My weekly Walmart grocery run was derailed when I spotted a crazy person in the canned goods aisle. With a starving child awaiting my return, stress levels were already above average. Thus, anything obstructing my cream of mushroom soup was deemed a threat and must be eliminated. The girl wore a cropped Calvin Klein t-shirt with mom jeans covered in holes as though she crawled here from home. What struck me wasn’t her attire, but the sequence of arm movements she did resembling charades on drugs. In hopes of gaining further insight, I tapped a nearby fellow who had been recording the entire thing on his iPhone.
“Shouldn’t someone help her?”
“Keep it down, lady,” he said, brushing me away. “She’s making a TikTok.”
And it was during this precise moment I became acquainted with the viral social media craze. How I missed the time when celebrity status was given to folks with actual talent. Those days were long gone as superstardom has since become a commodity accessible to anyone with a smartphone. And quite frankly, this watered down sense of grandiose filled me with rage. However, instead of screaming, I decided to allocate my feelings towards something more productive. I would beat these Gen Z buffoons at their own game.
After I got home and fed little Sebastian, the next five hours were spent studying every TikTok dance known to mankind. Moves such as “The Woah” and “The Kangsta Wok” were mastered after three tries, whereas “The Bust Down” and “The Renegade” presented more of a challenge. The latter was particularly difficult considering it required various arm swing patterns, beckoning dancers to picture themselves stirring an invisible pot of jambalaya. I would’ve given up if it wasn’t for a loop of Rocky II playing alongside Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” on Spotify. It’s amazing what an aggravated Sylvester Stallone and grown men singing about wild cats can do in terms of spiritual motivation.
On my way home from work the next day, I came across several kids filming TikTok videos at a park by our house. They were posted up about twenty deep, dancing before illuminated tripods which held up their phones. What a beautiful social gathering, I thought; kids from all walks of life brought together by a common love of dance. I must defeat them. With both hands clutching the steering wheel, I swerved my hatchback through the park entrance while screaming out uzvara, the Latvian term for “conquest.” Having spoken only English since birth, my sudden grasp of the foreign language could only be explained as being a gift from God. I hopped out and began towards the kids who had momentarily stopped dancing to welcome their visitor. This came as no surprise, of course. People can’t help but stare in the presence of a superstar.
“Which one of you little fuckers is the leader?”
Stepping forth from the pack was none other than Calvin Klein girl, whose jeans now had twice the holes. She was literally squinting, unable to fully witness the havoc I would unleash upon her. Ha, I thought, that’s what you get for staring at that ring light all day! I was at the cusp of laughing but kept it together because there was no room for horseplay during such high caliber situations. One of her goons broke the silence by asking why I showed up. Pointing at Squinty Eyes, I said, “Mano a mano. TikTok. Duel. Now.” My backup plan involved taunting her by saying “ladies first,” but I stopped myself after realizing we were both female. Being the older participant, I was given the first move.
Legs? Shoulder width apart. Knees? Bent at forty-five degrees. Hands? Squeezed into rage-filled fists. Head? Thrown back towards the sky as I channeled God’s wrath through my entire being. Those five hours of training prepared me for this moment and there was zero room for mercy. About halfway into the first arm swing, I heard an audible pop which sounded like someone opening a can of soda. Shit. My right arm went limp as I collapsed onto the freshly mowed grass. Instead of offering assistance like good Samaritans, the hooligans began photographing my fallen body as if I were some exotic zoo animal. Despite the excruciating pain, those blinding flashes were strangely comforting. I brushed away stray hairs with my working arm then struck my best Vogue pose for added theatrics. If paparazzi wanted a front-page headline, they can bet money I would give them just that.