I awoke this morning in footie pajamas, ready to greet the day. But when I looked out the window, the grey skies glared down at me contemptuously, as if to say that all I had ever cared for was meaningless.
Mother hurried me along to the car, and we were soon at the pre-school, that great prison of the youth. No sooner had I been left in the care of this “Miss Susan” than Mother twittered off to her job as a typist, leaving me alone and scared.
Susan took my hand and led me into the Happy Times Day Care. I could not decide whether to laugh or weep at the irony of the name. I mentioned to Susan that I had drawn a funny picture of a kitty the day before, but the woman did not seem to notice or care. The years of work had made her indifferent to a cruel world.
When I entered the playroom, I realized I was not in a prison, but an asylum. My companions were running about, laughing and smiling, as if completely unaware that they would all die one day. Alex approached me.
“Hey Friedrich, wanna play with us?” he said. “Me and Chris are superheroes, and Tommy and Cindy are the monsters!”
“No, Alex,” I sighed. “And remember, he who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”
“Oh…” said Alex. “Well, if you wanna play later, I’ll let you be Batman.”
I walked along, looking for a distraction from the pain of existence. The Tickle-Me Elmo was being tickled by Tanya, the Moo-Moo Fun Farm had stopped being fun weeks ago, and the letter blocks ominously spelled out E-N-N-U-I.
I even saw Toby trying to play Jenga with Lincoln Logs. Three times I watched him build a tower and knock it down with the pull of one log, only to rebuild it again. Toby was doomed to forever create and destroy, like the modern Sisyphus. I turned from the sight, afraid I may see too many horrors at once. But then! Oh, marvelous fate! The crayons were free! I rushed towards the 36-color box with delight, but Mikey, in the depths of his ignorance, picked them up off the ground.
“Damn you, Mikey!” I cried. “Those crayons were mine!”
“But I got them first,” Mikey said. “And we’re supposed to share.”
“Mikey, don’t you understand?! You are merely giving into the slave morality! Your attempts to promote the ‘common good’ are nothing but a symptom of your oppression!”
“Fine, you can have them,” Mikey said sourly. He would thank me one day.
I began to color. Brilliant splashes of red, smooth lines of blue and green. It was to be my masterpiece. But then, Susan interrupted me.
“What are you drawing, Friedrich?”
“This is my masterpiece, Susan. I call it the Ubermensch.”
“Call me ‘Miss’ Susan, sweetie. Who’s the Ubermensch?”
“He is the next step in man’s eternal recurrence,” I said. “He’s like this superhero from the future, and he’s kind of like Superman, but even cooler!”
I could see that Susan could not understand. She would never understand. In time, I grew weary of the crayons, and I searched for other amusements. Susan gathered us together to watch Barney. That idiotic fanfare sounded, signaling the start of the show. I turned away in disgust.
Brittany asked me, “Where are you going, Friedrich? Barney’s so fun! And he teaches us so many things!”
“You fools! Barney is dead,” I said.
Brittany scratched her head. “No, he’s right there on the TV.”
“No, you don’t understand!” I shouted. “Barney is dead. Barney remains dead! And we have killed him!”
Brittany began to cry, and Susan suggested I start my nap-time early while the rest stayed to stare at their false deity. But I refused, and I ran, as fast and as far as I could. I ran, and ran, until I saw the great height of the twisty slide. I knew then what I must do. I climbed to the top, with a great burden on my soul. And as I stood there at the top of the plastic helix, gazing into the abyss of the woodchips, I knew the abyss gazed into me as well. I jumped, ready to meet oblivion. But oblivion did not come, and I was forced to use all of the Spongebob band-aids to heal my wounds, knowing that Patrick’s smiling face could never repair my bruised ego.