“You know, you can use it to matte your eyebrows down.”
I glanced over at her then back to the open file cabinet under the desk, trying to figure out what one office would ever need with twenty glue sticks.
“You just run the glue stick over your eyebrows, powder foundation over it, and draw the eyebrows in once it sets! Trannies use that trick all the time.”
“Huh…” Interesting. “So, uh..where did you–I mean, how did you know how…”
“Oh, I looked it up.”
“I’ve been doing a lot of research on it.”
“I’m trying to learn how to be a trannie.”
“Oh, okay! For Halloween?”
“Just for going out.”
“…and when you’re in Portland, please don’t TMI about me, okay?”
“Sab, I don’t talk about you when you’re not around…”
“Of course you do: ‘Yeah! Sabrina loves eating broccoli and doing macramé and lala-la…’”
“You don’t do macramé.”
“…I don’t even know what that is…”
“You don’t know what macramé is??”
“No… I have a vague idea… do you?”
“It’s the art of macaroni noodles.”
The waiter came out, half-apologetically explained:
“Sorry guys, but the chef only has one… grill working, so it’s going to be a bit delayed.”
I was a little disappointed, but only because I really wished he had said:
“Sorry guys, but the chef only has one… arm.”
I sent a parcel in the mail yesterday, so you should get it in a couple of days. Are you taking your vitamins? I just ordered new curtains for my bedroom. They’re sheer with purple flowers and match my sofa chair. Two girls in Colorado were eaten alive by a mountain lion yesterday while riding their bikes on a nature trail. Love, M.
Over the weekend, I’ve developed a highly itchy, infectious rash over my face and neck that looks like I’ve either been beaten by a pack of angry Skittles or exfoliated my face with the ground-up floor tiles of a public shower. And it WON’T.STOP.ITCHING. I’ve gone over every possible explanation: the Chipotle I had the night before? Impossible. I eat that stuff at least once a week when I’m too lazy to boil spaghetti. Poison Ivy? No. Bed Bugs? Gross. Something on the dog? No. Wheat? No. Dairy? No. Peanut Butter? Don’t be ridiculous.
“Then what is it?”
And that’s when it hit me. The Public Library. Those dark, decades-old windowless residential outposts whose tree-lined properties border those of neighboring sex offenders and serial killers-in-training. The musty closet smell. The perpetual water leaks. The crackling plastic covers on faded hardbacks that haven’t been checked out since 1975. I had forgotten what it was like to travel back to elementary, surrounded by posters of celebrities posing with large dictionaries, pretending to know how to read.
” That’s it!” I looked over at Deb, who was still cringing at the thought of touching books that have made contact with the bacterial-infected Petri dishes of Public Jam Hands. “I haven’t been to the library in years, and during the night that I broke out on my neck and face, I was reading a library book and had it resting on my pillow.”
” So it must be something in the paper, then…”
” Or it could be the library…
…Oh my god…
…I’M ALLERGIC TO KNOWLEDGE.”
I’ve seen this film five times. Not because I love it, but because that is how many separate installments it took to successfully drag myself through what is essentially, a movie about a floating rectangle.
“It’s called a monolith.” Jon shakes his head as he tosses the remote on the sofa.
“Can we change it? … I haif thif movie.” I reach back into the bag of chips as soon as my mouth has freed up enough space for five more slivers of crispy fried perfection. (CRUNCH!) Much better.
“Do you understand how significant this film is? What it did for science fiction? Do you reali-”
“It’s a movie about a floating rectangle.”
“A mo.no.lith. And it’s about the evolution of science and humanity, the spark of intellectual curiosi–”
“Why do they keep rubbing their faces up against that thing? They don’t even know where it’s been.” I look around for the nearest available pillow and silently debate whether my sudden drowsiness is carb or boredom-induced.
“Those voices represent other life forms. Other dimensions. And when the planets align, it sparks a –”
“The only interesting part of the movie is HAL because he’s cray. Just like Carrie, but no one’s laughing or dying in a gym fire.”
“Sab, computers don’t have feelings. They’re purely logical machines.”
“Haven’t you seen Christine? That was a car. I’m telling you. Computers are evil and if we don’t watch out, they’ll kill us all.” (CRUNCH! CRUNCH!)
(CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!)
“Aren’t you not supposed to be eating potato chips when you’re on a cleanse?”
“They’re made from sweet potatoes… lower glycemic index… doesn’t really count.”
I survey the contents on the conveyor belt: Gluten-free pasta, toothpaste (the gel kind, not the white pasty stuff that tastes like caulking and sandpaper), two cotton t-shirts for $10 apiece, a heat-and-eat pepperoni pizza suffocating in its own complimentary shrink wrap…
And look at her with tired eyes and smile.
I’ll actually be staying on another twelve hours as soon as I get enough cups of water from the dispenser to boil this bag of pasta in my office, as there is not enough ventilation to cook under the stairwell, where I will be spending the night.
“Yep.” I answer. For the fourth time this week…
And quickly hand her my cash.