The cupboard was empty except for a box of Shake And Bake sitting like an island in the middle of the shelf, so you walked to the meat market to buy a single porkchop. They asked you multiple times if you really only wanted one, then the cashier didn’t even ask if you wanted the receipt. You paid for the one porkchop with a debit card. It was wrapped in too much wax paper.
You wanted nothing in your possession, not even grocery staples. This was a principle you picked up reading Zero Possessions by Yuval Harris. This was more difficult to accomplish than you imagined.
Walking home, you considered the complication presented by your clothing. You gave most of it away, but could you give all of it away? The problem was the last few articles of clothing. If you were to reach Zero Possessions, truly, you would have to go to some parking lot with a donation bin, fully disrobe, toss your last pair of jeans and sneakers through the chute, and walk away in nothing but a pair of Hanes boxer briefs, hypothetically. You noted that an al fresco green mile through suburbia would probably get filmed at some point and spread like fire on the internet.
“Man Gives Shirt Off His Back… And Pants Off His Ass”
What a legacy to have. Is legacy a possession?
No, legacies are left behind by the dead.
“He Died With Nothing But This Week’s Joke To His Name”.
Coming in from the walk out, you were hit with a contrast. The apartment was empty and you noticed it had the curious feel of move-in day. You walked with impunity, striding where furniture used to be. The vacant living room echoed at least one perfectly intelligible clapback of anything you threw at it (mostly words like ‘fuck’ and fragments from Disney songs). The whole place looked new again, ready for a new tenant.
The Shake And Bake pouch containing the mix was big enough to coat a full porkchop. They added additional bags to the box, which itself was also suited to coating a porkchop, giving you three or four options to coat a porkchop, built-in. You used to buy brown paper sacks in bulk so you could coat a few chops at once, discarding the three or so chop-coating tools offered by the packaging outright. Sometimes, you didn’t even eat all the porkchops you made. Crossing your mind were incessant images of little bags folded package-flat under globs of meat left languishing in the garbage.
You scoffed at the detritus even one damn porkchop makes to coat. Yuval Harris wrote that all the trash made by humans in a year could be stacked to the moon.
You placed the Shake And Bake coated porkchop on the wire rack in the oven – preheated to 425*. You assembled the box and bags and pouch and extra Shake And Bake dust and wax paper over the stove-top’s burner like a tee-pee. You turned the dial to Ignite and let it click a few times before twisting it into Hi. The smell of the gas range kicking on (an overlooked noxious cocktail, studies suggest) brought you back thirty years, nostalgically. You lived with your brother then and literally never cooked your own meal before. The packaging burned away quickly and almost without a trace.
The porkchops cooked while you took off your clothes, one garment at a time, carefully folding them into a pile, like in a department store, on the kitchen floor. You sat bare-assed next to the pile, flanked above by cabinets in one corner and appliances in the other. Everything was obsessively clean and smelled like the chemically formulated approximation of a lemon.
The timer rang and you took the top garment from the pile, a t-shirt, wrapped it around your hand, and pulled the porkchop from the oven. You kept the oven on. There was still the matter of getting rid of your clothes, and incineration seemed to be the way to go. You plopped the porkchop on the ash-strewn lemony counter and refolded the shirt, placing the neat pile of clothes, with both shoes on top, each stowing a sock, heel first, in the oven at 425*.
While your only remaining clothes burned, flames licked out above the oven door, black soot-marks growing at the top of the range like a buzz-cut. You grabbed the porkchop from the counter and bit into its crispy auburn-golden edge, chewing blissfully, watching the flashing tendrils spark through the dark smoke. Those were your clothes in there, you reminded yourself. You chuckled and looked for stories in the billowing shapes, all disintegrating one after the other. You were amused with yourself and overall in good spirits.
The fire eventually tripped the fire alarm. You had to put down the chop bone and take the battery out of the alarm. When the screeching finally stopped, you found space to wonder if burning property you leased, like this apartment, was recommended in Zero Possessions. Smoke crawled along the ceiling. And there was still the matter of that chop bone and your legacy.