Born to Consume

“You’re a consumer, whether you want to be or not. Whether you believe you are or not.” Rina releases these words like a snake would venom. She relishes telling Dolores this, making her feel like a shitty person the way all people should feel shitty just for existing. Just for deigning to breathe and contribute to sucking up all the air. But Dolores, like every child, never asked to be created. For the ostensible sole purpose of decimating. That’s what everyone does from the moment of vaginal egress. 

So for Dolores’ own mother to tell her with ire that she was a consumer seemed a bit harsh in many ways. No one wants to be called that, not really. It reduces them down to the basest level. Sure, it’s a fact that, fundamentally, capitalism or not, that’s what we all are. But it doesn’t mean we want to see ourselves that way. Rina branded her so casually after Dolores’ own words had been twisted and turned, used against her to make her seem as though she were some holier than thou cunt when, really, she was just trying to point out the fact that she was not on the same level of consumerism that the average middle-class acolyte of materialism is. She would never be the type of person to get excited about, say, new dishware or outdoor furniture. She would not be riveted by a coupon for fifteen dollars off at Black Angus. These were all grotesqueries of the déclassé posing as the très classé. But there was nothing sophisticated about hawked wares manufactured in China and repurposed by a marketing team to pass off as “the height of luxury.” Nor was there anything “cosmopolitan” about loaded potato skins… even if Black Angus was touting it had been “mastering [their] craft since 1964.” Maybe it was something to behold in the Sherman Oaks of the early “Free Love” era, but it’s certainly the beacon of all that is wrong with America now. That and the Second Amendment.

If Dolores had had the choice, she never would have been born—but she really never would have been born in America. That was one choice that could have, at the very least, been given as an option to her, and any other spawn forced out into this cruel abyss against their will. So why did Rina need to rub it in her face that she was a consumer when she never consented to being one? To being made into a monster against her will. That’s what it is to be human: monstrous. Maybe there was a method to Rina naming her Dolores. After all, it meant “sorrows.” At times, it really did feel as though Dolores carried all the woes of the world on her shoulders. Atlas clearly wasn’t (and also, could Atlas be classified as a consumer if he never seemed to need to eat or shit?). 

Rina was adding to that weight by the day, reminding Dolores of what a burden she was for needing a place to crash after things went south with her latest boyfriend. And, what with him being the one whose name was on the lease (and the one who was paying the rent every month), it just made sense for her to “voluntarily” move out. Or rather, be summarily kicked out. Finding herself in the unfortunate position of having no recourse but to turn to her mother for a “port in the storm” (though it was more like another storm in the storm), Rina consented to allowing Dolores to stay at her palatial abode. But not without acting extremely put upon and very “I told you so” about the entire affair.

She also made it seem as though she didn’t have ample space to spare. As though it were somehow an imposition to provide one of her twenty available rooms. God, Rina could be such a fucking Republican sometimes. No sense of what it meant to “share” without lording it over the person you were “giving your resources” to. Of course, Rina and those like her would never consider that the world’s resources “belonged” to everyoneAnyone who was just trying to get by and subsist, rather. Even in spite of the Republican types who made it impossible for most who weren’t in the one-percent to do so. Dolores was just one such example of that varietal of the population. But her “cushion” was supposed to be a caring and concerned mother. Instead, all she got was someone who wanted to tear at the fabric of her ideals by telling her she could never live up to them. That she was an inherent hypocrite like all the rest of “you wannabe socialist lot.” 

Sipping from her umpteenth glass of Château Lafite, she added, “Socialism is no more feasible than successful time travel. It can never be done without heinous consequences.” 

Dolores, who was merely passing through (or so she thought) the kitchen area to try to sneak a box of Breton crackers without being seen, replied, “First of all, do you think the consequences of capitalism haven’t been heinous? And second, what the fuck is with conservatives automatically assuming that the only alternative to capitalism is socialism? I’m talking about something new altogether. A way to live more locally so that the scale of global destruction can stop before it’s too late.”

Rina laughed. “You’re completely full of shit. There’s no way to remove yourself from capitalism any more than there’s a way to remove yourself from the womb once you’re in it. You have no choice. The system is bigger than all of us.”

Dolores wanted to unleash all her rage upon Rina, to talk about a return to the bartering system, but she stopped herself. She knew it was of no use to continue this “discourse.” That Rina would no more subscribe to her views than Dolores did to Rina’s. They were fundamentally divided as human beings and Dolores truly did not believe that all people were created equally. Some were made worse by being born into money. Some were made worse by not being born into money and thus forced to do disgusting things in order to procure some. Not that the rich still didn’t find plenty of ways to be gross despite all their money that should have theoretically made them more “decent.” But no, Rina was among the first to teach Dolores that having money does not make you “nice,” it makes you a bastard. That’s how they all stay rich, too—by being bastards. Sitting on their mountain of gold coins like Scrooge fucking McDuck. 

Dolores had only been staying at Rina’s for about a week now, and already it felt like years. The situation was too untenable, their principles and values too fundamentally at war. Watching Rina gleefully usher in another purchase every other day was enough to make Dolores want to gut herself open. That would show Rina—soiling one of her precious Persian rugs with blood and innards. What’s more, she couldn’t be around Rina without blaming her. For everything. For being “this way.” Born to consume. Yet she was never complicit in becoming this. She was simply made this because someone else decided it was worthwhile to perpetuate such a destructive circle of life. Two people had a transitory few moments of pleasure (maybe), and here she was, paying in decades’ worth of Earth-obliterating behavior. 

There were millions—billions—like her. But she knew not even half of them felt as guilty as she did just for being alive. And that’s when she realized that if she genuinely wanted to practice what she preached to Rina, she would have to die. There was no getting around it. Seppuku was her salvation. For what was she if not an anti-capitalist samurai? And to prove to her mother the commitment she had to her conviction—the declaration that she was not a consumer in any way, shape or form—she hung herself in the entryway, right next to a grand piano that, just the other day, Rina was playing ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money” on to taunt her daughter.

Upon walking into the room to find Dolores “that way” (read: dead), Rina, for once, expressed emotion in the form of a horrified shriek. If you had asked Dolores, however, she would have told you from the great beyond that the shriek was not a result of a mother’s pain over losing a child, but the pain of seeing such a blemish on her pristine household. 

The note attached to Dolores’ body read: “Mother, I can happily inform you that I am unequivocally not a consumer. In fact, the earth may now feast upon my body and take from it whatever useful nutrients it might be able to glean.” Rina sighed and chuckled. She looked up at Dolores’ corpse and replied, “What about all the money and resources I’m about to expend on your funeral, huh? Did you think about that?” She called out to the butler and had Dolores cut down from the ceiling. 

Rina then proceeded to plan what became the “funeral of the century.” Suddenly, Dolores was a person of importance in the world of rich people—with many flying across international waters on private jets to get to the location in Martha’s Vineyard. The place where Rina claimed Dolores was always “happiest.” In this way, Dolores’ funeral caused quite a lot of emissions and consumptions. Her decomposing body hardly worth the trade-off to a declining Mother Earth.   

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