Mr. Enzyme

Contributor: Eric Suhem

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“Bill, what I like about you is your predictability, I always know what I’m going to get from you, and that’s hamburgers” said Bill Pleck’s neighbor nemesis Gene, peering over the fence as Bill barbecued hamburgers in the back yard on a summer’s evening.

Suddenly Bill Pleck tore off his barbecue apron and threw it down in disgust, stomping on it emphatically. Next, he poured lighter fluid on the apron, torched it, and reached into a shopping bag, removing a chef’s apron, on which was lettered ‘Mr. Enzyme’. “An enzyme is a chemical catalyst, an agent of change, and that’s what I will be! My new name is Mr. Enzyme, no matter what people say, even you!” he declared, gesturing toward Gene, whose eyes were glued to a pair of binoculars, focusing on the briquettes in the barbecue.

“I’m not pleased by this change in apron habits.” said Gene.

Mr. Enzyme approached his wife Barbara with his new plan for change. They both agreed that their lives up to this point had been unsatisfyingly predictable. Feeling ready for something new, Barbara agreed to a new identity as Mrs. Enzyme. They each talked of redefining their past. “I’ve decided that I’ve had a mysterious past in smoke-filled Mahjong dens,” said Mrs. Enzyme, staring wistfully into the distance.

“And I’ve had a past as a proprietor of a seedy motel on the outskirts of Los Angeles!” said Mr. Enzyme.

Their next action was to remodel one half of their house into a pink castle in the image of her childhood doll house, and modify the other half into a dark oak wood old British men’s club motif that he preferred. (“As part of our redefinition, we’ll also mix the two styles together, so as not to be restricted by gender roles!” said the Enzymes) As the workmen started demolishing one of the rooms of the house to convert it into a garish purple and pink puppet theater, and part of the green pastel kitchen was wrecked to make room for vigorous espresso-toned living quarters, neighbor Gene approached the house, chunks of concrete tumbling down around him. “Look Enzyme, or whatever you’re calling yourself now, there’s a building code!” said Gene, who was a rising player in the Homeowner’s Association.

“We’re within code, Gene,” said Mr. Enzyme, showing him the paperwork. As Gene stalked away, Mr. Enzyme called, “See you this weekend at the neighborhood pot luck!”

On the evening of the pot luck, Mr. Enzyme proudly brought forward the chicken wings from his barbecue, displayed appealingly on a platter. Gene moved forward, challenging Mr. Enzyme's pot luck offering. “What’s your game, Enzyme? I usually bring the chicken wings to this shindig, you usually cook hamburgers.”

“This is a part of our redefinition, Gene,” said Mrs. Enzyme, standing by her husband, letting her natural gravitas weigh in on the situation.

As the evening progressed, the neighbors showed an overwhelming preference for the Enzymes’ chicken wings, leaving Gene’s wings untouched. “We can be anybody we want to be, Gene,” said the Enzymes, munching on potato salad. “It’s a perspective on reality, a choice you can make.”

“But you can’t run away from who you really are. You’re Bill and Barbara Pleck, you cook hamburgers!” insisted Gene.

“Or maybe we’re beings in constant change, not everybody’s the same,” said the Enzymes.

Gene stared at them for a long time, but had nothing to say. He picked up his chicken wings and went home, as the Enzymes slowly morphed into green lizard aliens, their protruding tentacles inspecting the coleslaw.

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Eric Suhem lives in the orange hallway.
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