Three months have passed since Jeff's near death experience at Hillary's wedding and, aside from the occasional uncomfortably long hug from an aunt at family gatherings, he hasn't had any more incestuous close calls since he broke up with Katie. For most people, this would not be noteworthy. Not having intimate relations with a blood relative is really something one pretty much takes as a given. It's not like you're going to see anything like those occupational workplace safety signs that say "271 days without first cousin groping." But the Katie scare shook him to his core and so he claims his victories where he can.
This could also explain why he hasn't been out there on the dating scene. It's not like he's abandoned the quest to become the new Jeff Dempsey, it's just taken different forms. For a while he began every day with 45 minutes of transcendental Yoga. This led to an important moment of enlightenment. The new Jeff Dempsey, like the old one, thinks yoga is stupid and pointless. He reached similar conclusions about origami, aquasize, and calligraphy. Although in fairness, he still thinks calligraphy is cool, he just sucks at it.
The one constant through the journey so far though has been the vlogging. No matter how unsuccessful these attempts at transformative change turned out, he feels at ease sitting in front of his webcam and sharing them. And perhaps even more surprising is that people seem to be listening. Jeff doesn't have a huge following but he does have a loyal one. There is the woman in Georgia who said Jeff's high school reunion moment of clarity gave her inspiration in finding a new direction in her own life. And for some reason, Jeff's comic misadventures seem to do very well in the Philippines. What Jeff is beginning to see is that regardless of where we're from or whatever cultural biases we've grown up with, deep down we can all relate to a universal human experience. And it seems the more humiliating the experience, the more relatable it is.
So as Jeff sits down and turns on the webcam, absent is any of the trepidation that once gave him pause. He follows what has now become his pre-vlogg ritual of gathering himself for a moment, taking a deep breath, exhaling and launching into it.
"One of my favorite things to watch on the nature channel is when chimpanzees pick nits and bugs off each other. They call this practice social grooming. I'm fascinated by how accepting these creatures are, it's like they have no personal space hang-ups. I once picked a piece of lint of a co-worker's blouse and had to explain the incident to HR. But the chimpanzees accept it because it's simply not possible to do it for themselves. It occurred to me that humans do this too, it's just that our 'social grooming' occurs with personal issues and baggage. We can easily spot delusion and self-deception in others but never in ourselves. Like those chimps in the wild, it's up to those closest in our social group to make us aware of these issues in a careful and tactful manner."
"Shenanigans!" Niko cries out, nearly spitting his orange juice across the table. It's their Sunday brunch ritual at Jeff and Niko's apartment and this spit take has left Ashley as grossed out as Louie is offended.
"Why would you say that?" Louie says, barely able to disguise his hurt feelings. "Is it really so hard to believe?"
"That a beautiful, intelligent, and successful woman at your work is throwing herself at you? – Yeah, kind of. No offense."
"How else can I possibly take it?"
"Wait, I don't understand," Ashley says. Before she can say anything else, Louie jumps in.
"We have a new consultant working out of our office and Niko doesn't believe me when I say that she is coming up to me at work and dropping serious hints that we should... you know, get together."
YOU ARE READING
The New TwentyHumor
***WATTYS 2017 WINNER*** When the newly single, 40 year-old Jeff Dempsey suffers an agonizing humiliation at his high school reunion, he comes to realize he has accomplished almost nothing with his life. Armed with this new found insight, Jeff char...