It’s been over six months since I last licked a handrail and I don’t know if I can take it any longer. Back in the days before COVID, when I was feeling tired or down, I could always cheer myself up by going to the bottom of the corner of the left handrail two blocks down and across the street from the skate park and just going to town on it. 

If I was bored on a different day, I could spice it up by going to the new construction area at the end of town to the handrail that should’ve been knocked down years ago—god, my tongue’s tingling just thinking about it. There’s just nothing like the taste of cold metal mixed with metal and faint hint of old chewing gum. There was even the added spark of danger in the winter, when I had to bring a thermos of hot water to help me pry my tongue of the frozen metal. 

Nothing in the new normal brings me the same joy—and believe me, I’ve tried. The faucet in my kitchen just tastes like dish soap, and my roommates made me stop licking the legs of the dining table chairs. Last week, Amazon recommended a new handrail to me, so I installed it in my bedroom, only to be crushed my disappointment. I should’ve known better—a handrail is like fine wine: if it’s not aged properly, by the elements, oxidation, and even the faint rub of skin flakes on its surface as its used, then its flavor profile is flat. The Amazon handrail just tasted like new, shiny metal. No personality, no deeper undertones, just bland misery. And to make things worse, apparently Amazon’s return policy is voided if the item in question has been “put in contact with blood, urine, saliva, fæces, semen, or other bodily fluid.” Now all that’s left for me to do is wake up every morning, stare at the mocking imitation of a handrail in my room, and dream of better days. 

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