The father robot kneels down at the foot of the bed, where the son robot, baseball cap turned sideways, is sitting, gently kicking his feet.
“You know I’ll always love you,” the father robot says with its hand on its knee, a synthesized chirping coming from its vocal box. “Even if you strike out in baseball, you’re still my son.”
“Even if I don’t bring home a trophy?” the son robot asks.
“No trophy matters more to me than you.”
“Even a solid gold trophy?”
“Even a solid platinum trophy.”
“Even a trophy covered in sexy ladies?”
The father robot turns its head to the camera, which slightly zooms in on its face as it shakes its head. The studio audience erupts into laughter. A fanciful soft jazz tune plays, and the image fades out.
And ad for Taco Taco blares at three times the volume of the TV show and makes me jump. I hate when they do that.
I also hate being awake at one in the morning watching robot sitcoms, shows made so cheaply they are literally written and acted by automatons. The absolute nadir of pop culture. I hate that I’m watching them, but I also hate myself.
They say the best thing to do after emotional trauma is to sleep it off. Give your brain a rest and let time pass. You can feel better and clear your mind. I don’t know who they are who say this, but I’ve found myself completely unable to follow their advice.
Ugh. I have to go to work in like six hours.
I’m not falling asleep at this point. I have accepted that I will have been awake for nearly two straight days by the end of my shift tomorrow–uh, today. I assume that my enhanced abilities are somehow behind this, rather than that I am THAT emotionally damaged.
I feel a little bit better, in fact. When I’m on my sofa, when I’m vegging out to robot sitcoms, I can relax and make peace inside my rattled brain. Peace enough, as long as I don’t think about anything bad, like all the horrible stuff I did today by betraying my best friend’s trust and probably losing her forever.
I never did get oden and a carton of eggs from the convenience store. Tonight has been a night of scrounging up the very last bits of food I could find in my pantry, which in this case is a can of three bean soup and some stale elbow macaroni, seasoned only with salt and pepper. I’ll get more food after work, provided I don’t fall asleep before that, and provided I don’t have another emotional breakdown before that.
It’s not too bad. Three bean soup is good sometimes. Not really very good in a can, but it has the ghost of taste. The whispered echoes of what might have made my taste buds feel better about themselves.
The next episode of the robot sitcom comes on. I didn’t catch the name, but I’m not fully sure it actually has one, for how slapdashedly it was produced. It’s about a robot father and a robot mother who hate each other but also love each other, and their teenage daughter robot, their elementary school son robot, and their robot baby. And… that’s it.
In the cold open of this episode, the teenage daughter robot is hanging out with its best friend robot while the two sit on the couch in the main living room. They’re supposed to be studying, but the daughter robot is looking off, pining about a hot boy robot at robot school. The best friend robot seems fully absorbed in the teenage daughter robot, clearly paying not a bit of mind to the fact that the daughter robot has its robotic heart set on a different robot.
“Isn’t Brad the best?” the daughter robot asks its companion.
“Yeah, you’re the best. I mean, Brad is good,” the best friend robot says. “Second best, at least.” The daughter robot looks at it and tilts its head to the side, as if trying to express confusion. “Maybe higher, even. Maybe,” the best friend robot corrects.
They never actually go through with that kind of girl robot-on girl robot romance plot in these safe-for-asshole-homophobic-middle-aged-people TV shows, but they always tease it for bonus points if anyone ever questions them for being behind the times.
I wish I were behind the times, as in back at four in the afternoon, to stop myself from being a total ass.
No, stop it, self. I don’t want to go through this again. I just want to sit here and watch the TV set in front of me. I won’t let myself think about it.
In the show, the robot father enters the front door of the house, and the best friend robot jumps a full foot in the air, while the daughter robot is completely unfazed. This elicits a hearty reaction from the studio audience.
If I had any emotions left inside of me, I wonder if I’d be laughing along with them, just from the power of the crowd. And, suddenly, I realize why they have studio audiences with all these robot sitcoms. It finally makes sense. Using nefarious psychological–
Who the hell is knocking at my door at one in the morning…?
I’m almost too tired to even get up, but I tightly grip my hand on the arm of the sofa and heave my upper body into the air, and with another great effort, I convince myself to will itself into standing up.
If this is another round of robots coming to my door to bid on my copy of Genesis Crush, I’m going to–
Wearing a brown jacket with fluffs around the neck and cuffs –my jacket, that I left at her house. Holding an oversized box of West Family Sweets chocolates, complete with a pink ribbon tied around the package.
I want to cry. But my eyes are too dried out. Too tired. My vision just hazes up instead.
She speaks. “Couldn’t sleep either?”
“You want to go up on the roof and talk?” she asks.
I shake my head.
She hands me the box of chocolates and then steps inside, walking past me towards the bedroom. “I’ll meet you up there,” she says. “I’m going to grab the blankets and pillows.”
Alright, I think to myself. I guess I can’t get out of this one. I turn the TV off so she doesn’t see me watching robot sitcoms, and exit through the front door. I guess I’m going to the roof with Karina.