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The Fires Next Time

As Egyptians rejoice in toppling the Mubarak regime and rebel forces in Libya threaten Qaddafi’s hold on power, a writer wonders: What will the next revolutions be?

Shalom Auslander
March 03, 2011
(Margarita Korol)
(Margarita Korol)

The Tallis Revolution: Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn take up arms against the scantily clad bicyclists who ride through their neighborhoods. “No Biblically Ordained Modesty, No Peace,” they will chant. Might also be known as The Phylacteries Rebellion. I’ll watch the riots on TV, worried that irate rabbis will start burning my books; my publisher will point out that would be good for sales. Later, bicyclists from around the nation will then converge upon Brooklyn for what will become known as the Tour de Revealing Shorts.

The Spandex Uprising: Having had enough of the oppressive 30-minute limit on treadmills during peak hours, outraged health club members will take to the streets. They will march and stamp their feet and shake their fists overhead. “Hey,” they’ll eventually say, “isn’t this is pretty much the same thing we were doing in there?” “Yes,” I’ll say, “it is.”

The Freedom Mutiny: Infuriated by what they perceive as undeserved and overly positive reviews of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, female authors around the country rise up, rightly insisting they can write just as dreadfully if only the book-review editors would acknowledge them. Known among book-review editors as The Adorable Revolution. I’ll watch the riots on TV, worried that irate women will start burning my books; my publisher will point out that would be good for sales.

The Spiderman Revolt: Enraged by the seemingly endless number of Broadway plays based on cartoon characters and Disney films, a group of playwrights defiantly create an series of intelligent, meaningful plays that explore both the emotional and existential dilemmas facing modern man. The shows close in a week. Also called the Lion-King-Has-No-Clothes-But-Appeals-to-the-Lucrative-Families-With-Young-Children-Target-Market Uprising.

The Boston Snark Party: In a daring midnight raid, a group of revolutionaries steal all the snark in the world and dump it in Boston Harbor. By morning, most blogs and comment threads are deserted, Twitter scrambles to find a single feed of any value, and Republican politicians cancel all press briefings for a lack of anything to say. Also known as the Dear-God-Please-Let-That-Happen Rebellion.

The 2 a.m. Turmoil: Again the schmuck at Starbucks gave me regular instead of decaf. I lie awake in the dark, plotting violent acts of revenge involving petite vanilla bean scones (3 for $2.25) and his stupid face. Also known as the Pike’s-Place Uprising or the Wearing-a-Headset-Doesn’t-Make-You-Lady-Freaking-Gaga Rebellion.

The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Revolution: Outraged by the needlessly repressive public-smoking bans being passed in cities around the nation, I take up the filthy habit just to violate them. “This is a free country,” I say, attempting to shout between violent fits of phlegmatic coughing. Damn right.

The Toyota Insurrection: For the fourth time, I take my car to the mechanic, and the awful grinding noise it’s been making for three weeks ceases the moment I pull in. “I don’t hear anything,” the mechanic says, and I pick up a crowbar and smash the hell out of my car, shouting, “Do you hear that? Does that sound right to you?” Also known as the That’s-Not-Covered-By-Your-Warranty Riot.

The Thermal Revolution: Though still a few weeks from spring, I defy common sense and adamantly refuse to wear layer-upon-layer of winter clothing anymore. Followed immediately thereafter by the Upper-Respiratory Insurrection.

The Freud Uprising: After year of handing over half my salary to my therapist with nothing to show for it, I tell him to go to hell. He tells me that I’m not angry with him, I’m angry with my mother. I pick up the crowbar I stole from the mechanic and begin smashing his office to bits, shouting, “Who am I angry at now, huh? Who am I expressing negativity toward now, Doc?” Alternatively known as the Pottery-Barn Atrocity, and the Furniture-Isn’t-Covered-By-Insurance Revolt.

Shalom Auslander is the author of Foreskin’s Lament and the novel Hope: A Tragedy. He is also a frequent contributor to This American Life.

Shalom Auslander is the author of Foreskin’s Lament, Hope: A Tragedy, and most recently Mother for Dinner. His new memoir, Fehwill be published this July. He writes The Fetal Position on Substack, so make that seven Nazis.