33-year-old Facebook Employee Reported Missing

33-year-old Facebook employee reported missing

“Dave’s gone missing, I thought you should know.” That’s what my mother tells me over the phone, but she’s not bent out of shape. Her straw apparently has reached the bottom of a daiquiri because a slurp crackles through the line. I imagine she’s sitting by her pool in drugstore sunglasses, accumulating lumps of basal skin cancer under the Florida sun. Which is basically what I’m doing, only my lawn chair sits by a kiddie pool of hose-water in an Ann Arbor suburb, and it’s a can of IPA in my hand. Because I buy these beers at Trader Joe’s, this is still middle-class behavior.

I press the frosty aluminum can against my temple. “How do you know he’s missing?” I say.

“Don’t argue with me.”

I close my eyes. “Okay then, if he’s missing, what do you want me to do about it?” Dave might be my brother, but he’s nobody’s favorite.

There are two types of families in this world. Families who love each other, who get along at holiday meals, and families like ours. We who shake babies, who never call on birthdays, who would poison our siblings if only we could reverse-engineer Russia’s best toxins.

“Do what you want,” my mother says.

“What do you want?”

“I’m just telling you because I thought you should know.”

“Okay then.” I take the phone from my ear. It’s carcinogenic to soft tissue, but also my mental health. “Are we done?”

“Pretty much.” And she hangs up.

On paper, Dave looks like a top-shelf son. A Kettering-educated engineer. An employee of her favorite company, Facebook. The maker of a quarter-million a year, with a home in Silicon Valley and a wife that comes from money. But he’s also a 33-year-old douche with a blue streak in his hair, who drives a Tesla and thinks computer algorithms will solve the world’s problems. My mom only calls him for Facebook gossip and the occasional handout. If he’s missing, he’s probably “missing” at Burning Man, asleep on the playa, wearing only ski goggles and a fur vest while 40-year-old Burners poke his genitalia with glow sticks.

My wife, Sandy, steps through the slider, walks over to me in the lawn chair, and points at the beer can. “It’s 10:30 in the morning. We talked about this.” But she feels bad since the paper laid me off. I was a copy editor, writing headlines and fixing grammar for the Ann Arbor News, until society turned to Twitter for info and began communicating in emojis. Subliteracy, tiny attention spans, force newspapers to lay off staff. Sheeeeeeeeeeesh. Sandy also knows I’ve sent out exactly two hundred and eight resumes and the only work the universe has returned is a gig copyediting Japanese advertisements— packaging for Daiso involving an egg yolk with a face and buns. What I miss is the smell of the newsroom, the stale coffee, the blinding frenetic scramble to make deadline, then the post-coitus bliss where your chest untightens and your gray matter uncoils.

Sandy presses her hip into my shoulder and puts her hand in my hair. She sighs. “You’re the only adult man I know who still has blond hair.”