The Lost Kids

by Shaina

NINE

Hem decides that we’re going to have a Winona Ryder marathon, so we watch “Girl Interrupted” and then start to watch “The Heathers.”  I have to agree with him that it’s a shame she’s not that relevant in pop culture anymore.  I think it turned out she was a klepto or some shit, but who really cares?  I guess it’s one thing to be a bad bitch like Lindsay Lohan and stuff, but once you get down to details, thievery is not that cool.  I will admit that it took me some time to realize that she and Kiera Knightly were not, in fact, the same person, but that’s neither here nor there.  So after the millionth Heather dies in the movie, we start to get bored and talk.

“So I’m leaving tomorrow morning around ten,” Hem informs me.

“What?  I’m off tomorrow.  I thought we could go on one of our margarita crawls.”

“Girl, are you kidding me?  After last night, you want to go out for a day of margaritas?  What shape would that leave you in for work on Thursday?”

“Boy, are you serious?  You are talking to me about not going into work hungover right now?  I’ve been on my station for months.  I’m on autopilot.  But I guess you’re probably right, anyway.  I’ve got a constant fucking sleep deficit.”

“Yeah.  You should stay in for once.”

“Hm.  Maybe.  So are you gonna hook up with your boss, then?  You said he’s into you.  Is he cute?”

“I tell myself I won’t, but I know I totally will.  I don’t know…He’s cute in a fifty year old French man kind of way.  I can dig a receding hairline, though.  Plus his accent is so hot!  I don’t know, girl.  It’s bad territory.  He has a wife!  But you know those Europeans are less repressed than Americans.  They’ll fuck anyone.”

“Maybe I should just come back with you.  Pull a Jean Valjean and start a new life.”

“Do it!  We can start an indie band and become famous.”

“Do you have any musical talent?  I only played the clarinet in the intro to band class in high school so I could look well-rounded on my college applications.  I suck at that shit.  Like, on the rare occasion that I practiced, my family’s cat would hide in the basement until it was over.  Lucky for her, that almost never occurred.”

“Either way.  I’ll sing.  We’ll figure it out.”

I get a text from Dennis that says, “hey girl—off tomorrow.  my friend canceled on me for our res at demo tomorrow night if you wanna go.”  Hm.  Demo is this fancy fucking avante garde place where the menu changes every night and all that shit.  I’ve been curious about it, but I don’t have any money, and I don’t feel like chancing the disappointment.  I’d rather just lay in bed, drink a bottle of wine, and watch reruns of “Hey Arnold” online.  I text him back: “poverty central…sorry man.  maybe another time.”  A few minutes later, I get a snapchat from Dennis.  I open it, and it’s a scratch off captioned, I won, biatch.  Ur coming to din.”

While I feel bad using Dennis’s apparent lottery money for my dining privilege, I don’t feel that bad.  I don’t know anyone else he would go with.  Cooks tend to be single and have days off that normal people won’t go out on.  And one of my old co-workers works as a sous there, so we’ll get a bunch of free shit.  “You won a scratch off??” I text him. “That’s bullshit.  I’m in.  What time?”  He texts me back, “yes!  Six.  Wear your Sunday best.”  To which I respond, “I always look my Sunday best, asshole.”  I’ll wear the Rag and Bone onesie my aunt got me for Christmas.  I don’t really have a designer onesie lifestyle, but I aspire to.

“Who’s the new boyfriend?” Hem asks, reading over my shoulder.

“You know my co-worker Dennis?  He just won a scratch off and is making me go to dinner with him tomorrow.”

“Making you?”

“Well, you know.  It’s one of those places where the meal could be amazing or total bullshit.”  Hem nods in understanding.  “Dude, it sucks that you have to go back with your boss; otherwise, I’d say you should stay over here and just take the train to the airport in the morning.  It’s not far from here.”

“I know.  Oh well.  When I win a scratch off, I’m gonna fly you to Paris to visit me.”

“Damn—my boys treat me nice!  Dinner, flights, maybe some gold hoop earrings with my name in them…”  We all know they don’t make “Gretchen” hoop earrings, but one can dream.  We laugh and run our fingers through our hair, pretending to slick it back.  It’s something we do every time one of us makes a chola joke.  I very briefly dated a Puerto Rican girl, Maria, in college, and through her, we learned a lot about the flyness of Latina culture.

“Well, Gretch…I hate to say I have to leave, especially before Winona Ryder blows up her high school, but it’s time.”

“Noooo!”  We hug, and I force him to take my ex-favorite jet-setting sweater for the plane.  It’s hard to explain why, but it’s the best sweater ever worn for travel.  But it was also Jenna’s, and I secretly just want to never see it again.  To me, a gift is even better when its gifting benefits both parties, so Hem doesn’t have to know my alternate agenda for getting rid of it.

After he leaves, I finish the rest of “The Heathers” and then doze off.  Even though it’s only eight, I sleep until I hear my alarm going off at ten the next morning.  Holy shit.  I slept all night?  It was only going to be a nap!  Oh well.  I drag myself into a seated position and frown at the drool spot on my pillow.  I once heard a woman tell her husband, “you are why we can’t have white things!”  I am why I can’t have white things.  I make a mental note to buy some not white sheets when I one day win a scratch off or the next time I work a six-day week.  What bullshit this life is, I think.  Working overtime for sheets.  

I spend my day catching up on chores, and when three o’clock roles around, I grab a Negra Modelo and head into the bathroom to shower and get ready for dinner.  Dennis will laugh when he sees me dressed up.  I don’t think we’ve ever really hung out on a day off.  I do my hair and makeup, put on my sweet new onesie, and look at the clock.  It’s only four.  I mean, Jesus.  All my friends in college took two hours to get ready for a bar crawl.  I can’t even manage to take an hour to get ready for a fancy dinner?  I decide to reward myself with another beer instead of overthinking it, and I listen to some music to relax.  I leave around five, even though the restaurant is uptown, and I’ll be early.  I’ll just wait for Dennis at the bar and get a fancy cocktail.  After all, it is on the lottery’s tab tonight.

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