REQUIEM FOR A MEME
You and your girlfriend text your best friend to find out what’s happening this night. It’s Friday in the city. The banter spins loose and free. When it is revealed by your best friend that he plans to sit at home and possibly play with himself, you write,
Your girlfriend responds, “He can do that? To himself?”
You say, “Lots of practice”
Your friend writes, “Not going out go away”
After a few minutes of silence, your girlfriend writes, “Oh, don’t be such a pussy. Come out with us!”
Well, you know from experience that the word “pussy” brings up old wounds in your friend — especially when tossed at him by an attractive female. His response is swift.
“If you don’t watch out you’re gonna get in the mouth”
Of course, he means, “You’re gonna get IT in the mouth.” It’s one of his go-to phrases, meant to confuse the target with its old-timey twang of a threat. But that’s not what he wrote. Let the record show, he wrote something else.
Your girlfriend texts, “Get in the mouth? Get. In. The. Mouth? That sounds terrible.”
“Can you imagine climbing inside someone’s mouth,” you write.
“Can you imagine harboring someone inside your mouth?”
“Can you imagine being inside his mouth while he’s sucking himself,” you write.
“I’m not going out with you tonight,” your best friend writes. “Or ever again.”
When your friend doesn’t respond to pity-party follow-up texts or phone calls, you realize you might have gone too far. He was always sensitive, and he doesn’t have a love interest at this moment, so you know he’s probably down. Maybe you need to be a better friend.
You and your girlfriend decide to stay home. You make a black-and-white, quasi-artsy video. In it, you and your girlfriend are both dressed as stereotypical French people (berets, striped shirts), and you say into the camera, over and over again, in various poses,
“Get in the mouth.”
“Get in the mouth.”
“Get in the mouth.”
“Get in the mouth.”
You post it online and send it to your friend. He responds the next morning: “Ha ha you got me”
The whole thing dies. You all go out the following weekend and have a fine time.
JANUARY, ONE YEAR LATER
An Indiana college student (and fairly respectable DJ, it turns out), home on break, uses his free time to slosh through the backwaters of the Web, where he finds your video.
Soon, a remixed version is posted on the Internet. It’s a song with a nice dance beat, featuring you and your now ex-girlfriend.
“Get in the mouth,” you both rap/sing in the remix, “get in the mouth, get get get get get in the mouth.”
For reasons that will never be clear, college students start sending the video to each other as a joke. More college students send it to family members. It gets posted elsewhere. A cat is added, mouthing the words, “Get in the mouth.” Other animals are added.
It’s around this time that someone you know sends the videos to you. Beyond the curious shock and slight embarrassment this conjures, and under the pets and music, you find it’s surprisingly affecting to see yourself and your ex- together again, lost in another time, happy and dumb to life. You still don’t know what happened.
After some deep breaths and consideration, you text a link to the videos to your ex- and best friend, who has moved across the country.
“I guess we’re famous?” you say.
Weirdly, a text from your ex- arrives — just to you — right after you hit “send.”
“I guess we’re famous”
It’s unclear if she merely responded quickly, or if you were both having the same experience in the same moment and you responded in nearly identical ways. Maybe she wonders the same thing. After some awkward staring into your phone, you send a sunglasses-man emoji.
“How are you,” she responds.
You spend the afternoon catching up while also keeping each other at a safe distance. Later that night, your best friend finally responds on the group text.
“You dummies are famous not me”
The meme, meanwhile, is not beholden to the stilted physics of these relationships. It continues to blossom. Within a few days, people post new videos with “get in the mouth” edited in — Dirty Harry asking a criminal not if he feels lucky but if he wants to “get in the mouth.” Or Terminator saying to witnesses not a foreboding, “I’ll be back,” but instead a farewell, “Get in the mouth.” And so on.
One Saturday afternoon at the market, you are recognized as the “Get in the Mouth Guy.”
A well-known celebrity appears on the Today Show in an interview with one of their anchors. The supposed purpose of the interview is to address something controversial and insensitive the celebrity said in a public forum. Prior imbroglios like this suggest that perhaps the celebrity will apologize, and we will be allowed to forget the whole unpleasant circumstance. But no, as it turns out, this is all about ratings. The anchor needles and pushes buttons. The celebrity blushes and fidgets and finally bubbles over:
“You know what?” the celebrity says. “Why don’t you just get in the mouth.”
Spring. The city glows warm and yellow, and though you are both dating new people, you miss your ex- for reasons connected to the sensory nature of memory, as well as occasional texting.
By this time, “Get in the mouth” has graduated to the American pop-culture patois that also includes “Where’s the beef?”, “That’s hot,” and “YOLO.” It is now found on t-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers; lawyers are working out copyright details. Rumor is, Oxford is considering it for its “meme of the year.”
And Jimmy Fallon’s people are calling. You, your ex-, and your best friend conclude the brush with fame seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And so you three appear one evening, as talent, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
On the show, sitting between you and your ex- on the guest couch, your best friend explains to Jimmy the inspiration for the viral phrase.
“I was upset, and I made a typo,” he says. His hair is uncombed. Since moving out west, he has grown a beard. He is wearing a sweatshirt bearing his alma mater’s name.
The audience laughs — laughs at him. Your ex-, slumping attractively like she used to slump on your couch, puts a hand to her mouth to hide her smile. The way she’s tilting her head toward your best friend, you know she misses him.
A few moments later, on stage, you perform the “Get in the Mouth” song with Jimmy, the DJ kid from Indiana, and The Roots. There is a moment when you and your ex- are singing/rapping, “Get in the mouth, get in the mouth, get get get get get in the mouth,” and your best friend is standing between you both with his arms crossed:
You look at them, and you realize what love is. It is the original meme. It is energy borne out of creativity and attraction. And though it might fade or even disappear, it never goes away. It just comes back in different forms.
YOUR OPTIONS AFTER KILLING YOUR CHILD’S PET MOUSE
One thing they never mention when you become a parent is that, some day, you’ll have to kill a family pet — i.e., "put it to sleep" — and break the news to your child. When this moment comes, it’s often the misbehaving dog that gets it. And most parents use the “We sent him to the farm” strategy. This works fine for dogs, and even cats.
But let’s say that you kill your child’s pet mouse. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you stepped on the mouse, maybe even on purpose because you were having a bad day, crushing all the bones in its pint-sized body, just like your dad did to your pet mouse. Well, nobody — not even the dumbest kid — believes that we send mice to farms. So you’ve got to admit to killing it.
But should you tell your child that you squashed their mouse on purpose? Or will they only resent you for it? And give you tons of grief?
Embrace this classic parenting challenge. After hiding the body at the bottom of the kitchen trash can, admit that you killed the mouse. But present to your child a method of mouse-murder they can accept.
OPTION #1: CHOKING
Any young child who has watched even half a day of TV knows what choking is. And it’s often presented in a surprisingly nonviolent manner: You just put your hands around the victim’s throat, a frightened look fills their eyes, and then you talk them to sleep. It’s like a bedtime story but with permanent consequences.
And it’s perfect for our scenario here. Simply tell your child that you choked to death their pet mouse. Expect crying, of course, but it will pass. Children, especially young ones (i.e., less smart ones), are remarkably loyal to their parents, and they will eventually tell themselves that you must have done it for a good reason.
Granted, some inquisitive children might ask exactly how you choked to death a tiny mouse. Easy: Any dollar store sells colorful, miniature plastic hands that make clapping sounds. Have a pair handy. Tell your child that you used these little hands to choke their mouse. Then, to distract them from their grief, clap the hands.
OPTION #2: SUFFOCATING
Some children, typically in the post-8-year-old age group, don’t believe you can choke a mouse to death using tiny plastic hands. If this is the case with your child, tell them that you suffocated their pet mouse. When it comes to killing anything, suffocation is as peaceful as it gets. You don’t even have to see the victim’s face; you just place a pillow over it and apply pressure, muffling any sounds of struggle.
To convince your child that you did this to their pet mouse, all you need is a tiny pillow. Fashion one out of tissue paper (for the stuffing) and cotton material cut from a t-shirt (for the pillowcase). When your smart child asks to see the pillow that you allegedly used to suffocate their mouse, show them. You might even smear it with fake blood. Nothing unrealistic – just a small brown stain or two.
If your child starts crying at the sight of this, and asking “why, why, why,” congratulations. You have convinced them that you suffocated their mouse. And they have no idea that you actually smashed it with your shoe.
OPTION #3: DROWNING
Some children, particularly those in the preteen and teenage years, are too smart for their own good. As they abandon fantasies about Tooth Fairies and Easter Bunnies, they also refuse to believe that you choked or suffocated their pet mouse. It’s like they’re asking you to hurt them, and hurt them good.
If this is the case with your child, tell them that you drowned their pet mouse. It’s straightforward and cruel. But be ready for questions:
“Did you flush my pet mouse down the toilet?”
Always respond to this last question with, “What kind of sick person do you think I am?”
Then, point to the bucket in the garage.
“Hose water. Held the little guy down for several minutes. He fought well but eventually just gave up.”
Let’s hope this causes your preteen or teen to sob like a baby, or at least go to their room and slam the door.
LAST RESORT: BURNING
The thing about smart kids, see, is that the snoopy, probing, nosey ones seem to know when you’re lying. It’s like they can see the mouse’s imprint on the bottom of your shoe.
And you’re like, “What are you looking at?”
And they say, “So if you choked, suffocated, or drown the mouse, where is the body?”
And of course, most parents are like, “I … I buried it.”
And little Mr. or Mrs. Investigator says, “Show me the grave.”
Well, it won’t be long before they discover what you really did to it.
That’s why burning their flattened pet mouse might be your only option. Just take the broken little body out of the garbage, place it on a cement surface, douse it with lighter fluid, and strike the match. When the time is right, show your clever child the cremains. Even the savviest of them probably won’t sift through the ashes and discern that they once formed the shape of horribly shattered mouse bones. If your child starts weeping, you've earned another parenting star.
And one day, when your child has grown into a well-adjusted adult, you can tell them what really happened to their pet mouse, and watch them cry all over again.
ATTN: DOG OWNERS
Hello, Community Dog Owners! We have a number of issues to cover in this week’s Canine Express Email:
- The Association recently received a complaint from a new resident that certain dog owners have been letting their dogs off their leashes, and the dogs “run around and act completely stupid.” We explained to the resident that dogs are stupid; they just need to let the stupid out.
- The same resident suggested that we hire a person in the role of “Citizen On Poop Patrol” (COPP). If this COPP witnesses any owner failing to properly dispose of their dog’s poop, they would have the authority to hand out a $25 citation (money would go to the Association). Sort of like a parking ticket except we’re talking about dog poop. We thought you’d get a kick out of this.
- From our weekly Canine Express Mail Call: Sam P. writes to us, “Are Chihuahuas dogs? My dog thinks Chihuahuas are ugly cats.” Chihuahuas are dogs, Sam, but if it makes your dog feel any better, their small size means they deserve less attention.
- Do you want to get the stick? Do ya? Do ya? If you do, please stop reading this email. This is for human owners of dogs, not their dogs.
- We mean it. Look away, boy or girl. Now. Do we have to snap our fingers at you? We’re going to the closet. We’re rattling the closet door knob. We’re opening the closet door. We’re reaching very slowly for the loud vacuum machine. We will use it. Go lie down. Good dog.
- We recently received word that some dogs are reading our emails again and communicating the contents to other dogs. Please take a moment to change your email password. You might also ask your dog, “Have you been reading my email?” But please remember, before berating him or her into a corner, most dogs act guilty even if they haven’t done anything.
- On the issue of dog fighting: This is serious. Bob Johnson has volunteered his services. Bob, as many of you know, was a Golden Gloves champion back in the day, and he thinks we can take it to those Legacy Park Golden Paws next month. If your dog wants to fight, tell him or her to bring a mouth guard, headgear, and boxing gloves (all dog-sized, please) to spar at the community center this Saturday at 8 a.m. No experience standing on hind legs necessary, though it can’t hurt to have your dog practice.
- The Spring Squirrel Gettin’ is fast approaching. Get the squirrel! Get the squirrel! … You're reading the email again, aren't you, dogs? Go lie down. Do you see this newspaper? Thwack! Loud newspaper! Thwack! Log off! Thwack!
- FYI, if you’re having trouble with your dog reading emails, you might try using sarcasm and old-fashioned emoticons in your correspondence. Dogs can totally sense sarcasm, and they’re great at seeing faces in punctuation marks! ;)
- As we were saying, the Spring Squirrel Gettin’ is fast approaching, and this year’s festival will include free car rides, Bobbing for Bones, and, of course, the big Squirrel Gettin’ competition. On that note, we’re seeking volunteers to capture squirrels so that we’ll have enough for a full day of squirrel-gettin’ competition. If your dog wants to volunteer, that’s fine, but please reiterate that all captured squirrels must still be alive, or they can’t be used in the squirrel-gettin’. And it’s probably worth saying that cats, raccoons, possum, birds, Chihuahuas, etc., do not count as squirrels, no matter how proud your dog is to “get” one.
- A visitor to our community recently complained about dog poop on the playground. They said their children stepped in poop several times. It reminds us that we need to raise funds for signs that say, “No Children Allowed on Playground.”
- Another correspondence from our weekly Canine Express Mail Call: Jerylene writes, “When my Lab girl squats to pee, she looks aerodynamic, like she might be trying to fly. But when she squats to poop, she looks very grounded and focused. Are there any studies on this?” The Association will look into it.
- If Jerylene’s Lab is reading this, we’re sorry to publicize your peeing and pooping habits. We’re just endlessly fascinated by, and envious of, the idea of relieving oneself outdoors. Now go lie down.
- On the ongoing issue of dogs humping other dogs: The Association feels the issue is not the “humping” behavior, per se, but the music that is played at the weekly dances where the humping takes place. We’ve asked the Dance Committee to tone down the sexy beats, or else we’ll just have to find another canine deejay.
- Hear that, dogs? Lie down!
- On the issue of dogs using the community rec room to smoke cigarettes and play cards: Boy, dogs are really good at cards, aren’t they? ;) I don’t think any one of us could sit down at a poker game with them and win. ;) We certainly wouldn’t let them win a few hands just to oil their confidence, or offer praise and watch them wag their tails without realizing it, would we? ;) We could never win money from dogs who smoke and play cards. ;) :) !!!
That concludes this week’s Canine Express Email.
Sincerely, The Association
P.S. Lie down!