Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
My head is pounding. I finally remembered to pick up my new phone, so, naturally, I've forgotten where I left my charger, and I'm all out of battery power. I'm also out of batteries for my discman. My head is pounding too much for me to be able to finish the James Kochalka comic I'm supposed to be reading. At least I'm only two stops away from work, where I have been assured by my boss I will "make bank." This is why I dragged myself out of the house two hours early. "It's the day after Thanksgiving, we're going to be balls to the wall, come early, and you'll make bank." I later decide that he must have meant "bunk", but I'm getting ahead of myself. Right now, my head is pounding, and the bagel I had for breakfast has decided to use my stomach as a trampoline. I put my head in my hands, and all is normal on the severely crowded red line train. When I look up, there's a marching band.
Thirty or so sweaty, mostly overweight men in kilts and afghans of various shades of green have been known to incite motion sickness, even without moving or producing sound. This stumble of marchers, however, were not content to sit or stand on the crowded T and bask in the lurchiness of public transportation. Oh, no. They had decided that a crowded T on a Friday afternoon is the perfect place to play Christmas carols.
Somewhere around the seventh day of Christmas, I start to fashion my keychain into a shiv. I know I'm not stealthy or powerful enough to take them all down, but if I at least take a couple of these unfuckers with me before I'm wrestled to the ground beneath their kilts, I'll have done the world an incredible service.
By the time my stop comes, they have moved on to the most inaccurately named version of "Silent Night" ever conceived. I mean, bagpipes?
Work is so dead that even vampires pass by its corpse and go "Ehhh, it had a good life, I'll let it sleep." I'm so bored that I can feel my eyes rot away, as I watch The Naked Gun on the TV in the kitchen. The safe sex scene starts when my favorite Hungarian bartender says "What was the score of the Bears game?" Which leads me to believe he's never met me before. How the fuck would I know the score of a football game that doesn't even contain The Patriots?
"Tampa Bay won thirteen to ten." I was bored, okay, and the game was on the bar's TV.
Then he begins asking me about other games, and how many interceptions some person I've never heard of threw, and wasn't that onside kick a weird choice? I place my index finger to his lips and whisper. "Shhhh. You're only allowed to speak to me in Hungarian. Oh, the language of love."
His eyes flit from me to anyone who might be watching my bizarre behavior, and says "Uhhhh, ok." Then he walks away.
"I didn't know you liked the Hungarian." David gives me a cool, hurt look. The kind an ex would be allowed to shoot at someone who'd hurt them in a relationship. But if David wasn't such a pussy closet case we'd be dating, so I don't allow the look to register. Much.
"Sure," I say, "I'd like him...naked and chained to my couch."
That look again. Bastard. What is it with me and unworkable relationships? What is it with me and having the same stupid epiphanies over and over? I've got to stop getting myself in these situations. Closet cases, roommates, future suicides. I've got to get over this kind of shit and move on. I've got to move. Of course. But first I have to make a phone call.
An hour or so later, when both David and the Hungarian have gone to their respective homes, and most of the staff has begun cleaning, Ben and his Dad arrive in the restaurant. Because I'm already done for the night, they sit in someone else's section. I do my paperwork, sweep my tables, and do about 90% of my kitchen sidework before I'm asked to clock out. I do so. I then go to Ben's table and drink and socialize. We're there for about a half hour when I remember that I have to bring one more box of bread into the kitchen before I'm actually done done.
"What the fuck?!" says a steamy eyed server, as I walk into the kitchen. "Who the fuck are you, that you think you can fucken clock out and sit at a goddamned table without finishing all the fucken bread work."
I cock the Spock eyebrow. "I was told to clock out. I came back in to get the last box of bread, but―"
"This is such fucken bullshit. All I want to do is go the fuck home, and you never do any work, and―"
At this point, Hill comes to my rescue, "Well, since you're a closer, and the restaurant isn't closed, you can't go home for another hour, anyway. Why don't you step off him?"
"No no no no no. I want to be able to fucken clock out whenever I feel like it..."
"I was told to clock out." I say. "I was cut. My tables had left. And I'm almost on overtime, so they asked me to clock out."
"Whatever. Where's the last fucken box of bread, huh? And knives. The knife container isn't full."
"That's because I filled it before I cl― You know what? Unfuck you. Unless you just got a phone call that your mother got run over by a bread truck, and the managers won't let you leave to identify her body, you're being fucken ridiculous. This is a fucken restaurant job. It takes five seconds to get a box of bread, and it would already be done, if you hadn't attacked me the second I walked into the kitchen, but now you can do it your fucken self." And I walked out of the kitchen, put on my best customer service smile, and sat back down next to Ben. "I think we should probably go now."
"Hey, where's that cute Hungarian bartender?" Ben asks, unaware of my impending sexual harassment indictment.
"Chained to the bed." I whisper, while his dad talks to our server.
"What?" he asks.
I place my index finger to his lips. "Shhhhh. You're only allowed to speak to me in Hungarian."
"Right." He says, and pushes my finger away. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
"Nothing, I just feel all smirky right now."
"Oh, because you have something worth smiling about?"
And I do, actually. I'm sitting next to someone I dearly despise in a restaurant where, any second now, an angry little white girl is going to come around the corner screaming obscenities about bread. The satellite station is playing Aaron Neville's version of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and my head is pounding. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.