February 23 2018
My ex–European flame asked if I wanted to get breakfast before work. Being up earlier than usual, I agreed. She asked me to bring the box of tampons she had left in my watch. I slipped a note in with the tampons, wishing her a nice day.
I turned onto the nightmare of Melrose before 10 a.m. and softly clonked into the back of a car-service SUV. My brakes had been depressed to the floor, but nothing had happened. I was more worried about my brakes than I was about the accident, but I figured I should deal with the accident first. I got out on the middle of Melrose like a crazy person, and then we pulled in to a liquor store I’ve been known to frequent. The driver leveled with me, saying if there was insurance information exchanged, his superiors would for sure seek damages, but for a hundred dollars cash, we could call it a day. In actuality, there was no damage to the SUV. The only contact my car had made was with the bottom of the trailer hitch, but the ball wasn’t in my court, so I obliged.
The ATM at the liquor store was busted and we were both heading west, so we agreed to meet at the Bank of America on Fairfax and Melrose. I was terrified the whole way over because I had mentally moved back to worrying about my brakes. They had worked fine just the night before, so why were they suddenly unresponsive? Was my car not warm enough yet? Had I wronged someone who might slash my brake lines?
I paid him in the parking lot and he said he felt bad, and I told him not to, because he just made a hundred dollars from a poor person. I smiled with all of my teeth and he drove off looking like he had swallowed a lung.
I finally made my way to Canter’s “world famous” deli. Everything they do is fine, and that’s really about it. By being open 24 hours a day, the deli’s mediocrity has been forgiven over the course of time, and it has been around long enough to be considered an institution. If you’re a restaurant and the first thing people bring up is how Guns N’ Roses used to eat sandwiches there in the ’80s, you’re probably not much of a restaurant. But sure, fine, if you pay really close attention, you can taste Slash in the pastrami.
My European awaited, along with empty plates where she had laid waste to a bagel and an order of latkes. She weighs about 12 pounds, but she eats like a gamer. What a dream. I told her I was late because I hit a car, and then I gave her a crinkled Malin and Goetz bag full of tampons. We walked up the block to my friend’s coffee shop, and I bought a cup of coffee and two pistachio donuts. I was late for work as it was, so I gave her a donut and we went our separate ways.
When I got in to work, my coworker was feeling down because of an argument with her ex-husband regarding their child’s baseball glove. I gave her my donut and she gave me a hug. We spent the rest of the morning waffling between actual work and lamenting about our beloved coworker Sue leaving the company. I work in a small office with a low turnover, so when anyone leaves, it’s like someone has cut off a limb, but Sue was part of our old guard, so losing her really hurt. She wasn’t even in yet because she was dropping off her dog for oral surgery. On her last Wednesday . . . the nerve!
After work the European was in a bad mood from an email from an ex that she didn’t want to get into. I didn’t ask about the note in her box of tampons and she didn’t mention it. We were trying to decide where to eat. When she first lived in Los Angeles years ago, she was pissed at me one night because we were meant to eat out and I couldn’t get out of a work dinner. I Postmates’d her chicken tacos, rice, beans, chips, and guacamole from Escuela on Beverly, which isn’t good, but it was her favorite, and I lived to tweet another day. I thought this would be a good choice, and sure enough, when we got close enough, the droop of her eyelids went firm, exposing the soft chestnut of her European eyeballs as they lit up.
We parked, and I started walking away from the restaurant, because I am funny. She grabbed my arm and told me I was sweet, and then she kissed me on the cheek. I said, “Gross,” because, well, because I’m funny.
We sat down across from each other, and she moved to sit next to me. I remember my first time reading about this phenomenon was in an issue of Glamour, or maybe a Teen Cosmo that my sister had at some point in her preteens when she was first learning how to be horny. Then I started seeing it in practice and wondered if everyone else had seen the same blurb somewhere. I told her we looked stupid as hell and that only couples doomed for failure sat like this. She ordered a bowl of tortilla soup and four tacos, and I ordered a shrimp burrito. We sat and ate, looking stupid as hell.
We drove to Little Tokyo so I could purchase a large gift card to a karaoke bar as part of Sue’s going-away present. We ended up in a Japanese sticker-photo machine and looked even dumber in the photos than we did sitting next to each other at dinner. I told her we looked dumb as hell, but deep down, I was so happy I could’ve exploded.