It’s a new year, the new year. It’s 12:03 A.M. of the year two=thousand and-fill-in-the-blank. Your ex has just posted a picture of themselves wrapped around someone leaner, cooler, better looking than you. Awe, you gotta get back, right? You gotta return fire. You’re in a nuclear standoff of fake happiness, and while you might be not be happier, no one can lie better than you.
You slip out of the living room, where people are drinking and smiling and promising each other that this year will be different. Because the clock turned over, we’re no longer our toxic, chipped selves. No, motherfucker, we’re reverse-Cinderella, our pumpkin carriage has arrived. It’s time for us to dance with handsome royalty.
You bail out, half-hoping someone notices and calls you back. Sits you down and tells you that you’re worth their time and that they want you to be happy.
You go outside. You’re a present tense, second-person blob of acidic thoughts. You stand on the porch in snow and rock salt. The way the ice is melting, it looks like ground is pulling away from you. Your acid is eating through the porch, and soon you’ll be in the dead leaves and cigarette butts, reaching your hand up, waiting for someone to catch you.
You’re standing there, wishing you were a smoker so you’d have a tiny little flame to cup your hands around while you shiver. You shove your hands in your coat, and your fingers touch that business card. It’s for that new service, some self-help bullshit. A New-U. The card is blue and glossy. It says:
“Be better. Be More. Be New-U.”
You’re gonna toss it. You’re gonna let it flutter away. Fuck you, new me, you’re just a mirage, we’re gonna ride this train forever. But, you reflexively check your phone, and there’s your ex again, and that’s really your fault, for holding on, for looking at posts, for not joining the Peace Corps and going off to the Congo to build houses. Your ex shares another picture, #PastIsPast and they’re smiling into the camera. You can feel their teeth on your eyeballs, nom-nom.
New-U. Instead of tossing the card, you visit the website. Order the New-U pro package. It costs $75. A pop-up keeps telling you to read the disclaimers and the informational PDF, but it’s cold and you’re sure New-U can handle it. You go back into the party. Someone asks where you were. You’re touched. You tell them you ordered a self-help package. Like, DVDs and stuff. “It’s time to turn things around,” you say, and everyone nods, really impressed.
There’s a knock at your door, and you get really angry about that. You’re on your third straight hour of Netflix, working steadily through an entire bag of pizza rolls, and now you have to get up.
You open the door, hoping it’s your ex, your lost love, your parents, a puppy, the pizza guy, an assassin… you hope it’s someone.
It’s no one.
There’s a large, refrigerator sized box on your porch. “New-U!” is printed on the cardboard.
Oh yeah, this was your drunken mistake.
So you shove the thing into your house and leave it by your shoes and return to your couch. Couch is your natural habitat. In fact, the longer you are away from couch, the weaker you become.
You finish the first season and all the pizza rolls. You decide that, if the first episode of the next season is good, you’ll make more pizza rolls and keep watching. If it’s bad, you’ll make more pizza rolls and keep watching, just not… you know, enthusiastically.
A tearing sound interrupts that. Then a thud. Then a grunt. You can hear breathing. Heavy and mouthy, like some gilled aquatic creature is gasping next to you. You turn around, and whaddya know, it’s New-U, crawling out of the box like a newborn rhino.
Is that really what your breathing sounds like? Why is it so wet?
New-U is taller. Has a better body. New-U has a killer haircut, are those highlights? You stare at New-U, and U glares at you.
There’s pizza sauce on your chin. There’s no way there is not pizza sauce on your chin.
Would you fuck New-U? Yeah, you’d fuck New-U, too.
“Hello,” you say.
New-U strides toward you, and you’re like: Yes. This is it. Let’s get it on, me. Let’s go to pleasure island.
You smile and have time to wish you were wearing your sexy pajama pants, before New-U punches you in the eye, knocking you off the couch, hitting your head on the coffee table, pausing your Netflix.
You scramble to your feet. You gotta kick your own ass. You’re Jim Carrey, liar, liar. Deck that motherfucker, deck that no good bag of trash. New-U is a shinier bag of trash, sure, but if U-you is as you as you-you, then its basic genetic code is smelly garbage.
You pick up the coffee table and toss it at U. It raises its arms (wow you have flabby arms) but U can’t catch, and falls down. U’s head puts a big dent in your wall.
You see red. That’s your security deposit. Your landlord is an asshole and will never understand that you were just trying to improve yourself.
New-U is struggling to stand, but you leap over the couch and kick U in the side. Pain arcs up your foot, but U screams, so that’s alright. You grab U by the hair and bounce their head off the wall. Teeth fly. You need to practice better dental hygiene. New Year’s resolution: buy a new toothbrush.
Oh fuck, that sounds like a lot.
New-U rolls and kicks a leg out, hitting you in the stomach, reminding you about that weight you wanted to lose. New-U pounces, batting your hands away and gripping you by the throat, squeezing your neck so hard your eyes bug out of your head. It’s weird, but you enjoy choking during sex. It’s a nice little “yeah buddy, we fuckin’ now” moment, and while you would fuck New-U, the mood isn’t right, so this choke is more like: “yeah buddy, we fightin’ now” which is just as hot, actually–
Real smooth, you reach up and poke U in the eyes. U howls and lets go, giving you time to shove them off. You kick away and run to the kitchen. You hear New-U growling. They’re still game.
You slide on the kitchen’s slick tile like a baseball player, opening a cupboard and whipping out the pan you fry your single egg in for breakfast. New-U isn’t used to your floors, and they crash into the refrigerator. You hit U with the pan. U makes a noise like: “ooh!” and that’s worthy of another hit.
New-U grabs your wrist and twists the pan away. U’s face is bloodied, nose broken for sure, and its eye is filling with blood, which is really gross so you want to cover your mouth in case you puke. You pause for the briefest of seconds, and that’s all New-U needs. It pushes forward, driving you into the counter.
You grab a glass half-full of lukewarm milk (you forgot to take it into the living room) and smash it on U’s head.
You’re the winner.
In the box, you find the instructions. After killing the New-U, you’re supposed to put them back in the box. The instructions also have a business card for the hair place that did U’s hair. And the fitness club that U attended. And a gift card for new clothes.
You stuff the dead, dumb U in the box and put it outside on your porch.
You unpause Netflix and eat a half-crushed pizza roll. You could change. You could become New-U. You could turn this boat around and be the most bestest motherfucker ever.
But New-U just got their ass kicked, so why would you want to be them?