You don’t understand. There are pickles in my diary. And I don’t mean some botched political metaphor or weird sexual innuendo, I mean literal pickles.
The cocktail, the cigarette, and the shot I had downed were engaged in the uncomfortable process of sterilizing the walls of my empty stomach. I left the restaurant where I worked with a burger, potatoes, and salad stuffed into my tote bag, and began the forty-five minute commute back to my apartment. On the first leg of my journey I became impatient. The savory smell of fat and rosemary inhibited my natural revulsion and shame at the idea of eating a meal on public transportation. My fingers fumbled through the boxes until they made contact with soft brioche and slippery onion. Chewing and swallowing, I felt that blissful feeling that one only experiences after they have been deprived of something for an extended period. We are all familiar with the sweet release of pulling down your pants, hiking up you skirt and peeing a steady 60 to 120 second stream after hours of holding it in. It was something like that.
This moment of euphoria was quickly dampened when I realized that one of the containers of condiments, burger mayo to be exact, had split open in my bag and proceeded to cover my copy of Catch 22, my wallet, my wine key, my chapstick, my woolen gloves, and my journal with a creamy sauce complete with tiny pieces of pickle. All the way home, I cradled the bag delicately, trying not to let the other passengers catch on to the fact that there was such a gross creature in their midst. I watched with disgust and composure as the fats from the mayonnaise seeped from the canvas bag onto my jeans. Thank God for dark-wash denim. Two women sitting behind me burst into laughter, surely at my expense.
On the second bus, I decided that the first thing I’d do when I got home was go to my bedroom, lock the door, and finish my meal. Then, my rabidity gone, I would worry about my bag and its soggy contents. I would spray eco-friendly cleaning product on each page of my diary, on each ruined greasy page of Catch 22 and wipe the muck away with a very expensive recycled paper towel. Yes.
Unfortunately, as soon as I unlocked the door to my home, this sensible plan disappeared from my mind. I immediately walked into the bathroom, stripped off my clothes, turned on the hot water, and got into the shower with my tote bag over my shoulder. I shouldn’t have to tell you that this was a terrible idea. The pages of my journal became soaked with water but the mayonnaise remained powerfully stuck to its pages, to everything. I began to fling my possessions onto the floor of the tub. Change reverberated off the tiles, my wine key fell into the drain, quickly followed by twenty-five dollars in tips.
As all this was occurring, I had a flashback to my tenth-grade AP European history class. It was my first advanced placement class in high school and we had bi-weekly quizzes based on the 60-100 pages of historical text we were supposed to read. The problem was that on the nights before quizzes, when I opened the European history textbook, I’d fall asleep in ten minutes. Then I had a brilliant idea. I loved showering and I hated history so I decided to combine the two. I put my notes in the plastic page covers that had previously protected my collection of sexy, self-made anime drawings, and hopped into the shower. I started reading about Pope Ivan the whoever but I still couldn’t focus; the warmth of the water was relaxing my muscles and my mind. Was there really a difference between The 100 Years War and 20 Years War? Why did my teacher, Mrs. Troy, always wear neon striped shirts? How did she expect anyone to focus on Joan of Arc when we were all being hypnotized by her psychedelic bosom? I remembered one of my classmates, a shaggy-haired surfer who told us that he only thought women were attractive when they wore dresses and now teaches yoga in California, bringing a package of bacon to class. His friend had promised to bring in a George Foreman grill and Mrs. Troy, in sympathy with our academic anxiety agreed to let us feast on bacon and fried cheese while we learned the geography of the European continent. But the friend never brought the grill because he was a dreamer and not a doer, and poor Johnny sat at his desk with a grocery bag of uncooked bacon looped over the edge of his seat, blissfully unaware of the New Age enlightenment he was to undergo in the next five years.
Bacon. Grease. Oil. Mayonnaise.
I looked down at my feet, picked up my journal and thumbed through the pages, watching the pickles spill down the drain, and tried not to throw up. I gathered up my collection of things, erasing all evidence of what had occurred. I went to my room, finished my dinner, and somehow, as the burger filled me and soaked up the raw alcohol, I realized, in the most broad spiritual and the most specific practical sense, I was going to make it.
Leisa Haddad is a writer and multidisciplinary artist currently living in Brooklyn, NY. A graduate of The New School, her literary work has appeared in 12th St. Magazine, Allegory Ridge, and The Pointed Circle. She has performed dance and theatrical pieces at Dixon Place, Virginia MOCA, and Peninsula Gallery. She enjoys spending time with her cat, Pizza Bagel, and solving mysteries.