Josh is a Superman with a handful of Kryptonites: dairy, red meats, corn syrups, girls who don’t know what the Illuminati is. He makes dreamy smoothies with organic fruits from Trader Joe’s and Silk soy milk. A couple of weeks ago, I helped him pick out his first wristwatch; it’s a classic timepiece, smooth and black yet bold enough for people to notice. But Josh, the seemingly simple, zen boy from Portland has a smoldering dark side that spreads goosebumps along my forearms when he chooses to display it.
“Sometimes,” he said to me the other night, lowering his voice, “I actually plan out how I’m going to take over the world, because I hate everyone so much.”
I was quiet for a moment, although not out of surprise. I had heard him threaten mankind with domination before; I had heard his fantasies, only mildly serious, about leading a cult with an iron fist, looking out over a society of minions bowing in pure submission. And he’s grin, surely picturing the scene in full color. No, I was quiet because I wasn’t surprised; I had no strong reaction because I’m practically bored of his powerful, lofty goals and know, when we’re thirty and wiser, we’ll merely be sitting in different chairs holding different mugs of coffee, having sex with different women. Or, Josh may not being having sex with any women if he doesn’t stop walking away from girls the moment they don’t understand why he just asked them if they’re a unicorn. The fact is, we’ll be the same sitcom with newer props and older faces.
Yet a few minutes later, I was hit a with an entirely different and unexpected thought: what if Josh does end up being a world dictator? He could meet the right people, lure them into his web of political manipulation, weave lies into the very fabric of our existence, and, when it’s all said and done, stand with his arms outstretched in front of the post-apocalyptic planet. The citizens of Josh’s regime would be dependent upon their all-powerful leader to instruct, decide, affirm, and punish. I’d be standing off to the side, arms crossed and laughing at myself for ever doubting him. The goosebumps returned as I envisioned it, and it’s as if Josh knew.
“More coffee?” He asked, smirking. I shook my head, trying to hide how nervous I had suddenly become. “What should we call our cult?” He thought for a moment, then added, “We can only allow two emotions: anger and dominance!”
“Dominance isn’t an emotion, it’s a state of being that can be derived from or composed of emotions,” I corrected.
“I’ll decide that!” He laughed.
People close to Josh love him. He is a peaceful force, reminiscent of Oregon gardens and reusable grocery bags; he emits warm impressions of fresh cucumbers and mango slices, brewed loose leaf tea and electric cars. People close to Josh don’t know his potential, but I wondered if some day they’ll all find out: Josh may some day mandate that all Forever Yogurts be closed down because he despises their corporate model; he may make it illegal to not recycle. In any case, whatever he does, he’ll do for the better and, in his absolute rule, he’ll force culture to be beautiful for the first time in history. Silent again, I reflected on what an art form it truly is being friends with a future world dictator. Some days, it takes having a flexible and strong-stomached sense of humor; other days, it takes patience; patience with their self-righteous, bitter complexes about humanity; patience with their anger that the world is not yet theirs to fix; patience with them asking every girl on the train if a wizard gave her that necklace, because, “it looks like a wizard gave you that necklace!” I’m patient because I know, when Josh is ruler, I’ll be his right-hand man even if I, too, can only feel two emotions: anger and dominance.
“I’ll have more coffee, now,” I piped up, but Josh was already reaching for my mug to fill it.