It's Pretty OK
Solving the paradoxes of our time since 2016

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Slip Science

I am a huge proponent of living alone. The positives – which often go unrealized until you do something like, say, come home after a particularly frustrating day and curse loudly while doing your dishes – are basically endless.

It always surprises me when people I know give up on living alone and return to that roommate life (if, of course, the roommate is not also the significant other – but that’s a subject for another time). Hold out, I say. You won’t have another opportunity to live alone.

That said, there are a couple of pitfalls, and sometimes that’s all too literal.

The other day, I was reading in a large chair I have in my room. Sidebar: this is another nice thing about living alone – you can have lots of different seating areas in your apartment and not worry about whether you’re going to accidentally sit on a Chipotle fork left behind by a roommate.

Anyway, I got up from reading to do some other roommate-free activity, like vacuuming the kitchen counter whenever I want. Only somehow, I didn’t do this successfully.

Being motivated enough to stay tidy on your own is one of the toughest parts of living alone. If you happen to lack personal accountability, there is no one passive-aggressively suggesting you get your shit together. I usually do pretty well with this (subtle key: if you use something, put it back immediately when you’re done using it. Jackets don’t go on chairs.), but I will occasionally toss something to the side and forget it. In this particular case, leaving a magazine on my ottoman was quite unwise.

You see, leather can be slick. So can the glossy outside of magazines. A haphazardly tossed magazine could slip off the leather ottoman and onto the rug. If one was to step on the magazine while wearing a hard-bottomed shoe (say, a boot), the lack of friction from the magazine against the rug could cause the magazine to slide – and perhaps one’s foot with it as well.

Well, not could. It will cause the magazine to slide along with your foot.

In that perilous moment, I felt like I was in that episode of The Magic School Bus where Ms. Frizzle takes the class to the frictionless baseball field and they slide around endlessly. My right boot flew out across the rug, causing me to fly leftwards toward my bed. In some stroke of fortune, my head thumped against the ground a whisper away from the steel frame (related: I need to buy an adult bedframe).

I stared up at my ceiling considering the incomprehensible logic of the danger I had created for myself. I wondered what contingencies I had in place for events like these that end in me lacking function and or consciousness. Sure, my phone is always very close to me, but what if I slip in the shower and knock myself unconscious because I still don’t have a bath mat? What if, as I have nearly done on a number of occasions, I finally cut off my left index finger while in my kitchen?

The one time I really lost some blood doing that, a coworker was on their way over, so I was fine – I even had enough duct tape (yes, duct tape) to finish making guacamole. But I assume my luck will run out at some point, and without contingencies, I will die by my own inadvertent hand. Speaking of which: is self-homicide a thing? Involuntary manslaughter seems too easy, because I definitely left that magazine there on purpose…just not the purpose of murdering myself.

Sometimes there are built-in contingencies, like thoughtful friends with whom you converse regularly enough that they would notice if something was amiss. Alas, if you are inclined to keep to yourself, independent, and somewhat reclusive – that is to say, someone who lives alone – this may be difficult for even the closest of friends to determine.

This all seems particularly dire, but in a moment of defiant independence, I realize that this is the business I have chosen. By living alone, I accept any and all of the associated risks, including death by magazine slip or tub-induced coma. Honestly, if that’s how I’m gonna go out, I probably wasn’t a human that needed to procreate, so the Topo Designs catalog I left out was doing the species a favor. Sometimes living alone and leaving it all to chance is pretty altruistic.

And yet I live another day, on the lookout for rogue mailings and slippery knives, pondering LifeAlert.

-Pierce Bishop

It's Pretty OK