“Mantra for a Loser” By: Robin Wyatt Dunn

Thursday was out to get me, the swine of this city angry for my skin and bone. They knew I was a disaster waiting to happen. They knew I was apocalyptic, moronic, syphilitic even. I was a monster, on acid, flat broke, new in town, owning too many pairs of pants.
Why Thursday? Was it something to do with Thor? Something to do with Los Angeles?

The barista, my imaginary girlfriend, told it to me straight:

“What are you staring at?”

“You, I’m staring at you, apparently.”


“So it would appear.”

“Are you okay?”

I smile and fail, so I try again: just stretch your lips over your teeth, monkeybrain. She moves away from me a few paces.

“I’m housebroken I swear,” I say.

“Okay,” she says, and goes back to making a latte.

I put sugar in my coffee and go out onto the street which is when the homeless black man throws the Slurpie remnants in his cup into my face, drenching my white shirt and sticking to my glasses with its blue sugar. He glares at me, daring me to make a move. I do absolutely nothing. The homeless man continues on his way.

I have decided that I am invincible. I am your salvation. I am what you need. I am the answer, the answer to the question: What is the answer? Me. All solipsistic logics originate and end with my bipedal body here on Earth. It’s not a parallel universe, some fucked-up unending recursivity, Alice in Wonder-Hoo-Hoos, or the Red King’s (or your) dream, it’s merely Enlightenment. Wisdom, in a broadside, courtesy of yours truly.

What soothes me as I walk back to my apartment is the knowledge that I am not crying in public. I may be blue now, and my glasses may be sticky for the next few weeks, but I am in control. This is really happening, I tell myself. Just go with it.

Have you ever realized that you’re never going to make it? That all your beautiful lies you’ve told yourself since puberty have finally evaporated? For those of you who are still lying to yourselves in large ways, let me help you out. I told you, I am on the other side of your mirror. Need help? Have you been thinking something special? No. I will help. Remember:
A) You are not beautiful.
B) You are not talented.
C) You are not unique.
D) You have not been, are not now, and will never be famous, even for 15 minutes.
E) You are a loser, and this is okay.

If you’re a man, you remember that time you realized that you were never going to get into a supermodel’s panties. It was a good day for you. You thought long and hard, and told yourself: I too can settle for pretty over beautiful. If you got there quick, you married the girl. Smart move. If you waited longer, you arrived at: I too can settle for plain over pretty. If you were smart, you married the girl (or guy). This is how life works. You manage your expectations, you make lots of extra room in your brain’s basement for new disappointments.
There’s all kinds of them! You learn every day how life in the “Promised Land” (whatever land that may be, there’s more than several) can suck new kinds of balls. If you’re a woman, or gay, I understand how a day sucking balls might be construed to be a good thing. Let’s assume, though, that it’s not, and that that’s okay! Days spent with strangers’ nuts in your mouth is not the end! You will figure this out.

I get into the shower back at my apartment and remind myself that I’m not yet homeless, do not have cancer, and can still get hard. I remind myself that it’s okay to jerk off in a shower that you share with your neighbors: that’s what drains are for. I wonder, idly, whether my semen will contribute to the mildew colony in the shower closet. I tell myself: I am a man.

Some of you are wondering: what is manhood? I’m glad you are wondering this. Many forget that a huge part of successful manhood is embracing your bland, functional qualities. If you retain the use of both legs, rejoice. You remain a mobile biped. You can forage for food, and eat it ― quite successfully, too, if you have retained some teeth. This too shall pass. This too is a joyful gift from the Great White Spaghetti Monster in the Sky. Also, if you’re not deaf, you probably have the ability to talk. You can communicate with your fellow bipeds: men, women, children, and sexually ambiguous people. It can be fascinating to do this, and it’s good for your mental health.

After showering and putting on a clean shirt, I remind myself that if I were homeless again for some period, I too might be reduced to throwing Slurpies at passerby. I take a deep breath, walk outside, deliberately do not buy cigarettes, do not pass Go or collect any money, and walk back to the coffee shop to flirt unsuccessfully with the pretty barista.

Remember: your kidneys process poisons. You can breathe air, and digest both meats and vegetables. Your ancestors killed all kinds of people in various places on Earth. You are a beautiful loser.

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