You’re losing it.
Sunday night your old roommate bails on you, but you still drive to The Albert for dinner and Breaking Bad, alone except for a book. You think The Big Cheese and mashed potatoes you order will be bigger. You think the Heisenberg Shandy will be stronger, so you follow it with a Victory Golden Monkey, which might be your favorite beer at the moment, if you had to choose. For you, beers are like children.
After the sandwich, shandy, show, and beer, you ask for your check. You are amused by its itemization: SHANDY, BIG CHEESE, GOLDEN MONKEY. You pay, evening out the tab like always because you are OCD and usually evening out the tab makes for a bigger tip. You understand that tips are how servers make a living. You haven’t made a living in over a year. You have considered serving, are pretty sure you’d hate it. You use the bathroom and on your way out tell the host to have a good one. You appreciate the versatility of this expression, of not having to figure out if it’s day or night before you speak. When you are unemployed for over a year, hours and days and weeks and months run together, become moot.
Your sobriety is not in question until the next morning, when you realize you left your debit card at The Albert. This is only the second time you’ve ever left a card at a bar, but both times occurred in the past year, which is disconcerting. You return to The Albert and for some reason your card is behind the bar in the other room, not on the side where you sat at a table, were waited on, ate and drank like a normal person except alone. When you tell the bartender you left your card here, he smiles like it must have been a long night and says, “Yeah you did.” You swallow the urge to grab him by the hair and slam his smug face into the bar.
On Tuesday you move into a new apartment that costs twice as much as the old one. You’d put all your food into a plastic grocery bag for the move, and realize upon unpacking that your syrup bottle had not been closed tightly enough. There is a little syrup on a lot of your stuff. You hope your new roommates don’t smell it on your pasta or popcorn or cereal boxes, because nicknames are like friends—you have enough—and Hungry Jack is the kind of nickname that demands explanation unless you’re a skinny guy named Jack or John, and maybe even then. You’re a skinny guy, but your name is not Jack or John. Your name is Evan.
Tuesday night it starts raining, and you think this would be a good time to stock up on food for the new place. Nobody goes to the grocery store when it’s raining, you think, logic not slowing this train, not even threatening, logic on holiday, sending you tacky postcards from Pensacola. You drive to your new Kroger, which is laughably superior to your old Kroger, and of course Murder Kroger, but not quite on the level of The New Kroger. It is very crowded. Tonight and in general, you grocery shop like a five-year-old beer snob who recently gave up meat. You are excited about the broader selection and maybe go a little overboard, spending thirty-five minutes filling your cart, which is twenty minutes more than anyone should ever spend in a grocery store.
Your purchases are not in question until you approach the checkout line, dig through all eight pockets of your cargo shorts, and realize you’ve left your wallet at home. You say fuck over and over like a Tarantinian mantra, return the Ben & Jerry’s to the freezer, and stash your cart in the least obtrusive spot possible, next to a stack of unopened beer boxes. You run through the rain—it is pouring now—to your truck, drive home, grab your wallet, and return. Fifteen minutes later, soaking wet, you find your cart where you left it, across from a hidden cache of Chobani you never would have seen otherwise. You grab six yogurts and the same pint of banana split ice cream you’d stuck in the freezer—your thumbprint in the frost—and take your thirty items straight to the 15-Items-or-Less lane.
The pretty young cashier doesn’t give you shit about your thirty items. She is nothing like the bartender at The Albert, only smiles at you and asks, “Did you find everything OK?” You swallow the urge to grab her sweet brown face in your hands and tell her you’re unraveling.
Back home, as your CPK margherita pizza cooks, you eat most of the ice cream, get distracted online, and set off the smoke alarm. You turn the oven off and the fan on, relieved your new roommates aren’t home to see how stupid you are. You pull the pizza from the oven and find it salvageable, if only you could cut it. You wonder where the pizza-cutter is, dig through kitchen drawers as if they were cargo pockets. No luck. You think to check the dishwasher, and sure enough, the cutter is both inside and clean. Checking the dishwasher for the pizza-cutter is the smartest thing you have done all day, all week, all month, all year. As you grab the pizza-cutter you say, out loud, “Fucking genius.” You spend the rest of the night eating pizza, drinking beer, watching Louie, and patting yourself on the back.
The next day, instead of a cover letter, you write this.