There was a bakery box on my desk when I got to work last night. A small yellow post-it was labeled “Chooch-cakes” – Kaitlin had baked get well cupcakes for Chooch.
I seriously almost cried, it was so thoughtful!
“I tried to make some of them as much like zombies as possible,” Kaitlin pointed out. “But since I’m scared to death of them, I don’t keep a lot of zombie provisions on hand.”
Co-workers kept stopping in their tracks, noticing the bakery box on my desk. Once they learned why it was given to me, you could almost see their brains churning out self-injury ideas so they could get their own sympathy treats from Kaitlin.
After work, I got in the car and showed Chooch. He honestly lit up; bloody, bruised lip and all. He immediately tore into one of the zombie cakes, which left a blood-like smear all over his mouth.
But at least THIS blood was edible.
He was so happy. It meant so much to me that Kaitlin would do something so thoughtful for my son, whom she hasn’t even met.
Of course, Henry ate 95% of the contents of the box which I think is bullshit, considering he wouldn’t let me bash him in the mouth with a slab of concrete first.
Something here in the office is really raping my eyes. I’ll be fine all day at home, then within an hour or so upon arrival here, my eyes get all bloodshot and start to sting. I’m sure I look really hot. Like one of those Mother Mary statues with the bleeding eyes.
Especially once it starts making my nose sniffle.
Yesterday, I brought my contact case, saline solution, and glasses. I was hoping to not have to resort to such drastic measures, but by 6:00, my eyes were waving the white flag. Out came the contacts, on went the glasses.
Now. I’ve grown rather acclimated to the big ol’ glasses. As long as I’m not walking, eating, typing, jump-roping, driving, looking left or descending stairs, I seem to be fine. However, there’s the whole vanity thing. In public, I turn into that 12-year-old girl who doesn’t want the boys to see her eating in the cafeteria.
I didn’t want anyone here to see me in my big gay glasses.
One of the analysts saw them on my desk and declared that they were cute. She caught me wearing them later and reiterated, “Yep, those are cute.”
But Chris was working last night, and I was sure that he would make fun of me. So every time I heard approaching footsteps, I flung the glasses off and all but beat them into a corner with a hot poker. Chris quickly caught on to what was happening here, and it soon turned into a game. He started making sneak attacks, approaching me quietly from behind, in hopes of catching me bespectacled.
“Green glasses!” he yelled, running by. So much hate.
(What the hell, he just came over and asked, “Where are the goggles?”)
Today, I didn’t even bother putting the contacts in at all. My eyes are fucked. I don’t know what’s going on because I have a brand new stock, I broke that bad habit of sleeping in them, and I never wear them longer than 2 weeks. Basically, I began acting like a responsible adult. But I feel like even when my contact habits were atrociously juvenile, I never had this much of an optical shitstorm blowing through my life.
I’m trying not to think the worst. It could be that I sit beneath a vent. Maybe my eyes are having a disagreement with the new saline solution I’m using. I’m trying not to let my mind succumb to all the worst case scenarious: I’m losing my eye sight. I have an optic disease with no cure. Satan is sucking out my eye juices with a straw each night while I’m dreaming of Andy Gibb in Revolutionary War garb.
It’s obviously time to go back to the doctor and demand help.
I haven’t worn my glasses here yet today, squinting instead and pawing at the air around me like a mole. S was walking past when I got here and, seeing them splayed out on my desk, exclaimed, “Nice glasses!” Then she wanted me to put them on. I vehementally refused, face growing red.
“Big glasses are coming back!” she reasoned.
I let one of the processors see them, only because he had been privy to the whole debacle of ordering them in the first place.
“They’re not…..that bad,” he said, thoughtfully, tilting his head a little to take in all angles of the garishness.
“I suppose not,” I started, “but I would have preferred a better color. Like, invisible.”
“Look on the brightside,” he offered. “You have your own miniature telescope.”
What an asshole, am I right.
The sad part is that I actually see better with the glasses than with contacts, but still choose to wear contacts 90% of the time.
I guess I wasn’t really expecting anything when I walked into the office Friday evening. I only work 25 hours a week and I’m just a temp (though that’s supposed to be changing here soon), so I didn’t expect bells and whistles for my birthday. Or even verbal acknowledgment for that matter.
But as I rounded the wall to my desk, I saw three pink-glazed donuts next to my keyboard. A candle of varying colors jutted from the hole of each one, elevating them from morning snack to birthday cake status. Taped to my monitor was an orange sign that said HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ERIN!
They remembered. I was touched.
Behind her desk, Kaitlin stood up. “Barb and I tried to find you cupcakes, but we remembered that you hate Dozen.” (I do. They’re over-hyped and non-tasty saliva-suckers.) “So I had to settle on donuts from Starbucks.”
I didn’t care what they were or where they were from. I was just so happy to be remembered.
One of my favorite analysts – Chris – kept coming over and salivating above them. Barb said he had been doing that even before I got there. “You better watch out,” she laughed. “He might try and steal one.”
An hour later, another analyst came over while the donut-drooler was still skulking around my desk.
“Oh, is it your birthday? Happy birthday!” she exclaimed.
“Yeah, happy birthday!” Chris echoed.
“Seriously?” I laughed at Chris. “You’ve been over here like, ten times already, and you’re finally wishing me a happy birthday?”
It was a slow night. Three of the analysts working the evening shift began bowling with apples. Then two of them found a toy dart gun and by the end of the night, they had made up four different games revolving around that.
It wasn’t the worst way to spend my birthday evening, that’s for sure.
One of my co-workers is the antithesis of me. Her name is Kaitlin, and she’s really good at baking. The downside to working in the evening is that usually by the time I get there, everything she’s brought in for the office has already been devoured, so I’ll have to sit there and listen to everyone’s verbal orgies about the lingering tastes in their mouths from Kaitlin’s delicately baked cookies.
As a self-proclaimed expert on the tastes of baked goods, keeping a polite smile on my face is hard when all I really want to do is start skulking around for crumbs.
But yesterday Kaitlin and Barb were thoughtful enough to make a little sample plate for me and stow it away in the fridge. It even said “Treats for Night Train” on it so no one would try and steal it. I’d have felt better if they booby-trapped it, or hired a ninja to crouch all spider-like against the ceiling in the kitchen, but if you’re confident a flimsy strip of Scotch tape is enough, then whatever.
“They’re macaroons,” Barb informed me before leaving for the day. I was a little let down. I was hoping for something more amazing, like something that maybe Lady Gaga could be found dunking in a delicate cup of Earl Grey with the Queen. (Something not from a sex toy line. We’ll save that for Sunday.) Something ritzy. Something exotic. Something made with lavender because I am still on a lavender kick and keep trying to convince Henry to put it in everything. (Lavender, not his dick.)
When I think of macaroons, I think of my Sunday school teacher wearing a shawl, surrounded by eighteen cats. (What? You don’t still think of your Sunday school teacher? You’re weird.) I think of hard coconut things. I think of your grandma’s wake.
I decided that I was going to just wait and take the plate home with me. Kaitlin has been saying that she wants to learn to take photos of her food and I was like, “OK! Just let me learn how to do that first. Then I will try to act like I know what I’m doing and teach you.” Originally, she was going to teach me to bake in exchange, but I think I would rather her do all the baking herself. Ovens don’t agree with me.
There I was, sitting at my desk, trying to get my work done, when two of the analysts decided to stop right next to me and gush about the macaroons. Now, these were two guys and not some blue-permed Eloise and Matilda wearing puffy-painted cat sweatshirts and fanny packs.
“Oh my god, did you try the coffee one?” the one asked the other.
“No, but I had a raspberry one and it was so fucking amazing,” the other answered back. There are raspberry ones? I thought. I like raspberry things.
“I expected them to be hard like rocks, but then I bit into it and it was the perfect crisp, AND SHE MADE THOSE HERSELF!” the first one exclaimed incredulously, like this was the dessert version of Jesus Christ, getting Nazareth all up in arms. Let me remind you that they were right next to my desk, getting their bakery ejaculation all over my stapler. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were taunting me, trying to get me to cave and eat through the refrigerator door for my own set-aside allotment of macaroons.
Later in the night, one of the processors stopped by with two of them on a napkin (macaroons, not guys talking about them). “Special delivery for you!” she smiled. “I wanted you to get to have some before they’re all gone!” I examined the two round cookies as she placed them in my hand. “There’s a lemon and a chocolate,” she pointed out. “Sorry, I ate the last raspberry one! It was too good to save!”
I was about to mention that Barb had set aside a plate for me in the fridge, but now that these macaroons were eight inches from my face, I forgot all about honesty and was overwhelmed by glutton.
When she walked away, I tapped one. The shell felt hard, but its answer to my tapping was hollow. I took a small bite of the lemon one. The shell broke away crisply just like the one guy had said, but inside it was moist, cakey. The filling between the two domes was light and lemony, which is a good thing since it was a lemon macaroon. I actually murmured (MURMURED!), “Oh my god.” The only other time this has happened was the first time I tried a cupcake from Vanilla Pastry Studio. The stack of conflict checks on my desk eschewed, I began thinking about putting Kaitlin and the Sugar Fairy into a ring and have them bake-off for my love.
I quickly placed the macaroon back down on my desk. This was clearly not the sort of delicacy you pop in your mouth and ingest in one bite, like some fucking mini Chips Ahoy.
Then I picked it back up. I looked at its innards real close and marveled that someone I know in real life could make something so fragile in her own kitchen, as opposed to being made by a magic French baker from 1874 with an oven heated by elves fanning burning coal. And of course I use “magic” as a codeword for “Satanic.”
Try to imagine back to that time a fairy gave birth atop your tongue to pure bliss and a sack of crack-coated laundered money, how happy and rich you felt with minimal cleanup.
Now you know what it was like to eat one of Kaitlin’s macaroons. Happy and rich, obviously, since I have to spell it out for everyone, everywhere, all the time.
Happy and rich. Like I should have been wearing pantaloons and drawing a mole on my face while waiting for my turn under the guillotine. Who cares about death when there are MACAROONS.
Clearly, whatever I originally thought was a macaroon is not a real macaroon. I’m also pretty sure what I thought was a macaroon came packaged in cellophane from the grocery store and was made with cheap ingredients that even paupers would scoff at. (I’m also an expert on things paupers scoff at, as I’m dating one.)
As my taste buds panted in the afterglow, I began firing off a flurry of customary emails to Henry, informing him that he needs to learn to make macaroons because it’s the only thing I’ll be eating from now on.
Do you know how painful it was not to eat the entire fucking napkin afterward, like a goddamn goat?
And to come home with the plate Barb had left for me, only to spend another half hour setting up the lighting and fucking with the camera settings to get a photo for Kaitlin, when all I wanted to do was forcefully masticate the shit out of those little pastel bitches? In the end, I didn’t even care how the photos turned out. Chooch and I were too busy wading in saliva.
I think Kaitlin’s ‘roons* have rendered me retarded. The only thing I can say about the raspberry one is that I’d give up sex for life if someone promised me one of those a day. There was a REAL RASPBERRY IN THE MIDDLE! I was totally not expecting that and I really almost died.
I have big plans for Kaitlin. She just doesn’t know it yet.
*This is what we experts call macaroons. Also, I am so much of an expert, that I didn’t even realize I was supposed to be calling them “macarons.” I win at French stuff.
Hey! Guess who got another job for which she is over-qualified? Oh, that would be THIS GIRL right here!
I had sincerely expected the employment agency to stamp a big red UNRELIABLE on my file after the Henry-induced debacle at the last place, but my “agent” called me Monday morning with a new assignment for part-time evening work. The location is much more convenient and the shift is 5:30pm-10:30pm, so it’s compatible with Henry’s golden job.
I started last night. The company’s office is located in a nice building with a pretty lobby, manned by a good-natured security guard who got way too close to my face while taking my picture for my ID badge . Then he escorted me into the office where I’ll be working and dropped me off with Ev, a lithe older woman with a salt and pepper bob and nervous energy. The office itself was dirty beige with empty Postal Service bins strewn across the floor. It was about 5 steps down from my evening job two years ago at MSA.
Ev gave me a quick tour of the facilities. In the lunch room, which is a full cafeteria during the day, she was showing me the coffee machine when some squat, unruly bearded man in an ecru work shirt piped up and said in a semi-retarded cadence, “And if you use the last of it, make a new pot!” Aye, aye, Ecru.
I’m not sure yet if he works at the same place as me. Time will tell, and hopefully stories will follow.
Back inside the office, Ev began training me. I’m basically going through client files they have in their system, looking for the ones who are declining modifications to their mortgages. Or something like that. It’s a series of steps, but after watching Ev do it twice and doing it twice myself, she set me loose. Unfortunately for Jim, the older Cosby-sweatered man who also started last night, he did not have a similarly charmed fate and instead spent most of the shift being taken through the process in baby steps. It made me feel sad. It must suck for (some) older people who have probably spent most of their life in some field not requiring computer knowledge, to suddenly be dumped in front of a computer. I kept hearing Ev trying to get him to remember CTL-V and CTL-C before finally giving up and slapping a Post-It note on his monitor to remind him.
The woman whose desk I’m using was just getting ready to leave when I got there, so I had to stand awkwardly to the side while she shut down all of her windows. She seemed nice enough, and her smile was sure pretty when she said to me sternly, “Just don’t leave anything on my desk that has your name and account number on it, got that?”
“Oh. I’ll….try not to do that,” I answered slowly, hoping that I wouldn’t have any of those common urges to tear out pages of my check book and staple them around her cube in the form of my SS#. That didn’t really go over too well at my last job, either.
I made myself comfortable at her desk. It was nice having an actual desk and not a small conference room to be tucked away inside, like at the last job. While waiting for Ev to get the file with my workload ready, I had a chance to take in my co-workers. Three older soccer-mom’ish type ladies and a black woman probably around my age who I already know I want to be friends with because she has cool hair. There were still some day-shift stragglers in the office, but they all seemed relatively easy-going too. It’s not a very big office.
The best part was that there was a distinct scent of fruit snacks wafting around me. It was like being swaddled by Fruit Roll-Ups, and it made me feel at once comforted and hungry. I guess kind of like how you’d feel at a bacon-flavored orgy.
The worst part? They have a strict no cell phone policy. I had to sign off on that shit. I even said no texting in the BATHROOM. At first I was like, “OK, five hours. That’s not so bad.” By the end of hour one, I was chomping on my hair for lack of anything better to do. My knees were knocking against the desk. My fingers were icy and experiencing phantom text-flutterings. By hour two, I covertly pulled my phone out of my purse and quickly dumped in on my lap. I scooted into the desk real far so no one would see it. Granted, my boobs were resting awkwardly on the desk at that point, but it was a faux pas I was willing to endure so long as I could keep up with my ESPN NHL Scorecenter texts. What? There were a LOT of games on last night.
By hour three, I decided to flirt with danger and send a TWEET.
I didn’t think it would be so hard. But my god, I felt like I had gone five hours without heroin by the time I stumbled out of there at 10:30.
The woman whose desk I’m sharing is an interesting broad. On the cubicle wall directly behind her monitor, it’s a miniature Lourve of angel pictures. Looking to the left, she had more angels lest anyone forgets that she likes them. By the time I looked to my right, they were practically screaming “I’VE WANTED TO FUCK THE SHIT OUT OF AN ANGEL SINCE I WAS A YOUNG GIRL MAKING MY FIRST HOLY COMMUNION!”
In case I get bored with the angels, she has tons of GOOD WORD from our Lord to read (she even has a study Bible under the desk which I may or may not have accidentally stepped on) and a verifiable fleet of butterflies suctioned to the pane of glass that allows me to peek into the cube on the other side of me.
But my favorite cube accoutrement was the ravishing photo of whom I presume to be her husband. Picture it please: sandy Flobee’d hair, traveling from his crown to his cheeks. He’s not an overweight man, but has some jiggle, as evidenced by the way his pasty white bare thighs sag a bit as his legs are SPLAYED open as he lounges on a couch. SPLAYED OPEN with a DOG BETWEEN THEM. I couldn’t get a good look, but I believe he might be wearing boxer briefs, and if I squinted hard enough I could just barely detect, against the blinding whiteness of his legs, some ultra-white socks yanked up to his knees.
I am so grateful I get to look at this every night.
Last night, I was telling Henry about it and I said, “I have GOT to try and take a pic—-”
“You’re going to get fired,” he mumbled, shaking his head.
10:00 I know this comes as a shock, but: 2-year-old + pet fish = what was I thinking? #
Other than that, I spent my weekend chasing my kid through a cemetery, getting all up in Henry’s hair, eating pizza, watching through my fingers as the Penguins lost, being treated to a good grilled cheese lunch by my friend Jess, wishing I was in Ohio, and getting lost in my own ‘hood.
Corey and I couldn’t think of a better way to cap off such an amazing concert than by returning to our luxury motel. Pulling into the lot at 11:30, we were greeted by several shifty denizen who chose to congregate outside their rooms with beer and cigarettes. Corey wanted to get a picture of the Pennant Night Club next door, because it was country night and this amused him to no end, but he made me go with him. It was at this point that I realized I was probably more suspicious than anyone else in that lot, what with the way I stopped dead in my tracks, hunkered over to suppress giggles, to stare at a couple across the lot.
Corey gave me this look that screamed, “What the fuck, are you crazy? You can’t just stop and STARE at the crazy townies having sex around their clothes out front of their room!”
I snapped out of it and followed him to the street.
“This place has wi-fi?” Corey asked in amazement after we reached the front of the motel. “How does a place like this have wi-fi?”
“They probably steal it,” I said, shrugging, and then we both laughed and couldn’t stop because the Giddy Sibling Bug had bit us.
Back inside our room, I called Christina to tell her that the state she was born in sucks. She was really hurt by it, and Corey shouting things like, “New Jersey is gay!” in the background only wrenched the knife further, because she actually is gay. I mean, she has a tattoo of New Jersey on her leg, that’s how proud of it she is.
“Where exactly in New Jersey are you?” she asked. I couldn’t remember the name of the town, other than the fact we got lost and ate at Pat’s Pizzeria in Gloucester, and that we saw a lot of signs for Camden.
“Um, no wonder you hate it. Camden??” That’s when I learned that Camden had replaced Detroit as the most dangerous city in the nation. “You should be OK as long as you’re not in a gang, though,” she reassured.
Meanwhile, Corey was debating whether or not he wanted to take a shower. “I mean, did you see the shower curtain? It has burn holes in it,” he whined. But he finally manned up and conquered the shower stall. He came out of the bathroom a walking cautionary tale.
“I don’t even want to think about all the dirty New Jersey sex that was in that shower before me,” he spat with disgust. “And just so you know, the water smells like fish. Have fun with that in the morning.”
We got comfortable in our respective knife-slashed beds with the local Gloucester channel on TV. Backed with all the best soft rock hits were still-ads for the local cemetery, a middle school talent show, and a list of the honor roll students. It was a sweet surprise when the ads were pre-empted with some small-scale recording of a youth fishing competition. It was awesomely terrible and we couldn’t stop watching.
“This almost makes me want to live here,” I said. Then we laughed.
“I’m so afraid to close my eyes and sleep. This place scares me. Have you ever seen No Vacancy?” Thanks, Corey. Thanks for making that the last thought in my head before I fall asleep.
Around 1:30am, a nearby door slammed. “Oh goodie, our neighbor’s home!” Corey facetiously enthused. Then he got up and put his face up to the peep hole. I was paranoid he was going to get shot, so with the covers pulled up to my chin, I hissed for him to get away from the door.
I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking I heard a car alarm. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not, but I remember thinking I should probably check to see if my car was still in the lot but I was too afraid to go out there. (The window of our room overlooked the back of the property, not the lot.)
The next morning, we gladly turned in our key and Corey snatched a covert picture of the miserable desk clerk who hated us.
Aside from seeing the Cure (and eating at Pat’s Pizzeria), the only other thing I refused to leave before doing was getting breakfast at Cereality, located on U Penn’s campus in Philly. I was proud that I finally forwent using Henry as an atlas and tapped into my Blackberry’s resources to find the place, nary a wrong turn. But first, we filled up the gas tank in Gloucester. I tried to get it myself, thinking I could get away with it, but an older Mexican swooped in and grabbed the nozzle off me. Foiled.
As soon as we crossed the threshhold, I was in my happy place. “Rock Me Amadeus” was playing when we got there and Corey, who is in AP Euro and should maybe try acting like it, said, “Huh. We had to listen to this song in my history class. I think it’s supposed to be about someone historical?”
Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Kiss Them For Me” came on just in time to aid me in tuning out the disgusting trucker-caliber sniffling and snot-suckering taking place behind me. Mmm, yummy — just what I want to hear while I’m trying to decide what I want to EAT. A nice bowl of bubbly snot? A mucous smoothie? There’s not enough froth on my coffee, would you mind blowing your nose in it?
At home, I have a healthy bowl of oatmeal every day, with a hearty handful of flax seed sprinkled in for good measure; so I decided to live large and ordered a bowl (it’s actually served in an over-sized Chinese take-out container) of The Devil Made Me Do It. Basically it was the most disgusting, stomach-turning house-blend on the menu and I was entirely too overwhelmed to come up with my own concoction without at least six months prior planning. Cereal is some serious shit.
One of the people working there was this awesome Goth chick with spiky blond hair and black lipstick. Corey and I simultaneously fanned ourselves.
“She’s like, so cool,” I enthused, and Corey concurred. It doesn’t take much to impress us. Evidently, just some bleach and a faceful of kohl.
After I paid for my container of diabetic shock, I went to the milk counter and, as if to apologize to my body for what I was about to funnel into it, I squirted skim milk onto the cavity-making mound.
Joining me at a small outside table, Corey blurted, “Guess what that Goth girl talked to me!”
“Oh my God, LUCKY! What did she say??” Sadly, I really was jealous.
“She said, ‘Did you pay for that already?'” We squealed over that for a few seconds, and then he added, “And her name is SIMONE!”
My cereal consisted of Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, malt balls, and chocolate syrup. I don’t even like malt balls, but goddamn all cereal should have them. It was the best ever, but after five spoonfuls, my belly tried to reject it. Of course I forced down almost the entire thing and got sick as soon as we hit the turnpike. Corey was smart (and boring) and got something healthy that was made of Life, strawberries and honey or some shit.
While we ate our cereal, “Just Like Heaven” played and we were like, “What the fuck, best breakfast ever.”
Five hours later, we were standing in my living room, blabbering on to Henry about our motel and the people we saw there, Pat’s Pizzeria, all the strip clubs, being lost, not understanding how to get gas.
“I feel like there should be a movie about this: When Well-To-Do Kids are Forced to Fend for Themselves.”
The night before we left, I had Henry look up lodging for Corey and me while I was at work, since I am helpless and had more important things to do. My only criteria was: close to venue and cheap.
He sent me info for Red Carpet Inn, which had rooms for $49+tax. It was located in New Jersey, and it was only 3.5 miles away from the Wachovia Spectrum, where the Cure was playing Saturday night.
I quickly emailed him and said I’d take it.
“You realize this place isn’t going to be nice,” Henry chided in his reply. The user ratings all said, “You get what you pay for,” and I was OK with that because the more money I saved, the more shit I could buy throughout the trip, like Slim Jims and crack.
“Don’t you dare even think about calling and complaining,” Henry said the next morning, as he armed me with directions and SoyJoy bars.
Corey arrived at my house at 10:00 and, between filling up the gas tank with liquid gold and taking out some cash for the turnpike, etc., I managed to spend $71 before we even left Brookline.
For the 300+ miles on the Pennsylvania turnpike, Corey and I mainly reminisced about past displays of family dysfunction, which included Corey’s favorite Father-Daughter fight in which I screamed in my step-dad’s face that I wish he’d get his head cut off by the log splitter we had in our backyard. Corey was laughing, and I was too but the whole time I was thinking, “Yeah, but this was a stepping stone in the rickety path of dropping out of high school.”
I forced Corey to listen to a special mixed CD I made just for the trip, and he sarcastically cheered every time Chiodos came on. However, he is now obsessed with Dance Gavin Dance, which is more than I could have hoped for. However, I ridiculed him every time he disagreed with my musical tastes, you know, like every other obnoxious music snob does.
My favorite moment was when Corey told me he was going through my step-dad’s cell phone and discovered naked pictures of my step-dad’s girlfriend all bent over the back of the couch. Ten minutes later and it was all, “Remember when you found naked pictures of Daddy’s girlfriend?” and then we laughed all over again.
I’m not used to being the responsible one in these trips. My role is usually to wedge my fat ass in the passenger seat, armed with my vacation journal, beverage and snacks, switching up the music like it’s my destiny. Also, flirting with truckers and being Annoying: Road Trip Edition. But this time, I had to pay attention to shit, like how the car was doing on gas, if all the tires were intact, all while keeping a general sense of where the fuck we were. Oh, the pressure. Corey was in charge of the directions, but every time I would ask him where we were, he’d stare ambivalently at the map and kind of shrug. So then I would call Henry and ask, “Hey, how much farther do we have?” and he’d get all mad because I wouldn’t be able to tell him where we were since I can’t read a map and then he’d have to go and turn the computer on (he was letting it rest while I was away) and by that time I’d be all, “Oooh we’re going through a tunnel! Bubbye!”
Directions-wise, it was smooth sailing until we made it to the Philly exits and had to get off the turnpike. Corey would play with my emotions by saying things like, “We need this next exit, No wait, next one. No wait this one!!” leaving me mere seconds to swerve onto the ramp. I screamed the whole way across the Ben Franklin bridge and somehow managed to take the wrong exit, which dumped us blindly into some small town called Gloucester.
We stopped at Coastal to get gas and when I started to get out of the car, an elderly employee came over and started pumping it for me. I learned later that night that it’s like, some weird law that all New Jersey gas stations are full service, and you would think that with me being such a fucking princess, I’d have really embraced this small display of pampering, but instead I panicked because I didn’t know the protocol — was I supposed to tip him? Cheer him on? Wait silently in the car and pretend it’s not making me feel like an entitled White Person to have a Mexican work for me? I kept asking Corey but he was all, “I don’t know, this is weird and I think he hates us and I want to go” so we sped away when he was through.
I had to call Henry once again so he could get us to our motel (at this point, I didn’t even know the name of it) and our conversation went something like this:
Henry: What are you near?
Me: A black lady in really high boots.
Henry, sighing angrily: What are you near?
Me: A chocolate covered pretzel store.
While Henry was busy trying to find out where we were, I pulled over and Corey ran into the chocolate-covered pretzel place to ask a local for help. Henry kept asking me for street names, and I would answer him with very important information, like:
“Ew that guy just looked at me!” and “I hope Corey buys some delicious confections while he’s in there. The sign says they’re the best.”
Corey returned with directions at the same time Henry found us on a map. To keep Henry’s ego from deflating, I chose his directions and proceeded to doubt him the entire time, saying that I should have listened to the pretzel lady’s directions instead, which caused him to yell back and say things like, “I AM NOT THERE. I AM IN PITTSBURGH. I CANNOT SEE WHAT YOU ARE SEEING.” Then he was all, “Fuck you, find it yourself,” and hung up on me.
Both sets of directions ended up being right. The pretzel lady said we’d know we were there when we saw the Pennant night club and Weber’s burger stand, and by golly she was right.
II : Red (from blood stains) Carpet Inn
“It looks like a concentration camp,” Corey groaned as we pulled into the Red Carpet Inn. It was the kind of place that people retreated to after their slum lords evicted them; the kind of place where people crept off to have lunch break affairs; the kind of place that had mattresses broken enough for people to appropriately OD on. Corey and I just may have been the only legitimate travelers staying there.
If you can, try to remember back to the last time you emptied fifty-eight ash trays in the center of your living room and then steeped it with Pine-Sol and the musty stench of your Aunt Mary’s baby doll collection. Yeah, you remember? Well, that’s what it smelled like it in the closet-sized check-in office.
We had to wait for a man in front of us to check in, which provided us with the idle time necessary for a complete giggle breakdown. It started with Corey, who had to bring a fist to his mouth to stifle the laughter. The old woman on the other side of the bullet-proof windows shot us dirty scowls and I tried to bury myself in a Chinese take-out menu that I lifted from the counter. Corey tried to hide his laughter by turning to look out the window, nearly knocking over the “Free Use for Guests” 1980’s-model microwave off it’s shaky stand.
After receiving no pleasantries from the clerk, not even a nicotine-ravaged “Welcome to New Jersey,” we had our key handed to us and found that our room was the last one in the row, and luckily for us the door wasn’t visible from the lot. A small vestibule with a flickering overhead light had to be entered to find our door. It was the perfect setting for a late night mugging, stabbing, gang rape, tranny hooker wardrobe change.
Once inside, I was relieved to find that the room itself wasn’t too bad. It seemed to be clean, as promised by the hand-written note left on the desk, declaring that some broad named Lillian cleaned it with her own bare hands. There were some stains on the towels and sheets, along with the standard array of cigarette burns dotting the shower curtain.
The lone window in the room gave us a view of the lustrous grounds behind the motel. I looked out and, oh good, saw two shacks — just perfect for stowing murder victims, a troupe of Romanian sex slaves, and bricks of cocaine. Personally, I liked to hope that the Holy Grail was in there somewhere, shoved in the anus of a drug mule.
The bathroom light seemed a little short-winded, so I walked back to the front desk to request a new bulb. On my way there, one of the residents — a young guy in a brown t-shirt — emerged and sat in front of the door, lighting up a cigarette and staring me down. Probably he was trying to gauge if I was a potential client, maybe trying to size me up for my preference — coke, pot, meth, grande-cocked Mexicans. Hopefully he was checking out my boobs, too.
Back in the office, I had to ring the bell multiple times, praying that I wasn’t interrupting some underground cock fight or sex party, before the no-nonsense old desk clerk came out of the back room. When I told her the bathroom light wasn’t working very well, she impatiently shook her head and said, “No, it works. You gotta leave it on for about five minutes, let it warm up.” I started to thank her, but she had already turned her back on me.
“I don’t think that old lady in the office likes me,” I whined to Corey, chaining the door shut behind me.
“Well no shit. We were practically laughing in her face when you were checking in.”
A few minutes later, a domestic dispute broke out in the parking lot.
Someone took a nice big shit in the bathroom right before I went in, so that was a thoughtful, and very fragrant, "Welcome Back from the Weekend!" gift.
There’s some man who pukes in the mens room every day. It’s kind of anthemic.
Bob started a new job today. He still sits two seats down from me, but he works daylight now. When he logged off his computer at 5:00pm and said, "Have a nice night guys," I kind of died a little. Who will I exchange juicy celebrity gossip with every night now? Who will serve as a diversion the next time I stalk someone here? WHO WILL TELL ME WHAT MOVIES TO ADD TO MY NETFLIX QUEUE? I am so abandoned.
Big Bob is listening to the Pirates game with one ear bud in, and when he occasionally turns around to give Collin an update, he doesn’t realize how loudly he’s talking and I’m blasted into the atmosphere by the sheer volume of his exuberance.
I feel like I don’t have enough decor on my desk. I guess now that this is a Girls Only Zone (Collin moves to his new big boy cubicle tomorrow), I can:
string up a garland of tampons,
fan out episiotomy literature,
talk about ovaries and placenta at my leisure,
squirt breast milk into Kim’s cube and she’ll retaliate by chucking a Nuva Ring at my head, and
FINALLY hang up my poster about yeast infections which I stole from the gynecologist’s exam room.