I knew something was different when I woke up without my customary strong feelings about Jennifer Lawrence.
I walked down a street and it was weird and silent. That is, not completely silent. But no one was shouting anything at me. I stood next to a construction site for several minutes posing sensually (I have learned from prior experience that ‘standing there in sweatpants with a dazed expression eating a donut’ counts as ‘posing sensually’) and nothing happened. No one said a word. No one even whistled.
The strange feeling only intensified as the morning went on. I walked into work and someone handed me 1.3 times my usual take-home pay. “Thanks!” I said. “What brought this on?”
They shrugged and murmured something about “evolutionary biology” and I decided not to press the point.
“Are you noticing this, too?” I asked one of my colleagues in the restroom. “Something’s off.”
She nodded. “This morning, I did some routine parenting and everyone threw me a parade, and when my spouse did the same everyone seemed upset that there weren’t also cookies, while also yelling that he was too focused on his job.”
“Weird,” I said.
We left the urinals and strolled back into the office. And it just kept getting weirder.
I went out to a bar where I had sex with a stranger and did not get pregnant and no one wrote any trend pieces about it.
Then again, when I afterwards went out to dinner with one of my same-sex friends instead of a person of the opposite sex, everyone did write trend pieces about it with the words “bro” and “man” hyphenated in portmanteaus, as they also did when I hugged that person.
I went to an event in formal attire that was both warm and comfortable. No one expected me to identify with Disney princesses.
As I aged, I got more attractive. No one urged me to put ointment on anything. I got a haircut and it wasn’t a big statement about anything. I ran for office and no one mentioned my attire a single time, even when I wore a weird tie with lizards on it. People stopped asking me if I supported Hillary Clinton “just because it’s time.” I got to sit down and stare at a ticket and pick a candidate based on any issue I wanted, without having to worry that the person whose ideas about taxation seemed interesting was also trying to sew up my internal organs.
I could wear whatever I wanted without being accused of provoking anything. In fact, I traveled all over the world without changing what I was wearing and nothing bad happened. I traveled back safely in time to any era whatsoever.
I grew some facial hair. I grew hair all over my body. No one said anything about it.
On TV, I was confronted with hundreds upon hundreds of shows about people who looked like me dating people wildly and unreasonably out of my league. None of them were science fiction. Almost every film in theaters offered my experience as the default proxy for the whole human experience! Except the Hunger Games, which, again, I had no strong feelings about. When I looked at a character like me in comic books or games, it actually looked like me, not Weird Sexy Me, and was not uniformly more naked than necessary and leaning over something.
I passed several magazine racks full of ludicrously bad advice for attracting a mate but fortunately none of them were targeting me. All the magazines aimed at me consisted of four pictures of a studly human, some steel items it might be fun to own and correspondents who went somewhere dangerous and gathered information that might be helpful.
I tried to find something to complain about. Eventually I settled on complaining about always having to do everything all the time. Some people of the opposite gender pointed out that it was less “having to do everything” than “getting to do everything” that I was complaining about, and I accused them of being unfunny hypersensitive sticks-in-the-mud with unhealthy attachments to their cats. I was probably right. After all, people like me made up the majority of late-night writing staffs. And Reddit agreed.
At no point in any of the foregoing did anything I had done result in a baby.
It was amazing. I wish I could tell you I had something to complain about. I didn’t read as much, but that was because the world was assembled into a giant playground for my benefit. Oh, I did die sooner, but it’s not the length that counts, right?
I’m just dreading waking up tomorrow.