Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
Where is my "Future Fry Cook"? It's 10:30 in the morning, and I have no one but Augusten Burroughs and a creepy looking woman with a banana peel sticking out of her shoe for company. I have Audioslave's "I Am The Highway" on repeat in my discman. I am about halfway through rereading Running With Scissors, and I'm getting really into it when the bus begins to lurch. My eyes shake. A piece of the hot dog omelet I had for brunch makes a mad dash for the outside world, but after a frightening two seconds seeing the light of day through my trachea, it returns to my stomach. For only the second time in my life, I'm motion sick, and have to put the book down.
The first time I was motion sick, I was sailing from Jacksonville, Florida to Portland, Maine with my dingleberry grandfather and his douchebag son (my uncle, not my Dad). I had a pleasant/smooth sail all the way up to my home on the Cape, but while we were docked in the Cape Cod Canal, I made the unfortunate decision to eat a large bowl of lobster bisque before we set sail in the midst of a really bad storm. That happened when I was twelve. In the intervening sixteen years, I haven't been anywhere close to motion sickness.
Before the boating trip, I was only vaguely aware of what motion sickness was. Kevin, the friend who my parents had basically adopted, was motionsick pretty much constantly. Even a brisk walk made him dizzy. When we were thirteen, my parents took us white water rafting in Maine, and during the car trip up there, we had to stop four times to let Kevin puke. And we were bringing him white water rafting.
The lurching bus brings me my first thought of Kevin in over a year. I'm thinking of writing down a few memories of him when the bus lurches again. No writing for Safey. I am so focused on not being sick that I miss my bus stop, causing me to spend three minutes longer on the bus, as it lurches through a stoplight. I hate lurching. If Ted Cassidy were still alive, I would cockslap him in the eye.
When I finally make it off the bus, I am an octopus on rollerblades, a one legged turtle surfing on an armadillo's back. Luckily, I work near a hospital, so if I do fall and get a concussion, a hot doctor is only a few steps away.
I do not fall and get a concussion.
Still, my head hurts. All the customers are either whispering or screaming. One manages to do both simultaneously. I am trying to figure out what the Lithuanian woman who speaks no English would like in her coffee, when the phone rings. "Safey? It's Helga. I'm going to be a little late for work. My son is having a baby."
There are three things wrong with Helga's statement; "My son is having a baby." One: boys do not have babies. Two: Helga does not have a son. Three: Helga is seventeen, so while it is possible that she could have hidden the fact that she had a son from me, the odds that her son is old enough to reproduce are fairly nil.
"My" *cell phone static* "is having a baby."
"Whatever. How late are you going to be?"
"Maybe ten minutes."
Helga never shows up to close the store. This is the third week in a row I've had to close for someone because another employee just didn't show up. My head hurts. I need to sit down. My son is having a baby, and it is motionsick. If I sit down, I'll fall asleep, so I run to CVS to pick up some Coke. I plan on filling the Coke with our cherry syrup, because the CVS doesn't sell Cherry Coke, but I accidentally add Boysenberry syrup to my Coke. It's not as awful as it sounds. But it's close.
The phone rings. I expect it to be Clarissa, as she hasn't called in nearly a day. A new record. It's not Clarissa. "Thank you for calling the MBTA." the phone says. I have not called anyone. The recording has called me. I hang up the phone because I need to sit down, and I don't think I can handle sitting down and talking on the phone at the same time. I have to clean the espresso machine soon, but my son is ringing and his Boysenberry is sick.
I wanted to go to the Audioslave show tonight, but Boysenberry didn't show up to cover my shift, and CVS is motionsick. I didn't have tickets anyway. I've been listening to the radio all week to try and win. The last time the WBCN Ticket Load is announced on the radio, I call the station. Instead of Audioslave tickets, they are offering tickets to see Papa Roach. No, thank you. The DJ announces that he has taken the last pair of Audioslave tickets for himself, but to make up for it, he's going to play a half hour of Audioslave music. I decide to crank him. I call up and ask if they still have Nirvana tickets available. He laughs, then hangs up on me.
The espresso machine is still giving me its dirty look. Cleaning it will require getting up and moving. Instead, I call my house to check my messages. I don't have any. My voicemail is motionsick. My Boysenberry son is ringing the espresso machine. The MBTA wants tickets to Nirvana.
"Are you okay?" An unfamiliar woman on the other side of the counter asks.
I lie. "Yes."
"What time do you close?" She asks.
"Between seven and eight."
"Yesterday I came at 7:15 and there was nobody here." She says.
"Yes." I say, pulling myself up, using the mini-fridge for leverage. "If it's slow, we close around sevenish. If we're busy it's closer to eight."
"But yesterday, at 7:15..." My son is a minifridge with tickets to Nirvana. I grab some Boysenberry for leverage.
"I'm sorry." I say. "Can I get you something to drink? Maybe a cookie?"
She shakes her head and walks away. I grab a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie for myself, and begin to clean. Once the cookie has successfully voyaged into my stomach, I grab a lemonade from the minifridge, I add four spoons of sugar (it helps the medicine go down), and drink and clean and drink and clean and it's 8:30 and I'm beyond late for getting home for dinner. I grab a slice of pizza on the way to the T.
The T lurches. The pizza is made of aluminum and velcro. I need to get off the T. Copley. Sweet sweet Copley station is next. I get off, and wander around Newbury Street. Last time I was on Newbury, Dmitri and I were in the Hello Kitty Store buying lollipops for one of his professors. And for us. Each of us took a Hello Kitty Pop home. I still have mine. When I get home, I'll suck it away until I can suck no more. Goodbye Kitty, you make me motionsick. I grab Dmitri for leverage, but he hasn't been here in nearly a month. Fuck you Boysenberry Street, fucking with my memory.
It's not long before I'm in Newbury Comics, wandering around the used CD aisles. Before I moved to Pieceofshitdeserttown, I was a CD collector. I wanted to own every piece of music I loved. I had over 1,000 CDs, and I listened to as many of them as I could, as often as I could. Since I moved back from Pieceofshitdeserttown, I've bought one CD: Modest Mouse's Good News For people Who Love Bad News. Last year, I lent it to Celeste. I haven't seen it since. I'd be bitter, but a year and a half ago, she lent me Kingdom Hearts. She hasn't seen it since. Tonight I need music. I rebuy the Modest Mouse CD, as well as the best of Stone Temple Pilots, and the Velvet Revolver CD. A total of $20. Not too shabby. I count the rest of my money: 1.80. .90 for the bus ride home tonight, .90 for the bus ride to work tomorrow morning. At the bus stop is a woman who smells like the MBTA and Nirvana. I wait behind her for ten minutes, while two fags in hot hats talk about something I can't begin to comprehend. The way they wave their hands make me motionsick.
When the bus arrives, I get a transfer, and shut my eyes. I wake up in Central Square, my head is a minifridge filled with Boysenberry sailboats. I want leverage.
The wind cockslaps my face. I shake my head and look at the bus schedule. I have 45 minutes before my connection shows up. I open Running with Scissors and begin reading where I left off in the morning. I feel my head clearing. All of my instability is pouring out of my eyes and into the book about Augusten Burroughs' childhood. I didn't have a relationship with a pedophile until I was 19. My parents never left me with their crazy psychiatrist for more than an hour at a time. I'm the one in my family who writes crappy poetry, not my mother. My world comes into focus. Nothing is spinning anymore except the pinwheels that someone has attached to the back of a woman's wheelchair. I am content, and ready for anything. Modest Mouse is singing "The Good Times are Killing Me." A man motions for me to take off my headphones.
"Do you know what time our bus comes?" He asks.
Our bus? "9:45." I say.
"Good. Good." He says, inferring how much he's going to enjoy our special waiting time. "Mind if we talk?"
I look closer at him, trying to see if he's a police officer, a family member, someone I've wronged, a hallucination brought on by too much Boysenberry Coke and motionsickness. There are tears in his eyes. "I just need to talk to you about something." He says. That's when I realize, I'm sitting at a bus stop in the middle of Cambridge, and about to have a conversation with God.