I had an idea. A surefire bet. It was guaranteed to do good, so I took all my money and invested in my infallible win.
I took all my money and got a little space in a strip mall. I got all the equipment I needed for printing. I got the raw supplies and materials. I made a website. I bought a luminous sign. I bought all the shipping and packing materials. I had a grand opening.
I called my business DNA Designs. My business was going be specialized. I was gonna be the next Jordache. The next Tommy Hilfiger. The next Yeezy or Pink, I was sure.
I opened shop. At my business, I printed the human genome on shirts and hats and coffee mugs and flags and stickers. You know, the human genome sequence. The complete set of nucleic acid sequences for humans, encoded as DNA within the 23 chromosome pairs in cell nuclei and in a small DNA molecule found within individual mitochondria. That was it. That’s all my business was gonna do, was try and get us back to being a bit more human again.
I opened my store on a Monday.
My first customer was a guy I’d say in his thirties. He was wearing a hoodie. He was pudgy. I don’t wanna say he needed a shave and a haircut, but a lot of people might. He came inside and asked what my business was.
I explained. I said I could print a sequence of the human genome on anything he liked, nearly any way he wanted. That way, he could wear it around on a shirt all day. Or slap a sticker of it on his car. Or have it in his office or cubicle or workbench on a coffee mug.
He said, “Not a bad idea. I own a vape shop. And before that a virtual reality arcade.”
“Then we are brethren of small business entrepreneurship,” I said.
I held out my hand. I gave him my name. He gave me his. We shook and wished one another good luck.
“So, can I print you something? A flag? A shirt? A sticker for your car?” I offered.
“What are the colors?”
“Any color,” I shrugged.
I had strategically placed examples of all my wares in their various sizes and colors throughout the shop. He had to have noticed.
“Any color of fabric for a shirt or a flag. I can print on a mug or whatever else. And I can print whatever color text you want on top of that. Of course, font and size can be altered to your liking too, but the text itself will be the same.”
“Always the genome,” I said. “No other slogans. That’s sorta the concept here.”
“Can I mix up the colors? Or does it have to be one solid color of text and background?”
“Mix it up. Whatever you want. Won’t cost you anything more.”
“Cool,” he said. “But what’s it mean? You don’t explain anywhere what any of it means?”
“It means whatever you want,” I said. “But, at the end of the day, it’s what it is to be human.”
“Yeah,” I whispered. “It might be corny but that’s the gimmick. I mean, it’s sort of a gimmick, you could say. But it’s also true. It’s also sincere in its conceptuality.”
My customer returned to his seriousness.
“You can’t put the entire human genome on a flag or a shirt or a mug. It’s like 3 billion letters.”
“True,” I said. “So my design is only part of the human genome. A snippet, let’s say. It’s meant to be symbolic, not literal.”
“Okay,” he said. “But it’s all the same thing except for the colors and alterations in font and size of text. What I need to know is what a blue background with red print would mean.”
“Nothing more than the human genome printed in red over a blue background.”
I could tell he was struggling with the concept. I’d thought it was pretty simple. I began to wonder if maybe I’d failed.
“Well, it’s not a bad idea,” the guy said. “I might see you around. Good luck.”
He left. I waited for more customers, but none came that day or any of the days that followed.
A few weeks later, a new shop opened up down the street. Mine wasn’t doing so well so I decided to visit. I went inside to introduce myself and wish my fellow entrepreneur good luck in his budding endeavor.
I stepped inside and it was my first customer. He still hadn’t gotten a haircut and he was just as unshaven as the last time we met.
“Yeah,” he said. “I gave up the vape shop.”
I looked around. He was selling the same things as me. He had the displays, just like me, of the shirts and flags and mugs and stickers of various sizes and colors with a sequence of the human genome printed on them.
“Asshole, you’re ripping me off,” I screamed.
“Fuck off,” he said. “What I’m selling is something completely different.”
“It’s all the same fucking letters symbolizing the human genome,” I argued. “And you’re putting it on flags and shirts and stickers and shit. That’s my goddamned idea.”
He directed me to the board that detailed what all the different colored textiles and different color texts meant. The board detailed all the colors for being straight and not-straight. Color combinations for loving Jesus or Muhamad or nothing. Colors for veganism. Colors for loving the cops. Colors for hating the cops. Colors for freedom or authoritarianism. He even had color and design combinations for unicorns and elves. There were color combinations for loving dogs or loving cats. Those same colors reversed were for hating dogs and hating cats.
“See motherfucker, I got everything spelled out,” he said. “That’s my idea. I took yours to the next level. That ain’t stealing. It’s creative genius.”
“It’s my design – the human genome – printed on the same shit as me,” I said. “You’re a fucking thief.”
“Get out,” he screamed. “Before I call the cops.”
I watched for a couple of month as the thief’s business thrived. I watched with dread as my surefire bet – my guaranteed success – went down the drain.
Within six months, I was closed down.
Within another month, I was working for him for peanuts while he opened a second store on the other side of town.