ever screamed a primal scream in a car, sis? given that you cracked a guy’s head with a beer bottle for trying to take your boyfriend’s bar stool to hit on you, i’m guessing so. i never asked; did the bottle break?
the key, i find, is to give it your all. you gotta really scream it. preferably to rage against the machine, jane’s addiction, any group that hates the world as you. but you really gotta let it go. i try to make my throat sore and my ears bleed. pain is what does it. you startle yourself, get a breath, rasp from the vent. it usually does the trick.
not today. i was wrapped in my world. maybe my stomach hurt. maybe i wasn’t given the freedom to bray about my every pondering in my feeble brain. who the fuck knows.
but i was down, angry, hurt. and the screams weren’t doing anything except a piss-poor job as backing vocal to alice in chains.
so i decided to treat my pity with the best concoction known to the human palate: diet coke and hostess donettes. you know, the little white powdered ones. not the chocolate ones. teddy says those taste like dookie, without the delicious after taste.
i get em at the circle k. one of my many temples to human decay. at jack n the box, they ask about my dogs. at mcdonald’s, they know to put extra ice in the diet coke.
and at the circle k, i’ve gotten to know the faces, not the names, of the cashiers there.
there’s one i find fascinating. she’s tiny, must be about 30, but looks twice that age. i hate to say it, sis, but her demeanor makes me think she has tough mental issues. coke bottle-thick glasses that she looks through askew. walks slightly askew. will engage in conversation waaaay too lengthy for a 24/7 convenience store.
and it’s a tough area. i wonder if it’s frightening to leave work.
but she’s so oddly committed to the job, it seems. once, i was waiting to pay for my donettes, and she politely asked if she could wait on the teenager standing behind me by the cheetos. i hadn’t even seen him. she said he’d been too shy to step up.
i apologized profusely to him. and when he left, told her that was an admirable thing. i can’t think of any of those 7/11 fuckbags giving a black kid a break.
anyway, i was there, filling up my diet coke. and she’s at the register, getting ripped by her boss for cash register receipts that were $1.20 over the printed total. ‘you have to call me when this happens,’ he says. ‘you know better.’
‘sorry,’ she say. ‘it was so busy i must have gotten confused.’
‘then call me.’
‘sorry. it’s 9:45. is it okay to take my break now?’
‘i’ll be back at 9:55.’
she walks back to the fountain drinks, where i’m putting the lid on my bucket o’ soda.
‘hello,’ she says. complete smile. complete sincerity. ‘how are you doing?’ i smile, nod, say finehowareyou in rote politeness.
she pours out the remnants of her pepsi from the cup she must keep for refills (i remember from working at theaters that businesses count cups, so you can’t have a free one). she walks to the back of the circle k, where the office must be.
and i drive home, sis, absolutely disgusted with myself.
how do i lose sight so easily? why do i go deaf so quickly? must i lose touch with the world like a psychic quadriplegic, convinced the chair into which i settle is somehow real and rickety and the least bit unfair?
i come home, where teddy and esme bound on me as if i’d circumnavigated the globe and took the Snausages with me. and i let them climb on me and lick my face and fur me the fuck up and stink me out and i feel myself ease as i think about my horrible horrible horrible day. and how that girl, sitting at the office, sipping a flat pepsi and watching as 10 minutes bullet by on a manager’s punch clock that never stops metering your life in spare change, how that girl, if she had a taste of my trouble, would call her mother and wonder how she got so lucky.
i love you today, but i’ll love you more tomorrow.