The Lost Kids
I wake up in a strange mix of comfort and hazy stupor. As I piece together the reality of the new day, beginning with the daily assessment of, “am I hungover?” followed by, “did I even drink last night?” (not drinking water warrants both questions), I become aware of another being. Who’s arm is this arm that is not my arm? Oh, goddamnit. Please don’t be naked…Please don’t be naked…I turn over to see Seamus half-spooning me in his sleep. Oh dear…well, we are dressed, and based on the evidence around me, I deduce the events of the previous evening: neon orange crumbs on the floor and in the bed, rolls of duct tape here and there, some shards of glass and sticky residue on the floor—we got white girl wasted and ate a bunch of Cheetos while trying to fashion shoes out of duct tape. This happens sometimes…all in a night’s work.
I am too dazed to think, so I go into my living room and curl up in the lumpy easy chair. By now, the shape of my ass is sunken into the poor thing. At least I get good use out of it. It’s leather, and I found it down in Alphabet City outside someone’s apartment while I was waiting to meet my friend Sasha for dinner. I sat in the chair and quickly became attached. Long story short, we canceled our dinner plans and devised a plan to get the chair back to Queens for free. Truth be told, it did involve a mildly untrue post on TaskRabbit, which involved payment in beer. Beer that did not yet exist. So the guy who drove it back to Queens with us had to buy the beer himself. I will say that the Christening of the chair party we had together made it worth his while (as threesomes do), so no remorse resulted. I should really call Sasha to hang out sometime soon. I miss that bitch.
I really wish that Seamus would go home. I have to go to work in four hours, and all I want is to lay under my faintly Cheetos-stained down comforter and lament the awkward swimming in my head. Possibly while eating a bagel. Ah, a bagel. Good idea. I creep into my room and wake up Seamus. It’s awkward, since I’ve never had to get him out of my bed before, but there’s simply no other solution that will get me back under my own covers quicker. “Hey, Shay,” I tap his foot, which is jutting off the end of my bed. “Seamus! Let’s go! Shay’s world! Shay’s world! Party time! Excellent!”
“Come on, dude. Let’s go get bagels. I’m starving. Por fa-fucking-vor.”
We are still at the stage in our friendship where one degree of politeness and awkwardness is necessary, so he gets up. He groggily gathers his things, assessing the sad duct-tape shoe he had worked on last night. He tosses it in the garbage and then follows me out the door. At the bagel shop, Seamus orders a cinnamon-raisin bagel with veggie cream cheese. This is something I’ve only witnessed my Jewiest friends do, and it appalls me. And I knew about it, early on, because my mom’s parents were Jewish, and they did it too. But back then, I thought it was some old people thing where they were trying to find the highest fiber combination possible. Not so. I get my usual poppy bagel in a bag, untoasted, much to Ishan’s chagrin. Ishan, the main counterperson, thinks all bagels should be toasted. As much as I like him, I prefer when José works the counter. José is probably eighteen years old and may or may not be in love with me. The result is that he takes immense pride in remembering my order. When he’s there, I enter, he tells me to cut the line, and he says, “poppy seed bagel in a bag, medium coffee, milk-no-sugar?” And I smile and nod. “Three dollars.” Done.
We get our stuff to go, and I bid Seamus goodbye at the train before I shuffle away to go back to bed. Well, I don’t shuffle away. I have this awkward pirate-swagger-y walk I developed from the combination of years of fatigue and being mildly pigeon-toed. So I do that. Back at home, I take a shower, lint-roll the crumbs off my bed, and get back in. Everything smells like wine. I must have spilled some, but it’s unclear where. Oh well. I turn on Pandora and drift off again.
When I wake up, my chest hurts, and my stomach feels low in my body; my palms are wet. I must be dying. But as my brain shifts back onto the horizon, I become aware of the song coming through my speakers…”Annie are you OK, Annie are you OK, are you OK, Annie?” A tear sneaks up in my left eye, and I push it back, turn off the music, and sit up, my back against the Bowie poster on my wall. I slink down and hear it rip a little, but I’m in my head watching something else. I’m back in Evanston, cooking dinner in Jenna’s house. She’s watching “This is It,” the documentary about the dancers training for Michael Jackson’s final tour before he died. She’s seen the movie seventeen times already, but it’s her favorite, and I don’t mind the repetition. It’s worth witnessing her fascination throughout the documentary. “Smooth Criminal” is her favorite song and routine in the show. She’s obsessed with the lean. How the hell do they do that? She’s always trying to do it, so I’m constantly catching her before she falls to the ground.
I force myself to exit the vision and stop thinking about her; she doesn’t deserve the consideration. Coming out of the flashbacks always reminds me of Harry Potter coming out of the pensieve. It’s ridiculous, and the inability to forget is exhausting.
I pull myself together and get ready for work. Pants, hat…apron…ah, goddamnit, I forgot to wash my aprons with the rest of my laundry…I’ll just wear one backwards…wait…where the fuck is my hat? I rush out the door, since I’m cutting it close and need to pick up a new hat before work now. Hopefully, Chef won’t bitch about my apron. After only seven months at Downton, I am tiring of the douche-y, pretentious kitchen. But fuck it—I need a job, and it’s good experience. Once I’m there, I walk in the back door and through the kitchen to the locker room. “Grizzly bearrrr, what up, girl?”
“Dan, hey dude.”
Luckily, no one is in the locker room anymore, because I’m a minute late. I’m the only girl in the kitchen, so I always have to wait for the bathroom to be free if I want to change or just suck it up and change with the boys. I wouldn’t really care, either, except for this one dude, Andre, is obsessed with me. One has to send the right messages in this life if one does not desire to be hassled. You know.