This is what happens when you work with nerds on Valentine’s Day. (at The Center for Investigative Reporting)
You are alone. You came alone. You want to mingle with cute single guys. You fiddle to see if anyone you know checked into Foursquare here. A guy with a mutual friend did. You look for him. You feel weird, even stalkerish, and you don’t see him anywhere until you realized you checked into the wrong art gallery down the street. You want to mingle with cute single guys. You stuff your face into your phone instead.
You listen to the presentations and sink knowing Nietzsche died in a mental institution and that Faulkner accused you of being a chicken with its head cut off because you have no whisky bottle. You sigh as the drag queen out of costume makes his eleventh dick joke of the night. You remember your mom’s voice, the same way she spoke from the side of her mouth as she picked lemons from the tree in the front yard. Her voice is yours, telling you to keep your laughs in, that the dick joke wasn’t really funny or appropriate. She is telling you to leave. You leave.
You are alone. You are out in the street. you are among tourists in your own space. You see a Beard Papas and wonder how the hell someone got the capital to start up a chain of cream pufferies. You need to eat. You just finished a book about eating. The author said that you could eat whatever you wanted as long as you listened to your body, not your habits or your mind. Well, your mind is your body. Your body is your mind. Your mind is your mom’s. Your mom tells you that you want a cream puff. You want a cream puff. You keep walking.
You walk past a bar with a red glowing wall of booze bottles, and you have no desire to pick up any more bad habits. If only other addict’s sins weighed as heavily on their bodies as yours, so publicly, subject to all the stares, the naming, the ever-so-kind perceived rejections. You thump past a street saxophone player. He’s playing your theme song, The Girl from Ipanema. He is playing it poorly. You thump some more past a one-man band, a young lad outfitted with cymbals on his knees, a ukelele in his hand and a harmonica attached to a metal holder. He is singing that he hopes he dies before he gets old. He is unironically singing this in front of Forever 21.
You are 33 years old.
You are alone. You have to catch your breath and your thoughts in a cafe next to your bus stop. Your dying phone tells you the bus leaves in 15 minutes, so you order a small coffee and a cranberry-walnut piece of rock. You crunch on the rock as a chipper pop song declares to you that you are nothing less than perfect.
You sit. You stare out to the street. Your bus glides by. Your bus is replaced by a fire truck, with silent whirling lights that block any potential passengers from their loading zones. The fire truck is there for several minutes. No one leaves the truck. No one gets in. Nothing is wrong.
Nothing is less than perfect.
You are alone. You walk to the next bus. You say a silent prayer, pleading that God would grant you a vice much, much cooler than cream puffs.