“Sidewalk Minimalist Renounces Soapbox in Favor of Just Jumping Really High,” by Gretchen Uhrinek

Aug 23rd, 2017 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

ASHEVILLE, NC. A local sidewalk minimalist has renounced his soapbox in favor of just jumping really high, reports say. Nic Haines, a minimalist known for his impassioned diatribes against materialism, says he now feels freer than ever.

“The soapbox was only boosting me up physically,” he said. “I didn’t realize the spiritual burden of it until it was gone. I don’t need boxes in my life, not when I can get by organically.”

He said he took his soapbox to a nearby rock outcrop and burnt it in the noonday sun, starting the fire with nothing more than a magnifying glass and some elbow grease.

“It’s more natural that way,” he said between jumps. His vertical was close to five inches, a feat for someone with an athletic background that begins and ends at longboarding.

Haines–born Nicholas and called Nick until his 22nd birthday, when he decided to drop the “k” because it “clogged his aural arteries”–first came into minimalism when he started wearing Xero shoes.

“They’re not just sandals,” he said, “They’re a lifestyle.”

Xero shoes are ultra-thin, minimalist sandals that make the wearer feel as if he is walking barefoot. Prices range from $39.99 to $89.99.

“It’s like I’m not even wearing shoes,” reads a verified consumer comment posted by username mnmlsm on the brand’s website. “I never knew I’d be so glad to pay for something I couldn’t feel.”

Haines began the process of de-owning his possessions almost immediately after his sandal purchase. Among the items he renounced were his non-Xero shoes, most of his flannels, his grandfather’s urn, some rocks he’d found in national parks, and a painting of Jeff Bridges as Mother Mary that he bought at an Art on Tap event last November.

“My parents wouldn’t let me throw out my bed, so I just sleep on a yoga mat on the floor beside it,” he said.

When asked about the First Noble Truth of Buddhism, Haines paused mid-jump.

“I mean, yeah, life is suffering. But so is ownership. Capitalism is suffering. Just having money is suffering. I’ve made the conscious decision to relieve myself of the cog’s burden. Everything I own can fit into a single backpack–it’s a 10-litre hiking bag, REI. Got it for Christmas. I haven’t taken it anywhere, yet, but my stuff totally fits.”

Though many people claim that minimalism is reserved for single, upper-middle class white guys, Haines disagrees. His annual salary puts him below the poverty line. His parents pay for the few things he does consume.

“Not having my own money has really enhanced my appreciation of minimalism,” he said. “Just yesterday, instead of buying a new tank, I cut the sleeves off of this shirt. It was a real transcendental moment for me. That extra length of cloth was spiritually stifling.”

Haines went on to say that he’s trying to find a drummer for his new band, The Unsounds.

“I want to explore the musical potential of silence,” he said. “People dig Meg White’s drumming because of the space between beats. They like classical jams because of the rests. So, my idea is to do a cassette release of silence. It’ll just be an album of pure anticipation.

“It’s all about living intentionally. You gotta rid yourself of excess to achieve real happiness.” He sat on the curb and fanned himself with a piece of cardboard gutter trash. “Man, it’s a scorcher today. If you’re not doing anything later, my parents have a pool.”


Gretchen Uhrinek is a Pittsburgh-ish writer. She loves beer, dogs, and petting dogs at breweries. She has a chapbook of humor essays titled The Ministry of Bisexual Affairs, and also has stuff in lit.cat, The Longridge Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, and some other neat places.

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