Blind Date [Flash Fiction]

His incisors gleamed in the cold fluorescent light and for a moment I imagined he was a vampire. Maybe he would sweep me off my feet, violently take me in his bed, sink his teeth into my flesh and suck the life out of me one tortuously sweet moment at a time.

Then again, maybe he would just bore me to death right at the dirty McDonald’s table. I stared at the splotch of ketchup that was dangerously close to his pristine white sleeve. I knew it was going to happen – I’d been spending the last hour and a half just waiting for the moment to happen. I thought it would at least bring some variety and interest to this dullest of all possible blind dates in the history of the world. Finally, as he wiped his mouth of the grease that had adorned his too-red lips, it happened. His elbow moved just half an inch sideways, apparently slipping, and a red dot adorned his sleeve. But even that didn’t help – he didn’t notice it had happened and just kept smiling at me weirdly.

It wasn’t that he was a bad guy. He was probably very sweet. But come on – McDonald’s? On a date? This guy had no class. Even though he was dressed in a white shirt with a starched collar, complete with delicate cuff-links.

“Tell me,” I finally broke into his monotonous monologue about his absolutely fascinating job – I still wasn’t sure what it was that he did, but I was convinced that he found it absolutely wonderful, which was, I guess, really nice for him. But he hadn’t managed to get across the simple idea of what on earth his job actually was. “Tell me, do you bring all your first dates to McDonald’s?”

He looked at me blankly for a moment and then picked up the empty carton where his fries had rested in greasy strings a few minutes ago. “We’re at McDonald’s?”

“Uh, yeah? Didn’t you notice?”

“Not really, no. You see, I don’t really pay attention to what I eat. I’m sorry. Was this inappropriate?”

I had no idea what to say. We’d been sitting in a brightly lit food-court munching on bad fast-food and he hadn’t noticed? “Wait. Wait a second. So you’re saying you didn’t actually mean to bring me here?”

“I didn’t bring you here, did I? Didn’t you choose the venue for this meal?”

“Um. No. I didn’t.”

“Interesting.”

What was with this guy? Had he been in a coma during the last couple hours? “Don’t you remember picking me up?”

“I did?”

“You did. Are you even aware we’re on a date?”

“Of course. Your friend, Judith, set us up.”

“Okay. So how do you think we ended up here?”

“I gather that we used some form of transport to reach this – where are we again? Some fast food restaurant, is that correct?”

This was getting to be too weird to deal with. How could he remember we were on a date, that Judy set us up, but not realize how we’re gotten from my place to the stupid mall? I was growing fascinated. Finally, the evening was getting interesting.

Without

Disclaimer: I’m sorry, everyone, for being so emo and sappy over the holidays… I have a promise to myself never to erase any posts; otherwise, I’d erase this crappy poem. Instead, I’m adding this disclaimer.

 

Without,

Things are different.

The sky hasn’t fallen,

The planets orbit as usual,

Toddlers cry and children laugh,

Parents love and people die.

But things are still different,

Without.

Without,

Molehill fears become mountains,

Nasty insecurities become screaming flaws,

While outwardly things remain the same,

A mask making up for everything,

Without.

Without,

Experiences are private once more,

Sharing becomes hard work,

Terrors and nightmares rule the dark,

Loneliness is a natural state,

Without.

Without,

Is simply harder than with,

Is sadder than with,

Is a struggle worthy only of the word

Without.

Action-Figure?

It’s a very boring life, being an action-figure. I mean, it’s fun at first – there’s your birth, which, unlike humans, we remember of course. We’re born in a factory, when all our parts are suddenly together for the first time. Then we get packaged, in nice cozy plastic that really fits snug all around. I don’t know if most people realize this, but you know how action-figures all have joints that move just this way or that way? Yeah, well, our joints hurt, it hurts when we’re moved to much, so being set into a perfectly me-sized bed made of plastic was probably the most physically therapeutic thing I’ve experienced.

‘Course, that doesn’t last. After we get put in boxes – and usually they’re kind enough to let us have clear plastic around us, too, so we get to see outside – we get put in other kinds of boxes, big cardboard ones that get sent off places. When I was just a newborn, I didn’t know much about what was happening to me – I learned all this later in life. So we get sent somewhere, and then we get unpacked. Some of us, like me, get put up in shelves in dusty rooms that are where they keep the extras. But soon enough they came and got me from that room too, and put me smack on the “Action-Figure!” shelf, Batman on one side and Spiderman on the other. We had a nice chat before a kid with a runny nose tore Batman off the shelf. The next one wasn’t as nice as the first Batman, but he was alright. Spiderman stayed there a long time, just like me, so we got to know each other pretty well, and he told me some of this stuff I just told you.

But then, of course, it happened, just like Spiderman told me it would. A girl, Lisa, a really tiny thing, tried to reach up to my shelf and knocked me down face-first. She picked my box up, though, so I guess even if she wasn’t aiming to get at me, she liked me enough to start yelling at the top of her voice for her mommy to buy me. I got to take a trip around the entire store while her mommy tried to get her interested in Barbie dolls and Dora the Explorer puzzles, but that Lisa, she took to me and wouldn’t let me go. At least I got a tour of the store, though!

Well, I suppose you could say the rest is history. But that isn’t really the point – I mean, yeah, it’s obvious, Lisa took me home, took me out of my box and started playing with me, which is supposed to be a good thing, but man my joints hurt, she was really boisterous that kid… But then one of my arms broke – no wonder, with that kid pulling me every which way – and then I got put up on a shelf, and that’s it.

Now, I’m not trying to make you pity me, because it’s not like I’m one of those dudes from Toy Story. Yeah, I know about that, we all know about that. Lisa has the movie and she watches it over and over. Lucky me – not – my shelf’s facing the TV so I get to hear Woody and Andy and Buzz-what’s-his-face three times a week. But see, they make it look so fun. They can move on their own. Man, the truth isn’t like that at all. Sure, we can think, we can talk if there’s no one in the room, but move? As if.

So that about sums it up. It’s a boring life being a so-called ‘action’-figure. I don’t even know what the ending is for my kind – but hey, maybe Lisa will leave me on this shelf for many more years and I’ll get to watch some more interesting movies than that false-hope Toy Story. A figure can hope, right?

Bad Hair Day

I have never paid much attention to my hair. I’ve tried, time after time, to care. I’ve tried arranging it in different styles, I’ve tried dying pieces of it to see if my old love of black hair would resonate on my own, I’ve tried to muster up the courage to cut it into some completely different and new shape. But no, none of it’s worked.

My hair is long, right down my back. I’m told that it’s a blessing that it’s so straight and thick, although personally I just feel that it’s rather dull. I’ve been told that I’m anything from blond to a redhead, but yet when I look at it I see a very normal, dull shade of light brown and nothing more. No matter, though. I truly don’t care about it enough.

My default hair-style is a ponytail, tight as can be, so that I don’t feel it tickling my neck or shoulders and so it doesn’t get in my face. Sometimes, when I take the scrunchy off at night, my hair retains some of that pony-tail shape, giving the hair going down my back a funny little dent in it where it had been restrained all day.

For all that, I can’t cut it. I have dreams of getting a cool new haircut, shorter than it’s been since I was just a tiny tot, but nothing ever comes of them. I’m scared of the change, I suppose. Still, even though I find my hair to be rather dull, I’m blessed with never having had a bad hair-day. Day started on the wrong foot? I’ve got those. Days where I seem even clumsier than usual? Got those, too. Days where I just wake up and think something’s absolutely wrong with my life and the world? Yup, those are around as well. Day where I wake up and think about my hair being problematic? Nah. Not at all.

Interesting Boredom

I always take a book with me, no matter where I’m going or for how short a time. I simply hate leaving the house without a book. I think the reason for this is mostly a fear that I’ve developed over the years – a fear of boredom. I bring a book with me wherever I go so that if, by some chance, I need to wait at a bus station or for a friend or for something unexpected – well, I’ll have something to immerse myself in. Some people can find a hundred ways to occupy themselves with their cellphones. Some people can file their nails for an hour or count how many red cars go by. I can do those things too, but I simply would prefer to have a book.

Still, there have been times when my fear of boredom has been alleviated by the fact that I can, surprisingly, entertain myself with my own thoughts fairly well. Last week, for instance, I was taking a long bus ride and I began to grow nauseous while reading. I put my book on my lap and stared out the window, trying to calm my roiling stomach and concentrate on my breathing. Soon I found myself engaged in memories and imagined conversations and in musings about this or that, while also enjoying the view and trying to invent details or stories to add to what I saw.

Boredom, I’ve discovered, can be quite pleasant at times.

My Desk

My desk is wooden, old and creaking. The drawers stumble and rattle when they’re opened and shut, like old wheezing men, protesting the exercise forced on them. The keyboard tray slumps down precariously when any weight is put on it, threatening to someday tumble to the floor.

The desktop itself is large and smooth, real wood or else a very good imitation. On the right there’s a small, square box of tissue, blue and reassuring. It’s a homely little thing, but comforting somehow in its ordinariness. Behind it is a pile of books – Sophocles, volume I and The Norton Anthology of Drama, volume I. Underneath them lie two large notebooks, one black and bearing the name of the college and the other a yellow Mead. Beside them lie a pair of black ballet shoes still in their box and a ball of dark purple yarn and a scarf-in-progress. Behind these, nestled against the wall, are DVDs and CDs, just a few, dearly beloved and not willing to be left behind.

In the middle of the desktop is yet another pile – a blue folder weighted down by a green Mead notebook lying underneath a recycled grey notebook. On top of all these lies a copy of Martin Luther’s Three Treatises, a train-ticket stub tucked at page 105 as a bookmark. A scrunchie lies abandoned between this pile and the large computer screen, along with an overflowing plastic box of paperclips, a pink set of Post-Its, a flashlight and a Scotch-tape dispenser.

Next to these, on the far left of the desk, is a small and cheerful pail with pins leaning against it [STITCH & BITCH and I LOVE HH] and in the pail are an assortment of black pens and brightly colored highlighters, as well as a pair of children’s scissors and an unsharpened pencil with a cheerful star-shaped eraser stuck to its end. Finally, in the left hand back corner of the desk is a black lamp, goose-neck poised in an odd position so as to cast the most advantageous light.

At 1:35AM, the objects on the desk are reassuring and homey, reminders that life can be comfortable, even if it’s only on a small four-by-two foot desk.

People Are People Everywhere

There isn’t a truer sentence. Well, there are many sentences that are just as true or truer, I suppose, but I simply can’t think of any right now. This sentence, however, is one that is very much a motto that I must remember these days. I wander around the campus here and I meet people. I had some sort of fantasy that people in college were somehow different than people in the “real world.”

They’re not. I was sure that college was a place where people were growing up, and thus less prone to pettiness and smallness. I thought everyone would accept everyone, that there would be no cliques, that people wouldn’t judge on first appearances alone. Of course, that was the naive side of my brain that was believing all that. My cynical side, which is rather bigger, knew that college would be just as big a gathering place for those who judge other, who see themselves as being high above others, who disdain other opinions as the rest of the world. My cynical side was proved correct.

Having said that, I don’t wish you to believe that I’m suffering. The transition is hard, even though I’m still in the orientation and registration processes, but by keeping myself busy and on top of things, I manage to minimize the time in which I can feel homesick and sorry for myself.

I highly look forward to this weekend, a time which will hopefully be a little calmer. I hope that I’ll be able to resume my normal almost-every-day posting schedule then and also catch up on all the blogs I regularly read on here. I miss you all, believe me.

I apologize, as I always do, for the “diary”ishness of this entry – my only excuse is that I don’t have time to write something that requires much thought, and so instead I’m simply writing the thoughts that already occupy most of my head-space.