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I’m leaving the East Coast the day after Christmas and moving out to the Wild, Wild West. People still call it that, right? A fun fact about me is that I’m very fond of the Will Smith song with the same name, and so that’s what anything west of Arkansas will forever be referred to as in my peanut-sized brain. The defenders of the west, Crushin’ on pretenders in the west, Don’t mess with us cuz we’re in the (Wild Wild West).
If you’re ever in Texas, come find me. I’ll be the girl rapping Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on the street corner, whiskey in one hand, a taco in the other, thank you very much. Maybe I’ll even get some legit cowboy boots and a gun, you know, really take on the part. Method acting is I think what those in the biz refer to it as. That’s what I do, you see; just wholeheartedly embrace my new character.
As I wait for my acting career to take off while living in the nation’s 82nd most up-and-coming arts scene, I’ll be working for the world’s greatest industry, the world wide web, and for the world’s greatest boss, Al Gore. Honestly, it’s like a dream. The only negative thing I’ve heard through the grapevine about my new job is that we have to be super careful when filling out our expense reports and time cards. Something about hanging chads? I don’t really know. Whatever. What’s a little mismarked piece of paper going to do, change the course of history? LOL. As if.
Preparing for my big move to the land of tumbleweeds and 10-gallon hats has been a little stressful. I’m moving to a city I’ve only visited once, I’m buying a new car, and like I said before, my new boss is a former presidential candidate who invented, I mean discovered, global warming. That’s some pretty nerve-racking shit. But all of this pales in comparison to what I’m most nervous about: living alone.
While I have lived alone previously, I always had friends or at least people I worked with (there is a very big difference) in my apartment building. If I needed a cup of sugar for the cookie dough I planned on consuming entirely raw, there was an acquaintance who could help me out. If I broke a light bulb for the sole purpose of being near a member of the opposite sex for the three total minutes it takes to replace one, there was someone I could invite over to fulfill that pathetically depressing request. People could come save me if I slipped in the shower or, even worse, my DVR wasn’t properly working. There was always someone to help. Someone to rely on. Someone to, oh, I don’t know, call the police if my Craigslist boyfriend turned out to be the actual Craigslist killer. But in Texas, I have none of that. No. In Texas, I go it alone. While I’m nervous (read: panicked) about many aspects of living by myself, one thing really gets me going. And that thing, or death sentence, if you’re a realist, is choking.
You see, I have what you might call a “healthy” appetite. Since my mother banned me from blaming my overeating on being a “growing girl” at the solid, full grown age of 21, I’ve since learned to call a spade a spade: I like to eat. Because I very much enjoy food and I’m what those in the scientific field refer to as a human being, I actually have to eat. You know, for survival and shit. But for the first time in my 20-whatever years of existence, I now have an eating complex. No. More than that. WORSE than that. The most terrible thing that could ever happen: I have a fear of eating. For the past two months, since learning of my impending move, I’ve had a recurring nightmare; so vivid and real, that I wake up screaming, go to my kitchen, make a sandwich, and go sit in my parents’ bed so that they can watch me eat and and make sure I don’t die. Honestly, you guys, it’s really taken a toll on the whole family.
I arrive home from work after a long day of hanging with Al and Tipper at internet headquarters. I’m pretty exhausted after hearing about their separation and witnessing their multiple love/hate make out sessions, so I throw my purse on my counter, kick off my shoes, and peruse my towering stack of takeout menus. After careful consideration and an entire bottle of Whole Foods Two-Buck Chuck, I decide to go with my “regular,” if you will: vietnamese food. Because I’m starving and slightly drunk, I order enough food to feed Jane Fonda’s skinny ass for life. Like, Ho Chi get in Minh belly. Know what I mean? After what seems like an eternity, my delivery boy, a 16-year-old hipster Austinite named Frank finally arrives at my door.
“Your total is $34.17. You having a party or something?”
“No, Frank. Not tonight.”
“Oh. Why’d you order all that food then?”
“Because I’m hungry. And a little drunk. And sad. And alone. And I’m hoping that this little Vietnamese food baby I’m about to have will distract me from the fact that I may never get to have an actual baby. Okay, Frank? Does that satisfy your incessant questioning?”
“Your left eye twitches when you get mad. It’s pretty freaking looking.”
“Stay in school, Frank!”
I rip the tops off of my seven containers of food and start shoveling rice and chicken down my gullet. I’m crying because Frank is such a mean little prick and he doesn’t understand what it’s like to be an adult. I think about how in a few years, he’ll probably cover up his tattoos, insert botox into his ears in a last stitch effort to fix the irreparable damage his guages caused, go to college, and upon graduation, he’ll come find me and apologize. “I’m sorry, Catie. I judged you unfairly. It really is hard being an adult.” And I’ll smile and laugh as my 13 children run around my feet and my doctor husband throws a bone for our robotic dog. “It’s okay, Frank. C’est la vie.” I’ll giggle, having somehow picked up French in between now and my perfect future life.
Just as I’m hoping that I don’t name one of my children Petris or have a Christmas card featuring berets, I’ll realize something. Oh. My. God. I haven’t breathed in like…an hour. No, that can’t be right. A minute? A second? I don’t know. I’ll begin to panic and shove my abdomen against my counter. Why didn’t I pay more attention in health class? How do you do the Heimlich maneuver on yourself? I’ll think about running over to a neighbor’s apartment to have them help me, but I realize that in the five minutes since Frank left, I’ve somehow completely disrobed down to granny panties and a training bra. My apartment is a mess. I really should’ve hired that maid service. AH. How long has it been since I’ve breathed? Am I breathing now? No. No, I’m not. I’ll attempt to hide my food containers in my fridge. If I do have to get help, I definitely don’t want the man who saves my life and I end up falling madly in love with and carrying his babies to see how much food I ordered. That would be so embarrassing. You know what’s not embarrassing though? Dying from choking on a dumpling. Except that’s what will happen. Because for the first time in my life, I decide to exude some sense of personal pride and refuse to go ask anyone to save my life. And so it happens. I’ll stop breathing, surrounded by my rice, pancakes, and random pieces of fried grayish meat. It will take people a few days to notice, you know, because I don’t know anyone in my building. After three days of being absent at work, someone will notice that I’m not there.
“Hey, Al. New girl’s gone. Should we call her parents?”
“Nahhh. We’re good, my buddy at the NSA told me she hasn’t left her apartment in a few days. She’s probably working from home. Charlie does that too you know, goes missing and will just pop up here and there when you least expect it.”
In unrelated news, I’m currently looking for a roommate. Serious inquiries only.