The Long and Winding Road to Postmodern Cowboyhood

Skip Jenkins was a man with a problem.  The reason his name was Skip was that as a kid he’d liked to skip everywhere.  He skipped to school, skipped lunch, then skipped class, and skipped down to the mall to write happy messages on the wall in exuberant flourishes of spray paint.  He skipped because his mother insisted that people wouldn’t like him unless he was happy.  Hearing this made him unhappy, but since he didn’t want his mother to dislike him, instead of asking her why that was so he didn’t let it show.

Skip became a good actor.  The whole town served as his stage.  He fooled everyone he met into liking him because he was so irresistibly cheerful.  Not that they loved him.  How could they?  They envied him as he seemed so much happier than they were, and certain kinds of happiness are not contagious.  Who knows?  Maybe they would have given him more of a chance if they’d realized he was just as miserable as they were–all the more so for being so lonely.

Skip developed the art of false confidence and became a Bible salesman, preaching the good news of Christ’s pending return wherever he went.  Eventually he met a homely shut-in with an eating disorder and spent several hours trying his best to cheer her up.  When he failed to win her over to his cause of fascistic happiness, he gave up and admitted he wanted to kill himself.  That gave them something in common.  She told him she was trying to destroy herself through an overindulgence in unhealthy foods and they fell in love.

Because Skip and Linda–his new love’s name–were so happy together, at least at first, they went ahead and got married.  Skip kicked the Bible-selling habit and started doing TV commercials for a popular brand of soap instead.  It was a far more lucrative gig and he found that by shoring up his enthusiasm for those moments when he was in front of the camera, he could resume his beloved glumness afterwards and enjoy a more suitably despondent attitude towards life.

At home he and Linda avoided words as much as possible, finding the exchange of pleasantries too emotionally exhausting to bother with.  Linda sat and watched TV armed with drooping slices of pizza, the clicker, and a jug of coke, while Skip looked out the window at the neighbors’ brick wall, waiting for a plummeting body to zip by.

As this never happened, Skip eventually shook off his funk, got a divorce, and bought himself a horse.  

Speak of the devil!  Here he is right now!

Hi, Skip!

“Howdy, pardner!”

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