Our Unwired Yurt is Better than Your Wired Non-Yurt

            And by better we mean, of course, less connected. And by less connected, we mean purer, cleaner. And by purer, cleaner we mean better.
            This is why you are here, correct? You desire disengagement, detachment, unplugging? Easier said than done when the screen is inside you. Easier said than done when you even breathe in code. However. This is why you called us. You saw one of our online promotions and you want us to sit you down and take away your toys and ask you to, make you, breathe oxygen again. You want us to insert your fingers into the loamy soil, show you how to waft the clean scent of pine needles into your nostrils. You want us to reveal how to open your ears to the woodpeckers and the blue jays again. We realize that you could easily do this for yourself, but we also realize that you lack self-control and, as a result, need our assistance to cleanse you of gunky digital buildup.
            Welcome, welcome to your humble if temporary home. For the next seven days your itinerary will be as such:

            Arrival. Turning over all electronic gadgetry (and we mean all) to the Unwired Yurt Village Warden (UYVW) who will tag and label each item, place in red safety bag and lock in the gadgetry safe to be placed in the basement behind a locked reinforced steel door which houses another room with a separate locked reinforced concrete door which houses another room with a separate locked iron gate and behind the gate will be the safe with your electronic gadgetry, which will be locked. You will not be permitted to receive any electronic gadgetry until exactly a week from your arrival date. Even if you threaten the Unwired Yurt Warden with physical harm, he and only he has the key to one of the locked doors and/or gates. The other two keys will be in undisclosed locations on the Unwired Yurt Village site and/or will be held in safety by other members of our staff. As such, even if you manage to get your hands upon the first key there are other keys that you also have to somehow find (good luck!).
            Once you settle into your yurt (after two p.m. please), you will be greeted with an array of wild berries and twigs on a wicker tray. Please do not eat the berries or twigs as the berries are poisonous and ingestion of them will result in cardiac arrest. You are welcome to chew on the twigs, but they are quite bitter and offer no nutritional sustenance.
            Please take note of the rustic dresser made by Jonas, the furniture maker for our site. He is quite good. Feel free to sample the candied cockroaches (we especially recommend the butterscotch flavored). The Unwired Yurt Village believes in simplification and using what is around us. We currently have a cockroach problem. So…

            On your first full day at Unwired Yurt Village you will receive ministrations from our digital cleanser. We have three on staff–Harry, Trisha and Dan, but really you want Trisha as the other two can be brusque (they often may not sympathize with your plight by virtue of their long tenure at UYV, and thus they are calloused emotionally). However, we stand behind all three of our technicians–especially Trisha. If you are lucky enough to land Trisha, well, she will make you feel as though your life is a gift and that the digital technology you take for granted has been an unnecessary departure from the spirit that it is you. She will caress you with words that speak to your inner conscience and greater humanity and she will address your whole person so that you may feel as though if only you had a better diet and/or habits you might feel zero need to be here scouring yourself of digital dross.
            Because the first day will be so complete and potentially exhausting, we will provide you with a plate of delicious grubs, ants and caterpillars with a salad of natural greens and, if the season permits, a fruit salad. We will leave you with plenty of time for R&R in the evening, accompanied by our traveling flutists who joyfully sway as they march through the Unwired Yurt Village playing flute covers of lite rock from the 1970’s. This, we hope, will assist your descent into an early sleep.

            We at Unwired Yurt Village are not in any way under the illusion that by the second full day of your yurtification you will be fully cleansed of the digital impulses that gave you maniacal episodes and stole the sleep from your nights. We know that recovery is a long process, a process that is sometimes herky-jerky and come-what-may. However, on Tuesday we traditionally offer a slate of low-key activities designed to offer respite and distraction and to allow the reprogramming (if you will forgive us) to continue in the background.
            As such, you may choose from canoeing, archery, Asian cuisines, board games and beadwork. This array may sound very much like the program a pimply twelve year old might have during sleepaway camp–this is very much the idea. This is camp for adults with low impulse control. We purposefully attempt to graft your new personality (established yesterday) to your old personality (reestablished today).
            Your meal will consist of a soup made from the following ingredients: bark, thistle, dandelion, slugs, English ivy, various area roots, water. If this does not fully sate your appetite, you are welcome to try items in our Earth Vending Machine where for a mere five to ten dollars a selection you may sample candied squirrel liver, brined deer ears and sausage made from the entrails of raccoons and/or skunk. Or you can simply hunt for frogs in the Sacred Pond (frogging sticks and equipment can be found in shed number three–the shed with the orange and red doors).

            If it has not become apparent by now, we at Unwired Yurt Village do not offer breakfast or lunch. If you must indulge in these gratuitous meals, please make arrangements and/or see the Earth Vending Machine as detailed above.
            Wednesday is another “hot” day of vigorous activity, so best find energy and sustenance where/when you can. As a side note, we trust that your yurt is both dry and of comfortable temperature.
            Today will consist of heavy exercise meant to reestablish and strengthen your blunted endorphin system. Our playbook derives from the Marine Training Pamphlet and consists of jumping jacks, jogging in place for half an hour, spasmodic leg lifts, air alligators, yancy twists, umberth bends, jumping rope, medicine ball wallyball, pushup suicides and one fingered thigh lifts. Bring a towel as these will take place in the central yurt (unless it is of eighty five degrees Fahrenheit or more outside at ten a.m.). Dinner (wild onion sautéed with peppermint with a side of bark bread) will not be served until seven thirty p.m. You guessed it–we are attempting to deprive your body so as to deprive your mind of its electronic tethers.

            Congratulations–you have made it to Thursday, the yurt Rubicon. Not all of our guests make it to Thursday, and we will have you know that those who do not make it to Thursday find their electronic gadgetry permanently confiscated. We are not going to address accusations made by the Board of Yurt-based Oversighters (BYO) regarding gadgetry repossession, however, we will say–back to Sunday–we spelled this out quite clearly in the initial agreement, so please see the so-called fine print (though to us it is not very fine–it is actually quite bold).
            Thursday also happens to be movie day. Our staff happen to be people also and they are tired from the grueling nature of Wednesday. You have three movies you may choose from: Babe, Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella. This is the time when we–as stated on Tuesday’s schedule–we form neural connections.
            Dinner is a thin gruel made from whatever the chef finds in the refrigerator, plus some wild carrots or something.

            This should be another day where we kick your ass until you collapse in your yurt in a sweaty mound of depleted muscle mass. However, we are not so sure we still/yet have the energy to even think about this. Also, it’s the end of the week. So today is free-form.
            Find what you can to stuff in your face. Our delivery truck drops off on Saturdays.

            Good news–we have food again! We have so much food that we will even break our initial tenant and offer brunch (we said no breakfast or lunch, but we said nothing about what comes between). We have so much food we will offer an appetizer featuring cheese (it is the weekend!). However, first we will practice reintegration. Reintegration is a process whereby we briefly–ever-so-briefly–allow our guests access (briefly) to their gadgetry for a mere moment to process how it is they might return to society tomorrow, when they are released. This is not easy for some guests–as they have missed the dopamine fix their gadgetry usually affords them. For many guests the break from gadgetry that they so wanted will be a temporary respite. For others, perhaps, the good work we have done here this week will create new pathways.
            To cement the new pathways we like to place all gadgetry on a tray and insist that you utilize one gadget of your choosing. Then, after one and a half minutes we take the gadgetry away from you and place it back in its safety bag and then our staffers retag and relabel and hustle the gadgetry back to the safe where it will remain until tomorrow. Some guests have been known to bite our hands or smack us or yell and contort their faces. Nothing surprises us.
            However, cheese.

            You have made it to the end of your stay with us here at Unwired Yurt Village! You are now free to re-access your electronic master, to be united with what is making your brain into neural silly-putty. If you decide that you choose to seek a better path, however, please see Harry (from Monday–so far away now, no?) about opportunities to serve or volunteer for us in the future. We are always looking for donors, guest-speakers and those willing to revel in their humiliation for the edification of others to-be-named. It is all part of the process.
            Please help yourself to the candied rat ears before you depart (we also have a rat problem).

Back of this Shampoo Bottle

Veera Completely Encapsulating Au Natural Exfoliating Body Lather

This compelling Veera concoction wrangles the power and production of au natural exfoliants to completely reassess the structure of your skin. Veera Completely Encapsulating Au Natural Exfoliating Body Lather tackles the complexities of skin production including leathery texture, tartness, odd hairy patches, desertification and poky poky. Veera Completely Encapsulating Au Natural Exfoliating Body Lather offers you a respite from untold skin strangeness and an embrace of the skin equivalent of an Enya song. With just one use your skin will verbalize oohs and ahs and you will enter a transformed world of pink butterflies, radiant rainbows and shivers of the spine. Your skin may feel like a wart-hog’s mud-encrusted derriere now, but Veera Completely Encapsulating Au Natural Exfoliating Body Lather will make it feel, soon enough, like an alpaca’s soft inner thigh.

Directions for Embracing Heaven: Squeeze a healthy dollop of Veera Completely Encapsulating Au Natural Exfoliating Body Lather onto your favorite poufy pouf (we recommend purple, as it generates a fullness of lather on the microscopic level). Apply to skin in a concentric, clockwise only motion, fully releasing the skin’s toxins. When utilizing this clockwise motion, if you can formulate your circles closer to an oval pattern this will be ideal and will fully capture the dermatologist’s recommended capacities.

Ingredients: Water, Desiccated orange peel that has been infused with garlic and dry-roasted espresso bean, Sodium, Walnut shell crushed underfoot by a mule named Henry who lives in the backwoods of the Alaska hinterlands, copper, rose hip, rosewater, thorns of rose bush ground into a fine and pleasant powder (not sharp), Glycine Soja, the prayers of a nunnery based in St. Louis, little bits of fuzzy blankey, sunshine beams, random dirt we found under this desk, pizza box residue, extract of something complicated with a really long name, ground Care Bear (ever so gently euthanized).

Does not contain ground glass, cigarette butts, candle wax, toilet paper mash or the reconstituted souls of Klingons. Also, no peanuts.

Warning: Do not use to mix mocktails or as mouthwash. Does not cure Covid-19 or Herpes.

Questions: We do not appreciate or invite questions. Keep them to yourself.

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Produced and distributed by Pepsi Products. Newark, New Jersey.

Nathan Leslie’s ten books of fiction include Three Men, Root and Shoot, Sibs, and Drivers, among others. He is also the author of The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice, a novel, and the poetry collection Night Sweat. Nathan’s work has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines including Boulevard, Shenandoah, North American Review, Hotel Amerika and Cimarron Review. Nathan was series editor for Best of the Web anthology 2008 and 2009 (Dzanc Books) and edited fiction for Pedestal Magazine for many years.

Nathan is the series editor of Best Small Fictions and the host of Reston Readings. His next book of stories is The Invisible Hand (Hamilton Stone Editions) and in 2023 A Fly in the Ointment (Apprentice House).