Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Something To Do In Bed
Today, Thursday, and Friday, I'll be posting the new installment of my novella. I'll be back tomorrow with a special Halloween post, of course! Happy Devil's Night from Detroit!
Something To Do In Bed
On the last night of the car show, I watch one of the pregnant kitchen workers slug down glass after glass of leftover champagne. David Levine, that miserable prick, has granted us our choice of all the leftovers as we help clean up the horrors of the week behind us. I take off my heels and catch my reflection in the mirror above the sink, my eyes lined with black rings that have started to bleed through layers of concealer.
"I can’t believe she’s drinking," Kara says. "Does she know how bad that is for the baby?" She tugs at her yellow get-up, her ample breasts threatening to spill out at any moment. The pregnant girl looks our way and her friend says, "Don’t listen to that uptight bitch. Baby be a little bit happy, is all."
I hope to hell that Karen gets her breasts in order and we can finish our work without her saying anything else. Kara and I, both graduates of Marygrove and being social workers, have a lot in common, but Kara has the fervor of the true believer, a strain of social worker that burns out fast, which is fine because Kara is engaged to a medical student and wants to have a bunch of children to stay at home with. In three years, she’ll probably be pregnant and we won’t have enough in common to constitute five minutes of conversation, all her passion channeled, her single life a distant dream of sorrow and mystery.
We all pick at the platters of food, none of it looking good this late in the game, but food nonetheless. I decide to have some flat champagne as well, my first drink in a week. Kara’s fiance picks us up tonight, thank God, because my car died. Despite periodically dumping oil into it, it won’t start and isn’t worth getting fixed.
"Can we leave?" Kara asks no one in particular. "I’m sure Rob is waiting." She chews at a nail, ripping a strip of it off and spitting it on the floor.
In a few minutes, David Levine comes in and tells us what a wonderful job everyone has done, how this is the best group of people he’s ever worked with at the car show. He’s doing good cop, trying to secure loyalty to being exploited yet another year and by giving us access to all the leftover food and booze the real people didn’t want. We are finally being asked to join the corporate family, the sweetness at the end of a long abuse. The small kitchen teems with weariness and relief, the relief of being at the end of a hard, cold week. I look at the pregnant girl, asleep on the step, covered with a windbreaker draped like a blanket. I wonder if the baby is happy. Someone should be.
Kara and I ride back to Grosse Pointe Park with her fiance, the man training to be a doctor who bitches through the entire ride about the fact that he had to circle the building, not once, not twice, but three times before he saw us. Kara makes him pull over several times so she could vomit in the snow, and my nose started to bleed again as it had done off and on all during the car show, prompting much speculation about a cocaine addiction, one of the few things I‘ve never tried. Even as bleak as everything seems, the ride makes me wish for a close female friend, something I had never valued or been all that good at. I feel the good kind of contempt well up for the fiance as my blood dried and caked around my nose. Kara, beautiful and smart, allows an awful man to treat her like shit. For what? Because he was going to be a doctor? I think of all the doctors of my childhood, the men my mother was forever revering and hating, the one I knew she was having an affair with. I never thought much of doctors one way or another -- just someone else delivering God’s bad news. Not my idea of a good time, no matter how much money they make.
At the end of the ride, Kara hands me her number and tells me to keep in touch. I know I won’t, but I appreciate the gesture. It has been delightful to have a companion for a week, a friend so untroubled and beautiful. Even her darkest secret, that she had been molested once by a family friend and decided not to have sex until she was 21 as a result, strikes me as mild and innocent. I nod in sympathy and refrain from saying anything. What is there to say? I put her number at the bottom of my purse where it will mingle with all the other forgotten receipts and crumbling mints, the debris from a life that does not get much attention.