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THE FALL
According to Wired, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post
I am the most boring person in the world.
This is an undisputed fact.
I have been awarded the MBPW (Most Boring Person in the World award) three times:
once at the Bergen County Fair in Hackensack, New Jersey
the second at Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx, with the other finalists and the MBPA Honor Guard.
the third at the Yonkers Race Track with the winning horse, XCitement.
The winner's medal is made of bronze
and shows a sheep in tinted blue
against a cloud of raised ZZZs.
There was a total of eight billion contestants
and I came out on top
in the whole world
the winner.
Which brings me to the ledge of my apartment in New York City...
At sixteen floors up
I will certainly die if I fall.
In metaphorical terms
I am high enough to see my past spread out beneath me
an autobiographical altitude
supported by memory and empty air.
It's a so-so life
better than some
and worse than others
right in the middle of the demographic
where nothing much changes
as the ordinary meets the commonplace.
I have no wife
no children
no legacy
except my awards, of course,
which hang like family portraits on the wall of my den.
Looking down, I notice a few people below
their heads stretched back
to see the maniac above
whose life is much more interesting
now it is about to end.
Someone waves up at me
calls out
something I can not hear.
I smile
wave back
and jump.
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One of the winning criteria for my awards
and often cited by the judges
is my job.
It's not a paid job
or a job I need.
Thanks to a small inheritance from a great uncle I never met
I don't ever need to work again.
This inheritance was specifically cited by the judges
who stated in their final report:
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I am self-employed, and my job
is to collect and know
everything there is to know
about airport signs.
Not just the ones we see on roads
directing us toward an airport
but signs inside the airports, too.
The semiotics of airport signs are captured in symbolic images
that cross all languages and cultures:
food and drink
departure
arrival
bodily functions
precautions
restrictions
identity.
Signs also help us move
from one sign
to the next
so we do not get lost.
Sometimes, as I read the signs
I wonder if there is a message
I am missing.
But as the judges kindly said:
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A second winning criteria was "looks."
This is an area in which
according to the report of the MBPW judges
I excel:
unmemorable face
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average height and weight
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no scars or markings
a perfectly ordinary male with white skin
not worth a hello
a goodbye
and invisible
in crowded places.
I am so ordinary
people often forget we have met
within minutes of our first hello.
"Do I know you?" they ask
and shake my hand again
as if we have never met before.
It is true
sometimes not being remembered
makes me down.
But I have airport signs
to find
and study
and no time to waste.
My ordinary looks are confirmed by the judges:
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I am the perfect nobody
and according to the MBPW
nobody in the world
is a better nobody
than me.
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Two other winning criteria were "diet" and "daily habits."
I eat the same thing every day.
Breakfast at 8:15am includes one bagel with plain cream cheese
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and a glass of orange juice.
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Lunch at noon includes a bologna sandwich
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and a glass of water.
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Dinner at 8:00pm is a TV Dinner
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sometimes chicken
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sometimes turkey
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and a glass of 1% milk.
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It is a bland diet
and some days I regret my choices
and wish for a yogurt
a soda
or a bar of chocolate.
But there is no snacking between meals
as that requires a trip to the kitchen
which interrupts my study of airport signology.
I also have a set schedule of daily chores:
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At 9:30am, for exercise, I take a brisk walk around the block.
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At noon (while I am eating lunch)
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I watch FlightMax.com
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to see what flights are cancelled
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or delayed.
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At 3:15pm, I take another walk around the block.
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At 8:00pm until 9:00pm
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while I am eating dinner
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I watch TV:
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and then more TV
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until 10:00pm, when I go to bed.
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I do not dream
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or at least
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I do not remember my dreams
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which according to medical studies
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is normal.
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Dreams could hint
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at something more in our lives
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and our lives
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are complicated enough
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as it is.
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My take on dreaming was echoed by the judges:
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The fifth criteria was "social intercourse."
Anyone who has talked to me
knows I am only interested in airport signs:
go this way
choose
go that way
rest.
Go up
rest
go down
rest again.
What is lost
can be lost forever
or found
and lost again.
Knowing my interest in airport signs
as part of the competition
the judges asked me to submit an example
of how they can be applied to everyday life.
So I told them about Sarah.
Sarah is a cashier at the grocery store down the street.
She is a plain looking woman
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average height and weight
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soft spoken
with habits so ordinary
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she could be anyone
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in the world
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if she wasn't herself.
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In other words, just my type
and a possible contender at the next MBPW competition.
She was sipping coffee under the market awning
when I showed her some airport signs on my phone:
"This is the sign for information," I said.
"But if the 'i' can also be construed as 'us'
all signs are a reflection of our secret desires
and a search for the self."
I continued...
"This sign shows us when our way is blocked
there is always someone helping us
to find a better path."
"And this?" she asked
swiping my phone.
"A terrific choice," I said.
"That is either an exit or an entrance
depending on where you are from
and where you are going.
It is the beginning of something new
or the end of something old."
"So it can be both?" she asked.
"For us, it is a beginning," I replied. "Or so I hope."
"I have to go now," she said handing back my phone
and she went inside.
Did I say something wrong?
Was I a bore?
Was there something
Sarah was not telling me?
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Each time I receive an award letter from the judges
is a new highpoint in my life.
The last was the best:
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Of course, I was flattered.
Who wouldn't be?
But (I asked myself)
is this truly what I want
to be unknown
invisible to all
and made of glass?
Is this the life I want
to exist nowhere
but in my own head?
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Maybe it was my doubts
about my diet
or maybe it was my meeting with Sarah
but at that moment
I saw a different way.
No! I shouted
as I closed the Google search
I was working on
No, I would experience
one bolt of adventure
one unparalled event
to show the judges
I was more than nothing.
I was something
not just ordinary
but an exceptional human being
and not to be forgotten.
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Which brings me to the ledge of my apartment in New York City...
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The fall was faster
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than I expected
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my scream reaching me
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only after I landed on the two
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French poodles peeing at the curb.
They provided just the right
cushion for my fall
much fluffier and plump than they look
the owner's scream even louder than mine
as I got up
dusted myself off
and apologized for killing her dogs.
I went home
ate dinner
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and went to bed.
I was a media sensation for about a week
My MBPWs were mentioned
on Fox and CNN
but because of my suicide attempt
which was not boring at all
I was stripped of my title
and the awards were taken away.
Which is ok by me.
My life is quiet again
without the ripples
and waves
of a curious social media.
The semiotics of my days
are intact
and unchanged.
I still study airport signs
and shop once a week
eat a bagel for breakfast
sometimes with lemon yogurt
or an apple
on the side.
I had my first glass of red wine the other night
with Sarah
in her apartment.
We're going to see a movie next week
we don't know which one yet.
We are starting small.
Like me, she has a passion, too:
she loves to collect household paints
brush them on the wall of her den
and watch them dry.
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SPUN BY:   ALAN BIGELOW
With thanks to:
Raphaël Parrée of edc4it
Hakim El Hattab & reveal.js
sounddogs.com
Voices: Elizabeth Licata
Some images supplied by:
Wikipedia.org
Animation Factory
123RF Stock Photo

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