It is the third Wednesday of October; the weather’s bland, the clouds above us are a homogeneous grey mush, but what else is new? We’re in London, the most insipid city in the world, and as if we were not already completely sated in boredom, we are going to see what Jean Joseph Beaulieu, the most insipid man in the world, is up to.
Normally we can find Jean Joseph at work, doing whatever it is they pay him badly to do, or in his room in his mother’s flat where he sleeps or whatever, or somewhere in transit between the two. But not today. Today is exciting.
Today he is on the set of Deal or No Deal, where he has been picked as a contestant by who we can only guess is a fed up unpaid intern boiling with passive rebellion. It’s a pretty big deal for Jean Joseph: a turning point in his life! The fortuitous event that will free him from his unending, monotonous routine! The great fortune that will forge his identity in our great capitalist society, through the sheer magic of purchasing power!
Twenty pretty girls and twenty pretty boys go up on the stage, each of them carrying a numbered suitcase, each containing an amount ranging between one miserable penny and… one million pounds! The crowd is going wild, howling its adoration to the God of undeserved riches! One million pounds? This is an unprecedented event: an unheard of, utterly exciting event. Will our unlikely hero win it all? Well, that would be unlikely. But we shall see.
As the host—ripe for botox, but who cares, this is England—beckons him to the scene, Jean Joseph reflects that this opportunity could not have come at a better time. Indeed, his electric lawn mower broke down a mere month ago, and despite his best efforts he could not fix it. He thought about replacing it, but he had no room in his budget for such a bold move.
“It is now time for you to choose the suitcase you will keep with you,” says the overly enthusiastic host. “And at the end of the game, you will have the choice of either accepting the offer… ooooor keeping the suitcase!”
“I choose the first suitcase,” says Jean-Joseph, emotionless.
The host is boasting with confidence, the lighting designers are outdoing themselves, the models are so hot the stage is blistering and for a blissful moment, the audience forgets their shitty lives.
Jean Joseph is asked to choose six suitcases. When a suitcase is chosen, the amount is revealed with pompous fanfare and eliminated from the contestant’s potential gains… or something like that, the rules are barely more noteworthy than Jean Joseph. Overall, the best strategy is hoping for the best.
“I choose the second suitcase,” says the flavorless man.
The suitcase contained 75,000 pounds. The audience is on the edge of their seats, eager for more.
“I choose the third suitcase.”
500,000 pounds! The second-greatest prize, gone! How precarious! The crowd goes “oohhhhhhhh”, impressed: the excitement is at an all-time high, nothing could ever beat this instant.
“I choose the fourth suitcase,” says Jean Joseph, unfazed.
5,000 pounds. The audience is getting tired of looking at forty copies of the same model and starts focusing on the contestant. They’re looking for emotion, character, or some distinctive trait they could spot from afar if they ever crossed the happy winner on the street one day…
“I choose the fifth suitcase.”
Alas! They find nothing, not even a soul. Their minds start wandering. Did they set up the VCR for Downton Abbey tonight? Is it even still on? Does the VCR still work? Maybe they should get a DVD player.
“I choose the sixth suitcase.”
The redhead in the back is reading the label on her t-shirt. 100% cotton. Interesting. She could’ve sworn it was rayon.
“I choose the seventh suitcase.”
The phone rings! And oh my, shocker, it’s the banker. The host puts on a show: “Oh yes, oh, I’m not sure, really, sir banker? Oh, yes of course…” And there it is. The banker’s offer: fourteen thousand pounds.
Jean Joseph’s heart rate elevates slightly as he realises that this amount most certainly covers the cost of a new lawn mower. He could even get one of those you can drive. With no time to waste, he accepts the deal—right before the break.
The host is slightly taken aback, but being the true professional that he is, still reminds the audience that this quality time had been brought to you by Dovis: real soap, for real women. Jean-Joseph finds this statement somewhat sexist. After all, he uses Dovis every day and he’s not a real woman.
The host asks him what’s he’s going to do with the money, and Jean Joseph answers in earnest. That quite depresses the host, and everybody else, but the host in particular, for that was exactly what he needed for his face lift. As for the banker, they can hear their ratings crumble. They would rather have paid him the million.
The next week, Jean-Joseph’s mother stumbles upon the Deal or No Deal episode where her unremarkable offspring can be seen. She vaguely recognises that this is the same man that’s sitting across her. She changes the channel before she can see Jean Joseph choosing the first suitcase, because she’s already bored to death. He doesn’t mind. He already knows how it ends, and he is too absorbed buttering his toast with margarine to pay attention.
His hunger sated, he comes outside to mow the lawn. Sure, there is not much of it left, it’s almost November, but still. It works so well, look at all these little tufts being blown to pieces. What a good lawn mower.