Oh no! Looks like you’ve run out of lube! I say, not a problem. Just use your most reliable friend in the blue and yellow can! Yes, that’s right! WD-40 is an excellent lubricant. Just spray some on your organ and you’re ready to go: All lubed up, INSTANTLY! Plus: no more squeaky condom noises during penetration! Oh the wonders of WD-40!
  3. Hold on. What’s that I hear? You accidentally blurted out another woman’s name as you were reaching climax and your loved one has left you forever and hates your guts and you feel depressed like never before because you were absolutely convinced that she was the one and you will never find someone like her ever again and you know you’re going to spend the rest of your life looking for someone who is sort of compatible with you until you finally give up and accept that you are going to die alone so you decide to just drink bleach until you pass out but then you notice that you’ve run out of bleach and it’s late and all the shops are closed? Well, you’ll be glad to hear that WD-40 is also an outstanding suicide method! Just insert the WD-40 Smart Straw into your mouth and go crazy. You will probably start coughing and spitting almost INSTANTLY, but let me reassure you, that’s completely normal. Just continue spraying the liquid down your throat until you lose consciousness and there you go! WD-40. Available in all good DIY stores. (I don’t know whether I’m legally bound to write this but I’m going to do it anyway just to be on the safe side: I don’t condone using WD-40 in any of the three ways described above.)

I think it’s hilarious that there are so many myths involving WD-40 that the manufacturing company has a designated page on its official website that covers popular myths and supposed bits of wisdom. Over the years it has become so iconic as to be irreplaceable. They say, for example, that if it moves and shouldn’t, you’re supposed to use duct tape, and if it doesn’t move and should, you’re supposed to use WD-40, which makes me wonder why WD-40 has not yet been advertised as a motivational device for couch potatoes.

     The other interesting thing about WD-40 is that almost no one seems capable of giving a neutral description of the product. In other words, very few people actually know what it is and how it works. The majority of people only know that it’s called WD-40 and that it works. Technically, the product is described as a penetrating oil and water-displacing spray, but who in the world would ever use that? I mean, WD-40 does have competing products. Still, literally no one has ever said or will ever say: “Honey, can you pass me the penetrating oil and water-displacing spray, please?” “What?!”, she replies bewilderedly, “you know sometimes I think you masturbate too much.”

     This has made me think about things that are always referred to by a brand name even if what people mean to give is a neutral product description. For example, I’ve heard people say iPad instead of tablet loads of times. I have never heard anyone use ‘hook & loop fasteners’ in my life. I know that people in the UK say Hoover instead of vacuum cleaner. There’s many more of these (I found 41 of them in a listicle entitled “41 Brand Names People Use as Generic Terms”). Taser instead of electroshock weapon. Jet Ski instead of personal watercraft. Styrofoam instead of expanded polystyrene. Stressed Out instead of ‘the worst fucking song ever recorded in the history of pop music’. Seriously, I can bear having to listen to Stressed Out once in a while. But I’ve now heard that song on the radio so often that it actually stresses me out to hear it. And I listen to the radio for about forty-five minutes a day at most. I want that song to die. I really hope that by the time anyone reads this, the band will have disappeared from the music scene completely and that no one will remember them. Basically, it’s my wish that none of what I’ve just written even makes sense to you. I know, it’s pretty niche comedy. Before I forget, the same goes for “I’ve got guns in my head and they won’t go…”. If I hear that song one more time I will have guns on my head and they will go… off. (Note to self: try to keep it light, for fuck’s sake)


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Tits

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There exist a handful of societal issues that I sometimes have trouble thinking about with my big head, as opposed to my little head. Breast enhancement surgery is undoubtedly one of them.

     On the one hand, there’s me sitting at my desk as I am right now, thinking about breast enhancement surgery and concluding resolutely that it’s nothing short of fucked up. For starters, have you ever seen how they’re done? Summing up the operation, the surgeon makes a small incision on the bottom of each breast and then he squeezes a way-too-fucking-large-for-the-hole silicone cushion into them (funny in a sense that a way of making people more beautiful is very much the opposite of it).

     On the other hand, big tits! That is indeed the compelling argument that my lizard brain (i.e. the ‘old’ part of my brain that is responsible for everything primal) keeps bringing up. Imagine living in a world where all women have big breasts. Wouldn’t that be absolutely… um … terrible? See, it is only once I stop myself from vividly imagining such a world, i.e. once enough blood has flowed back to my brain for me to produce more or less coherent reflections that it becomes blatantly obvious that: if everything is special, then nothing is. Perhaps I should explain what exactly I mean in economic terms (the economy is after all a crucial factor in the matter of artificial beautification): Suppose the assumption that big breasts are a kind of currency that increases women’s performance on the dating market is true. If women suddenly all have big breasts, then this will inevitably lead to, excuse the pun, inflation. Big breasts will no longer be a selling point, meaning society will have to direct the surgeon’s scalpel to a different, as yet untouched part of the female anatomy. And where do we go after tits? The labia of course, you dunce!

     Until very recently I did not know that vaginal rejuvenation surgery was a thing. I have to say I think it’s pretty freaky. The word ‘rejuvenation’ alone makes me a bit uneasy about this kind of procedure. I mean, exactly how young do we want vulvas to look? Twenty-nine? Eighteen? Twelve? I’m reminded of an ‘age-defying’ cream that promises to make people’s faces look five years younger. I always wondered what would happen if a four-year-old used it. Never mind.

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I am also reminded of a philosophical puzzle called the Ship of Theseus. The question at the heart of the puzzle is the following: how many/which parts of a ship can you replace before it is no longer the same ship? Considering how women are still identified with little more than their physical appearance to a depressingly high extent (much higher than it is the case for men; just consider how women’s bodies are used in adverts compared to men’s), I do wonder how many parts of a woman one could replace or alter before she is no longer the same woman. I mean the list of possible aesthetic surgery procedures is impressive and I’m sure that even if you only undergo a few of them you can end up looking like a completely different person. Just to list a few, there’s breast enhancement, breast lift, liposuction, buttock lift, thigh lift, arm lift, ‘Tummy Tuck’, brow lift, face lift, neck lift, nose surgery, facial implants, and I suppose it’s only a matter of time until we convince women that their little toes are all fucked and that they too need to be surgically improved.

     As far as I’m concerned, the bad thing here is not that aesthetic surgery exists. After all, every person should be free to do with their body whatever they want. The crux of the matter is that there should be no pressure to have one’s body artificially altered in order to live up to some unachievable ideal. And of course this point is not limited to surgery. It’s also clothes, shoes and make-up. Despite the fact that my little head is often very excited by women with sexy make-up, the substantial part of me is freaked out by the fact that women are expected to paint their faces every day just to make themselves prettier. And this is exactly why I, as a feminist, WILL NOT LET MY GIRLFRIEND WEAR MAKE-UP! (It’s a joke, just to be absolutely clear.)


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The chocolate way of life

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There are exactly two kinds of fluid to exit my urethral opening that I consider acceptable and blood is not one of them. If this didn’t catch your attention, then, quite frankly, I don’t know what will.

     I feel I should explain my opening line. A few years ago, I had the very pleasant experience of having a kidney stone. Please note that by “very pleasant experience” I mean “undoubtedly the most agonisingly painful experience of my life”. The whole story began with me having trouble sleeping one night due to an unusually intense backache that, I thought, had been caused by me performing an unfortunate movement in my sleep, as happens from time to time. So for about three hours or so, I just changed position about a thousand times, trying, unsuccessfully, to find one that would give me some relief from the pain and allow me to fall asleep. The pain was just too persistent. Worse still, it kept intensifying. It felt as if someone had stabbed me in the back only to slowly pull the knife downwards and torturously twist it in the process. No matter how I positioned myself on the mattress, the pain was simply unbearable, so much so that I had a very hard time stopping myself from crying. Still, because I’m an absolute idiot, I waited another three hours (until 5.30 am) before I decided my pain was unbearable enough for it to count as a legitimate excuse to wake up my parents. We then talked for a bit about what it could be, but they didn’t have a clue either, so my mum just took me to the hospital.

     I think you’ll forgive me if I only give you a very brief synopsis of my hospital experience, because it was just the usual drill: I spent an inexcusably long time in the waiting room. When the nurse finally arrived I was put on painkillers. Then I was transported into a special room, where I was horizontally inserted into a fancy, tubular x-ray machine. A not very flattering photo was taken. The eventual conclusion was that there was a stone in my kidney; a stone that, fortunately, was neither big nor spikey enough for it to have to be lasered into non-existence. Unfortunately, this also meant that the stone was just about small and smooth enough for me to be able to piss it out (the doctor put that last part a bit more eloquently). This was presented to me as it if were a silver lining. In retrospect, I have to say I’m not so sure.

     For almost a whole week—which is how long it took for the stone to crawl out of my penis—I had to pee through a special filter the doctor had given me, so that the stone could be caught and later analysed. Naturally, I had to take the filter everywhere I went. As you might imagine, my popularity in high school went up at least twenty-fold. Actually, leaving aside all the cringe-worthy stone-based jokes/remarks I had to endure, I had a pretty fun time at school. When I wordlessly presented a print of the x-ray (given to me by the doctor as a nice souvenir) to my classmates, their immediate reaction was to ask me if I was pregnant (because why else would you show someone an X-ray?). Luckily, I was not pregnant. Here’s an interesting aside though: did you know that the pain experienced when pissing out a kidney stone is comparable to that of giving birth? The pain is bad enough in the first place. Imagine being inflicted with the further punishment of having to take care of a baby afterwards. Thank God I only produced a stone. That’s about as complex a being I’m capable of caring for.

     After an inarguably disproportionate introduction, I would now like to say a few words about what was intended to be the main topic of this article: my high-chocolate diet. When the results of the analysis of the stone were delivered to me, I was informed that a diet much too high in calcium partnered with dangerously insufficient water consumption were the culprits. For the first time in my life, something had led me to consider my dietary habits. Something needed to change. The following paragraph, I think, will give you a sufficient insight into the dietary lifestyle of before-kidney-stone era Kevin Lux.

     A typical breakfast consisted of two slices of bread, each spread with a generous layer of Nutella, followed by one or two pastries and a sugar-laden children’s fruit yoghurt, all of this accompanied by a large cup of chocolate milk and a glass of orange juice. Turns out this is not a particularly healthy breakfast. Perhaps to your surprise, lunch and dinner usually were reasonably healthy meals with more than enough veg, but nothing could ever be healthy enough to compensate for all the junk I stuffed my face with between the two meals. At least every other afternoon, you’d find me fellating countless Twixs, deep-throating Mars bars, and then in a grand finale, shooting a big load of M&Ms into my mouth. I’m pretty certain that chocolate used to make up at least a fifth of my weekly calorific intake, which, as any serious dietician or even your local GP could tell you, is just a bit too much. Still, I’d never really had any diet-induced health issues up until that point, because I have good genetics and an undeservedly high-performing metabolism. If I weren’t such a lucky fucker, I would be morbidly obese and terminally diabetic.

     If we go beyond my personal experience with chocolate for a bit and take a look at the bigger picture, I think it’s fair to say there is something truly unique about chocolate when contrasted with other foodstuffs. I recently read, for example, that it took a team of researchers endeavouring to do a study on people who don’t eat chocolate more than a year to find eleven men who meet that criterion. Furthermore, I’d invite you to consider the popular dessert Death by Chocolate. I, for one, think it extremely unlikely that any other food would ever acquire such a status; a food so satisfying that one would be prepared to sacrifice one’s life for it. Of course this is an exaggeration, but it is an exaggeration that, to my knowledge, is not made for any other food (I have heard of Death by Cake, but that tends to be chocolate cake, so I don’t think that would undermine my suggestion). This leads me to believe that there is something perverse, or rather, perverting about chocolate. Like drugs, whether legal or illegal, chocolate reveals our potentially self-destructive hedonistic tendencies. I would certainly consider my former self to have a compulsion to binge on chocolate, if not an addiction. Though, to be fair, the deliciousness of chocolate was not really the main motivation for my gluttonous behaviour. Rather, I took to eating chocolate because it allowed me to drown out the voices of general discontent, if only for a few minutes.

     There have been times where the only spikes of happiness in my life were caused either by binging on chocolate or by the rapid, rhythmic movements of my right hand. You’ll be glad to learn that I am no longer addicted to nor reliant on either. It seems like I’m getting better at this whole moderation thing. That being said, I still love chocolate abnormally much and I still eat far more of it than I should, as does my girlfriend for that matter. So when we are both diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which, let’s face it, is inevitably going to be the case sooner or later, at least we can indulge in the uniquely romantic activity of simultaneously injecting insulin into each other’s abdomens.


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Well, that escalated quickly!

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I’m not very keen on escalators. I wouldn’t go quite as far as to qualify my discomfort as a phobia, because I’m not strictly scared of escalators, but I certainly would never step on one absent-mindedly. That being said, I don’t really go to great lengths to avoid them. It’s just that whenever an escalator is juxtaposed with a flight of regular stairs, it is very unlikely for me to opt for the moving stairs. I would refer to my mental state before stepping on an escalator as one of increased body awareness, not in the sense that I suddenly become very self-conscious about my weight, but in the sense that I can feel pretty much every muscle in my body and become conscious of every little movement I make. Other people need to practice meditative yoga to achieve this level of body awareness! Whereas you can put me on an escalator and that’ll do me just fine. Though, to be fair, the aim with yoga generally is to reduce anxiety, not increase it.

    Whenever something unexpected happens on an escalator—no matter how minor it may seem to everyone who’s not me—I basically think I’m going to fall over and die, which isn’t all that fun. See, I very much like being alive. At a push, I would venture to say it’s my preferred state of being.

     Let’s say that, as I step off an up-going escalator, my foot touches the ground a quarter of a second later than my brain has calculated. This alone is enough to leave me in a state of utter helplessness, which in turn makes me very panicky. I usually release a barely audible but nonetheless deeply thanatophobic gasp. At the same time, my mind is already skimming the catalogue of ways in which my life could end. Well, technically, the only thing I can really see happening is me falling backwards, hitting my head on the edge of a lower step and dying via blood loss. Worse still, I could come out of the incident completely unscathed only to be pointed at and laughed at by every witness of the incident. I think the simplest thing to do in that case would be to fake being unconscious. Now matter how humiliating it may be, the great thing is that even if you’ve taken a tumble on an up-going escalator, you’re very likely to make it to the top anyway! Can’t say that about regular stairs, can you?

     Of course, none of this has ever happened as of yet. What usually happens is that I regain balance rather quickly and then wonder why my brain has to think I’m going to die all the time.

     A bit of soul-searching is in order. Where could my unease about escalators have emanated from? Well, I remember that I once had a nightmare, a long while ago, in which I fell over backwards on an up-going escalator and kept falling and falling, but the escalator also kept bringing me back up, effectively tormenting me with no end. I woke up marinated in my own sweat, still panicky and also perplexed by what had just happened. And all the cum in my pants didn’t make it any less confusing.

     I also recall that, as a little boy, I once pressed the stop button at the bottom of an escalator in a reasonably busy department store on a Saturday morning. I should emphasise that, at the time, my motivation for pushing the button was not anxiety or fear of humiliation, but curiosity. My sense of wonder had been activated by the sight of a mysterious button, so appealingly red, round and big that, as far as I was concerned, it was basically inviting me to press it. I then abruptly came to learn that what the button does is deactivate the moving stairs, essentially turning them into regular, stationary stairs (it was a major breakthrough in the intellectual development of Kevin Lux). An unpleasant by-product of immobilizing the stairs was that I had created what could only be called an atmosphere of annoyance, resulting in mild profanity being uttered in my direction.

     I don’t think either of those memories is responsible for my escalator unease. Having thought about myself a bit, I’m convinced it must be to do with my general compulsion to walk super carefully. I put a lot of effort into not falling over, probably a lot more effort than necessary, which can result in some mental discomfort every so often. On the other hand, I have an impeccable record of not falling over. A lot of people would be jealous, I’m sure.

     It may surprise you to learn that not all my feelings about escalator-related matters are negative. I think my perception altered a little the first time I visited London and got to witness the pure beauty of order. People seemed to naturally position themselves on the right-hand side of escalators so as to let those who are in a hurry pass. There are, to be fair, signs that remind you of escalator etiquette, but there’s signs for all sorts of things everywhere that people don’t respect; speed limits, signs that ask you to switch off your phone in dentists’ waiting rooms, etc.

     And it’s not just escalators! Bus etiquette too is extraordinary! The first time I got to see how neatly Londoners queue to get on the bus, the anally retentive part of me had a full-body orgasm. Nowhere else in the world have I ever witnessed such a beautiful phenomenon. All I’ve ever seen outside of London is people blocking both doors of the bus before they’re even open, thus giving the previous passengers hardly any chance to get off the bus, ultimately resulting an impenetrable crowd of people having to walk in opposite directions through narrow doors. All this in the name of the petty pursuit of window seats.

     Going back to escalators, there’s one more thing I would like to say, and this is something I think about a lot. You know how, supposedly, when you die your soul ascends to pre-heaven where queue up on the stairs before the Pearly Gates until you reach the top and the bouncer (Jesus) either grants you access or turns you away? Well, I often wonder if God has adapted to humanity’s technological status quo and replaced the stairway to heaven with an escalator. Seems unlikely. Then again, I don’t see why not. God seems like he makes reasonable decisions from time to time, so who knows? Not that I’m ever going to make it to heaven, of course. You’re looking at a man who once tickled the bellend of a Jesus statue for a laugh (great fucking joke, mate). I would have kissed it too but the statue was made out of copper, which has a really nasty aftertaste (no thank you!). Going to hell is so much more convenient anyway. When your time has come, you don’t even have to do anything. You just fall through a hole in the ground until you land in hell. Whereas even the most devout Christian will have to walk up a long and steep set of stairs to reach the Pearly Gates. True, you do get eternal bliss, but I mean, how good can that be?


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