The Mailroom

Daily Prompt: Snark Bombs, Away!

Don’t cry over spilled milk,” my mother always told me. That’s exactly what I did, do, and can’t stop doing.

And it was all because of a fucking mailbox.

“Hi,” I said, avoiding eye contact. Bertha is the typical eyesore to the boarding school freshman. Why she’s an eyesore has little to do with her appearance, although, if you really want to know, she has red hair tied back in a bun. She fashions herself in a hipster robe. And her breath smells like donkey.

Bertha does everything at this school. She’s the cook. She’s the mailroom assistant. She’s the advisor for Ecology Club. Not sure how that one fits, but maybe she likes trees.

“Hi,” I repeated. “I was wondering if you could help me open my mailbox. It doesn’t seem to be…”

She looked up. She looked down. But she didn’t look my way when she said, “Name.”

“I’m Alex.”

“Crappy name for a girl,” Bertha replied. “See this apple?” she asked in that raspy Bernadette Peters voice. She seized a robust looking Granny Smith that was hanging out of my JanSport bag and plopped it down onto the mailroom counter. This was no Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It couldn’t be. “Where did you get this apple?” she inquired.

She was onto me.

I looked up, but her golden tooth flashed me. I could feel my throat constricting. A single tear made its grand entrance from my right eye.

What could I say?  I don’t go here? I’m really a transfer student? An international? An everything above?

Fighting the tears, I uttered, “The dining hall?”

“Yeeees,” she replied and laughed that cacophonous laugh they save for evil witches named Bertha in hipster robes with flowers on them.

“Could you possibly be able to help me open my mailbox? I have…tickets to see this performer, David Sedaris. Really funny guy–brilliant, actually. His show is tomorrow, and my mailbox is broken. Please, could you help me? It’s a VIP pass.”

“Oh, of course,” Bernadette Peters said calmly, “just as long as you look at the fucking apple!”

I looked around panoramically. The one time there’s no line for the mail.

David Sedaris…VIP …tomorrow…I’ll look at the fucking apple.

“Now,” she said, “I will open your mailbox for you if you do one thing for me. If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”  I’m not touching that back, I thought.

“Tell me,” she crackled through her red velvet lips. “Tell me why. Tell me why you steal apples from the dining hall!”

“Sorry,” I mumbled softly. “I didn’t think I was stealing. I’m on the unlimited meal plan, so I can basically have food like five times a day if I feel like it. Not like I would. But I could. And an apple is a great snack. You know, an apple a day keeps the doctor away?”

“Oh sweetie,” she grinned, grabbing my sweaty cheek as if I were an infant, “people shouldn’t get hungry.”

Could it be…was she? There she was. She was going to my mailbox. She was getting the mail! She returned. Victory is mine. Now I just have to say a secret password in some esoteric language that only the Mayans have deciphered or sing an opera or kiss her ass.

“A thief,” she began, this time with the ticket in hand, “is not a Very Important Person.”

Shredded in front of my eyes. Down the abyss. Down the machine. Forever lost. Hello, spilled milk. Goodbye, David Sedaris. Goodbye, happiness. And goodbye, Granny Smith. You never were a real grandma.

Goodbye, Wisdom

Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember

I remember when I got my wisdom teeth removed. Actually, “barely remember” is more accurate. They gave me drugs the night before to help calm my nerves and make me less anxious about the procedure. When I got in there, I was giggly as Goofy. I was nervous about the surgery that entire week. How much is it going to hurt? How many bruises will I get? How long until I can enjoy life again? And now I barely remember what happened…except:

I was itchy. That was the steroids, according to the assistant. The only pain I felt was the IV, but that was temporary. I was knocked out on the happy drugs– the colonoscopy kind. And you wonder why David Sedaris writes about how amazing colonoscopies are!

Somehow I was transported to the next room, which I had the pleasure of seeing before the surgery. In there was a patient who was completely asleep, door open, peanut gallery display. I was going to be like that.

My mom took a picture of me while I was knocked out. For those who know her, this behavior wouldn’t seem like much of a surprise. I had gauzes, two sets– inside my mouth. I thought they were on the outside because I looked like a walrus. I should have sung “I am the Walrus.” It would have seemed more suitable than trying to spell out the word “flute” five million times for my mother and the assistant.

“Usually I’m pretty good at decoding drugged up kids,” the assistant declared, “but not this one.”

And so I am and will forever be, an inexplicable walrus girl with chipmunk cheeks. An avatar. A patient. A geek.

Self-Portrait

Daily Prompt: Origin Story

When I started this blog, I thought I was going to be famous and have a mini New York City population of followers. I thought I’d be as well-known as that beloved cynic David Sedaris who wrote, among other books, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. After getting my wisdom teeth removed yesterday, I realized, I am that book: all alone, sitting in bed–with chipmunk cheeks.

Worthy of Laud

Daily Prompt: Pat on the Back

10 People, Places, and Things Worthy of Applause (in no particular order):

1.  Friends TV show

2. Jefferson Airplane

3. Everything since sliced bread

4. Solid foods

5. Alfred Hitchcock

6. David Sedaris

7. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

8. Sybil the book

9. Sybil the movie

10. Orange is the New Black

Rear Window

Daily Prompt: Fandom

Instead of watching sports, I prefer to watch people. Yep, I’m a people watcher, a peeping tom, anything that involves the art of viewing others. Just kidding about some of that. What I mean by all this is that instead of watching sweat on a screen, I prefer watching people in airports. Maybe that’s because I’m in an airport and have been travelling all day.

Yup, I’m a creep. But that’s how some of the best writers make their living. Take David Sedaris for example. He writes about the sketches at the airports.

Sometimes I admit, I do enjoy watching tennis. But that’s because I play tennis. I’m not an avid fan. I saw someone’s Facebook status about Murray winning something and didn’t know what he won or who he was. Pardon the ignorance. I prefer pedestrians.

Instant Oatmeal Love

“Still I could feel this thing between us, not just lust but a kind of immediate love, the sort that, like instant oatmeal, can be realized in a matter of minutes and is just as nutritious as the real thing”-David Sedaris, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

I was having a bad case of writer’s block when someone suggested picking my favorite David Sedaris quote and beginning a post with that. I bought the new Sedaris book in Brookline at a store called Booksmith with Cousin Ellen and Dad.

Last night I dreamt I went to Brookline again. Screw Manderley! This place has got it all: a Tudor-style Walgreen’s, an ice cream parlor–many ice cream parlors, an Indian restaurant that is almost as good as the Indian restaurant back home, and lots more. The streets are upbeat. The people are jovial. It’s hip and it’s hopp’n.

Sometimes, however, the ugly is what we must live for.

Maybe we will return to Manderley or some equivalent shithole mansion Valley of Ashes pre-Clinton Harlem and so forth. The polar opposite of downtown D.C., which resembles a post-dishwasher plate …clean. The near cousin of Trenton or the Newark Train Station. Not to bash on Jersey, the second home to me.

A lot of people will give you a lot of shit when you say you’re visiting Jersey, living in Jersey, vacationing in Jersey, or flying over Jersey. Jersey, despite its notorious hard-core rep, has its finer parts. Just ask my cousins.

I guess that was a weird line, the whole “Just ask my cousins.” For one you don’t know me. For two you don’t know my cousins. And they’re mine so back off!

The truth is, there is good and there is bad. Even Maine ain’t perfect. I realize I am saying this right as I am heading off to a university that, well, isn’t in the best neighborhood. But it has flare. It has attitude. It has style.

My point being, you can be reared in the Bronx Zoo. You can be reared in Boston and conceived in Bangor. Or, you can be educated at a fancy prep school in D.C. and befriend the Obama girls. No matter where it is, you’ve got a story. No matter where you are, you’ve got a paper and pen, so write the fucking personal essay, why don’t you?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the happy stuff sucks and that misery is fuel. Take, for example, the popular ‘90s sitcom Friends. It’s an upbeat program with of course, friends, Central Perk, Ross and Rachel. But the stuff we like, the stuff we laugh at (or at least I do), is the pain. Chandler is terrible with interviews. Laugh at his pain. Be sadistic. Ross is a klutz. Enjoy his awkwardness. For, if life gave you lemonade, there’d be nothing to write about.

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