act one: the protagonist. last night, at just past reasonable to be awake on a weeknight o'clock, i decided i needed an ice cold can of ginger ale. so i haven't been to a proper grocery store in, like, three years. scratch that: i went into the jewel on chicago avenue eight months ago to try to get a dvd from the redbox but was too fucking stupid and impatient to figure out how to use the damn thing so i ended up just kicking it and sulking off and not buying any food. (i didn't really want to watch horrible bosses 2 anyfuckingway.) and while i've pooped in a few, i haven't purchased groceries in an actual supermarket in three years. since i'd already had a handful of borderline-rotten spinach and the lesser bruised half of a banana for dinner (JESUS GOD I HATE BEING ALIVE) it seemed like a waste to try to order takeout and i had just missed the window of opportunity to sneak in a latenight instacart delivery so i found myself faced with an unenviable decision. DO I 1 find my goddamn shoes; put on a house bra, not to be confused with a work bra (utilitarian, reinforced with 18/8 steel) or a sex bra (flimsy, lacy, 100% ineffective); remember where i last saw my debit card; check the weather to see if i need a jacket because i haven't been outside all goddamn day; make sure my phone is charged so i can listen to music; have a 30 second internal debate over whether or not to haul the recycling down to the dumpster since i'm going out anyway; watch some love and hip hop, momentarily forgetting how goddamn badly i wanted some fucking ginger ale a minute ago; walk to the corner store; weep silently while lightly running my fingers over all of the delicious forbidden snackfoods i no longer eat; wonder if the dude behind the register can tell that the left underwire in this bra popped six weeks ago; spend three real minutes contemplating an overpriced brick of cheese; return home to realize this is not the fucking hoodie i keep my keys in; drink 1/4 of my soda before passing out on the toilet OR 2 TAKE AN ATIVAN AND GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP. alas, the heart wants what it wants. i began my search for two matching shoes.
act two: the antagonist. according to steve jobs the temperature was around fifty degrees and looking out into the alley my apartment surveys i didn't see any raindrops, so i decided to wear my robe to the store. it's not, like, a sex robe? but it's long and black and if you squint real hard it in the dark and i stand at an angle it kind of looks like a dress. plus it's comfortable and i'll take soft over stylish any day. i should also mention that i was wearing pajama jeans underneath because i'm glamorous. so i roll up to the corner bumping that new goldlink record in my headphones and immediately spot a gentleman across the street maxing what appeared to be a raccoon carcass mottled with human snot that he was enjoying directly from the garbage can. the light changed and as i started across the street i noticed that he was actively bleeding from an open wound on his forehead. seemingly unfazed by this recent injury, he locked eyes with me and motioned excitedly for me to remove my earbuds as i approached, taking a big bite of some other person's trash. i slowed down, praying to a nonexistent god to please hit me with a fucking bus before i made it all the way across the street. WHAT IN THE FUCK DID WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT.
"how do you do, m'lady? lovely evening for a stroll around the promenade, isn't it?" *tips blood-soaked cubs hat*
"well i do say so! pleased to make your acquaintance!" *curtsies while coquettishly raising tattered right hem of dressing gown*
but i welcome any opportunity to be helpful (no i don't) and i don't like being rude (yes i do) so i obliged; maybe he needed me to buy him some advil or call him an ambulance. i could do that! "hey sir, do you need me to help you?" i asked with a sweetness that doesn't come naturally to me.
he appraised my stunning (pffft) rubenesque figure and said, after ten real seconds which is like a fucking eternity when standing in your stupid robe on a brightly-lit, busy-ass corner in rogers park, "i love an ugly woman with confidence."
LOL PARDON ME, HOMIE? i didn't even know how the fuck to feel! at first i was all "yay! confidence!" but then i was like "boo! ugly!" welp. how could a dude who probably definitely would be spending the rest of his evening wrestling chicken bones away from a rat fuck with my self-esteem in five seconds!? i hung my head in shame as he cackled evilly and took another bite of the used maxi pad he was eating.
so i have a pretty special relationship with the nightshift dude at sonny's. i mean, i don't think i'm on his christmas card list and the one time i ran into him at the neighborhood bar i was so awkward that he immediately just turned and walked away from me, but he's cool and he plays good music and he never appears to be visibly judging the frequency of my spicy nacho dorito purchases. "hey, cat food!" he said cheerfully, looking up from the 700 page novel he was reading at the tinkling of the little bell over the door. "we just got new skittles!" i waved sadly and tried to smile (he told me his name forever ago and i can't fucking remember it and that is the absolute worst, when you can't recall a person's name and you're too ashamed of your shitty memory to ask the first couple times you see him after he told you and now five literal years have passed and it would be fucking ridiculous to admit you've been mumbling "how ya doing, mfgrrarlmmbt?" in his general direction before racing with your blushing head down to the Dry Goods and Ramen aisle every time you need a can of 2am soup) and moped over to the back of the store. even the prospect of new skittles wasn't enough to lift my crushed spirits.
"am i ugly?" i whispered to ben, voice choked with tears, clearing some condensation from the freezer case to gaze despondently at my harrowed reflection.
"of course not! you are gorgeous!" he replied reassuringly. "although that mustard-splattered housecoat is a bold choice for a woman your age." i glanced down in horror to find that my robe had begun to come unwrapped, the left side gone slack to reveal one jagged edged dinner plate-sized areola and a stretchmarked breast that may or may not have had toothpaste dried on it.
"i am one magazine subscription away from an episode of hoarders!" i wailed inconsolably, taking out an entire shelf of fabuloso as i collapsed in a dramatic heap on the floor.
"there there," jerry soothed. "everything's gonna be okay, cat food. mint chocolate cookie is on sale two for $8!"
act three: the resolution. there was a dude at the counter with a thick roll of dollar bills buying lottery tickets (dollar straight, dollar box) and i spent the hour and a half it took him to play the birthdays and anniversaries of everyone he'd ever met to think of all the cutting and hilarious shit i was going to say to oscar the grouch when i finally got outside. "i may be ugly but i sure do have a wonderful personality!" or "i know you are but what am i?" OOH, YA BURNT. when i finally got to the register terry or michael or roger (fuck i am a terrible person, shit) looked at me with concern and said, "dang, you seem so down tonight! wanna talk about it?"
"yes i do because i just went off lexapro and i can't afford a therapist," i said in my mind while my mouth said, "oh i'm okay, it's just that guy eating cigarette butts off the curb just called me ugly."
he laughed. "don't pay that fool any mind! every night he calls me 'big charlie'" i leaned in, breath caught in my chest, exhilarated as it dawned on me that i was finally gonna get my chance to learn homeboy's name without having to admit to him what a thoughtless asshole i am, "and i keep telling him my name is--"
the bell over the door chimed and i was so startled that i missed what the fuck he said. danny? donny!? WHY IS EVERYTHING THE WORST. crestfallen, i handed him some cash and took my bag of loose assorted ginger ales. "chin(s) up, cat food! tomorrow we're getting those jalapeño cheetos!"
ol' boy was sitting at the bus stop with his shoes off, reading a newspaper upside down while shouting at cars speeding down sheridan road. he smiled at me and i flipped him off the meanest way i could (lots of scowling), and i'm pretty sure he said FUCK YOU BITCH but i wouldn't know because i had my music turned all the way up which is really what i should've done in the first goddamned place. i'm no humanitarian. people, in general, are terrible. when i got home i drank my ginger ale in the shower in the dark and decided that, if i can find it, today i'm going to recycle his apartment.