A couple weeks in you have a dentist appointment and realize you don’t fit in at your dentist. They’re too nice. The lady, who looks exactly like someone’s wife, apologizes every time she thinks it hurts. You know how to reciprocate that kind of thing ok. You say, “It’s OK, it’s ok, it’s fine,” but at a certain point it becomes impossible. Your spit has all traveled down that narrow tube and your mouth is sore and locked like you tried to take a bite out of too big a sandwich.
Even though you can no longer talk you keep saying, “It’s OK, it’s fine” in your head until you start to believe it. Then you leave the dentist and it’s not.
You’re already tired of the cold weather and think it’s definitely worth it to sacrifice fashion for general comfort. You’ve gained 9 pounds simply because your layers hide the extra weight. Your job doesn’t help anyone, especially you. And, lastly, you’re alone again and it was all your fault.
What You Will Do
Throw out the card for the next appointment and then try and remember how you found that dentist to begin with.
Call that person you’ve been dating again to apologize for accidentally getting them a DUI when you jumped out of the driver’s seat and begged them to take over when the cop pulled you over on New Year’s Eve.
Go to bed early when they don’t call you back.
You know it’s over with that person so you go to the new Trader Joe’s for a cheap bottle of Shiraz at 11am on Valentine’s Day. Everyone there is too nice and asks if they can “Help you find anything?” and you know you won’t be back again, but it’s hard because the cheap wine is so good. You think you know more than most about cheap wine and where to get it and wonder if you should write a book about it. You quickly dismiss it because you know you lack the conviction and discipline. You think about all the unfinished novels and essays in your Dropbox.
While at Trader Joe’s you buy an organic gala apple as if it’s some kind of symbol for a healthier future that will never exist. While in traffic you try and pick off the sticker with your fingernail. It won’t come off and it frustrates you. You look down a little too long and rear-end a church bus.
What You Will Do
Try very hard to convince the responding officer that you weren’t texting. There’s no way he could know one way or the other, so he issues you a regular ticket, but it bothers you that no matter what you say the cop thinks you were texting. He also makes you take a Breathalyzer test for no reason and when you ask him about it, he says simply, “You look like someone that would be drunk right now.” You think what he did is probably illegal, but you ignore that because you do kind of look like that.
Fend off the cheerful church crowd by relating every instance they mention from the Bible to Star Wars. You’re glad they finally go away, but you know you suck and it’s starting to wear you down.
After two months of avoiding serious engagement with society you sense your social skills slipping, but you feel that these impressions cannot be accurate. You’ve occupied so many public situations in the past that mingling must be like muscle memory by now.
But it’s not.
You go to a bar with a neat thing going on when a friend of yours comes into town, but they allow dogs in there. You forget how most people feel about dogs. While waiting for your friend to arrive you forget that if you hit a dog for no reason its owner will get mad. You don’t even mean to hit the dog. It just kind of sneaks up on you with its wet nose while you sit on a furry ottoman big as a chair with an armrest and you turned around and elbowed it really hard in the face. It yelps and a really skinny person with tattoos and tiny shoes comes up and asks if you have a problem. Because you forget how to talk to people, and that a simple mistake can be solved with language, you just run out of the bar without ever meeting your friend.
What You Will Do
Sheepishly reenter the bar the following day to retrieve your debit card from the bartender. Before you leave, you stop at the gumball machine and scowl that they are now fifty cents. You want a green gumball really bad but only have an assortment of dimes and pennies. Had you not spread your change all over the bamboo bar top you would never have run into the tattooed, tiny shoed person again. But there they are in the doorway waiting for you.
Wonder why this person is already back in the bar. Figure out they own the place.
Your mom calls and a family member you didn’t really know that well passed away in a regular way. It’s sad of course, but it’s not like you were that close or everyone hadn’t known it was coming for a long time. You don’t really feel obligated to go back home, but you can tell your mom wants you there mostly because she’d like to see your reaction to their new dog and the way it freaks out when she tries to put shoes on it. You’re not interested in that at all, but your parents’ house means many free beers, lots of television which you haven’t had in your home for years, and she, obviously, is willing to pay for the plane ticket.
At the airport you can’t believe that electricity is scarce. You witness 8 people huddled around a single outlet by a McDonald’s taking turns plugging in their smartphones. You’re glad yours is charged and you catch up on Tremé until you board.
When you land, your phone has died and you can’t call your mom to pick you up. After you try and find a payphone for a little while and wonder when they got rid of those, you decide to walk outside. You walk up the sidewalk a little and see her in the distance. You can tell she’s really proud of her haircut and will want to talk about it. You’re home. Geez.
What You Will Do
Load beer into a small soft-sided cooler meant for lunch to take to the funeral. After the service you sit out back on the tailgate of your dad’s truck and drink.
Give one to an old friend you haven’t seen since high school that approaches from the church. You two are friends on Facebook and it’s weird that you haven’t talked in many years but you know he enjoys a moderate amount of success, lives in a two story house with two kids, and just had his wisdom teeth removed.
Think about your dentist again.
Realize you’re tailgating a funeral.
Talk in depth with him about what it takes to be successful. You haven’t made one resolution this year, so you resolve to try and be something else, something better.
You couldn’t have picked a worse time to make this resolution, because one evening after a particularly grueling and unrewarding day at work you look at your phone and find an invite in your Facebook inbox to an annual outing you know will end badly. Despite what you know will happen you consider going.
The last time you attended this outing you ended up sleeping on a moldy papasan cushion in the middle of the woods drunker than a pack of full-bellied winter wolves. Then, your nature loving friends awoke you by playing a didgeridoo in your ear and shaking a rain stick. They were naked, and this happened after only the first night.
The second night your friends invited several people whom you would rather never see again. One scammed you out of a security deposit, the other slept with someone who liked really good music that you would have enjoyed to get to know better, but this person destroyed them and they moved to a different college.
The third and last night, all of you together snuck onto an abandoned property because you heard thousands of cicadas were going to clamber up trees, climb out of their shells, and start calling out. You saw some, but it wasn’t thousands at first. They slowly rose from somewhere in the ground. It was all very slow and none of you could handle slow. Someone had mushrooms and everyone ate them and after a while more and more of the bugs came out of the ground and they buzzed into the dark. It was all very pleasant until someone got too close to a cicada and it called in their ear so loud it bled, and they are still deaf in that ear. The night ended with everyone too drunk to remember any of it, except you because you wondered why you were there.
What You Will Do
Tell them thanks and decline the offer, and feel, for the first time, you’re getting too old for that kind of thing.
Start reading Hemingway short stories for some reason.
You remember the new season of Arrested Development was released last month and you watch it all in a single sitting because you don’t do anything else anyway. You like it ok, but you remember watching the original series when you were starting college and that was part of it, where you were then and with whom you shared it. You wonder where those people faded away. You think that you’re the only one still here.
You know this self-loathing is getting old. You want to do something constructive so you think back to all the Tremé you watched and the food they ate in that show. You look up a gumbo recipe. You drive past the new Trader Joe’s because they’re too nice in there and go to Whole Foods. You buy okra. You don’t know how to tell if okra is good. You buy red beans, rice, tomatoes, shrimp, and everything else.
What You Will Do
Make a huge pot of gumbo and throw in a couple additional spices and some butternut squash you had around the house for some reason.
Almost fall over it’s so good.
Even though you never talk to your neighbors you take some over to them. They thank you. In an hour they ring your doorbell and tell you how great it was.
Think maybe this could be something.