The other night I woke up in a panic because I thought I might be a robot. Right when my head hit the pillow it slipped immediately into a dream in which Godzilla was splashing around in the waters of an island beach. The island had a volcano and as Godzilla approached it you could see the rim at the top was also a giant donut. He climbed to the top and then jumped in, disappearing into the darkness. As soon as he was gone, the inside of my head became a completely blank screen, all white except an error message blaring across it: “SYSTEM FAILURE”.
Afterwards, I stared at the ceiling and thought back on other moments where I had technical malfunctions that left me waxing philosophical on the possibility of being inorganic. Your standard Phillip K. Dick/Rene Descartes questioning. Is he the man who thinks he is a machine or the machine who thinks he is a man? Or is he the man thinking about being a man thinking about being a machine while the machine smokes a cigarette outside in the street?
Once in high school I was awoken in the middle of the night by a sudden, incredibly loud and jarring “POP!” on the inside of my head. It had a similar effect on me as the error message did, except more dramatically. I actually sat up in bed, my head hurting, smelling smoke, feeling exactly like a fuse had blown.
Then there was the time when I got into an argument with some idiot at a party. I was mid-sentence when I suddenly my voice got stuck in a loop repeating the same words for 15 minutes: “stupid plaid shorts stupid plaid shorts stupid plaid shorts stupid plaid shorts…”
And the time I fell off my skateboard and instead of my usual deep red blood coming out of my body a phosphorous silver liquid came out.
And the time I got really drunk and threw up electrical wires.
And the time I sneezed and motor oil came out of my nose.
Or the time when I got an erection and it made a spring noise: “BOING!”
Or when that mad genius took control of my thoughts and made me rob a bank, narrowly escaping the police by riding rocket-powered roller-skates.
Or one of my earliest memories, wherein my parents had me strapped to a table and my father was making some kind of adjustment to the inside of my chest with a crescent wrench, sparks flying around the welder’s goggles he was wearing, electricity dancing along the wall of scientific devices that decorated my nursery.