The Last One

“Don’t use that one!”

“Why not?” I ask.

“Because it’s the last one. We won’t have any more.”

The conceptual gulf between none and one is much larger than between one and many. As long as you have at least something, the thinking goes, you’re not left with nothing. There’s a stigma in our hallowed land of blind consumerdom against having nothing. You can have anything your heart desires, as long as it’s not nothing. That’s where the line is drawn.

The belief is so pervasive that it affects even me. Try as I might to have as little as possible of anything, when I get down to the last little bit I find myself rationing portions to ridiculous degrees to avoid running out entirely. I can make the last of the shampoo—just the filmy residue clinging to the inside of the bottle—last for three weeks. Further, I’ve found my rate of consumption dropping steadily to nil as supply dwindles just so I’ll always have that last one. The last animal cracker, the last clean towel, the last straw.

We fortify ourselves against the eventuality of nothing by stocking up, buying bulk, filling our crawlspaces with stores of dry grain, purified water, drums of baby oil, latex body suits, and at least one extra riding crop—just in case.

“What if they’ve stopped selling this kind?” I ask. “What if this is the last one in the world?”

“Then we shrink-wrap it and put it in the freezer next to the bodies of our parents.”

You can never go home again.


Related Tales

» “What the Other Hand Is Doing” (26 of Apr, 2003)
» “Terminal II” (03 of Apr, 2003)
» “Terminal” (31 of Mar, 2003)

Comments

  • I just wanted to let you know I linked to you.


  • I do this a lot unconsciously. I’ll leave the last bowl of cereal in the cupboard and just buy a new box; I’ll get out a whole new roll of toilet paper and put it on the counter rather than use the last bit of TP on the current roll. And I never do every last dish in the house when I do dishes.


  • This is so true. After I fill up with petrol I donít care about economy but when I am running low then I never go above 3 and half thousand revs and always use 5th gear! Same goes for deodorant!









“Don’t use that one!” “Why not?” I ask. “Because it’s the last one. We won’t have any more.” The conceptual gulf between none and one is much larger than between one and many. As long as you have at least something, the thinking goes, you’re not left with nothing. There’s a stigma in our hallowed land of blind consumerdom against…