Since I haven’t really cooked anything nice for a while, and since I so recently complained about my staggering lack of food, I decided I would treat myself to a homemade plate of shrimp scampi…you know, go all out. Find some good good olive oil, fresh peppers, lots of hot spices and fresh shrimp.
I stopped off at Rocket on my way to the store to say hello to Ryan and Sara and perhaps to get a cheesy Seventies comedy. Sara was miserable. Three hours to closing time and she had a withering headache. I told her I would call her later and if she hadn’t improved, I would come in and close the rest of the shift for her.
Moments later, at my car, I thought about that. It was one of those things we all do, that we all know about– that vague offer of support that we present in such a way as to set up the greatest odds that it’ll be refused. This is how, for example, I was thinking it would play out: I would go do whatver I was on my way to do. Give it an hour, or maybe ninety minutes. And then call up and say, “You still feeling bad? You want me to come in for you?” By that time, surely, Sara would be better. And if not, she would only have an hour or so left in the shift and might likely say, “I might as well finish the shift at this point. I mean, right?” And I would say, “Are you sure? I could come in. I’m just down the street…” No, she would interrupt. “Don’t worry about it.” And I would hang up feeling like, “Well, I offered.”
I’m not saying this would have been a conscious act of sneakery. I doubt that it ever is. We’re so used to teasing and manipulating conversation when we interact we rarely notice when our supposed altruism cloaks all those other motives.
And what was I going to do tonight that was so important anyway? Make shrimp scampi? Sure, I would go home and cook and then I would sit down to eat and it would turn out to be the most bitter plate of shrimp scampi in history because I had the chance to let Sara go home and get some much needed rest and I didn’t take it because…why?
So I turned around and clocked Sara out and clocked me in without the slightest twinge of martyr-tude and sent her home. Ryan was pleased anyway, because that meant we could watch Buffy, which Sara would never in a million years let him do. She’d rather watch Klezmer Kavalcade on repeat all night than watch Buffy.
The rest of the Sunday night, while decidedly shrimp-free, went by smoothly, although my evening began and ended with this German guy who was on the hunt for movies about mother/daughter relationships and sci-fi movies with beautiful cities and happy aliens. Luckily, Ryan got stuck with him most of the time. My only recommendation for the happy alien category was the McDonald’s-financed movie, Mac & Me–that atrocious ET ripoff that actually uses Coca-Cola as a major plot point. I did it as a joke. I didn’t expect him to believe me. Or at least I thought Ryan would talk him out of it. The guy put a bunch of stuff on hold and promised to come back later after he went to find a Blockbuster, since we didn’t have Mac & Me (among a few other things) on DVD. We thought we’d seent he last of him, because people like that rarely come back. But at the very end of the night he returned and declared that Blockbuster sucked and we were great and he would, after all, rent the stuff we were holding. Including, alas, Mac & Me. I feel bad for the poor guy. I shouldn’t joke around like that.
If you haven’t seen Mac & Me, I heartily recommend it. There’s nothing like watching that low-rent, latex alien creature with its permanent look of horrified surprise trundling along on the kid’s wheelchair, its head bobbing like a Slinky and its little rubber ears boinging about for a good laugh.
Man, I listened to the whole Bettie Serveert album while writing this post. I guess I won’t be getting much work done tonight after all.