Please don't feed PickleMan
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by: Max Burbank

Things have been a little tense recently what with the U.S. dropping out of the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty and my youngest daughter’s first birthday party, so this weekend I did something I’d been meaning to get around to. I took a little ‘me’ time and built a fort out of couch pillows in the living room. At first I had an afghan my Grandmother crocheted for the ceiling, which was nice and airy, but I found I could see my family yelling at me through the little holes, so after they all went to sleep I snuck out and got a comforter out of the linen closet. It’s a little hot and close in here, but on the upside, the cat isn’t coming in any more.

I’m having some difficulty convincing people that this fort is my inviolable space. I’ve asked my wife to tell visitors they should regard the walls of my fort as if they were made of cast, reinforced concrete. She won’t, which I consider a violation of either our wedding vows or my oath as a Promise Keeper. My oldest daughter recently charged a school chum a Quarter to ‘get a look at the freakshow’. I suggested that if I had a little more cooperation from my family, perhaps I wouldn’t need a fort, and they responded by going to the movies without me.

I don’t care. I like it in here.

I like the cozy warmth, I like the dim, golden light filtering in from the entry hole. It reminds me of my early childhood, crouched beneath a blanket with my flashlight, acting out scenes from the day’s Watergate hearings with my action figures. Beyond the couch pillows the baby is informing our neighborhood a new tooth is coming in, my wife is on the phone with my boss telling him in broken Spanish she is only the housesitter, she has no idea when the Boor-bang’s will be coming home. In my fort a Bendy Captain America Senator Daniel K. Inouye grills a Mego Planet of the Apes Cornelius John Dean.

In the stifling, oxygen starved heart of my upholstery bunker, half baked fantasies begin to form. In the dead of night I will drag the phone into my lair and rent a Ryder truck. I will make a final foray into Man’s World and buy the furniture from every Salvation Army, discard everything but the pillows! My fort will grow huge, labyrinthine, I will construct a couch pillow suit with a drop ruffle for unavoidable trips to the bathroom!

My wife wants to know if I’ll be emerging from the ‘Fortress of Soil-atude’ for dinner, a clever reference to both my childish love of comic books and the shocking lack of hygienic facilities within my sanctum. Fortunately for me I pretended to have domain soundproofed a few hours ago, so I can’t hear her, and she refuses to ring the imaginary bell.

How long can I sustain this behavior? Indefinitely. Lots of people do it. They are called Agoraphobic. Modern technology has come up with multiple ways to assist or exploit them, depending on ones point of view. Work from home jobs, the internet, cable, meal and grocery delivery, home health aides. If I nail my couch pillows to the walls, my home could become my fort and I could wear a single pair of pajamas for the rest of my life. Pathetic or glorious? It depends on who’s bunny slippers you’re standing in, my friend. The complete abdication of all connection to the world at large is the goal of slacker pigs, the clinically depressed, Saints and Zen Masters.

Kill us... please.
See things from Max's point of view.
Wear bunny slippers.

Unfortunately, I lack the singularity of purpose to become any of those things. I know I‘ll have to come out, and probably today. You can’t hide forever, and the outside world offers many compensations. Springtime, the love of Wife and Children, terrorizing the paper boy by appearing at the door in women’s bikini briefs and a rubber pig mask, clutching a wet, wax paper wrapped clump of calf liver... These are grown up joys not found inside a pillow fort.

My fort is a state of mind, really. It’s a sign of mental health that I known I can it again if I need to for an hour or so. Or barricade myself in the bathroom for five or six years like that Obsessive/Compulsive guy I saw on Dateline last month.

That’s the great thing about life. It’s rich with possibilities.

note: We will not be featuring any pictures of Max Burbank in women's bikini briefs on this site at any time. Sorry folks.

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